Studio Management

Billing, scheduling, collections, fee raising, and other related topics.

The Studio is the room where you actually give the private lessons to your students. Everything I need to give the student a quality lesson is in this room.

The basics include chairs, music stands and instruments needed for the lesson. Since I teach guitar, bass guitar, piano and voice, I have two guitars, a bass and piano. Occasionally students will leave their guitar at home, as they will be coming from work or school. I keep an extra chair in the room for a parent or two student lesson.
A white board hangs on the wall in front of the student. I use the board to further instruct students in music theory. Chord charts and music charts hang on the wall next to the white board for the student’s reference.

I keep my laptop computer next to me so I can review the notes from the last lesson as well as input notes for the current lesson into Music Teacher’s Helper. A speaker system is also connected to play needed music, as well as a printer to print music for the student. [···]

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Every home studio needs a waiting room, bathroom and teaching studio. In this article I will tell you how I use the waiting room to promote my business and retain students.

My studio waiting room has the basic furniture, such as several recliners, rockers and a long couch. Magazines are put out on a coffee table by students, parents and me. I also have a water cooler in a corner as well as a 27″ television set hooked to cable. This is a must for a waiting room.

Other items in the waiting room are to promote and retain students, such as…

  • A snack bar, which contains a variety of snacks. I look for bulk items of candy and other snacks that average about 25 cents. I sell the snacks for 75 cents, and the purchaser puts the money in a jar next to the snacks.
  • The end tables display my business cards, which parents take quite frequently for interested friends. I also let the parents display business cards and fliers for their business.
  • A large bulletin board displays announcements and photos of studio events.
  • In the front of the room, next to the tv, is a computer which runs a PowerPoint presentation of studio news, music trivia and photos of students and various musicians. There are also reminders such as when the monthly fee is due.
  • I have a payment box in the waiting room which has an opening on the lid for parents or students to drop their monthly lesson fee. This box also helps to remind them that they need to leave a payment.

I have witnessed many different activities taking place in the waiting room when I walk in following a lesson. A few of them are:

  1. A mom, cross-legged on the floor, with her checks spread out, balancing her checkbook.
  2. A father asleep and snoring on the couch.
  3. A group of parents watching a football game, and asking if they can stay around a few more minutes.

At least once a month, when a student is in the studio on a different day and time for a makeup lesson, the student and parent find another parent and student in the waiting room who turns out to be close friends of theirs. They both knew that their children were taking music lessons, but had no idea it was from the same teacher.

Yes, the waiting room is a magical place for parents and students alike, and a valuable resource for the teacher.
What are ways you put your waiting room to use? Any suggestions?

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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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