Being a piano teacher is one of the most fulfilling and enjoyable jobs one can have. It introduces you to wonderful people you would never have met otherwise, and it allows you to spend the entire day around this magnificent instrument.
However, there are some steps that must be taken to become a successful piano teacher.
As a pianist, master piano teacher, and founder of various piano schools around the world, I am delighted to share my knowledge and give you some pointers on how to become a piano teacher.
How To Become a Piano Teacher: 5 Easiest steps
- Acquire a solid piano education
- Follow the advice of the most renowned master piano teachers
- Think about the highs and lows of your piano education
- Develop a great knowledge of the repertoire
- Think about your teaching method and philosophy
Let me elaborate more on the listed steps on how to become a piano teacher.
1. Acquire a solid piano education
The obvious first step in becoming a piano teacher is to be a brilliant pianist yourself. You simply cannot offer your services as a piano teacher if you lack the necessary skills.
You may believe that you do not need to be an advanced pianist to teach beginners, but you are incorrect. Throughout my career, I’ve found that teaching those who have never played before is the most difficult.
You bear a great deal of responsibility because it is critical that newcomers develop good habits from the start. It is critical that beginners learn the proper techniques from the beginning, as failing to do so will result in poor performance and demotivation.
Furthermore, you never know who will knock on your door, so you must be prepared to teach pianists who have been playing for several years and have achieved a high level of proficiency.
I’ve been teaching piano for over 20 years and have met hundreds of students. They each had their own set of strengths and weaknesses, and my job was to help them improve in a way that was appropriate for their specific situation.
I can assure you that you must have the experience to solve all of their problems, either musical or technical, in order to properly assist each of them.
You will not be able to help your students with their pianistic difficulties unless you have studied the piano for several years yourself.
Sometimes it goes beyond that, as you need to support them psychologically when they take a step back, lack motivation, or have various stage fright fears.
2. Follow the advice of the most renowned master piano teachers
From a young age, I attended piano masterclasses led by expert piano teachers. Listening to other pianists’ advice has been incredible because I could see how a piano teacher could help a student regardless of their background or abilities.
This type of class is relatively easy to attend because it is usually offered during festivals or piano seminars.
You can also do some research on YouTube, where many videos have been posted. You can even see Daniel Barenboim giving Lang Lang some advice!
I’ve also read several interviews and two piano books that I highly recommend: Heinrich Neuhaus’ The Art of Piano Playing and Jean-Jacques Eigeldinger’s Chopin Pianist and Teacher: As Seen by His Pupils.
3. Think about the highs and lows of your piano education
Throughout my piano studies in Paris and Switzerland, I met a variety of piano teachers. Some were fantastic, while others were abhorrent.
Attending my lessons with the latter was never a pleasant experience, but it did provide me with valuable insight into how I should not behave as a piano teacher.
I have fond memories of my piano lessons with Edson Elias and Francois Weigel, who were not only excellent teachers but also friends and mentors to me.
They were both incredibly motivating. I could also freely express myself and share my deepest emotions. They not only aided my development as a pianist but also as a woman.
However, I have horrible memories of my piano lessons with other piano teachers whom I will not mention in this article.
Their teaching was so bad because they believed that breaking down their students would produce better results than encouraging them.
I’ll never understand why they acted that way, but I’ve learned that being odious and sarcastic is not the way to help people who come to you to learn.
All masters were once disasters, so you can’t expect your students to have it all at the start of their education. They are with you for a reason: they don’t know and need to learn from you.
4. Develop a great knowledge of the repertoire
As a piano teacher, you must be well-versed in the piano repertoire. It is necessary for two reasons: you must be able to advise your students on the most appropriate pieces to study, as well as any composition they wish to approach.
As I previously stated, every pianist is unique, and they may or may not be interested in practicing the style that you prefer. I believe that advanced students should be allowed to make their own decisions.
Some of my students prefer the Baroque period, while others prefer the classical period. Some prefer Liszt, Chopin, and Schumann, while others prefer Stockhausen, Schoenberg, or John Cage.
I believe that in order to teach effectively, you must be knowledgeable in all styles.
It’s great to meet people who know exactly which pieces they want to study, and I’ve always encouraged them to play their favorites. However, I believe it is extremely beneficial for them to experiment with different styles. I had several students who concentrated on Bach, Beethoven, or Mozart.
I had no problem assisting them in improving the style with which they were familiar, but I also encouraged them to step outside of their comfort zone.
I directed them to romantic and more modern composers, and they were ecstatic to discover that they actually enjoyed playing some pieces that they would never have attempted without my direction.
5. Think about your teaching method and philosophy
There are thousands of piano teachers all over the world, each with their own approach to teaching. If you want to stand out and make your piano lessons both educational and enjoyable, you must consider your teaching method and philosophy.
I’ve always been strict, but I’ve always done so in the most relaxed way possible. I always want my students to be happy when they come to their piano lessons. Also, I want to make certain that I share all of my knowledge with them and that I always tell them the truth.
Telling people that they are doing exceptionally well when this is not the case is a lie, but nothing prevents you from noticing what they are improving on and congratulating them greatly. I never criticize students who are not performing well. On the contrary, I always encourage them and look for ways to assist them in improving.
I always want them to know they are supported. I would always be clear about the homework and assist them in understanding how to practice in order to achieve the desired results. I would always adapt to my students’ personalities and teach them accordingly.
I would make certain that all aspects of piano playing are covered in each lesson and that we are working from a structure. Progress must be felt regularly, but it must be done in a nonjudgmental and relaxed manner.
It is your responsibility, in addition to teaching your students how to play the piano, to increase their love and passion for the instrument. I’ve heard a lot of stories about people who stopped playing the piano because they didn’t enjoy their piano lessons, and I never want that to happen to my students.
The most important secret, in my opinion, is to become a chameleon and to use your psychology to make each piano lesson a memorable experience. Even if your student is not talented or has not practiced since the last session!
In the comment section below, let us know if you found these steps on how to become a piano teacher easy.
Also, if you are searching for piano lessons, London Piano Institute is a great place to consider.