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#2055071 - 03/27/13 12:19 PM Considering teaching  
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Arghhh Offline
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Hi all,

Some background about myself:
I'm finishing up a masters degree in Collaborative Piano this year, and am wondering what to do next year. One option is to continue at my school in Michigan with a masters degree in Piano Pedagogy, which I should be able to complete in a year. Accompanying is still my primary interest but I thought I might need to teach on the side to make ends meet. In addition, I don't really enjoy small children that much so if I taught, I'd ideally like to teach adults or older children.

Some questions I have running through my mind:
1) Is it worth it to pay for university tuition for a year for something I'd probably use only for supplemental income?
2) One place I might move to is Calgary, Alberta (Canada). Would it still be beneficial to get the Royal Conservatory's ARCT teachers/performers certificate if I had a masters degree?
3) Is it unrealistic to limit my teaching of classical music to older children/adults?

Thanks in advance for your input!


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#2055081 - 03/27/13 12:50 PM Re: Considering teaching [Re: Arghhh]  
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Peter K. Mose Offline
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Head full-bore into accompanying and forget about teaching: clearly the latter is not your thing. You can earn money outside music, and leave teaching to those who are committed to it.


#2055083 - 03/27/13 12:51 PM Re: Considering teaching [Re: Arghhh]  
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Chris H. Offline
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1) in my opinion further professional development and training is always worth it. I wish I had stayed on at university to do my masters instead of leaving and heading into classroom teaching. I did a masters later on but it was harder to juggle with earning a living at the same time.

2) can't help with that one sorry.

3) it's probably not unrealistic if you only plan to teach a few students to supplement your main income. But I would be open to the idea of teaching younger children. They can be much more receptive than teenagers especially if teaching them from scratch.


Pianist and piano teacher.
#2055084 - 03/27/13 12:54 PM Re: Considering teaching [Re: Arghhh]  
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AZNpiano Offline
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Originally Posted by Arghhh
1) Is it worth it to pay for university tuition for a year for something I'd probably use only for supplemental income?

It's always good to keep your options open. You'll never know when your degrees will come in handy. However, in my years of teaching, I've been asked about my degrees only a handful of times, and only by the least musically informed parents who equate a higher degree with better teaching skills.

Originally Posted by Arghhh
3) Is it unrealistic to limit my teaching of classical music to older children/adults?

Yes. If you are open to teaching younger children, you will have many more opportunities for potential clients.


Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member
#2055085 - 03/27/13 12:54 PM Re: Considering teaching [Re: Arghhh]  
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Chris H. Offline
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Regarding accompanying... It can be very difficult to earn a living solely as an accompanist. Many teachers accompany in order to supplement their teaching income which is more regular and reliable. I don't know too many people who make it work the other war round.


Pianist and piano teacher.
#2055089 - 03/27/13 01:00 PM Re: Considering teaching [Re: Arghhh]  
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AZNpiano Offline
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RE: accompanying

I echo what Chris H. says. The market for accompanists is even narrower than piano teachers, and--at least where I am located--it is VERY hard to penetrate the market to begin with. I've been trying to get accompanying jobs for the last ten years, but the voice and strings teachers with large studios are always very loyal to their own accompanists, who get the bulk of the jobs. And the jobs are seasonal, so you'd be very busy come festival and exam season, but your schedule will be quite light the rest of the year. Your job will be more stable if you get a school or university position.


Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member
#2055093 - 03/27/13 01:09 PM Re: Considering teaching [Re: Arghhh]  
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Morodiene Offline
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I agree with what AZN and Chris have said thus far. As far as not teaching at all, I think it's something you should try first and see if you like it before delving into a pedagogy degree.

Think about it: how many thousands of dollars are you going to spend for the degree, and you're not even sure you should do it? Can your potential income combined teaching and accompanying come close to justifying your student loan debt?

