How Practicing Makes Me a Better Piano Teacher
If you’re looking for a piano teacher, one of the things you’ll want to look at is a potential teacher’s performance experience. Have they performed solo recitals? What level of music do they play? What competitions or events have they entered? Where and with whom have they studied? Teachers who aren’t advanced pianists themselves won’t be able to coach a student to that level. This applies to beginner students, too! It doesn’t matter whether your kid will end up being a concert pianist or just play for fun. Teachers with performance experience can help beginners of all ages start with the end in mind—they’ll make sure that students have the best piano experience possible, even when they’re just playing “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.”
(This is one of the reasons we love hiring teachers from the BYU, UVU, and—as hard as it is to say as a BYU grad—U of U piano programs! All three are awesome programs that attract amazing students.)
But one thing I’ve learned is that continuing to practice, even after graduating from BYU, is making me a way better piano teacher! Here are some of the practice goals I’ve set for myself over the summer:
- Work through the UPC technique sheet so that I know exactly what my students are practicing
- Learn all the Bach 2-part inventions (Bach is our June composer of the month and he’s one of my all-time favorites)
- Learn and perform this awesome piece by Gottschalk
- Perform for the Summer Duet Program Concert in August
I’ve noticed that when I practice more, I’m more prepared to help my students! When I practice, I’m constantly having to think through practice strategies and solve technical problems. I’m also analyzing pieces, thinking critically about phrasing, and exploring new literature. All of these things get passed on to the amazing kids I work with every day.
And most importantly, I think practicing helps me become a better teacher because I can empathize with my students better. I can help talk them through the tough spots. I understand better when they’re less prepared because it was a crazy week. And I get to share the excitement when we find a solution to something that was hard for them! That, really, is my favorite part of teaching—getting to connect with students and the music. So here’s to a summer full of practicing!