Teaching the Individual, Part 1: Teaching Philosophies

So, I want to be a good piano teacher.

I want my students to all be musically-literate, to sight-read fluently and play with a beautiful sound. I want them to have great technique and play with no mistakes, and wow audiences with their great performances. Who's with me?

Don't we all have certain ideals and standards that we have set for ourselves as teachers - standards for our music studios that we would love for each student to achieve? I have learned, which I am sure you have also learned because it becomes pretty apparent as you start teaching a lot, that not only do our students each have unique and individual strengths and weaknesses, but they also have their own goals related to piano and music. Believe it or not, not all of your students are striving to become piano performance majors in college (what??).

As music teachers, how do we maintain our standards of excellence that we have set for our studios while still adapting our teaching style to the individual student and allowing for each student to have their own set of goals? How do we join our expectations with our students' expectations, and produce well-rounded students of all abilities, types and backgrounds? Over the next few days I want to discuss this important topic, and give a few specific ways I have found to accomplish this. Today we will focus on Teaching Philosophies.

Sit down and write out your teaching philosophy.

Your teaching philosophy is your vision for your studio, your goals and standards which you feel are most important to teach your students. This is a great exercise if you have never done it before, and really helps to focus your teaching and be more effective as a teacher.

What is most important to you as a teacher? What are some goals which can be achieved by students of all ages and levels? What standards would you like to set for your studio which will set you apart as a successful teacher? 

Whatever your philosophy is, make sure your students know what you are going for and know what you expect of them.

Make your teaching philosophy applicable to students of all levels.

My teaching philosophy is two-fold; it includes some specific goals for me as the teacher, and three specific goals for each of my students. My goals for each of my students are that they 

1) become musically-literate sight readers, 
2) that they learn how to play with expression and beauty, and 
3) that they become acquainted with the piano literature of the great composers. 

Of course, there will be more goals which you come up with that are specific to each student, but these are three goals which I feel confident that any student can learn, no matter their individual strengths and weaknesses. I also feel that if they can accomplish these three things, even if they don't become professional musicians or go on to study music in college, they will at least gain a love and appreciation of music, and be able to play and enjoy music for the rest of their life.

What is your teaching philosophy? What goals do you have for your music studio?

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