Hear how Music Teacher’s Helper gave Derek of Sydney, Australia the necessary time and opportunity to grow his independent teaching studio to over 60 students.
Are you starting up a private music teaching studio? You probably have questions. Beginning teachers often ask the same questions. Usually the first is “How did you get started teaching?”
Let me answer that one before digging into others. I grew up in a family of professional musicians. My sister and I sang and played—and got paid for it—from the time I was five years old. Relatives composed songs and choir cantatas, wrote musicals and played in dance bands. My mother coached countless kids performing vocally and instrumentally, both individually and in groups. I was in on it most of the time, and began to coach others during middle and high school. By the time I started college, I had sung/played for over three hundred weddings. Yet it never occurred to me to earn a living at it until I discovered how unsuited I was for waiting tables!
So in my hometown, I let it be known I was going to teach beginning piano. I told people at church and put up a couple of small posters, hand-made. I started in the basement of my parents’ home on a 100-year-old piano with three students. I used the books I’d grown up with. I went straight through the books without variance. Somehow those three students stuck with it, thrived, and by word of mouth my studio grew. I was passionate about helping others make music. I added other instruments. And I got bored with the books. That made me take every opportunity, whether at the university or beyond, to educate myself pedagogically and grow as a skilled—and fun—teacher.
There are five questions I am most often asked. However… I will start with
One question no one asks, but should!
How well do you know your students’ parents? Most of my students are dropped off on the fly, so I seldom see their adults. If someone else drives them to lessons, sometimes I don’t even meet them until a recital.
Parents care. They pay tuition for me to teach their children. Obviously they want a good musical experience for them, and hope and trust I can do for their youngsters what they cannot. Many of them would like to be in on the process, if they only knew how.