Beginning Teacher to Beginners - Questions! : LUSENET : Everything About Teaching and Learning the Piano : One Thread

I'm so thrilled with the information I've gleaned so far. My background: I'm 23, married, no kids and currently working full-time, but with hopes of creating a freelance technical writing business out of my home, in addition to starting a small studio of students.

I took lessons for 13 years growing up and also accompanied a traveling music ensemble during college. My strengths are sightreading and accompaniment, but I am very deficient in theory and improvisation. My lack of theory is really undermining my confidence. I LOVE kids and feel that my knowledge from years of lessons, mastery of the basics, and love for music could help beginners get off to a good start. There are 3 people, two 7-8 year olds and one adult, who have approached me about teaching them, and I am now in the information gathering stage. I want to be equipped with all the tools I need to give them a solid foundation.

So, I'm wondering: 1.) Can I overcome my lack of training in theory so that my weakness doesn't become my students' weakness? Ideas on materials for me AND for them would be appreciated. 2.) What is a reasonable rate to charge per half hour, seeing that I do not have any formal post-secondary pedagogy training? Is a half-hour the best way to approach beginners? 3.) ADVICE! ... on anything you think could help me in this journey. Can anyone speak to my fear that I'm going to "mess up" my students b/c I don't have a degree in piano pedagogy? I look back on my years of lessons and see major gaps in the things I was taught. I want to cover all the bases! 4.) The basics of playing seem like second nature to me - How do I learn how to teach them and in what sequence? What books (or categories of books) should be in my beginners' piano bags? 5.) How do you know when a student has outgrown your teaching or effectiveness? 6.) Two of the students I mentioned is a mother -daugther duo, both beginners. Should I use the same curriculum for them or use different books?

From reading the other postings, I am going to look into Faber, Music Tree, Leonard, and Alfred and see which one I like better. I would REALLY appreciate any input you can give. Thank you!

-- Jenn Hesse (, May 06, 2002


Hi Jenn, I am also just beginning. One thing I have found is that teachers love to and are willing to share. I would call teachers in the area you are going to teach and ask how much they charge and what their policy is. (Where I live the going rate is about $10 for a 30 min. lesson) One teacher actually gave me printed copies of her policy, assignment and information sheets, and orientation papers. This really helped. Also, as to your question on what sequence to teach in, I think you will find (as you look into methods) that this is pretty well spelled out in each method book. It tells you exactly what page goes with another page in the next book. (does that make any sense?) as you go along you will probably find different things about different methods that you'd like to incorporate but for the beginning, stick with a method (like faber or alfred) that guides you along. Hope this helps! And good luck!

-- trudy shiba (, May 06, 2002.


I agree with Trudy. The piano books you get will take it step by step. Also, I am very much like you, too! I'm 35, I've played piano since I was 5. I have 2 kids and worked as a registration clerk in a hospital, then after an October surgery, I decided to quit the job and stay home with the kids and teach beginner piano. I was intimidated at first, but after the first couple of lessons, I started "getting into it", and now I believe I have found my calling. Playing piano was always the one thing that I am proud of myself for! And this is what I should have done all along! If you like kids, (like you said) and you like to play, then why not teach what you know? It will take quite a while before the students get to the point where they are considered "too advanced" to continue with us, but then we can refer them to someone else, who is more advanced than us. (I remember one of my piano teachers doing that, and it made me feel like I was really going somewhere with my piano!) After that, more students will come and take their place. If the kids like you and they seem to be learning and enjoy coming to lesson, they will tell their friends, and their parents will speak highly of you, and soon you will be known as "the piano teacher" around town, and it'll stick!

I am having my first recital on June 2! I am really starting to get nervous about it. It's getting closer and closer, and I and getting that intimidated feeling again because I am now on the other side of the fence, "the respected piano teacher"! I'll be having a little party here a few days before the big day, and the kids will play their pieces for each other and eat some pizza, so maybe they won't be so nervous when the time comes. So, wish me luck! And I hope some day, I'll be wishing you luck on your first recital!!!

But right now, I congratulate you on your decision to teach, and wish you luck in your piano teaching future!!!

-- Deanne (, May 14, 2002.

My own personal feeling is that beginners deserve the best teachers. I've spent many hours fixing problems that should have never been there in the first place.

That is not to say that you shouldn't teach, but you are right to be concerned about your own lack of training and experience. Why not take a theory class during the summer? You can do this at most community colleges or you could even seek out another private teacher in your community to teach you. There is always an opportunity for personal growth if you are willing to seek it out.

I would also recommend that you take the time to go and observe some local teachers. You will learn loads by observing not just the materials they use, but how they approach introducing new concepts, how they train technique, how they incorporate theory and how they engage the child.

Experience WILL teach you a lot, but you owe it to the students to prepare yourself in the best way possible.

-- Arlene Steffen (, May 14, 2002.

I'd like to also suggest that you consider the Warner Bros. series entitled LOONEY TUNES PIANO LIBRARY. I am one of the arrangers in that series and they are LOTS of fun and the students really love the titles and teachers love that the arrangements are pedagogical sound. There are approx. 20 books in the series at all levels (1-4) that match the levels in all major piano method books -- including Alfred, Faber/Faber and Bastein, etc. The series is mixed with a variety of musical genres. They range from light jazz, Broadway, movie titles, pop/rock standards and even some Backstreet Boys, N*SYNC and Britney Spears. The books are also available with fully orchestrated audio CD and MIDI floppy disks. Here is a link to one of the titles:

*** Foghorn Leghorn's Hot Hits *** ( upc=ELM01042CD&type=print&mscssid=584V5LW351439GM4UG8U3P4556NJCJV5)

Hope this helps. I'd love any feedback on how you and your students untilized the books. Are there any other types of books you'd like to see available that might assist you with your musical endeavors?

Have a great summer!!! Jerry Ray

P.S. Can you stand just one more "shamless plug"... ? Here's a link to a Christmas CD I arranged and recorded recently that many people/teachers have used as Christmas gifts for students, student awards, friends or family. Hope you enjoy.


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-- Jerry Ray (, August 14, 2002.

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