Don’t Just Play It: Teach and Compose It with Tim, Leila & Bradley [Pop Webinar]

Don’t Just Play It: Teach and Compose It with Tim, Leila & Bradley [Pop Webinar]

pop webinar

 Times they are a-changin!

  • Are you finding that more and more of your students (and their parents) are looking for a more contemporary focus in their piano lessons?
  • Are you struggling to maintain and build your studio numbers in an area with lots of teachers doing much the same thing as each other?
  • Are you constantly asked to teach music that’s way out of your league (and classical training)?
  • Would you like to be able to confidently teach any piece of music that a student wants to learn?
  • Have you ever wondered about how teaching pop could benefit your students in all areas of their musicianship?

If any of these questions ring true to you, then you’re definitely not alone.

Teaching pop and creativity in your lessons is not only something that students are starting to ask for, it’s pedagogically imperative for effective teaching.

To set aside a whole genre of music because it’s not part of a ‘traditional’ pianistic curriculum is doing young people a HUGE disservice in music education.

I think Bob Dylan would have agreed back in 1968 🙂

As Leila Viss said in a recent post: Play, Teach and Compose Pop Music:

David Cutler, author of The Savvy Music Teacher, discovered from his extensive research that music teachers who generated substantial (successful) incomes were more likely to integrate three elements into their instruction compared to other teachers who did not. They include: improvisation, technology and multiple musical genres.

What are kids listening to?

How many of your students regularly listen to classical music?

student listening to classic music

***cue: sound of crickets***

Realistically, it’s probably less than 1% of your studio.

***more crickets***

Even if we increase the odds and say that 5% of your students that are classical music listeners, that leaves 95% of your studio who are listening to popular music styles everyday: electronic, rock, pop, dance, Top40, etc. In fact, they’re probably listening to music A LOT of their day.

How could we not even entertain teaching students about this style of music and its construction.

Even more, how can we avoid this when at least 80% or more of this music is composed on keyboard instruments: pianos or keyboards. Think about just about anything you hear on pop radio these days: it’s all been created, edited, mixed and mastered inside computers controlled with MIDI keyboards.

Pianists are more likely to be the next pop artists, remixers and producers than any other instrument.

How cool is that?!

Teaching pop/composition works!

I’m lucky to have taught quite a few students who’ve gone onto music careers as producers and composers.

Most recently, my student Adrian (listen to his producing/DJ work on Soundcloud) has gone on to create a great career in the music industry. I learned pretty quickly that he wasn’t interested in learning to read music or play classical music when we started working together when he was about 13.

While I still pushed him in these areas to some extent, the main focus of our lessons was two-fold:

  • Pulling-apart famous music on the radio and working out how it was composed and why it sounded so good
  • Working on his own compositions and developing and extending him in this area

If you like the sound of doing this with your own students but have no idea how to get started, then you’re in for a real treat with our Free Pop Webinar – Teaching Pop the Right Way.

Watch the free webinar on Teaching Pop Music The Right Way below



In this pop webinar, I talk about my approach to teaching pop music, with an explanation of the three main options we have as teachers:

  • Teaching notation
  • Teaching by ear
  • Teaching through chords


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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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