Written by: Carly Seifert
Owning your own studio can be a bit lonely. Especially if your studio is small, and you don’t have other employees and aides with whom you interact regularly. But being a studio owner doesn’t need to be isolating. There are many professional organizations out there that can provide opportunities for comraderie and collaboration and the reasons to join them are many.
When I first knew our family would be moving, I contacted the president of the local music teachers organization from the area where we were relocating. When I got to town, I had coffee with her and discussed ways to get started with students. She was incredibly helpful in helping me understand the market in my new town, and since her studio was full, she referred three students my way. Through word of mouth, these three students grew to twelve students in a few short months. Another teacher in our organization gave my name out to a local school, where I also picked up several students. I have done my best to pay it forward; now that I have a waiting list, I have sent students to new teachers in our group and I know that they, too, have been grateful for the referrals. It is my experience that teachers in these groups want to support one another and help each other grow their studios whenever possible.
One of the wonderful things about being part of a group is having others in your field with whom to discuss ideas or potential business plans. When I decided to open a group piano studio last fall, another teacher in our organization was helpful in providing names of group method books to explore. I have been able to suggest certain pieces to other teachers who have students that are struggling to feel motivated. A teacher in our group recently gave me some creative discipline ideas for a particularly rowdy group of boys I have in a piano class. We often spend time during meetings encouraging one another in new endeavors and providing feedback for particular challenges.
I know that I am a better teacher because of the ongoing educational opportunities I have had through my various teaching organizations throughout the years. I have been able to attend fantastic workshops and masterclasses offered through state and district groups. At these workshops, I have been exposed to new repertoire for my students, learned creative ways to motivate struggling students, and observed incredible teaching styles. I have pages and pages of notes to show for it–notes that I still use and refer to often.
Opportunities For Your Students
My students have been actively involved in various festivals and recitals that are held through my teaching groups. In Wisconsin, the majority of the students under my instruction participated in an annual Junior Festival where they played two pieces for an ajudicator and earned scores. Here in Montana, my students participate in a masterclass held at Montana State University each spring and also play in collaborative recitals where they are able to perform on a Steinway piano–the same model as Carnegie Hall–purchased by the Bozeman Symphony. Since I teach a relatively small amount of students, I so appreciate the opporunities that come from being part of a larger group. I am sure my students and their families do, too!
I’ll be honest: I look forward to my monthly music teacher meetings at the coffee shop as much for the chance to visit with other teachers about their lives and families as I do for the chance to brainstorm about recital opportunities for our students. Since teaching doesn’t allow me the same adult interaction as someone who works at a department store or in a busy office building, I enjoy these moments of being able to get to know my colleagues and peers. They are wonderful people and excellent teachers, and I firmly believe that my association with them has helped me grow tremendously in my role as teacher and studio owner.