Amanda Furbeck

Amanda Furbeck

Amanda has been teaching private piano lessons for 15 years. She plays piano, keyboard, and organ, and has worked in church music for 17 years. Amanda received a B.A. in music from Eastern University. She has written and recorded music that is available on iTunes and amazon.com, and writes CD reviews for Worship Leader Magazine. She is the author of "Clef Hangers," a book of devotions for worship teams. Amanda's goal as a piano teacher is to share a love of music with her students. She uses innovative teaching methods, enjoyable materials, and liberal amounts of positive reinforcement to help her students love the piano.

What does your image say about you as a professional music teacher?  I’ve been in many music stores where the teachers wore ripped jeans, an old pair of sneakers, and some kind of a amandarock band fan shirt. And nobody batted an eye. Does appearance matter? If you teach in a music store, you are probably very visible to potential clients and new customers. If you teach in your home, you might only see your regular students. But appearance is important no matter who, how, or where you teach. Which of these clothing suggestions work for your studio?

Dress neatly.  As I see it, the most important part of a professional image is dressing neatly. Are your shoes in good shape? Do your socks match?  Are your clothes free of holes and damage and wrinkles? Do you match? Or do you look like you just climbed out of bed and dashed in to work? (It’s ok if you did, just don’t look like it!). [···]

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IMG_2847Summer is a terrific time to organize some extra performance opportunities for your younger private lessons students. Don’t worry if they’ve never performed in front of anyone before – now is the time to start.  Performance opportunities help students in a variety of way.  Students learn to play well under pressure, and they learn to play through their mistakes, instead of stopping to fix them. They learn poise, professionalism, and they learn how to encourage one another.  Performing has a way of maturing a piece of music; the more people your students perform in front of other people, the better, especially if they are transitioning or auditioning for colleges and special groups.  Here are a few ideas to squeeze in some fun and exciting performing opportunities for this summer.

Nursing homes. Nursing homes are some of my favorite places to play.  They usually have some sort of large activities room, often with a stage and piano.  The elderly folks who live there generally love music and children – bringing both front and center will likely make their day.  A 45 minute program is perfect.  Let students know ahead of time what they may see as far as wheelchairs, oxygen tanks, or severely disabled adults.

Coffee shops.  Coffee shops may not be willing to give up ‘prime time’ to inexperienced musicians, but they may be willing to work with you on a time that has low attendance.  It will certainly help if your students’ parents are willing to come by and drink some coffee, too. Students can sign up for time slots or even rotate. [···]

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Selecting the right piano teaching method can be a daunting task, especially if you are a brand new piano teacher.  There are probably as many piano methods as there are piano teachers to teach them.  So how do you know which one to use? You could choose a single method to teach across the board – all new students start with the same materials.  Or, you could find out what each student wants to learn and choose a method for them individually.  Chances are, after a few years of trial and error, you will find a method that you truly feel comfortable with and very much enjoy teaching from. Maybe you’ll even write your own!  Regardless, here are a few piano methods that I enjoy teaching from.

John Thompson’s Modern Course for the Piano.  I love this piano method, for several reasons.  First, it’s the method that I learned from as a little girl.  I was so excited when I got to play from the big red book!  It brings back many fond memories of piano lessons.  Of course, given my age, you might not think of it as being all ‘that’ modern, but that’s the name of it.

In all seriousness, this method is my go-to method for students who want to learn classical piano.  It contains great directions for classical technique (think wrist staccato and drop and roll) as well as many classic style pieces that every budding pianist needs to learn. Book 1 is great for the late elementary school student who has had some music experience at school.  For the younger beginner, check out Teaching Little Fingers to Play, which is a great introduction  [···]

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