Adding Adult Students–is it Worth Your Consideration?

January 15th, 2012 by

Yes. By all means, YES! Here are 10 reasons why I thoroughly enjoy the opportunity to teach those who are 18 and above and even those who might be considered “chronologically challenged.”

Posing proudly after a No-Worries Workshop

1. Lesson Time: Adults are able to schedule lessons during those hours when most K-12 school students cannot attend.

2. Income: Because adults can come during “off hours” weekly income is expanded.

3. Friendship: Every time a new student enters the door a new relationship is established and inevitably a friend as well.

4. Variety: Each adult student arrives with a unique and distinct musical background and agenda. While some desire to master Mozart, others want to learn note names, while others wish to play current pop hits. Because of time limitations, I have not initiated a Recreational Music Making (RMM) class but this could be a possible option for your studio. This program, that emphasizes recreational and not traditional lessons for adults, continues to grow in popularity. For more information check out the Recreational Music Making Handbook.

Don and Stuart--self-titled "The Octogenarian Duo"

5. Appreciation: While I thoroughly enjoy seeing kiddos eager to play their first song (and watching them discover how fast they can play their new piece!), adults seem to enjoy and appreciate every aspect of their progress. Each step of the piano path seems to be equally important as, or even more important than, a perfected performance.

6. Light-Bulb Moments: In many cases, soon after lessons begin there are the “Ah-Ha” moments. Example: some students have known that 1 sharp at the beginning of a piece means that the F needs to be sharped throughout. However, it is so exhilarating when the need for the F# in the key of G is discovered and understood. Many theory secrets are unlocked after being bound by years of “blind obedience” to the score.

7. Staying Hip: One of my “younger” adult students keeps me up to date with the latest YouTube pianists and digital print music. He can play by ear but wants to read the latest hits as well. Since he has no prior reading skills, we both continue to carve a way to master pitch, rhythm and chord symbol recognition from the grand staff in an unconventional, non-method-book manner.

8. Flexibility: Job obligations or vacation plans often get in the way of weekly piano lessons for most of my adult students. Although the income may not be as reliable, I don’t mind a weekly schedule that varies. Because lessons may not occur weekly, Music Teachers Helper is crucial to keeping things organized. Lesson Reminder emails prompt students of an upcoming lesson (that they may have forgotten about) and e-mailed Daily Summary reports remind me of the lesson as well. Students truly appreciate the lessons notes I write and these serve as a basis for the following lesson. The notes are especially helpful if there is a long gap between lessons.

9. Workshops and Wine: I have learned adult students prefer not to perform among young pianists so I offer informal “No-Worries Workshops”. Students are invited to perform and share some details of the composer, the composition or the challenges encountered while mastering a piece. I always learn something new from the information they share. This past December we all enjoyed a glass (or two) of wine after the December workshop to celebrate the season. That just doesn’t happen at my bi-annual K-12 church recitals 🙂

10. Wisdom: One of my students boasts 88 years with the daily schedule of an 18 year old, another is a renowned eye surgeon, one a general contractor, another, a bio-chemist engineer, another a psychiatric practitioner, one is a World War II vet and…Although most are “retired” they prefer to call this stage a new chapter in their lives. All of them generously share their wisdom and perspective with me on a regular basis. Many times, I feel I OWE THEM for what I learn from their life experiences  and professions.

Sarah (on the right and 88 years young) celebrating her performance with friends

Teaching adult students may be a great fit for you IF:

  • your policies allow for flexibility in scheduling (my adult student policies are far different from those for K-12 students)
  • you enjoy meeting new people and engaging in stimulating conversation
  • you are willing to teach those who may suffer from arthritis, hearing loss, poor eyesight…
  • you are willing to customize lessons to match students’ desires and goals
  • you are interested in the concept of and the benefits of Recreational Music Making for adults
  • you enjoy keeping great minds stimulated and on track in the later years.

Would love to hear from others who enjoy teaching adults!

Posted in Promoting Your Studio, Studio Management, Teaching Tips, Using Music Teacher's Helper

About the Author

Leila Viss
Hi, I'm Leila Viss, pianist, organist, teacher, author of The iPad Piano Studio and blogger at
I enjoy teaching piano to around 45 students ranging in age from 6 to 91. I am drawn to discovering innovative teaching methods and successful practice strategies to encourage the average player stick to the bench for life. Customizing lessons for each student is a priority and therefore... [Read more]

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