😻😻😻Congratulations 🎉🎉🎉 to our student-Xiwen 💋💋💋💋🎹🎹🎹🥳🥳who just played in MTAC State Convention-themes recital!!! And received the the State honor award. 🤩🤩🤩🤩Way to go girl!!!
🎹🎹🌹Let’s think what can we do on Mother’s day?🌹🎹🎹
🌟How about playing in a recital?🌟 Our students just had their spring recital on May 12, sharing wonderful music with their Moms and Dads. ❤️❤️❤️
👏👏👏 Congratulations to our selecting students of “ Outstanding Improvement Award “ 👏👏👏
👏👏👏 Congratulations to two of our selecting students of “ Honor Student Award “ 👏👏👏
🌹Let’s hear them play🎵
🌹🌹🌹🌹🌹🌹🌹🌹🌹🌹Please Join us next time 🌹🌹🌹🌹🌹🌹🌹🌹🌹🌹
HOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST PIANO TEACHER FOR YOUR CHILD
Before I go any further, here's the bottom line:
GO WITH YOUR GUT.
By the time you’re looking for a piano teacher, you’ve seen your child blossom around some adults and wilt around others. You’re looking for the best teacher for your child, not someone else’s. Your intuition will give you more information than any bio, resume or referral.
With that in mind, here are some guidelines to help you find that teacher.
Most parents begin their search with someone in mind who might look like this:
A teacher who’s patient, skilled, not-too-old but not-too-young, and adores teaching the classics, jazz and pop. She seamlessly incorporates new technology and cutting-edge teaching trends. She’s an expert in multiple intelligences and specializes in children with learning differences. She is a brilliant concert pianist. She is a published composer and teaches composition flawlessly. Though her studio is full and has a waiting list, she has Tuesday at 4 pm ready and waiting for your child.
Let’s be clear: this teacher doesn’t exist. You will have to make choices.
Please note: I chose to use "she" throughout this article. There are many fine male piano teachers, and I am not trying to dissuade you from including them in your search.
The most essential thing is a natural fit between your child and the teacher. Set up a meeting between your child and a prospective teacher. Don't do all the talking. Let your child speak for herself.
Look for simple things. Does this teacher
Make eye contact with your child?
Seem genuinely interested in what your child says?
Draw your child out?
Have a sense of humor?
Humor is invaluable in dealing with children. It's better for your child to have a lesson that includes laughter. After all, your child is a child.
Ask your child these questions:
How did you feel when you were working with her?
Was there anything she did that made you uncomfortable or confused?
Would you like to see her again?
Some teachers, especially the younger ones, may not have much experience. Ironically, it’s the teachers just getting started who often have the least experience teaching beginners. Keep an open mind about them, though. A young, enthusiastic teacher who’s willing to invest wholeheartedly in your child may be your best choice. Nothing is better than an experienced teacher, but nothing is worse than a teacher who is also rigid, exhausted, bored, or burned out.
If a teacher has a website, take the time to look at it and find out as much as possible about the teacher. I always appreciate prospective students who have spent time reading what I've written and listened to my recordings.
One effective way to find out about a teacher is to attend a recital by her students. Whenever possible, I invite prospective parents and students to come and hear my students play. It's a simple way for them to experience the style of my studio and see how I relate to my students and their families.
If you’re just not sure, ask if you can take a trial lesson or two to see if it’s a good fit for your child. This is usually easiest to do in the summer when schedules are at their most flexible.
What are you hoping to accomplish with piano lessons? I find it difficult to respond when a parent calls me and says, “I don’t want my child to be a concert pianist. I just want them to have fun.” Obviously, I want my students to enjoy learning, but if they only want to have fun they might do better with a trip to the playground.
HERE ARE A FEW EXAMPLES OF MORE SPECIFIC GOALS AND CHOICES:
I want my child in an elite, competitive, high-energy musical environment.
Choose a highly skilled teacher with a track record of competition winners who puts energy into finding those opportunities for your child. Consider auditioning at a conservatory if your town has one. The kinds of teachers you are looking for will most likely be teaching there. Examples of these schools are the San Francisco Conservatory, the Cleveland Institute, the Colburn School in Los Angeles, and the Juilliard School's Pre-College Division.
I want my child in a warm, healthy environment that fosters individuality, creativity and a love of music.
