Studio Business

Lessons Learned From Relocating & Rebuilding a Piano Studio Business

Nearly a year ago, while attending the 2017 Indiana Music Teachers Association state conference I had the opportunity to chat with friend and fellow blogger Daniel Patterson (of GrowYourMusicStudio.com). We were talking about studio marketing, and I shared with him a story about what I had learned from rebuilding my studio from scratch after relocating to Ohio back in 2011. He was intrigued by my story, and invited me to participate in a recorded video conference sharing my experience.

Here is that video!

Studio Business Advice with Joy Morin

Today’s short video is a “case study” of two teachers…They both lived in the same town. They both started their studios at the same time.But after a year or two, one was making more money in their teaching studio.Why?That is the topic of today’s video with my friend, Joy Morin (of the Color in My Piano blog). Click below to watch this 9 minute video:

Posted by Grow Your Music Studio on Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Here’s a few points you’ll gain from the video:

  • 0:40 How I marketed my studio, because I couldn’t rely only on word-of-mouth being in an unfamiliar area. 
  • 2:30 Why I’m glad I trusted my instinct when it came to setting my tuition rates. The big lesson learned: It may not be wise to assume that having low tuition rates will result in gaining new students more quickly. 
  • 5:00 What it was like in those early months, waiting for my studio to grow. I did the marketing I could, but I needed to be patient until my studio grew to my benchmark goals. 

Your turn: What was helpful from Daniel’s and my conversation? What lessons have you recently learned from experience as a studio owner? 

Feel free to visit Daniel’s facebook page to watch more of his video conversations. 

Printables, Studio Business

Printable: “About Me” Student Profile Cards

For the past two years, I’ve been using these “About Me” student profile cards. I’m always looking for ways for my students to see and get to know each other!

At the beginning of the school year, I printed the profile cards on colorful paper and we took time during lessons to fill them out with a felt-tipped marker. I took a photo of each student sitting at the piano with my iPhone set on the square crop setting. Later, I imported all the photos into a Microsoft Word document, resized each image to 3×3 inches, printed the document, and attached each cut-out photo to the profile cards with a circle of tape. As a final touch, I decided to laminate each profile card.

Displaying these in the studio helps build a feeling of camaraderie and being part of a team! (Wanna read more about team-building in the studio? Check out my friend Christina’s guest post on Amy Chaplin’s blog here.)

To hang the profile cards in my studio, I used clothespins and a length of twine string. I used adhesive Command Decorating Clips (you can buy these at Hobby Lobby or Michaels and use their weekly 40% off coupon available inside their app) to hang the string, instead of putting nails in the wall.

Here’s a photo from last year of the profile cards hanging in my previous studio space. I love the color they added to the walls. And parents and students always enjoy looking at them!

Feel free to download my “About Me – Student Profile Cards” on the Printables > Other Resources page.

  About Me - Student Profile Cards (118.8 KiB, 3,376 hits)

(Note: The favorite book of mine mentioned on the green profile sheet pictured should have been titled: “Intelligent Music Teaching” by Robert Duke. Excellent book! Read my review here.)

Studio Business

Freebie: Lesson Attendance Sheet Updated for 2017-18

I have just finished updating one of the studio business forms from the Printables page for the 2017-18 school year.  It is called the Record of Lesson Attendance & Payment PDF.  I do not currently use this form myself anymore, but I still receive requests from teachers are using it so I am happy to update it again this year!

In case you haven’t seen this, here is how the form works: Write your students’ names in the first column.  Each week, write the lesson date (in a month / date format) in the column for that week.  This is how you can track attendance.  The small circles in each cell are where you can write checkmarks indicating tuition payments.  Whether you charge by-the-week or by-the-month, you can place a checkmark by each paid lesson date.

Screen-shot-2010-06-27-at-9.33.12-PM

Download it below or on the Printables > Studio Business page.

  Record of Lesson Attendance & Payment (2018-19) (199.8 KiB, 26,547 hits)

P.S.: Here is a link to where I explain my current system for tracking payments received.

Announcements, Studio Business

Printable: Student Ideas for Studio T-Shirt Design

It’s almost time for me to order this year’s studio T-shirts! This year, instead of coming up with the design idea myself, I decided to ask my students for their ideas. So, recently I set up this station in my studio:

On the printable you see in the photo, students can draw their own T-shirt idea and then vote for any/all of the ideas that appeal to them the most.

