Celebrate 2019 and Look Forward to 2020


I promised I would post my answers to the questions. So here they are.

What were some of the high points of 2019? What stands out as something remarkable that I would consider a success?

For myself?

Publishing my book “The Happiest Piano Teacher in Town” and finishing my next book “The Ultimate Preschool Piano Activities Book”

For my students?

I am finishing my third year here in Cleveland (aka Freezeland) Ohio. Most of the students who started lessons with me in 2017 are still studying and doing well. Right now, I have 35 students.


What new things have I learned about teaching this past year? What new ideas have I come up with myself?

With regard to:

Teaching the basics of playing the piano.

I reread “The Practice Revolution” by Phillip Johnston. I worked hard to focus on quality practice with my students.

Expanded the repertoire base I am using with my students.

Used technology to better reach and instruct my students. FaceTime has been especially helpful in connecting mid-week. I have also begun using the Tonara practice app. To help motivate and keep track of students practicing.


Teaching technique, musical literacy, theory, and general musicianship.

I have spent more time with my students watching great pianists and discussing technique and musicianship.

I use the Note Rush and Rhythm Swing apps to work on reading and rhythm.


What was successful about the way I was able to motivate my students?

Most of my students practice most of the time. I have been able to get students and parents to understand the importance of regular quality practice.


Did most of my students practice most of the time?



Do I feel as though my studio as a whole has made good progress with regard to piano playing?



How was I better able to understand parents and caregivers?

I have made it a point to be a better listener.


Did I build good relationships with colleagues?

Somewhat. I have not been able to attend my local piano teacher group this year due to scheduling.


Did my studio run smoothly?

Yes, no problems.


Did I have a full studio?

I have a full load at the studio where I am employed. I would like more students for my home studio.



Did my families pay on time?



Was I able to find the students who are a good fit for my teaching style and personality?

Yes, most of the time.



Was I able to set healthy boundaries with students and their families, by sticking to my make-up policy, requiring that people respect my time and my space, by insisting on prompt and correct payments?

Yes, I have a policy that works well for my lifestyle.


Read the post “10 Ways to Make Your Piano Studio More Profitable”


Did I have a teaching space that fits my needs?



In what ways did I improve and care for myself?       

I found a great Jazz teacher and have been working hard to learn the genre. I have also continued to write, compose, and read.


What new things did I learn about teaching in 2019? Did I take a workshop, read a book, study with a mentor teacher, join a group, or come up with my own new ideas?

I learned a lot from my Facebook friends. I read some books about motivating people. I attended several piano webinars.

I have come up with some new ideas of my own as well.


What new musical/pianistic skills have I acquired? Did I learn any new repertoire, a new style of playing, write some music, or work on something else that helped me become a better musician this past year?


How did I take good care of my physical, spiritual, and mental health?

Took time for family and friends, and walked daily as weather permitted. Attended church regularly and joined the choir. Made some new friends in Cleveland. Kept in touch with my Florida family and friends.


How did I do with my finances?



What were my teaching and music career high points of 2019?

Our Christmas recital went really well. I could see how much progress my students have made.


Did I accomplish something special, win an award, get a new job, or start a new endeavor? Did my students do any of the above?

I published my book in April. I started taking lessons. I was invited to speak in Nashville at an MTNA conference.




Okay, now that that’s done, I am going back through and spending a moment to think of what I could have done better.


I know there will be things, after all, nobody’s perfect. The hard part is going to be;


Number 1- being honest.

For me, this usually doesn’t mean not admitting that I did something wrong. I find it easy to find fault with myself. What’s hard is overly exaggerating every little thing I may have done wrong.


I’ll bet most of you can relate. We’re musicians. Being hard on ourselves is what we do. It’s how to nurture excellence. But this can be (and frequently is) taken to an extreme by serious musicians.


Which brings me to number 2,

Not getting discouraged about things I could have done differently. I need to let the past be in the past and move on!

I need to spend more time focused on teaching scales and music theory.

I would like my students to increase their practice time.

I need to practice more classical repertoire myself.

I should participate in my local group.

I should save more $.



Now let’s take a look ahead.


Let’s dream!


Let’s Imagine!!


A new year is a chance to make plans. I am going to use this as an opportunity to look ahead and plan some new things for myself and my studio. In the past, I have only done this during the summer break but what I like about making a calendar year plan is that it includes the summer.


I plan to make some changes and improvements in 2020. Here are some questions I am asking myself that you can ask yourself as well.

What changes will I make to my teaching studio?

I would like to have more online students and a new teaching space in my home.


Do I want to take on more students or cut back?

I would like more students in my home studio.


Am I looking for a different teaching space?

 Yes, ideally it would fit 2 pianos.


What new music would I like to try teaching this year?

There is a lot of great new music that I would like for my students to explore. I want my students to learn to read lead sheets and improvise.


Are there any new apps or computer programs that I would like to try with my studio?

I am always open to technology.


Can I find some new performance opportunities for my students?

Yes, I would like to host a Spring recital at a local nursing home.


Am I considering purchasing new instruments or equipment?

No, not in 2020. I am concentrating on finding a new house with a designated studio room as opposed to my living room where I now teach.


Professional development

Will I take any classes, lessons, or certifications?

I will continue with my jazz lessons. I would also like to take a writing class.


What new repertoire do I plan to learn this year?

Continue with the basics the WTC, Mozart Sonatas, Chopin, Tchaikovsky etc.


Will I myself participate in performances?

Yes, as an accompanist.


Can I do anything to improve my overall musicianship?

Listening, ear-training, practicing.


How can I learn to be a more effective teacher?

Read, listen, learn from other teachers.



Personal Considerations


Is there something I can do to improve my work-life balance so that I can be the best teacher I can be and take good care of myself as well?

Take time to enjoy life and appreciate people. Leisure time is important there is more to life than work.


Those are my answers. I am looking forward to a great year!

Read the book, “The Happiest Piano Teacher in Town”


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