Sandra Lundberg

Sandra Lundberg

Anna at CSU Outdoor PianoHere are some ideas to move your studio forward this summer:

Hold a sight-reading challenge. Set out good sight-reading books from your library for students to choose from each week. Give out prizes at the end of summer for reading a certain number of pages.

Host a summer camp. You could hold your camp one day a week for a month, or four to five days in one week. It could be to attract new students, or a fun intensive for current students. I like “Way Cool Keyboarding” books by Musical Moments for great ensemble playing with beginners.

Attend a concert and invite your students. Give your students “points” in the fall for each concert they attend over the summer. Email notices of upcoming events in your area, especially free events for kids. There will be a free “Peter and the Wolf” performance in my local park in a few weeks, so I sent a flier out to all my families.

Get out all the fun music. Take a break from your regular repertoire and find something different and exciting to learn this summer.

Prepare for fall competitions. This is the time to polish up pieces that need to be ready to go in October or November. For ideas, see my blog on “Preparing for an Event or Competition.”

Organize your music and files. Check for overdue borrowed books. Label and file new music. Enter new music into your Music Teacher’s Helper library. I use cardboard magazine boxes on my bookshelves to organize my music into labeled categories, so that I can find books quickly.

Order a new computer or iPad game.  Learn to use it yourself this summer so you can use it in your media lab this fall. Check out “The iPad Piano Studio” by Leila Viss.

Attend a workshop or seminar. Local colleges or music stores often host guest artists or speakers. Consider traveling a little to immerse yourself in a blues workshop, or an improvisation seminar.

Recruit new students. This is the time of year parents are looking for a music teacher to begin lessons in the fall. Make sure you are on top of your marketing strategies. For marketing ideas check out my blog on “How Do You Attract New Students?”

Try out Music Teacher’s Helper. If you don’t already use this fabulous tool, summer would be a great time to learn all it can do for your studio and your sanity!

Plan your studio budget. I swear I only make $.03 per hour after you take into consideration all the time I spend outside of lessons, and the number of “toys” it takes to keep me having fun teaching. But seriously, summer is a great time to plan for the money aspect of the next school year. List your projected expenses, and then calculate how many students you need, and what you need to charge for lessons this coming year.

Think through individual student needs. Summer is a great time to ponder each student, make a list of their personal strengths and weaknesses, and how you can best move them forward.

Decide on your “theme” for the coming year. My students are on a mission to find out what our theme will be for next year! Read my blog on “Themes Add Focus to Your Teaching” for more about how this can enhance your school year.

Look into Michelle Sisler’s games and motivational tools. Michelle is so creative! Every year she comes out with more and better ideas. Check them out at http://keystoimagination.com.

Get your instrument tuned and repaired. If you have been putting off this task, now is the time to get everything in tip top condition.

Learn new music. You could read through new music for ideas for your students, or brush up on some higher level pieces you will be assigning. You could also spend more time on your own musical repertoire.

Read a book. I am enjoying the book “Make it Stick” by Peter C. Brown, recommended on this blog site. If you can’t attend a seminar, a book is an inexpensive way to update and expand your thinking on a particular subject.

Get healthy. I’m serious. It is the only way you are going to live through next winter and withstand all the germs that are going to be traveling through your studio. Summer is a great time to make changes in your health habits.

Rest and refresh your spirit. Summer is a great time to take time for you! Do something you love but never get time for. Get outdoors, take a mini vacation, enjoy your kids and family, or just sit and enjoy the beautiful sunshine and be grateful for all you have been given.

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Does your studio have more students than you can handle, or do you wonder if anyone even takes music lessons any more? Why do some people seem to attract more students than they need and others struggle to fill their time blocks?

This is a complicated question, with many variables.

First and foremost people are attracted to what is attractive, valuable, and somewhat hard to get. Even when you need students, you can’t appear needy. So the first thing you must consider when attracting new students is what you have to offer. What makes you unique and valuable? Get busy being the kind of teacher, with the kind of studio, that people would stand in line to get in to.

With that in mind, there is one source of new students that will out perform every other source. However, before I discuss that source, here are some general advertising ideas to get your studio on the radar. Remember to project a confident, positive attitude as you introduce yourself. Stay a little bit hard to get.

  • Leave business cards on local bulletin boards, with your hair dresser, the mail carrier, and anyone you do business with in your community.
  • Drop off business cards and fliers with local real estate agents.
  • Put fliers out in local neighborhoods, door to door when allowed. Go on a Saturday morning so you have a chance to actually meet some people.
  • Call the music teachers at your local schools and introduce yourself. Ask how you can be of help to them. Offer to accompany for some of their programs.
  • Join one of the online teacher referral websites, such as LessonRating.com.
  • Put up a flier at your church or community center.
  • Order a magnetic sign for the side or back of your car, giving your studio name and contact information.
  • If allowed, put up a sign in front of your home studio. I know a teacher who puts up a sandwich-board type sign on a busy corner near his home every Sunday afternoon for a few hours.
  • Join a local music teachers’ association and ask to be put on the list for referrals and to be listed on their website.
  • Pass out fliers or business cards at local children’s sporting events, or when parents are picking their children up from school.
  • Create a website and make sure your name comes up when people search for a teacher in your area. (This could be a whole separate article!)
  • Hold a summer camp for students who want to explore the piano.
  • Write a guest editorial on a musical topic for your local newspaper.
  • Set up a booth at a local fair or community-day activity.
  • Have an entry in the town parade and/or pass out fliers along the route.
  • Advertise in the program for a local school play.
  • Offer a free introductory workshop.
  • Give a local recital of your own music.
  • Offer preschool music or Kindermusic classes to get students ready for instrumental lessons.
  • Offer group classes for teens or adults.
  • Teach retired adults during school hours.

Finally, what is the far and away best source for students? Your current students, of course! Your students will naturally recommend you to their friends, but there are things you can do to encourage this. At the end of each school year I give out coupons for students to give to their friends for a free trial piano lesson. If they recommend a student who signs up full time, the current student also gets a free lesson. I also ask current parents to write a short paragraph of recommendation that I can post on my website. Basically, you want to make sure your current students and parents have referrals on their mind.

It can take months for momentum to build from your efforts, so don’t be discouraged and don’t quit advertising. Your efforts now are filling your studio six to twelve months from now. Even if you are currently full, you cannot stop promoting your studio.

Please comment on this article with ways you have found to attract students. I would love to hear your ideas!

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Student Compositions

Student Compositions

Do you teach composition skills in your studio? Many teachers tell me teaching composition is something they would like to do, but never seem to get around to doing. There are many reasons given: no time, not sure where to start, student hasn’t shown an interest, not sure how to teach it.

I would not really say I “teach” composition, but more that I “encourage” composition. This is the level of intentionality that I have found to be comfortable for me in this area. Hopefully you can find one or two ideas for your studio in this blog.

The biggest help I have found is to start early, before the student thinks it might be hard! Composition grows out of improvisation, so I include improvisation at the very first lesson, and give it a little time every week for the first year. Just 3-4 minutes is enough to keep the spark alive. Emphasize that there is no “right” way, and that the student’s ideas are just as legitimate as yours.

There are so many ways to do improvisation with young children. Start improv on the black keys so that everything sounds harmonious. Model ideas for the student, and encourage them to listen for interesting textures and sounds. Make the improv tell a story. Sometimes I make up a story line that matches a  [···]

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