Is it worth getting a diploma?

This week I had my hair cut! My usual hairdresser was away so I was assigned to Paul instead.

As expected he gave me a great cut. Admittedly in his own style, yet technically up to the standard I expect from Mahogany. That’s because the company have a very high and rigorous standard of training that everyone goes through. I go there, secure in the knowledge that the service I get will be consistent, quality-led and cutting edge (no pun intended!)

piano teaching diploma

It made me wonder whether we can say the same about piano teaching diplomas.

Does having a piano teaching diploma make you a better teacher? Can parents go confidently to any teacher with these qualifications and know that the teaching will be consistent, quality-led and cutting edge? I’m really not sure that it does.

I have heard of many teachers who have qualifications and yet their teaching hasn’t changed for years. For example, someone recently told me about a piano teacher, local to them, who expressed frustration that pupils were still struggling to read notation after a couple of months of lessons! Conversely I know many individuals who are continuously developing themselves as pianists and piano teachers but don’t have a teaching diploma.


What really matters is not so much the qualification but the attitude to learning. Being open and actively seeking new ideas in our teaching leads us to understanding things in deeper and more connected ways. Staying curious is essential!


The online diploma preparation course that Sharon and I have developed is all about acquiring and maintaining that curious frame of mind. This is teaching for life, not just the diploma. It’s rigorous, thorough, hard work and it will push you out of your comfort zone. It will give you new perspectives on your teaching and possibly even life itself.

During the course you’ll be encouraged to look at piano lessons from new perspectives. You’ll learn to observe piano lessons with a critical perspective and will apply this to both your own lessons and those of others (including Sharon and me).



Initially, we’ve done a lot of the hard work for you by breaking down the syllabi of both the DipABRSM and ATCL into small, achievable steps. Then we’re there to guide you, and hold you accountable, through the process of putting them all back together into a cohesive whole that will form the basis of your future piano teaching.


Confident, happy, professional and valued. These are just some of words that our current set of pilot students are already using to describe their feelings about themselves as a teacher. And that’s after having completed only two-thirds of the course.


So if you just want a piece of paper to say that you’ve got an ABRSM or Trinity diploma, our Online Diploma course probably isn’t for you. If, on the other hand, you want to feel more confident in your teaching and less of an ‘imposter’ then maybe, just maybe, this is something for you to consider.


We’d love you to join us for our Diploma webinar on Friday June 2 at 11am (BST). Even if you can’t make it live by registering we’ll send you the replay┬ávideo which will be available for 7 days after the live call.



In the meantime I suggest you download our brochure which will give you more details of course dates, delivery and costs.


So, it’s only worth getting a diploma if it makes an impact on your teaching.

Here at The Curious Piano Teachers we are working towards developing a profession that is known for consistent, high quality and cutting edge teaching. Now, that’s something for us all to aim for!


This blog post was written by Dr Sally Cathcart | Co-Founder at The Curious Piano Teachers

3 thoughts on “Is it worth getting a diploma?

  1. Cross-Eyed Pianist

    I have yet to be asked by a parent about my credentials. It has never come up in an interview with a prospective student (adult or child) and I’ve never been asked to provide proof of any qualifications. That I have two diplomas, with distinction, seems irrelevant. My students thrive not because I have certificates but because I have a sympathetic and instinctive approach to teaching whereby each student is treated as an individual and is encouraged to work with their own strengths and abilities.

    1. Sally

      Hi Frances, thanks for your thoughts. Yes I agree that parents rarely ask about qualifications. I’m not surprised to hear that your pupils thrive under your guidance however I am sure that a lot of the work and time that you put into preparing for the performances for your diplomas has informed and deepened your teaching approach. It’s interesting to ask whether you would be the same teacher without them?!

      1. Angela

        Parents rarely ask me about credentials either. My degree is music education, though, which is a plus I think. For continuing education, I’m always looking for workshops and conferences to attend that keep me learning and fresh, and am in constant contact with colleagues who teach various instruments (as I do – piano and woodwinds) to bounce ideas off of.

        So for me, I’m not looking for another specific diploma in music education – either from a university, where I’ll never be able to make enough to pay the degree off before I die, or from an online group that won’t carry any additional weight for parents beyond what I have already earned. The other drawback for me personally is, I don’t learn well in online environments – I need to be physically there to be mentally engaged.

        I’m over on the left side of the pond – most of my piano families have never heard of the National Guild of Piano Teachers, let alone ABRSM, and I do not I channel my students through those systems. I’ve found most of my families aren’t interested in that learning structure and focus, and my piano teaching is often tailored to more individualized interests of students.

        I think there can be benefit in some sort of certification for piano teachers, and if online learning is your thing, it’s certainly worth a look-see at what’s being offered here – they are constantly coming up with good and beneficial ideas, even from the teasers they’ve offered along the way. If you’re needing some impetus to learn or freshen up ideas, I’d take a look here and see what they have to offer.

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