When I first started teaching I had no idea what I was doing - especially when it came to teaching beginners. Now that I've been doing it for more than thirty years, I feel pretty comfortable. Here are a few things I wished someone had shown me back then. I hope they help inspire you to be an energetic, enthusiastic teacher!

Kids in my studio are all excited to read Calamity Jack, one of series of fabulous books by Shannon and Dean Hale. Graphic novels are big with all ages.

Kids in my studio are all excited to read Calamity Jack, one of series of fabulous books by Shannon and Dean Hale. Graphic novels are big with all ages.

Keeping engaging books in your waiting area is a good idea both for students and siblings. Pop-up books by Robert Sabuda are favorites with my students ages 5 - 10. The Wizard of Oz is magical. They require a bit of supervision with the youngest children. Other favorites I own are Cinderella, and Alice in Wonderland. There's a new White House book that I'd love to get.

Keeping engaging books in your waiting area is a good idea both for students and siblings. Pop-up books by Robert Sabuda are favorites with my students ages 5 - 10. The Wizard of Oz is magical. They require a bit of supervision with the youngest children. Other favorites I own are Cinderella, and Alice in Wonderland. There's a new White House book that I'd love to get.

The next Must-Have is a set of Japanese Puzzle Erasers. I suggest a starting with a minimum of 10, but you can never have too many. (I have at least 100 of them.) The ways to use these are endless and limited only by your imagination. They fit perfectly on the keys. Every student perks up when I bring them out. Yours will too! My students are particularly fond of the Hedgehogs. Sometimes the erasers are available in overstock in bulk

I just finally used up my first roll of this Post-it tape. It's handy when you want to cover up an entire line of a piece to help a student concentrate. Or when you want to cover up an entire section. Super useful. Highly recommended.

I just finally used up my first roll of this Post-it tape. It's handy when you want to cover up an entire line of a piece to help a student concentrate. Or when you want to cover up an entire section. Super useful. Highly recommended.

Ladybug Squeeze Toys are the finest tool I've ever found to teach hand position. Now available in 6-packs and 12-packs to keep the cost down, I give one to each new student to help them experience and remember what a good hand position feels like.

Ladybug Squeeze Toys are the finest tool I've ever found to teach hand position. Now available in 6-packs and 12-packs to keep the cost down, I give one to each new student to help them experience and remember what a good hand position feels like.

I have a new favorite pencil: Blackwing 602 pencils. I splurged because I read an article about how they're the ones Stephen Sondheim uses and guess what? I LOVE THEM! Lovely to write with, dark enough to see but easy to erase with the attached eraser. Perfect pencil. Kids like them because the erasers make them look like little paintbrushes. I like the perfect balance and sexy color. Highly recommended.

I have a new favorite pencil: Blackwing 602 pencils. I splurged because I read an article about how they're the ones Stephen Sondheim uses and guess what? I LOVE THEM! Lovely to write with, dark enough to see but easy to erase with the attached eraser. Perfect pencil. Kids like them because the erasers make them look like little paintbrushes. I like the perfect balance and sexy color. Highly recommended.

I like using a simple, unusual puzzle as a way to interact with a potential student during an interview. It helps me analyze their fine motor skills, ability to take direction and general sense of fun. This is the Begin Again Elephant Puzzle.

I like using a simple, unusual puzzle as a way to interact with a potential student during an interview. It helps me analyze their fine motor skills, ability to take direction and general sense of fun. This is the Begin Again Elephant Puzzle.

I found out about these Muji Gel Ink Pens from my daughter. She uses them to annotate books and they've been excellent for my students who like to use color to help them learn music. 

I found out about these Muji Gel Ink Pens from my daughter. She uses them to annotate books and they've been excellent for my students who like to use color to help them learn music. 

I haven't bought this Palomino Long Point Pencil Sharpener yet, but my adult students swear it's fabulous. It's apparently the best pencil sharpener ever (except my fabulous iPoint electric one.)  It sharpens pencils using a two step sharpening process. The first step sharpens the pencil's wood case. The second step sharpens the graphite core. Comes with two replacement blades.  

I haven't bought this Palomino Long Point Pencil Sharpener yet, but my adult students swear it's fabulous. It's apparently the best pencil sharpener ever (except my fabulous iPoint electric one.) 

It sharpens pencils using a two step sharpening process. The first step sharpens the pencil's wood case. The second step sharpens the graphite core. Comes with two replacement blades.

 

This iPoint Electric Pencil Sharpener is near me on my teaching table so I can keep all my pencils sharp.

This iPoint Electric Pencil Sharpener is near me on my teaching table so I can keep all my pencils sharp.

Hedgehog Puzzle Erasers

Hedgehog Puzzle Erasers

Japanese puzzle erasers including elephant and panda, two student favorites.

Japanese puzzle erasers including elephant and panda, two student favorites.

I like to give the students the erasers in these cute silicone cupcake holders. They're bright, lightweight and easy-to-store.

I like to give the students the erasers in these cute silicone cupcake holders. They're bright, lightweight and easy-to-store.

These Woodland Friend Magnetic Page Markers are adorable and functional. They come in all kinds.

These Woodland Friend Magnetic Page Markers are adorable and functional. They come in all kinds.

I love using Thumb Puppets in my teaching. They come in all different varieties. Here's a post about how to use Thumb Puppets

The Violette Stickers are part of the Artist Series - multiple high quality sets of stickers with someone for everyone. Cats, anyone?

The Violette Stickers are part of the Artist Series - multiple high quality sets of stickers with someone for everyone. Cats, anyone?

Sometimes thumb puppets are easier to find at Office Playground - another great source for props for your studio.

Knight Thumb Puppet

Knight Thumb Puppet

I recently got an "EASY" button. It's been a hit with the students. It's a delightfully low-tech way to encourage a student. "You can press the easy button after you're played this perfectly." Or simply let them push it when they feel like something is "easy." Loads of ways to use it, always entertaining.

I recently got an "EASY" button. It's been a hit with the students. It's a delightfully low-tech way to encourage a student. "You can press the easy button after you're played this perfectly." Or simply let them push it when they feel like something is "easy." Loads of ways to use it, always entertaining.

Here are my current thumb puppets posing with my new EASY button. I think part of the fun with all these things is the physicality of them. Pressing a big silly red button, or making a giraffe dance - these things just plain FEEL good.

Dinosaur Thumb Puppet

Dinosaur Thumb Puppet

Fairy Thumb Puppet

Fairy Thumb Puppet

Pirate Thumb Puppet

Pirate Thumb Puppet

Tiny and packed full of interest, silly and fanciful puffy stickers are sure to energize a lagging lesson. They're especially suitable for placing in a student's music to help them remember something.

Tiny and packed full of interest, silly and fanciful puffy stickers are sure to energize a lagging lesson. They're especially suitable for placing in a student's music to help them remember something.

This is my washi tape dispenser and its current contents. I have many more rolls than this. I rotate them through and try to keep a constantly changing supply. Some of these were brought to me from Japan by a student!

Highlighting tape is a wonderful tool. Having some in various bright colors is helpful. If you choose only one color, start with yellow. It lasts a long, long time so don't be put off by the price. You will be able to use the same rolls for at least a year or two.

Highlighting tape is a wonderful tool. Having some in various bright colors is helpful. If you choose only one color, start with yellow. It lasts a long, long time so don't be put off by the price. You will be able to use the same rolls for at least a year or two.

This is my highlighter tape box. It's just a little IKEA plastic box and maybe someday I'll find the lid again.

I finally found some Ladybug Washi Tape. Too cute!

I finally found some Ladybug Washi Tape. Too cute!

I love the feeling of being organized. I didn't say I'm organized, I said that I like the feeling. My Brother Label Maker makes me feel better. And things look neater.

I love the feeling of being organized. I didn't say I'm organized, I said that I like the feeling. My Brother Label Maker makes me feel better. And things look neater.

Washi Tape is a wonderful teaching tool. Students of all ages enjoy using it. When things get tough during a lesson, I often pull it out to help refocus a student. "Should we put some tape on this passage?" It also gives a little break from working hard and provides a student choice and control over something creative and pleasant. The Washi Tape Dispenser comes two ways - with and without tape. (I originally bought it with tape and have since bought more tape when I find some I like...which is far too often!) Here's a post about about using Washi Tape.       

These tapes from Coromose are some of the most inexpensive and a great way to get started.

These tapes from Coromose are some of the most inexpensive and a great way to get started.

This Washi Tape Collection would make an excellent starter set. Each tape is completely different from any other - so it would work well for teaching purposes. The cheapest I've ever found Washi tape anywhere is $1.00 per roll. This is 16 rolls for $16.99 and would be a good way to begin using Washi. Note that each individual roll lasts for a long time. I almost never run out of any of them. (Which is why I have so very many!)

This Washi Tape Collection would make an excellent starter set. Each tape is completely different from any other - so it would work well for teaching purposes. The cheapest I've ever found Washi tape anywhere is $1.00 per roll. This is 16 rolls for $16.99 and would be a good way to begin using Washi. Note that each individual roll lasts for a long time. I almost never run out of any of them. (Which is why I have so very many!)

I have polka dot tape like this and my students like it. I've also found some thinner polka dot tape as you can see in my dispenser.

I have polka dot tape like this and my students like it. I've also found some thinner polka dot tape as you can see in my dispenser.

These slightly larger square Post-its are also extremely useful. I keep all sizes available at all times, but these are important ones. These are big enough to write information on.

These slightly larger square Post-its are also extremely useful. I keep all sizes available at all times, but these are important ones. These are big enough to write information on.

I like buying highlighters in sets. I tend to lose single ones, and I like to give my students a choice. These Staedtler Highlighters are great for older students. They're a little thick for tiny hands, but everyone agrees that these colors are the best. The Teal highlighter seems to be everyone's favorite.

I like buying highlighters in sets. I tend to lose single ones, and I like to give my students a choice. These Staedtler Highlighters are great for older students. They're a little thick for tiny hands, but everyone agrees that these colors are the best. The Teal highlighter seems to be everyone's favorite.

I couldn't teach without all the Little Pepper Books by Elissa Milne. They're available on Amazon, Sheetmusicplus and BookDepository. I personally guarantee that you will love teaching her music. Highly recommended.

I couldn't teach without all the Little Pepper Books by Elissa Milne. They're available on Amazon, Sheetmusicplus and BookDepository. I personally guarantee that you will love teaching her music. Highly recommended.

The key to being a great piano teacher is office supplies. Maybe that's a slight exaggeration, but having tricks up your sleeve and brightly colored props does help. Post-Its are the first office supply I fell in love with. Here's a post about using post-its to teach.

Here's my piece, Mashed Potato Clouds from Attention Grabbers Book Two highlighted with different colored tape so you can get an idea what it looks like. Imagine using different colors for different harmonies.

I can't teach without post-its. It would be impossible. I use them in every lesson with every student. This size, 1 3/8 X 1 7/8 inches is the most important one to have. Start with these. It's worth it to buy them in bright colors. You'll find it useful to be able to use the colors. Besides, the small yellow post-its are boring.

I can't teach without post-its. It would be impossible. I use them in every lesson with every student. This size, 1 3/8 X 1 7/8 inches is the most important one to have. Start with these. It's worth it to buy them in bright colors. You'll find it useful to be able to use the colors. Besides, the small yellow post-its are boring.

Mini-Incentive charts like this one featuring Hedgehogs can perk up a lesson that's dragging. Read this for more information about exactly how to use them in a lesson. 

Mini-Incentive charts like this one featuring Hedgehogs can perk up a lesson that's dragging. Read this for more information about exactly how to use them in a lesson. 

The best correction tape ever. Period. These are a few of the Tombow tapes I keep around. I like this Retro one the best - maybe just because it comes in fun colors. It's the easiest for me to use. Some of the other brands are easy to pull off their track. This is stable and you don't have to hold it at a weird angle to get it to work properly.

The best correction tape ever. Period. These are a few of the Tombow tapes I keep around. I like this Retro one the best - maybe just because it comes in fun colors. It's the easiest for me to use. Some of the other brands are easy to pull off their track. This is stable and you don't have to hold it at a weird angle to get it to work properly.

These Scanimation books are amazing. Each picture seems to move as you leaf through the pages. It's a perfect waiting area book.

These Scanimation books are amazing. Each picture seems to move as you leaf through the pages. It's a perfect waiting area book.

Do you ever feel like you're struggling with the business part of piano teaching? Read about Studio Business Basics.

If you've ever wanted really great light to read music, this is the one I recommend. I bought it a few years ago and wish I hadn't waited so long!

If you've ever wanted really great light to read music, this is the one I recommend. I bought it a few years ago and wish I hadn't waited so long!

This 1,000 sticker set is worth taking a look at. It's pricey, but if you were just getting started it might be a great way to get lots of different kinds of stickers to see what your students like. It comes in a little folio to help you stay organized.

This 1,000 sticker set is worth taking a look at. It's pricey, but if you were just getting started it might be a great way to get lots of different kinds of stickers to see what your students like. It comes in a little folio to help you stay organized.

