Music Teacher's Helper Blog

A Teacher’s Job is More Than Teaching

A teacher’s job neither starts nor ends in the studio.  Preparation, brainstorming, caring, ideas, inspiration, creativity… these are only a few words to describe the immense responsibility we have outside of the studio.  Have you ever found yourself writing a letter outside teaching hours to encourage a student who is struggling with their first Minuet or help a parent who needs advice on inspiring their child to practice, or researched the best local pianos for sale?

Take your job seriously in all respects. 🙂  I have discovered that when we, as teachers, enjoy what we do, our students have a sense of ownership, joy, and satisfaction in the accomplishments they have made at their instruments.  You all are wonderful teachers! Keep pouring into your students and enjoy every moment and opportunity you have to make a difference in their lives through music.

I will…


  • pray for my day’s list of students before entering the studio.
  • look students in the eyes, let them know how glad I am to see them, and smile!… be cheerful
  • give clear practice instructions, demand only the best and be patient when practice weeks don’t reach those expectations
  • teach and enforce proper technique… especially by observing away from the piano.  We will video-tape the student playing so they can evaluate themselves (position, alignment, posture, tone, musical shape and imagery, etc).
  • apply music theory in a composition aspect… using Finale Notepad & Garage Band (in my studio’s case)
  • students will play music games online as part of their assignments
  • come up with creative ideas for lessons each week… think about it on the way to the studio from college, where I attend.  This includes games and visuals for students of all ages.
  • spend time looking for the songs the students request.
  • keep up with the points & placements of those participating in the “Measure Madness Contest”
  • keep explanations simple and free from too many analogies – which can be confusing for many students.  Simple, concise, and direct answers are best.
  • not let exhaustion take away my sense of humor… appropriate individually for each age.
  • celebrate student’s accomplishments with them!


Remind students…

  • Your music means so much to everyone who hears it!
  • God has given you a special gift in piano… what do you think that is? (a gift they need to work hard at and enjoy – be good stewards of that gift and be responsible in how they use and present it – , a gift to share and be humble about, a gift they can always improve on and can always be excited about.)


Other Assignment Ideas…


  • listen to a particular classical song and write a review on it (short, but informative)
  • create songs to describe certain moods or objects
  • use online music games to “Learn”, “Play”, “Quiz”, “Challenge”… continually progress through the levels…
  • music games to play at home and teach family members
  • use metronome for a steady beat/tempo… march around room to metronome & then to music… only stepping on the beats 1 2 3 4 (and not the notes and runs in between)
  • clap/tap the rhythm
  • white board (symbols, writing counts, drawing notes, etc)
  • flash-cards
Nothing will be super easy.  Everything will be worth the time.  Encourage determination and faithfulness.


As a reward, generously use candy & sticker incentives…
*gummy bears, skittles, M&Ms,…

Luke-warmness in teaching is pointless… the ideas are endless. – Kristin Phillips  🙂

As always, I appreciate ideas and feedback.  🙂  Have a wonderful week everyone!


About the Author

Kristin Phillips
Kristin has been studying piano since the age of 6 and with the guidance of her family and teachers, began teaching others by 14. After pursuing pedagogy in piano and business administration for a short time - to be continued at a later time, she transferred to studying church music ministry at Portland Bible College. She enjoys editing her website, writing in her spare time, teaching piano stud... [Read more]


  1. Ronnie Currey

    Great article. Plenty of ideas. I have actually had parents tell me that, although their son/daughter never practiced, the lesson with me was the highlight of their week. They looked at the lesson time with me as therapy, taking them out of the busy world and into a world of music. Adult students have also told me the same thing. The lesson time is the only time in their week that they relax, and do not think of work. Just music. Thanks again for some great ideas.

  2. sfrack

    Writing a letter of encouragement to your students. Wow! What a fantastic idea! You are clever and dedicated. Hope you don’t mind if I use your idea.

  3. Kristin Phillips

    Thank you for your comments! 🙂 It is my joy to teach piano each day and spend time with my students. Keep pouring your heart into what you do and you will always leave a legacy of music for your students. Have a wonderful week!

  4. steve lord

    Yes, yes, yes! These are great ideas! I do like to think of myself as more than just a music teacher. I know all of my students birthdays, I know their parents’ names, I know their outside activities. This knowledge helps your students interact with you better in your lessons and gives them more out of the lessons.
    Great post!

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