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I started teaching piano when my oldest was two years old and my second son was 3 months old. I had eight to twelve students when they were little, and that was about right for that stage of my life. As they grew, so did my studio, but I found that any time I had more than 16, I started to feel overwhelmed, and my kids acted out more because I was too busy. So 16 was "full." Now, almost 13 years later, I have four children, ages 15, 13, 9, and 6. They are much more self-sufficient now than when they were babies and toddlers, so it's easier to teach the lessons I do teach. I currently have 16 students, but I have occasionally accepted as many as 18. My biggest complaint is that my kids are all in school now, and the only time I can teach is when my kids are home. This means that I'm not great at finding time to help them with homework or to get my very talented 9yo to practice piano, since the piano is often occupied when he's got the time. I don't teach Tuesdays and Sundays, and generally Saturdays are for makeups. I can squeeze homework and my son's piano practice in at least 4-5 days a week, which is not perfect but is at least manageable.

I have at least five students who would like to start in the summer, and I'm trying to decide how many to take. Technically I'm full, so I could turn them all away, but 3 of those students are younger siblings of current students, so I'm reluctant to do that. Still, 19 is more than I have *ever* had, and while I can probably do it during the summer, it gets more difficult when the school year starts in the fall. Plus, during festival seasons, I'm spending extra hours working on teaching-related activities, like judging festivals, selecting music from the approved list, etc. Sometimes this adds up to 10 extra hours in a week.

Of the two other students, one has already started on the rather unusual method books I use (I am friends with her mom, who is an accomplished pianist, and I recommended them). Mom loves the books but can't find time to teach her daughter as regularly as she'd like, so she wants me to take over. Of all of the students who want to start, this is the one I'm most excited about, honestly, so let's say I take the 3 siblings and this one. That makes 20.

I know a full load is 30ish, but 20 sounds crazy high for me, especially with other (sometimes 10 hour a week) work/obligations I have besides just caring for my kids.

How do you manage a full studio with your own kids? Do you?

Last edited by Brinestone; 05/05/21 12:36 PM.

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I think it's good for your kids to have opportunities to be self-sufficient. I believe it will improve them. For the nine year old, I would get an electronic piano so she can play somewhere else in the house wearing headphones.

Also, you may have to get up earlier in the morning to help your kids more. You may need to teach a bit on Tuesday and Saturday, and make a rule that there are no more makeup lessons. The way to do this might be to give an option: You can have lessons at $55 per hour if you want makeup lessons and scheduling changes due to illness, but $50 per hour if there are to be no makeup lessons.

In case you are wondering, I do not have children but I do have other obligations. I notice that if you give makeup lessons well into the future, or at an inconvenient time like 7 am, there is less tendency for parents to ask for them.

Also, you may tell parents that you have a new rate for uninterrupted lessons. If your kids can interrupt you during lessons, it would be easier for them. Maybe it's unrealistic for student's parents to think you can devote 100% attention.

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Hi Brinestone. I sent you a PM. smile

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I briefly taught almost with a babe in my arms... but mostly it was my husband who watched the kid(s) when I taught.

Then we moved to another city and I stopped teaching, only did accompanying for school events, mostly during school hours.

I began again when my kids were early teens. I taught one day after school only, and for a while, a few over the weekend. (Do not recommend weekend lessons with scouts and dance and church and clubs and games and competitions and life)

Once my kids could be trusted at home alone for two hours, we worked out a ride home and I added another day. Luckily, I teach at their school. Luckily, they were pretty self-sufficient (laundry, preparing snacks, home working,) and dad was home early enough. Some days they would stay after school waiting for me to finish- my daughter babysat for another teacher, or they would hang with other after school kids or study or just decompress.

Next I began my home studio, one day a week only. I did a few home school students while my kids were in school. That worked well! My kids knew to enter the house quietly and stay that way. Oh, my son played an instrument, also, but found time at school to practice. Plus, he liked to practice in the mornings- strange early bird kid.

Now we are empty nesters and I teach 4 days a week, 26 students. I have an adult student that Zooms her lesson at 8am (ulp!).

I know one family where mom and dad are both teachers and gig workers. They tag team with their kids, and she takes the summers off completely to be with her kids and just enjoy.

Her kids (young teens) each take the lead on one or two days a week to prepare the home for dinner and family time. This year, they added only homeschooling to the mix, but have been doing very well. They seem to like the responsibility, and the appreciation from their parents.

Many families have parents that work outside of school hours. I had a curtain across a hallway that I only closed when I was teaching. This was a signal to my family to hush, plus it gave them privacy and freedom. When I pulled it open, sometimes I would be greeted with a list of questions or things to do. Sometimes they didn't even notice when I was done!

Also, I do not see now where make up lessons were mentioned, but there is a response about them. I have in my policy pages that I do not do make-ups. They pay up front for a time slot. I honor that. If they miss for soccer or a Disney trip, have a good game/have a safe trip! If they are sick, then I will try to find a way to extend a lesson, but even that is rare, since they know I have back-to-back lessons.
Oh, if I miss, I do a make-up or a refund. I rarely miss (has been two times in ten years...I'm as healthy, and as stubborn, as a horse)

For OP-
what if you dropped festivals? I only do recitals. I prepped one student for Guild and signed him with another teacher to get him in. The mom's idea. He didn't care. He played his Guild pieces for recital.

And, what unusual books do you use?

Mostly, what I use I know very well. My crazy time is prepping Christmas music for every level and every interest. I have over a dozen levels/versions/arrangements of Silent Night. But my students are thrilled to get to play music they chose.

Anyway, it takes time and communication, and evaluation of what you are getting out of your work. If 18 your limit, that's your limit! Change your schedule, change your fees, change your family dynamics and responsibilities...change your policies, change your commitments and volunteer work...you have options. And they may change each year.

Good luck!


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The strange books I use are Lynn Freeman Olson's Music Pathways series. I just love them. I feel like every other method stays in C position for far too long. Music Pathways is mainly intervallic in the first year, eventually introducing the C's as landmark notes, beginning with high C and low C, then middle, then treble and bass. It keeps rhythms simple while focusing on teaching the entire grand staff of note reading, including ledger line notes (only quarter, half, and whole in the first book). Then in the second book, the songs are super simple but written in almost every major key, including things like E flat major. What I love about this method is that my students don't have the strong association between their thumbs and middle C. Every transfer student I've taken on has that habit, and it seriously messes them up to play in, say, D minor, because it's close to that position but not quite, so they "fire" their finger 2 when seeing a D and play the E instead. With every song in a different position, the keyboard is seen as a whole from the get-go.


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Ah, I too have had "transfer wrecks" that call RH 3 an E.

A music teacher friend of mine looked over my Faber books and decided she did not like them, "because the hands and fingers are all over the place! I like Middle C position." Somehow, we are still friends.

But, even some Faber supplemental books (Jazz and Blues, Disney, etc) are in Middle C position. I take roller pen white-out and change that! My students do NOT like Middle C position. Too cramped! Too limited.

Makes me smile when my students groan about a new piece in Middle C. cool

Last edited by missbelle; 05/13/21 02:31 PM.

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My teacher showed me what middle C position was and I played around with it a bit, but it just seemed backwards and bizarre. Thankfully she let me skip all of those.

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These 354 short pieces would keep a beginner in C position for, oh, a good long while!

https://michaelkravchuk.com/sight-reading-354-reading-exercises-in-c-position-by-michael-kravchuk/


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Just a clarification: Middle C Position and C Position are two different positions. Middle C position places both thumbs on Middle C, whereas C Position means the RH 1 and LH 5 are on two different C keys, so no two fingers share a key like in Middle C position. smile

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Originally Posted by Brinestone
I started teaching piano when my oldest was two years old and my second son was 3 months old. I had eight to twelve students when they were little, and that was about right for that stage of my life. As they grew, so did my studio, but I found that any time I had more than 16, I started to feel overwhelmed, and my kids acted out more because I was too busy. So 16 was "full." Now, almost 13 years later, I have four children, ages 15, 13, 9, and 6. They are much more self-sufficient now than when they were babies and toddlers, so it's easier to teach the lessons I do teach. I currently have 16 students, but I have occasionally accepted as many as 18. My biggest complaint is that my kids are all in school now, and the only time I can teach is when my kids are home. This means that I'm not great at finding time to help them with homework or to get my very talented 9yo to practice piano, since the piano is often occupied when he's got the time. I don't teach Tuesdays and Sundays, and generally Saturdays are for makeups. I can squeeze homework and my son's piano practice in at least 4-5 days a week, which is not perfect but is at least manageable.

I have at least five students who would like to start in the summer, and I'm trying to decide how many to take. Technically I'm full, so I could turn them all away, but 3 of those students are younger siblings of current students, so I'm reluctant to do that. Still, 19 is more than I have *ever* had, and while I can probably do it during the summer, it gets more difficult when the school year starts in the fall. Plus, during festival seasons, I'm spending extra hours working on teaching-related activities, like judging festivals, selecting music from the approved list, etc. Sometimes this adds up to 10 extra hours in a week.

