How to Relieve Stress by Defining Success as a Piano Teacher

How to Relieve Stress by Defining Success as a Piano Teacher

relieve stress piano teacher success

Defining Success

How do we know when we’re successful? Who decides what success means for a piano teacher?

We do.

Trouble is, most of us never decide what success means to us.

And if you don’t decide, if you don’t set some kind of target you’re trying to hit, you’ll never feel successful.

Stands to reason, doesn’t it?

Not being clear with yourself about what you’re trying to achieve, is like never showing a student what a piece should sound like when it’s finished. Instead, every week they would arrive at the lesson and hope it measured up…but it never would, because they wouldn’t know where they were going.

Unfortunately, you probably don’t have a piano-teacher-business teacher to set these expectations for you. You’re going to have to do it yourself.

Read More: Piano studio business and marketing resources

Setting Your Own Definition of Success

So, we come to the big question: What is success for you?

Only you can answer this question. But here are some things you might factor into your answer.

  • Money
  • Time
  • Impact

Let’s dive a little deeper on each one of those in turn.

Defining Success with Money

Yes, we don’t always like to talk about it. But it’s there. It’s real. And it’s almost definitely a factor.

If you don’t believe me think about this: would you honestly feel successful if you had a full studio, with happy kids who are progressing well in their studies…but you can’t make your mortgage repayments and you have 5 maxed out credit cards in your wallet?

Thought not.

money goals for piano teachers

Money isn’t everything, but it’s not nothing either. When you consider your goals and your definition of success I think it’s important that you include a comfortable salary in the mix.

You need to be happy and healthy to be a great teacher anyway, and money helps with that.

Defining Success with Time

While money is the factor for success that you might not want to think about, time is one that might not even occur to you.

What do I mean by time?

I mean how you spend it.

  • How many hours do you want to be spending teaching each week? (Hint: Think less not more.)
  • How much time do you want to have “free” each week? This could be used as quality time with family, friends, yourself, or time to explore your knitting hobby.

This is the most important question you can answer if being successful to you means having a balanced life. As long as your minimum financial needs are met and your “comfortable” with money, it’s your time that counts.

Read More: How to build a piano studio website from scratch

Defining Success with Impact

This will mean a lot of different things to different people.

Put simply (if somewhat grandiosely) it’s the effect you’re having on the world around you and the people you serve.

So if your goal is to run a massive multi-teacher studio, this could mean the number of teachers you’re employing or the number of students you have.

If (like me) you want to remain a solo teacher, I don’t think you should you make student numbers a key metric for your business.

Your impact is about more than just that, no matter what type of business you’re running. It’s also about the results your students are getting and the influence your studio has in your community.

This definition is the hardest to set, but it’s important that you consider every part of this trio when you’re defining success for you.

Setting a Schedule for Success

As you narrow in on what success means for you and your piano studio business, I want you to include a period of time too.

Decide what success looks like after:

  • 1 year
  • 3 years
  • 10 years.

Having the “when” defined as well will help you to think more clearly about each factor, and to imagine the scenarios more vividly.

The Difference Between Success and Goals

You may be thinking that “defining success” sounds a lot like “setting goals” – and you’d be right there.

The difference is mostly in semantics. But those semantics actually have a big impact on how we think about ourselves and our businesses.

When you decide to define success at the 1 year mark then when you get there – when you’ve achieved it – it feels different.

feeling successful as a piano teacher

Goals encourage us to move on to the next. Defining success helps us to celebrate ourselves and our achievements when we get there and know that we are successful.

I think that’s so important.

Read More: The Piano Studio Growth Roadmap – Your Ticket to Teaching Success

Action Step

Write down your definition of success at the 1 year, 3 year and 10 year marks in the categories of time, money and impact.

Stick it on your fridge or (even better) tell me what it is and put it out into the world.

You can write it in the comments below or catch me in my Vibrant Music Studio Teachers group on Facebook.

Nicola Cantan

Nicola Cantan is a piano teacher, author, blogger and creator of imaginative and engaging teaching resources. Nicola's Vibrant Music Teaching Library is helping teachers all over the world to include more games and off-bench activities in their lessons, so that their students giggle their way through music theory and make faster progress. She also runs a popular blog, Colourful Keys, where she shares creative ideas and teaching strategies.

 feeling inspired? 

relieve stress piano teacher success
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  1. Great stuff!

    -For 1 year from now: I hope to be teaching privately only (no longer at the YMCA), with a total of 6-7 students (mostly Skype or FaceTime), making at least $200 p/ week, and NOT teaching on Saturdays if possible. This will give me more time at home with my wife and kids, and cut down on traveling to the Y and students’ homes. In terms of impact, I hope to lay a solid foundation in music theory, ear training, and technique, while giving students real world skills to play in a band, improvise, compose, sight read, and easily transpose.

    -For 3 years from now, I hope to have a digital product teaching music theory and ear training (injecting lots of humor to help with remembering concepts). I really want to gear this towards high school students who want to go to music school, but aren’t ready for the rude awakening of collegiate music theory. This will be a source of passive income. I will still be teaching and working FT as I am now.

    -10 years from now, I would like to leave my FT job, teach 20 online piano students, have passive income from my digital product, CCLI royalties from worship songs (currently getting this on a small scale), and my Youtube channels.

    Thanks again for this. It’s very helpful to write out future goals.

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