Being a teacher has changed my life. I don’t think people quite understand why teaching is so important to me. When my students have a question, I’m always happy to give them an answer. When I see them succeed at learning a song or a small piece, I’m so proud. I’ve always been their number one fan. I’m rooting for them to succeed. And I hope that I can be their mentor. When they grow older, they can pass on the knowledge I gave to them.
Teaching has given me a purpose. I care about their progress and I know it’s my responsibility to help them as much as I can. This has changed my life for the better. I’ve grown to be responsible and I know my students can rely on me to be there for them.
Whenever I see pictures or videos of piano students, I feel a sense of awe. I can’t believe a teacher was able to teach them how to navigate this complex instrument! And I can’t believe I have been doing that for many years now! Behind every successful student, there is a great music teacher. I know I would be nowhere without my teacher. I am so blessed to be a teacher!
Hi everyone 👋 it has been awhile, but I’m trying my best to be consistent in blogging. To be honest, I feel like I’ve already written about all I could possibly write about. And I have no more new ideas. I want to write more though, so I’m going to keep thinking of new blog post ideas. Today’s post is going to be about how to survive long days as a teacher. I’m going to be working for most of the day tomorrow and I thought it would be nice to share how I prepare/survive for these long days. Let’s get right to it.
I feel like I am the queen of coffee lately. I can’t go a day without it and I’m beginning to think that I wouldn’t be able to achieve all of my goals for the day without the help of coffee. That’s just my honest opinion about myself. I’m an addict. I use the McDonald’s app to get $1 coffees in the morning, and I also have Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts reward apps. If I’m really struggling by the end of the day, I’ll drink a second coffee. I’m not ashamed. If you ever wonder how I manage to work, study, and go to the gym every day… the answer is caffeine.
Another thing I try to do is to stack all of my lessons back to back to one another. I used to love down time, but I’ve changed. I’m now more interested in getting as much done in a day. If I have too many breaks in between lessons, I feel like my day is too long. This is an advantage for someone who manages their own schedule. I like to feel the pressure of going to the next lesson. And that makes my days go dramatically way faster.
I use Spotify and pandora during my drives. I don’t think I could be as productive as I am without the help of Spotify. I listen to stations that are test related. And I listen to Pandora when I’m tired. Music makes the time go by faster.
The last thing I do is just trying to relax. I’m not a strict teacher. I tried to be as laid back as I can because I don’t want to be bored during the lesson either. If I know I have a lot of lessons, I will create a game or include something fun to do. I’ll do this for Tuesday’s, Wednesday’s, and Saturday’s. It makes the lesson time go by faster and in return, my students also get to have fun learning.
I remember my first days of being a new teacher. I didn’t own any extra books. I only had one pencil and one pen. And nothing else really. It was tough. I made my own calendar by drawing lines. I mostly didn’t know what to do or how to organize anything. I was completely new to being a teacher. And I didn’t receive any supplies from anybody. I had to purchase all of my own supplies and come up with all of my own techniques. Now, on the internet, people are sharing their teaching methods everywhere and it is much easier. Back then, it wasn’t as easy.
I learned a lot of my techniques through joining a Facebook group tailored specifically for piano teachers. Whenever I had a problem, I asked other teachers. And this helped a lot. They talked me through many of the initial problems new teachers go through. I feel like I am stronger now because of the support from that group. I’m still a member of that group and I’ve began helping other new teachers. I’m the mentor and it feels great to help other teachers. The advice is free. And they are always willing to help.
I found that there are some apps that you can use on your phone to make teaching easier. In my first couple of years, I was obsessed with using apps and I’ve began to drift away from them. I still use a metronome and tuning app though. Those are my favorites. I would stay away from all other apps because they can be distracting for students. I prefer to have my students learn from a book rather than staring at a screen. In addition to using apps, I’ve found that google is a great resource for looking up musical terms. I have my own pocket dictionary of musical terms that includes all composers, but google is a great resource in the beginning of your teaching career also.
If you have a smartphone, I suggest using text messages to communicate with piano families. It’s much more convenient and you can access it wherever you go. Use technology to your advantage and always look for new ways to maximize your time.
