Becoming a piano teacher. : LUSENET : Everything About Teaching and Learning the Piano : One Thread

What grades do you have to do in order to apply to become a piano teacher of theory and practical. I have heard that once you pass your Grade 8 practical and theory you can apply to become a private piano teacher at home. Is this true?

-- Claire Mullan (, September 03, 2004


To whom would you apply? As far as I know, anyone -- with or without any qualifications -- can call themselves a piano teacher. Whether they have the ability to teach or not is another question. If you are a private piano teacher, you answer to no-one except your clients and the tax man.

If you want to be recognized by or join a particular group -- such as the Registered Music Teachers' Association of your area -- then there are requirements you must meet. In Ontario, where I am, ORMTA requires you to have your ARCT (or in some cases Gr. 10 and heading for ARCT), plus a track record of students who have passed Conservatory exams with good results -- or similar recommendations.

If you are thinking of starting to teach, I suggest you talk to your teacher about it. It's very helpful to observe more experienced teachers and do some teaching under the supervision of someone more experienced. You also need to think about your philosophy of teaching -- what you think it's most important for your students to learn, and in what order you think things should be taught, that sort of thing. There are lots of books on teaching (pedagogy) and it would be good to read and evaluate some.

You could also check out Music for Young Children (; teachers are required to have Gr. 8 Piano and Gr. 2 Rudiments. Other groups have their own requirements.

Alice Dearden

-- Alice Dearden (, September 03, 2004.

There is no magical grade you have to pass to become a private piano teacher. In fact, I know of a woman who only has her grade 6 piano and teaches students up to grade 5. Naturually, her rate is no where near a teacher with much higher credentials. As for the grade 8 "you can become a teacher" notion, I think that over the years, an individual who obtained grade 8 RCM gained a reputation as being a somewhat accomplished pianist, in that this grade earns a grade 12 high school credit. Over time people felt that in order to teach, one should have grade 8 practical as a minimum, and ideally the teacher in this situation is continuing his/her studies.

-- Rosalind Johnson (, September 24, 2004.

well if you take grade 8 in both practical and theory you can teach up to grade 5 or 6 if you are good enough, but when you have students preparing for 6-8 you are going to need a higher degree let alone the advanced students...

-- ravan babia (, October 01, 2004.

Being able to play well and having theory knowledge is only a part of teaching. While you will learn a great deal from practical experience, I would recommend that you enroll in some courses in piano pedagogy or at least read some practical texts before taking on students. (Try Practical Piano Pedagogy by Martha Baker-Jordan, for one).

Beginning students are the most difficult to teach, and quite frankly, I get rather tired of trying to pick up the pieces from teachers who don't know enough about teaching beginners. The child's first teacher is laying the foundation in every way and can color the child's life attitude about music.

You owe it to your students to prepare yourself in the best way possible.

-- Arlene Steffen (, October 05, 2004.

I agree entirely with Arlene. However, I have often found that a qualified music teacher is not always the best for teaching the basics, believe it or not. I, too, am tired of picking up the pieces, but investigation often indicates that the worst culprits are often the most qualified. This was also true of my own training. The best teacher I ever had was my first, a non-qualified pianist who truly understood how young children think. From her I learned first class sight reading skills, which I now pass on to my own students. The rest of my training added extra skills but, in my opinion, none more valuable than those from my first teacher.

-- Rebecca (, October 31, 2004.

I am a grade 8 pianist but have not taken any exams (since there are no music exams in Zimbabwe) I am still at school, I teach quite a few friends in spare periods. This helps releive the workload of HOD, it helps me advance musically and I seem to be able to get my pupils to understand since I was in their position not very long ago.

My first piano teacher was also only a grade 8 however she totally spoilt my entire music career. She had terrible teaching methods - I did no theory, no scales etc. she also used to write in the names of the notes in my music so my sight reading was disgusting!

My next teacher was merely grade 6. Although I could tell she was trying harder than my previous teacher, she just was not good enough. I stopped playing the piano for about 2 years.

My current teacher is probably the best in the country, she has her LRSM, is extremely qualified and teaches beautifully and with passion. She has coached many a fine pianist including some current concert pianists. She made me start from the beginning - theory, scales, sight reading . My previous 4-5 years of piano can barely count towards what I know now. She took me from a pre grade 1 to grade 8 level in 3 years. the first of which we concentrated solely upon theory. Although I haven't taken any exams I still play only grade 8 pieces.

Well you see, its not all about passing any exams, some are very qualified (and it shows), some are not so qualified (and it shows), and some haven't taken a single exam and still manage to teach a complete beginner, place the fundamentals - the most difficult part of teaching in my eyes. Once one of your pupils reaches past grade 5 something extraordinary happens... its almost magical!!!!

-- Khameer Kidia (, November 21, 2004.

I think you should start teaching right away! I've had my Grade 8 RCM and Grade 2 theory for 3 years now, and because I've been studying other musical styles, I'll have to refresh my memory if I want to teach students. Teaching will help you stay on top of the basics.

-- cool canadian (, February 28, 2005.

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