4 Ways TopMusicPro Transformed My Online Piano Lessons (with Kara Hess)

This growth-mindset teacher has gone from part-time to building her dream studio

4 Ways TopMusicPro Transformed My Online Piano Lessons (with Kara Hess)

4 Ways TopMusicPro Transformed My Online Piano Lessons
(with Kara Hess)

“I am a solo flyer, like 100%. If I can do it myself, I do, and if I can’t, I figure out how. In fact, I will read 50 books before I ask for help.”

Kara Hess says as she talks about her typical approach to figuring out the unknown in her piano studio. Kara took her first piano lesson when she was seven years old.  In 2006 Kara started teaching piano to a few friends. And by 2014, she welcomed the opportunity to expand and has since established a professional and successful piano studio.

In our podcast chat, Kara shares her very relatable story with us, along with her process of joining TopMusicPro, and the endless benefits she has gained. She gave several amazing perks of being a member, and I narrowed those into 4 ways TopMusicPro transformed her online piano lessons. I can almost guarantee that Kara’s journey will resonate with you! Let’s do this.

1. Access to Music Teacher Resources

Like many of us, when the pandemic hit last March, and everything started shutting down, Kara made the tough decision to close her studio. She had every intention of opening back up to in-person lessons shortly. I mean, didn’t we all? No one expected the pandemic to last as long as it has.

She said,

I had to refund money, and it was starting to get scary.  

Kara didn’t have a plan B, so she started exploring different options. She wanted to figure out a way to continue teaching piano. This is where her “solo flyer” instincts kicked in, and she started doing research. Kara had heard of TopMusic for years but was unaware there was a membership until she was in a webinar.

For 3 months, she researched different options and finally took the leap to join TopMusicPro in November of 2020 (SPOILER: She wished she didn’t even hesitate). There are several resources and teacher discounts available with a TopMusicPro membership. Kara found the 90 day trial for MyMusicStaff extremely helpful and Tonara for communication and keeping up with her online students. Some others she enjoyed are Tonebase, SheetMusicPlus, and TopMusicSheets. TopMusicSheets is a FREE collection of piano music we send out monthly, and each month we feature a different composer from all over the world. To check out more about these resources, you can do that here!

2. Finding a Music Teachers Community

Shortly after becoming a TopMusicPro member, Kara heard about a podcast where Tim talks about Imposter Syndrome. She related to the podcast on an intimate level and realized she had been feeling like this herself.

As she put it,

I’m not the only one who often feels like they don’t know exactly what they are doing all the time, or that I’ll do a lot of things wrong, and that’s okay because I will learn as I do them.

Have you been there before? I’m certain we all have. After joining TopMusicPro, we provide a “road map” that helps new members navigate the site. Kara’s next step was to post in a forum, and she’d never been fond of forums, so she debated. But as a checklist person (she was following the road map after all), she asked a question and was delighted with what happened next. Within the next day, she received so many responses, and they were encouraging, helpful, and kind! This was different from any other forum she had seen or participated in previously.

I was so RELIEVED that maybe I didn’t have to do this by myself. I didn’t have to read 50 books! I could get help from people who are struggling with what I’m struggling with.

As teachers who work tirelessly and spend most of our time with students, how incredible is the feeling when you find someone who gets what you’re going through? That is one of the most special aspects of TopMusicPro. We truly are a tribe. Whether you teach in a studio or a classroom, online or in-person, it’s nice to connect with your colleagues. TopMusicPro is like a home base for music educators and performers alike from all over the world. So, welcome home! 

Related: Tim talks about some ways you can overcome imposter syndrome as a piano teacher.

3. Learning Through TopMusicPro Teaching Courses

There’s a list of all the things you get from becoming a member on the “JOIN NOW” page, right? So you know exactly what you’re getting. Well, I’ll let you in on a secret: It gets even better. As Kara mentioned, there is WAY more material than she anticipated. As she put it, “It’s like going to your favourite all-in-one-stop shopping store. Like if you love Target or Walmart and everything you ever have wanted to participate in or buy is all there, but it’s just one fee. So once you get in there, you can take whatever you want!”

Kara specifically found that she benefited incredibly from the “No Book Beginners” course. After just starting the course, she saved time, energy, and resources for her beginning piano students. The “No Book Beginners” course is one of the MANY courses you can access as a TopMusicPro member. Another cool feature of the membership is that your progress is saved in case you need to take a break and come back to the course. You can also create a “favourites” list, so you don’t have to search for the courses you want to take. Click here to see some of our most popular courses.

Related: In this blog, Tim expands on why he teaches beginners without a method book.

4. Realising Personal Value

“WHY DID I WAIT?” You know that thing you contemplated investing in for weeks or even months, and after you finally go for it, you realize it should have been a no-brainer? That’s how TopMusicPro was for Kara. After reading about the Imposter Syndrome podcast, Kara realized a couple of things: She needed a mentor and could benefit from watching others teach.

Her thoughts were,

Well, that’s gonna cost me a lot of money.

Luckily, she discovered that through the TopMusicPro membership, she could have access to forum discussions and resources like Tonebase, where you can watch other professionals teaching. A membership for Tonebase alone is $29.00, and our most popular membership that includes Tonebase and more is $39.00! The value of a TopMusicPro membership is unmatchable. Kara talked about the fact that if she subscribed to all of the things on TopMusic separately, she would not only be spending more money, but it would be nearly impossible to keep track of all her subscriptions when EVERYTHING she needs is in one place, with one fee at TopMusic. 

After exploring all the courses and resources, Kara came back to the fact that just having a community of colleagues that wouldn’t judge her for her “silly questions” was worth the membership in itself. She realized that she DIDN’T have to go at it alone. And let’s be honest, sometimes we all feel that way whether we teach masterclasses, have a private studio, or do it all!

Kara wants to go back to in-person lessons eventually because there’s something invaluable about that one-on-one time. Still, she looks forward to expanding much more into her online lessons and says that there will always be an online aspect to her studio from here on out. Not only that, but Kara’s future goals include utilizing these amazing skills she has learned through a local college teaching an online course to adults. She also hopes to have more adult students in her private studio! You can keep up with what she is doing on this website.

Kara’s story is not only relatable; it’s inspiring! Click here if you’re interested in becoming part of the TopMusicPro tribe and believe you would save your own time, energy, and resources with all that the pro membership offers. We would love to connect with you!

Allison Gruenenfelder

Allison Gruenenfelder is a multi-instrumentalist, former choir director, and loves coffee and her family.

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