“Why would Andy want you? Look at you! You’re a Buzz Lightyear! Any other toy would give up his moving parts just to be you. You’ve got wings, you glow in the dark, you talk, your helmet does that… that whoosh thing. You’re a Cool Toy. As a matter of fact, you’re too cool. I mean – what chance does a toy like me have against a Buzz Lightyear action figure.” Woody, Toy Story.

Buzz Lightyear may have had some cool new features that Woody didn’t have, but if you’ve seen Toy Story, you remember that in the end Woody realizes there isn’t one set of required features to be a cherished toy. Just like there is not one set of required strengths to be a great music teacher.

You don’t have to be over-the-top organized, AND be able to play multiple instruments AND sing, AND have the perfect studio set up, AND have an impeccable memory for all things music history, AND have a way of resurrecting students who are on the brink of quitting.

You might have one of those strengths, though. Or one of the countless others I didn’t include in that very brief list. It doesn’t much matter what your strength is, if you’re aware of it you can use it to excel as a teacher.

Different Strokes…

I have had three piano teachers and each had a different set of strengths that influenced their teaching.

My first teacher was very systematic and organized in her teaching. As a student, I always knew what to expect and would never be caught off guard with surprises. She was super involved in the local music teachers’ organization and my challenge-seeking nature benefited from this (and thrived) because there were always opportunities to participate in competitions and festivals.

My second teacher was one of the most loving people I have ever met. She truly cared for the whole musician (…and the whole musician’s family). She instilled a love for music in her students. Her kind spirit and ability to connect with students of all ages made her a highly sought after teacher in our area. (The kind of “sought after” that gives someone a studio of 90 students, plus a waiting list.)

My third teacher was the drill sergeant I needed to prepare for and succeed in a college music program. Her incredible musical acuity, exacting standards, and unrelenting dedication to her own study of the piano demonstrated that she expected a lot from her students. She maintained a smaller studio, but serious musicians were willing to pay a premium for a spot in it.

…for Different Folks (and Different Times)

Each of these teacher’s strengths made them a good teacher for me at different points in my life. I also have strengths that make me a good teacher for different students at different points in their lives.

Certainly some students will stay with me their entire time in lessons, but others will come to me when they need a change, and still others move on for the same reason. And that’s OK.

Your Strengths Will Set You Apart

I cannot be all things to all students at all times. What I can do, is recognize my strengths and be super awesome in those areas so students looking for those qualities in a teacher will know exactly who to call.

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