How you look definitely influences how people judge your professional skill. Not a true or fair measure, sad to say, but one that exists. Don't overlook it.
When presenting yourself in public as a piano teacher, look like someone who is skilled at what he does.
Of course for a performance, you will know how to dress. But what about a teachers' association meeting? Teaching your students? Or a trip to the grocery store?
For a teachers' meeting, it's coat/tie/slacks for the gents and dress/jacket, suit, or slacks/jacket for the ladies. Your attire should be what is commonly called "church clothes." What colleagues think of you is important. Will they refer students to you if you look like a slob? If you look unsuccessful?
For the grocery run, what if you meet up with a student unexpectedly? Make sure it doesn't look like you slept in your clothing, had a tussle with a pitbull, or just came in from a three-week cruise aboard your sailboat without access to a mirror.
For an audition with a prospective student, casual is ok, as long it's tidy. No jeans or athletic shoes, please.
Errands are perfectly ok in jeans and athletic shoes - - and even in a t-shirt - - as long you're clean and presentable!
There are two camps as to what's appropriate teaching attire. One says dress as you would when greeting a student for an audition, when you wanted to make a good impression. The other says that since you're on your own turf, you can "dress down" with jeans if you like. This is your call!
Clothes aren't everything, but they're an important part of a first impression. That first impression is long-lasting. Make sure it's the one you want!
copyright 1998, Martha Beth Lewis, Ph.D.
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