Well, one thing is for certain - no one becomes a piano teacher overnight. Whether you dream of becoming a famous performing artist giving world-class recitals or teaching piano with a roster of local students, you need years of practice.

Firstly, if you wish to become a pianist or take up piano teaching, it's much better to have started the piano at a very young age.

But maybe you've already been studying the piano for a few years, you've acquired considerable skills and now you're thinking of turning your love of music and the piano into a source of income through piano teaching. Maybe you even have dreams of starting up your own music studio.

But a few questions are weighing on your mind. You may ask yourself - am I ready to be a piano teacher? I know my stuff, but what if I haven't completed a Bachelor of Music? Do I need any piano teaching or piano pedagogy qualifications? I have a few years of studying and performing under my belt, but is my experience enough to start teaching? You may have even already looked up piano tutoring jobs in Sydney.

Read on for all the answers to your questions and more. Below we outline the number one consideration for new piano teachers, and list three main pathways you can follow to become a piano teacher.

How to teach piano: empathizing with your student

The first question to ask yourself: why do want to pursue piano teaching? The answer is usually something along the lines of... because I love playing, or because I love the instrument.

Proficiency and love of the instrument essential to becoming a piano teacher, and might make you an excellent player. But to be a truly excellent teacher you also need to know how to put yourself in your student's shoes and adapt to their level of piano playing.

student and teache learning piano
Teaching piano is all about adapting to your student's level and learning style.

Teaching students to play the piano, whether they are beginners or established pianists, can be extremely gratifying.  However, if you're an experienced pianist, but new to teaching, becoming a piano teacher will challenge your educational and interpersonal skills.

Firstly, you'll need to pick up basic marketing skills to attract new students to your piano lessons!

One essential skill is simplifying popular songs for beginner students. This comes in handy for all students, but especially adult beginners, who may come into their first lesson with strong ideas about which pieces they want to play, but aren't quite ready to tackle something so complex yet. Simplifying more complex songs keeps adults and kids alike interested, and avoids putting adult or teenage students off by making them play Mary Had A Little Lamb over and over.

Whilst you have already mastered a high level of music theory, technique, performance and interpretation, you will also need to know how to simplify your explanations with regards to music theory and piano technique to allow students to take in information at their own pace.

This means brushing up on your piano pedagogy and establishing an accessible and simple piano method for your beginner students. If you are thinking of taking your first lessons, you can find our best tips on giving piano lessons right here.

For beginner students especially, knowing how to listen patiently and correct mistakes gently is essential.

Whilst teaching the piano is generally a joyful experience, it can be frustrating when a teenage student refuses to practice, or a toddler won't focus in their lesson, or an enthusiastic adult beginner keeps making the same mistake over and over again.

If you are dealing with younger students, try casting your mind back to yourself at their age, and ask yourself how long your own attention span was and the kind of teaching you responded best to. You probably remember your kindest and most empathetic teachers the most fondly, and you probably tried the hardest in their lessons. Emulating them will help you get the best from your own piano students.

If you've been playing the piano for years, you've probably had your own struggles - a piece or technique that has eluded you no matter how hard you practice. Thinking of your own musical challenges will help you empathize with the challenges of your students. 

But before you go off and search for tutoring jobs Melbourne, read on to find out the different pathways to reaching the level of piano necessary to enter piano teaching.

Paths to teaching piano: Conservatoriums and Music Schools

Unfortunately, music education is declining in both public and private school. However, conservatoriums and private music schools are stepping in to fill the gap.

Teaching piano at a music school
Become a piano teacher at through a conservatorium or music school!

With fewer options to study the piano at school, many students wishing to learn to play the piano are turning to cultural institutions such as local conservatoriums and music schools. This could be for professional reasons - they may be dreaming of a career in music production, or music teaching - or simply for the pleasure of playing a musical instrument.

This means that learning and teaching at a private music school are both rewarding options open to you.

The benefit to these kinds of institutions is that they usually offer flexible programs that can adapt to your level of commitment. You can usually choose a teacher specializing in the kind of music you are passionate about, be it classical piano, jazz and improvisation, music production... and there will often be opportunities to join a piano recital each year and skill up in piano performance. And if you learn the piano to a very high level within a private music school, they may very well ask you back to become part of the teaching staff!

Not sure how much you should charge per piano lesson? Read our guide to setting your rates.

Learn piano teaching through a degree program

This is the traditional way of becoming a piano virtuoso or expert teacher.

Learn how to teach piano at university
A music degree from a renowned conservatory will allow you to gain a degree, pursue your musical dreams, and set you up with the best qualifications for becoming a piano teacher.

Gaining a place at an esteemed music conservatorium is no easy feat. Auditions are usually held for young musicians who are coming out of high school or their gap year, but mature students are often accepted as well. In Australia, prestigious conservatoriums are usually attached to larger universities, such as the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music (MCM) at The University of Melbourne, or the Sydney Conservatorium of Music (SCM) at The University of Sydney. These usually have two major streams for performers - a classical stream or a jazz stream, as well as optional classes in composition, ethnomusicology or different vocal and instrumental ensembles. In these institutions, music theory classes are usually mandatory. If your dream is to become a highly-qualified music teacher, you may wish to take classes in music psychology or piano pedagogy alongside you piano performance classes. Once you have finished a three-year Bachelor's degree, you may be offered the opportunity to do an Honours year, a Master's degree, or even a PhD.

These degrees are expensive, but if you are an Australian citizen and gain a place, you can usually take out a HECs loan through the Australian government for the cost of the degree. You will also need to commit a considerable amount of time - at least three years of full-time study.

Become a piano teacher after many years of private lessons

The market for private piano lessons in Australia is completely unregulated. This means almost anyone can offer private piano lessons.

Become a piano teacher by taking years of private lessons
Take private piano lessons in your home for the flexibility and personalized approach.

However, when advertising your services, you are obliged under Australian Consumer Law to give a true and accurate description of your skills. So you can't say you have a Bachelor of Music if you don't, or that you have 30 years of teaching experience if you are only 24 years old!

As a rule of thumb, piano teachers should hold at least three more years of piano experience than the students they are teaching. However, equally important is the piano teacher's attitude towards piano pedagogy and aptitude for teaching. 

You'll need at least five or six years of studying and playing the piano before you are competent enough to teach beginners.

Private piano lessons in your home are a very popular way to learn the piano, as there are so many teachers out there who can suit your budget and schedule. However, you won't have the motivation of a university degree or the community of a music school, so you need to commit to a great deal of practice if you want to become a highly-skilled pianist and competent teacher.

Also, once you start teaching, there is no need to stop your personal piano lessons. The best teachers are life-long learners and potential students will be drawn to your passion to keep exploring the piano.

Why not let us here at Superprof help you find the perfect piano teacher?

And whether you're an established piano instructor or a new teacher finding your first pupils, create a teacher's profile for yourself and find new students!

Another option open to you is online tutoring jobs.

Want more tips and tricks on how to teach piano? Check out our guide to effective piano teaching.

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Erin is an Australian musician, writer and francophile living in France.