I am excited to see the ideas coming in!

You are welcome to use this printable if you’d like. Download it below or by visiting the Printables > Other Resources page under “Studio T-Shirt Design Idea Printable.”

  Studio T-Shirt Design Idea Printable (229.8 KiB, 923 hits)

(See my past years’ studio T-shirt designs here.)

Studio Business

The Possibility of Making a Healthy Income Doing What You Love as a Piano Teacher

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“I don’t do this for the money. I just love teaching kids/music.”

How often have you said or thought this? And how often have you heard this sentiment from fellow teachers?

Problem: There is a huge, rather unhealthy assumption implied in this narrative. The false assumption is that teaching kids/music is at odds with the desire or need to generate income.

Is doing what we love as a teacher actually at odds with making a good living? Let’s explore this further.

Is there something wrong or unethical about earning money doing something that you are passionate about? Is there something wrong with earning money being a teacher, arguably one of the most important professions in the world as it so directly impacts the next generation? Especially as piano teachers, artists, seeking the particularly challenging aim of nurturing the minds and spirits of learners? Is there something wrong with earning money from our art, our musical ability? Is there something about generating an income that nullifies, dilutes, or contaminates our art or our dedication to teaching?

While it may be true that our passion for teaching impels us more than does our practical need to make a living, it does not diminish – nor is it necessarily at odds with – the legitimate priority of generating an income. It is a prevalent but mistaken notion that we must choose one or the other, or prioritize one over the other: making a living versus doing what we love.

Not only artists tend to fall into this trap. Most people view their career goals through a false dichotomy consisting of two general categories: Job A, which pays well but isn’t a job I would much enjoy – or Job B, which doesn’t pay well but would allow me to do what I love.

When I was growing up, my pastor used to say: “If you ask the wrong question, you are sure to get the wrong answer.”

Because here’s the thing: Why should we necessarily have to settle between either doing what we love or making a healthy income? Those aren’t the only two options. Why can’t we aim for a third option – Job C, having both?

This false narrative is prevalent in society. Despite the importance of teachers, society tends to believe teachers deserve a low income (at least, here in America it is often the case). And every artist must come to terms with generating an income with his/her art. Including us piano teachers.

We need to recognize and address the false narrative and replace it with a better one. We must advocate for the possibility of both; we must argue for the rationale of and embrace the propriety of doing what we love while making a good income.

Making a living and doing what we love isn’t an “either or”. Let’s stop believing that, and know that we can have both.

Let’s move forward together with a shared commitment to the pursuit of generating a healthy income doing what we love.

Call To Action

Have you found yourself assuming that doing what you love and making a regular and reliable income seem at odds? Please post in the comments below.


If you liked this article, check out my online course offered through Piano Teacher Institute with Joy Morin. My course teaches you how to make a regular and reliable income doing what you love: teaching piano. The next 6-week session is starting up soon. Join the email list at this link to receive the details.


[As a brief, somewhat related aside: Many in society tend towards an unexamined, counter-productive notion that non-profits are inherently unethical if/when they are successful, and strategic; that is, for example, compensating their employees sufficiently to attract competent executives, etc. Watch this eye-opening TED talk for more on how we tend to punish and handicap charities.]

Studio Business

What I Learned From My Recent Survey

Recently, I sent out a questionnaire in hope of learning a bit more about my readership and the general outlook within the piano teaching profession. As promised, I want to share with you a little bit about what I’ve learned from all of your wonderful responses.

It was very revealing to hear common issues described by teachers. The most frequently cited problems for piano teachers fell into one of three general topic areas:

1. Feeling as if students do not prioritize piano study enough or do not practice effectively.

2. The challenges of running a business; including finding clients, advertising, marketing, policies, taxes, etc.

3. Dissatisfaction with the rate – or with particular aspects – of student progress.

Do these responses surprise you? Do you feel less alone, knowing that so many of us deal with the same issues?

Thanks so much for sharing your input. I hope here at ColorInMyPiano.com we can continue to address together and share about these issues that matter.

