Interviews

Teacher Feature | Sara’s Music Studio

As announced last Friday, today marks the beginning of the brand new “Teacher Feature” series, featuring interviews with ordinary teachers like you and I.  I’m so excited to be sharing with you today an interview with piano and voice teacher Sara Kimbell from Pennsylvania.  Read on!

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J.M.: Please tell us about your piano and/or teaching background! S.K.: My first piano lesson was from my mother when I was 5 years old. I moved around quite a bit as a child, so I had the opportunity to study with many talented piano teachers. In high school I started taking voice lessons, and made the decision to follow music as a college career. Fast forward eleven years (wow!), and I have a BM in vocal performance, a MM in musicology, an new adjunct position at a local university, and my very own music studio just three minutes from my house. This is my sixth year as a full-time piano/voice teacher, and I absolutely love my job!

What is the most unique thing about your studio? In a way, I think it’s the variety that you’ll find in my studio. My students vary widely in age and level, and every one of them has a unique reason for being there. Whether they are a young elementary piano student, intensely focused on learning music from “Harry Potter,” or an adult voice student with the goal of singing in their church choir, my students are wonderfully interesting and they always keep me very engaged! Continue reading “Teacher Feature | Sara’s Music Studio”

Interviews

Announcing a New Series: Teacher Feature!

I love reading interviews.  It’s great to hear the perspectives of different musicians on playing, teaching, and other topics.  After the great success of a few interview posts in the past (remember Andrea Dow, and the cousins Keri & Carolyn?), I began to realize that great interviews aren’t just for the big magazines and the great musicians.  Why not interview ordinary piano teachers like you and I?  We have so much to learn from each other, and we have valuable perspectives to share!

And thus, an idea for a new series was born: Teacher Features!  As needed, random Color In My Piano readers will be asked if they would be willing to be interviewed for this series.  The questions are non-intensive and (hopefully) fun to answer.  :)  I hope to post around 2 Teacher Features each month.

If you are dying to be interviewed so you can share your thoughts to the world, please send me an email!  Otherwise, stay tuned to read our first Teacher Feature interview coming on MONDAY!  :)

Happy weekend!

Forum Q&A's, Technology

Forum Q&A | Piano Lessons via Skype

Last week’s Forum Q&A post was about saying “no” to potential students, and we received some great responses!  Click here to check them out.  Here’s today’s discussion topic:

Advances in technology over the past few years have changed the way we live in many ways.  Online video conferencing services, for example, allow us to chat face-to-face with friends and family across the globe….and conduct piano lessons?!  With internet services becoming faster and audio compression quality also improving, offering lessons via video conferencing services such as Skype is becoming a more and more viable option.  It certainly is something for piano teachers to consider.

So, I’ve been doing some research to see what I could unearth about the set-up, feasibility, and success of Skype lessons.  Here’s what I found:

So, what are your thoughts?

Do you think Skype is a viable option as a way for independent music teachers to offer lessons?  What are the biggest adjustments or changes that the teacher and student would have to make in order for Skype lessons to be successful?  What pros and cons can you identify?  Would you ever offer lessons via Skype? 

Leave your comments below.

Update from Joy: I’ve decided to take the plunge and start offering live online piano lessons!  Check out the link to read more about me as a teacher and about how online piano lessons work.

Words of Wisdom

Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom

“Ah, music. A magic beyond all we do here!”

— J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Every Wednesday brings Words of Wisdom here at the Color in my Piano blog in the form of a musical quote or joke, intended to bring inspiration or humor to the middle of your week. Have suggestions? Send an email off to admin[at]colorinmypiano.com.

improving as a teacher, Professional Development

Studio Marketing: The Studio Newsletter

You may not immediately see a connection between your studio’s monthly newsletter and marketing…but there is one, I assure you!  Marketing means promoting your studio, which includes keeping current customers of your service satisfied.  One of the keys to keeping customers satisfied is over-delivering: giving more than expected.  Newsletters are one great way to over-deliver.  And so, in continuation of our series on studio marketing, we are talking today about studio newsletters.  :)   Continue reading “Studio Marketing: The Studio Newsletter”

Conferences

NCKP 2011 Coming Up!

In just a week and a half, I’ll be heading to Chicago for the National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy!  After attending to the MTNA National Conference for the first time in March, I am SO looking forward to heading to another conference.  Last time, I went solo — which wasn’t as bad as it sounds, because hey, when you’re at a conference full of people who love doing the same thing you do, you’re never alone!  Besides, I ran into Natalie Wickham and other teachers I know from online.  And I met many more teachers.  It was such a neat experience and I learned so much.  This time, however, I will be attending with my cousin and a good friend of mine.  I’m very excited!

Is anyone else going?  If so, please let me know!  And consider meeting up  — Wendy Stevens from the ComposeCreate blog is planning a meet-up at the Piano Teacher School booth on Thursday of the conference.  Read more here.

Rest assured that I’ll be posting plenty about the conference once I get back!  :)

improving as a teacher, Studio Business

Forum Q&A | When to Say “No” to a Potential Student

For our previous Forum Q&A, I asked about the legal side of being a business – becoming a Sole Proprietorship or an LLC, dealing with taxes, etc.  My previous private teaching has mostly been as an employee of the university’s Community Music School.  I find all the legal stuff for getting set up on your own to be so complicated!  I am thankful for all the infomation online, books in the library, and the advice I’ve been getting from other teachers.

I’m still sorting this all out, but I did decide to be a Sole Proprietor.  Becoming an LLC does have the benefit of protecting your personal assets in the event that someone should sue the business for some reason (they can go after your business assets but not your personal assets).  But setting up an LLC is more complicated and costly than a Sole Proprietorship.  Of course, as a piano teacher, the chances of getting sued are relatively low.  If you do want some protection, extra liability protection can often add something on to your current homeowner’s insurance policy for this purpose.  Oh, and another thing I learned — be sure to check with your city to see if they require a zoning permit for running a home business and having a sign outside for your studio.  Don’t I sound smart?!  I’m learning so much these days!  ;)

Regarding taxes — I decided to hire a CPA to handle my taxes for my first year or two, or until I can learn how to manage it all on my own.  I feel good about my decision.  Keeping track of my income and expenses shouldn’t be too complicated, but estimating quarterly taxes is complicated for me since I don’t really have anything to refer to from previous years.  My CPA should be able to help me get up-and-running.  :)

Anyway — I received a question yesterday from a reader that is perfect for this week’s Forum Q&A.  Here goes:

How do you know when to say “no” to a potential student?  What do you look for when you interview an interested student?  What kinds of questions do you ask to sift out whether you are going to accept the student?  And what do you do when you realize you’ve made a mistake with a student you said “yes” to?  

In all honesty, I kind of wish I had this problem!  Right now, I am saying “yes” to anybody who comes through my door.  Such is the life of a recently-relocated piano teacher.  :)

Advice, anyone, for this reader?

Photo Credit: Valerie Everett | CC 2.0

Words of Wisdom

Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom

“Music must never offend the ear, but must please the listener, or, in other words, must never cease to be music.”

— Mozart

Every Wednesday brings Words of Wisdom here at the Color in my Piano blog in the form of a musical quote or joke, intended to bring inspiration or humor to the middle of your week. Have suggestions? Send an email off to admin[at]colorinmypiano.com.

Professional Development, Studio Business, Technology

Studio Marketing: Communicating Value Through Your Website

Have you ever visited a website and been completely overwhelmed with the amount of information, ads, links, and CLUTTER?  Have also you ever visited a website and been impressed by the graphics and the ease with which you could find information?  This post is going to offer some tips for organizing and effectively communicating value through your studio website.

Studio Websites: A Necessity

Having a website is an important part of studio marketing.  In a world where the internet is now the first place parents turn for business information rather than the phonebook, teachers need to maintain an online presence.  The good news is, it’s a pretty affordable and easy way to market yourself as a piano teacher (see the resources section below) — definitely more affordable than an ad in the Yellow Pages!  Continue reading “Studio Marketing: Communicating Value Through Your Website”

Words of Wisdom

Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom

“I think music in itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we’re from, everyone loves music.”

— Billy Joel

Every Wednesday brings Words of Wisdom here at the Color in my Piano blog in the form of a musical quote or joke, intended to bring inspiration or humor to the middle of your week. Have suggestions? Send an email off to admin[at]colorinmypiano.com.