Of the two other students, one has already started on the rather unusual method books I use (I am friends with her mom, who is an accomplished pianist, and I recommended them). Mom loves the books but can't find time to teach her daughter as regularly as she'd like, so she wants me to take over. Of all of the students who want to start, this is the one I'm most excited about, honestly, so let's say I take the 3 siblings and this one. That makes 20.

I know a full load is 30ish, but 20 sounds crazy high for me, especially with other (sometimes 10 hour a week) work/obligations I have besides just caring for my kids.

How do you manage a full studio with your own kids? Do you?

I personally prioritize the siblings of current students. How old are they? Perhaps after a quick evaluation if they're too young or you think they're not "ready" the parents will be willing to wait. I've often had to decline siblings and I usually tell the parents to check in with me around 6months to a year. Another option is just to be completely honest and tell them you're full, but as soon as you have an opening you'll let them know.

I don't have any kids of my own but I have 51 students (If you think that's crazy there is a teacher in my area with over 70) If that were to change, my husband would be the one doing everything with the kids or becoming a stay home Dad. If you can afford to not take more students then don't. The time with your kids is precious and I know they will appreciate being able to spend more not less time with you - although they might not be able to tell you they appreciate it until they're adults lol. My dad ran his own business since before I was born. He worked long hard days and was the busiest during every holiday. We didn't spend a lot of time together because of it and we both wish we had.

EDIT: Forgot to mention. When in Highschool I used to babysit another piano teachers kids while she was teaching. Sometimes they would interrupt her lesson but the students parents were always so understanding. If you have any older students maybe they might be willing to do a trade with you? Babysitting/tutoring for X amount of hours for the cost of lessons?

Last edited by re22; 06/01/21 08:57 PM.

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Originally Posted by Andamento
Just a clarification: Middle C Position and C Position are two different positions. Middle C position places both thumbs on Middle C, whereas C Position means the RH 1 and LH 5 are on two different C keys, so no two fingers share a key like in Middle C position. smile

Thanks, I'd missed that we were talking about two different things. I remember now a beginner book where both my thumbs were supposed to be on the same key and they didn't fit. Even as a child that seemed awkward. To my brain it encouraged thinking in contrary motion rather than notes.

The 354 exercises I mentioned has hands an octave apart. They are six measure pieces that increase in difficulty gradually. The PDF is free.


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Originally Posted by TimR
I remember now a beginner book where both my thumbs were supposed to be on the same key and they didn't fit. Even as a child that seemed awkward.


I agree; it is an awkward position, whatever the size of one's hand.

Originally Posted by TimR
To my brain it encouraged thinking in contrary motion rather than notes.

That's interesting! I'd never thought of it that way.

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Originally Posted by Brinestone
I started teaching piano when my oldest was two years old and my second son was 3 months old. I had eight to twelve students when they were little, and that was about right for that stage of my life. As they grew, so did my studio, but I found that any time I had more than 16, I started to feel overwhelmed, and my kids acted out more because I was too busy. So 16 was "full." Now, almost 13 years later, I have four children, ages 15, 13, 9, and 6. They are much more self-sufficient now than when they were babies and toddlers, so it's easier to teach the lessons I do teach. I currently have 16 students, but I have occasionally accepted as many as 18. My biggest complaint is that my kids are all in school now, and the only time I can teach is when my kids are home. This means that I'm not great at finding time to help them with homework or to get my very talented 9yo to practice piano, since the piano is often occupied when he's got the time. I don't teach Tuesdays and Sundays, and generally Saturdays are for makeups. I can squeeze homework and my son's piano practice in at least 4-5 days a week, which is not perfect but is at least manageable.

I have at least five students who would like to start in the summer, and I'm trying to decide how many to take. Technically I'm full, so I could turn them all away, but 3 of those students are younger siblings of current students, so I'm reluctant to do that. Still, 19 is more than I have *ever* had, and while I can probably do it during the summer, it gets more difficult when the school year starts in the fall. Plus, during festival seasons, I'm spending extra hours working on teaching-related activities, like judging festivals, selecting music from the approved list, etc. Sometimes this adds up to 10 extra hours in a week.

Of the two other students, one has already started on the rather unusual method books I use (I am friends with her mom, who is an accomplished pianist, and I recommended them). Mom loves the books but can't find time to teach her daughter as regularly as she'd like, so she wants me to take over. Of all of the students who want to start, this is the one I'm most excited about, honestly, so let's say I take the 3 siblings and this one. That makes 20.

