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#65132 - 06/22/14 03:50 PM What Qualifications Should Teachers Have?
Shauna Offline
New Member

Registered: 06/15/14
Posts: 2
Hi all, this is my first post. I learned to play the piano while growing up, and can also play saxophone, guitar, and am learning Highland bagpipes. I have never played professionally on any instrument, but I can play decently and would call myself a good musician all-around. I'm not a fantastic sight reader, but can learn challenging pieces if given time, and I have a thorough understanding of basic music theory. I've been teaching my own two kids piano for the past several years using Piano Adventures, as well as some friends' kids upon their parents' request. I team-taught piano lessons with my mom when I was in high school (she has a music degree, etc.).

I don't have any kind of music degree (just a BS in Psychology) or other credentials, and was wondering what credentials or certifications or qualifications piano teachers should have, in all of your opinions. I'm considering taking on more students, but if I am going to do this seriously and take people's money for it I feel like I should probably have something to tell/show people (other than just playing for them) so they can feel assured that I know my stuff.

Looking forward to reading anyone's thoughts!


#65133 - 06/24/14 12:49 PM Re: What Qualifications Should Teachers Have? [Re: Shauna]
Joyful Offline
Mainstay Member

Registered: 02/03/09
Posts: 757
Loc: Southern Ontario, Canada
Hi Shauna - there is probably a wide variety of opinions regarding the correct answer to your question.

My story is that I have played piano for over 40 years, and have enjoyed playing piano in Church, and of course taking lessons for a long time.

In College (studying Church music) I was asked by a Church friend to teach her daughter piano (as she had seen me as part of the music worship team). I agreed and thus started my career!

I since progressed in my own studies and have my RCM Gr. 8, as well as having taken a few of the history and harmony exams. I have not worked up to Gr. 9 or ARCT, although many of the posters on this forum have.

I realize I can reliably teach up to a certain RCM level, and if students get past that I would refer them to a teacher with more experience than I have.

I have learned a lot since starting in 1997, and believe I am a better teacher today than when I started. I look at various websites for helpful hints, policies, games, songs, etc. and continue to try and offer more in my piano lessons. I enjoy offering Recitals and having students participate in other performance opportunities, as they arise.

Hope that helps - any more questions feel free to post here or email me. smile

#65135 - 06/25/14 05:38 PM Re: What Qualifications Should Teachers Have? [Re: Joyful]
Leigh Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 02/05/09
Posts: 368
Loc: Michigan
Shauna, sometimes I forget that I have a Bachelor of Music degree! (More affectionately known as a BM. As my friend said on my graduation day: "There she is, with a smile on her face and a BM in her hand.")

Anyway, my degree is NOT what has made me the piano teacher that I am today. That came from experience actually teaching! Plus many non-credit workshops, sharing ideas on forums like this one, and constantly striving to improve my teaching effectiveness - as well as making learning to play piano a FUN experience for the students.

It sounds like you already have experience, team-teaching with your mother, and teaching your own kids and a friend's.

I say: Don't worry about the lack of letters after your name. Just go out there and prove you're a good teacher!

#65143 - 06/27/14 11:26 PM Re: What Qualifications Should Teachers Have? [Re: Leigh]
Shauna Offline
New Member

Registered: 06/15/14
Posts: 2
Joyful and Leigh, thank you for your replies and for sharing your experience! It sound like you both have learned more by actually teaching than by earning credentials, which is really encouraging to hear. I am already good at making it fun for kids (or adults!) to learn to play! It's the ability component that I'm not so confident about. :-)

Joyful, I found the RCM website and notice that they are based in Canada; and I notice that's where you are, also. Do you happen to know whether there is a RCM equivalent in the US? I remember prepping pieces and playing for a few examinations as a kid in California, where judges sat and took notes and made you nervous, but whatever certificates or documentation there might have been at one point are long gone, now!

Leigh, that is too funny about the BM! My BS isn't any better of an acronym, unfortunately! So maybe as long as we can play a couple levels above our students, then we can call ourselves proficient and not sweat it?

