For as far back as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be a teacher. But, that doesn’t mean I’m do things the same as when I first began teaching professionally back in 2003. Thank goodness for that! Like my students, learning and growing are integral parts of my career. This career has spanned from classroom teaching to online piano teacher.
From Classroom To Online Piano Teacher
My Bachelor of Education gave me the foundation for sound teaching practices. My minor focused on inclusive education for neurodiverse and unique learners (more on that below). I was fortunate to work with incredible practicum teachers that showed me how important it is to look at each student as a individual with unique ways of learning.
Over a decade of experience as a teacher and administrator within private schools in Canada and Mexico played a big part in how I teach. And how I run my studio as an online piano teacher. The best schools created policies that were win-win solutions for both the school and families. I’ve done my best to take this approach so that students and families always feel support in our online piano studio.
My Associate Diploma of the London College of Music helped me bridge the gap between classroom teaching and piano. Much of what I focused on what multi-sensory teaching to help students maximize the learning in each lesson.
Annual, continued professional development and working with colleagues all over the world ensures I continue to take the best ideas in music education and support each student and family in our studio community.
I’ve been fortunate to present at several conferences and private workshops for national and international organizations. I have written articles as interviewed for podcasts and YouTube channels for several of our industry’s largest and most respected websites. It’s an honour to share what I’ve learnt with piano teachers both starting out and those that have spent decades mastering their craft. If you are interested in seeing which organizations these are, please visit the home page here.
Both my composing and online piano teaching go hand in hand. I’ve always had a “I wonder if …” approach to learning. And, it turns out it’s very much a part of my composing process as well.
Years ago I had asked my husband, “What if I run out of song ideas?” After he stopped laughing, he pointed out that I’d never run out of ideas in the decades he has known me. Consider that within five minutes I had said, “Well, I could compose about …” Perhaps he had a point.
Students love the fact that occasionally songs are written specifically for them! Whether it’s stories about pets or lives, it’s special to receive an original piece that was designed just for you. Wouldn’t you agree?
My students role their eyes when they find out I’ve included concepts and skills they need to work on. (Much like my twins assume that anything I make probably has healthy stuff hidden inside.) I’m a big fan of sneaking in the ‘healthy’ stuff with something that students are drawn to when they hear it.
Another big part of our studio is composing and improvising. Improvising is informal and happens throughout our studio terms. At a minimum, composing an entire song happens in preparation for our Spring recital. However for students that love to compose, this is something we add throughout each term.
For Piano Teachers
Composing is one of my happy places. Not only is a necessary creative outlet, but it’s where I solve problems and get to explore all the “what if” questions that come up in my brain!
I know what it’s like to look for educationally sound music that sounds great. No one wants to struggle to get students to practice. But, without great repertoire this is often the case.
When I compose music, I ask myself, “Does it …
Every song has at least one idea for students to “make it their own”. As budding pianist and musicians, students need to explore and see what sounds good to them! These are also designed to look great whether you are an in-person, hybrid or online piano teacher.
That is why our Must Love Music studio community is about:
- Valuing your time with weekly fun online piano lessons.
- Treating you and/or your child like the unique person they are.
- Making sure being online is about learning you creating community.
- Providing lots of support so you always have tech support on your side.
Our Studio Community
As an online piano teacher, I get it. We all need community. We all need support. And, sometimes that can feel like a challenge.
As a parent, I know what it feels like to:
- Balance extra-curricular activities with home life.
- See teachers mix-up or even treat our twins like they are the same person.
- Worry about my kids being online and not getting quality time with peers.
- Figure out new technology without support.
For younger students, I also work closely with families to support the goals your child’s support team has. This can help students achieve those goals quicker as everyone is using the same strategies and supports.
With teen and adult students, we work on building these skills in a supportive environment at a pace that works best for you.
My approach is as an online piano teacher is to work with each student’s strengths, while also working on building skills that can be transferred to other aspects of their life. Two of the most common skills are how to handle frustration and how to articulate emotions. Oftentimes, my students with unique learner needs have felt unable to express what they are thinking or feeling while learning. I work with them to change that.
What if my child (or me, as an adult student) has an 'off' day?
One of the main tenants of my teaching philosophy, and the foundation of all programming at Must Love Music, is to provide an incredibly supportive environment.
We all have days when we are unable to process more information or handle challenges. If that is where you or your child is for a particular lesson, we pivot and do something else. Oftentimes this will involve improvisation since there is no ‘wrong’ way to improvise. Sometimes, we just talk.
Next lesson, we start fresh.
This philosophy was incredibly important when I became an online piano teacher (instead of teaching in-person). We all deserve to feel appreciated and cared for. Bigger movements, making eye contact and lots of movement have meant that every student can feel a connection during lesson.
While I teach students of all ages and backgrounds, my specialization is inclusive education and working with students that have unique learner needs. These include students with learning difficulties through to gifted and talented.
A partial list of the unique learner needs I’ve worked with are:
- Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
- Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
- Sensory processing disorder (SPD)
- Dyslexia and related vision processing issues
- Gifted and talented
- Mild-cognitive impairments related to how learners move information from short-term to long-term memory,
- Executive dysfunction (EFD)
As an adult who loves to learn, I’ve realized that many of those same concerns apply. I know how:
- How challenging it can be to balance all the different roles and responsibilities you have.
- Overwhelming it can be learning something new with no or little individualized support.
- Important it is to have someone in your corner that will guide and encourage you.
- Figure out new technology without support.