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. 

General

Freebie: Lesson Attendance Sheet Updated for 2018-19

I have just finished updating one of the studio business forms from the Printables page for the 2018-19 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.

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

  Record of Lesson Attendance & Payment (2018-19) (199.8 KiB, 26,146 hits)

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

Reviews

Book Review: The Art of Gathering, by Priya Parker

Upon reading the title of this book, you might be wondering why this book is being reviewed on a piano teaching blog. That’s a great question! The reason boils down to this: this book applies to piano teachers as much as anyone else, and to me it was SO good that I wanted to share it with you here. :)

Gathering is universal — yet taken for granted — and can be so meaningful when done well. I feel confident that upon reading this book, you will, like me, find multiple ways to apply it within both your personal life and professional life.

In her book, author Priya Parker draws upon her expertise as host, event facilitator, conflict resoluter, and consultant to present a number of principles for gathering. The first principle she discusses is the most important: knowing the purpose of your gathering. From there, Parker discusses how your purpose will help you determine who to invite (and exclude) from your gathering, what venue to choose, and how to make the event transformative and memorable for those in attendance.

In this book, you’ll learn how to greet attendees, open gatherings, end them, “prime” attendees for the event before the date, and ensure the gathering is unique, effective, and fun for all in attendance.

The Art of Gathering is chock-full of fascinating stories from Parker’s experience exemplifying her gathering dos and don’ts. I found myself relaying many of the stories from the book to my husband. In turn, he kept asking if I was done reading the book so he could start reading it. :)

Parker’s advice was inspiring to me as I considered the variety of gatherings types in my own life — from my recitals, my studio “Piano Parties”, music camps, MTNA chapter general meetings, board meetings, gatherings with my family, dinners with friends, etc. I feel better equipped with things I can do to help gatherings be memorable and enjoyable for all involved. This book arrived in my life at an especially relevant time, as I am serving on the conference planning committee for the OhioMTA‘s 2019 state conference and also midst preparations for my upcoming second annual Piano Teacher Retreat at my home.

I “read” this book by listening to the audiobook using the Audible app (an Amazon company). I love Audible, because it enables me to read many more books in a year than I would without it. However, as much as I love audiobooks, I must tell you The Art of Gathering is so good you might want to consider buying a hardcopy (Amazon link) to mark up and reference again.

I recommend The Art of Gathering to anyone interested in learning how to facilitate gatherings to make them matter.

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Interested in a trial subscription for Audible.com? Here’s a special link for a trial that will give you two free audiobooks.

Special shoutout to Seth Godin for recommending this book on his blog

Announcements

In The Shop: “Notes To Self” Wall Art

It’s here! I’ve been hinting about this on instagram all week. I’m so excited to today share with you a project I’ve been working for the past few months.

Inspired by a project I saw at my town’s local university campus, I decided to create something similar for my piano students. I call it the “Notes To Self” wall art.

Those who approach the “Notes To Self” wall art are encouraged by the sign to “Take one to-go, for you or somebody else!”

The quotes and sayings were chosen with positivity and encouragement in mind. They’re fun to admire, and it’s fun to pick out one to take with you. My students are enjoying this!

I drew all of the quotes and sayings myself by hand — but the designs have been digitized so they can be printed out directly onto the sticky notes using the template shown below. Easy! (Learn more about the template here.)

These “Notes To Self” sticky notes are a great way to promote positivity and camaraderie among your students. Continue reading “In The Shop: “Notes To Self” Wall Art”

Printables

Free Printable: Sticky Notes Template

Did you know there is a way to safely send sticky notes through your inkjet printer?

I learned this piece of information a couple of years ago, thanks to Pinterest! Although I found plenty of free sticky notes templates available online, I decided to create my own user-friendly version.

Just imagine of all the things you could create by printing on sticky notes. :D

I recommend using the “Super Sticky” Post-it notes instead of regular Post-it notes, so they will last longer. Here’s a link to a package of “Super Sticky” Post-it notes in my favorite color set. :)

And here’s where you can download my free template (Microsoft Word document) so you can print whatever you like onto sticky notes. Let me know what awesome things you create!

  Sticky Notes Template (44.2 KiB, 636 hits)

Here’s how to use it:

  1. Download the Microsoft Word template.
  2. Print page 1 of the document to create your template sheet.
  3. Affix six sticky notes onto the template, on the printed boxes.
  4. On page 2 of the document, add your own text/graphics that you would like to have printed onto the sticky notes.
  5. Place the template sheet in the paper feed tray of your printer so that the printing will appear on the correct side — that is, onto the sticky notes. For most printers, this means placing the templates face-down with the top edge of the sheet away from you.
  6. Now you are ready to print page 2 of the document and enjoy your printed sticky notes!

Here’s an example of something awesome I made using this template. :)

Check out the “Notes To Self” Wall Art Kit here!

Music Learning Theory

Recommended Reading From Edwin E. Gordon’s Books on Music Learning Theory (MLT)

Over the past couple of years, I’ve been reading my way through a handful of the dozens of books written by Dr. Edwin E. Gordon (1927-2015), thinker extraordinaire in the realm of music learning theory. Although I found his writing style requires some getting-used-to — due partly to the necessity of learning the terminology he uses — I have found it extremely worthwhile to do so as I strive to incorporate aspects of his Music Learning Theory (MLT) into my practice as a piano teacher.

In this article, I’d like to present a list of the Gordon books I’ve read so far, accompanied by brief descriptions what each book addresses. My hope is that this article will provide useful recommendations for those interested in Gordon’s MLT and wondering which of his book(s) to read first. For this reason, the books are listed in order by how highly I would recommend them to someone new to Gordon’s writings. Each review below includes a link to where the book can be purchased from GIA Publications or Amazon. As I read more of Gordon’s books, I plan to add more descriptions to this list.

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Before I begin, I’d like to preface by saying that there is a book about MLT that was not authored by Gordon that I would recommend reading before reading Gordon’s books. That book is Eric Bluestine’s The Ways Children Learn Music (GIA | Amazon). Bluestine’s book offers an excellent, friendly primer of the premises of MLT and the shortcomings of conventional music education. I consider it a must-read for any music teacher. Read my full review of Eric’s book here.

Now, let’s get on to discussing Gordon’s books!


Discovering Music from the Inside Out: An Autobiography – Revised edition, by Edwin E. Gordon

Published in 2006 and revised in 2014, Gordon’s autobiography is a wonderful read. It tells the story of his early life growing up as a boy, his careers as a working musician (including playing bass for the Gene Krupa Band), and his work as a professor and researcher. The book sheds light on the circumstances that prompted Gordon to examine the way music is conventionally taught, the nature of music aptitude, and how we learn music.

This book was fun to read, and I consider it a great starting point for anyone even mildly interested in Gordon’s Music Learning Theory. Bottom line: If you are interested in music education and you enjoy autobiographies, I would recommend this book to you.

Links: GIA | Amazon Continue reading “Recommended Reading From Edwin E. Gordon’s Books on Music Learning Theory (MLT)”

Teaching Piano

We’re Not Robots: Helping Young Piano Students Get “Beyond The Notes”

[Following up on the post from last week about helping students play with expression…here’s another analogy I use with young piano students who need to think “beyond the notes”.]

If playing the piano was about merely pressing the right buttons at the right time, we might as well hire robots to do it for us.

It’s funny to imagine, isn’t it? But really: Why would you bother taking piano lessons if you could have a robot play your pieces?

What’s the difference between a robot playing the piano and YOU playing the piano?

The answer has to do with the fact that music isn’t just about “the right notes at the right time.” Music is about expression. Instead of just learning how to get the notes and rhythm correct, we can learn how to make your piece sound like popcorn, or birds, or a storm, or thousands of other things. To me, this is the fun part! This is the best part of about making music.

So, let’s talk about expressive music making. How would a robot play this piece? How would YOU play this piece?

What can you do to make this piece sound more like the subject suggested by the title? Why do you suppose the composer chose these dynamics and articulations for this piece? What else can you do to make the piece sound more like the title?

Only YOU can play the piano like you do. Don’t be a robot at the piano!

Announcements

2018 Piano Teacher Retreat: Developing Piano Technique in Beginners

Hi there!

Today, I just wanted to share a little bit more regarding the retreat for piano teachers I’m planning in August 9-11, 2018.

The topic our retreat will be centered around is: Developing Piano Technique in Beginners.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t always find it easy to help my beginner students form a happy, healthy technique. Sometimes, in those early years they play with awkwardness or too much tension. The tone they produce at the piano sometimes comes out weak-sounding, or harsh. If they form habits for playing this way, it could lead to tension or even pain down the road.

We all want our students to play comfortably, without struggle, and producing a beautiful sound. It takes a watchful eye, time, and patience to help them learn to play with ease, naturalness, and a beautiful tone. I’m always looking for tips and strategies to help my student with this, and I’m sure you are too! I would love for every one of my students to play comfortably and beautifully at the piano.
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Here’s a photo of my student, Robbie, playing his piece after we talked together about finding his “sit bones” and thinking about “head forward and up”. You can really see the difference in his shoulders!

These are the sorts of things we will be discussing during my piano teacher retreat this summer. I invite you to consider joining us! This is an experience designed around attendees sharing their insights and exchange teaching tips and strategies. Through combining our knowledge and experiences, we will all benefit from the collective wisdom. I can’t wait!

Here’s the full description of the event:

Retreat at Piano Manor is a three-day experience for piano teachers to get-away to connect, share, and become better teachers for our students. Together, we will explore how we can ensure our students each develop a healthy, happy piano technique from the beginning. Attendees will be expected to share their best tips and insights, and participate in group projects researching the various schools of thought when it comes to piano technique. A highlight of the retreat will be a session by guest speaker Nancy Crego disseminating the Alexander Technique. While at “Piano Manor,” you’ll also enjoy relaxing downtime and deliciously healthy food planned by my foodie friend, Amy Chaplin of PianoPantry.com.

At the end of three days, you’ll leave equipped with new perspectives and teaching strategies for not only avoiding playing-related injuries or discomfort down the road, but enabling even beginner students reach their fullest potential as pianists. You will know when and how to intervene with a student’s use of themselves at the piano, so your students develop musical skills without undue effort. You’ll be equipped with the confidence and strategies to help your students prevent discomfort and experience ease at the piano, so they can play happily and healthily. Retreat at Piano Manor will leave you feeling inspired and connected, with newly formed friendships and fresh ideas for your teaching.

If you are interested in attending the retreat, read more here and then please be sure to join this special email list. Registration information will be sent out in upcoming weeks.

If you can’t attend the retreat this year, don’t worry: I’ll be sharing highlights in weeks ahead — of both the preparation process as well as the actual retreat activities. Watch my blog or instagram for updates!

Thanks for reading.

Teaching Piano

Decorating the Cake: Helping Piano Students Play With Expression and Heart

For piano teachers, it’s that time of year: recital season! We are in the process of coaching our students to polish and perfect their recital selections.

Does it ever feel to you like sometimes students have set the bar at only playing the right notes? Haven’t our students realized there more to music than this? I don’t know about you, but I didn’t sign up to be a piano teacher to become the “rhythm police”. ;)

We want our students to realize there is more to sharing music through performance than “getting it right”. They’ve set the bar too low. And perhaps at times we inadvertently reinforce the idea that this is all there is to piano playing.

There’s no doubt it’s important to perform a piece with accuracy. But we don’t want students to think their job is complete upon merely being able to play “the right notes at the right time”, when the reality is that even our youngest students are completely capable of getting “beyond the notes”.

Instead, we want our students to play with heart, to play with expression and individuality. We want our students to be confidently play their hearts out, and deliver a performance that moves their listeners.

Today, I’ll share a simple analogy I use to help students (1) understand what it means to get “beyond the notes” and (2) become motivated to attend to the details of and add expression to their performance.  Continue reading “Decorating the Cake: Helping Piano Students Play With Expression and Heart”