Author: cconrad

Each year, I find myself re-evaluating my studio policy, tweaking it and adjusting it as a result of things that I have learned throughout the year. When younger siblings were hanging out during older siblings’ piano lessons and becoming disruptive, I added a new policy about having no siblings present during lessons. When parents were cancelling piano lessons regularly in order to make sure their kids didn’t miss a volleyball game, I instilled a non-negotiable monthly fee regardless of missed lessons (totally changed my life, by the way!).  Having a studio policy in place to give students once they inquire about lessons — and then enroll at your studio– is invaluable. At the end of each school year, I adjust my policy and re-distribute it to all current students with any updates.

The trick for me in developing a studio policy that works is making sure that I don’t have so many rules and policies in place that it seems overwhelming to students, and being brief and concise in the way I explain them. Having a policy in place protects me as a teacher. If a student or family ever questions something, I remind them that it is part of my studio policy.

One of the challenges in scheduling piano lessons is that most of my clients are school aged children.  This means that by the time a student gets out of school and over to my home studio it is typically 4:00.  Most school aged children–especially the younger ones I tend to work with–are at their best if their lessons are over by 6:30 or 7.  And since we live in an area where people tend to go camping or skiing on the weekends (myself included), Friday and weekend lessons are not a viable option.  This means that I really only have about 12 hours of weekly teachable time (and income earning potential).

This past year, I’ve tried to get creative by expanding my studio offerings, and I have also observed many fellow studio owners in our area that have done the same.  Here are some ideas from my experience:

Last week I took an online training course to become a certified teacher of a new music program at my studio.  A great deal of time was spent on marketing, and teachers from all over weighed in and gave fantastic, orginal ideas that have helped them grow their studio effectively.  Here’s a few ideas I learned that I thought were worth sharing as we begin advertising for “back to school” at our studios:

  • Sample Classes-Set up a freebie class at your local library or community center for students to “sample” what you’re offering.  Bring enrollment forms and studio policy, and perhaps consider offering a one-time discount to families who sign up following the sample class.

At one of my recent teaching association meetings, we discussed how even studio owners and music teachers are feeling the affects of the bad economy.  As families tighten their belts a bit more and look for ways to lower their budget, some of their children’s extra curricular activities are seen as unnecessary luxuries.  Use some of the tips below to prevent your studio growth from becoming stagnant during lean times:

Educate your clients

Make sure your client base understands the importance of the service that you offer, and why it isn’t expendable.  I use quarterly newsletters to reiterate the importance of music lessons by linking studies and data that show the benefits of learning piano.  I also write occasional articles for our local parenting magazine about the benefits of music education.  Doing so helps my students and their families prioritize music lessons and hopefully look to cut other things out of their budget if they are faced with making difficult choices during financial hardships.

I used to panic when summer hit.  My students all assumed they had the summer off from piano lessons (as that was typical practice where I lived).  While a few students were still interested in taking lessons during the summer, the drastic drop in income always took some adjusting and required me to budget throughout the year in order to accommodate the financial swing.

Six years later, I actually look forward to summer.  While I still don’t teach full-time, I have worked my studio policy and studio offerings in such a way that allow me to spend less time in the studio and enjoy my summer a bit more, while also maintaining an income that is closer to my typical income during the school year.  Here are some of the things I have implemented to help ease the financial stress of the summer months: