marketing your music studio

“Every day people spend more for products and services that they believe have been created or designed specifically for their particular needs or situations. –Sydney Barrows

If you’re like most music teachers, you’re probably resigned to the fact that certain types of students are attracted to your studio, and others aren’t. And as long as enough of these students come along, you may be content with this situation.

There’s nothing wrong with this. But what if you tweaked your marketing and your teaching approach to find and serve one or more niches that you don’t currently reach, perhaps even developing a unique way of teaching them (or at least a unique way of describing how you teach them)?

Along with the extremely helpful step of articulating your unfair advantage, developing one or more specific niches can be a powerful way to build a music studio. There are countless ways to do this. Here are a few ideas:

Reinvent What Music Lessons Are

Music teachers, like most business people, often assume that there is a finite group of customers that we are all competing for. But what if there were a group of potential students in your area that no one is competing for because no one has yet captured their interest in music lessons?

For example, have you ever considered that there may be potential students who have the idea that music lessons are only for those who are willing to practice for hours every day with the goal of becoming a world-class virtuoso?

What if you reached out to this group by marketing lessons that are focused on cultivating personal creativity and expression, rather than high-pressure performance expectations?

And if you like teaching those budding virtuosi? Your studio could have two learning tracks – the serious “virtuoso track” and the more fun “creative track.”

Create a Proprietary Version of Lessons For Your Instrument

You’ve probably seen music teachers and schools that claim authorship of the very special Method X. But consider how unlikely it is that they’ve developed something truly original. In fact, all they’ve probably done is combine pedagogical techniques and other methods in a novel way. (Combining already-existing information is the basis of creativity generally.)

How could you develop something proprietary for your studio? I‘ve personally taken steps in this direction by developing a piano method that I use with many (though not all) of my students. While I originally began developing it as a creative outlet and to fill a gap that I perceived among published methods, it also differentiates my studio from others, and helps me to reach a specific niche – beginners who are interested in blues-style piano.

Find underserved niches and develop unique approaches to teaching them, and watch your music studio thrive.

Might there be a certain demographic in your area that no other studios specifically market to? For example:

  • Boomers/Recent Retirees
  • Preschoolers
  • Homeschoolers
  • Teens who want to become professional musicians without following a formal track of college-based music education

Once you explore whether such underserved niches exist in your area, figure out how you can most easily (yet profitably) reach them, and how you might present your teaching approach as unique, maybe even exclusive. Marketing guru Dan Kennedy puts it this way: “People want and respond best to whatever they perceive is for them, preferably exclusively for them, relevant specifically to them, and offered by somebody who really understands, respects, and appreciates them.

Find underserved niches and develop unique approaches to teaching them, and watch your music studio thrive.

Doug Hanvey writes about music teaching and marketing at The Piano Lab Blog.

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Posted in Promoting Your Studio

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:

Branding

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. Takelessons.com or ilovemusiclessons.com, 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 ilovemusiclessons.com, 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: facebook.com/ILoveMusicLessons

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Posted in Financial Business, Promoting Your Studio

Robin Steinweg

Music for Life

May 28th, 2015 by

A Master Class Series by Robin Steinweg

Music for Life

Music for Life

My second Music for Life Master Class—a success.

I started this series with plans to invite senior musicians. I’ll expand it to include musicians of all ages. Music for Life could end up defining my studio.

A master class series like this can enhance and promote your studio as well as inspire and bless your students. (Be sure to schedule it on your MTH calendar, and have reminders sent automatically!)

As students arrived, I directed them to the dining room for cheese, crackers, lemonade and sweet tea. Things go better with an after-school snack, don’t you think?  Snacks 5-20-15

Char Monette came as our featured local musician and piano teacher. I invited students and parents/grandparents to attend. We had good attendance in spite of busy May schedules.

Char shared musical moments and wisdom for about twenty minutes.

At age 8 her family moved to Japan when her dad was called up to fight in the Korean War. They couldn’t have a piano because he was only a lieutenant. But her classmate’s dad had a higher rank, and owned a piano. She walked home from school with Edward every day and practiced half an hour. Her teacher spoke no English, and she no Japanese. Music was their common language. She practiced very hard to earn a pat on the shoulder, and avoid mistakes which elicited a “No-no-no-no!” or worse, a rap on the knuckles with a pencil.

She began to teach in 1977 when another musician in town told her she must. This is good for us to remember! We can encourage musical gifts in others.

Ava, Amy Jorgenson, Sam, Char Monette, Bethie              Char Monette speaks to my students

Char said:

“Music is a gift from God. To think that your fingers can move on the keys, and music comes out… that is a gift from God.”

“I don’t often sit and listen to music. I would rather make music.”

I asked, “Char, what has music meant to you throughout your life?”

She responded, “You know, I don’t really think about it. I breathe, but I don’t think about that either. Breathing is pretty important. Music is just like that.”

She played “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen” from her John Thompson Third Grade Level book.

Char's book, 1938 copyright

My students played for her. Some played their own compositions or their own arrangements of pieces. Some played my arrangements. They all gave a gift of music back to Char to thank her for coming to show them Music for Life!

You might like to read about my first guest in this series: professional drummer, vocalist and pianist Martha Nelson: Music Is for Life    …and here are a few of my students…

Sarah Wruck plays her own Key to My Heart     Sam plays Purple People Eater

Leanna plays Phantom of the Opera Dane plays In the Hall of the Mtn King

Chris plays Theme from Titanic   Ava plays Big Brass Band

Malea Niesen

 

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Posted in Music History & Facts, Performing, Practicing, Professional Development, 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:

Read more…

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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sarah

Sarah

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

By Robin Steinweg

Celebrate student milestones

Celebrate student milestones

Why wait until a holiday to “turn on the party?” We teachers can find many reasons and ways to celebrate student milestones.

Parents may not understand what a big deal it is to graduate to the next level of books, for instance. We can help  them get it by making a bit of fuss over it ourselves. And if they still don’t get it, at least someone has admired the student’s success.

18 Reasons to Celebrate Student Milestones—they:

  • arrived at the staples—the midway point!—of their book
  • passed a unit
  • completed their level and graduated to the next—huzzah!
  • practiced one hundred days in a row
  • practiced five days this past week
  • remembered to trim their nails
  • memorized a song
  • accomplished all their weekly practice goals
  • performed in public for the first time
  • played in their first recital
  • played in any recital
  • mastered certain number of scales (pentascales, octaves or more)
  • conquered a beast of a piece of music
  • got their first playing gig
  • used a metronome successfully
  • memorized names of lines and spaces
  • remembered dynamics
  • they graduated from high school and are going off to college
Celebrate a Student Milestone

Celebrate a Student Milestone

18 Ways to Celebrate Student Milestones:

  • pull out a kazoo and trumpet a fanfare
  • tiny milestone—press Staples’ Easy Button
  • the midway point in their book—offer a candy or let them make a shot at a Nerf basketball hoop
  • publish their name (and photo?) on your website
  • include their name (and photo?) in your studio newsletter
  • a congratulatory certificate
  • snail-mail a card to their home, addressed to them
  • notify Piano Explorer Magazine about their completion of 100 consecutive days of practice (or 200+)
  • post their names on a chart in your studio
  • play a CD of a regal/fanfarish song as they enter the room
  • let them wear a costume crown during their lesson
  • give a blue ribbon
  • create a banner/ribbon and add iron-on badges for accomplishments (like boy-and-girl scouts)
  • let them choose from prizes you’ve collected (dollar store items, coupons for ice cream or burger, sheet music, manuscript paper or books, CD, iTunes coupon…)
  • let them play music games on the computer
  • bake their favorite cookies

    Student milestone? Bake cookies!

    Student milestone? Bake cookies!

  • for a BIG accomplishment , tickets to a concert or a huge fake-book
  • plan a senior recital just for your graduate(s)

More ideas

When we celebrate student milestones, it can generate excitement and motivation. How do you celebrate, and for what occasions?

