Inner Circle Member Spotlight: Karen Lien

Inner Circle Member Spotlight: Karen Lien

member spotlight karen lien

Inner Circle “Member Spotlights” give you a sneak-peek at the progress of one of our community members. Get inspired by what they’ve achieved, be heartened by their struggles and get motivated and share in their plans for the future.

You can find out more about Karen at her studio website.

karen lien piano

Karen Lien

What does your studio look like?

My studio is a happy place to make music and memory for families. Parents get to participate actively in the little Mozarts program for 4-5 year old. I also offer achievement program for kids and RMM for teen and adult students. I am an independent piano teacher and teach in my home studio.

What concept, idea, app or strategy, has had the most positive impact on your studio and teaching recently?

My dream of having a “21st century Digital Piano Workstation” finally came to reality last year. I invested in a Yamaha Clavinova, iPad, microphone, wireless MIDI, bird-eye wide view camera, screenflow, classroom maestro software and tons of music apps.

Recording students’ lessons and performances are so easy now. Students also enjoy playing with the backing tracks and explore different instrument sound. Because of the convenience of the recording process, my students were able to create their own album and designed the CD cover to celebrate the completion of their 30-piece challenge.

What was the biggest thing you did to achieve that outcome?

The investment in all the technology and equipment. Also, learning how to use the technology took a lot of time.

How has your membership of the Inner Circle played a part in your development as a teacher?

The IC has helped me grow in ways that I haven’t even imagined when I first signed up. The ongoing support of Tim and IC members is amazing. I can see that the teachers in IC are all highly motivated and are passionate about teaching.

member spotlight

Before joining the IC, I would listen to Tim’s podcasts and if the topic interested me, I would then search for relevant resources available on the web.

Joining the IC totally transformed the more “passive” listening experience to “active” engagements and discussions with Tim, IC members and expert teachers. The forum and the mastermind provide a perfect platform for me to go deeper into the podcast topic.

Why did you decide to join the Inner Circle?

To get to know other teachers around the globe, and of course, check out Tim’s teaching materials, conference presentations and PianoFlix courses.

What’s been the highlight of your membership so far?

The support from IC members and teachers especially regarding introducing Music Learning Theory (MLT) in my studio. I experienced the transformation from “passive podcast listening” to “active IC circle action” and took my learning of MLT to a higher level through forum discussions and masterminds. All these happened because of joining IC.

Tell us about your next big goal for your music studio and/or teaching? What does the big picture look like?

My focus has always been on improving my teaching skills and I have invested a lot of time and money in teacher training courses, studio equipment and my book library. Now it’s time to start exploring how to run an effective and successful business.

The big picture is to balance my time better between teaching and managing the studio.


What is one tool that you couldn’t live without and why?

Great question. It’s so hard to choose. I have at least five or more. If I really have to decide, here it is…

I almost always open the lesson with a focus activity. It is a huge hit with my students and parents. (Yes, I invite parents to do the focus activity if they would like to join, too). The focus activity is short, fun and it keeps students engaged and ready for learn.

The activity is Dalcroze-based and always requires quick reactions from the student. Some of the most popular activities are Rolling the Ball, Body beat, Solfege Canon, Passing Eggs, A1B2, Hip Hop and more.

If the student comes to the lesson feeling tired and sleepy, these activities will wake them up and ensure they are in “ready to learn” mode. I am planning to blog my focus activities this month on my website.

Here’s Karen’s blog post. 

What’s the biggest challenge in your teaching or studio business right now and what strategies are you exploring to help?

I am a “Piano Mom” – a piano teacher, a Mom and a wife.

It’s not easy to balance the work and family life especially with my 20-month-old toddler needing my constant attention. I really don’t have an effective strategy except sacrificing my sleep hours to get things done!


If you could give one piece of advice to a new piano teacher (or someone considering it as a career), what would it be?

A piano teacher does so much more than teaching. It’s especially true for independent piano teachers. Other than teaching, it is essential to learn the skills needed to run a successful business [this is where Inner Circle membership can help! – ed].

Looking for more support in your teaching?

We’d love to have you join us inside the Inner Circle Community where you can get support, ask questions, access training and resources and feel 100% supported as you steer a path to your future. No need to feel alone in your teaching anymore – we’re here to help.

Members get access to expert teachers from around the world, a library of webinars and training videos to support your teaching, regular live and online hangouts and masterminds and a heaps of bonus offers from our partners.

You can learn more about the Inner Circle Community here.

Tim Topham

Tim Topham is the founder and director of TopMusic. Tim hosts the popular Integrated Music Teaching Podcast, blogs regularly at and speaks at local and international conferences on topics such as integrated teaching, creativity, 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.

 feeling inspired? 

member spotlight karen lien
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