Supplies and books were always a huge obstacle for me. I was always short in supplies until I started making more money. I used secondhand items until I could afford my own. When I discovered the dollar store, everything changed. It’s much cheaper and I would strictly shop from there for supplies. I’ve found that buying supplies from amazon in big bulks is helpful too. My students are always using all of my supplies, so I need a lot for my backup. I shop at my local music store for books because I get a teacher discount, but amazon is great for buying books too. I would go to music stores and ask for their teacher discounts. I’ve found that students can also use my discount because their under my teacher account.
I joined the teachers music association two years ago and it is one of the best decisions I’ve made. They put your name on the teacher directory so other schools can find you if they need a teacher. They provide free resources and books. I went to a music book sale and bought a lot of books because they offered it. And they donated me more books too. I can also offer my students more extra curricular activities. I’ve found it to be a very valuable resource. And I met other teachers too.
I used Facebook neighborhood groups to advertise for my lessons. And the amount of calls I got was way more than other forms of advertisements. Facebook is an amazing resource for advertising and you can also create your own Facebook page for your music studio.
If you want to give your students a great experience, that’s really great. It’s expensive though. And we don’t always have the money for it. I’ve found ways to make small gifts in cheap ways by looking online. And I make my own music flash cards with plain notecards. There are many great resources and things you can do for your students that are cost effective. You just have to be creative.
YouTube is a great resource for learning about teaching. I learned more about teaching techniques and materials by watching YouTube videos. And I also have my students listen to their piano songs on YouTube before learning it. It’s a great free resource to have on the go.
If you don’t know, Spotify offers free podcasts to listen to. And if you have a gmail account, you can access word document and excel sheets for free. I’ve made lecture slides for my students through google drive. And I’ve also printed free domain music sheets online. If you’re using your books for private use, you can photocopy your music sheets for students. I would stockpile all of my good music and my books for reuse for all of my students. Having multiple students use a performance book or a sightreading book can dramatically cut costs.
If you’re anything like me, you need lots of coffee. I’ve found that Starbucks offers an account to earn free drinks and food. I use that frequently to earn stars. I also have a Dunkin’ Donuts card to earn points. If you have the McDonald’s app, the large coffees are only $1 and you can earn free coffee there too. I use the curbside pickup to save time. And the breakfast sandwiches are a penny too. I always grab food there early before my lessons or during my breaks. If you’re looking for lunch, download the Sonics app and you get access to happy hour 24/7. All drinks are half off and they offer deals on there too. If you have a smoothie king account, they offer a rewards system. If you want $2 extra when you sign up, you can use my referral link here. If you exercise at a gym, they might offer extra discounts for smoothies at tropical smoothie. All of us teachers are always looking for good drinks and food. I hope that helps.
Once you get started teaching, you’ll get better at being a teacher. And many things will become reflexive the more you do it. There are so many resources available and I hope you take advantage of it all. Keep researching and working hard!
Yes, you can learn the piano by yourself. However, it is best to have a teacher by your side to guide you through the difficult stages of learning the piano. There are techniques such as fluid hand motion and technical issues that you can’t solve by yourself. Imagine if you tried to learn how to fix your sink and you spent hours googling how to do it. You could have just hired a plumber to come fix it and they could have done it in 30 minutes.
I know that this isn’t what people want to hear. It’s not what I would want to hear if I was a beginner, but I don’t want to lie to you. I don’t want to sell you a piano course that doesn’t guarantee that you will learn the piano. I don’t want to sell you a product that might work. I actually want to give you advice that will save you time and money. You can’t do everything yourself. I’ve seen many students fail at learning the piano by themselves. Please don’t listen to all the advertising gibberish online. You need to find a piano teacher that can physically be right next to you and to guide you through this process. Don’t waste your money on anything else. I’ve seen many instances where it doesn’t work.
I hope this helps you and let me know if there are anymore topics that you want me to discuss.
