Business Acumen

As I have said more than once, it is difficult to describe the graduate piano pedagogy programs that were offered at The New School for Music Study because the curriculum was comprehensive in scope. At the end of my last blog, I pointed out that nothing was left unexamined, including the business of managing a successful piano studio.  Even if you have been teaching for years, you may want to read this post to learn about what was emphasized and then compare your own approach to handling business dealings.

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Focus on the Independent Music Teacher: A Conversation with Scott Donald

When did you begin your studio in Austin?

I thought I would never want to be an independent piano teacher. The 15 year-old version of Scott Donald saw my future as getting a Bachelors, Masters and Doctorate then teaching in college. That vision has followed me for many years. I now find myself as the 50 yea- old version of Scott Donald doing something that I never thought I would want to do – an independent piano teacher. For the first time in my life I am not teaching at a college or community music school. Studio A, my studio name, officially opened this Fall 2015. It was a gradual process. I had taught privately for a few years in Austin with other primary responsibilities associated elsewhere. The thought of opening an independent studio from nothing is a daunting task. I was fortunate in that I had an established reputation in Austin and access to students already.

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How do we know if children are ready to begin music lessons?


Recently, I wrote this article for a local newspaper:


These days, there is much pressure for parents to begin their children in activities from an early age.  We know that children tend to pick up new skills easily and we want for them to have an opportunity to become experts at these new skills.  We also see curiosity, desire and eagerness to learn in our children and want to capitalize on that.


Music lessons are no exception.  We often get calls asking the question, “When is the best time to enroll my child in piano lessons?”  The answer to that is a tricky one, and varies for each child.  The right age for one may not be the right age for another.  Here are a few questions to ask yourself if you are considering enrolling your child in music lessons:

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Interviewing Transfer Students



Frances Clark was right when she said, “All students are transfer students. Even if our students are our own, the teacher we were last year is different from the teacher we are this year. In fact, the teacher we were last week is different from the teacher we are this week!”  We are always changing and our students are always changing.”  We do change from week to week, and our students are changing even more!  We are constantly needing to reevaluate what is working for any given student.

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Planning for the New Year: Welcome Night

RP Photo   As a child, I remember feeling so much excitement about the new school year.  I loved going shopping for my new school supplies and organizing my back pack for the first day of school.  But, one of the things I was most excited about was meeting my new teacher.  Meeting a new teacher will fill a stomach with butterflies, no matter one’s age and experience.  We wonder:  “What will they be like,” “Will they be nice,” and, most important, “Will they like me?”   Here at the New School, Welcome Night provides our students with an opportunity to meet their teacher prior to the first lessons.  Welcome Night is an open house at the school, traditionally held the Thursday before classes begin.  We usually limit Welcome Night to students who are changing teachers, and students who are new to the school.  This is an event, however, that could be held for all students, even if they know their teacher already, providing an opportunity to become reacquainted before the school year begins.   Continue reading “Planning for the New Year: Welcome Night”