TTTV057: Measuring Success in Smiles with Susan Bessette

measuring success in smiles susan bassette

measuring success in smiles susan bassette

Sometimes all it takes for a student to be successful in their piano lessons is for the teacher to reframe what success means. Not every student is going to be able to play Beethoven sonatas…which is why Susan Bessette is measuring success in smiles.

Susan Bessette

After Susan retired from teaching in the prison system, she couldn’t resist the challenge of taking on a piano student with autism. As she took on more students with special needs, she searched around the web for resources for her students. She didn’t find anything and so she started making her own.

Susan has learned a lot from teaching students with autism, down syndrome and traumatic brain injury. She’s got some great tips to share today that will make your teaching of students with special needs more effective.

[spp-tweet tweet=”Sometimes all it takes for a student to be successful in their piano lessons is for the teacher to reframe what success means.“]


Please find a full transcript of this episode at the bottom of this page. Alternatively, click below to download a PDF. If you are an Inner Circle Member, you can find the full video and transcript in the Member Resources AreaNot a member? See below for how you can get $50 off your membership today. 

In this episode, you’ll learn

  • What prompted Susan to make her own curriculum for piano students with special needs
  • How her curriculum is set-up and who it’s for
  • Why you should stop talking so much and start demonstrating more
  • How Susan has learned control the volume of her voice for students with autism
  • Some surprising things that could distract students
  • How a kazoo saved one of Susan’s students from frustration
  • Why you might need to work away from the piano more often
  • How students can be unlocked by the simplest activity

Links Mentioned

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Thank you for Tuning In!

There are a lot of podcasts you could be tuning into today, and I’m grateful that you’ve chosen mine.

Being a full-time teacher myself, I know how busy teachers are and how much time, effort and passion we put into our students. Sometimes, the last thing we want to do in our time off is listen to more piano teaching stuff! So, well done for using this time for self-improvement.

Whether you’re at the gym, on the bike or in the car, I know that you and your students will get lots out of what you learn in the long run. Just make sure you try out some of the ideas before they get lost in the business of your next lessons.

If you enjoyed today’s show, please share it by using the social media buttons on the left of the page.

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Full Transcript


How do you measure success?

What do you think of Susan’s motto “success in smiles”? Do you have any students that would benefit from this reframing on your end?

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