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Weekly Meetings

There are countless ways to structure a program like this, and I’m not here to tell you there is one correct method. What I will do is share exactly what I do in my studio. 

I recommend you start with this because it’s tried-and-tested, and because you have to start somewhere. You’ll naturally tweak things as you go and try new experiments over time. 

The weekly meeting is the core component of my training process for my mentee teachers. I originally did this as individual meetings with each teacher (I only ever have 2-3 teachers,) but have since found it to be even more beneficial to meet altogether. This allows everyone to learn from what’s going on with each other’s students as well as their own and widens their pedagogical experience.

Method Book Walk

We start each meeting with our method book walk. This is where we pick one method book and go through a small section each week to discuss the teaching outcomes, strategies and methodologies used. We also brainstorm ways we could make this part more creative or preview the theory content through games and improvisation before a student reaches this part of the book.

I suggest starting with whatever method you use the most in your studio and working your way through the first 2-3 levels. You can then move on to a different method and note the difference as you go. Even methods which you disagree with can provide great teaching moments for your mentees.

The pace at which you work through the method is something you’ll have to experiment with. We generally find that half a unit each week provides good momentum without being overwhelming.

Foundations of Piano Teaching

Next we have our general topic of the week. We start the year by covering one lesson at a time from the Foundations of Piano Teaching course. We all watch and read that week’s lesson and use it as a jumping off point for questions and debates. 

The course is 24 lessons, so that takes us over halfway through the year. For the rest of the year, I’ll pick a book about piano pedagogy or learning and we’ll discuss one chapter at a time from this.

Student-by-Student

Those first two sections are brief (about 10 minutes each) and help warm us up for the most important part: the student rundown. I like to do this section following the order of the timetable. This means it goes back and forth between different teachers as we make our way through the week, and it’s an easy structure for me to keep track of.

I require each teacher to update a very simple spreadsheet after each lesson. This comprises 10 columns with the headers:

  1. Current Pieces
  2. Practice
  3. Aural
  4. Memory
  5. Reading
  6. Theory
  7. Technical exercises
  8. Technique
  9. Other notes
  10. Resources needed

They’re only expected to write a few words in each column so it shouldn’t take more than 2 minutes per student. It just helps jog their memory as we go through during the meeting. 

New teachers generally have a lot more difficulty remembering each lesson than more experienced teachers, because their mind is busy doing so many things as they teach. If you don’t use a spreadsheet like mine, make sure your teachers are at least keeping their own notes otherwise they’ll forget and important issues will be missed.

More to Explore

Possible books for discussion at your weekly meeting: