Piano teaching

Being professional – the characteristics of a professional

Many people regard piano teaching as a vocation rather than a profession, including some who are active practitioners, and I have encountered many people outside of the profession of piano teaching who regard the role as some kind of superannuated “hobby”: on one occasion the parent of one of my (former) students actually said to me: “You’re so lucky to be able to do your hobby as a job”, thus totally overlooking the fact that I take my job as a piano teacher very seriously, and regard myself as a professional within the sphere of piano teaching.

Sally Cathcart, a musician, educator, researcher and director of the Oxford Piano Group, has been exploring the issue of professionalism and piano teaching in a series of posts on her blog The Curious Piano Teacher, and she poses some interesting questions about the definition of a professional:

The characteristics that make an occupation a profession have been the subject of much research and debate and in many respects what I am presenting here and attempting to relate to piano teachers is rather simplified and is, of course, from my own perspective. Hopefully, it does provide a more rigorous context for the debate to take place within.

Heisler (1995), having reviewed much of the literature, identifies five commonly applied traits denoting an occupation with professional status. He argues that a professional group has:

  • a specialised body of knowledge and technique
  • training courses that pass on specialist knowledge
  • exams and tests that provide certification for practice
  • monopoly to work by those with certification
  • autonomy of practice for those with certification

Read the full text of Sally Cathcart’s article here

Links to Sally’s previous articles:

Being Professional – the beliefs and attitudes of UK piano teachers

Two Stories about Piano Teachers

2 thoughts on “Being professional – the characteristics of a professional”

  1. Hi Frances, I came across this website whilst looking for music aptitude test papers. I have tried contacting Se22 music school with no reply and I need the papers ASAP as my dd has an exam in 2 weeks. Do you by any chance have the past papers.


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