Professional Development for Music Teachers

Improve your teaching: Practical advice you can use

inside a piano

Susan’s Master of Music Studies in Studio Pedagogy and many years experience make her eminently qualified to help other music teachers to hone their teaching skills, particularly in unfamiliar areas such as improvisation, playing by ear, sight reading and ear training.

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Teaching topics

  • Improvisation: reading from chord symbols, soloing, ‘faking’
  • Understanding chord symbols
  • How to teach playing by ear
  • Creative ideas for general knowledge
  • Managing limited lesson time
  • Improving sight reading
  • Improving aural skills

Previous events

portrait of Beethoven

Beethoven: Resources and Stories

Music Teachers’ Association of NSW
How do we bring composers to life for our students? In this year of Beethoven’s 250th birthday, Susan Deas will discuss how to help our students understand more about this great composer. Learn about where to find great resources, including pictures, portraits, and videos, and hear fascinating stories you can tell your students.
Click here for resources from this lecture


Curating Your Student’s Library

Australasian Piano Pedagogy Conference 2019
As teachers, we suggest and recommend the repertoire that our students play: and largely, where that repertoire comes from. What if we were to consider this as an opportunity to build a library for our students? A broad, comprehensive, inspirational library that might encourage joyful exploration of music for the rest of their lives?
Click here to download notes from this lecture

music notation

Reading Rehab

Australasian Piano Pedagogy Conference 2017
Most piano teachers have experienced the problem of the new student who has been learning for a few years, but somehow can’t read music. While this is not always the fault of the previous teacher, the new teacher has to find a way of teaching a student who is expecting to do a 5th grade exam, but has been playing everything by ear, memory, copying, or even from YouTube videos. And it has to be done without demoralising the student or disappointing the parents. This workshop explored methods to help students whose reading ability needs desperate help.

Turner Fighting Temeraire painting

MTA Workshop: Creative Ideas for General Knowledge

How do we get our students interested in general knowledge? In this workshop we discussed creative ways to encourage students to explore the historical,artistic and social context of their music: not just to answer questions in exams, but to enrich their understanding and appreciation of the music they play. Resources included pictures and music examples for each period of the history of Western Music, fun and educational music videos on Susan’s YouTube Channel, and information on how to access the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians online.

scrolls of printed music

Help! My Student Can’t Read Music!

Music Teachers’ Association of NSW
This workshop explored methods to help students whose reading ability needs desperate help. We looked at reading by landmark notes (also called signpost notes) and intervals, explored available resources, and shared ideas. Free resources included a landmark chart, landmark cards, and a book of Interval Reading practice. I’ve also added a note chart with a piano keyboard that can be folded at middle C to show how the treble and bass clef staffs fit together.

hands playing piano

How to teach playing by ear, and use it as a teaching tool

MTA Conference 2010: Refresh and Recharge
Susan’s lecture “How to teach playing by ear, and how to use it as a teaching tool,” was a great success at the recent MTA Conference. As promised, the lists of graded songs to play by ear are available on the Resources page of this website. Please contact Susan you have any questions about her lecture.

Improvisation for Classically-Trained Pianists cover

Improvising from Lead Charts: Attitudes of Australian Piano Teachers

Australasian Piano Pedagogy Conference 2009

Susan’s two presentations at the Piano Pedagogy Conference in July 2009 were very popular. She presented the findings of her thesis, Improvising from Lead Charts: Attitudes of Australian Piano Teachers, and presented a worskhop on her book, Improvisation for Classically-Trained Pianists: How to Play from Chord Charts. The conference paper can be found here.


Some resources to help you with your teaching, including manuscript paper, practice charts, Music Craft listening lists and playing by ear lists

Comments from previous workshops

“Engaging and enthusiastic presentation. Great handouts and suggestions which I will start using tomorrow! Lesson plan very helpful – tech, aural, SR, etc. Book lists fantastic” - Nicola, Randwick

“Some really clever ideas and ideas for new resources book-wise. Great opportunity to meet with other teachers” - Michelle, Constitution Hill

“Great to have the handout, with dot points etc. and the info about other resources. Always interesting to hear what others have to say in these situations too. Thank you for the reference to your “Interval Reading” book on your website” - Charlene, Queanbeyan

Susan Deas lecturing

About Susan Deas

Susan Deas is a professional musician, lecturer and teacher. She has been teaching piano for over twenty years, and her students learn both classical and contemporary styles, including playing by ear and improvisation. Susan performs professionally as a pianist and organist, and lectures in music theory and music appreciation for Sydney University’s Centre for Continuing Education. Her training includes a Bachelor of Music with a major in Performance (Piano) and Musicology, a Master of Music Studies (Studio Pedagogy), a Bachelor of Arts (Communications), and an A.Mus.A in Musicianship. Susan is on the Council of the Music Teachers’ Association of NSW.

More about Susan’s qualifications

Read what people have said about Susan’s other courses

Susan’s other music courses