Look for a teacher with a collaborative studio where students play duets and performance opportunities are not competitive. (This describes my particular studio much better than the first one.)
I have a child with a learning difference and I want a teacher who can understand and embrace my child.
Screening for skills like teaching children with special needs means looking for someone who loves the challenge of unlocking an unusual mind or body. This teacher can’t wait to try to figure out what will work. Look for a teacher who is creative and willing to try new techniques, materials and ideas.
Is location important to you? How far are you willing to drive for the most appropriate teacher? I have some students who drive two hours one-way to me, but I believe the closest appropriate teacher is always a better choice. You'll spend time driving to-and-from this studio, so make it as convenient as possible. Factor in the afternoon and rush hour traffic unless you have a home-schooled child or can schedule lessons on weekends. The best teachers will always try to refer you to someone closer to you if there is another good choice.
Do you want a teacher who comes to your house? The benefit to this is convenience. You don't have to leave your home or arrange transportation for your child. Unfortunately, traveling teachers can be hard to find. Sometimes you can find a young, enthusiastic teacher who will come to you. Sometimes an experienced teacher prefers teaching in student's homes. If there is a good one in your area, they commonly have a waiting list. Be prepared for a specific and tricky schedule, as traveling teachers factor in driving time, traffic and parking. Expect to pay a premium for this service.
Ask up front about a teacher's work schedule. Does she teach after school? Saturdays or Sundays? Evenings? Find out if she even teaches on a day when you could get your child there. For example, if your child could only attend a Saturday lesson and she doesn't even teach weekends, it's better to end the conversation right there.
That said, don’t be too picky at the beginning. The best lesson times fill up first, so you may have to start with a less than ideal time and move into a better slot as the teacher's schedule changes and your child has been there longer.
Most piano teachers didn’t choose the profession because they wanted to be business owners but trust me, you want one that runs a tight ship. If a teacher has a clear studio policy it means they’ve thought through the issues that are important to them and clearly delineated them. This doesn’t mean they won’t be flexible or reasonable, it means they are support themselves by running a professional business. This is a good thing for you as a consumer as well as for them as a business owner.
A good studio policy will include information about how much and when you’ll pay, how to obtain supplies and pay for them, and a cancellation policy.
Look for a teacher who varies their routine. Many teachers use the same books and music year after year which can be beneficial; they’re good at teaching from them. But as their students develop and change, do you notice a tailored a curriculum for each individual student? Does it feel more like a factory where a child gets on the conveyor belt and hopes she doesn’t fall off?
If your child sticks with lessons into middle school and beyond, their piano teacher may become an important transitional adult - someone who is there during their teenage years as a confidant. Is she someone who you would want your child to confide in? It takes a village to raise a child, and a piano teacher can be an important ally in your parenting journey.
How to find that teacher
Start by asking your circle of friends and acquaintances if any of them is particularly happy with their child's teacher. Most of my students come through personal referrals. This is my favorite way to get new students. People who already like me and the way I teach are likely to refer others like themselves.
Most communities in the United States have branches of the Music Teachers National Organization (MTNA) or a state music teachers organization. The MTNA has a webpage called Choosing a Teacher. You may find it helpful, though I imagine I’d find it intimidating as a prospective parent.
Canada has a similar organization called the Canadian Federation of Music Teachers' Association. They also have a Find a Teacher page. In California we have the Music Teachers Association of California (MTAC). I list these acronyms because the teachers tend to throw them around and you may have no idea what they're talking about. MTAC has a great web resource called Find a Teacher that lists the teachers by area. This will at least give you an idea of the teachers in your area who belong to this particular organization. (I'm a member of both these organizations, but many teachers choose to be a member of one or the other or none at all.)
New Zealand has the fabulous Institute of Registered Music Teachers with a website with a teacher search.
The Suzuki method is based on learning entirely by ear at first. Their website offers information about the method and a search feature for teachers around the world.
Pay close attention to your child. If your child seems to genuinely like the teacher, that's important. Maybe even more important, does this teacher genuinely like your child? Your child will spend one-on-one time with this person for weeks, months and possibly years. Is this person going to validate them? Encourage them? Understand them? Like them?
Here are some additional questions you might consider asking:
How many recitals do you have a year? Could you describe them?
