Meri’s Musical Musings

Basic equipment a beginning private music teacher needs in a studio

Posted on: October 29, 2011

What equipment does a beginning private music teacher (one who is about to start teaching lessons) need to help teach effectively? Many beginning teachers, especially amateurish ones, teach with little more than just their instrument. But, as I’ve gained experience of 12 years of teaching, there are several pieces of equipment, not all of them directly related to teaching that are essential in getting started.

One of the most essential pieces of equipment that is VERY important in teaching, yet that many beginning teachers DON’T have, particularly ones that do not teach piano, is–A PIANO. (or at least a keyboard) Not having a piano makes it difficult for brass, string, and vocal students to have an accurate pitch reference, makes it almost impossible to teach music theory, and severely limits the ensemble possibilities with students. With students who are learning solo repertoire for their instrument (some students learn beginning solo pieces with piano in as little as 2 or 3 months, sometimes less; yes, there are many pieces written for players in the beginning stages), it adds the challenge of finding a free or inexpensive practice space at the times you need them.

At least 2 sturdy music stands. For two reasons: the placement of the music at the correct height for each student, and to make it much easier to play duet repertoire. And if you have 4 or more students at a similar playing level, have at least 3.

A computer, preferably a laptop. I say preferably a laptop for two reasons: first, you will need to move it around to different locations, and the second one is if you need or decide to teach students in their homes. Try to have at least a notation program to begin with, if possible, have ear training, theory, and recording software on it too.

A digital camera. It is nice to look back when you are a more experienced teacher at the people you once taught, to look at the pictures of long-term students getting older, and even remember the events you hosted. Also to take pictures of concerts hosted with students. You can also make a photo library of your students and/or musical equipment. In addition, many digital cameras allow people to take videos before they are able to afford a camcorder.

Two small tables, or one adjustable one. This is primarily used for students doing music theory; the higher one is for average age and older beginners, and the shorter one is for younger beginners. However, it is helpful when playing music games.

At least 2 good-quality chairs, and preferably three. One for the teacher, one for average age beginners (these can be about the same size if the teacher is average height), and one lower chair for young beginners.

A footstool. For those younger students who cannot rest their feet on the floor. Mostly used with piano students, but also useful for teachers of other instruments if they don’t have smaller chairs for young or short students.

Repertoire for beginning and intermediate students. The teacher may already have a few of the collections and pieces from their own studies; one way to get started on this is to look at the syllabi available for the instruments who teach and purchase the repertoire or anthologies for the first 3-4 levels.

At least two storage units. Best if you can get the type that you can close the doors on, especially if you have pets.

A box of sharpened pencils near the teaching area. Lots of times students will forget their pencils…

A CD player. Not everything is available via the internet. Especially accompaniments to the pieces the youngest piano beginners are playing.

A collection of recordings of the original repertoire for the instruments you teach, and the original scoring of the arrangements beginning and intermediate students often study.

The syllabi for the instruments you teach. Especially with piano and violin, you will get requests from students and parents if you do exams. It will also help if and when you get students who wish to apply to special music programs for high school or after high school, since these auditions specify a minimum level on the syllabi. And it will help give ideas for pieces that you may interest the student in, especially in the early level arrangements and pieces.

A small box of rewards for students up to about 12 years old when they have good lessons. Party favors from dollar stores here are a big help!

A set of pencil crayons. For the youngest beginner’s colouring assignments in their writing books, to highlight the different dynamics, to highlight tempo changes, and to mark limited series of left hand notes in a section of music.

A set of percussion instruments. Students almost always prefer beating rhythms, both those in their pieces and not in their pieces, on a percussion instrument than clapping their hands. (plus it’s easier to hear of the rhythm is being played correctly!) Percussion instruments can be used for rhythmic composition exercises with the student’s siblings, parents, or friends. Plus many schools and non-school-based groups do not have enough (or any!) percussion players for bands and orchestras!  HOWEVER, if you have students who are easily distracted, keep the percussion instruments away from those students.

A few music reference and history books, both for kids and adults. Students in some schools, especially from about Grade 5 in school, may have to write about a composer, and you can suggest one of your books that they can borrow. A music dictionary and comprehensive biographical dictionary are absolutely essential, such as the New Harvard Dictionary of Music/New Harvard Biographical Dictionary of Music.


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  • V V: Wish I had read this before I fell for their scheme ! Oh well - have posted my experience on Yelp and N49 and hoping others can avoid the pain of fal
  • clariniano: Thanks for the additional information. It was actually Yelp that deleted my reviews, because of so-called bias. I too have seen the horrible technique
  • No Thanks: Former Teacher at the Ontario Conservatory of Music I took lessons at the Ontario Conservatory and when I left for private lessons from another tea
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