Honestly, it's nice to have the degree, but you have one that will satisfy most inquiries. Like AZN, I've only had a handful of people who asked about my credentials. You have a degree in piano, and so for most lay people that qualifies you as a piano teacher.

I wouldn't write off teaching young children. I used to not want to teach them because I just didn't know what to do. But really they are a joy and they can charm your socks off! I learned very early on that I LOVED teaching young children, but it wasn't my first instinct.

Plus, if you're looking to "make ends meet" then you can't at this point afford to be selective. Try it out, if you enjoy it, then continue and perhaps down the road you can start to be more selective in the students you accept into your studio.

I'd worry about the Canada thing if/when it actually happens. It's best to get some good teaching experience under your belt and learn what you can from good books and publications on teaching piano.


private piano/voice teacher FT

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#2055311 - 03/27/13 07:59 PM Re: Considering teaching [Re: Arghhh]  
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Candywoman Offline
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Have you considered a degree in Arts Management? You sound like somebody who might like to work for a symphony. You can aid with the educational programs, work with other musicians on some projects, and yet earn a steady salary from the symphony.

If you get the Masters in Piano Pedagogy, you probably won't need the ARCT Teacher's Diploma.

You can always gradually work on the ARCT performer's on your own time.

I doubt there's much money in accompaniment.

I think you need to work with more young children before you can decide that question.

#2055390 - 03/27/13 11:13 PM Re: Considering teaching [Re: Arghhh]  
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First off, as a Michigan alum I would say I have benefited from the degree but mostly only from the fact that it put me in a position to meet good people, work with great teachers and be inspired by other great musicians. If you think you can get this without paying for the tuition then maybe you should save the money. I would also say that if you are not interested in teaching you shouldn't just settle for it. However, if you haven't tried teaching, you might give it a shot first and see what you think. Teaching children can be more rewarding than you think especially when you watch them grow and mature as musicians.

In the end, follow your gut and you can't go wrong

JPE

#2055411 - 03/28/13 12:28 AM Re: Considering teaching [Re: Arghhh]  
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Arghhh Offline
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What a variety of answers! Unfortunately my gut feeling also gives me a variety of answers!

Should I assume then that I'm a bit spoiled in terms of getting work as a vocal accompanist? At my university this year I was able to get 12 students for their weekly lessons, and probably could have had a few more if I wanted (mostly through the professors recommending me to their students rather than through me knowing the students). But then there are 5 voice studios here, which is a rather large number.

One of the things I enjoy most working in rehearsals with the freshmen singers is helping them learn their pieces properly - rhythm, diction, general musical suggestions, etc. The satisfaction I get from knowing that they can do it better themselves the next time they get a new piece is extremely rewarding. This is why I think I would be a good piano teacher too, except that children are tiring.


Professional pianist and piano teacher.
#2055512 - 03/28/13 07:43 AM Re: Considering teaching [Re: Arghhh]  
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pianopaws Offline
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I think it depends on where you will be living and working as to the number of accompanying vs. teaching jobs. Where I live, I am asked to accompany more often than I would like. I often see job listings for accompanists at the local community college, high school, etc.

Another area that you might consider is choral accompanist for a church. There are always churches in my area looking for pianists to accompany the choir and provide prelude/service music. Not sure if church work is your thing (it isn't mine) but it might be an option to consider.

Finally, I agree with the others to give teaching a try first before committing to a pedagogy degree. You may either love it, and find the extra education useful, or hate it and run screaming! But it is good to know before you spend the money on a degree. Good luck!


M.M., Piano performance and pedagogy
Member, MTNA and NCMTA
#2055590 - 03/28/13 10:48 AM Re: Considering teaching [Re: Morodiene]  
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Opus_Maximus Offline
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Originally Posted by Morodiene
You have a degree in piano, and so for most lay people that qualifies you as a piano teacher.



