5 Things Every Piano Teacher Should Stop Doing… And Why It Will Make You Happier

In our day-to-day work with this blog Trevor and I connect with a lot of piano teachers;  piano teachers from close by, and piano teachers from as far away as Bulgaria.  It’s a funny profession in that almost every single piano teacher has the same concerns, the same questions, the same dreams. We are united in this job; united by both our triumphs and our struggles.  Because we deal with the common language of music there is not much difference between what a piano teacher in Phuket experiences vs. a piano teacher in  Kentucky! 

Which is why this list of 5 Things Every Piano Teacher Should Stop Doing is so important.  Check it out and then look within.  Do you see yourself in any of these 5 points?  How much happier could you be in your profession and in your personal life if you eliminated even just one?  Do you have the guts to eliminate them all?…

1)  Would you rather be right or kind?

This is an important question to ask yourself not only in your personal life, but in your professional life as well.  It’s okay to have made a mistake.  It’s okay to be in the wrong.  And it’s okay to admit it.  Being remembered as “right” is not as long-lasting as being remembered as “kind”.  And, being kind is significantly less stressful in the long run.

2)  Teach for life… not to the test

Let go of pressure and watch your students also relax.  Stop teaching to the test (the “test” being recitals, exams, competitions…) instead, teach for life.  Pass on skills and knowledge that will benefit your student for years, not simply gain them an extra 5 marks or another first place.  I don’t mean you need to stop recitals, exams and competitions; but learn to put them all into what I call the “10 year perspective”… ask yourself “Will this matter in 10 years?”  If the answer is no, relax.

3)  Let go of judgement

We piano teachers can be a catty bunch! … there… I said it 😉  Camaraderie is often muddied with competition.  We are, after all, directly marketing to exactly the same families as is the piano teacher down the road.  It’s okay to feel a friendly dose of competitiveness, but resist the urge to go beyond that.  Be secure in your own teaching.  Be one of those people who has nothing but a kind word about everyone.  Your confidence will not go unnoticed.

4)  Don’t do it because you’ve always done it

It’s easy to teach the way we ourselves were taught; to teach the way we have taught for years.  But to truly experience job satisfaction you need to find innovation.  Falling into the pattern of doing something simply because you’ve always done it that way prevents you from being open to new ideas, new opportunities and new successes.  Old habits are hard to break, but it’s worth it.  There is always a new approach waiting to make you feel inspired and refreshed.

5)  Be proud

Please help me rid the world of the attitude that Piano Teachers don’t actually work.  That they are lucky enough to do their hobby for money.  Don’t be thrust into thinking that your career is more of a service to the community than an actual career.  Stop thinking that you will never make enough money.  Decide to demand more from your chosen profession – but in doing so, treat this as a profession.  Educate yourself, be welcoming of change, learn to read your market and create a product that will sell.  Embrace the role of entrepreneur.  There is no difference between yourself and any other small business owner.  Be proud of your chosen profession – but also be proactive.  Your success is completely up to you.

Inspired?  We are!  We are continually thrilled by the emails we receive full of success stories from piano teachers just like you.  Just yesterday Kelly emailed to say “Thanks so much for your book!  I started with my 2 neighbor kids, then 10 students, now at 24 and we are considering building a garage/studio this year and going forward!  I have a thriving studio because of many of the ideas you’ve suggested that I have incorporated over the last year.”  If you’d like to head down her path check out our Piano Teaching Guide and take the first step towards being completely awesome.

8 Responses to 5 Things Every Piano Teacher Should Stop Doing… And Why It Will Make You Happier

  1. says

    Love this post!

    I absolutely agree that we should embrace fellow teachers. We can help them, and they can help us! We are colleagues, after all. One of my close friends is also a piano teacher and we’re always sharing suggestions and ideas.

    And we definitely are small business owners! Is important that we think of ourselves that way, so that other people (especially students/parents) take us seriously, too.

  2. says

    These ideas are excellent and really not what I expected when I read the topic! Thanks for your inspiration to be not only a better piano teacher, but also to be a better person.

  3. Lavinia Livingston says

    Your post is most appropriate today. This is the day I meet a challenging student. Just figuring out that there may be vision problems: cannot play without looking at her hands; memorizes everything as quickly as she can, sight-reading: figures out single staffs, one at a time rather that comprehending the grand staff. Learns forward toward the music when ask to name notes or intervals. Still analyzing her situation.

  4. Kk says

    Excellent persepctive and encouragement. Millions thanks!!

    Would you write something about the tax guide and deduction for us piano teachers as an entrepreneur / small business owner?

    • says

      Hi Katherine! Glad you enjoyed the post. In regards to your question about taxes, we’re from Canada so we would’t be a great authority on this topic for those of you in the states. We always suggest working with a good accountant as they can really help you discover the deductions you are entitled to.

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