Do you do any exam or evaluation programs? If so, which ones?
Do you teach music theory?
Do you have any group lessons or opportunities for students to get together and play for each other?
Take your time. Be patient and willing to wait until you find the right person. While you're waiting, I suggest you check out this brilliant article, 10 Things You Should Do Before Your Child Starts Piano Lessons.
The book Mindset by Carol Dweck can help you set your expectations and approach lessons in a healthy way. This book explains how an open mindset can make learning more successful. I highly recommend reading it during the process of choosing a teacher.
I wish you luck in your search for the best piano teacher for your child.
A Document for Piano Parents Everywhere
As the nature of music education shifts from one of note reading, performance and interpretation to one of creativity, curiosity, composition and exploration, many piano teachers are finding it hard to explain the value and importance of this change with parents.
This means that there is sometimes a conflict between what parents believe is best for their children and what music educators know to be the best way to teach in the 21st Century.
For this reason, I’ve written the following “open letter” designed for piano teachers to share with their students’ parents, friends and families in the hope of making the reasons behind this shift in thinking clearer.
Whether you’re a piano teacher or piano parent, I hope you’ll find it valuable. If you feel others would find it helpful, please share it as much as you’d like.
An Open Letter to Parents of Piano Students
Dear Piano Parents,
Thanks for taking a moment out of your busy day to read this letter.
Its purpose is simple: to help you and your child get the most out of the investment you’ve made in music lessons and to set the stage for your child to develop a lifelong passion for their instrument.
There is a widening gulf emerging in all areas of education between traditional, assessment-based models of teaching involving examinations and rankings, and the need for our students to engage in creative, exploratory learning that will set them up for a future we can’t yet envision.
I continue to be saddened by the number of kids who I see quitting lessons prematurely and never touching their instrument again due to well-intentioned, but often misguided, pressure and advice from parents.
As a piano teacher, I find that just about every adult I meet, who learnt piano as a child but gave up in their teens, expresses sadness that they never continued lessons.
By drawing on my own experience and those of the teachers with whom I work every day around the world in my community, blog and podcast, I want to make sure this doesn’t happen to your child.
You’re committing a huge amount of time and money to this part of your child’s education. Wouldn’t it be a shame if it were wasted?
The Importance of Music Education
Before we go any further, let me first congratulate you on enrolling your child in piano lessons. It’s one of the best things that you can do for their growth and development in all areas of their life.
Music education not only provides an artistic outlet for your child, but research demonstrates learning a musical instrument helps students in other areas of study including memory, self-discipline, motivation and even literacy.
Learning a musical instrument changes the brain for the better.
“Music improves cognitive and non-cognitive skills more than twice as much as sports, theater or dance. The study found that kids who take music lessons ‘have better cognitive skills and school grades and are more conscientious, open and ambitious’.” – Music lessons were the best thing your parents ever did for you, according to science.
You’ve started on the path to helping your child enjoy an involvement in music. Now let me help you give your child the best chance of developing a lifelong relationship with music making.
The Cost of Lessons
Enrolling in music lessons is a huge commitment – in time, energy and money.
Let’s start with time. You may well need to take your child to and from lessons and concerts. Depending on your child’s teacher, you may be involved in lessons so that you can support your child during practice. You’ll commit time to attending recitals, concerts and all sorts of performances.
You’ll need to help your child find time in their schedule to practise. Sometimes, you’ll need to pester your child to practise. You’ll need lots of energy to keep them motivated as they embark on an activity that involves considerable but delayed gratification.
You’ll tear your hair out and get frustrated when they don’t practise. You’ll nag. You may need to wake them up early so they can practise before school and sometimes their practice might wake you up early on a Sunday morning.
And then there’s the financial cost. I know that many of you have made significant financial sacrifices in order to give your child this experience.
Firstly, there’s the instrument you need to purchase or rent – who knew how expensive a decent piano could be? And what about the lessons themselves? For the most part, music lessons aren’t cheap and, like anything else, the more you pay, the more qualified and experienced your teacher will be. Music lesson costs per year can easily run into the thousands of dollars for a child.
But don’t let this put you off; the benefits your child will gain from music lessons will far outweigh all the costs, as long as we keep a few things in mind.
What’s the Goal of Lessons?
Have you thought about the goal of music lessons for your child?
