Creating a piano teaching curriculum might seem like an overwhelming or perhaps even Herculean task, but it doesn’t have to be.
In my last article, I shared the why behind creating a piano teaching curriculum. In this post, I’ll talk you through the how.
As I see it, there are 3 ways to go about setting the curriculum for your piano studio.
The fill in the gaps method
This method of designing your piano teaching curriculum means starting with what you know, and what you know you like.
Step 1: Method Book or Exam Syllabus
Pick a method book series or exam syllabus you love.
You don’t have to agree with absolutely everything in the books and the order in which concepts are introduced, but it should be in close alignment with your goals for your students and your teaching style.
Step 2: Write Out Everything Covered
Once you have chosen your book series or syllabus, make a list of everything that’s covered in the books in order. This will be your starting point for figuring out your studio’s curriculum.
You can do this in Excel, Google Docs, a notebook or on a bunch of post-its. The format is not important, just get it down somewhere where you can see it clearly.
Step 3: Shuffle and Fill in the Gaps
Now it’s time to mess with it a bit.
- Something you always wish was introduced sooner?
- A hurdle that you feel student’s get stuck on and would be better later on in their journey?
- Anything left out that’s important to you?
Keep scribbling, shuffling, adding and subtracting until you end with a list that makes sense to you. Congratulations! You now have a piano teaching curriculum.
Don’t stop here though, I recommend trying the next method too. It provides a different perspective. 🙂
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The goals method
Starting with your goals for your students means you can get a bit more thoughtful about the broad picture, before you get stuck in the weeds.
Step 1: Start at the End
Pick an amount of time that an average, happy student would stay in your studio, all things going well. (I don’t mean your average retention rate here, this should be more of an ideal than a statistic.)
For example, if you start most beginners at age 8, and a happy student will stay until age 18 you might choose 10 years as your “end”. If you mostly work with adult students who mostly just want to get up to a solid intermediate level of playing, maybe it’s 4 years.
Once you’ve chosen your time frame, write a list of all the things you want that student to know and to be able to do when they graduate from your studio.
Let’s take an example:
- Can play from a leadsheet
- Knows how to accompany singers
- Has learnt at least one Beethoven sonata or Bach Prelude & Fugue
- Has passed at least grade 5 theory exam
That’s just a random selection. I’m not saying those are the right goals, or the wrong goals, and you should certainly have many more than that.
Step 2: Work Backwards
Once you have the end in mind the rest is easy.
Work backwards one year at a time to decide what this student would be able to do at each stage. Always relate each goal at the end of each year to your original graduation goals.
The goals for the first year should be relatively easy for the average student who follows your direction to achieve. If it looks more like a superhuman prodigy’s progression through their piano studies then you should modify your end goals and start the process again.
The Off-the-Rack Method
I think both the above processes are useful for any teacher, but there is also a third, no-stress way to set up your piano teaching curriculum. You can use one that’s been made for you like the Piano Powerbooster One course inside the Vibrant Music Teaching membership site.
I made this course to cover all the bases for piano teachers who want to ensure their students get a well-rounded music education. It’s also flexible enough that you can modify it to suit your teaching style and goal.
Not a member yet? Find out more about what you’re missing and sign up here.
Have you done either of these piano teaching curriculum exercises?
How did you find the process? Let me know in the comments below – I’m curious to hear how you got on. 🙂