Beginner teacher : LUSENET : Everything About Teaching and Learning the Piano : One Thread

Hi, my name is Melissa. I have been playing the piano for approximately 13 years and love it. Recently, I had my first child and would like to start teaching out of my home. I am looking for some advice on how to get started. Which books do you recommend for each age group? Are there any web sites or books that might be helpful to me as the teacher? What advice do you have, (Students and teachers), that would help? Thank you!

-- Melissa Miller (, March 15, 2001


Hi Melissa, A few things to get you started: I taught for about 8 years using Bastien and Alfred. Now I use Faber and love them. I've used them for 2 or 3 yrs. now. They also have a wonderful website that has a message board as well with many different areas. You would enjoy going and reading all the old threads for LOTS of info. I think the website is If I am wrong, I'm sure someone will correct me. : ) Join MTNA if at all possible. Their website: It is a national piano teachers org. with state and local chapters. Suscribe to Keyboard Companion ( and Clavier (no web address, but if you write to them and ask for a free sample, they will send one; Clavier 200 Northfield Rd., Northfield, IL 60093 My first choice would be KC Alfred Publications also has a website; on it is a list of teachers clinics that they sponsor. There might be one in your area. Call your local music store and tell them that you are a new teacher in the area and 1. would like to be put on their teachers list for referrals if they have one 2. would like to know if they have any teachers clinics coming up Also when you buy music from them ask if they have a teachers discount. Most will give you 10% off. I purchase the music for my students and still charge them the reg. price because I find it easier to get it myself than have them come back the next week with the wrong book; the extra charge is my compensation : ) This is getting long; so I will let you digest that info. I'll be happy to answer any other specific questions you might have. Good luck Deedra

-- Deedra (, March 15, 2001.

Hi Melissa, great choice in careers. I decided to change my career to music teaching when we began thinking of starting a family. I started teaching almost 4 years ago and now have 3 children. It is the best job, I'm home with my kids day time, and teach at night and on Saturdays. It is great, you can chose your own hours and days. I got started, when I was taking lessons myself, the teacher was starting to overloaded to she offered to refer students to me. I read pedagogy books and am now studying for my teacher's apprencticeship along with a B. Music. I can do this, because I have a very understanding and supportive husband. The universities here do not offer ped. classes to outside students, but if yours does, please take a class it always helps. But nothing beats experience. Be prepared to hit some rough roads with students and parents. I started by taking anyone who was willing to learn from me, that quickly changed. I only take students that I believe will take their lessons seriously.

What Deedra said is what I would recommend. Attend as many seminars as possible, read, read, read. Keep your own playing up to par as well.

When I first started I felt very alone and lost so use the message boards as much as you want we'll all help you out. Join the MTNA or any other ass. in your area.

I also use the Faber books, their great. They also have supplementary material for every level. Their website mentioned by Deedra is correct.

The only other advice is studio policy and go by your instincts, ther are usually right. Sorry this is long.

Good luck!! Cathy

-- Cathy Morabito (, March 16, 2001.

I like the Faber methods (I even attended the same studio class as randy at U of M and met his wife, Nancy ... great people!)....and the supplementary library is excellent.

I must encourage you to check out Hal Leonard's Student Piano Library AND USE THE C.D's THAT ACCOMPANY THE MUSIC! I prefer it over the Faber's because:

More variety of music and styles (4 different composers contributed)

Improvisation tracks at every level on C.D.

The ARRANGEMENTS of the CD accompaniments are EXCELLENT. Some of Faber's begin with 16th-note syncopations in the introductory counts and just confuse students. On Hal Leonard's, the accompaniment supports the child without adding too much syncopation or distracting riffs.

The "Piano Practice Games" books offer composing opportunities and activities which prepare students for their Lesson Book pieces.

Playing with C.D's (a pseudo "ensemble experience") helps students IMMENSELY with feeling the rhythm and getting used to playing a steady beat.

Simply put -- students (esp. hard to please BOYS) love the music! And I am NOT a Hal Leonard rep., just a piano teacher & composer who cannot bring myself to teach any piece of music that isn't exciting, interesting, and musical!

-- John Bisceglia (, March 19, 2001.

I am not a fan of the Faber methods, I have found my students not to respond to them the way they do to the Alfred method, but I use more of the supplemental books with Alfred so I'm not dependant on the Lesson Book. I do however use the Faber books for supplemental once the kids and adults get to the note reading. I am totally in the minority here, but I am just speaking from experience. I have 43 students and the majority of them reading on the staff(except those who are transfer students) read by note names, not hand positions. I found it a matter of the teaching, not the method you use.

What I feel you need to do is go to your local music store and ask them if you can check out a bunch of different methods and then you need to pick the one that you will be comfortable teaching out of. If you are comfortable with the material, you will teach it well, and the students will respond.

-- Busy Mom (, March 23, 2001.

Hi, Melissa

Everyone has given excelent advice about which methods to use and how you should get your things organized. It's very important, from my point of view, that you don't book too many students - start with a few and then expand your class (never the opposite way - it's a true burn-out!). Nobody ever mentions, as methods, the book I use here in Portugal: Piano Lessons, by Waterman and Harewood, supplemented by a wide (VEEEEERY WIDE) range of materials, by the same authors. I find these books very progressive (the kids love the repertoire and you have a lot of books to choose from) and maybe you'd want to give them a look.

-- Nuno Maulide (, April 16, 2001.


I feel your pain!! I was in your position 6 years ago when I started teaching. I had no idea where to start! As a beginning teacher, you are bound to make mistakes. In my case, I feel that I have gotten better at being a teacher every year, and those mistakes I made in the beginning have only improved my skills.

I started out using Alfred books exclusively. I have found, however, that Alfred is not right for every student. I now use a variety of books: Alfred, Faber, Bastien, Noona, just to name a few. Sometimes you will find that an especially slow learner will need to go through several primer books by different authors before they move on to the next level. My best advice here is don't limit yourself to just one series of books.

Next, don't let your students or their parents take you advantage of you. Your time is as valuable as theirs, and if they miss a lesson without giving you notice, they need to pay for that missed lesson. The first year I taught, I bent over backward trying to refund money for missed lessons or giving make-up lessons. I now insist that I have at least 24 hours notice if a student will miss a lesson and I really encourage my students to switch lesson times with another student if they know they will be missing a lesson.

Have courage and jump right in there!

-- Tena Clark (, August 04, 2001.

Go to for a wealth of sample studio policies. A great place to help you formulate your own!

-- John Bisceglia (, August 05, 2001.

Hello, Melissa. First and foremost develop a studio policy. You want to make sure that you present yourself as a professional who takes her craft seriously. If there is a local music teachers organization nearby I recommend that you join and try to find a mentor.

As for your choice of books, choose a basic series to start and expand from that point. It helps to learn a series thoroughly because you discover where the problem points are and you learn to prepare for them. No method is perfect!

-- Marcia Yurko (, February 09, 2002.

Hi MElissa....

I Am a music major at MWSC. I have been teaching for 3 years now.....WHat I find very helpful are the piano methods like alfred, faber, bastien, etc... THe one method that I love, especially for young beginners is "JOhn T. Easiest Piano Book". THere are 4 levels and kids love it!

ALfred, as well as bastien and many others have theory, technique and many other methods that u can use with the regular lesson book, Good luck.

-- gabriela fernandez (, April 20, 2003.

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