Music Teacher's Helper Blog

Growing your studio…

Trying something new…

I’ve been working on promoting and building my studio for the past month.  I got MANY great ideas at the Classical Singer Convention in Chicago at the end of May, thanks to Cynthia Vaughn at Magnolia Music Studio in Fort Collins, CO.  Cynthia has SO many amazing ideas and she worked with several other voice teachers to try to get as many as possible so that we could benefit from all this experience.

Several points were made:

  • Attract & Retain students
  • Show progress with
  • quantifiable advances
  • awards/competitions
  • roles/solos – community based
  • technical goals achieved
  • Have a Student Achievement Page on the studio website
  • Relevance – non-quantifiable advances in:
  • enjoyment
  • validation
  • feedback/applause – studio class BEFORE a recital!
  • Added Value:
  • Options in scheduling and payment (check/credit card)
  • bonuses – register early, get 10% off, register for summer & get free lesson
  • performance opportunities – find out who has space you can use!
  • Gain New Students
    • Word of mouth through different circles
    • teach styles OTHER than Classical/Musical Theater
  • Marketing:
    • Bold, creative, SELECTIVE (no mass emails!)
    • Distinctive logo (see my new logo here!) & business cards
  • Online Business Links
  • Facebook, LinkedIn
  • GOOGLE yourself & find out where you are listed – you might be surprised at what’s there AND what’s not! (I have an OLD listing that I’m trying to modify – the web address leads nowhere)

o   Advertising??

  • Facebook Advertising – can limit yourself to a small daily $$ & focus the market
  • Facebook Fan Page
  • I’ve tried Craigslist & gotten several spam emails and one VERY rude call from a potential student (she decided I was too far away – but by the 3rd word I’d decided I didn’t want to teach her)

o   EASY website address

o   Ask friends from around the country to come in & do special classes.  Just ask, “What would it take to get you here?”

o   Sight-reading workshops, songwriters, ticketed events => benefits? (get tickets at www.brownpapertickets.com)

o   Making Music Magazine – they’ll send a free subscription for you to hand out to your students

o   Logo products and merchandise – it’s free marketing!! $15/ea or $25/2, tote bags & t-shirts

o   advertise in an opera/community/young people’s theater program (maybe not as expensive as you might think)

“Voice Lessons may be your students’ hobby, but you can never treat it like a hobby.  It’s a BUSINESS and maybe, even a calling.”                                                                — Cynthia Vaughn

You must let your students know:

  • I am reliable, I almost never cancel lessons
  • I attend my students’ concerts & other performances
  • I appreciate the personality that makes them unique

You are the CEO of your own business.

Show you are a community asset.

  • support/join other arts organizations
  • collaborate with other teachers
  • join the local business organizations – often musicians are “foreign” to them!! J
  • Chamber of Commerce?
  • Get a state sales tax license for selling the logo merchandise (even if it’s just for pennies)
  • MTNA (Music Teachers National Association)
  • Federation of Music Clubs

Other ideas I’ve gotten from friends who’ve responded to the Facebook postings I’ve done are:

  • Get the book by Philip Johnston Promoting your Teaching Studio.
    • In late summer connect with music teachers in the local schools. Offer to do a fall workshop to kick start the choral programs. Advertise in the programs of any events your students are performing in (concerts, musicals, etc.)
    • Advertise in Christmas & year-end concerts at local schools
    • Discount summer rates/gift certificate if current students refer a new student who signs up for a minimum number of lessons (6 or so)
    • Attend as many performances as possible and congratulate students & the director in person. Directors and parents will consider you highly when asked for a referral if you support their program. If need to reschedule students, offer to take those students with you to see other studio mates in action!

WHAT I’VE DONE to promote my own studio:

  • New Studio Logo
  • Easy website name.  My studio website hosted & designed by www.musicteachershelper.com.  My website adress with them is www.rachelvelarde.musicteachershelper.com, which is extremely long & awkward when telling a prospective student your website over the phone.  You can purchase a short domain name for about $10/yr which will then FORWARD to your chosen site.  I’ve now chosen www.velardevoice.com, which I got from GoDaddy.  It also came with one free email, so my studio email is now rachel@velardevoice.com.  Consistency is the name of the game (plus, I have all of my email addresses dumped into www.gmail.com where I have the option of replying using the address the email was sent to – no one knows that I’m really using one email client to manage my mail, but I have everything in one place).
  • Advertising on Facebook (I’ve set a $1.50/day limit, but I’ve gotten interest & I can track how many clicks people use on the ad)
  • Advertising in the Family Market programs in the Phoenix Area – turns out most of the bigger Children’s Theater companies (there are 4 major ones here) use the same company to produce their programs. The programs are paid for solely from advertising & then are provided free to the community. So, I’m supporting the arts & advertising at the same time. Those will begin running in October. (Thanks, Dad, for that small business loan!)
  • Signing up for websites: www.GetLessonsNow.com, www.Teachstreet.com, Facebook Fan page for the studio, www.vocalist.org.
  • Going to my social media websites every day to click on the links – the more “cross-linking” you have the higher up in the search engines they’ll show. This takes about 10 minutes daily, but I think it’s worth it!  Put links for your teaching site on your solo site, and vice versa.  I also have a “button” for my Facebook Fan Page on the front of my studio Home Page.   It’s not that hard to do.
  • Consistent branding with my logo – I have business cards, a promotional flyer, car door magnets & a downloaded logo to use on anything I do (including throughout my web presence) thanks for www.vistaprint.com (if you even MIGHT be in the market for any of these things, go to Vistaprint & sign up for the promotional emails – they give GREAT deals & then when you check out they always offer you more, so under order!)
  • Free Google local business listing – choose your keywords wisely
  • I’m looking into forming an LLC that will cover my voice studio, my solo performing & anything else I do that is music – that will most likely have to wait until fall, but I think it’s a good idea to create that kind of umbrella.

