Studio Business

Reflections of a Relocated Piano Teacher

It has been a little over a year since my husband and I moved to Ohio from Michigan.  I have been thinking a lot lately about what it was like to relocate and start a studio from scratch in an unfamiliar area.  I’m sure some of you have been through this too, or will be going through it soon — perhaps my reflections can be of encouragement to some of you!  Here is what I learned from the experience:

  • FACT: It may take more time than you would like to build a studio from scratch.  It helps to make small goals.  Calculate how many students you need in order to break even financially, and make that your goal first.  Then, you can raise your goal to your preferred amount of students.
  • FACT: The time it takes to build a piano studio REALLY depends upon the need for it in an area.  If you move somewhere where piano teachers are scarce, you could have a full studio in no time at all.  If you move somewhere where there seem to be enough or an over-saturated amounts of teachers, it can take more time.
  • FACT: It is easy to feel down about only having a few students, especially when you feel that you are doing everything right.  It is not easy to be patient. 
  • FACT: Always charge what you are worth.  It is tempting to significantly lower your rates in the interest of gaining students faster.  However, there is no way to prove that this strategy will actually work in your area, and charging less will only make it more difficult to survive financially until your studio grows.  The amount you charge attracts a certain kind of clientele.  What kind of students do you want to attract?
  • FACT: Networking really does work.  When done right, networking means simply being interested in people (versus just promoting yourself to everyone you meet).  It is surprising what kind of opportunities will arise due to chance meetings from months ago.  It helps to put yourself out there and join various organizations.
  • FACT: Diversifying your income is an excellent business strategy.  Don’t just give piano lessons.  Teach classes for preschoolers, adult students, and homeschool music classes.   Freelance as a pianist for singers/instrumentalists and play for weddings.
  • FACT: When marketing, it is good to do so in many different methods of advertising.  Many potential students do not call until they have seen your studio’s name in multiple places.  But skip the newspaper and phone book — those methods are costly and outdated.  Get a website instead, put lettering in your window (if your zoning laws permit it) and put flyers up around town.

These are some of the lessons I learned as a relocated piano teacher.  :)  Please share about your own experiences in the comments below this post!

7 thoughts on “Reflections of a Relocated Piano Teacher”

  1. Ciao!

    I am a mexican girl who moves in Italy so I undestand perfectly!
    I adore your blog, compliments and greetings.
    Maybe my little english make difficult to me to write you, but I just want to say that you are very special and your are very helping to me.

    Thank you, a lot.

    :)

  2. Joy, thank you for sharing your experience. I might be shifting away from my current location next year, and I can foresee myself going through all the above mentioned.
    I can feel the stress now!

  3. Thanks for sharing. I am in my new location for almost a year, and got out of the “red” just this month. Good advice.

  4. Hi Joy,

    Glad to see this post.
    I moved into a rural area for almost 3 three months. I am still watching the environment and trying to how to start. It’s Blairsville, Ga. No any teachers association here. quite lonely. :) Any suggestions will be appreciated. Thank you!

    1. Jenny, I recommend joining some of the Facebook groups for piano teachers (if you aren’t already) since there are no local associations near you. I think this is a great way to feel connected with fellow teachers.

      If you can gradually over time get connected with other piano teachers near you, perhaps you could start up a new local association! It’s not as difficult as you might think. You could start a simple group that meets regularly just to share teaching ideas with each other. Just an idea! I remember so clearly how touched I was when a local teacher invited me, being new to town, to meet for lunch. Maybe you can connect with other teachers and build a network over time.

      Good luck!

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