Inner Circle Member Spotlight: Rosemarie Penner

Inner Circle Member Spotlight: Rosemarie Penner

member spotlight Rosemarie Penner

Inner Circle “Member Spotlights” give you a sneak-peak at the progress of one of our community members. Get inspired by what they’ve achieved, be heartened by their struggles and share in their plans for the future.

You can find out more about Rosemarie at her studio website.

What does your studio look like?

I am a travelling teacher with a boutique studio of 14 students. Each year, I try to add new programming options that will help my students reach their musical goals. We have group lessons at my home a few times a year, as well as an annual recital to build community and have fun together.

Technology is a regular part of lessons in our studio as it allows me to have a range of tools on hand… plus, iPad time is always a big hit with students. They seem to forget that they are learning at the same time!

One of the new options this year was lab programming. Families love that it takes the pressure away of helping with theory homework & that their child(ren) get extra practice on the fundamentals that help them create great music!

What concept, idea, app or strategy, has had the most positive impact on your studio and teaching recently?

The idea that has had the biggest impact on my studio in the last 6 months is the implementation of a travelling music lab.

For years, I have read about music labs and ‘off the bench’ time but could never figure out how to make it work for my studio.


After combining ideas from 88 Piano Keys (Leila Viss) & purchasing the Music Lab Task Cards from Music Educator Resources (Jennifer Foxx) – both Inner Circle Expert Teachers, I finally had a solution that kept my travel bag light, yet ensured an individualized approach for my students!

I used ideas from Tim’s series of podcasts on group lessons to really super-charge this idea… teaching siblings concurrently.

While one student is with me at the piano, my other student is in the same room working independently on the iPad with headphones on. After 30 minutes, students switch roles.

Parents love that their kids are engaged for the full hour. Kids love that they get to use apps & other activities to learn (anything on an iPad just seems cooler). And, I have seen a jump in my students abilities both on & off the bench.

They are more confident about what notes are on the staff or keyboard, analyzing new music, or trying a new rhythm.

It also allowed me to increase my income while not needing to substantially increase my teaching hours.

What was the biggest thing you did to achieve that outcome?

Initially, the biggest thing was to read a lot of different ideas, ask lots of questions, and talk out my ideas with my husband.

Once I had a plan, the biggest thing was talking to my clients about the benefits to THEM. In the same time that both kids would normally have lesson, I could double the amount of time they had to practice new concepts and the extra time on fundamentals would help them progress faster.

By leaving it to me, all theory homework would be done in-lesson (a huge benefit for busy families), the kids would be engaged the whole time, I was available right then and there if they had questions (rather than waiting for a text/call/email back), and lastly, parents get to just enjoy hearing their kids play music during the week (the fun part of your child taking lessons).

It became an easy choice for many families.

How has your membership of the Inner Circle played a part in your development as a teacher?

Being a part of a community of teachers who are continually wanting to improve themselves and support others has been wonderful!

We all have those questions during the week when something pops up and Google doesn’t have quite the right answer.

I like being able to post a new forum to ask for advice and knowing in all likelihood someone in the group will either know the answer or tag someone who knows the answer.

The flip side of that is reading the teaching journeys that other teachers are on. I get inspired by their goals and the solutions they have found to their challenges. And if I am able to provide support, helping other teachers reach their goals is very rewarding.

[spp-tweet tweet=”Helping other teachers reach their goals is very rewarding.”]

Why did you decide to join the Inner Circle?

I have listened to Tim’s podcasts for years as I travel from home to home and regularly read his blog.

The more that he and other teachers I respect talked about the IC, the more it seemed like a community that I would want to be a part of.

Teaching can be a very solitary profession and the IC takes out the isolation by putting us in contact with teachers all over the world.

What’s been the highlight of your membership so far?

Probably the biggest highlight are the the 4-Week Challenges, which have now morphed into Growth Journals.

Making concrete, short term goals has helped me have more focus on what I want to accomplish over the long term.

Everyone has been so supportive and I have greatly appreciated the advice that I’ve received.


What is one tool that you couldn’t live without and why?

My iPads.

I use them ALL the time.

This year, I purchased a iPad Pro which made it possible for me to transition to lab time programming in my studio.

My old iPad became a student iPad for use during lab time. And, my new iPad helps me do almost everything both on the teaching & business sides of the studio & teaching blog.

I plan lesson on Planboard, email practice pages to parents at the end of lesson, create graphics for all my social media on Canva, post to social media, make Google docs for families, test out apps, and so much more!

What’s the biggest challenge in your teaching or studio business right now and what strategies are you exploring to help?

My biggest challenge is the same one many teachers face: students who don’t practice regularly.

We just made practice planners in group lessons which can be used in conjunction with their digital practice pages.


One strategy that seems to work, at least in the short term, is making a calendar in lesson to help students decide when practice time is going to happen during the week and then asking parents to remind their child(ren) at that time they need to go to the piano.

Sounds simple, but it’s had an impact.

If you could give one piece of advice to a new piano teacher (or someone considering it as a career), what would it be?

After burning out as a teacher (sadly more than once) my advice is to make a schedule and policies that work for you and fit the priorities/values in your life.

As teachers we tend to want to accommodate and help others, often to our own detriment.

Take care of yourself and then your students. You will have so much more to give.

Looking for more support in your teaching?

We’d love to have you join us inside the Inner Circle Community where you can get support, ask questions, access training and resources and feel 100% supported as you steer a path to your future. No need to feel alone in your teaching anymore – we’re here to help.

Members get access to expert teachers from around the world, a library of webinars and training videos to support your teaching, regular live and online hangouts and masterminds and a heaps of bonus offers and discounts from our partners.

You can learn more about the Inner Circle Community here.

Tim Topham

Tim Topham is the founder and director of TopMusic. Tim hosts the popular Integrated Music Teaching Podcast, blogs regularly at and speaks at local and international conferences on topics such as integrated teaching, creativity, business, marketing and entrepreneurship. Tim has been featured in American Music Teacher, The Piano Teacher Magazine, California Music Teacher and EPTA Piano Professional. Tim holds an MBA in Educational Leadership, BMus, DipEd and AMusA.

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member spotlight Rosemarie Penner
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