TopMusic Certification: A Piano Teacher’s Story

Learn about the TopMusic Certification program experience from a TopMusic Certified piano teacher.

TopMusic Certification: A Piano Teacher’s Story

In 2023, TopMusic created TopMusic Certification. It is a way for piano teachers to become accredited, overcome imposter syndrome, and feel more confident.

The first cohort finished at the end of 2023, and we reached out to the newly certified piano teacher, Donna, to chat about her experience.

Table Of Contents:

  1. Meet Donna
  2. Before TopMusic Certification
  3. During TopMusic Certification
  4. After TopMusic Certification
  5. How To Join In

Meet Donna

Hi, Donna! First, congratulations on becoming a TopMusic Certified Teacher! Let’s learn a bit about you first. How long have you been teaching?

Thank you! I’ve been teaching for over 20 years now.

Amazing! Where do you teach?

From my home studio in Bacchus Marsh, Victoria.

I’ve just googled Bacchus Marsh – what a gorgeous place to live! Tell us about your students – how many and what type?

I have about 30 students right now. I teach mainly beginners, ages 4 to adult in a combination of group and individual lessons. I’m passionate about supporting neurodivergent learners.

Sounds like a brilliant studio! I follow you on socials and I always marvel at how much fun it looks! Time to be nosy about you -tell us about your musical background.

I started playing piano when I was 9. I took a break from piano lessons in my late teens and returned to lessons again as a young adult with a new teacher. This teacher encouraged me to start teaching and was a mentor while I was teaching my first students.

I worked with a complete of other teachers/mentors before completing a Diploma in Instrumental Teaching through ABRSM in 2019.

And now I’m a TopMusic Certified Teacher!

Before TopMusic Certification

What first attracted you to TopMusic Certification?

As soon as I heard TopMusic were running a certification program, I was definitely interested!

I had been interested in completing further certification, and as I’ve been a TopMusic member for several years, I knew the content would be a good fit for me.

What made you take the leap and sign up for the very first cohort?

I really loved that this was a certification program that would encourage incorporating creativity into lessons.

Creative activities were already being included in my lessons, but I found I was still often including it as an ‘extra’ rather than a regular part of the lesson.

The interactive approach also really interesting to me – I felt this would be much more engaging than a webinar/lecture approach (and it definitely was!)

I knew that TopMusic Certification was something I would want to do at some point. And I just knew that if I didn’t sign up right away, it would be something that would end up on the list of things I want to do ‘one day.’

I get that! Another item on the long list of “Things I’d Like To Do But Keep Forgetting To Do.” What were you hoping to get out of TopMusic Certification?

I often struggle with imposter syndrome, so I really wanted the certification.

But I didn’t just want it to be a bit of paper. I wanted it to be something that I had to work toward and that would improve my teaching and my business.

Imposter syndrome is very real and you never realise quite how many teachers feel it! How did you feel before the very first session?

Nervous and excited. I was excited to be part of the pilot cohort and was looking forward to getting started and meeting all the other teachers in the group. But I was a bit nervous about contributing.

During TopMusic Certification

How did you feel after the first session? Did the nerves fade away?

I was so glad I’d made the decision to sign up! I really felt that I was in the right place.

It was so exciting to be part of an amazing group of teachers who were all so supportive of each other. I felt much less nervous about contributing by the end of the first session.

I was looking forward to seeing the improvements this would bring to my teaching and my business.

That’s so good to hear! The first session of anything is always scary but it sounds like you got stuck in straight away! How did you find the cohort learning approach?

I loved it! It was amazing to be able to connect with such an amazing group of teachers each week.

The live cohorts allowed me to see that other teachers (even the ones I look up to) often have the same struggles and insecurities that I do and feel like we’re “all in the same boat.” I had a couple of teachers reach out to me to get further info on the way I do things – such a confidence boost!

It was great to see that we all have different strengths and we can all learn from each other.

Feeling supported by other teachers who *get it* is such a special feeling! How many other teachers were in your group?

I think there were about 12 other teachers in my group.

Did you feel encouraged and supported to share your ideas and thoughts?

Absolutely! Given how nervous I felt about this before the first session, I was actually surprised at how comfortable I felt sharing my thoughts and ideas.

That’s so reassuring to hear – many teachers might be hesitant about joining in and speaking up, so it’s great to know it’s not as scary as it might seem!

Without giving too much away, what did the certification program have you doing?

So many different things!

  • Reflecting on my own teaching
  • Creating plans for students
  • Working on marketing activities
  • Working on the setup of my business

One of the things that I really loved about the program was that every task in the portfolio was relevant to either my teaching or my business.

So, even though my main aim was certification, I knew the time spent on my portfolio tasks was also having a direct impact on my teaching and how I run my business.

After TopMusic Certification

How did you feel after your last session?

I was so surprised that the 12 weeks were finished already!

And, a little sad. I really loved the weekly cohort meetings and connecting with other teachers each week – I knew I would miss it!

But, I was also keen to really get stuck into the portfolio task.

How will being a TopMusic Teacher benefit you?

I think the biggest thing for me is the increased confidence.

I’ve always really struggled with imposter syndrome and the TopMusic Certification program has definitely helped me feel more confident in my teaching.

That’s such great news! Do you feel that you’ve improved and grown as a teacher?


The Certification program allowed me to reflect on my own teaching, so I have a really clear idea of what I’m doing well, as well as areas for improvement. I’m more confident incorporating creative activities and have lots of new ideas to use in my lessons.

So exciting! Your students will see such a change in lessons! How do you feel your studio has benefited from you taking the program?

The time spent on business setup and marketing has really helped me become clear on how to set up my studio in a way that works for me and my goals. There’s no one-size-fits-all and there certification program allowed me to reflect on what works best for me and my studio.

It was great to have this really well set up ahead of the new school year.

Have you ever taken other certifications? How did TMC compare?

Yes – with many courses/certification programs I’ve found that some parts fit well, while others really don’t fit with me or my teaching.

The TopMusic Certification program was different.

Every single live session and every single homework activity was relevant to me and my studio. And the tasks I completed for my portfolio relate directly to my teaching and my business.

Fantastic to hear! Finally: how would you describe your experience with TopMusic Certification?

My experience with TopMusic Certification has been absolutely amazing and one of the best decisions I’ve made for both my teaching and my business!

Becoming a TopMusic Certified Teacher is not just a badge or a piece of paper – it’s a process that has brought growth and confidence to my teaching and the way I manage my studio.

The live cohorts enabled me to share ideas, learn from other teachers, and connect with a community that understands the unique challenges we face as music teachers.

Reflecting on my teaching during the program allowed me to identify areas for improvement and refine my business practices.

The TopMusic Certification program has really helped with overcoming imposter syndrome, leaving me feeling much more self-assured as both a music teacher and a business owner.

I’m so grateful for this experience and the positive impact it brings to my teaching and my studio.

How To Join In

If Donna’s story of professional development has inspired you and left you wondering how you can join TopMusic Certification, wonder no more!

TopMusic Certification is an interactive, 12-week guided pedagogy and business certification for instrumental music teachers.

Georgina Wilson

Georgina is a piano teacher who loves making learning fun and enjoyable for both the student and the teacher. She is often found pestering her cat or creating music resources for BusyLittleTurtle

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