I believe in being prepared as a teacher. I think it’s important that we take our role as the guide of our student’s musical journey seriously, and that involves piano lesson planning.
When it comes to planning, you’re probably in one of two camps right now:
- You don’t really plan at all at (and you’re frankly a little annoyed with me for suggesting it)
- You try to plan, but you haven’t found a system which works
I’m going to address the elephant in the room right away here, and that’s the first camp of teachers who don’t plan and don’t believe they need to plan (and are tutting and rolling their eyes at the screen right now.) If you’re already convinced, you can skip ahead or use this as an opportunity to feel validated and superior. 😉
Why a Lesson Planning Process is Necessary
I know, I know. If you don’t currently have a weekly piano lesson planning process, I’m suggesting something really inconvenient right now. After all, your students are doing just fine as it is and you need to keep your approach flexible to cater to each individual student.
But just fine is not good enough.
And flexible doesn’t mean unprepared.
If you’re honest with yourself, you know this is true. You know you and your students could do better if you put a little more thought into your lessons.
Piano lesson planning doesn’t have to take a huge amount of your time, either. Let me walk you through the process that I do every week for about 35 students and you’ll see how easy and effective a weekly planning routine can be.
Step-by-Step Weekly Piano Lesson Planning Process
All in, this process takes me about 60 – 90 minutes for all of my students. I normally do this on Monday mornings although, if I know it’s going to be a particularly busy week ahead, I’ll get it done on Friday or Saturday the week before.
Step 1: Consider the Calendar
The very first thing I do each week is open up my studio’s planning spreadsheet and calendar where I’ve made notes about big projects I want to do during the year like concerts, composing projects, special themes etc. If one of these is happening at the time (or going to be coming up soon) I may need to include it in my piano lesson plans or assignment sheets for each student.
Step 2: Assigning in Advance
My next step is to open each student’s digital assignment sheet file and scroll down to the next blank sheet with the composer I want them to colour in that week. Vibrant Music Teaching members can grab the full set of composer colouring assignment sheets in the VMT library.
Not a member? Simply visit the membership site to learn more and sign up.
I then go through and make notes about what they’re going to be practising that week (new pieces/exercises and those they’ll be continuing to work on).
If I want to do any particular lesson activity to help them prepare for one of these assignments I’ll make a note of that separately on a post-it and stick it to their assignment sheet when I print it out. For most things, the assignment sheet is actually enough to jog my memory but this is a good trick for when it won’t be.
Step 3: Buddy Lesson Time
For those who are not familiar, buddy lessons are lessons which overlap in the middle.
I’ll be honest, I go through phases of writing my buddy plans on post-its and phases where I prefer a Google Sheet…
Either way, the content is the same: A simple list of bullet-pointed activities in the order we will do them. I do not have time to read detailed notes when I have 2 kiddos in the studio with me!
I do my buddy lesson plans directly after planning my students’ solo time and making their assignment sheets, because then the current challenges and new concepts for each student are fresh in my mind and I can see the connections between buddies clearly.
Personally, I spend all day immersed in both designing games and creative activities as well as organisation, so this part comes pretty easily to me. Don’t worry if you find this to be more of a struggle – that’s exactly what the Vibrant Music Teaching libraries and tools are for.
That’s the end of my simple 3 step process.
As I said, it takes about 60–90 minutes and then I’m ready to go for the week. I keep each individual student’s notes and assignment sheet in a folder with their name on the front so that when it’s time to start teaching, I can just grab the folders plus any games I need for that day.
Simple, but effective.
For more detailed info regarding planning piano lessons, you may want to visit my page devoted to everything about Planning Piano Lessons.
How do you plan piano lessons?
Does your process look like mine? I’m curious to hear how your piano lesson planning looks in the comments below. 😀
7 thoughts on “My Weekly Piano Lesson Planning Process”
I agree that planning is super important and manage to plan the next lesson for each child at the end of the day’s lessons so that everything is fresh in my mind.
My planning is driven by a need or a weakness I have detected and is very much planned with each individual in mind, e.g. some children need more rhythm work while others need more sight reading assistance.
Each child can see what is in store for them, but they have some say in the order that music activities are done.
I’m an ex primary school teacher (of long standing) so this comes naturally.
Important point, Lindy, thank you for sharing!
I plan and goal set during the summer. This is my favourite part of teaching— I dream BIG DREAMS a for my studio. During the teaching year, weekly lesson planning is a reflection of. my scribbled notes after each lesson and the goals/ plans —generally about 30 minutes a day.
Big dream time is super fun! 😀
Nicola, As usual you or spot on the situation …..after teaching for over 40 years, the only thing that has stayed constant In my teaching is lesson planning which I mostly do at the end of each day. I do the lesson plan and send it off to each student ( print a hard copy for my file) so they know what they have to do before the next week.
Of course lessons often go off on an unplanned tangent but the germ of the lesson can be re-tweaked for the next week.
This is the only way my head can feel settled when facing the teaching week.
How true that it helps our own brains feel settled and organised. Yet another benefit! 🙂
Since I started teaching piano full time (3 years) I’ve been trying all different kinds of lesson planning models. In January 2020 I FINALLY felt like I reached a good planning system that works well for my style. And then of course that all went out the window with Covid! So I had to tweak it again for online lessons. But my “normal” process looks like this:
– yearly planning of the big picture stuff like themes, projects, etc.
– weekly planning every Monday morning, using a spreadsheet with brief notes about curriculum and focus for each student
– weekly planning of buddy activities (printed on the spreadsheet as well)
– weekly planning of lab activities – since lab time is self-directed, I write those assignments in a separate folder
– During the lesson, I used to frantically scribble in each student’s folder. 😛 Now, except for my littlest ones, I have them write down their own assignments (on a pre-printed form). This seems to help them take a little more ownership and remember what they’re supposed to do at home.
Thanks for this – interesting to see what everyone’s processes are!