With my move to Utah this year, I have a whole new set of piano students at the University I’m teaching at now. It’s always a new challenge for me to have one transfer student, but this year I have had a bunch of transfer students all at once!  So many learning styles to figure out, so many students to connect with and encourage in their musical journey.

Currently I teach a few adults, several college students, and many children in the university prep program. It’s been a test for me as I adapt to all of their learning styles and work with all new parents. Some good, some not so good experiences but today I wanted to share the 10 things I want the parents and transfer students to know as we adjust to each other. Some of these are easy to tell parents, but others take more time to explain and for them to understand.

  1. I am so excited to work with you or your child! Teaching piano is definitely the best job in the entire world, even with it’s ups and downs. Regardless of their level, I cheer so hard for my students and I want them to become the best they can be.
  2. I am strict about upholding policies – it protects both of us. And it really shows your respect for me when you happily understand those policies so please read them through before signing and do your best to abide by them. 
  3. I believe in a well rounded student – when the book list for the semester shows up with books for sight reading, technique exercises, classical repertoire collections, jazz supplemental music, and whatever method books we are using, please understand how carefully the faculty choose pieces out of all of these books to make your student better. Instead of following one method book, I love to use the strengths of many composers and methods. This is why I get such great results and why those reviews from parents were so positive. So please give it a try, for at least a year or so 😉
  4. I know every one of my students is unique so of course each of them learns differently. Please let me know any tips to help your student learn better!  If your child has questions about anything at home, feel free to shoot me an email so I can add a review to my lesson plan for the next week or answer any questions you may have about my teaching.
  5. Parents, you are one of the most important parts of this lesson endeavor – I need your encouragement through the tricky pieces, your support of their daily practice, and your attendance at recitals. If they’re having trouble practicing, please find a reward system that works for you and your child and encourage their consistent practice!
  6. Students, let me know what YOU like to play. We can always have at least one fun piece that makes you want to practice everyday! I love all types of music – jazz, pop, classical or modern! So let’s find something that makes you fall in love with the piano just a bit more everyday!
  7. Flashcards are so important. Whether we’re using single note recognition cards, several note sight reading cards, or key signature flashcards, they have so many benefits for you. So please pull out that timer and make it a fun break from playing for a minute! How many can you get in one minute before I see you next time?!
  8. Practice, Practice, Practice. It’s difficult to fit in and nobody always want to do it, I know. Please don’t tell me you practiced when you didn’t. I can always tell and I want you to be honest with me. And if you’re not going to be able to practice as much for awhile, let me know so we can discuss a new course of action with your parents. Teens especially, sometimes we need to take a different route while that sport season is going strong.
  9. As recital season gets closer, I need you to perform. Make it habit to always play a piece you’ve gotten good at for your parents, grandparents or friends. You’ll be proud of all your hard work and they’ll love to hear you! It always helps to practice performing because it’s so different from our regular practice. And always tell me if you need more help calming those nerves! I have plenty of tricks up my sleeve to help 😉
  10. You and I are going to have so much fun learning together! This instrument is the BEST in my opinion and there is so much music to create together! I promise to always be prepared for each lesson and to make lessons fun. I will always look forward to seeing you each week! Thanks for being my student and making each lesson the best one yet.

Do you have any other tips you like to tell parents or transfer students? I’d love to add to this list and hear what you like to share with new parents & students!

Author: Whitney

Whitney Hawker, NCTM, teaches group and private piano at Weber State University, Utah. She loves surprising students with the perfect piece or a new exciting game! After graduate school, she missed sharing ideas and resources daily with colleagues so she and her friend, Spring, began blogging together at 4DPianoTeaching.com