We often hear about dressing for success. Let’s take a look at what that means for piano teachers, and why it matters what you wear – even if we’re teaching a few students from our living rooms.
⬆️ Listen to the podcast above or keep on reading, whichever fits your style. ↙️
As piano teachers, we’re used to wearing many hats. We’re often financial planners, administrators, company directors and marketing executives, just to name a few.
But when it comes to our non-metaphorical hats, there’s no HR department to tell us what’s appropriate. There is no guidebook for what piano teachers should wear. Because of this, you might be tempted to think you can throw on anything for your lessons. After all, do the students really care?
Why What You Wear Matters
Imagine 2 insurance company offices. In ABCD Insurance Ltd, all the staff are wearing shirts and blazers. In WXYZ Insurance Ltd, everyone is wearing vests and boardshorts. Which insurance company are you likely to choose?
I think the answer is pretty clear.
Now, what if the office attire looked the same but you were comparing surfboard suppliers instead?
I’m not here to say that you need to wear a suit. But you should look how people expect a professional teacher to look. This is one more signal to the parents and students who you work with that you respect their trust in you, and that you take the responsibility seriously.
Your Piano Teacher Uniform
No, you don’t need a literal uniform. (Although, honestly, if that idea appeals to you, go for it! You could get some polo shirts printed with your logo, decide on a trouser colour and never stand staring at your wardrobe again.)
Assuming you don’t want to wear an actual uniform each day for teaching, you should come up with a dress code for yourself.
This can be as simple as defining what feels like the right level of formality for you. If you don’t want to simply go with your gut, a good rule is to look at what school teachers wear in your community.
Different cultures and areas have very different norms, so take a little mental survey and define it for yourself.
- Formal: suits, shirts and blouses
- Semi-formal: blazers, work-style trousers (AKA slacks) and generally non-stretch fabrics
- Smart casual: dark jeans with tops (i.e. not t-shirts) or dresses
- Casual: jeans, tracksuit bottoms, t-shirts and flip-flops
There’s no such thing as exact definitions here, but what piano teachers wear in your area will probably fall loosely into one of these categories. This is a good place to start because it’s exactly how we want parents and students to see us.
We may not be in a school, but we are real teachers.
Visit my Studio Business hub page for the latest, up-to-date trends, tips and advice to make sure others see you as the professional you are.
The Mindset Magic of What You Wear
Creating a special routine for the start of a work day – like drinking a cup or tea, going for a walk around the neighbourhood or writing out our important tasks for the day – can help us shift into a work mindset. Putting on your work clothes is a powerful part of that routine.
Personally, I mostly wear more casual stuff in the mornings. I don’t start teaching until 3 on weekdays and I’m usually doing office work and bits and pieces around the house during the day. If I don’t have a reason to put on my “real clothes” before then, I’ll get changed at about 2pm and that’s the start of my teaching day.
I’m not saying you have to do an outfit change in the middle of the day; I realise I’m in the minority on that front. But the next time you’re putting on your piano teacher uniform, have a think about what it means and why you chose it.
It might just change your perspective.
PS Just like a special routine can shift us into a work mindset in the morning, we can use the same idea at the end of the day to transition into a home mindset. I call this a “system shutdown.”
Which is your favourite outfit to wear for piano teaching, and why?
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this in the comments below. 🙂