5 Things I’ve Learnt In My First Term As a Peripatetic Piano Teacher

Gary Cunningham
4 min readJan 22, 2021


Since September of 2020 I have been fortunate to take on my first peripatetic Piano teaching post since graduating from university. Now I’ve been in the post for a little while I figured it right to share some take-away’s that I have learnt during my first full term.

Make the lesson count!

In my time as a private piano tutor going into people’s homes I have always taught hour long lessons, this is not possible to do when working as a peri in a school environment due to the fact that your pupils have other core lessons in classrooms throughout the day. My peri lessons last anywhere from 15–30 minutes, dependent on the age and concentration levels of the child, this was challenging for me at first to adjust from having a whole hour to having what feels like no time at all! As the term went on, I learnt to make the time I DO have count, take the time to create a lesson plan each week in order to maximize each minute of the lesson and ensure maximum learning for the pupil.

Imposter Syndrome SUCKS!

This one was SO hard to get to grips with when I first started the job! It was quite daunting being surrounded by qualified professionals with years of experience as a recent graduate. I soon learnt that I was just as qualified as everybody else and that the school wouldn’t have hired me if they didn’t feel I was capable of doing the job. If you struggle with imposter syndrome, I can assure you that it gets easier as time goes on and provided you are working with a supportive school, those more experienced teachers are more than willing to chip in and offer advice should you need it.

It was weird not having parents present

During my time working as a private tutor, the parents were always not only my point of contact, they were also always there and could witness my work for themselves. In a peri environment based in a school, this of course isn’t possible due to time commitments as you’re teaching the children during the school day. I have contact with my parents via email weekly to keep them up to date with their children’s progress but beyond that, if it wasn’t for having to teach online due to lockdown, the parents probably never would’ve met me! This does take some getting used to but as long as you maintain regular contact with the parents there’s not likely to be any problems.

Building relationships takes time

This can be especially true if you’re taking over from another teacher. It has taken me until this point to have what I would consider a “proper” working relationship with my students and it has been a gradual process of building trust and having them gain confidence around me, this is common with younger pupils, even in private teaching. The only thing I can suggest here is to simply have patience and expect for it to be a while until the pupil comes out of their shell.

Bad lessons happen

This too is true in private teaching. Like anything in life, both you and your pupils will have good days and bad days and there may be the odd time where you end a lesson feeling like the pupil has learned nothing and that you have failed them or let them down in some way. I can assure you that this is in no way true, like the building of relationships, the key here is patience. My mantra is always “there’s always next week” and most of the time you’ll be surprised at the difference between one week and the next! Of course what we really want is consistency but sometimes this takes time to become possible. Don’t beat yourself up, you’re doing great and bad days are a part of life!

There we have it folks! A short but sweet look at the top 5 things I’ve learnt during my first time as an in-school Piano teacher. It is challenging at times but also extremely rewarding to be a part of the journey of these young minds, even if it is for short time once a week.

I hope this helped you, if you know of any friends who are venturing into the world of peripatetic teaching and need some advice, share the article!



Gary Cunningham

Musician | Music Educator | Brand Founder | Music Education Advocate