There are four secrets of a successful studio. I realize it’s a bold claim to narrow it down to just four and you may be asking, what does successful mean? Keep reading.

Four SecretsFB2

Like any other human being, your bottom line comes down to:

  1. food on the table
  2. a roof over your head
  3. decent clothes on your back.

These three essentials require an income and as a music teacher that means you’ll need students and preferably, lots of them.  The trick is figuring out how to attract and retain them. When you have met and exceeded your bottom line and enjoy a waiting list, I believe you have made a success of your studio.

After extensive research, David Cutler discovered that music teachers who generated substantial (successful) incomes were more likely to integrate these three elements (OK, they are not really secrets but it caught your attention, right?) into their instruction compared to other teachers who did not. They include: Read more…

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Posted in Financial Business, Product Reviews, Professional Development, Promoting Your Studio, Studio Management

teaching guitar lessons

A version of this post originally appeared on the Music Teacher Info, written by Martyn Croston.

Starting any business takes a lot of perseverance and patience.

Some people compare it to bringing up a child or having a relationship – more often than not it’s a total rollercoaster!

But if you strongly believe and enjoy what you’re doing, it can be the most rewarding job in the world. Music teaching, like any profession, requires the right approach and strategy in order to succeed.

Here are eight factors you need to bear in mind when setting up a successful music teaching business.
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photo by:

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Posted in Financial Business, Professional Development, Promoting Your Studio, Studio Management

Your musical knowledge, teaching ability, and marketing skills all play central roles in allowing you the opportunity to teach music. Without them, there would be no students, and no personal reward in working with them.

However, scheduling is the center of making a teaching business function smoothly.  Whether you work with kids or adults, everybody these days has full schedules — work, family, school, sports, and more.  Below are six elements to consider when thinking about scheduling lessons and classes in your studio.

1. Eminderscalendar2
2. Open slots
3. Clear policy
4. Flexibility
5. Firmness
6. Accessibility

Now, for the details!
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Posted in Financial Business, MTH 101, Studio Management, Using Music Teacher's Helper

Robin Steinweg

Prepare for Fall

July 28th, 2015 by

By Robin Steinweg

How do you prepare for fall? A vacation from lessons or a lighter teaching load can offer opportunities to create a master list.

Prepare for Fall

Prepare for Fall

Here are some of my to-dos:

  • Determine available teaching times
    • Will I offer 30, 45 or 60-minute lessons?
    • How many weeks will I teach?
    • Will I give myself weeks off?
  • Send my policy, schedule, and registration forms to students
    • Let students sign up on MTH!
    • Will I get a raise?
    • Does my policy need tweaking or firming up (See other teachers’ policies for ideas)?
    • Will I require parents to initial sections and sign an agreement?
  • Weed my files
    • What haven’t I used in a year?
    • Are files titled for easiest retrieval?
    • Shall I divide by grade level or genre? What works best for me?
    • Might I use a retrieval system—such as Paper Tiger online?
    • Will I donate or sell what I don’t keep?
  • Clean/organize my studio
  • Attend workshops
    • Plan so I don’t purchase duplicates or binge
  • Check instruments for needed maintenance
  • Consider a theme for the year or season
    • Will group classes, recitals and special pieces reflect this theme?
    • Will I decorate according to the theme?
      • (a bulletin board labeled “Prepare for Fall” could contain notes/symbols to identify, or a picture with hidden music symbols. A football field with lesson “yard lines” might make for a prepare for fall practice push)
    • Choose new activities or games
      • A studio-wide motivation chart to record goals met
      • New game for group lessons
    • Contact waiting list if there are timeslots to fill
    • Look for décor, incentives and teaching aids at garage sales, thrift stores or a dollar store
      • Laser pointer
      • Stick with pointing hand
      • Shaped erasers
      • Stickers
      • Prizes for goals met or to add to the studio “store”
    • Waiting area materials
      for the waiting room

      for the waiting room

      • Puzzles
      • Books
      • Music magazines
      • Coloring books and crayons or colored pencils
      • Water bubbler or bottles
      • Swap out materials monthly or quarterly?
    • Add technology—for the techno-challenged, push yourself to try just one!

What would you add? Or do you prepare for fall in a totally different way?

In my August 28th post I’ll have ideas for creating teacher binders. See you then!


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Posted in Financial Business, Professional Development, Promoting Your Studio, Studio Management, Using Music Teacher's Helper

marketing your music studio

You most likely decided to pursue a career in music education because you love music and you want to share that passion with the world.  To be surrounded by music every day and to be completely immersed in that world, while shaping student’s lives, is what makes music education such a rewarding career.  Maybe you are just starting or maybe you’ve been in business for a while, and you’re waiting for that moment when the phone starts ringing and your business really starts taking off.  Then the reality sets in.  You’re not sure how to get students or how to make your business profitable.  If you plan to make this your main source of income, then being profitable is important.  The truth is that you can be extremely profitable in music education whether you teach independently or you own a studio with several teachers working for you.

I’ve built my studio several times from the ground up.  As to why “several times”….well, it is a long story.  But the short story is we had to pick up and move to a different state a couple of times and start all over, and I’m happy to say that each time, within a couple of months, I would have my studio built up again to full capacity with wait list and all.  Now I help other music educators to do the same as a music business consultant and coach, and through my music teacher’s database.

So how did I do it?  How did I start from zero and explode my business every time?  I’ve narrowed it down to 4 key things that you can start doing to grow your studio’s profitability and quickly.  Here they are:


I have a business background, so I tend to use terms like “branding” a lot when I am coaching or consulting with my clients.  It helps to think of yourself and your studio as a product, just like any other product that someone would create, package, and sell, because whether you like it or not you need to be able to sell your services to clients or you will never be profitable.  In order to get the attention of potential students, you will need to let them know why you are the person that they will want to invest in.  This all starts with branding yourself and your company.

How does one do this?  You need a Unique Selling Position (USP).  Start by making a list of all the things that make you or your studio unique.  Perhaps you have a doctorate in music, with years of performance experience.  Or maybe you teach in-home lessons to working, busy families.  Or maybe you were a contestant on a tv talent show or are a recording artist.  Or maybe what makes you unique is that you offer games, pizza parties, and a fun music summer camp each year.  Whatever it is that makes you unique, figure it out and write it down.  Then let people know about your particular expertise.  You have now positioned yourself as an expert and given people a reason to call you.

Know Audience

Now that you know who you are and what makes you unique, you should spend some time thinking about who your potential students are.  This will help you figure out where you should advertise and also what to say to get them interested in working with you.  For example, if your ideal client is someone who is looking for a discount, the location in which you place an advertisement will be very different from if you live in a wealthy neighborhood or if you will be working with students studying for competitions or who are recording artists, etc.  Figure out who your “ideal” client is and then you will know how to reach them.

Some great places to advertise for music students: local music stores, Craigslist, newspapers, handing out flyers, online through teacher databases (i.e. or, etc.), social media, and I also highly recommend having your own website in which you can have a photo of yourself and highlight your skills and qualifications.  Once you are established, you should create a referral program, such as offering a free session to any of your current students who helps you sign up another student.

Be Organized and Professional  

One of the top complaints I received from my students regarding past instructors was that they were not organized and were not professional.  Unfortunately, many music instructors do not take their businesses as seriously as they should.  Whether you are teaching kids in your apartment or you have a large studio, you have a business.  And potential and current clients will know whether or not you see it that way or if you are simply teaching as a hobby.  Either one of those things is fine, but if you want to be profitable you need to treat it as the actual business that it is.

The most successful teachers and studios treat everything they do as a business and they take it seriously.  They answer their phones, promptly return phone calls, plan lessons in advance, keep detailed records, keep their schedule organized, print out the materials they need on time, keep studio policies, make sure their students are kept informed of changes, are on time for lessons, and are consistent from week to week so students know what to expect.

Be Young at Heart

Although students range in age from 3-99, most of the students you will have throughout your career will be young, in the 5-12 year-old range.  The more that you are able to accommodate that age range, the more you will have a marketable business.  Letting students play musical games, offering fun parties for students, giving prizes and stickers, and in general simply being upbeat and energetic go a long way.  Even if most of your students are adults, most clients will prefer to work with someone who is fun, interesting, and enthusiastic about what they are teaching, and gets them excited each week as well.

