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What Makes a Great Piano Teacher?
February 2, 2019

There are piano teachers and then there are great piano teachers. But what sets them apart? What qualities and characteristics do they have that makes them great?

They can play!

It may seem obvious, but a great teacher can play. They are able to demonstrate beautiful playing, and they enjoy doing it. You don’t want a teacher who just sits there and barks orders. And you don’t want a teacher who can play, but they’d rather be doing something else.

I remember my high school tennis coach doing all the drills and training with us. I really respected the fact that he wasn’t just making us run laps while he sipped his coffee. He was committed to participating in the process as well. In addition, he would demonstrate and be a good model. I was motivated to practice so I could play like him!

Patience

Learning to play an instrument like piano takes discipline and hard work. And it takes time! A great teacher is patient and allows the learning process to unfold at the student’s pace. You don’t want a teacher who is impatient because they will just spoon-feed everything to the student to get them to play something right away instead of guiding them through the process of discovery.

“The key to everything is patience. You get the chicken by hatching the egg, not by smashing it.”

— Arnold H. Glasow

Balance of Serious & Fun

A great teacher need to be dedicated and disciplined in order to help the student build effective practice habits, coach them on excellent technique, analyze the music, and plan successful lessons. But they should also be friendly, smile, play games, make jokes, and be silly! Too much of one or the other isn’t as effective. All fun and no work won’t get you anywhere and all work and no play just isn’t enjoyable!

“There is little success where there is little laughter.”

— Andrew Carnegie

“The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.”

— E. E. Cummings

Keeps Current

New research in the methods and practice of piano teaching help teachers stay current with the best approaches to help their students. Great teachers are continually learning, going to workshops and conferences, reading up on the newest methods, and sharing ideas with colleagues.

People who feel like they’re life-long students make the best teachers. They are always wanting to learn and are open to new ideas. This keeps it fresh as opposed to just teaching the same things the same way all the time.

Here at Piano Sensei, I’m happy to say that all our instructors have these qualities! We love playing piano, have patience in helping students to play as well. We are serious and dedicated, but fun and friendly. And we are always learning, not stuck in mindless routine. 

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