The secret to planning piano lessons quickly is to reduce the number of things you need to plan for each student. I know. It’s a bit of a “Captain Obvious” statement. But, how often do you add more to your weekly planning by following the latest shiny object?
Planning piano lessons can take up a lot of time. When I first began teaching, I was told to budget an hour for each hour I taught. Thankfully, I’ve discovered ways to drastically reduce this that my prep time is at a much more reasonable & sustainable level.
The Secret to Piano Lesson Planning
Planning made easy sounds like a great slogan, doesn’t it? But, what is the secret to piano lesson planning that is quick, easy & avoids things falling through the cracks?
There are 4 areas to reduce the number of things you need to plan per student:
- During lesson time
- Weekly planning
- Monthly planning
- Annual planning
Make a few tweaks in each area & you suddenly have a lot more free time.
Get a jump start during lesson time
My typical week includes private lessons with each of my students. During lessons, we do a variety of activities. I modify their practice pages as we go along. Before leaving the lesson, I drop a copy of the practice page in their family’s shared online folder. (You can see how to set that up here.)
This process takes almost no time during lessons & ensures students have easy access to these notes during the week.
Reducing weekly planning time
Having a system in place means there is one less thing to plan each week.
Instead of writing out practice pages by hand (something I used to do), use a digital template that you can quickly update during lesson time. Each week, make a copy of the previous practice page (a process that takes just a few seconds) & modify based on what you think the student can begin to work on for the next week’s lesson. That’s it for weekly lesson planning!
Instead of having lesson plans & practice pages as separate documents, keep them together.
Use tech that let’s you ‘clone’ yourself. Instead of writing out a practice page AND notes for yourself, type everything into one document. Not only does it look more professional, it’s a whole lot less work.
You can do this whether you teach in-person, online, travel to student’s homes or have a hybrid set up! Reminders for yourself are worded as expectations the student can have of you the next lesson. “I’ll have a copy of your new technique book by next lesson.” When it comes time to plan, you’ll see the reminder & get it done. Easy peasy.
When I travelled to my students homes, it was quickly to update using my iPad Pro. Now that I teach online, arranging my screen means I can still update the practice page while also watching my student & keeping track of everything.
Monthly piano lesson planning time
You may be thinking there is no WAY you have time to look at the big picture each month (let alone each year). But, that’s exactly what has helped me take my planning time from 30 minutes per student to minutes each week.
Looking ahead & planning is worth it. Yes, it does mean more time upfront. But looking at the big picture throughout the year means you’re not cramming. Because we all know how well that works out, right?
However, the next area is what is really going to make all the difference. And that is …
I happen to love annual piano lesson planning. That’s because I’ve seen the profound impact it had on my teaching enjoyment during the year. It’s also the biggest secret to piano lesson planning!
I used to go from lesson to lesson hoping I was getting right. Does this sound like you?
The next stage was creating annual growth plans for students. This help a lot & is something I highly recommend. Not only does it ensure you hit the main skills & concepts at any level, but that you don’t miss out on reaching your student’s musical goals as well.
Now, if you really want to put this in high gear I would recommend using a studio theme each year. Suddenly each step of your planning has purpose. And, it can make it a lot easier each week when the resource has everything ready for you.
I hope these tips help you cut your piano lesson planning down to short but mighty amounts of time.
To speed up your piano lesson planning, get “Creating Beats On The Move“. It will have your students moving, improvising & playing with backing/accompaniment tracks. While reducing your lesson planning to minutes each week.
And, it’s set up to be used with every student in your studio which makes it a great value for your studio!
NOTE: This is a rewrite of an article from August 3, 2017. While the focus on the article has changed from the tools I use to the systems, it has the same principals from before, plus more!