“Our LMH students have the opportunity of becoming a LMH music teacher.”- Lina Chan
How old are students starting to teach piano? Most teachers I know, including myself answered between 9 and 18 years of age, which is an early start to any career. Most piano teachers started to teach because a friend, relative or neighbour said ‘you play piano, can you teach my child?’ It is a very common scenario nowadays, and LMH would like to welcome these young people to the piano teaching profession and help them get the best possible start.
One of my students Leo Huang who has been studying piano with me for around four years has now three private piano students after teaching for 10 months. He is currently in AMEB Grade 5& 6 piano and is completing his final Theory of Music exam in August 2015. I tried to convince him to teach piano since he was 5 years of age, and he eventually started teaching at the age of 9 from home. He has three private piano students, and Leo has prepared his students for the 2014 LMH examinations and end of year concert.
In order to maintain the quality of teaching at Lina’s Music House, I am the Piano examiner for all LMH piano examinations. Over the last year of LMH piano examinations, I could see in person the pros and cons of having a junior teacher. Firstly, a junior teacher can teach a student how to read notes, count mostly in time, basic dynamic contrasts, and basic music theory. However, junior teachers may have only one way of approaching teaching, which is the way they have been taught by their teacher. They have not had the experience of dealing with different types of learning styles students have, and so may neglect the student’s needs and interests. As the students advance, the junior teachers need to have a broader knowledge of musical structures, chord progressions, shaping, moods and colour – one of the most complicated things to demonstrate and explain because it is like teaching someone how to be a great artist.
Saying this, having a junior piano teacher who has a mentor supporting him/ her behind the scenes during the initial stages of their piano teaching career is crucial. Mentoring helps because it guarantees a young person that there is someone who cares about them, and that a child is not alone in dealing with day-to-day challenges in teaching and dealing with people. Think back. Did you know how to study for a test or make plans for your future education? Do you remember how you felt looking for a part-time job and going to your first job interview? Simple things that seem easy or straightforward to you now may appear to be a complete mystery to a young person.
My piano teacher and now mentor has supported me emotionally, mentally and physically for my entire piano teaching career – even till this day when I have a rapidly growing music school and am a grown woman. My mentor has more life experience than me and has good foresight. She is like a mother who cares for me, guides me through times of uncertainty, and puts me back on track into the right direction without telling me what to do with my life. An example of how my mentor saved me from a costly mistake was when LMH was growing too fast with enrolments and business offers during the second year of trading. At the time, we only had six teachers who were fully booked and I was doing everything myself – admin, marketing, teaching, subcontractor agreements, organising 2 concerts a year, hosting AMEB examinations, performing, networking, branding, cleaning etc. At the time, although we had a shortage of music teachers, and was only sleeping four to five hours a night, I was happy with how fast LMH was growing and how many offers we received to partner up with music retailers, local businesses and music schools. However my mentor knew that if I continued to grow LMH at the rate I was going at the time, I most likely would end up in hospital for burning out. The best advice she gave me at the time was to stop all projects to expand LMH. I had around eight projects I was working on at the time to expand LMH across Melbourne. She told me to just focus on my current students enrolled at the school, our LMH teachers, my personal relationships and my health. This was the best advice because LMH grew more rapidly once I started to focus on only 20% of what I was doing. My thinking at the time was the more I do, the faster LMH will grow. But the reality is, if you focus on the most important things, the faster your business will grow, and the happier you become.
So what does it take to be a good piano teacher?
1. An understanding of the basics about how to sit and play on the piano to produce a good tone and to avoid injury.
2. Good performance skills. You need to be able to play the piano and be committed to learning new piano pieces every week even when you have become a full time teacher. Challenge yourself to sight read lots of music to not let those fingers rust.
3. Good teaching skills. You need to know how students learn, how to motivate students, and you need the ability to demonstrate and break down complicated concepts for the student to understand. In other words, explain the concepts you are trying to teach in the student’s own language.
4. Design each music lesson to each student’s needs, and not according to what the generic lesson plans you found online or in books says you need to achieve.
5. A real passion for music and understanding of various music styles.
6. Great organisational and time management skills. You need to know how to manage your own teaching schedule, marketing yourself, invoicing lessons and chasing up money.
7. A desire for self improvement. You have to be innovative, study new ideas and learn from your mistakes. Actively seek professional development, network and seek a mentor.
On a final note, seek a mentor who is a good role model. I wish you all the success in your future piano teaching career.
xoxo Lina Chan
Why choose Lina’s Music House ?
- We offer quality music education at affordable prices.
- We have a well-structured curriculum and teachers as role models to help you achieve your musical goals.
- Our students have the opportunity of becoming a LMH music teacher.