I agree. You really don't need a pedagogy degree to teach; Most piano teachers only have performance degrees. You'll learn how to teach by doing it, and having a degree in pedagogy won't guarantee you any higher salary.

#2055594 - 03/28/13 10:51 AM Re: Considering teaching [Re: Arghhh]  
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Minniemay Offline
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But it will guarantee you preparation for the task.


B.A., Piano, Piano Pegagogy, Music Ed.
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#2055677 - 03/28/13 01:09 PM Re: Considering teaching [Re: Arghhh]  
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Originally Posted by Arghhh
H In addition, I don't really enjoy small children that much so if I taught, I'd ideally like to teach adults or older children.



That was what I thought (and what I think a lot of people think) before I started teaching. However I've found that children (ages 6 - 11), are overall the most rewarding age-group in the long run, for me at least. Unless you teach the creme de la creme (Who are hard to recruit when you're just starting out), adults and teens are often too busy and too fleeting in their commitment for you to be able to witness the same degree of progress and results of your work as children.

Last edited by Opus_Maximus; 03/28/13 01:11 PM.
#2055702 - 03/28/13 02:02 PM Re: Considering teaching [Re: Arghhh]  
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bzpiano Offline
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Originally Posted by opus max
You'll learn how to teach by doing it, and having a degree in pedagogy won't guarantee you any higher salary.


A degree in pedagogy won't guarantee a higher salary.
You can learn how to teach by going to pedagogy class, it will lay down the foundation for you.
Yes, you can learn how to teach by doing it too, it will give you live experience. It needs both: classes and hands on experiences to be a good teacher.


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#2055709 - 03/28/13 02:06 PM Re: Considering teaching [Re: bzpiano]  
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TimR Offline
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Originally Posted by ezpiano.org

You can learn how to teach by going to pedagogy class, it will lay down the foundation for you.
Yes, you can learn how to teach by doing it too, it will give you live experience. It needs both: classes and hands on experiences to be a good teacher.


I agree.

To progress beyond competence to mastery is the next step, and needs more than class and experience. It needs some review and coaching from a peer or mentor, don't you think?


gotta go practice
#2055728 - 03/28/13 02:40 PM Re: Considering teaching [Re: Arghhh]  
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I love you Tim, finally we agree at something!


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#2055773 - 03/28/13 04:35 PM Re: Considering teaching [Re: Arghhh]  
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Originally Posted by Arghhh
3) Is it unrealistic to limit my teaching of classical music to older children/adults?

I think you should see how things go without the degree. I have a MM in pedagogy. The degree (at least at my school) is aimed more at actually teaching the beginning-late intermediate student than the advanced. If you don't want to do that, the degree is sort of pointless.


#2056038 - 03/29/13 05:01 AM Re: Considering teaching [Re: Chris H.]  
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Originally Posted by Chris H.
Regarding accompanying... It can be very difficult to earn a living solely as an accompanist. Many teachers accompany in order to supplement their teaching income which is more regular and reliable. I don't know too many people who make it work the other war round.
I actually have made it work the other way round, but it did take a long time to build up all the contacts, so I have done a lot of teaching in the past. It's only been in the last 20 years that I could say I've been earning my living mainly as an accompanist, and have been cutting back my teaching accordingly, down to just a handful of adult students now.


Du holde Kunst...
#2056759 - 03/30/13 09:53 AM Re: Considering teaching [Re: Opus_Maximus]  
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Arghhh Offline
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One of the other reasons why I was considering the degree was because I still feel insecure about my learning process and playing ability. I want to be able to play better myself, to know how to get to error-free performances (at least like the other students at my school), to know the most efficient way to learn a piece. I suppose teaching at first is trial-and-error, but I hate the thought of misleading people and having more of my trials be errors!


Professional pianist and piano teacher.
#2057513 - 03/31/13 07:51 PM Re: Considering teaching [Re: Arghhh]  
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There's no 'magic method' that works for everyone; as you get into teaching, you'll find that different students learn differently.

