As nobody can afford to pick and choose when starting the studio, it’s important to realize that you are going to be ready to teach a great variety of students – from unmotivated beginners to soloists wanting to go for a performance degree. That said, you need to be aware of great variety of teaching methods, as you have to be able to quickly shift from one method to another if something doesn’t work. It’s worth noticing that it’s important to have a method in general. Students and their parents sometimes tend to trust methods more than actual teacher, so having the method is a must.
Probably, it’s worth joining MTNA. Find out first what MTNA does in your area, as its activities, influence, and professional level is very inconsistent. Be aware that your local MTNA chapter’s tests, festivals, and other activities most likely won’t be recognized in other states. Tell this to the students who want to be affiliated with MTNA, but not sure about living in your state. However, MTNA is a 100-year-old organization, and doing something with it may be a good motivating factor for your student.
The general repertoire is available through IMSLP. The method books are very inexpensive and available in stores. You can purchase one copy of each method just for demo, and then help parents purchase it if needed.
Your initial fees shouldn’t be higher than your area’s market average (maybe, you can start even lower). Do little market research first. Its OK to charge extra $5 for gas if driving exceeds 20 miles from your home. There is no such thing as free trial lesson(s). Don’t start to cheaply; for many people, a cheap price indicates low quality. When you start, it would be easier to teach at your student’s homes. You may get less flexible for your students (like teaching only at your home, at the store, etc.) only after you get a stable, thriving, and loyal studio.
You got your first student. Talk to his/her parent first (usually, it’s a one of the parents, as the other one may not be even aware of it). Try to find out what their ambitions are, whether or not they have particular goals (taking the test, playing in the festival, etc.), why they chose you (it’s important). It’s good to know if parents are musicians or not. Don’t forget to ask if they have an instrument after all, by the way.
In the first lesson with the beginner, take time to explain the basics. The better the student gets it, the better musician he will be. Especially it relates to sitting, hands’ placement, and counting. You will have to go back to it within first 3-4 months of teaching, as students tend to violate basic rules. Make sure the student understands why he needs to sit properly, in the center, etc. It takes more time, if you see that the student took lessons before and was misled by his previous teacher.
Explaining the notes is no easy task. People have different ways to memorize stuff and different speed to do it, so you need to be patient.
Materials of unmotivated beginners:
R. & N. Faber Piano Adventures
Alfred’s Premier Piano Course
In the first lesson with advanced student, ask him/her to play something. Make sure, you are very clear what type of work you are going to do with the student. Clearly set goals for the next, say, 6 months, with what type of pieces you will work with him/her. Make sure you do scales – a cornerstone of the technique.
Materials for motivated beginners:
Later: Schumann Op. 124
Tchaikovsky Children’s Album
Debussy Children’s Corner
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