Goals for Piano Students and Teachers: How to Set and Achieve Them

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Do you enjoy setting goals? I’ll be the first to admit I’m not one who usually writes down a specific list, such as New Year’s Resolutions. However, when I’m talking about setting goals within my music business, I love them! If you want to take your piano teaching business to the next level, or if you want to work on setting goals for your piano students, keep reading and I’ll show you how.

Do these items have to start on January 1 to count as your goals for the year? Absolutely not! These items can be added to your list of goals and accomplished at any time of year, and as a result, you’ll be feeling great about yourself, your piano teaching business, and your students, all year long.

Piano studio goals workbook on iPad

Goals for piano students

I’ve put together a workbook for planning, setting, and achieving your piano students’ goals, as well as your own, and you can access it for free in my resource library (click here if you already have the password). It includes a brainstorming session, determining your 30-day goals, 90 day goals, 6-month goals, and yearly goals, plus pages where you can create your own action steps to accomplish your goals!

And I’ll tell you a little secret – this goals workbook is PERFECT for using with your piano students to set their own goals for piano lessons!

For example, our studio piano recital is coming up in a few weeks, and I’m having my students use the goal planning sheets to create achievable week-to-week goals for their practice sessions. Consequently, they’re thriving as they prepare for the recital!

However, you don’t need to be preparing for a recital to use these goal-planning pages. The pages can be used for literally any project that you or your students need to accomplish! For instance, they can be used for very short-term goals such as a weekly practice goal, or for a longer-term goal such as a 30-piece challenge.

The real fun begins when you and your students brainstorm and write down a list of goals. Let’s get started!


Sample goals for piano students:

  • Learn 5 major scales during the next 5 weeks
  • Have my recital piece ready 2 weeks before the recital
  • Practice 30 minutes a day for 6 days a week, for the next 4 weeks
  • Be able to say all my flash cards in 1 minute
  • Do a nice job on my recital etiquette
  • Learn how to play a lead sheet
  • Play a duet with my sister
  • Learn a song for my school talent show
  • Play the prelude at my church
  • Learn 30 pieces for the 30-piece challenge


5 goals to consider adding to your own list:

1. Teach your students something new.

Playing lead sheets, harmonizing melodies, playing by ear, the Blues, whatever is best for each particular student.

I usually do something like this one semester or year at a time, and do it studio-wide. For example, one semester every student in my studio was learning to play the blues, and it was a blast! Then one year we did a 30-piece challenge, and this year, we’re doing a studio-wide technique tournament. There are tons of things you could try!


2. Clean out your music collection.

Ahem. Raise your hand if you still have every piece of sheet music and every book that you collected throughout the years of being a piano teacher. At the time of writing this, for instance, I still had every piece of music from my 6 years of graduate school, and every assignment I did for my pedagogy and music education classes.

Because I am my mother’s daughter, I don’t like getting rid of things. What if I need them later?

However, my cabinets and shelving were bursting at the seams, and it was time to do something about that. So, I took matters into my own hands, or my own workbook in this instance, followed the steps, and achieved my goal of cleaning out my music library.

**Update – I have cleaned out my ENTIRE music collection, and I am loving the results! My studio can breathe much better, and consequently, so can I. Give it a try! I promise you’ll be so happy with how it turns out.


3. Attend an online workshop.

Or two. Or three. I LOVE online workshops! I attend a variety of workshops on a fairly regular basis because they always help me answer questions and figure out the best direction for my business.

For example, when I revamped my website, I was literally devouring online workshops to help me figure out the best way to do things, and to help me rebrand my business in the most beautiful and user-friendly way possible, just for you.

Online workshops are fabulous, and I definitely plan to keep that going. Join me!


4. Learn to use one new form of social media, and use it well.

Which social media platform is your favorite? Start there, then gradually add another one. However, before you invest too much time and energy, be sure that’s where your audience hangs out!

For example, I decided I wanted to learn more about using Instagram. It’s one of my favorite social media platforms, and I definitely plan to keep using it for my business in the future, along with Facebook. I have a lot to learn, but that’s part of the plan!


5. Learn how to say no.

I am such a YES girl and a people pleaser that sometimes I say YES to things because I don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings, or because I might feel obligated (in my own head) to do something I’m not really thrilled to do, or something that doesn’t align with my business goals.

Are you with me? I know I’m not alone here. 

However, when I put this into a business perspective, it really makes me think about why I choose to do the things I do. I’ve learned a lot about how to say NO if something isn’t the RIGHT thing.

For example, if it’s a business task that I’ve been asked to do (an accompanying or performing gig, filling in for another musician, or simply anything teaching or music related), I ask myself:

  1. Is it going to benefit my business in the longterm? In the short-term? At all?
  2. Is it in line with how I’m trying to build my business and reputation?
  3. If I’m on the fence about doing it, will I resent saying YES? (This is a BIG one for me!)
  4. Is it going to be a fun and beneficial experience, or is it going to add a lot of unnecessary stress to my life?


In short, after I’ve answered each of these four questions, I know whether I can agree to doing the task or not.

Above all, I can move forward knowing that my decision is in line with my overarching goals for my business.



Let’s do some more brainstorming:

  • Learn something out of my comfort zone (for piano students, that could include lead sheets, improvising, etc.)
  • Take the plunge on something I’ve been hesitant about
  • Add a camp into my summer teaching schedule
  • Learn to teach Skype or FaceTime lessons
  • Revamp my studio policy for the fall
  • Sight-read a set amount of music
  • Organize my studio resources
  • Drink more water
  • Exercise more
  • Update my website
  • Continue learning
  • Buy a new outfit that makes me feel amazing
  • Attend a conference that I’ve never been to before
  • Teach new pieces that I’ve never taught
  • Change up my teaching routine
  • Incorporate a new app into lessons
  • Add some fresh, functional, and fun office supplies to my collection
  • Clean off my desk and organize it for the upcoming year
  • Use the MultiTimer app. I recently started using this app, and it has helped me increase my productivity in a TON of ways!
  • Be awesome!


Let’s get going!

To sum up, are you ready to tackle those goals that have been put off because you didn’t quite know where to start? Download the free workbook in my resource library (click here if you already have the password), follow the steps in the workbook, and as a result, you’ll be on your way to achieving those goals in no time!

Now that you’ve set goals for yourself and goals for your piano students, I’d love to hear about them. What are some of your goals for the upcoming year? Share them by leaving a comment below!


More blog posts about teaching piano students:


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Melody Payne

Melody Payne

Dr. Melody Payne is a pianist, teacher, and educational resource author who believes that all piano students deserve the best musical experiences possible, in every single lesson. Melody self-publishes pedagogical materials for piano students as well as piano teaching articles and professional development courses for piano teachers. She holds a Doctor of Philosophy in Music with emphases in music education and piano pedagogy and a Master of Music in Piano Pedagogy from Louisiana State University, and a Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance from William Carey University in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. She is a Nationally Certified Teacher of Music through the Music Teachers National Association. Melody and her husband Greg live in Marion, Virginia, a small town nestled in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, where she teaches children and adults of all ages and abilities in her online piano studio.

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Hi! I’m Melody Payne, a pianist and piano teacher, educational resource author, a fun-loving wife to the most wonderful and talented hubby I could ask for, and a lifelong learner who loves to share. I want to make your life as a music teacher easier by writing and sharing helpful and relevant music teaching articles, and by creating educational resources with your very own students in mind. If you are a parent who wants to enroll your child in piano lessons, I’d love for us to get started building those skills that can give your child a lifetime of musical enjoyment!

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