Amanda Becker is a musician, a music business coach, and consultant and is the founder of, a music teacher database for teachers nationwide.  She holds a bachelor of arts in music and psychology, and a masters degree in business administration.  She is passionate about music, writing, and education.  For more tips and strategies or to ask a question about making your music teaching business successful and profitable:

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Posted in Financial Business, Promoting Your Studio

By Robin Steinweg

Five Buzz-Making Recital Ideas

Five Buzz-Making Recital Ideas

We all know recitals can build excitement for our studios. Could we get even more creative with them? Give folks a performance to remember. Families will talk about it to friends, friends will see clips or photos on Facebook or in emails, and word will spread about the teacher whose students know how to put on a show. Students will be excited to have been a part of it. You’ll probably add to your waiting list as a result. Here are the first five buzz-making recital ideas:

The First Five:

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Posted in Composing & Arranging, Financial Business, Performing, Promoting Your Studio, Teaching Tips

Robin Steinweg

Music is for Life

March 27th, 2015 by

By Robin Steinweg

How can I impress on my students that music is for life? Few sports can be played into later years. But music is for life. A job might be fulfilling until retirement. Music is for life.

I’ve started a master class series in which I’ll invite musicians to share their music and their stories.

Martha Nelson shares why music is for life

Martha Nelson shares why music is for life

The first was Martha Nelson, a drummer/singer/pianist/accordion player who entertained in all-girl bands in the 1930s, 40s and 50s.

Martha practicing accordion

Martha practicing accordion

Martha sang weekly on the Jerry Blake Show for Madison, Wisconsin’s WKOW TV its first year on the air.

Martha Nelson about to sing on WKOW-TV Madison, WI in the 1950s

Martha Nelson about to sing on WKOW-TV Madison, WI in the 1950s

She passed her music on to her daughters, who are both working musicians (and one of whom is yours truly). She drummed for our family’s dance band through the 1980s.

Mom, daughter master class 2-11-15

Martha played several pieces for my students (including the Glenn Miller hit “In the Mood”), and shared the story of how she got her start. She went all the way back to her mother. Grandma planned to travel to the U.S. from Sweden to join her husband. She was booked to sail on the Titanic. But her first-born, my Aunt Vicky, got sick, and they had to wait. Mom told my students their teacher wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for that.

She taught herself piano. One of ten children, her dad brought a drum home one day, handed it to her, and told her that would be her instrument.

Now at 89, she still plays piano and sings. And one can often see her foot going or hear her fingers tapping in true drummer fashion.A year ago she joined me singing in a coffee shop—and I gotta tell you, she’s still got it! Her voice hasn’t really aged. Music helps keep her young.

Martha master class 2-11-15 Guest artist Martha Nelson 2-11-15

Yeah, play it!

After Martha’s presentation, my students entertained her. The final song, by Chris, was—“My Heart Will Go On”—the theme from the movie Titanic!

Dane & Chris

Dane & Chris













Ava, Sam & Sara, seated

Ava, Sam & Sara, seated

Music is good for many things: for background, for relaxing, for accompaniment to shopping or working,

for inspiration, entertainment, making a living,

passing on to another generation,

Passing the gift of music on to the next generation and the next...

Passing the gift of music on to the next generation and the next…

and enjoying—from the womb till one’s final breath and into eternal life.

Music is for life!



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Posted in Financial Business, Music Theory, Performing, Practicing, Promoting Your Studio

Too Much To Do Three Arrow Road Signs Pointing Many Tasks Jobs

There are so many facets to a musical education; reading, theory, ear training, transposition, repertoire, and on and on. One of my personal frustrations is trying to get students ready to perform in special events without enough lesson time. Is it realistic to think that a teacher can cover all these skills and prepare for competitions with just 30 minutes a week with each student? With longer lessons more can be accomplished, but parents may be resistant to increasing the lesson time due to time and financial concerns. However, maybe as teachers we are not presenting a realistic picture of what they are getting for their investment. Below are some thoughts about better defining what can be accomplished over time with various lesson lengths. This is just one example, but perhaps it will encourage you to think about how you define your product.