Why have you decided to commit all this time, energy, and money into your child’s musical development?
Is it about helping them get a scholarship to a top school? Is it about passing exams or winning competitions? Perhaps you remember your own failed lessons and want to ensure that doesn’t happen to your child? Or is it because they have shown a love of music which you want to encourage?
Whatever your answer, on behalf of piano teachers around the world, I need to share with you a few truths about how music education has changed in the last 5-10 years.
The Changing Nature of Education
While piano lessons used to be very much about learning to read and perform written music, times are changing.
Quality education is now less about facts, figures, and absorbing content and more about a sense of curiosity, wonder, and a desire to explore and be creative.
Good music educators are delivering lessons that are much more innovative and creative than they were 20 years ago.
These educators are teaching their students to explore popular music and read chord charts, to play by ear with groups or with backing tracks, to sing pop songs, to compose and improvise, to use technology and play jazz. They’re helping students learn the music they want to learn.
These are all creative experiences that will profoundly shape a student’s educational experience and establish a path to lifelong music making.
On the other hand, lessons that push students to learn only a small number of “prescribed” pieces in order to complete ever more challenging exams each year, that force students into competitions and festivals with the expectation of performing ever more perfectly, and are based solely on reading notation and playing it as written are actually starting to have the opposite effect. They will bore your child and will hold less and less currency in the education of the future.
The Role of Exams
What if I told you that students who equate music lessons solely with exam progress will sometimes achieve all the levels of a given exam syllabus and then quit playing for the rest of their life?
Why? Because students taught in this way may feel like they’ve “finished learning”.
I once heard this described as “being on the exam express” and it’s a certain path to musical destruction. Sure, your child may get an A+ for every level of exam they complete each year and get to Grade 8 by the time they are 12, but then what? When you take away the lessons, the exam structure and the written music, some students feel they have nothing further to do.
Exam syllabi were never designed to form the curriculum of music lessons or become an annual course of study. However, because teachers often teach how they were taught, this myth has become a sad reality for far too many students.
While some teachers are now realising they have to change their perspective and approach to lessons, these changes will take time. I’m calling on you, as dedicated music parents, to support your child’s teacher if they start trying new things in lessons in order to break out of this mould.
Don’t get me wrong, exam boards serve an important purpose and examinations can be an extremely motivating and positive experience for students when used in the correct way.
Parents, please let your child’s teacher decide when to use performances, festivals, exams and competitions to encourage, motivate and excite your child. Don’t force your child to take exams and don’t force your child’s teacher to teach in this way. You’ll be having the opposite effect of that which you intend.
Let me finish by asking you a question:
After all the investment, all your nagging, all the concerts and recitals, and all the ups and downs that come with learning an instrument, would you like your child to develop the skills and passion they need to continue playing music for the rest of their life?
I’m hoping the answer is a resounding, “Yes!”.
In my opinion, and those of the teachers I coach in my community, the things that will have the biggest impact on your child’s love of and ongoing participation in music, is a teacher who:
is invested in your child and has a passion for sharing their own love of music;
develops your child’s ability to create their own music, to improvise and compose, to wonder, to ask questions, to be curious about music;
helps your child learn music that’s relevant to them and that they want to learn, alongside giving them a well-rounded experience of the great repertoire of the past;
helps students understand the harmonic construction of music, how to play from chord charts and lead sheets, how to jam with a band and to make music up on the spot; and
uses exams, competitions and festivals for their desired purpose, in consultation with you and your child and in keeping with the goals all three of you have set.
Put simply, it’s about your child’s relationship with a teacher who can give them a well-rounded, modern, creative experience of music that’s in-line with their goals and related to the music they love. While exams, competitions and festivals may form a part of that experience, it must not be the purpose for its existence.
Many of us teach piano to adult students including doctors, surgeons, lawyers and other respected and highly-paid professionals, all of whom play simply for the love of music. It’s the way these professionals were nurtured to enjoy playing the piano as a fun and creative outlet as children, that is so vital to their life-long desire to keep playing.
Bach, Beethoven, Chopin and all the great composers were brilliant improvisers. They taught their students to create and play the music of their day and would never have thought to teach them solely how to play music of a hundred years earlier. So, why do we?
Let’s ensure that the next generation of students continue to create music and love their instrument for the rest of their lives.