You love interacting with students and passing your skills as a pianist on to them. This is how you know that you'd love it if teaching piano were to become your main activity.
So you're now looking to become a piano teacher with a regular clientele.
Did you know that the piano is one of the most popular instruments?
According to a poll conducted in 2015, 26% of Americans prefer the piano to all other instruments, while 27% prefer the guitar.
Further investigation shows that 10% of people polled already knew how to play the piano.
How do you give lessons and succeed in this context?
Superprof will reveal, in this article, everything you need to know to properly set yourself up to become a piano teacher, whether it's private lessons in the home or at a music school.
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What Level Do You Need to Be at to Become a Piano Teacher?
There are no rules in terms of the skill level required to become a keyboard teacher: any adult can call themself a teacher and help educate aspiring musicians.
However, giving private piano lessons inherently means that you need to have a higher certification than your students. Moreover, you need to be able to adapt to the levels of your students.
To insure you're capable of this, as a private teacher you'll need to:
- love passing along knowledge
- know how to simplify a song in order to teach it to beginner pianists
- develop a piano method for beginners that's effective and accessible
- master music theory, sheet music, piano chords, and manual coordination
- have at least ten years of playing experience to be a versatile teacher
- be patient and listen to everyone
As Gustave Flaubert once said, with some irony: "Mestro: an Italian word meaning pianist."
To become a piano teacher, you'll need to master your own skills and artistry as a pianist.
Teachers at the highest level teach in a few different places:
- Conservatories: Julliard (in New York) and Curtis (in Philadelphia) for example. Degrees offered for the multi-year, intense programs include a Bachelor of Music, a Master’s of Music, and a Doctorate of Music Arts.
- Music departments at other universities: these are dedicated programs with similar degrees situated within general education colleges. Examples include departments at the University of Southern California and Oberlin (in Ohio).
- Non-degree granting institutes: these are also usually attached to university programs, but are designed to be less intensive, often for adults and children. The Peabody Institute at Johns Hopkins University (in Baltimore) is an example.
Beneath these high-level positions are many other opportunities for piano teachers:
- smaller, local conservatories
- grammar, middle, and even high schools, where students have music classes
- musical organizations: hundreds of music and performance focused cultural institutions across the country recruit teachers for various community classes at all levels, for all kinds of instruments (piano, guitar, drums, violin, etc.)
- smaller music academies: these are usually more focused on classical music and are aimed at helping players become concert pianists
- the private, home lesson market: to be an in-home teacher, you'll need at least five or six years of experience on the piano
With 26% of Americans preferring the piano to all other instruments, and only 10% with any ability to play, that leaves a large number of potential students who might take piano lessons with you.
How to Set the Price for Your Piano Lessons
Setting the price: this is often the greatest challenge. You need to be aware of the competition, which can help you situate yourself among the numerous piano teachers.
You should know that the cost of an hour-long piano lesson ranges from $40 to $100, on average. But a variety of different factors can cause the price to go up or down.
Some of these factors influencing the price you set for piano lessons are as follows:
- the teacher's level of experience: the more experienced, the more expensive the lessons are going to be
- the complexity of the lessons being given: learning about music theory and a multitude of styles will cost more
- the level of instruction being asked for: from a beginner's introductory classes to intensive lessons for someone auditioning for a conservatory, the prices will vary greatly
- where you live: consider the cost of travel to your student's homes, meaning that if you need to travel to other cities, if it takes a long time and gas, or even if you use public transportation, take this into consideration
- teaching style: the teacher's status can influence the price of all private lessons, depending on whether they are independent or work for a school
The art of setting the price of piano lessons comes down to knowing how to balance price and quality: don't scare away students and don't fail to meet their expectations.
How to Find Students for Piano Lessons
There are four main ways to find students to teach piano to.
Start with word of mouth.
It's the best way to have your friends and family help spread the word about your lessons within their own social networks. Mobilize everyone you know.
Social networks offer excellent platforms for sharing this kind of information. Accumulate likes on Facebook and you'll become more visible.
This way, you'll stake a claim to your territory.
The second tool people generally use is creating a personal website to advertise your offerings.
Be aware that it costs money for domain hosting (around $50 a year), and that it'll be wasted money if you don't know anything about search engine optimization (SEO), and that you'll need to update the site regularly to increase visibility.
But it's a great form of communication and presentation to people wanting to learn to play the piano. Why not post simplified sheet music excerpts from the "Turkish March" or "Letter for Elise."
You can also introduce your teaching method: visitors to your site need to be able to see themselves as future students, and be convinced of your educational know-how.
If you're no Internet expert, there are other ways to canvass the landscape:
- fliers advertising your piano lessons in schools and libraries
Indicate your experience on the piano and what you offer (understanding music theory, reading music, jazz piano lesson, improvisation, classical, etc.)
- students at cultural institutions: these organizations could be a source of potential clients looking to learn more about music, or looking to improve their piano skills
There you are, you've found your first students. Now, how do you prepare for the first session?
How to Structure a Piano Lesson
It's your first meeting at your student's home and you'll need to assess their level. Here is how to structure your piano lessons.
Do they understand the basics of theory, piano chords, can they read the music? What style of music do they want to work on?
The first thing to do is evaluate their abilities. Is this the first time they're taking a piano lesson or have they already had the opportunity to learn certain pieces of information (theory, rhythm) in other classes?
Come prepared with lots of sheet music for the piano, some simple and some complex, to see what they're capable of playing.
Once their skill level is apparent, organize your piano lessons:
- Prepare scales exercises: get them used to reading notes over time, and to playing with a metronome.
- Make them play songs they've learned in previous lessons.
- Plan important technical exercises: they need to develop the dexterity to play and eliminate any tension.
- Lastly, give your students homework in between lessons: it will keep them consistently motivated.
Whether you'll be a jazz piano teacher or one of all styles of music, it's important to be patient and listen to your students' needs. It's the foundation of any good exchange and enables an understanding to develop between you, to create a good student-teacher relationship.
To make in-home piano lessons more successful, choosing the appropriate supporting educational materials is a must. Look at the online tutoring jobs and courses: the Bernachon method is an excellent site to help students perfect their play for free.
Using an adapted method — from guitar lessons, for example, or drum or violin lessons — allow you to give fun and innovative lessons to your students.
If there are persistent disagreement, try changing your approach to that student or settle the dispute: don't forget that the student is your livelihood.
Quarterly assessments your students' capabilities will allow you to highlight the progress that's been made: it's the little black book of your piano lessons, and tracking these things enables students to climb to the next level (playing a variety of styles, like jazz, or reading more complex sheet music), and helps them overcome stubborn obstacles.
There you have it, you have (almost) all the information you need to give high-quality piano lessons. To your keyboards!
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