TC215 Research-backed insights on piano student retention with Karen Gerelus

TopCast 215 Research-backed insights on piano student retention with Karen Gerelus

100 students will start piano lessons this year and 98 will quit before they reach proficiency. Learn the reasons why students quit piano and how to help!

This episode features guest Karen Gerelus speaking on research-based insights about piano student retention.

Transcript of the show about piano student retention

If you’d like to download a PDF transcript of this episode, please click below.

In this episode, you’ll learn how extrinsic and intrinsic motivation affects piano student retention:

  • [03:47] A short introduction on Karen and her studio.
  • [05:58] Talking about her research work called Parting Ways with Piano Lessons – comparing motivation between continuing and dropout piano students.
  • [08:17] Focusing on retention in her research.
  • [11:46] Key factors for students quitting.
  • [12:59] The impact of parents being in the music lesson. 
  • [15:16]Self-Determination Theory
  • [19:30] Motivating kids externally at the start is okay. Hopefully, the intrinsic will take over.
  • [22:27] Karen shares her own story on quitting and coming back to piano.
  • [27:16] Explaining the quote “There is no relationship between practice time and motivation.”
  • [28:15] Thoughts for teachers about practicing and having a tough-love stance, a hard stance on, or being relaxed about it.
  • [32:42] Karen talks about what she found out about students dropping out because of the lack of popular repertoire.
  • [37:57] The reason why teachers are often quite resistant to offering autonomy in musical choice in their lessons?
  • [40:01] Giving students show-off pieces to boost their confidence and retain their interest.
  • [42:05] Recommendations for bridging the gap between external motivation and internal self-motivation in students.
  • [48:57] Karen talks about the most basic point of her research.

Links Mentioned

piano student retention chart

Motivation Spectrum

About our Guest

TopCast 215 Research-backed insights on piano student retention with Karen Gerelus

Karen Gerelus is a third-generation piano teacher and scholar whose work has been featured in prominent academic journals and pedagogy conferences. She holds a Master of Arts in Piano Pedagogy, several artist diplomas, and is currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Calgary where her research focuses on identity and motivation in piano students. Find her work at

Today’s Sponsor

NCKP 2021 sponsor for piano student retention show

Thank you for tuning in!

In conclusion, there are a lot of podcasts you could be tuning into today, and I’m grateful that you’ve chosen mine. Whether you’re at the gym, on the bike or in the car, I know that you and your students will get lots out of what you learn in the long run.

Just make sure you try out some of the ideas before they get lost in the business of your next lessons!

If you enjoyed today’s show, please share it by using the social media buttons on the left of the page.

Also, kindly consider taking the 60-seconds it takes to leave an honest review and rating for the podcast on iTunes or on my Facebook page. Reviews are extremely helpful when it comes to show’s ranking and you can bet that I read every single one of them personally.

Lastly, don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, to get automatic updates every time a new episode goes live.

Your ultimate teaching resource

subscribe to the
Integrated music teaching podcast

Are you ready to revolutionise your teaching?

Join the world's largest
creative music teaching membership

contact us

Reach out to learn more about our multi-teacher memberships