I know a full load is 30ish, but 20 sounds crazy high for me, especially with other (sometimes 10 hour a week) work/obligations I have besides just caring for my kids.

How do you manage a full studio with your own kids? Do you?

Having a job typically prevents helping your own kids with homework or music practice during working hours whether or not the vocation is as a self-employed music teacher.

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Originally Posted by Sweelinck
Having a job typically prevents helping your own kids with homework or music practice during working hours whether or not the vocation is as a self-employed music teacher.

Depends on what you call working hours, I guess.

Warning, possibly off topic anecdote.

Years ago I worked the night shift in a state hospital to pay for attending engineering school during the day. Shifts ran 6:00 am to 2:00 Pm, 2 - 10 pm, and 10 pm to 6 am.

One of my coworkers was on his second marriage. His kids from the first marriage had behavior problems, and he was determined to do a better job raising more children on the second try. So they arranged their schedule so that one of them always worked the 2-10 PM shift, and the other the 10 pm to 6 am shift.

The result was they never missed a teacher conference, concert, athletic event; never needed child care in the evening, always had someone available for an appointment in the day, etc. There was at least one parent available all the time, without having to take time off work. If a child were sick, there was someone home with them.

That's obviously not a solution for everyone but this couple made it work.


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Working hours are whenever you are working, not the time vacated by changing the hours one is working.

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Originally Posted by Sweelinck
Working hours are whenever you are working, not the time vacated by changing the hours one is working.

What we think of as traditional working hours in the US (I know, this is an international forum, but still) is based on having to do farm work before widespread artificial light, and communicating only with neighbors in one time zone.

We are no longer an agricultural society, and the internet means potentially there are 24 time zones.

Daylight savings time is now a silly obsolete concept, and we're starting to look at summer vacation from school the same way.


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Originally Posted by TimR
Daylight savings time is now a silly obsolete concept, and we're starting to look at summer vacation from school the same way.

Yes, and no. In countries with a cold and a warm season, the summer is a great time for a vacation. Children can play outside all day, camp, swim, hike, pick berries, you name it.
Especially for all families who no longer want to fly!


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Originally Posted by Animisha
Originally Posted by TimR
Daylight savings time is now a silly obsolete concept, and we're starting to look at summer vacation from school the same way.

Yes, and no. In countries with a cold and a warm season, the summer is a great time for a vacation. Children can play outside all day, camp, swim, hike, pick berries, you name it.
Especially for all families who no longer want to fly!

There have been discussions in the US for DECADES re eliminating Daylight Savings. The voices may get louder, but nothing changes. Eliminate summer school vacation? Not here. Because of Covid lockdown and the effect remote learning had, there are optional summer classes to address special needs. Otherwise, summer remains free time.


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Originally Posted by re22
I personally prioritize the siblings of current students. How old are they? Perhaps after a quick evaluation if they're too young or you think they're not "ready" the parents will be willing to wait. I've often had to decline siblings and I usually tell the parents to check in with me around 6months to a year. Another option is just to be completely honest and tell them you're full, but as soon as you have an opening you'll let them know.

So, I'm answering now, having taken on the three siblings and the one student I was excited about. So far it seems to be going okay, and actually, I had a student quit a couple weeks ago, so I'm back down to 19, but one more sibling wants to start with the school year, which will bring me back up to 20.

I think all my new beginners are 7-8. I will keep the "I'm full, but I'll let you know as soon as I have an opening" line for next time this happens. smile

Quote
EDIT: Forgot to mention. When in Highschool I used to babysit another piano teachers kids while she was teaching. Sometimes they would interrupt her lesson but the students parents were always so understanding. If you have any older students maybe they might be willing to do a trade with you? Babysitting/tutoring for X amount of hours for the cost of lessons?

I have done this in the past. My 15yo can now more or less handle things while I teach for an hour or three at a time.

I did buy a digital piano so that my now-10yo can practice with headphones on any time he wants, including early in the morning and during lessons.

One thing that helped me decide to take on the extra students is that, of the 20, 2 go to a charter school that has longer school days 4 days a week and thus can come to lessons during the day on Fridays, 1 is an adult who can come anytime, 2 are homeschooled, and the one who is starting in the fall will be in half-day kindergarten (his sister also started in kindergarten and is doing well, and their mom is a harpist and harp teacher, so she knows how to read music and knows the importance of daily practice).


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Yes! Good news, Brinestone!

Homeschool students are anecdotally more focused with weekly practice because they fold piano in as another academic subject- math, history, piano, science...and, the schedule is nice for you with not interfering with traditionally scheduled students.

Yay!


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