As a new piano teacher, it makes all the difference if you find a reliable piano teaching mentor.
Today, we welcome Inner Circle member and experienced Australian teacher Lynda Irvine. She will give us an insight into the value of mentors, where you can find them and why the online world is such a good place to start.
Mentoring is a very useful way of expanding your knowledge and getting support when you are starting up and building your music studio business.
A mentor is not actually a teacher as such, mentors don’t instruct or direct you to do things their way. Good mentors inspire, encourage and provide a different perspective about how to achieve your goals using their experience to give feedback and advice.
Mentors are like any service- you need to find one who is a great fit for what you and for what you are hoping to achieve.
Both short and long-term goals are extremely important both for your business and for your own professional development. Goals are what will give your studio and your career it’s focus for years to come. They are ongoing and are the framework that will ensure your studio becomes your dream studio and is not modelled on someone else’s dream.
Because your mentor knows your goals, they can also check in and make sure you are not getting carried away with side issues and this helps you reach your goals in the quickest time.
You will be aware of what your strengths and weaknesses are and a mentor will help clarify and list them. Your mentor can help you work out strategies to turn those weaknesses into strengths making you a more accomplished music teacher and studio owner with a studio focus that is tailored to your goals.
You will often have times when you want to give up on certain aspects of this wonderful journey you are on.
A good mentor will help you decide if you want to continue with that idea you had of teaching 90-year-olds Chopin. You will get discouraged and want to give up – having someone to discuss these feelings with and offer different ways forward is worth its weight in gold.
They encourage you and help you remember why this dream was so important to you and why it is worth that little bit of extra effort
Confidence grows when you can discuss your goals and even your zaniest ideas with a mentor. They will help you clarify the ideas into workable strategies that you can implement in a systematic way.
Being able to discuss ideas in complete confidentiality without fear of ridicule and getting positive feedback and support gives you the feeling that anything is possible if you organise a plan then start at the beginning.
A mentor has already done what you are trying to do now. They have tried lots of ways and worked their way up many dead-end paths. They will save you many weeks of research and often a lot of money because they have been there and done that, so you don’t have to.
Their experience means you know about the pitfalls and what has worked before, then all you have to do is adjust that experience into achieving your goals.
Often you will need more than one mentor as everyone has certain strengths in their chosen field and music studio start-ups often need guidance for a myriad of things, like business practices and ethics, pricing, teaching strategies for a whole range of musical elements, managing different personalities and onward.
Finding a mentor or coach to help with the business side of starting your music studio is fairly easy. For general best practise business mentoring, there are quite a few websites and Facebook pages which are free and will give you lots of great business strategies that you can adapt to your own business. There are also lots of business mentors and coaches on the web if you want a more tailored long-term approach to mentoring.
Finding a specialised mentor for the teaching and management side of music studios is a lot more difficult. I mentor advanced students, people studying for the Certificate and Associate of Music Teaching exams and teachers starting their first studio, as part of my studio business.
There are only a few specialised music teaching mentors in Australia, I am not sure what the availability is in other countries.
I am in the process of creating a course so new teachers have access to all the information they need to make starting their studio as stress-free and successful as possible. At the moment I do face to face and Skype mentoring either on a short or long-term basis. This works very well because mentees email me their question before the meeting so I have everything I need ready for their coaching session.
This means we can cover a lot of topics in depth in an hour and the sessions are recorded so the mentee can go over what was learnt as many times as they want. You can find my website and contact details below – please get in touch if you have any questions.
Tim Topham’s Inner Circle is a great community for airing ideas, asking for help and the large amount of podcasts and courses make it a great place to join if you are starting your studio, studying or wanting to meet other teachers.
It is a very supportive community with none of the problems of Facebook groups. You can ask questions and you get very specific answers back, not reams of un-related posts.
Tim’s Inner Circle is a unique concept in this world of lots of information, that works extremely well for all the members. It is also evolving to suit members needs as the world of music teaching changes.
Attending music teaching conferences is another great way to learn heaps, while meeting lots of fellow music teachers and pedagogues. This is something everyone should add to their budget every couple of years if at all possible. The friendships that you make at conferences are often lifelong and make music teaching less lonely.
For help with advice about almost all aspects of starting your music studio, it is often helpful to join your local or state Music Teachers Association so you can connect with other music teachers. I know that there are a lot of older music teachers in these organisations who often have more traditional ideas about teaching, but they have been running their businesses successfully for 30 years and have found ways of handling all those day-to-day situations.
There is a huge amount of untapped knowledge and often you only have to go to a meeting and ask if anyone can help with whatever you are wanting help with and someone will answer you. This can also lead to finding a local teacher who may be willing to mentor you. I have found if you are studying or have achieved a Teaching Certificate and upwards with any countries examination board, and are starting a studio, most members of Music Teachers Associations are extremely helpful.
Having a piano teaching mentor is such a big help for any new piano teacher.
If you are looking for a mentor right now, why not check out Tim’s Inner Circle? This community of hundreds of piano teachers from around the world is a great place to connect with experienced educators. Click here for more information.
Do you have a mentor? Where did you find them? Are you a mentor? Please leave your experiences, thoughts and questions in the comments below.
Lynda is an experienced teacher from Queensland, Australia. She teaches a number of instruments in her own private studio and also as a contractor in a school. She is also a mentor for student music teachers or teachers wanting to extend their teaching knowledge. www.music4all.com.au