Piano Teacher Toolkit
I am married to a marathon runner. While I am super proud of my guy who runs a sub-four hour marathon and is pretty darn awesome, I can tell you one thing. Anyone who says: "To run, all you need is a pair of shoes" is lying.
Completely. Yes, shoes are a start and they are important, but when you get to my guy's level, the shoes are the easy part. There are the energy gels and the expensive sports watch. The hydration systems and the moisture-wicking socks. From the tip of the head, to the end of the toes, there are some crucial resources that elite runners need to engage their sport well.
The same is true for piano lessons. Perhaps you went into your home based business thinking, "All I need is a piano." And, yes, while ideally, a piano teacher needs a piano, there are some other basic things you need in your piano teacher's toolkit for successful lessons.
1. A Notebook. This is your brain on paper. Take notes during your lessons. Simple, quick, not a lot of detail, but enough that you can use that information later. Fast Fred almost at the end of his method book? Make a note to send his mom the link for the next one. Scale-challenged Susan finally get that formula pattern down? Make a note to recognize her in your next studio Facebook post.
Whether you want to go all out with a moleskin bullet journal or you want to keep it old school simple with a spiral notebook (hello, me!), keep that notebook nearby and jot things down. Trust me, whether you have 2 students or 42, you don't want to get to the end of the week and try to recall who did what and what you need for the next week. Don't even trust yourself for a minute -- write it down in your piano lesson brain (your notebook) and you have it forever.
2. A Metronome. Now, before you think I'm one of those "picky" teachers, let me be straight up honest and tell you I am 100% picky. I think timing should be accurate and it is your job to make sure that happens.
However, the metronome is not for your students. Its for you. (mic drop)
Tell me that I'm not the only piano teacher who has ever started counting aloud while a student was playing and got thrown off because they were off. Um, yeah, its awkward. There you are, being all teacherly, counting "1 - 2- 3- 4" and your counting gets slower or faster depending on their mistakes.
Piano teacher, avoid that, and just use a metronome (while you count aloud too, of course). It will save you. Of course, your students will benefit too, but most importantly, it will keep your counting accurate no matter what your student is doing or not.
And, I'm also not talking about those metronomes that are made of teak wood and a polished brass counterweight, although those are beautiful. Even a free digital one you've downloaded on your smart phone will work. It doesn't matter how awesome or how simple it is, just that you have it and that you use it.
3. Your necessary papers. This might seem obvious, but I'll be the first one to admit that there has been more than a couple of times that I've had to tell a student "Oh, I'll get that to you next week" because I suddenly realized I didn't have enough copies of that scale sheet printed out.
Let's avoid the awkward "I don't have it" moments and make sure you have extras ready at all times. Keep track of what you need to replenish by, say, making a note in your notebook (brilliant).
4. A Lesson Plan(ish): Now, I'm not talking about a custom, minute by minute breakdown for each individual student. Um, no, that would be a nightmare. You would spend more time planning for the lesson than giving it.
Nope, I'm talking about a general aim for how you teach your students. Think broadly: what is the scope and sequence I have for my students? How do you take your students from point A to point B? What games will you play (if you do them)? Any extra things you want to include?
For more help, check out the pianolessonmom.com resource "Effective Piano Lesson Planning: A Step by Step Guide".
No matter how you do it, have a plan. Nothing is worse than heading into lessons with no idea of what you are going to do. That's stressful for you, and freaks out your clients a little bit too.
The ultimate Piano Lesson Toolkit? Start with your piano. Add a notebook, a metronome, your papers, and a dash of lesson planning and you are good to go. Really, piano lessons can be that simple. More than a piano, but not much more.
Keep your toolkit simple, but stocked. Trust me, you'll be glad you did.