Hi, welcome to my blog, if this is your first time on here. I’m going to tell you all about piano lessons: where to look for lessons, which books to buy, how to pick a teacher, when to practice, and many more. I’ve found that many students don’t know that much about piano lessons before getting started and I haven’t seen a complete guide to help students get started on the internet yet. I thought I should be the first one to pioneer this guide. I’ve also linked the products into this post, so it is easier for you to purchase what you need.
Purchasing a Piano
Not many students know where to purchase a piano. I wrote a blog that discusses the various types of pianos to buy for different level players. When you’re just beginning, it’s best to purchase a keyboard. You don’t know if you’re going to like piano and purchasing a keyboard is more affordable than buying a real piano. I would choose a keyboard that has 88 keys as that means it’s a full piano. And I would make sure that it comes with a stand to hold it up. Quality is definitely better than a cheap keyboard. I would not buy a keyboard that is $100 or less, especially if you’re going to buy it online. You never know what you’re going to get. And in my experience, these kinds of keyboards are flimsy and not worth buying. If you can, I would consult with your piano teacher about the best keyboard to purchase. If you can’t, I would look at the reviews online. Essentially, a keyboard with 88 keys will not be cheap, but it’s better than wasting $80 on an unusable keyboard on amazon.
I’ve looked on amazon and here are some keyboards that I recommend:
Additional things to consider are if the keyboard comes with a piano bench or not. It’s nice to have a piano bench, but it’s obviously not necessary. Check to see if the stand where it holds music is either flimsy or unusable. I would purchase a music stand if you find that you need to do so. It will hold your music for you and you can put it behind your keyboard.
I think pedals are absolutely necessary to purchase. Most keyboards support the use of an extended pedal, but you should be careful to check if the pedal is compatible. Look at the requirements of the keyboard before buying a pedal.
Another accessory to purchase later on in your studies is a piano light. You need good lighting near your piano and I would either purchase a light that clips on to your books or a lamp near the piano. Pictured below is what my set up looks like:
The music store is your best bet to buying a book, but online on amazon is wayyyy better; it’s cheaper online to purchase than purchase in a store. If you are an adult, I would purchase the Faber Adult Lesson 1 Book and nothing else. People have a tendency to buy books that contain material way beyond their level. Don’twaste the money. If you are looking to purchase a book for a younger child five years or younger, I would buy the Primer Level Faber Lesson Book. If your child is older than five years old, I would purchase Lesson Book A Faber Piano Adventures. And if they are teenagers, I would suggest starting them in the Lesson Book B Faber Book with the Faber Writing Book B.
Buying books is not an ordeal to stress over. It would be stressful if you buy unnecessary books. I can’t imagine having books you can’t use just sitting there.
Looking for a teacher: music store vs. independent contracted teachers
I am an independent teacher and I do not teach at a store. I’ve found that teachers at music stores cost more than independent teachers. For independent teachers, you’ll have to travel to their home to have a piano lesson. There are some teachers that teach online. I would avoid lessons online because they’re much more of a hassle than necessary. Regular lessons range from being 30 minutes, 45 minutes, or 1 hour. Typically, a piano teacher will not teach less than 30 minutes and no one will teach for more than an hour. A decent price for a 30 minute lesson is $30-40. And anything more than that is not worth the price. Lessons are going to be once a week. If the child is younger, I would suggest trying 20 minutes twice a week if the teacher is okay with that. Younger children tend to have more difficulty sitting still for 30 minutes at a time.
Finding a great teacher will take multiple attempts. Some teachers’ styles of teaching might not vibe with yours. And you have to be picky when choosing a teacher. Once you’ve found a good piano teacher, treat them well and make sure your payments are on time. A good teacher is one in a hundred. Trust me.
How do I practice?
Practicing is an art that will take time to master. I would strive for 10-15 minutes of practice every day because quantity is going to be better. It’s better to practice often than to practice one hour once a week.
Imagine if you’re paying for lessons and you see your teacher once a week. Seven days go by and you haven’t even opened your book. Oops. Seven days is a long time to waste and you’ve most likely forgotten what your teacher taught you. Remember: practice often.
If your teacher assigns you a song, practice the most difficult parts of the song. I wouldn’t waste my time on repeating the same easy parts. Your time is valuable and it is not a good use of time to play only the easy sections.
