Question: How do you keep adult students motivated and enthusiastic when they are in the early stages of learning to play the piano?
Teaching adult piano students can sometimes be more work than teaching a young child! Adults who are either beginning or returning to piano lessons are a whole new ball game when it comes to your teaching approach, and you need to adjust accordingly to keep them motivated and committed. Stickers and candy just don’t work as motivators anymore… so roll up your sleeves and try the following when it comes to keeping your adult piano students happy and engaged.
Discover Your Adult Piano Students’ Motivation
A “cookie cutter” approach doesn’t work well with adults. They are not your typical student who was signed up by an enthusiastic parent – meaning they have a clear goal in mind of what they hope to accomplish with their piano lessons. This means that you will need to be flexible enough with your teaching methods to help them achieve those goals. Be open to new ways of teaching and avoid using the same books, approach and technique with each of your adult students. Modify your program according to their individual goals.
Adults tend to be impatient. They need to see results quickly or they get discouraged easily. Achieve a balance between skills progression and good old fashioned fun. I introduce my adult students to Fake Books early and will often teach them to chord and play by ear. Ultimately, most of my adult students are in lessons to play for personal enjoyment. They want to hear a song on the radio on the way home from work… and then sit down at the piano with a glass of wine to play it that evening. And I’m happy to give them the tools to do so.
Many piano teachers get frustrated with adult students and their “lack of comittment”. As they are juggling many different life roles they tend to miss lessons more frequently than young piano students. If you are able, schedule adult piano students in a way that allows you to be flexible if they need to miss (ie. at the end of your day). Flexibility goes a long way in maintaining adults in your studio.
If you can arrange the set-up (ie. several pianos or keyboards) consider offering lessons in groups. The social nature of a group setting appeals to many adults who love to know “they’re not the only ones” who find new concepts difficult. My adult piano groups were a solid hour of laughter and my attendance rates were through the roof. This is a great way to add some extra income – group lessons are cost effective. Adults are often willing to pay close to the same rate for a small group class as they would an individual piano lesson.
Be as enthusiastic and encouraging with your adults as you would a 6 year old. They struggle with needing to feel successful just as much as your little ones do…. sometimes even more so! Don’t be shy about loading on the praise. It goes a long way in making them feel comfortable to experiment and take risks with their piano playing.
Marketing directly to adults is a great way to boost your piano studio numbers. Many retired adults are available for lessons outside of the “after school” hours, and adults tend to have more expendable income than do young families. Do up some targeted advertising, put together an enticing program and get the word out there where you target audience congregates. You’ll find that your adult piano student lessons can be the most enjoyable part of your teaching week!