If you’re a piano teacher, chances are you’ve recently undergone a transformation that you never expected to experience in your lifetime. For your entire career up to this point, you’ve done things much the same way your teacher taught you. But when the COVID-19 pandemic struck, suddenly your world was turned upside down and you had a decision to make- stop teaching for the foreseeable future or adapt to the “new normal” of online education.
I was one of the lucky few who had been teaching piano online since long before the pandemic took over our world. I had four years to figure out what the rest of the piano teaching community suddenly had to figure out in a matter of weeks! During these unprecedented times, I’ve worked with hundreds of teachers who have been thrust into the world of online teaching without warning. One thing I can say for sure is that these piano teachers are resilient, resourceful, and dedicated. I’ve watched as they’ve taken the lemons that the pandemic has given them and made lemonade. Not only have they learned how to teach piano online practically overnight, but they’ve also learned new ways to make their instruction better, adopted new and better tools, and built their businesses in a whole new way. I’ve been privileged to help so many wonderful teachers grow during this time, and I want to help many more still. There are a few very important factors that can determine whether a piano teacher makes it or breaks it in this new world. These are the things that I’ve seen work for me and the hundreds of teachers I’ve worked with.
I’ve noticed that our field seems to be one of the very last to embrace technology. There are still so many piano teachers out there who believe that technology is the enemy. Unfortunately, because of that belief, those teachers will be less and less relevant in this technology-driven world. Let me explain through a metaphor. Imagine a laundry business that has been doing their clients’ laundry by hand for decades and refuses to adopt automatic washing machines because they feel that it must be an inferior method. In reality, they could become much more efficient, give their clients the same or better service, and ultimately make more money. But if they never invest in those machines and get past their biases and fear of the unknown, they will eventually be driven out of businesses by laundromats that did take the risk and invest in more modern equipment.
You might think this is a silly example, but it’s remarkably fitting. Many teachers fear that technology will put them out of business or that the use of technology is somehow offering their students an inferior class of instruction. That’s simply not true. Technology can enhance lessons, at-home practice, performances, and the entire experience of learning to play the piano. Not to mention, this generation of learners practically demands this approach. If you choose not to adopt technology, much like the laundry business that refuses to try a washing machine, you will lose more business as time goes on. The best advice I can give you when it comes to teaching piano online is to never miss an opportunity to try something new.
A huge part of making online piano lessons successful is making them fun and engaging. That can be a challenge when you can’t be right there with them to do what you usually do. Don’t try to translate what you do at an in-person lesson to an online lesson- it will just be awkward and ineffective. Instead, look for online specific games and activities to keep your students engaged. Take into account the interests and unique challenges and triumphs of each student as you puzzle out which games and activities will make your students happy to be in their online lessons.
One of the most important things you can teach your students is how to create beautiful and interesting videos- performance videos, tutorials, etc. The easiest way for your students to use their piano skills practically is to share it in video form. It’s rare today to see a popular song without an accompanying video. If we teach our students how to use their musical skills to create videos that drive new opportunities, we’re giving them the most valuable skills we can and preparing them for their future careers in and out of the music field. The best way to learn video skills is to jump in and create a video. My advice is to start simple and gradually add more as you learn more. The important thing is to get started and not worry about making it perfect.
One of the bright spots for me during this pandemic has been watching teachers branch out and try new ways to market themselves. We live in a world that allows us to interact with just about anyone in the entire world fairly effortlessly. For educators, that means that there are billions of potential students just waiting for us to find them. The struggle, then, becomes how to take advantage of those new prospects. There has never been a better time to reach out to new students online. There are many ways to do this, some free, and some paid, but all are designed to find the right students for you and build your business. You may even choose to do group lessons online to further increase your productivity and pay.
- Marketing Methods
Anytime you’re learning something new, and especially when you’re experimenting with new techniques and technologies, you’re going to fail over and over again. That failure grants you experience. Never be afraid to mess up. The moment you stop taking risks is the moment you stop growing.
This pandemic has changed all of our lives immensely. While it can be scary and uncertain, there is much good that can come of the trials. As a field, I’ve watched us become more courageous, more devoted, and more passionate as we’ve been forced to adapt and grow. Many teachers and their businesses will be forever damaged by this pandemic, while others will only grow as a result of it. The good news is that we are the ones who decide on which side we will fall.
I hope this article has given you ideas and helped you in some way. If you want some one-on-one help, register for my Piano Marvel Gold Star Certification Course.