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

meludia_logo_Web-vertical-couleur41

Imagine a pink elephant. You’ve just used your mind’s eye. Now imagine the tune “Happy Birthday.” You’ve just used your mind’s ear. If you struggled to recreate the tune in your head it means your audiation skills could use some help. Perhaps you (like me) favor reading the score over using the ear. Perhaps you recognize your need to dedicate more time to developing your mind’s ear to build a comprehensive musician skill set? If so, you (and your students!) need Meludia. Read more…

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Posted in Music & Technology, Music Theory, Product Reviews

music teaching apps

Summertime downgrade verse Annual Pricing

Are you thinking about downgrading your Music Teacher’s Helper plan for the summer months as a way to save money? We introduced annual pricing a while back to save studios the trouble of having to shift students to former status in order to reach the below plan. Annual Pricing is equivalent to two months free and is available to our long-time members that are “grandfathered” from previous pricing. For Basic plans, that’s less than $12 a month!

Another reason we introduced Annual Pricing is because members wanted to be charged once a year, instead of monthly. If you would like to switch to Annual Pricing, please check out these instructions on how to do so.

Improvements made this week:

  • Updated the Rockstar music teacher website theme for compatibility with file area updates.
  • Updated file area so that folders can be dragged into sub-folders.
  • Upgraded a code library used in Studio Sites to the latest version.
  • Made updates for 29 improvements and bugs reported by the Quality & Assurance Team.

Let us know if you have any questions by emailing support – support@musicteachershelper.com. Happy teaching!

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Posted in New Features and Fixes

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


Anna at Sonatina FestivalRecitals are very beneficial for music students. A primary benefit is providing motivation to work toward a goal and highly polish a piece of music. Many students are not willing to put this degree of “polish” on a piece without the added incentive of a performance.

Recitals can also teach students valuable skills, such as proper protocols for solo musicians, dealing with mistakes during live music, learning self-calming and relaxation techniques, and developing positive ways to talk to themselves in stressful situations.

One of the main benefits of a live performance is to share music with others, and to enjoy it together. I tell my students that their music is a gift they are sharing with the audience. It is usually a joy to give a gift and watch the other person respond with pleasure.

To a lesser extent, performance is a concrete demonstration to the parents that progress is occurring. I downplay this with the students themselves, but I know that this is an important reality that a music teacher must take into consideration.

An even more slippery notion is that the performance reflects the skill of the teacher. In a lot of ways this is true of course, but in many other ways it is not because there are too many variables; student ability, willingness to practice and follow instruction, home environment and instrument quality, parental support, social anxiety levels, and even the amount of sleep the student had the night before. If you view an isolated student performance as a direct judgement on your teaching ability, too much pressure is placed on the child and the teacher.Hannah Cameron at piano

Live performance can take place in a number of different settings, from very casual to extremely formal. I like to take my students up a continuum throughout the year from casual to formal. In this way I can watch each student and evaluate their ability to handle stress and performance challenges, and I can then adapt to give them the best chance of having a positive experience. If approached with the right attitude, even less than perfect performances can be an opportunity for learning, not a catastrophe.

The most basic level of performance happens when the student plays for the teacher at his or her lesson. If performance anxiety is severe, this may be the only performance level tolerated for awhile. In extreme cases of performance anxiety I try to gently nudge up the tolerance level by first having a stuffed animal sit on the piano and listen in on the lesson. Next I may have another student sit in the room during the lesson. This is also a great time for duets and improvisation.

Group lessons provide a step up in intensity. I like to have ensemble playing time as part of every group lesson (I teach piano so group performance is not the norm). If a piece is out of a student’s range I adapt it by having them play just one hand, or maybe a chord base. Group lessons can also include solo performances. This could either be in the form of a master class, or it can be a time to demonstrate performance skills for an upcoming event.Ensemble Time

Once students are able to play comfortably in front of their teacher, stuffed animals and other students, a small studio recital should be well tolerated. This can be just for students, or for a small group of students and their parents.

If students become used to performing from a young age, most seem to adjust to it well. If you have an older beginner, it may not be as easy for them. They may view themselves as “behind” compared to other kids their age. No teenager likes to look less than perfect. This calls for a lot of creativity on the teacher’s part, such as finding pieces that sound harder than they are, or pulling together a fun ensemble or teacher/student duet.

The next level is to take students out to a small local venue, such as a retirement home. At the beginning of the year I try to keep the repertoire easy and fun for this kind of an event. I talk about how glad the residents are to see them and how they are going to love anything they do. I make the program informal and maintain a friendly exchange with the audience. At these first outings I also stay close by the piano to help with footstools and cushions, and to offer encouraging words.IMG_5109

Community events can be made more exciting with a theme, such as Halloween or Christmas music, or by including more duets. Student/parent numbers are fun. This would also be a good time to let students try out their accompanying skills by playing for a sibling to do a violin solo, etc. I don’t usually encourage a lot of extra guests besides parents to these small venues. Students and their parents are asked to spend some time talking with the residents before and after the performance.