Thank you both, again!

#65146 - 06/30/14 09:24 AM Re: What Qualifications Should Teachers Have? [Re: Shauna]
debilynn Offline
Regular Member

Registered: 12/28/11
Posts: 53
Loc: North Carolina, US
From my experience, you will attract the type of student who wants what you have to offer.

It is important that you understand music theory and can play. However, as a educator, I believe it is equally, if not more important that you can teach!

I love it when I see a student who will probably surpass my ability, some day!

I have had students go on and be licensed Music Therapists! You can make a positive difference in someone's life, I'm certain.

All the best,
Deborah Horn

#65155 - 07/02/14 09:46 AM Re: What Qualifications Should Teachers Have? [Re: debilynn]
Joyful Offline
Mainstay Member

Registered: 02/03/09
Posts: 757
Loc: Southern Ontario, Canada
Hi Leigh - sorry but I don't know the US equivalent of RCM although I am sure there is one.

Perhaps a US poster on this board can help?

#65177 - 07/05/14 12:21 AM Re: What Qualifications Should Teachers Have? [Re: Joyful]
PianoStudent Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 05/23/11
Posts: 106
Loc: Maine
RCM in the US is called the Music Development Program. It's the same program as the RCM, and seems to change its name every couple of years.

#65178 - 07/05/14 03:37 PM Re: What Qualifications Should Teachers Have? [Re: PianoStudent]
JazzKeys88 Offline
New Member

Registered: 03/22/14
Posts: 6
I agree with all the experienced teachers here.

I've taught piano lessons for ten years, and have increased my education though out the years. I've leaned the most from seeking out friendships and mentors with other piano teachers in my town. I now have a studio so full of wonderful, supportive families and students, and love going to work everyday. It sounds like its something you're interested in pursing, so go for it!

Just be cautious about teaching beyond your level, and find an advanced teacher in the area whom you feel comfortable passing them along to- I've done that several times, and am so confident with my decision when I catch up with those students at their recitals.

Enjoy each lesson, be it one a week, or 40!

#65729 - 08/29/15 03:04 PM Re: What Qualifications Should Teachers Have? [Re: JazzKeys88]
Amberly Offline
New Member

Registered: 09/26/13
Posts: 6
Loc: South Carolina
I was so relieved to read some of your answers. Sometimes I feel like a fake, slinking around piano teacher forums, because I don't have the letters behind my name. I started teaching a few students about two years ago and have added as many as I thought I could handle with 4 kids and a crazy schedule. At one point, I had 13 students, but now I'm down to 9, and it's better that way. I have found that I absolutely love it! I've also learned some theory that I somehow missed along the way, and it's been fun.

I took lessons from age 6 to 15 and made it to the Advanced level. I participated in contests at the local university, but don't remember who they were judged by.

My question is, how do I know at what point to pass a student on? I have one student who is so fun to work with because she loves it and practices. She's done with the Accelerated Piano Adventures (in about 5 months) and it's fun to see her sit down and be able to play easy Taylor Swift arrangements when at the beginning of the year, she could not play at all. But I don't want to hold her back if a better teacher would be better suited to her.

#65731 - 08/31/15 09:38 AM Re: What Qualifications Should Teachers Have? [Re: Amberly]
EllaCat Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 04/03/08
Posts: 365
Loc: Atlantic Canada
Hi Amberly - welcome to the forum! This place has been pretty sleepy lately, so don't be surprised if responses are slow in coming.

I'd say the point at which to pass a student on to another teacher, is when you feel unable to support her learning & goals. This could be because she's approaching a level that is too close to your own abilities for you to feel comfortable teaching - or it could be a student who wants to focus on a specific style or topic that isn't your area of expertise. If you don't feel that you can give a student what they want/need, then it's time for them to move on. I know that's a pretty open-ended answer - sorry I can't be more specific for you!

I'm glad you're enjoying teaching, have at least one awesome student, and have found a good work-life balance for yourself. Have fun and keep asking questions! I've found forums (this, and others) to be really great sources for ideas & support.

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