Piano teacher KM Logan has sent me a copy of her ebook and asked if I’d be willing to review it, to which I happily agreed. Her ebook is called: “The Matthew 6:33 Piano Teacher: How To Teach Piano To The Glory Of God.” It is 79 pages in length and is available on her website, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.
In case you are wondering, here is the verse mentioned in the ebook’s title: “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” — Matthew 6:33 This ebook is written very much from a Christian perspective (which I very much appreciate), asking the reader to consider things like whether piano teaching is God’s calling for you, how God can make a difference through your teaching, and most of all, how the piano teacher can do all they do for the glory of God. Unfortunately, I’m not sure the book provides many clues for the answers to those questions, but it does ask you to consider those things.
Here are some comments regarding the ebook from a purely writing perspective. The tone of Logan’s writing is very conversational, which has its benefits and downsides. The writing is easy-to-read, but I feel the eBook would benefit from a more academic style of writing. For example, if I were the editor, I would eliminate all the contractions and restructure the sentences so they don’t use “you” so much (so the writing doesn’t sound as “preach-y” and direct). Also, I hope you like rhetorical questions, because the author makes use of them a great deal throughout the ebook! For example, the eBook opens with 9 questions in a row.
The book is organized into three parts: Preliminary Questions (7 chapters, each 1-2 pages in length), Business Aspects of Piano Teaching (18 chapters), and The Piano Studio (16 chapters). The chapter titles are descriptive (they are all rhetorical questions, such as “Is Teaching Piano Something I Want To Do?) and on-topic, but the book is somewhat repetitive especially in the opening chapters.
The intended audience of this ebook is somewhat unclear. I’m not sure if this ebook is intended for use in a piano pedagogy course at a Christian college (which is I think how the author uses it), or if it is for a non-music-degreed pianist who is considering the possibility of teaching piano. I am fairly sure, however, that it is not for experienced teachers who are seeking additional professional development. The scope of this book does not include pedagogy. There is no discussion of method books (other than a list of her favorites in the appendix), the history of pedagogy, pedagogical theories, music/general learning theories, or how to develop technique at the piano. The focus of the book is on the logistics of running a piano studio.
So, I think the ebook seems to be written for someone who has never considered the logistics of running a piano studio before and is looking for some guidance. It also reads mostly to females who are planning to be homemakers and teach piano on the side. If you are a experienced teacher or planning to open a music school full-time, this may not be the book for you.
The ebook provides good information on:
- A general overview on how filing taxes for self-employed business works.
- The pros and cons of working for a music store versus teaching out of your own studio.
- Advice regarding what kind of piano to buy.
- Additional streams of income for the piano teacher.
- The importance of having a studio recital and entering students in adjudicated events.
- Considerations for teaching students with disabilities.
- Modes of marketing.
Here are a few of my regrets about the ebook:
- In the section “Am I Qualified?”, I wish the author had discussed the value and importance of on going professional development and described the various means of getting it. It neglects to mention the value of getting a college music degree (or at least auditing piano pedagogy courses). This would also be the time to discuss the importance and benefits of joining professional associations such as MTNA and its local affiliates, attending conferences, or becoming a Nationally Certified Teacher of Music through MTNA. (Associations and conferences aren’t mentioned until later in the ebook under “How Do I Connect With Other Music Teachers?”)
- I wish the author had emphasized the principles of marketing other than low-cost marketing. Her advice on rates is: “If you need more students, charge less. If you want fewer students, charge more.” Marketing a business based on one’s rates is generally a bad idea unless your ultimate goal as a piano teacher is to offer the cheapest rates in town. A better strategy is to market your services based on your unique qualifications, reputation, and value. New teachers need to be encouraged to do this rather than just price their services low. The author does discuss the importance of a good reputation under a section about growing your business, but not in direct relation to marketing or setting rates.
- Any book on piano teaching should have a section on ethics. There is a paragraph on “stealing students” from music stores, but nothing more.
- In general, I wish that the book contained more pedagogical information (like how to actually teach during the lesson and plan a curriculum for a student).
- I wish the title and subtitle clearly indicated the audience the book is intended for. The title and subtitle seems to claim to be written for any piano teacher to learn how to teach to the glory of God, but in reality I do not feel that the book benefits the experienced piano teacher much. It’s much more appropriate for prospective or new teachers.
Logan’s ebook can be purchased for $9.99 on her website, on Amazon, or the Barnes & Noble website. However, Logan has offered to giveaway 5 copies of her ebook! To enter the giveaway, leave a comment on this post. A winner will be chosen via random number generator on May 1, 2012.