Cathy Conrad

Cathy Conrad

When I moved to Denver, Colorado from Atlanta, Georgia eight years ago, I started working for a company that built computers. I began advertising for music students in my home for January 2001 by leaving brochures at a national chain music company, Guitar Center. By April 2001 I had signed up thirty students and had to quit my job at the computer company. I gave the music lessons in the finished basement area of my town home, providing me enough area for a waiting room, restroom, and two teaching studios.
I currently keep between forty and fifty guitar, bass guitar, piano and voice students, as well as teach music full time at a local high school. Most of my private students are referrals, although I continue to leave business cards and brochures at the music store as well as in schools.

There are advantages and disadvantages to having a home music studio. However, the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages of a home music business. Let’s start with the advantages.

ADVANTAGES

  1. Working your business from home gives you many tax deductions, including utilities and mortgage interest or rent deductions.
  2. You have more control over the studio enviroment verses working as a teacher in a music store. You can design the layout of the studio and use furniture/equipment that works the best for you and your students.
  3. There are no music studio rental fees to pay.
  4. Parents enjoy the relaxed atmosphere of a home studio waiting room. In a music store, parents usually wait in hallways on metal chairs. Many times parents and students from two different families will run into each other during lessons, not knowing that the other family also took lessons in the same studio.

Disadvantages

  1. Wear and tear on carpets, walls, entrance door, etc. Students carrying instruments often put small holes in the walls.
  2. Housekeeping needs to be done regularly, such as cleaning the bathroom, waiting room and studio, vaccuming, refilling supplies such as toilet paper, paper towels, and paper cups. And when it snows or rains, students and their family tend to track debris and mud into your home.
  3. There is an increase in your utility bills. On some occasions, students leaving the home left the front door open, causing the heat or air to stay on.

Next week I will discuss the layout of my studio, beginning with the Waiting Room. I will show you how I use the waiting room to market my business and handle collections while providing the students and parents a relaxing atmosphere. This is the room where the lessons begin and end.
The studio should work for you, helping you to recruit new students, retain current students, and provide the best learning enviroment for both you and your students.

I look forward to your comments and advice on your experiences in running a music studio business at home. What do you see as advantages and disadvantages? What are your success stories with your home music studio? What are your strategies?

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I read an interesting post today by a teacher who was so frustrated about her student’s that she was in tears. Many of the subsequent posters were sympathetic and offered sympathies equal to “it isn’t the teacher’s fault if the children don’t practice, the parents are always on the cell phone,” blah, blah, blah!

Not wanting to steal John Stossel’s thunder “Give me a break!” this teacher has thirty seven students that are performing in the recital and she is focused on the few that can’t make it or are not doing well.

Students are like clay – they need to be molded and shaped. It is true the parents can be the biggest influence, but to pass the buck solely to the parents, and have a pity party for one teacher is just not reasonable.

My son’s music teacher is far more inspiring than I have ever been and he garners so much respect from the children he teaches that it is actually the children leading the charge to practice. 

As far as parents at lessons talking on cell phones, this probably has little or nothing to do with the student practicing, and at this point, is just an accelerant to the already present frustration.

Teachers should make it their resolve to bring the lessons to life, be inspiring and most of all be inspired. Remember what made music your first love. I doubt that any of us are playing instruments because our parents nagged us so enthusiastically that we just couldn’t wait to play again. My brother and I are still grounded in two sates as a result of refusing to practice. He plays three instruments and composes music and I play both the radio and the piano.

There is a saying in football “Any given Sunday, any team can win!” This is true on every day for every student. On any given day any student can become inspired.

To all of the frustrated teachers who feel that the parents are not pitching in, the students aren’t practicing and they are just plain discouraged, I say “Carpe Diem!”

Make today the day that you handle your student’s challenges with grace and view them as opportunities not obstacles!

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