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Planning Perfection (well almost)

A few years ago, our family had the opportunity to travel from our home in California to Boston, Massachusetts for the Boston Marathon. My husband was running in it, and we decided to make it a big ole trip for the five of us -- we wanted to be there for a week, seeing as much as we could. We even wanted to check out New York City (which is a big deal for us West Coast people).

The problem? We didn't have a lot of time and we had even less money. (Anyone relate?)

So, to pull off a trip of that magnitude, staying within our time frame and our budget, we knew we would have to plan carefully, very carefully. I'm not exaggerating when I say that I spent the better part of three months planning for a seven day trip.

I devoted a couple of hours, at least four or five times a week, to the planning. Researching online, reading review sites, reading the AAA Tour Books (thanks Mom!), getting price quotes, planning itineraries, and booking tickets took ALOT of time. There were moments when I loved being an amateur travel agent for my own family, and there were other times when I just wanted to chuck my computer in the trashcan and never look at a site about Boston again!

But, when we finally boarded the plane to fly over the Rockies and embrace the East Coast, the trip went beautifully. From start to finish, from hotel rooms to subway trains, the trip went fantastic.

It wasn't without hiccups, because no plan is perfect, but for the most part, we saw what we wanted to see and did what we wanted to do.

In fact, because we had planned so carefully, allotting ourselves extra time for train delays, etc., we found ourselves with three extra hours in New York City. My brave husband threw our youngest on his back, I grabbed the hands of our two daughters, and we hoofed it to several more places, including Wall Street and the World Trade Center Memorial, both of which we originally did NOT have on our itinerary.

Careful planning actually allowed room for MORE awesome adventures.

Your piano lessons are the same way.

Can your student show up and you just teach them off the cuff and it will go well? Probably.

But, if you do some planning ahead of time and really map out where you want to go -- awesomeness happens, my friend.

You see, lesson planning gives you a clear vision of where you want to go with your student. It maps out for you how you are going to get your student from Point A to Point B in his or her musicianship. It gives you a framework for where you are going, and shows you how to use today's lesson to do that.

Lest you get a little nervous and think I'm talking about hours upon hours of intricate lesson planning for each week, think again.

Nope, I'm talking about effective, broad-scope lesson planning that brings more value to your lessons without taking a ton of your time. It also shouldn't take a lot of money either because we have limits on that as well.

So, how do you do this?

1. Think broadly: where do I want ALL of my students to go?

2. Think specifically: what does it take to get my youngest ones there? my oldest ones?

3. Think practically: what tools do I need to get my students there?

Once you think through those three things, you will already have the beginnings of a great road map for your students. For instance, you will identify what matters to you more: playing by ear or reading staff music? Being able to improvise or compose?

And as you take those answers and apply them to your lessons you will see that, while 4 year old Freddy needs to read staff music, the tools you will use to get him there will be different than the tools you use for the 59 year old Frida who has been playing by ear her whole life.

But you won't know that until you've done your thinking work. Think about what you really want for your students. Think through your lesson planning. Think about the tools that you want to have on hand.

Your planning will not be perfect. There will be lessons that go exactly like you envisioned and other lessons where you have to switch it up midway through because its just not working.

That's ok. The planning is worth it. You will more at ease. Your clients will be able to tell you have a plan for them (and trust me, they like that), and you may even end up with some extra space for something awesome to happen.

Piano Teacher Friend, plan your lessons. You'll be glad you did.

If you'd like an easy to follow, step by step strategy for awesome piano lesson planning, check out the pianolessonmom.com resource "Effective Piano Lesson Planning: A Step by Step Guide".

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