Great pianists aren't necessarily great teachers, and vice versa.

It is trial and error; you'll start with lower-level students so it won't be a huge issue if you do happen to "make a mistake". You won't be teaching concert performers right off the bat.

If you're trained as a pianist, then I don't see why you need another two piano degrees.

(ARCT is equivalent to a bachelor's degree in performance.)

From what I'm hearing right now, it sounds like a confidence issue more than anything else.

Maybe call up your old piano teachers and take them out for lunch to ask for some tips; they know your playing best.

Lastly, it's not unrealistic to target your teaching at all! In fact, it's one of the best things you can do for yourself.

This is something that's embedded in our psyche (and true up to a certain degree): people who specialize are better at what they do; think neurosurgeons vs family doctors.

I can go on about targetting a market, the psychology within, teaching certain groups effectively, but I'm going to save that for now... it'll probably take me months. smile

#2057517 - 03/31/13 08:02 PM Re: Considering teaching [Re: Arghhh]  
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I would advise taking a pedagogy course and apprenticing with a successful teacher. Pedagogy courses often require supervised teaching, so you'd have someone holding your hand through the process. Observing good teaching is a real necessity.


B.A., Piano, Piano Pegagogy, Music Ed.
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#2057525 - 03/31/13 08:16 PM Re: Considering teaching [Re: Arghhh]  
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With your training and experience, you surely know a great deal about music, the piano, etc.

Beyond that, to be a successful teacher (success as in properly teaching people, not just making money), you basically need two things, in addition to your music knowledge.

First, you need tons of patience. You cannot get frustrated because someone is not grasping what you are teaching. I always try to empathize by keeping in mind the struggles I presently am encountering with the music I am learning.

Second, you need to be able to explain things from the perspective that the person you are teaching knows nothing, or very little. Which means clearly starting out at the beginning.

I can still remember teachers (grade school to college) who either did not start at the very beginning, or skipped around in a nonsensical way that left me wondering.

One good example: Manuals for software and/or computer hardware, which are typically written by very knowlegeable geeks. However, they often start on level 1.5 or 2 of knowledge, omit basic details, while I am at down at the beginning, down on level pre-#1.

So they immediately lose me...they omit basic items, or skip around, and I am lost.

This is either because the writers can't teach, or are so immersed in their bubble of insider knowledge that they are simply unable to start at the beginning in a clear and direct manner.

Illustraton: The Roland RD700 series of digital pianos has a manual that is widely known as frustrating. (Putting it mildly).

So frustrating that "Saving a Setup", a basic operation which is central to using the machine, is so poorly written in the factory manual that the Tech Support people were literally swamped with calls.

The poor Roland Techs eventually had to use a cell phone to make a homemade shaky video of how to accomplish that particular operation and post it on Youtube. .

Don't be like that.

Has anyone ever said to you that, as you explain something, even something as mundane and simple as directions to someplace, that you are a good, clear explainer?

If so, you are most likely a natural born good teacher.

Or do they leave saying, "Never mind, I'll get a map".

Probably not a good teacher, at least not yet. Teaching is a gift, like music. If you don't have it, you can somewhat improve. If you have it, your students will love you.

Originally Posted by Arghh
Accompanying is still my primary interest but I thought I might need to teach on the side to make ends meet.


Bad motive. Regardless of your teaching ability, if teaching is not your primary interest, but rather just a way to make money, I would say don't. Get a job someplace else. Flip some burgers, anything, but don't teach.

Why? Becaue the first teacher is the most important teacher, and the next teachers are also very important. I frankly am sick of fixing the mistakes that so-called "teachers" have inflicted upon unsuspecting students. End of rant.

ps...All of the above mentioned teachers I had who basically could not teach most likely had "teaching degrees". And I take at least some of the blame for not being a good student. laugh


Piano teacher and Blues and Boogie-Woogie pianist.

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