Festival, exam and competition season is upon us. How do you prepare your students for these events? I take this part of my teaching very seriously, mostly because I had a negative experience at a music exam as a student myself. My first piano teacher registered me for a piano exam and I had absolutely no idea what to expect, was not coached on any of the components of the exam, and left feeling like a failure. Luckily, I did not lose my drive for music and instead found a much more competent teacher who took the time to make sure I was prepared. What I learned from her was invaluable to me as both a performer and teacher. Most of this is common sense, but I would like to share some of my ideas.

I love the holidays and the opportunities it presents for me as a studio owner. Last month, I shared some of the ways that I use Halloween in all its glory to generate some performance and marketing opportunities at my studio. With Christmas fast approaching, I’ve switched out my pumpkin and witch practicing stickers for the likes of Santa and his elves.


Pretty much any piano method book has a supplementary book for the holidays, making a holiday recital a pretty easy thing to throw together. But rather than a typical performance at a typical recital venue, I like to use the holidays to teach my students that they can use their musical gifts to serve others. Each year, we select a local nursing home and have students perform their holiday pieces for a get-together there. The residents love it, and often students will go beyond just playing a piece and bake cookies or color cards for the residents and interact with them after the performance. Students also enjoy the casual, laid-back atmosphere as opposed to a more formal venue — it’s not unusal for a student to perform in a Santa hat or even sing along to others’ playing. Since I also teach 2-3 year old music classes, they will accompany my piano playing on bells or another percussion instrument to a Christmas carol.

“Gratitude is the best attitude.” ~Author Unknown

The holiday season is a time for giving thanks. Do your customers really know how much you appreciate their business? What do you do to express your gratitude? In order to develop good customer service and build your brand, recognizing your clients for their loyalty goes a long way. Most businesses have some kind of special event, sale or special recognition for their customers. We, as studio business owners, are no different. When I first considered this, I asked myself the question and thought that I wasn’t doing much, but after some reflection, realized that I already do quite a bit – not to say that I can’t do more! There is always room for improvement!

The holidays are the perfect time to utilize fun and original ideas and enhance performances, lessons and even marketing. Halloween is a popular, kid-friendly holiday that lends itself to some exciting opportunities for the studio. Performances This year my collaborative fall recital with other teachers in my local association fell three days before Halloween. The students that performed from my studio played a variety of Halloween-themed pieces, with a duet of Grieg's...

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In the last of this three-part series, I will review ideas from Marienne Uszler’s book, That’s a Good Question…How to Teach by Asking Questions. To begin, start by examining your own teaching either by audio or video recording yourself, or by simply taking notes and being aware of how you interact with students by asking questions. Do you do all of the talking? Do you allow time for the student to answer? Do you listen to the student’s answer? What types of questions do you employ, closed or open?