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5 Steps to Avoiding a Piano Teaching Rut

By Amanda Smith | Creativity

Sep 23 2015

piano teaching rut

Have you ever lost your passion for teaching? Has there been a time in your career when you felt “burnt out”, like you were just going through the motions every day?

Chances are, if you’ve never felt this way before, you will sometime. When that happens, you need to know what to do to turn your studio around.

Here are five small changes you can make to your daily habits to bring back your passion for teaching and your students’ enjoyment of music. Even better, you can use these tips to avoid ever getting stuck in a piano teaching rut to begin with.

1- Change How You Assign Pieces

When you teach your lessons this week, look back at the last few pages of your students’ assignment books, and ask yourself these questions: Do I start with the same piece every time? Have I been assigning the same scale for weeks because my students never actually practice it? Do my students even take the time to read the instructions?

Kids today are used to having their attention grabbed, whether they’re playing a game on their phone or walking through the grocery store.

Everything around them is calling out for their attention, and if you want them to read what you’re writing, you have to make it different, whether that means highlighting their song assignments in hot pink, creating cluster diagrams for each song, or using Post-It Notes in their music.

There is no reason to write things down the same way for every student.  Feel free to customize your approach.  If you prefer printed assignment sheets to a notebook,  Google “Piano Lesson Assignment Sheets” and you will find a lot of great printables that you can easily switch out to keep kids’ attention.

2- Try a New Method Book

If you have been using the same Method Book with every student for years, it’s time to consider switching. There are many different Methods, and every one of them has the potential to be what is best for one of your students.

New material is constantly coming out, and you can’t afford to get stuck in the rut of using the same books for years, especially if a fresh approach could save even one child from quitting.

Changing up your Method Books also has the added benefit of giving you something new to listen to, especially if you teach multiple students at the same level. No one wants to listen to “that one train song” thirty times a week.

3- Find Your Own Co-Workers

Unless you work in a multi-teacher studio, you probably don’t have the luxury of asking your Co-Workers for advice when you come across a problem. This is why networking is a necessity for every Piano Teacher.  To meet other Teachers in your area, you can join a local Piano Teacher’s Association.

Online Forums and Social Media are also great places to find other people with similar interests. One of the best things about using sites like Facebook to network is that questions are answered immediately (no matter what time of day it is where you live), and you will receive many possible solutions from teachers all over the world. This will give you the chance to decide what will work best for your students.

Related: Top 4 Piano Teaching Facebook Groups – get connected!

4- Embrace Technology

These days, there are apps for almost everything. Instead of flash cards, use your tablet or phone for note reading drills, rhythm practice, or ear training.

There are websites for organizing the business end of teaching, finding and printing sheet music on demand, and notating your latest compositions right from your web browser, without ever needing to download anything.

You can keep in contact with students and parents through e-mail and social media pages, and even teach lessons over the internet using YouTube, Skype, or FaceTime.

If you’ve never used technology in your piano lessons, all of the options may seem a little overwhelming at first. Don’t try to add everything at once. Start with one app or website that you think would benefit your studio, and go from there.

Related: Motivating teens with PianoMaestro 

5- Take Time For Yourself

If you want to be a great Piano Teacher, you need to be able to think quickly on your feet and adapt to the needs of the students you’re working with. You can’t do that if you’re exhausted from staying up late printing sheet music for the next day’s lessons, or if you consistently miss dinner because you scheduled eight lessons back to back.

Starting now, take some time every day to shut off your phone and do something for yourself.  Take an art class. Try Yoga. Go to lunch with a friend. It doesn’t have to be anything time consuming. Even doing something small will lift your mood and improve your teaching.

Take the Challenge

Making these small adjustments doesn’t take much time, and you will be amazed how altering even one thing can add more excitement to your lessons. As you get used to watching your daily routine for signs of monotony, you’ll find even more ways to transform your studio. However, you can only make a difference if you start now.

What Changes Have You Made?

There are many routines Piano Teachers can get stuck in if we’re not watching carefully.  Have you noticed any habits in your own teaching style? What changes have you made to liven up your studio?

Please leave your comments below.

 

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About the Author

Amanda is a traveling piano teacher in Utah, USA, and enjoys challenging herself and her students to learn in new ways. She also runs the blog "Modern Music Teaching" in her spare time.

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