Helps for New Music Teachers

I don’t know about each of you, but there are some key things that I had to work through when I first began teaching music. Helps for new music teachers can be so valuable because these teachers are new. They don’t have 10, 20, or 50 years of experience, trial, error, and success from which to draw to help answer their myriad questions.

I remember so well the first piano lesson I ever taught. I called my older sister (who was newly married at the time) and told her how nervous I was. She was very reassuring, and told me that for the first several weeks, all I would have to do was read the material as it was presented in the method series we use. Whew. Talk about pressure release! I didn’t have to be creative, stressed, or anxious – all I had to do was just read.

That is probably one of the best pieces of advice for new teachers. Unless you are naturally fearless, have an ease and confidence about new challenges, can think “on your feet” without any hesitation, and feel no qualms about being thrust from the studio as a student to a new studio as a teacher… Well, certainly none of those things described me that week. It was almost entirely new ground in my experience, and it didn’t help that it had been years since my own journey as a beginning pianist had begun, which meant that I didn’t remember any of the techniques my own teacher used in my first lessons.

So read the method book. You need a method book that aligns with your goals, both short and long term. We desire that our students learn early on how to read music, and not rely solely on the finger numbers. We also prefer curriculum that supports our Biblical worldview, and isn’t filled with meaningless ditties about ghosts and goblins or other undesirable content. When we first opened our home-based studio, these were the two primary qualifications for the books we used. Since then I have added to that list, but more on that at a later date.

In keeping with our first two qualifications, we have come to highly recommend the Keys for Kingdom series. This course includes an effective means of teaching students to read notes, and also introduces beginner theory in a systematic and understandable way. Regardless of what method you decide to use, know your book and especially the pages that you will be assigning for the student’s practice that week.

The next tip came from one of my other sisters a little while into my teaching journey. I was struggling through knowing how to maintain authority in the lesson, how to graciously inform parents that new books were needed (I strongly dislike telling people they need to spend money!), as well as navigating general student/teacher and parent/teacher relationships. My helpful sister put it simply: You are the teacher, so be the teacher. Period. Yes, our words need to be gracious and kind, but our demeanor ought to also be confident and at ease with our position – even when we are trembling and screaming from terror on the inside. What you say, the student must do. What you say to the parent, they ought to heed because they are paying you to help your child excel. If new material is needed, then tell them (there’s no need to be apologetic). You would be doing them a disservice by not disclosing the information. Then, of course, other relational difficulties could and probably will arise. We will not address them specifically here, but keeping in mind that you are the teacher is key. And this one simple fact means much more than it may appear at the surface level!

I hope to be able to take a closer look at other challenges new teachers face in the future, and rejoice in the immense blessing it is that so many young people are taking their responsibility seriously to sing to the Lord a new song, and play skillfully with a loud noise.

If you found this post helpful, please take a few minutes to leave feedback in the comment section below. Also, check out the Keys for the Kingdom piano method series.

Cover tiny file look inside Keys for the Kingdom Level A Method Book. Shawnee Press. Christian Instruction. Softcover. 64 pages. Shawnee Press #H5001. Published by Shawnee Press (HL.35012003).
Cover tiny file look inside Keys for the Kingdom Level B Method Book. Shawnee Press. Christian Instruction. Softcover. 63 pages. Shawnee Press #H5002. Published by Shawnee Press (HL.35012009).

 

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One Response to “Helps for New Music Teachers”

  1. Thank you so much for these articles, Victoria! I am drinking in every word and appreciate them immensely as a new piano teacher myself. This is my second year teaching, and I can’t tell you what a blessing and God-send your thoughts have been!

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