Questions, Studio Business

Forum Q&A | Saying Goodbye to Piano Students Before Moving Away

At our last Forum Q&A discussion, we talked about new year’s resolutions for piano teachers!  Click here to view the responses.

Over the weekend, I received an email from a reader who is preparing to move and must say “goodbye” to all her students.  I’d love to start a discusion about piano teachers saying goodbye and moving, so here goes:

Have you ever had to move and “give away” all your students?  How did you break the news?  Was there anything you were able to do for your students to make their transition to a new piano teacher easier?  What other advice can you offer to a piano teacher who is preparing to move? 

I’ll post my answer in the comments below, including the “goodbye letter” I wrote for my students last Spring when I moved after graduation.  Please add your own thoughts to the comments below!

improving as a teacher, Professional Development, Questions

Forum Q&A | New Year’s Resolutions for Piano Teachers

I’ve already blogged a bit about my New Year’s Resolution.  Now it’s your turn!

Our previous Q&A Forum brought about a great discussion about whether or not to lesson plan for piano lessons (and if so, how to feasibly do so even if you have a large studio).  Today, let’s start a discussion about what change you’d like to make in your teaching this year!  I think it’s important as teachers to continually be making little changes and looking for ways to improve our teaching.  It not only makes us better teachers, but it also helps keep things fresh for our students as well as ourselves.  🙂

So, tell us:

  • As a piano teacher, what would you like to START doing this year?
  • What would you like to STOP doing this year?
  • What would you like to KEEP doing this year?

Comment away!

Professional Development, Questions, Studio Business, Teaching Piano

Forum Q&A | Safety Practices for Traveling Teachers

Wow, last week’s Forum Q&A received some great responses about advertising!  Thank you, and be sure to read what everyone had to say by clicking here!  As always, it’s never to late to add  your thoughts to the discussion.

A few days ago, I received an email from a Color In My Piano reader with this question:

When traveling to a new students’ homes, how can you screen students before agreeing to teach them?  What kind of safety precautions can be taken before going to a stranger’s house (especially an adult student)?  If they sound questionable on the phone, is there a way to politely decline giving them lessons?

Please leave your advice in the comments below!

Photo Credit: CarlosLie | CC 2.0
Questions, Technology

Forum Q&A | Favorite Piece of Technology

It’s time for a new Forum Q&A!  We haven’t had one for awhile, due to the overtake of the conference posts.  🙂

Last time, we discussed the possibility of offering lessons online via a service such as Skype!  A number of you weighed in your thoughts and opinions — click here to view the comments.  I’m more intrigued than ever with the idea, and am currently experimenting with it with a few individuals.

Today, though, I have a new question!

What is your #1 favorite piece of technology you use in your studio?  It can be anything from a video camera, iPad, computer, digital piano, audio recorder, etc., etc., etc.  

I’ve put mine in the comments already.  I think it will be fun to hear everybody weigh in their thoughts!

Photo Credit: DigaoSPBR | CC 2.0

Questions, Technology

Forum Q&A | Piano Lessons via Skype

Last week’s Forum Q&A post was about saying “no” to potential students, and we received some great responses!  Click here to check them out.  Here’s today’s discussion topic:

Advances in technology over the past few years have changed the way we live in many ways.  Online video conferencing services, for example, allow us to chat face-to-face with friends and family across the globe….and conduct piano lessons?!  With internet services becoming faster and audio compression quality also improving, offering lessons via video conferencing services such as Skype is becoming a more and more viable option.  It certainly is something for piano teachers to consider.

So, I’ve been doing some research to see what I could unearth about the set-up, feasibility, and success of Skype lessons.  Here’s what I found:

So, what are your thoughts?

Do you think Skype is a viable option as a way for independent music teachers to offer lessons?  What are the biggest adjustments or changes that the teacher and student would have to make in order for Skype lessons to be successful?  What pros and cons can you identify?  Would you ever offer lessons via Skype? 

Leave your comments below.

Update from Joy: I’ve decided to take the plunge and start offering live online piano lessons!  Check out the link to read more about me as a teacher and about how online piano lessons work.

Questions, Studio Business

Forum Q&A | Studio Business Structure: Sole Proprietorship, LLC, Corporation…?

It’s time to get another Forum Q&A going!!  Let’s talk about business structure options for teaching studios.  Despite having a music degree, I still know very, very little about setting up a business.  I doesn’t seem right…I wish one of my college courses had covered this topic at some point.  :/

Do you have a solo proprietorship, partnership, an LLC, or a corporation?  What are the benefits of each option?  Do you have a separate bank account set up to manage studio income and expenses?  Do you hire an accountant or bookkeeping services to help with the accounts and taxes?  What other business advice can you offer?