How long does it take to learn the piano?
It varies for everyone and I wouldn’t be worried if it takes you two or three years to start seeing significant results. Three months or less is not enough time to learn the piano. I would look at learning the piano as a long term endeavor. The more time you invest into practicing and learning the piano, the better you’ll become.
For young children, three years is a decent amount of time for them to grasp all the basic knowledge and skills they’ll need. Adults will learn faster, but be wary of not committing and quitting early. Just because you’re older, it doesn’t mean that you won’t struggle with musical concepts either. A good piano teacher is an absolute must if you are serious about learning the piano. And YouTube will not suffice along with apps like simply piano.
As a music teacher, I’m sad to say that I don’t endorse apps for music learning. I think Josh Wright’s videos on YouTube are superb for learning piano concepts. I also recommend Paul Barton’s videos for advice on the piano. I just don’t like music apps. They charge too much and many aspiring piano players waste their money on them.
How do I stay motivated or how do I find the time to practice with my busy schedule?
All adults will struggle with committing to a practice schedule. I am guilty of this too, don’t worry. I usually practice the hour or two hours before my lesson starts. And I think that’s okay. I understand that all of us have other responsibilities and obligations. We don’t always have time to practice. Don’t be hard on yourself for this.
As far as motivation goes, you have to keep trying. A great teacher will be able to keep you on track and you just have to trust the process. You’ll start learning the basics and it’s okay to start from the beginning; everyone has to start somewhere. Just don’t let yourself quit right away until you have given it your best try.
Types of pianos
There are multiple types of pianos and I will provide a picture for each type.
Baby Grand Piano:
Brands of pianos
Yamaha pianos are great for long term piano students. They last forever and the touch is a little heavy. I find that the sound is less resonant, but these pianos are beautiful.
Kawai pianos are also fantastic. I suggest looking into deals or coupons before purchasing these pianos. On their website, they offer great deals. Music stores often offer deals on these pianos. And the price range for these high quality pianos are high.
I can attest to Pramberger pianos being the best. I enjoy the light touch, bright sound, and the great quality of the keys. These pianos last forever and I would never purchase another piano other than a Pramberger piano.
Other brands you may see are Bosendorfer, Bluthner, Steinway & Sons, Bechstein, Fazioli, Mason and Hamlin, Stuart and Sons, Schimmel, and Grotrian Steinweg.
The best selling piano brands are Steinway & Sons, Mason & Hamlin, Bosendorfer, Fazioli, Kawai, Bechstein, Baldwin, Charles R. Walter, and Yamaha.
I suggest that when you are looking at pianos, consider the touch of the piano (how it feels when you play it- light/heavy), the sound (bright/deep), the color (black, wood, or white), and where you are going to place it in your home.
Print sheet music at home
If there are songs that you want to play, but you don’t want to buy the entire book, check out sheet music online. I would google “canon in D piano sheet music” and print out the public domain copy of the song. There are popular songs that don’t cost anything to print and there will be songs that you have to pay for. I wouldn’t purchase anything unless you know that the sheet music the owner provides is unique and can’t be found anywhere else.
I have other blogs about playing the piano below. Pick the ones you need and I hope this information is helpful for you! Continue to read my blog for more information on playing the piano.
I’ve been teaching for a long time and there’s so many mistakes I’ve seen beginner piano players do. They might lift their fingers too high or apply too much pressure on the keys. That’s why this week, I’m going to be sharing five techniques that can change your piano playing and help you fix those bad habits.
1. Master the art of the five finger exercise. Place both hands in C position. Start with the left hand and play the pinky first, then the fourth finger, third finger, second finger, and the thumb. Then play going back down. Repeat this for the right hand. Each finger is being exercised here and it will help to ease any tensions in the hands. You’ll look like a professional after mastering this exercise.
2. Set your hands at C position and start with the right hand first. Play fingers 1 and 3 together at the same time. Hold it there. Then play fingers 2 and 4 together. Hold it there. Lastly, play fingers 3 and 5 together. Your hands may be shaky at first. Play slow and you’ll progressively get better. This exercise helps with finger power!
