What it takes to be a piano teacher by Gene Roberson

    What it takes to be a piano teacher    by Gene Roberson


There are two basic music types that teachers of piano will fall into:

                               Classical  and Popular




Classical piano teachers should be able to offer 1) Reading music skills, 2) Keyboard Technique 3) Basic harmony and 4) Repertoire.


  1. Reading music.

There are many good piano methods on the market and it is good to use these methods with all ages, especially children. Alfred, Bastian, just a few to mention. They also offer separate books for the different categories mentioned above.

  1. Keyboard technique.

It is important to develop good keyboard technique using the classic Hanon and other traditional keyboard technique publications. Piano teachers should be able to judge the progress of the students on their technique skills.

  1. Basic Harmony

Besides reading music, a good piano teacher should have a knowledge of music harmony including chord formation, modes, scales.

  1. Repertoire

Qualified classical piano teachers should have a good library of classical piano scores of all the music periods (Baroque, Romantic, Impressionistic, Modern) in order to demonstrate these musical styles to their students. Some teachers carry a basic supply of method books and classical books of all levels in order to make it easier on the student for obtaining needed music. They should also be aware of the internet music suppliers like SheetmusicPlus.com and Musicnotes.com. There are also public domain sites for downloading piano music classics.

Most classical piano teachers have college experience and degrees in music with piano emphasis. Lastly, a good classical piano teacher will recognize the time for an advancing student to move on to a teacher with higher learning skills. Many times, students are held back when a teacher has a personal attachment for a student.




  Popular music, including Jazz, requires the advanced knowledge of chords, scales, and songs of all generations. Not only the basic major and minor chords, but all the extended chords like 7ths, 9ths, 11ths, 13ths, etc. They must also be able to play from lead sheets where only the melody exists with the given chords. A good popular and jazz music piano teacher will be able to teach transposition, modulation, and arranging. Most highly skilled pop piano teachers also compose music. They also can teach ensemble playing, especially for students playing piano in Jazz bands in school or playing the piano for church and accompanying singers.

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