Good luck with your own studio promotions!  People ARE looking to get lessons, they just need to know where to go & how to go about it.  Let me know what you end up doing by commenting here on the blog.  I’m posting this at www.rachelvelarde.com AND at www.musicteachershelper.com blogs.  This is good information for everyone.

Any more ideas???

About the Author

Rachel Velarde
I began my music career in Bloomington, Indiana. After receiving my B.A. in Music from Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts, I earned two Master of Music degrees at Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona. Luminaries I have worked with include Vernon Hartman, James Caraher, Lorenzo Malfatti, Shirlee Emmons, Mary Sue Hyatt, John Sikora, David Jones, David Britton, and Carol Smith.

I offer ... [Read more]

13 Comments

  1. music t shirts

    It doesn’t prevent pirating of the music, but it turns the music back into something physical fans might want to pay for. That’s half the battle.

  2. A.J.Johnson

    Great post…

  3. Amy Blevins

    Thank you so much for a wonderful post!!! As a newer voice teacher (starting my 3rd year full time), you have some great ideas for me to look into. Wonderful!!!

  4. Sarah Luebke

    I love the format of your personal solo website. Did you create that yourself, or are you hosted by a service? Great ideas…. thanks!!

  5. Rachel Velarde

    A.J. & Amy – Glad you found many of these suggestions helpful! Most of what’s at the top of the post is courtesy of the workshop I went to at the Classical Singer Convention with Cynthia Vaughn (www.magnoliamusic.com). She’s fabulous & extraordinarily helpful. Passing on info to other teachers is ALWAYS a great idea. The more we cooperate amongst ourselves, the better everyone will be!
    Sarah – Thanks for the compliment on my personal website. I had that designed by a web designer, but I maintain it so he doesn’t have to do every update. I would be more than willing to give you contact information for him, if you’d like. Please feel free to email me at rachel@velardevoice.com. Thanks!! Happy teaching everyone!
    Rachel

  6. Wendy

    The Music Makers magazine….I could not find how to get a free subscription on their web site. It says it’s $16.95 for six issues. I didn’t see anything about “free.”

  7. Rachel Velarde

    I was told about this by Cynthia Vaughn. I too, couldn’t find the info on the website & so emailed them and requested magazines. I received an email response, but haven’t yet received magazines. I’m assuming that I’ll get some soon – keep you updated!

  8. Cynthia Vaughn

    Rachel, thanks for the great recap of my convention presentation. Wow! You were definitely paying attention. You’ve added some excellent suggestions of your own. I found your blog by doing something I recommend–Google yourself or your studio name once a week or so to see what comes up and how far down the listings your studio is in a generic online search.
    Thanks again for posting the convention info. I’ll share it with teachers who couldn’t join us in Chicago.
    I love your new logo and studio website. Terrific!

  9. Cynthia Vaughn

    Re MAKING MUSIC MAGAZINE
    “Better Living Through Recreational Music Making”
    http://www.MakingMusicMag.com

    In the July/August issue there is a free one-year subscription offer on a tear off postcard: “Send in this card to start your FREE subscription and learn how recreational music making can lead to a happier, more balanced life.”
    As an option to the mail-in card you can call 800-724-9700 ext 116 or visit the website: http://www.makingmusicmagazine.com/concir

    This offer is good for your students for a single subscription. To distribute multiple copies at your studio bi-monthly, talk directly to circulation, They’ll even put you on their online map of “Where to find a copy” Thats free advertising for your studio!
    I print and afix labels with my studio logo, web URL and phone number and “Compliments of Magnolia Music Studio. I leave copies in my waiting area and information box. I also take a few free copies for church choir member to read and share.

    Bottom line—–they have some big time music industry advertisers like Sony and Korg. They need a big readership of moms and baby boomers to keep those advertisers so a free subscription benefits everyone. 🙂

    I LOVE the content and mission of this magazine! I often read it cover to cover while my serious music journals are still in the shrink wrap. Recent articles (July/August):
    Rockin’ Moms–Juggling Kids, Life, and Gigs
    Why Does Music Help us Relax? Its Science.
    Music Diplomacy-Drumming in Iraq
    Music From the Heart: a rewarding career in music therapy

  10. Rachel Velarde

    Cynthia – thanks so much for the words of encouragement. You inspire me! All your great ideas have been (and are) so helpful in me building my studio in a professional BUSINESS-LIKE way!
    Making Music Magazine also has a blog that has some great reads in it at: http://feeds2.feedburner.com/MakingMusicMag

  11. Amy Mushall

    This is a great resource – thanks for sharing the information from Cynthia’s workshop. I’m in the process of starting a studio in my home and am trying figure out if I need an LLC or not. Do most teachers have one to protect themselves? I’d love to hear everyone’s thoughts on this topic! Thanks.

  12. Rachel Velarde

    Hi Amy! I am JUST now, after 14 years as a studio teacher, changing over to an LLC. This allows me to take my studio expenses out, before profits are figured, rather than do everything as a deduction on my taxes. It makes the division of money between “my” money & “the studio’s” money more clear-cut. As you can tell, it’s not a step I did immediately, but now, especially since I have more direct costs (advertising, internet, phone) that are specifically attributable to the studio, I want to be able to take those off the top. But, I HAVE had business liability insurance attached to my homeowners policy for years. This allows for injury, etc. to be covered. I would highly recommend looking into that. Best of luck!

  13. […] going to annual conventions of some kind (the Classical Singer Convention last year led me to implement quite a few business/marketing ideas – link to my MTH blog posting on the subject from July 2009 – to the end that my studio is […]

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