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Planning Piano Lessons

From the outside, people might think that not much goes into planning piano lessons. Surely it’s just a case of…

  • Warming up with scales
  • Listening to what was practised during the week
  • Working on new pieces
  • Reviewing and wrapping up

Right?

True, some music lessons do look like that. But they can be so much more!

Putting care into planning your music lessons means you can make them more creative and more efficient. And we have plenty of resources right here to make the planning process painless and effective.

Feel free to browse around, or jump straight to the section you need:

LESSON STRATEGIES

If you’re running out of time in your lessons, you may need to change your planning strategy. These posts will help you refine your tactics.

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MY WEEKLY LESSON PLANNING PROCESS

I believe it’s important to take our role seriously, and that involves lesson planning. Here’s my own weekly process.

The Ultimate Guide to your Piano Teaching Curriculum facebook 1

CREATING YOUR TEACHING CURRICULUM

I believe we should all have some sort of overarching plan to guide us. Here’s why, and how to get started.

3 USEFUL STYLES OF LESSON PLANS

Lesson plans are personal things. If you’re looking for the style and format that works best for you, try these out.

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GAMIFY YOUR PIANO TEACHING

“Fun” doesn’t need to be squished in on top of everything else; it can (and should) be an integral part of learning.

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BEAT THE 30-MIN LESSON TIME CRUNCH

If getting rid of 30-min lessons isn’t an option, these ideas may help you squeeze in what’s important.

Your Essential Guide to Teaching Piano Online

THE ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO TEACHING ONLINE

When teaching online, it’s best to start simple. Here’s everything you NEED to know to get started.

PARTNER LESSONS AND BUDDY LESSONS

One of the best ways to improve your income potential and make your studio more collaborative is to bring in buddy or partner lessons. These articles will help you make that switch.

PIANO LESSON PLANNING FOR A “PARTNER” FORMAT

It takes more time and thought to teach two students at the same time. This is what I’ve found works well in my studio.

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WHEN PIANO PARTNERS ARE AT DIFFERENT LEVELS

In this article, learn what I do when piano partners, buddies, or groups are ahead or behind in different areas.

ULTIMATE COMPENDIUM OF BUDDY LESSON ACTIVITIES

The #1 question I’m asked about buddy lessons: What do we actually do during the overlapping “buddy time”?

GROUP LESSONS AND WORKSHOPS

Group lessons and workshops can be an exciting prospect. By teaching more students at once, you get to explore the benefits of having a social environment in your studio. But it can be a daunting prospect, as well. Get some ideas for what to do and how to organise your group lessons and workshops in these posts.

DOS AND DON’TS OF QUALITY GROUP CLASSES

If you’re considering group piano classes, here are my top Dos and Don’ts from years of teaching and studying.

THE KEY TO TEACHING GREAT GROUP LESSONS

Great group lessons are both multi-sensory and multi-modal. These involve getting your students up and moving.

3 WAYS YOU CAN ADD GROUP WORKSHOPS

Group workshops can be a great asset for your studio, but it’s tricky to know how to start. Here are 3 ways to try.

3 COMMON MISTAKES WHEN TEACHING GROUPS

These top 3 mistakes are things I’ve experienced as a buddy lesson and preschool group teacher.

PLANNING YOUR GROUP WORKSHOP OR PARTY

Every piano party needs a piano party plan. Check out this step-by-step plan from an actual party I held.

HOW TO TEACH GROUP PIANO LESSONS ONLINE

You CAN teach group piano lessons online – yes, you. And effectively, too. Here’s how to get started.

OLDER STUDENTS

Taking on teens and adults is a whole other ballgame. Here you can find out how to plan effective lessons for older students.

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THE ULTIMATE FIRST LESSON WITH A “TWEEN” BEGINNER

We want to know things about our student after a first lesson, and we also want them to feel fantastic. Here’s how I do it.

FIRST PIANO LESSON PLAN FOR A TRANSFER STUDENT

If you’re not sure how to get off on the right foot, here’s my own tried-and-true first lesson plan for a transfer piano student.

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A PERFECT FIRST LESSON WITH AN ADULT STUDENT

Connect with them, set goals, remove the mystique, and do something cool: These ingredients make for a perfect first lesson.

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4 PRACTICAL TIPS FOR TEACHING ADULT STUDENTS

I used to complain about their drop out rate, lack of practice, or missed lessons. But these 4 tips changed everything.

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USING POP MUSIC TO INSPIRE ADULT BEGINNERS

“Let it Be” is my go-to song to teach adults or teens in their first piano lessons. Here’s how I do it, step-by-step.

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6 THINGS ADULT BEGINNERS NEED TO HEAR

Adult beginners often held back by mental and emotional baggage. Here’s how to help banish these limiting beliefs.

REPERTOIRE AND RESOURCES

Curious about how to teach pop music? Or why you would want to incorporate rote teaching? Read about repertoire and other resources in these articles.

HOW TO PICK YOUR PIANO STUDENTS’ PIECES

A big part of our job is choosing repertoire that students find motivating. But how do we pick great pieces?

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BEST PIANO METHOD BOOKS FOR BEGINNERS

Here, I’ll run through some of the pros and cons of the most popular piano method books for beginners.

ROTE PIANO TEACHING 101: 5 TIPS TO GET YOU STARTED

If you’ve never done rote teaching, I highly encourage you to give it a try. in this article, I’ll talk you through it.

2 APPROACHES I USE TO TEACH POP MUSIC TO STUDENTS

Teaching pop doesn’t have to be difficult or scary, or take over all your lesson time either. Read on to find out about my approach.

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SWITCHING PIANO METHODS SMOOTHLY MIDSTREAM

If you have a piano student with an entirely wrong method book match, I’ll help smooth out the switch to a more suitable method.

STRETCH YOUR MUSIC BOOK BUDGET WITH A LOCAL TOUR

In this article, I’ll share a great way for you to get the most bang for your buck from your music book budget.

STUDENTS WITH SPECIAL NEEDS

All students should be able to access music education, but teachers are often reluctant to make their music studios inclusive because they don’t feel up to the challenge. But you, too, can teach neurodivergent students, and you don’t need to have any specialist training. Get some tips here to get started.

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NEURODIVERSE BRAINS AND THE PIANO LESSON

Let’s explore 3 commonly-recognized types of neurodivergence and how to work with these piano students in your studio.

A FLEXIBLE TOOLKIT FOR SPECIAL NEEDS TEACHING

For piano students with special needs, we need a flexible toolkit at our fingertips. Here are 8 tools at the top of my own.

PIANO LESSON PLANNING FOR NEURODIVERGENT STUDENTS

A little extra structure in your lesson planning process can make all the difference for neurodivergent piano students.

SALVAGING “OFF DAY” LESSONS WITH SPECIAL NEEDS STUDENTS

No kid is going to behave perfectly all the time in music lessons, but this is especially true with neurodivergent students.

piano improv for special needs

PIANO IMPROV FOR STUDENTS WITH SPECIAL NEEDS

Improv is a great tool for teaching piano students with special needs. In this interview, learn how YOU can use improv, too!

HOW TO SUPPORT FAMILIES OF NEURODIVERGENT PIANO STUDENTS

You don’t have to give up boundaries or personal time to support families of neurodivergent piano students. Here’s how.

TECHNOLOGY

Technology isn’t about shiny gadgets and wonderful wizardry. The most important thing about using iPads, phones and computers in your studio is that you put them to work – and these articles will help you do just that.

10 WAYS TO TEACH MUSIC LESSONS WITH TECHNOLOGY

Using technology in music lessons accelerates learning for students and simplifies planning for teachers.

Tech Setups for Online Piano Lessons

TECH SETUPS TO USE FOR ONLINE PIANO LESSONS

Teaching online doesn’t have to involve a whole lot of complicated equipment. Here are a few easy setups to try.

THE NO. 1 IPAD MISTAKE YOU SHOULD AVOID

I see 1 major mistake when piano teachers use an iPad in their studio. Sidestep it for iPad success!

Garageband to the Rescue

REVIVE RESTLESS TEENS WITH THE GARAGEBAND APP

What do you do with an over-scheduled under practiced teenage piano student? Break out the Garageband iPad app!

