Policies and Procedures

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.

Time management is an essential component of managing a studio. In addition to managing and planning the details on the business end, many studio owners take an active role in the lesson and class planning. In this month’s blog, I will summarize points from Marienne Uszler’s book, Time Flies…How to Make the Best Use of Teaching Time.

Like last month’s blog on the use of repetition in practice (Self-help Pedagogy: Part 1), the first step is to determine how you use lesson time by video or audio recording yourself teaching a variety of different lessons. Then, review the recordings and make a timeline noting how much time was spent on each activity.

In order to plan an effective music lesson for the Elementary, Intermediate and Advanced leves, Uszler suggests that the following six elements must be present:

Summer is such a great time to rest and read. For the next three months I will devote my blog to reviewing three small wonderful “self-help pedagogy” books written by Marienne Uszler that have really influenced my teaching.

There are three books in the series: Play it again, Sam…What, Why, and When to Repeat, Time Flies…How to Make the Best Use of Teaching Time and That’s a Good Question…How to Teach by Asking Questions. All three books are very practical and give specific teaching techniques, helpful hints and references for further research. They are short on words and length, but long on ideas and concepts.

Repetition of the same thought or physical action develops into a habit which, when repeated frequently enough, becomes an automatic reflex. – Norman Vincent Peale

Play it Again, Sam… is particularly appropriate for right now in my studio as students are learning new repetoire for the summer. Learning a new piece requires so much repetition. How many times do you have a student repeat a new idea in your studio? What types of repetition do you espouse? At first glance of Uszler’s book, I thought it might contain suggestions to make repetitions more fun using games and so forth. Well, not quite. This is not a quick fix – Uszler’s approach is holistic. It is about teaching concepts that will stick and developing independent learners capable of transferring skills.

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: