Sharing a love of piano playing through teaching can be deeply rewarding both for the teacher and the student. Anyone with a modicum of skill can set up shop and teach. However, professional certification provides many benefits not only for the teacher and the students, but also for the community. A certification provides an independent verification of skills, knowledge and experience, as well as conferring credibility and professionalism upon the instructor. Potential students looking for a piano teacher can easily find certified instructors and rest assured knowing they are in capable hands.
There are multiple paths to obtaining a professional certification for piano teaching. Many universities and conservatories have excellent programs in piano pedagogy (the study of teaching piano playing). These programs generally focus on several important standards for teaching not only piano, but music of any kind. These standards can include knowing and performing music, knowing and understanding students, planning courses of study, facilitating music learning, fostering an educational environment, assessing musical growth, professional business management, contributing to the profession, building partnerships, and evaluating professional growth.
After completion of and graduation from such a program, obtaining a professional certification is simply a matter of submitting a completed application and paying a nominal fee to an organization such as the International Piano Teachers Guild (IPTG).
If you do not have at any sort of academic background, you can still obtain professional certification. It is important to have not only a high proficiency in piano playing, but also training and skill in teaching piano. It is recommended to shadow and assist an experienced instructor for several weeks, as playing the piano and teaching it are two distinct skills.
There are several steps for becoming a Certified Professional Piano Teacher (CPPT) through the IPTG. First, complete the IPTG application form. Next, pass proficiency exams in Music Theory and Music History. Third, submit a video of yourself teaching a student for ten continuous minutes, and then playing at your skill level for seven minutes. You must play two contrasting styles of music during that time. Each piece should be listed as a Level 6 or above in The Pianist’s Guide to Standard Teaching and Performance Literature by Jane Magrath, or of equivalent difficulty. These requirements must be fulfilled within four months and necessary fees must be paid upon completion. The CPPT must be renewed on a yearly basis.