3. Relax your hands! I know this may be very difficult in the beginning and I understand. For me, my hands didn’t start to relax until years later. It’s helpful to constantly remind yourself to keep your hands relaxed. If you do this correctly, you’ll see more improvement in your playing right away.
4. Keep your fingers curved. Playing with flat fingers is tough. And if you’re a beginner, it will take some time getting used to playing with curves fingers. Work at it every day. I recommend placing curved fingers on the piano, but not playing anything. Take a look at your posture and correct yourself if needed.
5. When you’re practicing a song, as you advance a little further, make sure to practice with separate hands first. Playing with separate hands should be the first step, but you will want to start practicing with both hands right away after. You’ll see much more progress in your practice sessions this way.
I find myself really busy all the time. There are a million things on my todo list and honestly, there’s not enough time in the day to get everything done. For me, I always make sure that all of my students are progressing. And that takes a lot of attention and decision making every day.
Today, I started out with a doctors appointment. I cleaned out my teaching bag yesterday night so I have a clean start for this new week. I also answered some text messages from parents. I almost always get texts every day from parents either to reschedule or cancel a lesson. Before lessons, I spend time answering all these texts for the day. I then start packing my teaching bag. I carry a lot of materials with me when I go to teach. It’s a big deal to really stock up on materials because my students use it up very fast. After that, I usually almost always bring a big bottle of water and a coffee for the day. Then, I’m out the door.
For me, I use google calendar for all of my scheduling. I know I’ve written a separate blog post about google calendar before, but if you guys want me to write another one, I can explain more about how I use it. Google calendar is my lifeline. It’s where I store ALL of my information on lessons and addresses. I also store personal events and reminders for every aspect of my life on there. It’s kind of like a planner, but more catered to my style of planning. I also share my calendar with my boyfriend so he can see what I have to do for the day. He also shares his calendar with me. I glance at my calendar for the day and I see how my day is going to be.
I travel to each of my students’ homes to teach. It’s convenient for me because I don’t want to teach from my own home. And they like the convenience of it. Each student has lesson books and technical exercise books I’ve chosen for them. We go through the lesson by me watching them play. And I give feedback. At times, I’ll have to teach a concept and they just listen. I have four lessons today. That’s quite a large load for me on a typical day. I average about 4-5 lessons a day.
I don’t know how today’s going to go because I haven’t started my lessons yet. But I hope it’s going to be a good day 🤞 I hope everyone is having a good Monday!
My birthday just recently passed and I’ve been working a lot. I have 21 piano and double bass students that I teach every week. They are quite a handful of young kids. And I’ve been noticing that some of the younger ones are not practicing. I’ve been thinking of implementing a check in on practicing every Thursday to see how their progress is going.
I dealt with some trials and tribulations yesterday, but I shared that with my other blog. I went out to buy my own shoes, so no one will steal them. And I hid my current ones away too 😁 They are my “teaching shoes” that I wear every day to go teach. Even my oldest sister, that I don’t live with anymore, knows that those shoes are mine. But somehow, they were taken when I needed to wear them… now that won’t happen! I’m also going camping today with friends. We’re camping in their backyard haha because we don’t want to tough out the actual wilderness. And bathroom breaks are a lot easier.
I have my first piano lesson of the day in 45 minutes. And I’ve been spending these last few minutes, as I always do, just relaxing and calming down. Yesterday was a good full day of lessons. My students definitely cheer me up when I feel down.
I’ve been constantly on the go moving from task to task. I haven’t really had time to relax. My job requires me to be there six days out of the week and I’ve finally hit the wall today. My brain is fried. I know that if I push myself to work today, I will end up regretting it later. And I’ll also be very miserable.
So what did I do? I canceled my lessons for the rest of the day. I knew that it would have repercussions because not everyone has the ability to make their own schedule. I do, however. I rescheduled my lessons for another day. For my own mental health, I had to do it.
It’s good to always be on the move. People strive for progress and are always surrounded by responsibilities. What happens when we finally relax and give our mind a break? Great things. Even better. I think we come back stronger than ever. And we are recharged to start again. Just like a low phone battery, we have to recharge. And then, we’ll be ready for another day.