In 2005, I very happily began employment as a teacher in a private school in West Virginia. While I always kept a few private students on the side, I enjoyed working in the classroom setting. Then in the summer of 2008, the school hit hard economic times, resulting in half of the staff losing their jobs, including me. By the next summer, the school had closed.
What does this have to do with private teaching? Well, my sudden loss of employment gave me some time for reflection. I had been teaching privately and consistently since my late teens. I love teaching, whether in a classroom or one-on-one. I came to a conclusion and starting concocting a plan. The conclusion: Private teaching had always treated me well, and I wanted to make that my primary source of income. The plan: Live simply and devote my energies to building my private teaching studio.
I will spare you the gory details of the next few years. Suffice it to say that I became sidetracked from my plan by various job offers. No matter what I was doing, though, I always felt a burning desire to focus on my private teaching. Ultimately, in April 2010 (Yes, nearly two years later.), I devoted all of my energy and efforts to the cause of private teaching. Six months later, I went from a few students each week to having a full schedule. This, in combination with a decent gigging schedule, is now how I support myself.
In April, when I finally hunkered down, I asked myself one question: What has worked until now? The answer was simple: Having a strong reputation and a presence in the community has been the primary reason new students keep calling. So, I needed to decide how to continue to make that aspect work for me. While I did use various methods, such as local marketing and some cold calling, the primary tool to my success has been networking with other teachers.
How does such networking work? After a few phone calls, I had successfully linked myself with two other private teachers in the community. Now, we work in tandem rather than against one another. We are able to offer lessons as a unit. If someone calls for private lessons, we are able to offer them practically any time and date on the calendar and we are able to offer lessons on a wider variety of instruments because each of us has our own specialty. Additionally, networking in this way has allowed us to stretch our availability into various localities since each of us is able and willing to travel different directions and distances.
This type of networking has accomplished so much and it has been very successful. It has helped each of us continue to develop our community presence, and has made us the authority to turn to when it comes to private music lessons. It has lightened our workload when it comes to recitals since we are able to share the weight in regard to planning. Most importantly, we are able to provide quality education to aspiring musicians. Instead of having to turn students away due to full schedules, we are able to pass potential students over to one another, leaving very few for the dreaded waiting list. Overall, networking has been one of the best decisions I have made as a teacher.
About the Author
Jael Strong is active as a private music teacher and performer. She performs as a violinist with The Howard Report, the Dana New Music Chamber Orchestra and various other music groups. Jael is also a writer for The Write Bloggers, a professional writing service with builds clients’ authority status and overall net visibility.