Interviews, Rhythm

Teacher Feature | Mariel Mohns

It’s halfway through the month already, which means it’s time for a…

Teacher Feature!  :)  Meet Mariel from Mississippi!

Please tell us about your piano and/or teaching background!

I started taking piano lessons when I was 4 years old and loved piano, but when I was in the 5th or 6th grade, I quit lessons for various reasons.  I continued to play through middle school and high school, and started working on more advanced repertoire on my own.  Since I didn’t have a teacher, however, my technique was very limited.  I was accepted into the Lawrence Conservatory of Music for college, and with the help of my very understanding studio professor, learned proper technique skills I needed to really develop as a pianist.  During my freshman year of college, I taught a few students and HATED it. I never wanted to teach again (I didn’t have the patience for it), but after taking the piano pedagogy courses in college and learning how to formulate lesson plans and a bit more about childhood education, I absolutely fell in love with teaching and knew I wanted to start a private studio!!  Continue reading “Teacher Feature | Mariel Mohns”

Interviews

Teacher Feature | Sara’s Music Studio

As announced last Friday, today marks the beginning of the brand new “Teacher Feature” series, featuring interviews with ordinary teachers like you and I.  I’m so excited to be sharing with you today an interview with piano and voice teacher Sara Kimbell from Pennsylvania.  Read on!

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J.M.: Please tell us about your piano and/or teaching background! S.K.: My first piano lesson was from my mother when I was 5 years old. I moved around quite a bit as a child, so I had the opportunity to study with many talented piano teachers. In high school I started taking voice lessons, and made the decision to follow music as a college career. Fast forward eleven years (wow!), and I have a BM in vocal performance, a MM in musicology, an new adjunct position at a local university, and my very own music studio just three minutes from my house. This is my sixth year as a full-time piano/voice teacher, and I absolutely love my job!

What is the most unique thing about your studio? In a way, I think it’s the variety that you’ll find in my studio. My students vary widely in age and level, and every one of them has a unique reason for being there. Whether they are a young elementary piano student, intensely focused on learning music from “Harry Potter,” or an adult voice student with the goal of singing in their church choir, my students are wonderfully interesting and they always keep me very engaged! Continue reading “Teacher Feature | Sara’s Music Studio”

improving as a teacher, Studio Business

Forum Q&A | When to Say “No” to a Potential Student

For our previous Forum Q&A, I asked about the legal side of being a business – becoming a Sole Proprietorship or an LLC, dealing with taxes, etc.  My previous private teaching has mostly been as an employee of the university’s Community Music School.  I find all the legal stuff for getting set up on your own to be so complicated!  I am thankful for all the infomation online, books in the library, and the advice I’ve been getting from other teachers.

I’m still sorting this all out, but I did decide to be a Sole Proprietor.  Becoming an LLC does have the benefit of protecting your personal assets in the event that someone should sue the business for some reason (they can go after your business assets but not your personal assets).  But setting up an LLC is more complicated and costly than a Sole Proprietorship.  Of course, as a piano teacher, the chances of getting sued are relatively low.  If you do want some protection, extra liability protection can often add something on to your current homeowner’s insurance policy for this purpose.  Oh, and another thing I learned — be sure to check with your city to see if they require a zoning permit for running a home business and having a sign outside for your studio.  Don’t I sound smart?!  I’m learning so much these days!  ;)

Regarding taxes — I decided to hire a CPA to handle my taxes for my first year or two, or until I can learn how to manage it all on my own.  I feel good about my decision.  Keeping track of my income and expenses shouldn’t be too complicated, but estimating quarterly taxes is complicated for me since I don’t really have anything to refer to from previous years.  My CPA should be able to help me get up-and-running.  :)

Anyway — I received a question yesterday from a reader that is perfect for this week’s Forum Q&A.  Here goes:

How do you know when to say “no” to a potential student?  What do you look for when you interview an interested student?  What kinds of questions do you ask to sift out whether you are going to accept the student?  And what do you do when you realize you’ve made a mistake with a student you said “yes” to?  

In all honesty, I kind of wish I had this problem!  Right now, I am saying “yes” to anybody who comes through my door.  Such is the life of a recently-relocated piano teacher.  :)

Advice, anyone, for this reader?

Photo Credit: Valerie Everett | CC 2.0

Interviews, repertoire / methods

Interview: Andrea & Trevor Dow and their Piano Music For Boys

Today I have a fabulous interview for you, from a husband & wife team who runs a 350-student music school in Canada!  Meet Andrea & Trevor Dow.

  • Andrea & Trevor run a blog at teachpianotoday.com
  • The website for their music school, Wildflower Music Studio, can be viewed here.
  • Their latest project has been to write a series of piano music intended for boys.  The series of “episodes” is accompanied by comic book illustrations that tell the adventures of Fearless Fortissimo.

And now for the interview!

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Joy: Please tell us about your piano and/or teaching background!

Andrea: I was heavily involved in piano and singing lessons from the age of 4. I started teaching piano lessons when I was 18.  I had a rusty old Toyota Corolla packed with supplies and I drove to my students’ homes in between my university classes and on weekends.  This quickly morphed into a full-time job when I graduated with my B.Mus and within three years I had a studio of 350 students and a teaching staff of 14.  My husband, Trevor, and I created the Piano Pals Early Learning Program (a preschool piano program for students ages 3-5 that teaches both beginning piano skills as well as kindergarten math concepts), which has been extremely successful at our own studio and is currently in development to be available to other teachers online.  Right now I teach upper-level piano and singing lessons while managing our studio, and together with my husband we create online materials for piano teachers with the goal of bringing them the same amount of success we have created with our own studio.  We co-authored the teaching e-book “Piano Hands Shouldn’t Flip Burgers” last year, are active bloggers, and most recently launched our newest venture with www.pianomusicforboys.com.

What is the most unique thing about your studio/music school?  Continue reading “Interview: Andrea & Trevor Dow and their Piano Music For Boys”