teacher Tag

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:

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?

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: