It takes a special type of person to be a piano teacher. It’s not always easy and it’s not always fun but it is always rewarding. I have a message for all the piano teachers out there- a message you need to hear to remind yourself how important you really are.
This is a topic I hold very dear to my heart. It’s one thing to know how to teach piano; it’s another thing to know your impact and influence on your students. Regardless of your purpose for being in their life, you are making an impact on their overall development.
Whether you work with young children or teenagers, they are in such developmental stages of life that every interaction they encounter is shaping them into the adult they will become. I think that piano teachers need to change the way they view their students. It’s not just a matter of learning the instrument. You are a constant in their life. Your choice of words and affirmations matter. You are more important than you think.
You’re More Than “Just a Teacher.”
The reason I’m so passionate about this topic is because I’ve seen so many children reach the point of wanting to give up on the piano, based on how it’s been taught to them. I was one of these children.
When my mom first signed me up for piano lessons, I did not like my very first teacher. I was four years old and I just remember crying every time we drove to her house. Going to lessons, I was so torn because I really loved the piano but I hated learning. I was starting to hate the piano because of who I was associating it with.
It’s not that this teacher was a bad person – she just made piano scary. She was cold and demanding. I just felt discouraged and at such a young age, that was affecting my overall self-esteem. So, my mom pulled me out of lessons and found a new teacher.
This teacher was the complete opposite of my first teacher. She was soft, gentle, and nurturing. I felt safe with her and even if I messed up, I knew she wouldn’t be disappointed in me. She made piano non-threatening and provided me with an open space to be vulnerable and curious. She is one of the main reasons I am the piano teacher I am today. I think that all piano teachers should share those qualities and attributes to their students.
Your Students Have An Instinct About You… And It’s Either Going To Be Good or Bad
I remember feeling comfortable with my piano teacher. I trusted her from the beginning. However, I believe that you can always grow that intention and if you have a student that currently doesn’t seem to trust you- it can happen. It’s all about being truly interested in them and the little beings that they are. 😌
You have to get down to their level and make them feel like you’re an equal. They don’t want to feel like they’re hanging out with an adult, that also happens to be an expert in what they’re trying to learn. That’s super intimidating. The moment that you begin lessons with a student, you can somewhat determine how they feel about the piano and how they feel about you. Some students will take a little longer to warm up to you, but that doesn’t mean you give up! Remember – you’re the expert and you’re the one that’s supposed to encourage and support them on their journey as a musician. It’s not the other way around.
So, How Do You Be More Intentional As A Piano Teacher?
Here are three things you can do to better your relationship with your students.
I truly believe the best thing you can do is just to care about them. Kids thrive off of love and affirmations. They love knowing that they are doing a good job and that you are proud of them! Embrace that! Get to know them outside of their piano journey and make it own that you care about them, regardless of how well they learn the piano. In doing so, they will be more apt to listen to you and more excited to see you for lessons.
- MAKE A CONNECTION
This is the BEST PART about being a piano teacher!!! Sometimes, it doesn’t take much at all to know you’re connected. Some students have such welcoming little hearts that they pull you right in from the beginning. 💕 Other students may take some time to warm up to you. In this scenario, the best thing you can do as the teacher is to be patient and try to make a connection, whether it involves the piano or not. If you start showing you care, you’ll get to know their life outside the piano. For instance, you may ask how their day was at school. They’ll say something short like, “It was good.” This is where you push a little and ask, “Well, what was your favorite part?!” (And act really enthused- like you really want to know!)
Let’s say they tell you they really enjoyed playing soccer at recess. (Let’s also say that you played soccer when you were little- BOOM. Connection!)
“I played soccer when I was your age, too! I loved being the goalie!!! What position do you play?!”
If you act so excited to share a similar interest with them, you are going to see their face light up. Slowly… you’re going to break through and build that deeper connection. When you build a deeper connection, you become more than a teacher. They trust you and they love you! There’s no better feeling than that.
- TREAT THEM THE SAME FROM THE BEGINNING
Someone once asked me if I had a favorite age group to teach. At first, I thought the little ones because they are so adorable, but they’re also exhausting since I have to put 150% of my energy and focus on them. 😂 Then, I thought… I also LOVE teaching older kids because it’s so fun to see them challenge themselves and keep me on my toes. After running through the memories in my head of both, I came to the conclusion that I don’t have a favorite. I LOVE ALL AGES! Each age brings a different relationship and experience to the table, and that’s one of the many reasons I love my job!
With that said, you should treat every student the same from the beginning. I know I’ll be with these kids until they’re 18 years old; therefore, I act like it from the beginning. Knowing that I’m going to be a constant part of their lives for years and years… It’s my obligation to water that relationship and help them grow in more ways than just learning the piano. ❤️
You have all the traits to be a great piano teacher!
You really do! Being a piano teacher is such a rewarding career and you chose it for a reason! Whether it’s your full-time job or something you do on the side, you are making an impact on your students during each and every lesson.
If you feel that your teaching techniques have gone a little stale and maybe that’s why you’re losing sight of your passion and connection with your students, you may want to learn more about getting certified as a Cascade Method Teacher!
This program gives you all the tools and methods you need to teach piano the FUN way! If you’re like to learn more, go ahead and grab all the details about the program and its pricing here!
Thanks for hearing my message and I hope it helps you deepen your relationship with your students and build up more well-rounded musicians that LOVE the piano!