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New Year’s Thoughts for Piano Teachers

2014 clipartI am not usually a person to make New Year’s resolutions, but for me the New Year is definitely a time of reflection on the past year and future.

Looking Back

Here are some big things that happened in 2013 that I’m especially thankful for:

  • I’m thankful for a full studio of 35 students!  It took 2.5 years to fill my schedule after moving to our current town.
  • I’m thankful that my husband, Paul, finished his second Master’s degree in May and that he found a great job the following month.  Hooray for financial stability and health insurance!  It couldn’t have come at a better time because my health insurance under my parents also expired in June.

Looking Forward

A few times this week, this article discussing the distinction between goal-setting and habit-setting came through my facebook newsfeed.  The article suggests that success is found in creating a system or process for reaching goal, rather than in setting the goal itself.  This may seem obvious, but sometimes we make the mistake of setting a goal without thinking about what it will really take to make the goal happen.

I’d like to go a step further and suggest that in order to increase the chances of success, the goal being set should be process-oriented.  

Otherwise, it is a bit like being in love with the idea of playing piano versus being in love with actually playing the piano.  Someone who envisions themselves enjoying piano playing daily is more likely to be successful than someone who envisions how cool it would be to be able to play the piano.

Another related thing to keep in mind: It is great when part of the goal is to enjoy the journey.  Reaching benchmarks and destinations is then a bonus.  

With that in mind, rather than sharing New Year’s resolutions, I’d like to share things I would like to enjoy in my life throughout 2014:

  • I’d like to continue thinking and sharing through my blog at least a few times each week.  I’d also like to create more resources that can be shared both for free and in my online Shop.
  • id28As far as teaching goes, I’d like to do more actual teaching during lessons versus correcting.  This distinction is a hallmark of the pedagogical approach of Mary Gae George and her Artistry at the Piano method.  A few months ago, I purchased some of her materials including her “Teaching Music, Not Notes!” eBook and DVD course for teachers.  It has been fun to work my way through her course.  I highly recommend it!  It is designed to help teachers be successful when using the introductory book of her method, but I think the course would be beneficial for teachers who use any method.  So, how can we make more teaching happen during lessons versus correcting?  Perhaps that is a topic of discussion for a future blog post.
  • I’d like to continue making local MTNA chapter meetings and conference attendance a part of my life.  And I’d like to continue researching and preparing presentations for piano teachers.  (This morning, I received an email notifying me that my proposal for the 2014 OhioMTA conference was accepted!  Woohoo!)

What are some things YOU would enjoy in your life throughout 2014?

8 thoughts on “New Year’s Thoughts for Piano Teachers”

  1. I just sent out my New Year Newsletter to my students with the following plan (for the 30 minute lesson) I resolve to follow. I even enlarged it, laminated it, and attached it to my work table which sits beside the piano in my studio. Funny that one of my goals is also to spend more time teaching rather than correcting and reviewing.?

    1. Warm Up with a short sight reading exercise reviewing technics already learned. Like legato, staccato, starting hand positions, etc.
    2. Listen. Sit back (quit being a “helicopter” teacher) and enjoy what the student has been practicing all week, making notes of trouble spots.
    3. Suggest. Point out the trouble spots. Listen again.
    4. Reteach if necessary. Practice practicing.
    5. Introduce and Teach new material and suggest practice strategies.
    6. Play a Game if time allows.

    I have already received messages from parents thanking me for sharing my goals – which helps them help their child during practice time. Yay! I’m excited for the new year!

  2. Teaching v/s Correcting. Yes, this is a wonderful choice Joy. My thanks for all the thought that you put into your Blog and sharing with us.
    Last year my “goal” was to get my students to practice more so that we could move forward and keep the momentum going. The “system” was a chart with everyone’s name on it. A sticker was awarded to those who practiced 5 days a week for a minimum total of 10 mins per day. Well, it did work to a degree, but it had a shortcoming to it. Once the student fell behind, they gave up. So this year I am going to have an Achievement List at the back of each student’s Homework Book so that they can enjoy their own progress using their own system of achieving. I am hoping that this will also result in more teaching and less correcting.
    Best wishes to all for 2014, both in a personal capacity and a teaching capacity.

  3. Hello Joy, this topic is front of mind for me at the moment, as in Australia we are also on our long summer holidays. Now is the time I do my yearly planning for students too. I’ve just for the first time (since having children) actually written out some playing goals for myself!! I wrote about them a bit more here:
    http://creativepianoprofessional.com/2014/01/07/2014-goal-setting/

    Mostly about WHAT I want to play and committing to making that happen this year.

    Thanks for the book recommendation, I will pop over and take a look!

  4. I recently encountered a little chart/form for asking students questions to help the teacher to know the student better. Thought I downloaded it–the questions were great–but now I can’t find it. Was it from you?
    Question #2, think I signed up for this group, but can’t remember. Don’t want to do it 2 times. How can I check?

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