Quick Teaching Tip: Using a Telescopic Pointer

Quick Teaching Tip: Using a Telescopic Pointer

Quick Teaching Tip: Using a Telescopic Pointer

Using a telescopic pointer in piano lessons

Just a quick update today.

I was in the middle of teaching the other day when one of my colleagues noticed that I was using an extendible pointer to point at my student’s music.

I hadn’t really thought much of it – I’d been using an old radio antenna for this purpose for years in my studio and my own childhood piano teacher had used an oversize knitting needle in much the same way.

However, I realised that some teachers probably didn’t even know they existed, let alone thought about them in their studios.

What is a telescopic pointer?

Basically, a telescopic pointer (see image above right) is an extendible metallic pointing device that you can use to point at things on the music rest without having to lean over, stand up and/or crowd around your students. They are generally around 20cms when collapsed and with a quick pull of the end to extend the device, it can easily reach from a comfortable seated position to music on a piano stand.

If you’re a piano teacher working in a studio all day, then you have to get one of these. 

The biggest advantage of a telescopic pointer versus a pen (or knitting needle!) is that you can retract the pointer and keep it in a pencil case, folder or handbag and yet have the ability to extend to a metre or more. This is particularly great if you travel to students’ homes or if you teach in multiple schools or teaching rooms.

They all have a blunt or soft tip at the end to ensure your students’ safety, and while students will find it interesting when you first use one (and will probably want to play with it – I certainly did), the novelty will quickly wear off.


  • You don’t have to constantly crowd your student while following their score or pointing at their music. This can be great for students who are more conscious of their space or tend to shy away from close contact.
  • You can avoid back strain and uncomfortable sitting positions.
  • It allows you to put some extra distance between yourself and children who are unwell.
  • It’s great for teachers who are movement-impaired or less mobile.
  • You can avoid the temptation of always annotating your students’ scores for them (I find using an extendible pointer from a distance reminds me to ask my students to mark their scores as I find that they are much more likely to follow their own directions this way!)

Example Pointers:

Just like any product, there are lots of types available (a search in Amazon comes up with about 60 variations!).

The main considerations are:

  • Reach (how far it extends)
  • Extra Features (eg. Laser pointers, torch, pens, etc.) – some of these may be useful if you teach or present to larger groups

Personally, I would just recommend the simplest version unless you particularly need the extras.

Here are a couple of examples on Amazon that you can use to start your searching.

Quartet Chrome Pocket Pointer

This pointer extends to 24″ or 60cm and would be a great entry-level device for a piano teacher:

Autopoint® Telescopic Pointer, Black Matte with Chrome Trim

A bit more up-market, with a slicker look and longer reach, this pointer extends to 35″ or just under 90cm:

What do you think?

Have you got a telescopic pointer? Can you think of other advantages of using telescopic pointers? Maybe you can see some downsides… let me know.

Tim Topham

Tim Topham is the founder and director of TopMusic. Tim hosts the popular Integrated Music Teaching Podcast, blogs regularly at topmusic.co 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.

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  1. Great thought, Tim! I’ve been using the eraser end of a pencil but it has no reach at all. I’ll have to find my pointer….

    • Glad it was helpful 🙂

  2. I have used a telescopic pointer for awhile until mine broke. I haven’t replaced it and REALLY need to. I loved having it. Mine had a little smiley face at the end where I hold it. The kids loved it. I do have those hand pointers but I find that they are long enough. I really like having the telescopic pointers. I think I’d like to find one with a laser on it though so I have a couple options/uses for it.

    • Thanks Jennifer. Hopefully one of the above might suit 🙂

  3. I use a laser pointer, about $14.95 at Amazon. A student gave it to me when I was having back problems. It has all the advantages of your regular pointer.

    • Thanks Margie. Great idea. I just find laser pointers a little hard to control as they are so precise they just seem to wobble about everywhere. What a thoughtful student, however!

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