In the more than twenty years I’ve taught piano, I’ve spent more time than I’d like to admit wondering why certain students just didn’t seem to get it: didn’t practice enough, didn’t practice the right things, didn’t count out loud, didn’t want to do their theory, didn’t care to polish, didn’t fit the mold I thought they should. I have experimented with motivation methods, with firmness, and with positive encouragement, and have finally accepted that each student comes with a different background and a different motivation. One size does NOT fit all, especially in private music instruction, and the more I tried to pound the square pegs in the round holes and the round pegs into the square holes the more frustrated we all became.
We can limit this frustration when we know who we are, how we teach, and what kind of students fit this profile best. We increase this frustration when we think that we can be all things to all people. Let’s admit it: We can’t! When we understand what each prospective and current student truly desires, we will be better able to know how to meet those needs and whether or not those needs are possible to meet in our current studios.
Some questions to ask ourselves:
Are we truly listening to prospective new students and parents?
Do we really understand what they want out of piano lessons? When I reopened my studio last year, I had the fun chance to interview many children and parents in a short period of time. One interview stands out: A very dedicated mother was interested in having two or three of her children join my studio. [···]