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Course Prepares Music Students to Teach Private Lessons

I was a graduate French horn major when I taught my first private lesson. Although I had a bachelor’s degree in music education, the pedagogy and education classes I took were related to teaching ensembles and classroom music. Outside of the experiences I gained from studying with my own teachers, nothing else had prepared me to teach private lessons. Like most beginning studio teachers, I modeled the teachers I studied with and used the strategies and techniques that I responded to as a student. This resulted in a lot of trial and error as I began to understand that what worked for one teacher and for one student didn’t work for all.  

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Juilliard recognizes that many of its music graduates will teach private lessons at some point in their careers, and they’ll need skills beyond those acquired to become accomplished players. To address this need for special training, last fall, I created and began teaching a one-semester course titled the Art of Teaching in the Music Studio, which is designed to help students develop the skills required to teach private lessons effectively. If you’re a graduate or fourth-year undergraduate music student and plan to teach private lessons—or even contemplate that possibility—I invite you to register for this course in the fall or spring semester.

Let me share what you can expect from this course. Through discussions, seminars with guest teachers, observations of master teachers, teaching demonstrations, and other in-class activities, you can explore what it means to be a studio teacher, characteristics of a good teacher, key components of teacher preparation, and resources for private teachers. Other topics include teaching strategies, learning processes in the music studio, motivation, rapport, and assessment of student progress. Additionally, you will get hands-on experience by teaching a limited number of lessons during the semester. 

A successful studio teacher also needs practical skills to manage a business, and this class will prepare you to meet the challenges of running a studio. This begins with defining the scope of your business. What will you teach, and who will you teach? Do you play more than one instrument that you can teach? Are you interested in offering instruction in music theory and ear training? Do you like working with children and adults, or do you prefer one age group over another? Will you offer group lessons and recitals? 

It is also important to identify various teaching environments and determine which one best matches your lifestyle. Will you teach in your home or a student’s home, or will you use another location such as a school, church, music store, or community center? Once you decide on a location, then you can identify the supplies you need, how much it will cost to operate your business, what you should charge for lessons, and the length of those lessons. You also need to develop marketing strategies and materials that will attract students. By the end of the course, you will have produced a portfolio of essential documents for your studio, including a flyer and brochure to advertise your business.

Being a private music teacher requires hard work, energy, and time. But teaching lessons is also an enormously satisfying activity and a great way to make money. Get a head start on preparing to be a successful studio teacher by joining me for the Art of Teaching in the Music Studio.

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