Music Teacher's Helper Blog

Your Studio Environment

studioThis is my first post on MusicTeachersHelper. I have benefitted so much from the expertise and great ideas of my fellow teachers, that I find it more than a bit intimidating to add my own contribution! I hope you will bear with me as I find my “voice”, and share some of my own experiences and discoveries over the past 25 years of teaching and helping students of all ages to find their own voice.

One factor that I have found important throughout my career, is the quality of my work environment, in both efficiency and esthetics. I enjoy the challenge of finding new ways to freshen my studio space and make it as beautiful and as comfortable as possible for myself and my clients. No matter where I am, whether the corner of my carpeted living room with boxes for books (my first years) to a lovely dedicated loft space with soaring ceilings, to the living/music room that is my present studio, I want it to be a place that I enjoy going to.

Some of the factors that I believe add up to a welcoming working environment are:

Natural Light: Although at times this can be difficult to achieve, due to budget or other limitations, it is a factor to consider when choosing a teaching space.

Clutter Control: Whenever possible, I like to have storage that tucks messes out of sight. If your living room is also your studio, being able to close off that constant reminder of work obligations when you are not actually working, is a great stress reliever. Instead of a file basket, I try to use a wicker lidded basket. If I don’t see the paper, I am not constantly being nagged by the feeling of “I should get to that”.

Organization: Although some disorder seems to be a natural consequence of a creative mind, I find I work much better when I have a system that gives everything a “home”. I found a beautiful roomy armoire on Kijiji for $150.00.(for my American colleagues think Craigslist) It is a lovely piece of furniture that stands in the corner of the living room next to the piano. It holds a printer, reference books, sight singing manuals, ear training booklets, graded song series, and various music binders by song type. The inside of the doors provide a surface to mount posters, announcements and reminders, and can be closed up at the end of lessons, leaving the space looking more like a living room again. (Of course an electric piano, upright piano, and bookcase full of music reveal the true nature of the space).

Decor: Curtains are not necessary, of course, but I enjoy searching for the perfect fabric to coordinate with my large area rug. A comfy wicker armchair with matching cushions, a wooden filing cabinet that doubles as a coffee table, and art and photos, complete the room. None of this needs to cost a great deal of money. Great bargains can be found at home discount stores, online sales sites, and the clearance aisles of fabric stores.

My space is an evolving entity. Just as teaching techniques need periodic infusions of variety, so physical space needs to be tweaked. Fresh space, helps to generate fresh thoughts. A beautiful space lends itself to making beautiful music.

About the Author


  1. Laurie

    Welcome to MTH blogging, Shelly! I enjoyed your post, especially the tips on decorating. I am still working on the decor part of my studio. Thanks for the tips!

  2. Soni Conville

    Completely agree. For years my home piano studio was nothing more than a storage room with a piano in it. The room was clean but it was always cluttered with the excess detritus of modern living, didn’t foster any creativity and did nothing for my professional image. Three years ago we finally put our tax refund to good use and had the room gutted out and redone from top to bottom. The walls were painted a rich color named Peanut Shell, the trim was painted white and the old white linoleum floor was replaced with blond hardwood. I put in floor to ceiling bookshelves along one wall to corral all my music books and teaching materials, put down a colorful area rug, added a comfy cream-colored armchair bought on clearance and decorated the room with live houseplants and music-themed artwork. The result is a warm, inviting music studio that makes everyone feel comfortable. With a big picture window facing southeast, the room has become my favorite; I enjoy a cup of coffee in the armchair early every morning watching the world wake up. It’s amazing how the change has positively affected my students’ attitude and improved my image. Our case was a bit extreme because it involved the expense of remodeling a room but decorating it really wasn’t expensive at all. You spend a lot of hours in the room where you teach; you might as well make it a room you enjoy spending all that time in.

  3. Diane Stables

    Thanks for your post, very interesting. I am about to embark on a large job of refurbishing a house, and am glad that you too are using your living room as the main teaching area. This was a big decision for me, but your information has made it easier for me to adjust my space. Previously was going to use a bedroom, but not enough space for tables, music storage, books, chairs and my upright piano to look comfortable, not to mention presentable for creativity!. Thanks for your version, can’t wait to get back to my teaching.

  4. Lisa Ann

    WOW, very nice setup in that photo!

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