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Posted in Professional Development, Promoting Your Studio, Teaching Tips

handbells

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

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

Robin Steinweg

Carols of Christmas

December 28th, 2014 by

Carols of Christmas (Master Class)

By Robin Steinweg

Sara, Maddy, Chris

 

 

 

 

Each year I’ve observed that students are increasingly unfamiliar with the carols of Christmas. It’s important to me to introduce them to as many as possible, and to enable them to entertain or accompany their families and friends with songs of the season.

Many of them start practicing Christmas songs as early as October. I decided to make Carols of Christmas the subject of our December group master classes.

I chose a Christmas instrumental CD to play as they arrived, and we gathered around my kitchen table for snacks. Food makes everything friendlier! I decided to treat them to sparkling grape juice, which most had never tasted. There was also lemonade and apple cider, grapes, cookies, candies, chocolate-covered pretzels…

Christmas CD acoustic guitar

 

 

 

 

While they snacked, I read them stories of several carols’ origins.

Master Class snacks

 

 

I found a number of activities about the carols of Christmas at brownielocks–scroll to the bottom for more.

My biggest challenge was to find those that could apply to a wide range of ages.

I tapped the beginning rhythm of a number of carols. Even the youngest students were able to participate and guess song titles. Of course, I knew what they’d been practicing, so made sure to use those pieces to give them a good chance.

I also sang the first few notes of a carol, without the rhythm, just to see if they could guess—they did pretty well. For more mature students, I had a Carols of Christmas fill-in-the-notes game. I’d give them a few measures of a carol, leaving out a few notes or a measure or two. They could fill in the missing parts.

Ava, Sam

 

 

 

 

There were activity pages concerning lyrics of Christmas carols. “Where would you go to hear silver bells?” “Who danced with a silk hat on his head?” Some questions read more like jokes, but all of it got them thinking more deeply about songs they may hear while shopping, but haven’t focused on. Talking about lyrics brought up the meaning and history of words or phrases usually heard only once a year: deck the hall/don we now/noel/gloria/yuletide…

For a final touch, I had bent some sparkly pipe cleaners into treble clef shapes, and set out a variety of beads that they could thread onto the pipe cleaners, and either keep or give away as tree ornaments.

Madelyn

 

 

 

 

I’ve had reports from various parents how fun it is to hear their children sharing the carols of Christmas with their families.

How do you introduce Christmas songs to your students?

 

 

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Posted in Music History & Facts, Music Theory, Practicing, Promoting Your Studio, Teaching Tips

Screenshot 2014-11-29 14.01.03

A screenshot of the top of my Thumbtack profile page.

One day I saw an ad on my Facebook page from Thumbtack.  Have you seen it?  It said something to the effect, “Thumbtack needs guitar teachers!”  Curiosity got the best of me one day so I clicked on it.

Turns out they do!  Thumbtack connects people that have project goals with professionals that can help them accomplish those goals.  As a private guitar teacher, I can post a profile on Thumbtack that allows people searching for a guitar teacher to send me a request for a lesson quote.  If they like the quote, Thumbtack puts us in touch and voilá, I’ve got a new student!

Thumbtack made it pretty easy to get started.  The sign-up process was guided and surprisingly easy.  When finished, your profile will have a clean and professional look.  Here’s a link to my profile.  (I’ve included some screenshots of the edit view of my profile page in this post.)  You can include a bio, studio logo, details about the kinds of services you offer as well as professional credentials and that’s just for starters.  You can included links to your Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts, too, not to mention your Music Teacher’s Helper Website!  When you’re ready to reply to customer requests you purchase credits, which are currency on Thumbtack, you use to pay when you send a quote to a customer.  (Quotes cost between 2 and 9 credits depending on the type of project.)  For guitar lessons it costs 2 credits or about $3 to send a prospective customer a quote.  Would you be willing to pay someone $3 to find you a new student?  That should be a no-brainer! Read more…

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Posted in Promoting Your Studio, Using Music Teacher's Helper