Mid-winter through early spring is a common time for judged performance opportunities. This is a different venue from a recital, but with many overlapping skills required. Students in their second year of lessons are ready to participate in one or more judged events.

By the end of the school year students should be able to perform in a formal recital. These larger events take a lot of work, but I believe they are worth the effort. I do not recommend more than a 45-60 minute program of music. Students can be divided into two or more recital times if you can’t fit all students in that time limit. Make sure students of every ability level are included in each group. Think of something interesting to include about halfway or two-thirds of the way through the program. It could be an exciting duet or ensemble, a second instrument with accompaniment, or even an audience participation piece.Recital Crowd

I spend a lot of time preparing students for their formal recital. They are encouraged to dress up, and invite their extended family and friends. Stage lighting and the presence of many cameras are discussed ahead of time. Complete “formal performance” protocol is expected. I give out annual awards to each student after the recital and then host a reception where parents provide the food and I provide the punch. I describe it as an end of year celebration; no judges—just a great time to share their music and have fun.Food Table Decorations

Not withstanding the importance that I place on recitals, I have had students who cannot play in front of others, no matter how many ways I have tried to build their confidence. At this point good judgement and compassion need to rule the day. I do not believe that public performance is mandatory in order to learn to play the piano recreationally. We all know stories of adults who quit piano entirely because they could not deal with recitals. I don’t want any of my students to be pushed beyond their breaking point.

Please post your recital experiences below. Especially how you handle performance anxiety at recital time.

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Posted in Performing, Studio Management, Teaching Tips

Music Teacher Software

A new feature has been added to the File Area that allows you to create sub-folders. You can also create a folder without uploading a file.

Other improvements made this week:

  • Updated announcements so that the date is not displayed on the announcement.
  • Added the ability to sort lent items in the lending library.
  • Fixed 16 issues reported by the Quality & Assurance Team.

Summertime downgrade verse Annual Pricing

Are you thinking about downgrading your Music Teacher’s Helper plan for the summer months as a way to save money? We introduced annual pricing a while back to save studios the trouble of having to shift students to former status in order to reach the below plan. Annual Pricing is equivalent to two months free and is available to our long-time members that are “grandfathered” from previous pricing. For Basic plans, that’s less than $12 a month!

Another reason we introduced Annual Pricing is because members wanted to be charged once a year, instead of monthly. If you would like to switch to Annual Pricing, please check out these instructions on how to do so.

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Posted in New Features and Fixes

music teacher software

This week, we updated the HTML invoice template to make payment options clearer. This makes it even easier and self-explanatory for parents and adult students to pay you for lessons.

Other Improvements made this past week:

  • Fixed a scenario where students could cancel a lesson after the lesson was given.
  • Updated the birthday list to include only Active students.
  • Made 34 minor improvements and bugfixes reported by the Quality Assurance Team.

Let us know what improvements you’d like to see by giving your feedback here. And if you experience an issue while using the software, or just have general questions, please do not hesitate to contact support@musicteachershelper.com or 1-800-517-2811. Thank you for using Music Teacher’s Helper. Have a great week!

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Posted in New Features and Fixes

A few months ago, my wife hired a theater instructor, who specializes in improv, to come give a workshop for some legal mediators.  One exercise he had them do has had a wonderful impact on my music students.

All students struggle, in fact all musicians do, if truth be told.  Every musician at every level is trying to raise his or her own ceiling and get just a bit better than before.  However, there are some students who regularly do better than they will admit.  Their ambition to do well is great, but sometimes, if they demand too much perfection, they taint all their progress with a bad taste.  Nothing is good enough.  They simply get in their own way.
happysad
Jane, for example, would focus on getting all the notes right but her sound was meek and tentative.  We worked on that for a while and she made great progress quickly.  I complimented her on this, and encouraged her to keep it up and to value her new skill.

But all she could do was frown and look at me as if I was crazy.  She pointed out each of the notes she’d missed, especially the one that was way out of tune.  She talked as if I was either deaf or lying in order to make her feel better than she should.  It was very difficult to convince her that she had made an important step forward in her music making, regardless of a few sour notes.

This is when, finally, the lesson I heard about from the improv instructor paid off.   In one of his exercises, he had the students pair off and Read more…

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Posted in Practicing, Teaching Tips

using music teacher software

 Improvements made this past week:

  • Fixed 29 bugs and improvements reported by the Quality Assurance Team.
  • Added Barbados Dollars to currency options.
  • We removed the requirement for an email address when creating a student.

Let us know what improvements you’d like to see by giving your feedback here. And if you experience an issue while using the software, or just have general questions, please do not hesitate to contact support@musicteachershelper.com or 1-800-517-2811. Thank you for using Music Teacher’s Helper. Have a great week!

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Posted in New Features and Fixes