Have you accepted any new transfer students into your teaching studio this new academic year? It can be a tricky time as everyone in the partnership works out how the others tick.
Putting a few logical processes in place can really help though. Here are five smart strategies that we’ve found really helps to smooth the way.
#1 WORK OUT THE GAPS IN THE TRANSFER STUDENTS’ KNOWLEDGE
Most transfer students are already well on their way in learning to play the piano but doubtless there will be gaps in their knowledge. Spend the first few weeks of piano lessons working out where these are. You’ll want to find out about their characteristics and working methods as well.
You need to be as systematic as you can. Here are some broad areas to check to get you started.
- Rhythmic ability
- Reading level
- Basic technical level
- Level of confidence and independence at the piano
- Ability to Improvise and play by ear
- Practice habits
- Attitude to learning
- General musical knowledge
If you are a member of The Community you can use the Piano Framework to really dig into the detail of these. CLICK HERE TO ACCESS
#2 ESTABLISH OPEN CHANNELS OF COMMUNICATION
Start as you mean to go on by establishing open and professional channels of communication between all parties. By this I mean yourself, the student and the parents. In the private studio these are fairly easy to set up.
Teaching in a school however brings its own challenges and you’ll need to check with your line manager there how best to proceed. Emails are clearly useful and easy but phone calls are immediate and more personal. Best of all however is a face-to-face meeting, over coffee maybe?
#3 START WITH SOMETHING THAT IS EASILY ACHIEVABLE
Whatever the level of the new transfer student start with something that should be well under their current level of playing. If you’ve gone through the Curious interview process with them (this can be found in Understanding the Needs of the Transfer Student) you’ll already have a list of repertoire that has been covered. That makes it a lot easier to choose something that is going to be achievable for the student but revealing for you.
You want them to leave these initial lessons with big smiles on their faces and feeling full of the power of playing the piano.
#4 WORK TO ESTABLISH YOUR TEACHING STUDIO HABITS AND ROUTINES
As piano teachers we all have our particular studio practice routines and expectations. All my students are used to practice strategies such as the magic number 3, goldfish practice and snail speed for example.
Think about your own expectations and make them explicit – our pupils aren’t mind readers after all. If we don’t tell them they won’t know.
#5 REMEMBER – NO-ONE IS PERFECT!
If you find there are lots of holes in your new transfer student’s understanding do give the previous teacher the benefit of the doubt! It’s good to remember that we all have our strengths and weaknesses as teachers – none of us is perfect.
Members of The Community remember there are loads of resources, videos and podcasts on the topic in the June 2019 Curiosity Box – Understanding the Needs of the Transfer Student. CLICK HERE TO ACCESS
This blog post was written by Dr Sally Cathcart, co-founder and Director of The Curious Piano Teachers.
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