improving as a teacher, Motivation, Studio Business, Teaching Piano

Rethinking The Student’s First Lesson

Okay, so I’ve been thinking about this topic for a few weeks now, and today I’m spilling all!   Sorry about the length. =)

Don’t Make My Mistake!

When I first began teaching, I created a mental list of all the things I felt were essential for a new student should know.  I thought very carefully about what to say in order to cover all these topics with my student during the very first lesson.  “The List” included things like:

  • How to sit properly at the piano.
  • How to hold one’s wrists.
  • How to curve one’s fingers.
  • The finger numbers.
  • How to find the black key groups of 2’s and 3’s.
  • How to find Middle C.
  • How to find A-G on the piano.
  • What a steady beat is and is not like.
  • What a quarter note is.
  • etc.

These are all important things, of course.  But I hadn’t really stopped to consider what the student might be feeling at that very moment on my piano bench.  I jabbered away cheerily through my long, long list, anxious that my student would learn all the right things the right way from the very first day.

Do you remember what it was like at your very first piano lesson as a kid?  Usually, new students are anxious, curious, unsure, maybe nervous — and usually they are very excited to play the piano.  They might tell you they can play Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star for you which their mother taught them by rote.  Or they might show off that they figured out Mary Had a Little Lamb by ear.  Or they might not know how to play anything at all, but they are definitely sitting on your piano bench practically drooling, anxious to get their fingers on those beautiful, shiny keys!

So what do you do?  What do you do about all this crazy excitement, energy, and motivation that is radiating from this student?   Continue reading “Rethinking The Student’s First Lesson”

improving as a teacher, Studio Business

Building Your Studio: How to Inform Parents About Your Tuition Rates

When you get a phone call from an parent of a potential student asking about studio information, should you inform potential students of your rates first, or should you tell them about your studio first?

I know a fellow teacher who does not answer the “rates question” – even when specially asked about it – until the end of the phone call, after she has told them about everything her studio offers.  She chooses to emphasize the quality of the music education she offers in her studio before informing the parent of the rates.   Not a bad idea!

Other teachers are very upfront and prefer to tell parents their rates first thing.  There is no harm in either method.  Personally, I am somewhere in the middle.  Unless specifically asked, I save the rates information until the end.  Regardless of where you stand, it’s a good idea to plan in advance how you are going to deal with the “rates question” when the potential student calls.

How do you like to handle the “rates question”?

Photo credit: / CC BY 2.0

improving as a teacher, Studio Business

Building Your Studio: Offer Free Trial Lesson, and Have References Ready!

A few months ago, I received a call from a parent who was looking for lessons for her two daughters.  She was a little reluctant to commit to lessons because of a past experience with another teacher: the teacher was an excellent performer, but unfortunately not as great of a teacher.  I chatted with her for a few minutes and I told her about my studio and my teaching experience.  Then I offered to give her a trial lesson for free, so she could see for herself what my teaching style is like.  She agreed to this, and afterwards, was happy to commit to lessons.  We’ve been continuing ever since.

At her daughter’s lesson this week, the same parent kindly offered (with no request on my part) to be a reference or write a letter of recommendation should I ever need one.  When she said this, I realized that having a reference or two (from other happy parents) ready to give her would have been a another great way for her to learn about my teaching style and personality — and it would have been much more convincing than hearing it from me!

Lessons learned: DO offer a free interview/first lesson, and DO have references ready to give out!  =)

Click here to read ideas for activities to do with the student at the first free trial lesson and click here for some free printables for use during the first trial lesson.

Photo credit: / CC BY-SA 2.0

Printables, Studio Business

3 Printables for Interviewing New Students

Just added: THREE new printables on the Printables > Studio Business page:

  1. Beginner Student Interview Form
  2. Transfer Student Interview Form
  3. Student Information Form

These resources are useful for conducting student interviews at the first lesson with a new or transfer student.  The interview forms help evaluate the student’s musical aptitude and background, to help the teacher determine what level repertoire the student should be playing, as well as what technique exercises should be assigned.  The student information form is designed to gather basic contact information from the student — as well as some information from the parent regarding the child’s personality/learning style and musical background. Read on….

Continue reading “3 Printables for Interviewing New Students”

Announcements, Resources

How to Give the First Music Lesson: Interviewing the Student

eHow articleAre you a frequent eHow user?  My husband and I both have accounts on eHow, where you can write your own “How to” articles and make money.  The money you make is based on how many times your article is read by others, and the money is safely deposited into your linked PayPal account.  Don’t expect to make a ton of money, but if you keep up on it, it may be enough to cover your website hosting expenses each month.  (That’s my current goal!)  Below is a link to the article I wrote that summarizes the information from my most recent blog post, about conducting student interviews:  

eHow article:  How to Give the First Music Lesson: Interviewing the Student

If you haven’t tried using eHow before, give it a shot!  There’s lots of great articles to browse through, and it is fairly easy to write your own articles.

Studio Business

Conducting Student Interviews

Many teachers interview prospective students before accepting them into their studio.  While I haven’t yet felt the need to do so with my own studio, after reading James Bastien’s insight concerning interviews in his book Teaching Piano Successfully, I’m convinced that interviewing students is a great idea — even if you are planning to accept the student anyway.  

It’s difficult to know how to spend the first lesson: should you buy a book in advance for the student, and jump right in?  Should you hold off on the music books, and first teach them the musical alphabet, some simple tunes, and maybe some five-finger patterns?  Maybe.   Continue reading “Conducting Student Interviews”