I own and operate a small piano studio out of my home, and the summertime is always a bit of a financial struggle for me.
When I took piano lessons growing up, we always continued our lessons during the summer. They were a bit more sporadic, since my teacher usually took a vacation and my family usually took a vacation, but it certainly wasn’t as though we took the summer off.
When I began teaching piano in Milwaukee, I was surprised to discover that teachers in the area gave summers completely off from piano lessons. Most of my students expected that I would be doing this same thing. My first year of teaching, though it went against my instincts and desires, I decided to appease the masses and gave my students the summer off.
I will never do it again.
It was extremely frustrating for students and for me when they came back in the fall. They were out of the habit of practicing consistently (or at all…), their technique was poor, and many of my beginning piano students had even forgotten how to read music at all. We spent the first two months of the fall reviewing instead of moving forward. Aside from the difficulties it posed for continued progression, it was also extremely difficult financially.
Don’t Shut Your Studio Down Completely
It’s certainly nice to have a bit of a break for yourself and for your customers/students, but it doesn’t mean that you need to close your doors for three months. I let my piano students know up front that they will be required to take a minimum number of lessons during the summer months in order to hold their lesson spots for the fall. It helps keep a little bit of income flowing, and keeps students learning and moving forward, even if it is at a more relaxed pace during the summer.
Use the extra free time to offer summer camps. To encourage enrollment, you could offer a small discount to current students who register for a summer camp, or a discount to summer camp students who enroll for services at your studio during the fall. Consider teaming up with other teachers in the area to offer a multi-faceted summer camp. For example, if your studio offers dance classes, partner up with a theatre director and vocal coach to offer an arts-based camp.
Even if you have your studio open for part time work and offer a few camps, you may not make the same income during the summer months as you do during the school year. As you set up your budget and finances at the beginning of each year, be sure to set aside some money each month of the school year to help tie you over during the summer months.
Use the Extra Time to Hone Your Skills
Consider taking a workshop, college course, or even beginning work towards a second degree or certification during the summer months when you have more free time. Your customers will, of course, benefit from the experience and insight you gain. You will also be able to advertise your increased knowledge and experience and perhaps even increase your fall rates accordingly.