Piano: Thoughts on Teaching

I’ve had my own piano/keyboard teaching studio for almost 2 years now. I’ve also taught piano at the college level for a total of 12 years (some of those years I was full-time faculty, others an adjunct). Today, I was thinking about some of the differences between teaching privately and on the college campus – it is interesting, to those of us who teach, anyway!

You have a certain stick hanging over a college student’s head – the grade, but this may or may not be a motivator! I’ve had many college students start taking piano, and then never really practice. Many are actually surprised that I expect them to practice between lessons.

My approach to this problem has mellowed out a bit over the years. I used to fret a bit over not being able to motivate the student. Now – and perhaps this is because my own two boys are in their teens or rapidly approaching – I realize that at some point I am not responsible for the choices the student makes. Nowadays, I lay it out flatly that it will require practice if they really want to get better – and that piano lessons are a lot more fun when they practice (because we can get beyond the notes and other basics).

For some, this is enough. Others, it doesn’t seem to really matter – which is a shame, since they are paying extra to take private piano! For me, I will push the students who seem to want to make music. The others, I try to keep it interesting by throwing in stuff from outside the book, but i’m not going to worry about it. That is, unless they are music majors.

Music majors are in a whole ‘nother ballgame. If a student truly wants to major in music – that is, have a prayer of a chance at making a living at this field, then they’d better be able to play or sing real well – and that takes extraordinary amounts of intelligent practice – 4 hours a day.

Yes, I push the music majors…….but my regular private students I have to treat differently. More on that next time. Leave some Comments!


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