Troubleshooting Zoom Piano Lessons

TROUBLESHOOTING YOUR ONLINE PIANO LESSONS

If you have audio or video snags when teaching over Zoom, try these simple tricks to get back on track.

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FIND ULTIMATE FLEXIBILITY WITH A VIRTUAL STUDIO

I’ve discovered a way to keep your studio running for several weeks…without being there at all!

SIGHT READING

Teaching sight reading skills to piano students isn’t always as simple as teaching them great reading skills. With the resources in these articles, you can help your students develop cat-like sight reading reflexes.

THE “STUBBORN DUET” SECRET TO TEACHING SIGHT READING

In this article, I’ll explain my secret sauce for teaching sight reading skills to your piano students: my “stubborn duet” trick.

THE BEST PIANO SIGHT READING RESOURCES

These books are the cream of the crop: sight reading resources every piano teacher should have on hand.

5 SIGHT READING GAMES FOR BEGINNER PIANO STUDENTS

Sight reading can feel scary, but turning it into a game can help tackle your piano students’ fears of on-the-spot playing.

TECHNIQUE

I prefer to separate “technique” from “technical exercises,” so you won’t find any scales in this section. These articles are all about how we use our bodies effectively and efficiently to create the sounds we want.

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TEACHING PIANO TECHNIQUE TO THE STUDENTS OF TODAY

In this article, we’ll look at how to teach piano technique effectively. Without any dry exercises.

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8 TECHNIQUE BOOKS TO TRANSFORM YOUR TEACHING

If you want to teach technique in a deliberate, systematic way, here are 8 of the best books to try.

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3 POSITIVE POSTURE TIPS FOR WIGGLY KIDS

Teaching proper piano posture can be a challenge with little students who struggle to sit still. Here are some tips.

teaching older piano students to pedal

HOW TO INSTILL CONFIDENT PEDALLING SKILLS

How we teach older piano students to pedal can make them instant enemies or best friends. Here’s my approach to success.

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TOP 5 FIXES FOR COLLAPSING FINGERTIPS

Have an epidemic of the Floppy Finger Predicament in your piano studio? These 5 fixes can banish collapsing fingertips for good.

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TEACHING HEALTHY PIANO TECHNIQUE TO ADULTS

When teaching piano technique to adults, make it relevant to them and avoid sounding like a schoolteacher telling them off.

Does planning piano lessons really make sense?

When the topic of lesson planning comes up, many teachers will protest that it just doesn’t make sense to plan piano lessons because we need to adjust depending on what the student has practised that week.

I’m sorry, but I just don’t buy that.

There’s so much more that should go into great music teaching than simply listening to assigned pieces, correcting them and assigning new ones. We must be more than just a feedback machine.

Sure, your lesson planning process shouldn’t look like that of a classroom teacher. That isn’t realistic and it wouldn’t be effective.

But you need to have some sort of process. You need time to reflect on what the student needs, where they are on their musical journey, and where you want to guide them to next.

 What if I don’t have time for planning piano lessons?

If you feel like you can’t possibly fit in the time each week for a planning session, then you’re not alone. I hear from teachers with this problem all the time.

The issue, however, has nothing to do with your lesson planning process. It won’t help if you streamline it, digitalise it or find a new style of binder to use.

The problem, almost always, is that your business isn’t efficient. If that’s the case for you then check out my business hub page.

What if I do just fine being spontaneous?

Some teachers insist that they’re natural “by-the-seat-of-their-pants-ers”. They do better coming up with ideas on the fly and they’re just not “planning people.”

Is that you?

It’s a tempting argument to make. I get why you’re saying it…

But are you sure you’re being honest with yourself?

I probably would have said the same thing 10 or more years ago. But the truth is (at least for me) I’m a better teacher when I put the effort in and have a plan for my lessons.

No, I can’t plan out each minute-by-minute detail. And yes, sometimes the plan gets thrown out the window during the lesson. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a worthwhile process.

Just try it for a full semester/term before you dismiss the idea of lesson planning for good. I think you might be converted.

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