Online Book Club Begins

Book ClubIf you receive my newsletter or have read past blogs, you may know the impact that Philip Johnston has had on my career as a private piano teacher and musician and now blogger. I don't recall how I found the book, but Johnston's The Practice Revolution forever changed my approach to practicing and how and what I teach at every lesson. If you haven't read it, make sure to put it on your list of top 10 reads for 2013.

Along with that book, add How to Promote Your Studio. This book came along just when I needed it. After four years of serving as a public school class-piano teacher for a federal grant to incorporate more arts into learning, I decided to "retire" and reinvest my time and dedication to my in-home studio. Again, Johnston's book gave me the guidance, initiative and inspiration to move beyond the typical and set up a studio that attracted and retained students.

Now, Johnston has released a new book: The Dynamic Studio: How to keep students, dazzle parents and build the music studio everyone wants to get into.  What captured my attention about this one was the phrase repeated over and over throughout the book: it's your studio: you decide what happens.  As I recall, there was no single person who told me how to run my studio and design daily lessons.  Some mentors and professors encouraged me in the field, along with ideas, events, and a couple degrees. However nothing or no one person provided a strikingly vivid prototype for my studio and my style of teaching. In fact, I believe how I teach and my perspective derives directly out of reaction to past experiences. With a background of "status quo", I hungered for something more on a personal level and hoped for something more for my studio.

dynamic-studio-how-keep-students-dazzle-parents-build-philip-johnston-paperback-cover-artFrom early on, it became apparent to me that if I was to have any fulfillment and yes, even fun teaching at mostly less-than-desirable hours of the day,  it would require an attitude adjustment from the "tone" I had experienced in my own lessons.  Enter Johnston's book and its continual comparison between the static and dynamic studio. Ahh…someone finally identified and gave terms for what I felt long ago:  IF this piano teaching gig is going to be a promising AND a pleasing career path I need to be passionate and proactive. Who I am and what I offer is in direct correlation with attracting and retaining happy consumers.

Swiping from page to page on my iPad (do you have the Kindle app?) and highlighting favorite quotes, it became apparent to me that Johnston's book would offer terrific blog entries and online discussion --thus the onset of the 88 Piano Keys Online Book Club. If you haven't joined yet, no worries, jump in whenever you like (and although you can still benefit from not reading the book, it comes highly recommended, you really don't want to miss it!)

So at least once a month, tune in for a "PJ" quote. Let me know if you highlighted it too, agree or disagree or perhaps think it ridiculous…if you've read any of his books, you know he carries a colorful imagination and unique approach.

Today's Quote from pages 8 and 9:

"Like never before, today's students… feel all of life possibilities, rendered vivid and searchable, as though they're commodities on a shelf. To spend time with any one of these things is to steal time from everything else: to commit is to miss out…Which is exactly why--traditional or not, successful in the past or not--we cannot continue to teach the same way we were taught, because the students we're working with are NOT simply more contemporary versions of what we once were…The disjunction between what our training has prepared us for and who we are actually working with has very real consequences for music teachers individually and the profession as a whole…[Teachers now must]  rethink just what it is that their studio does, so that it's not only able to attract today's students, but retain them."

Yep, a long quote. Here's some food for thought. Please share your thoughts and comments to any or all questions.

1) Do you agree, disagree with: "we cannot continue to teach the same way we were taught"? If so, why?

2) How have you seen yourself change for the sake of this contemporary generation or, do you think it unnecessary?

3) Are there sure-fire ways to attract and retain students who find it hard to commit?

4) In light of the mantra "it's your studio, you decide what happens" do you tend towards following the crowd or stepping out on your own? Does this phrase sound selfish and irresponsible? Have you found success on the path you've chosen? Why or why not?

Your comments will make this book club much more fascinating. Feel free to elaborate on your answers, vent, ask more probing questions...whatever.