Piano teachers, where are you?

As a parent, what is the number one thing I am looking for in a piano teacher? In fact, what is the number one thing that all parents are looking for in a piano teacher?


If you teach piano and live in my street, I want to know about you.

If you teacher piano and live in my suburb, I want to know about you.

If you teach piano at my child’s school, I want to know about you.

If you teach piano during after school care program, even better!

At the start of the school year it is time to have a think about how I, as a parent, would go about finding you.

How visible are you in your community?

Do I hear you accompanying the local school choir?

Does the kindergarten in your local area have a piano? Offer to do a little concert for them, even once a year. Make sure you are there on pick-up time and the parents hear you playing and make sure you have business cards at the ready.

Do you play Christmas Carols at your street parties?

Have you got a sign up on your fence?

Once a month I sing at my local church, and each month, without fail, the piano player who is rostered on with me gets asked if he teaches piano. (Yes, in fact her runs a piano teaching school!) This is a brilliant, time effective, cheap way of marketing for him.

Do I hear you practising as I walk past your house?

Next time Charlotte 5pm on Wednesday doesn’t turn up for her lesson, instead of feeling really annoyed about it and jumping on Facebook to have a rant, look at it as a golden opportunity to do some marketing. Learn some of the pieces you are unfamiliar with on from the new AMEB series 17 books, practice the teacher accompaniments from your My First Piano Adventures books, or grab the newest pop piano hits book you picked up from your local music store last week and learn Ed Sheeran’s Sing.

Do you play at your local nursing home?

What are your current students and parents saying about you?

Beyond word of mouth: As a Gen X parent, how do I find you?

I google “Piano Teacher (my suburb)”.

Make sure you have a web presence. At the APPC we will be running a session in the Solutions Stream whereby you will be able to learn how to build a website in an hour – bring your laptop in and during the session we will actually build you a website.


Grandma Connellan’s Sponge

During this her 102nd birthday week, I thought I would share Grandma Connellan’s sponge cake recipe.
I remember spending Saturday’s sifting the flour mixtures (4 times!) and preparing cakes and biscuits for the family afternoon tea each Sunday.

Sift the following together 4 times!
¾ cup Custard Powder
¼ cup cornflour
1 level teaspoon cream of tartar
¼ teaspoon of bi-carb soda

Beat 4 egg whites until stiff.
Gradually add ½ cup of sugar then the egg yolks (1 at a time)
Gently fold through the flour mix.

Makes 2 x sponges (make sure you line the tins!)
Bake for 23 min at 180 degrees.


It Takes Two Generations…

A must read for all parents of piano students!

Elissa Milne

This year I have had a handful of gorgeous beginners taking lessons with me. I’m trialling new material for beginners and I need a cohort of children of different ages, genders, interests and learning styles so I can really test a range of approaches I believe will be more effective than the approaches I’ve used in the past. I haven’t auditioned these new students prior to accepting them into my studio –  inviting a diverse group of children to explore the piano and learn musicianship and performance skills with me gives me my best chance of testing my material (as well as keeping me on my toes!).

Of all the diversities amongst these beginners the greatest is probably this: some children come from families of professional musicians while some come from families where no one has ever learned an instrument.

What does this mean? On the surface it means that…

View original post 2,261 more words


4 Things You Can Do to Help Your Child Learn Piano

Did you know that when an aeroplane takes off they use about half of the fuel required for the flight from take-off to level off? That’s an enormous amount of energy in the few minutes at the very start of the flight before they reach their cruising altitude.

Just imagine if you and your child made a massive effort in the first 6-12 months of piano lessons and then your child was able to enjoy ‘cruising’ along the learning-piano process for the next 10 years!

Here is what we did with PianoGirl. Perhaps it could work for your child too!

1.Timetable practice into your daily schedule.


Nothing but nothing but nothing (but nothing) will replace actual time spent on the piano, each day.

With any luck your child will have a lovely time spending 30mins each week with a piano teacher – piano teachers are notoriously lovely people, after all. With the right piano teacher who chooses the right piano method for the student, any child is bound to have fun and look forward to going along to lessons each week.

However, no one is born with ‘piano hands.’ The muscles required to play the piano need to be developed as does the control and coordination required to play.

Make a practice schedule and stick to it. Think of it like getting fit. Buying a gym membership will not make you fit. You need to actually GO to the gym and then while you are there you need to put in some effort!

Timetabling practice into a daily schedule really is the singular most important piece of advice I could give the parent of a young beginner. I would also highly recommend a morning practice session just so you can tick that box and all feel virtuous for the rest of the day.

*Warning: They will not always want to practice, they may even kick, scream and winge for a while, but it will be worth it once a routine is established. Trust me!

2. Sit down with your child once a week for an intensive practice session

With the best will in the world, your child simply will not remember what they are supposed to be practising each week. Sit down with them once each week, go through the notes from the teacher, read the instructions to them and generally be there to answer any questions for them.

Even if you don’t understand the terminology you will be able to assist them a little bit, and the fact that you are making an effort will signify to them that this is important.

3. Lavish praise and encouragement

I thought it might be useful for parents of the non-musical variety (and as a good reminder for musical parents) to have some phrases to use to encourage their piano student. I’ve put together a list of phrases that will help build your child’s confidence. In any case it will be a nice change to you always shouting ‘do your practice’.

