Piano teachers are some of the most dedicated, committed and hard-working professionals around. But are we sometimes too dedicated for our own good?
I know that feelings of being overwhelmed and burnt-out are all too common. I think part of it stems from our own desire to always deliver that ‘perfect’ lesson. One that includes a little bit of everything, from arpeggios to aural tests and from repertoire to rhythm patterns.
Of course, there is no perfect lesson and you can’t do everything in 30 or even 45 minutes. So don’t even try.
Instead, think holistically about what you’re delivering in lessons and work on improving your ability to find and make connections between the activities that make up a piano lesson plan.
In today’s post, I want to get you off the dancefloor of teaching and onto the balcony (with apologies to Jim Collins) where we can look down and get an overview of what’s going on.
I believe there are three main areas we need to cover in most lessons to ensure a well-rounded education. They are, in no particular order:
Here are some considerations:
You’ll notice that all my lesson plan templates, which I’ll be releasing next week, are based on these three key areas forming the main part of a lesson.
I like looking at just three segments because it’s so much more attainable than trying to do everything.
If you just cover one activity under each of these three areas every lesson, you’ll already be teaching better than half the teachers out there who only cover technique and repertoire.
See also my podcast: “5 reasons to get more creative in your piano teaching this year.”
I’ve created a downloadable cheatsheet to help with your lesson planning.
It comes in two versions:
This means that you can use the teacher one for your own reference and the student version in-lesson. Students can choose one option from each of the 3 Keys at the start of the lesson, giving them autonomy and choice as to the activities you’re going to explore.
Just leave your details below and I’ll email it through to you. You might like to laminate it double sided!
Stay tuned next week when I’ll be releasing my piano lesson plan templates which you’ll be able to download for free.
These will include weekly and quarterly (or each term for the Aussies) piano lesson plans, depending on how you work.
I’ll also let you see examples of how I fill them in.
All of these plans use the three above segments as a basis for organising your teaching material.
Is this “3 Segment” approach too broad or does it help reduce the overwhelming desire to “fit everything in”?
Let me know by leaving a comment below.
Tim Topham is the founder and director of TopMusic. Tim hosts the popular TopCast show, blogs regularly at topmusic.co and speaks at local and international conferences on topics such as pedagogy, business, marketing and entrepreneurship. Tim has been featured in American Music Teacher, The Piano Teacher Magazine, California Music Teacher and EPTA Piano Professional. Tim holds an MBA in Educational Leadership, BMus, DipEd and AMusA.
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