This Canon Pixma is the printer I have and love. It does everything: Wireless printing from my computer as well as copying, scanning and faxing. It's compact and my favorite thing is that the ink cartridges are easy to replace. I fought with my old printer all the time trying to cram the cartridges in and it drove me crazy. This one is a dream.

This Canon Pixma is the printer I have and love. It does everything: Wireless printing from my computer as well as copying, scanning and faxing. It's compact and my favorite thing is that the ink cartridges are easy to replace. I fought with my old printer all the time trying to cram the cartridges in and it drove me crazy. This one is a dream.

Highlighters of all kinds are useful. These erasable ones are especially helpful when young children use highlighters - they make more errors and it's good to take the pressure off.

Highlighters of all kinds are useful. These erasable ones are especially helpful when young children use highlighters - they make more errors and it's good to take the pressure off.

These Bug Incentive charts are small and could be used with young students to help them understand how to practice in small increments. Here's a post about How to successfully use Mini Incentive Charts.

These Bug Incentive charts are small and could be used with young students to help them understand how to practice in small increments. Here's a post about How to successfully use Mini Incentive Charts.

My students like these owl stickers. I think it's because the colors are so bright. There are a LOT of stickers in this pack. I'm still on my first set and I use them often.

My students like these owl stickers. I think it's because the colors are so bright. There are a LOT of stickers in this pack. I'm still on my first set and I use them often.

Goofy dragon stickers are always the right thing for someone in my studio. 

Goofy dragon stickers are always the right thing for someone in my studio. 

These stickers are super popular with my kids, but they are also very tiny. They're great for putting into the music when they need to remember something specific. Lots of stickers on one page, but they're teensy - which makes them fun just because they're little.

These stickers are super popular with my kids, but they are also very tiny. They're great for putting into the music when they need to remember something specific. Lots of stickers on one page, but they're teensy - which makes them fun just because they're little.

I had the good fortune to hear Edward Hallowell speak last year and wrote about it. For those of you who have any interest in learning differences and especially Attention Deficit Disorder, please read Driven to Distraction.

I had the good fortune to hear Edward Hallowell speak last year and wrote about it. For those of you who have any interest in learning differences and especially Attention Deficit Disorder, please read Driven to Distraction.

Ladybug Stickers used with the ladybug squeeze toy can be a wonderful reminder to use good hand position.

Ladybug Stickers used with the ladybug squeeze toy can be a wonderful reminder to use good hand position.

Here's another set of Puppy Puffy Stickers. My students love goofy things like this. Maybe it's because I have a dog?

Here's another set of Puppy Puffy Stickers. My students love goofy things like this. Maybe it's because I have a dog?

Every teacher needs a roll of duct tape. If you're not sure why, read this.

Every teacher needs a roll of duct tape. If you're not sure why, read this.

How will you use these Let's Go Stickers. Have your students put them in their music to show up, down, mood, tempo...the possibilities are endless!

How will you use these Let's Go Stickers. Have your students put them in their music to show up, down, mood, tempo...the possibilities are endless!

Take time to educate yourself. Here are just a few books that have changed my life - and my teaching. The Mislabeled Child will help you understand all of students better - whether they have a diagnosis or not. Highly recommended.

Take time to educate yourself. Here are just a few books that have changed my life - and my teaching. The Mislabeled Child will help you understand all of students better - whether they have a diagnosis or not. Highly recommended.

Tiny, puffy stickers work particularly well for Peek-a-Boo windows. Also great for other uses. Here's a post about using stickers in non-conventional ways.

Tiny, puffy stickers work particularly well for Peek-a-Boo windows. Also great for other uses. Here's a post about using stickers in non-conventional ways.

Kids seem to love mustaches. I don't know why. I kinda like them too.

Kids seem to love mustaches. I don't know why. I kinda like them too.

Dover Little Sticker Books are always a great value. Here's a link to the index page and a few of my favorites. 

Dover Little Sticker Books are always a great value. Here's a link to the index page and a few of my favorites. 

The Explosive Child literally saved my life when my children were young. I felt empowered with real strategies after reading it. If you have children or students who lose control and can't keep it together during lessons please read this book. I'd give you my copy but I've already given away dozens.

The Explosive Child literally saved my life when my children were young. I felt empowered with real strategies after reading it. If you have children or students who lose control and can't keep it together during lessons please read this book. I'd give you my copy but I've already given away dozens.