Click here to download my 36 ways to praise and encourage your piano student poster. Feel free to print it and hang it somewhere handy so you can shout out a phrase or two during each practice session.

And my last piece of advice…

4. Use bribes

From what I can tell all parenting is based on a series of bribes and coercion (you can watch TV if you clean your room, you can have dessert if you finish your vegetables, you can have 3 stories if you clean your teeth without me asking another 10 times. We’re all in the same boat, I’m sure!)

Here are some of the ideas I have tried with great success.

  • A jar of marbles. Reward one marble for every day she practises or each time she performs for someone

(or if it’s been a tough practice session perhaps a marble for each time she plays a piece). When the jar is full award a prize.

  • Promise ‘the biggest hug in the world’ – you might be surprised that this encourages a LOT of practice!
  • A lunch order once a week if she manages the 75 min practice per week that the teacher now prescribes.
  • Putting a piece of chocolate on the piano that she is allowed to put in her lunchbox when her practice is done.

The rewards don’t have to be big or expensive, they just need to recognise and reward effort.

Obviously REALLY learning to play the piano will be the ultimate reward…but there is nothing wrong with rewarding the small victories along the way!

36 Ways


Piano Mama revealed

I’m very excited!

The 4th issue of the Piano Teacher Magazine arrived from the printer today.  While I do actually realize that it is my (paid) job to edit/create the magazine; it is still very exciting to see it in real life!

Piano Teacher Magazine Issue 4

I’ve changed the format a little bit this time and it now includes photos of our contributors and one of me…the editor! So, I thought it might also be time to ‘out’ me here on the blog too!

You may have read the ABOUT section and all about my performance history, but I thought I might tell you a few more things that you might not know about me!

  1. I taught music for years both privately and at exclusive private schools. I did not, however, ever train as a teacher. What??? Yes, that’s right, being an unregulated industry means that anyone who can play can teach. (Or actually, anyone who can get employed can teach).
  2. I trained as a massage therapist. Yes, that’s right; I have a Certificate of Therapeutic Massage. Again, another unregulated industry, but at least I was trained this time.
  3. The week before my 14th birthday I started work for a catering company. I then worked in cafes and restaurants as well as at function centres while I was at University. I always loved watching the chefs and I asked them lots of questions and offered to help where I could. Eventually one day one of the chefs didn’t turn up, so naturally I just took over the cooking! I still love cooking and have a massive cookbook collection, but I mainly just cook for family and friends now, and for charity events.

So, here I am with my Grandma in August this year, on her 101st birthday. (How cute is she!)

PianoMama with Grandma C

Yoyo Recipe for Lucy

This is the best ever yoyo recipe!

Gina's Kitchen Fun Day baking

It’s Mum’s friend Pat’s mother-in-law’s recipe, so you know it’s going to be good!

I made these for PianoGirl’s school Fun Day Fete this week and the Yoyo’s sold out before we even opened! There will be more available at the kinder fete in a couple of weeks.

Cream the following ingredients:

6oz butter (340 grams if you are making double) with

2oz icing sugar (120 grams double)

Add the following all sifted together and mix well:

6oz plain flour (340 grams double)

1oz corn flour (60 grams double)

1oz custard powder (60 grams double

I use a 2tsp measure and roll even sized balls onto a lined baking tray.

Gently press down with a fork.

Bake for 12 min at 160 degrees (Celsius)

When they are cool, sandwich together with icing made from sifted icing sugar and passionfruit pulp – or butter and a little milk…or whatever flavour you like!

Pat’s icing recipe is:

125gr icing sugar

60 gr butter

1tbs milk.


The public holiday and the piano lesson

I’m sitting in bed today, listening to helicopters and watching frocked up ladies and dashing gents heading off to the races.

Yes, it is Melbourne Cup Day, and we live about a kilometre from the race track. Later on today we will be able to hear the 100,000 strong crowd cheer for the winner of the 2013 Melbourne Cup and even later still we will see tired, ’emotional’, shoe-less people wandering home.

It’s a public holiday here in Melbourne (what??? for a horse race???) and I was thinking about Piano Teachers and wondering if they are getting paid for the day. I’m getting paid today, so is my husband.

As a parent, when you choose a lesson time at the start of the year, you need to try to choose a time that best suits you and your family; a time you are most likely going to be able to attend each week. If you like to go away on long weekends every month, don’t book a Friday lesson time, unless you are willing to pay for all those missed lessons.

Remember that when you book in a time, you are booking the piano teacher’s time for the entire year and you are committing to paying for it.

Our piano teacher is studying this year and also performs professionally (yes, she’s very clever) and so has asked for us to be a bit flexible in case she needs some time off, and has also agreed to be a bit flexible in return. We knew this when we signed up, but still it is not a licence to take advantage.

Last week we missed our lesson because PianoGirl’s little sister was sick and so we couldn’t make it to the lesson (we didn’t want to risk getting the teacher or her other students sick).

This week we are also going to miss our regular lesson time because PianoGirl has decided she would like to play piano in the talent show at her school Fun Day – a day we are also committed to as a family.

I fully expect to pay for the lesson we missed last week due to illness, but the piano teacher has agreed to a lesson swap this week – which is very lovely of her!

However, I would say that as parents we need to be very careful to not take advantage of the piano teacher’s kindness. As I have said many times before, piano teachers are notoriously lovely people and you need to remember that even if their business is conducted in their lounge rooms they deserve to be paid. They are, after all, running a music business.