One of our greatest privileges as private music teachers is that we get to work with a student one-on-one (or in small groups) for years. There are very few other teachers who get this opportunity to be a consistent part of someone’s life and education.

Working with students in this individualised way means that we can tailor the lessons to suit the student. If they need to go slower in some areas, we can do that. If they’re ready to speed ahead, we can give them challenges to rise up to.

Pacing and Adjusting

If you work at your curriculum and continually tweak it, you will start to find the right pace for your studio as a whole. You will learn what students normally know and can do after 1 year and 3 years and 10 years. 

But people are not all cookie-shaped.

In fact, it’s likely that none of your students will ever fit your curriculum mould exactly. You will need to pace and adjust what you teach and how you teach it to suit each student. That’s one of the reasons why we lesson plan week-by-week instead of in big chunks.

Special Needs

Some students are more uniquely-shaped cookies. Students with special needs and learning differences deserve to have their lives enriched by music, too. 

Many teachers are afraid to teach students with special needs. They think they need specialised training and expertise. 

You don’t. In most cases, all you really need is the same toolkit you use to adapt your teaching for other students – just more of it. If you’re ready to adjust, pivot and adapt, if you have the tools you need to go faster or break concepts down further (hello, games!), you’ll do just fine. 

If you get approached by a parent of a child with a learning difference, please, give it a try. Stay curious and communicate openly with the parents to come up with solutions, and you’ll do just fine. 


Adapting the pacing for preschoolers is similar to slowing down the pace of your lessons more generally, but with some important distinctions. I recommend you get started with slightly older students and then, when you’re ready to dive into teaching the wee ones, read my book ‘Playful Preschool Piano Teaching’. It’s designed to be the perfect getting-started reference for those who are new to this age-group.

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