Let’s talk studio communication! In this blog post, I’ll share about how my studio communication has evolved over time since I began teaching and some examples of studio communication I’ve sent to my students. At the end of the post, please consider sharing with us about your own studio communication. I hope you’ll pick up some fresh ideas or inspiration!
1. Hardcopy Newsletters
Do you remember the days of hardcopy studio newsletters? 🙂 I bet many of us have gone digital nowadays. But there’s certainly a time and place for hardcopies.
When I first started teaching piano back in the 2000s, my newsletters and notes to parents were all hardcopy printouts. My newsletter was published monthly. I spent a decent amount of time creating them, but I enjoyed it.
Below is an example newsletter I made for my students back in 2011. Click the images to enlarge.
I switched from hardcopy newsletters to email around 2012. But, I do still find it useful to send home hardcopies of certain things. Perhaps you agree!
For example, I like to send home hardcopy flyers about certain local event opportunities for students. Another example is for important communication — such as when I informed students of my planned move from Ohio to Michigan. In these cases, I use both email and hardcopy.
2. Email Marketing Services
When I decided to make the switch to email newsletters, I researched the popular email marketing platforms and ended up choosing MailChimp. I liked their user interface and the attractive email templates. The plans are reasonable; in fact, many piano teachers will be able to get by just fine using the free plan.
Because I know that many parents’ email inboxes are inundated, I try to limit my email newsletters to once per month. It’s not always possible to do so, but I find if I plan ahead well it often works out.
My newsletter format has evolved over the years, but here’s what it has looked like in recent years. This example comes from an email newsletter I sent in 2018. Click each image to enlarge.
I begin the newsletter with a letter from me containing the most important updates and reminders, each punctuated with a numbered bullet point and listed in chronological order. I always edit my writing to be as succinct, clear, and pleasant as possible. I want my newsletters to be easy and enjoyable for parents to read!
The next section is a bullet-list of Important Dates At-A-Glance. This list includes a long-range look at upcoming studio events throughout the year.
The next section, Studio Highlights, is my favorite. This section is reserved for fun photos to highlight accomplishments or things my students have been up to. Often, it’s a photo or two from a recent lesson or Piano Party group class. Other times, I’ll post a screenshot linking to a YouTube or Instagram video of a student performance.
The newsletter concludes with a list of Area Arts Events. You might be wondering if maintaining a list like that is a big project, but actually, it’s not. In September or October, set aside some time to research and compile event information for the entire school year (check the websites for your local symphony, music venues, etc.). Then, all you have to do each month is copy over the list, deleting any dates that have passed.
Looking for more ideas for what to include in your studio newsletter? Check out this blog post from 2011 — still relevant! 😉
3. Regular Emails, With a Punch
These days, since my studio is slightly smaller (due to my recent move to Michigan), I was feeling the urge to simplify and streamline my studio communication further. So, I decided to take a break from using Mailchimp for newsletters for now, and instead send emails directly from Gmail. And I have to say, it’s been really nice sending updates in this easier, quicker way! Mailchimp newsletters look great, but they take a lot of time.
If you have a large studio or music school, using regular email is probably not the right choice. But for the rest of us, I think we have the option of going either way, or using a hybrid. For example, I sometimes just used Gmail for things that came up in between the monthly MailChimp newsletters.
To give my regular emails more visual appeal, I created a template (Gmail allows you to do this) I can easily call up. It includes my studio logo/letterhead and some minimal formatting.
As an example, here’s a screenshot of recent communication I sent out to my students about our recent virtual piano recital:
Stay tuned: In my next blog post, I’ll show you how you can create your own email template in Gmail, as well as a few other additional tips for streamlining your Gmail emails! Update: Here’s the post with tips!
4. What’s Next? Texting, Perhaps?
I know many piano teachers have moved at least some of their studio communication over to text messaging, perhaps using a platform such as Remind. While I haven’t made that leap yet, I do use texting for most of my one-on-one communication with parents. I like the fact that I don’t have pull up my email inbox and that I usually get a fast response. Simply put, it’s quicker and easier!
Will texting ever completely replace the monthly email newsletter? Who knows! 🙂
Your turn: What method of communication are you using with your students these days? What are you finding to be most convenient or effective? I’d love to hear from you! Please leave a comment on this blog post.