What distinguishes good teachers from excellent teachers? An introduction

I have always maintained that it is our job as teachers to create situations in which our students can play pieces as well as their teachers.  This fulfilling experience is possible for all levels of students, from the very first lesson.

Having adjudicated festivals, observed lessons, and admittedly in my own studio, I know that the level of student performance that I just described is not always the case.  As I observe teachers and give feedback, a question comes to mind:  What gets in the way of excellence in our teaching, manifesting itself in mediocre student performance?  What distinguishes good teachers from excellent teachers?  Is there a recipe for success and that can be codified?  I shall attempt to do so in a series of posts.  Stay tuned…

Video Clip: Teaching phrasing to a beginner


Amy Glennon

8 thoughts on “What distinguishes good teachers from excellent teachers? An introduction

  1. Yes, I will stay tuned! I’ve been hoping for a good online conversation about piano teaching…I know this is an excellent source and will be worth my time when I check back! Thanks for having it.

  2. I always have been curious to discuss the answer or answers to this very question. My conclusion is that excellent teachers have discovered ways to integrate the teaching of musical details (musicianship) with the teaching of musical rudiments. Excellent teachers are more involved with what I define as “tier two” teaching. This includes touch, rotation, style, wrist flexibility, ear training, sound quality, imagery, ect. “Tier one” teaching refers to the basic rudiments of music. Rhythm, note reading, theory, hand position and technical development.

  3. I have no place to say whether or not any of the stdunet teacher are more or less experienced than the rest, no matter which quarter they are in. Some veteran teachers may think that past and present stdunet teachers are not of high-quality because elements of the teaching field have changed since they were in college. The education field has advanced drastically and I think that if veteran teachers just give stdunet teachers a chance to show what they can do, they might learn a thing or two. I believe that everyone has a different and unique way of teaching, not all of which may be effective, but we must live and learn to find out what techniques work and which ones do not. I do believe that not everyone in the education field are cut out to be teachers. Working with children is a gift. You really need to have the passion and dedication to work with children in any aspect of the education field. Veteran teachers will always have their opinions because they are set in their ways and have been teaching for a long time, but that does not mean that future teachers do not have the quality it takes to be a good teacher. In conclusion, I think that all stdunet teachers should be given the chance to show their stuff and what they can bring to the education field before they are judged because the dynamics of teaching are always changing.

    1. Thanks for your comments Val. I toltlay agree with you about statements of this nature and fortunately I was able to ask them their reasoning behind the statement. Sadly, this time it really had to do with particular teachers screaming most of the time, being rude to students, unfair consequences and the one child felt he had learnt more from his own reading that he does at home but had not actually learnt anything new from being in his bad teacher’s class other than to expect to be screamed at. So the boys’ statement in the car centred around teachers showing off their true personalities rather than engaging students. I like to think that I would have questioned their arguments if they were unjustified. I agree that good teachers have high expectations for their students and push them to push themselves (in fact I have blogged about expectations a number of times).I really do like to believe though that in this day and age, with access to so much information and support, most teachers are not bad.

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