Studio Business

Freebie: Lesson Attendance Sheet Updated for 2016-17

I have just finished updating one of the studio business forms from the Printables page for the 2016-17 school year.  It is called the Record of Lesson Attendance & Payment PDF.  I do not currently use this form myself anymore, but I have received quite a few requests from teachers who used it last year so I was happy to update it again this year!

In case you haven’t seen this, here is how the form works: Write your students’ names in the first column.  Each week, write the lesson date (in a month / date format) in the column for that week.  This is how you can track attendance.  The small circles in each cell are where you can write checkmarks indicating tuition payments.  Whether you charge by-the-week or by-the-month, you can place a checkmark by each paid lesson date.

Screen-shot-2010-06-27-at-9.33.12-PM

Download it below or on the Printables > Studio Business page.

  Record of Lesson Attendance & Payment (2018-19) (199.8 KiB, 26,547 hits)

P.S.: Here is a link to where I explain my current system for tracking payments received.

Announcements, Studio Business

2016 Studio T-Shirt

Look at what arrived in the mail recently! I love how our T-shirts turned out this year.

2016 T-shirt selfie w

Since 2012, I’ve ordered studio T-shirts each summer as a gift for my students. It’s a fun way to show appreciation for being a part of my studio and build camaraderie among my students. And it’s good marketing, too.

Just for fun, here’s a peek at the designs from past years.  Continue reading “2016 Studio T-Shirt”

Music Camps, Studio Business

Free: Editable Form for Summer Lesson and Music Camps Selection

Today, I thought I’d share the form I have been handing out to my students for the past couple of years in order to present summertime camp/lesson options.

The top of the handout presents the music camp descriptions and dates/times.

summer camp descriptions

At the bottom, there is a form where students can make their selection regarding the summer camps and lessons. I provide my students with a few package options to choose from, while expecting them to continue making the normal tuition payments each month. This gives us both the flexibility and consistency we need for summertime.

summer option selection

Feel free to download this editable Microsoft Word file: “Summer Lesson and Camp Selection form” via the link at the bottom of this post or on the Printables > Studio Business page.

  Summer Lesson and Camp Selection form (143.4 KiB, 1,729 hits)

Studio Business

Recommended: Daniel Patterson’s New Blog

Screen Shot 2016-02-15 at 5.31.38 PM

I recently connected with an Indiana-based piano teacher named Daniel Patterson who is creating a valuable resource for piano teachers: a site called GrowYourMusicStudio.com. Daniel is dedicated to helping teachers attract quality students and make a comfortable living doing what they love.

I’ve read and reviewed Daniel’s first ebook and I consider it highly recommended reading. Click here for the PDF download: The Piano Teacher’s Ultimate Facebook Guide.

Daniel’s first blog post can be found here. You’ll definitely want to subscribe to the email list so you will be notified about new content.

Be sure to check it out!

Announcements, Studio Business

Feature in “The Savvy Music Teacher” by David Cutler

This came in the mail yesterday:

The Savvy Music Teacher

The Savvy Music Teacher a brand new book that has just been released by Oxford University Press from author David Cutler, author of The Savvy Musician. I was excited to see the mention of my story and my blog’s shop on page 158 after being interviewed by the author a year ago! This book is going to be a great resource to help musicians figure out how to make a livable and comfortable living doing what they love.

Find the book on Amazon here.

Printables, Studio Business

Freebie: Lesson Attendance Sheet Updated for 2015-16

I have just finished updating one of the studio business forms from the Printables page for the 2015-16 school year.  It is called the Record of Lesson Attendance & Payment pdf.  I do not currently use this form myself anymore, but I have received quite a few requests from teachers who used it last year so I was happy to update it again this year!

In case you haven’t seen this, here is how the form works: Write your students’ names in the first column.  Each week, write the lesson date (in a month / date format) in the column for that week.  This is how you can track attendance.  The small circles in each cell are where you can write checkmarks indicating tuition payments.  Whether you charge by-the-week or by-the-month, you can place a checkmark by each paid lesson date.

Screen-shot-2010-06-27-at-9.33.12-PM

Download it here or on the Printables > Studio Business page.

  Record of Lesson Attendance & Payment (2018-19) (199.8 KiB, 26,547 hits)

P.S.: Here is a link to where I explain my current system for tracking payments received.