Conferences, Studio Business

2011 MTNA Conference | Business Strategies for Young Professionals

MONDAY @ 2:15pm: Smart, Single, Successful! Effective Business Strategies For Young Professionals

This session featured a panel of three young professionals moderated by Karen Thickstun.  Each panelist shared their story to begin:

  1. Rebecca V. Baker – After graduating with her DMA in Piano Pedagogy, Becky taught at the college level for a few years before moving to the midwest to teach private lessons and group classes at Meridian Music, a Steinway distributer in Indiana.  She believes in creative business management, which she explained as having a beneficial alliance and strong administration.  She advises having a clear vision and taking advantage of (and not underestimating the power of) free marketing.
  2. David Husser – After graduating with his MM in Music Education with a Piano Pedagogy focus, David moved to Traverse City, Michigan to fill in teaching another teacher’s studio for a year.  He eventually took over the studio completely and now does a variety of things including teaching adjuct at a community college, accompanying a high school choir, and working a church job.  He enjoys the variety.  David advises utilizing a mentor to learn the ropes and find guidance for the future.
  3. Kristin Yost – After graduating with her MM in Piano Performance and Pedagogy, Kristin became a NCTM (Nationally Certified Teach of Music) and moved to Frisco, Texas where she opened a independent studio.  Within the first year of opening her studio, she had over 70 students (read more about her success story here).  She eventually formed a community music school called Centre For Musical Minds, which now has over 150 students, 8 teachers, and 2 office staff.  Kristin advises not to be afraid of numbers and to clearly communicate exactly what it is you offer in your studio and what makes you unique.  She used to determine an ideal area for opening a studio, based on area demographics such as average income, number of children, population growth, etc.  Kristin’s latest venture is to offer classes via her website,, for independent music teachers who are interested in continuing their education.

Some other business principles:

  • Location, location, location!
  • Create a niche.
  • Know your skill set and have a clear vision / mission statement.
  • Branding and marketing.
  • Obtain the best credentials you can afford and continue your professional development.
  • Learn professionalism.
  • Have a business mentality: learn how to budget and track your money. Make projections and make a retirement plan. Raise your rates each year like the rest of corporate America. Charge by the semester and call it “tuition.”

It was neat to hear the advice that each young professional offered and to hear their stories!  I will definitely be taking all of this advice to heart as I start a full-time independent studio in the fall.  =)


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