TopMusic Teaching Manifesto

TopMusic Teaching Manifesto

If you’ve decided to become a music teacher, you’ve undoubtedly found your vocation. Our journeys to becoming piano teachers can vary.  Whether it was a friend’s child or your own, you may have been asked to teach your grandchild, or you may have been recognized in your neighborhood for being a performer on stage or a piano teacher.

And you were only too happy to open your doors to all the local kids, or maybe you just felt one day that teaching is what you were being called to do.

However you came to teaching, we all know that it’s as much a calling as anything else. And you know, no doubt you’re in this to serve others. And ultimately to make the world a better place and in the process, having an impact on students and the families with whom you’re working.

In fact, if you’re like many teachers, you’re likely to be so dedicated to your cause that you’d work for free.

As a new teacher a few years ago, I remember being paid in cash for each class, which is not something I suggest but, at the end of the lesson, a parent would hand over some cash. A few times, I recall being shocked and thinking, “Oh yes, this, this is my job, I’m getting paid to do this.” Why was I so surprised? Because I was having a blast. Our ability to love what we do so is truly a blessing.

It’s not all rainbows and unicorns, of course.

We’re all aware of the difficulties of dealing with kids who drop out or parents who refuse to cooperate, as well as the possibility of being physically or mentally exhausted while teaching. You may have come to the realization that the manner you were taught wasn’t working for your students, or that students were quitting when that hadn’t been an issue previously.

Perhaps you’ve become tired of teaching and are looking for new approaches, or perhaps you’ve been baffled by students who only wanted to learn things from YouTube or by singing along to the newest pop song. However, you’re at a loss, or perhaps you simply wanted to boost your marketing efforts in order to fill your studio.

Finally, at some point in time, you may have done some online research, such as searching on Google or watching videos on YouTube, to find fresh ideas and answers to the problems in your studio. You may have also stumbled across some excellent music resources. You put them to the test and discovered that they were well received by your kids. You’ve opted to delve a little deeper into our world of excellent music, so here we go.

Your confidence grows as you put your ideas to the test and learn which ones work and which ones don’t. You then decide whether to stick with your current approach or branch out and try something new.

You begin to see how much more there is to discover about your studio and the work you do as a teacher.

Moreover, I’d like to know from every one of you, when in your life and as a teacher has it occurred to you that you might be a little different than other teachers?

Do you recall the first time you sat there and thought to yourself, “I believe I am unique.” Do you recall how you felt at the time? You may have already been experimenting with new techniques in your studio, or you may have already been improvising and getting off the bench, but you came to this tribe because you were looking for validation that what you were doing was acceptable, even though you were defying all the norms of traditional teaching.

Regardless of whether or not you feel like you’re part of the creative teaching movement, here at TopMusic, we extend a warm invitation to you.

Related: TC273 What is a TopMusic Teacher?

What does it mean to be a top music teacher? Well, here’s what I believe. The thing that makes you different than a typical teacher is that you are obsessed with being the best you can be in trying different things, constantly learning, working out what works and what doesn’t, and connecting with every student in a holistic way, but there’s even more to it than that.

So what we’ve been working on creating is the first top music teacher manifesto. We hope you’ll agree that it aligns with your beliefs.

TopMusicTeacher Manifesto

TopMusicTeachers do things differently.

We believe music can change lives.  

Our one true goal is inspiring a life-long love of music. 

We don’t just teach the same music to the same students. 

We no longer teach the way we were taught.

We’re constantly learning and trying to be better. 

We strive to understand our students and create learning experiences in which they thrive. 

We believe in an integrated approach where theory is part of the practice and students learn by exploring.

We have a student-first approach to teaching.

We are proud to give our students autonomy in their learning and remain flexible with our approach.

We are ‘open door’ teachers: We support each other and share resources. 

We don’t just teach music from the 1800s and we know how to select music to suit our student.

We don’t use one method for every student – we know how to tailor learning for the individual.

Our students are more than future concert performers…

…they are students who can jam with a band.

…they have the skills to create music and become the next producers and creators, not just performers.

…they can accompany other musicians or sing and play.

…they can read a lead sheet and make things up if they forget their music. 

We create versatile, all-round musicians with skills beyond just their instrument. 

We encourage our students to create. 

We don’t teach reading in lesson 1.  

Pop songs don’t scare us. 

YouTube is our friend. 

We are CEOs of our studios. We charge what we are worth. 

We understand that the world is continuously changing and we know that we have to stay one step ahead.

Together, we change lives. 

We are TopMusicTeachers

Does this resonate with you? Are you a member of TopMusicPro?

TopMusicPro community members can download and print one of two full-colour versions of the manifesto to put on their Studio wall to share with both parents and students.

If these beliefs resonate with you, and you’re not yet a member of TMP, then I encourage you to strengthen your commitment to these values by joining your tribe today – we’ve been waiting for you 🙂

We’re offering a $100 discount off annual Studio (piano or guitar –  your choice) or Evolution membership for everyone who visits this page and joins TopMusicPro using the code: MANIFESTO 

Got any questions? Disagree with any of our TopMusic beliefs?

Let us know below.

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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