Piano Basics

30 minute lessons

(number of lessons and tuition appropriate to geographical location)

  • sight reading
  • fundamental technique
  • basic theory
  • basic study of music structure

Piano Basics is a place for every student to get exposure to the language of music and the fundamental skills involved in learning to play the piano. The student’s understanding of western music’s structure, along with proper playing technique, is developed through the use of the Piano Partners series by Bernard Shaak. Music reading is introduced through the (national reading program). These two books form the core of the curriculum. As the student progresses in ability, other music is brought in to supplement this core based upon the student’s individual interests.

Rising Stars

45 minute lessons + 20 minutes lab time

(number of lessons and tuition appropriate to geographical location)

  • sight reading
  • intermediate level technique
  • intermediate theory
  • transposition
  • performance preparation
  • performance venues
  • extra music selection
  • memorization skills
  • Achievement Day access

As the student progresses and demonstrates an interest in music, and a willingness to dig deeper into the learning, the Rising Stars program will be recommended. At this level the student will be encouraged to learn performance preparation, step up their technical abilities, and dig more deeply into the details of their music. Achievement Day participation is encouraged. Several other performance opportunities will be available throughout the year requiring extra preparation.

Comprehensive Musicianship

60 minute lessons + 30 minutes lab time

(number of lessons and tuition appropriate to geographical location)

  • sight reading
  • performance level technique
  • ear training
  • advanced rhythm patterns
  • challenge pieces
  • wide range of musical genres
  • collaborative duet work
  • transposition
  • basic composition
  • lead line skills
  • accompaniment skills
  • music history
  • advanced performance preparation
  • performance venues
  • memorization work
  • extra curricular learning activities
  • Achievement Day, Piano Festival and Federation, Sonatina Festival access

For the student who demonstrates exceptional interest and ability, and a willingness to work hard, the Comprehensive Musicianship program provides an amazing foundation in all aspects of becoming a well-rounded pianist. Technique is prioritized, and the student is given a broad palate of musical genres. He or she is encouraged to understand the history of western music and to be able to interpret music in its intended historical style. At this level students are also encouraged to create their own original music, incorporating their knowledge of music structure and patterns. Collaborative efforts are encouraged in the form of duets, playing with a string quartet, and accompaniment of soloists or other instruments. Basic keyboarding and ear training skills are taught so that a student can play from a lead line with a contemporary musical group. Students are encouraged to participate in several judged events throughout the year, and will be expected to develop a personal repertoire list. Group lessons usually involve a second lesson time for the week. Group lessons are alternated with education field trips to meet the total of 10 per year. Field trips involve musical experiences such as a trip to a special music store, or a symphony performance.

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Posted in Financial Business, Professional Development, Promoting Your Studio, Studio Management, Teaching Tips

An essential part of learning to play music on an instrument (as opposed to singing!) is having an instrument on which to play. Owning or renting an instrument and having the necessary accessories are important for learning but are not something teachers may be prepared to handle.  And yet, without the right equipment it’s hard for a student to get very far.  How can the teacher help?  What do you do to help your students?  (Please add a comment at the end to share your perspective!)instr-access

Some teachers might simply accept whatever the student has for equipment.  Others direct their students to local or online stores to purchase recommended items.  Still others select and rent or sell instruments and accessories themselves.

I’ve done all three.  Lately, I’ve taken to making things available myself, especially for beginners.  This post is about why and how I’ve gone about it.
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Posted in Financial Business, Professional Development, Studio Management


Raising your prices is easy when you’re giving your customers value!

By Ryan Guth, owner of VoiceWorksNJ and blogger on music marketing at @RyanMGuth.

Chances are you don’t charge enough.

I was in for a shock when I looked up the price of karate and dance lessons in the town where my studio is located. My mind was totally blown! I hadn’t raised prices since 2010 because I thought parents would revolt and pull their kids out of my programs. Little did I know, my competitors in the “after-school-club” market were getting almost double for comparable programs, based on the number of instructional hours per week. That’s just leaving money on the table! It’s irresponsible as a business owner to not know your market, AND lost profit.  After all, as much as music teachers love our jobs, we are in business to make a profit. Read more…

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Posted in Financial Business, Promoting Your Studio