I hope you can help me out — and hopefully other readers will benefit too!  Update: Here is my follow-up post. 

Photo Credit: o5com | CC 2.0

Questions, Studio Business

Forum Q&A | How Did You Become A Piano Teacher?

Well, unfortunately we didn’t get many responses to the last two week’s Forum Q&As about group lessons!  I guess nobody wants to share their secrets.  Just kidding.  =)  We did get a few good responses, which you can check out here and here.  It’s not too late to add your comments, if you are willing to enlighten us.  =)

This week’s topic is a fun one!  Please share: How did you become a piano teacher?  Tell us all about it.  Here are a few prompt questions to get you thinking back to those early days:

How did you start teaching piano?  Who was your first student?  Who inspired you to be a piano teacher?  Did you always know you would be a piano teacher?  Did you have a mentor?  What kind of piano did you teach on?

If any of you have your own blog, feel free to share your story there and leave a link here in the comments.  I can’t wait to hear your stories!  I’ve just put mine in the comments.  =)

Photo Credit: kevin mullet | CC 2.0

Group Classes, Questions

Forum Q&A | Group Lessons: Benefits and Activities

Last week, we talked about the logistics of having group lessons — how often, how to schedule them, etc. — and we received a few great responses.  Thanks so much!!

This week, perhaps we can continue the discussion:

What kind of activities can be conducted during group lessons?  Do your students have a favorite activity?  How do you decide what to cover each week?  What benefits have you seen from holding group lessons in your studio?

Please share your tips and ideas in the comments below!

Photo Credit: sk8geek | CC 2.0

Group Classes, Questions, Studio Business

Forum Q&A | Group Lessons: Scheduling & Other Logistics

Last week, we discussed ways to get books & materials for students, and methods of reimbursement.  As always, I really enjoyed everyone’s contributions to this discussion!  I think this fall, I’m going to try charging a non-refundable enrollment fee that reserves the student’s place in the studio and goes towards books & materials.  If the entire amount is not used, it will be used towards maintenance of the lending library.  We’ll see how it goes.  I think it will be much easier than my current method of waiting for reimbursement each time.  =)

Today, I’d love to start a discussion about group lessons!   Next week, we’ll talk about the benefits of group lessons and what kind of concepts can be covered — but today, we are just going to talk about the logistics of scheduling and planning group lessons.

So, tell us:

How often do you hold group lessons — monthly, or bi-monthly?  (And what do you call them: group lessons, studio classes, or something else?) Do group lessons replace the lesson for that week, or do you teach privately in addition to the group lesson that week? How long do your group lessons last?

How do you find a time that works for everyone?  How many students do you place in each group?  Do you divide your students into groups by age, or by level (or a combination of the two)?  If a student/parent decides they don’t want to participate in group lessons or their schedule doesn’t permit it, what do you do?

That was a lot of questions, I know, haha!  But I’m very curious to hear about how you all make your group lessons work for your studio.  Leave your thoughts in the comments below.  =)

Photo Credit: Rick Harris | CC 2.0


Questions, repertoire / methods, Studio Business, Teaching Piano

Forum Q&A | Obtaining Student Materials & Reimbursement

I forgot to put up the week’s new Forum Q&A post yesterday, so here it is a day late!  Sorry about that…I think the term paper for my music history class is draining all my brain cells.  =D

It was so fun to read the variety of approaches teachers use when it comes to summer lessons for last week’s Forum Q&A!  I hope you had as much fun reading about them as I did.  I just added my own comment which describes a new method I’m going to try next summer (2012), so please check it out and let me know what you think.

This week, though, we are going to discuss methods of obtaining and getting reimbursed for student materials!  I’m curious to know….

First of all:  Do you tell students to go purchase the new books/materials they need, or do you go and get them yourself?

Secondly, if you purchase them yourself, how do you go about getting reimbursement?  Is the cost of books/materials covered in your tuition rate?  Or do you charge a yearly or semesterly fee to cover books and materials?  Or do you add the cost of the books to that month’s invoice for tuition?

I’m trying to decide how to go about dealing with getting books when I start my independent studio in the fall, so I’d love to hear what method works for you!

Photo Credit: woodleywonderworks | CC 2.0


Forum Q&A | What is your Policy Regarding Summer Lessons?

I had so much fun reading about what kind of pianos you all have on last week’s Forum Q&A!  And many of you with blogs posted photos of your piano too.  If you haven’t seen all the comments, click here and scroll down to check them out.

This week, let’s talk about something less fun… policies (haha, just kidding).  It’s interesting to hear how different teachers approach summertime.  Some teachers want their summer off.  Others want to keep teaching, or really need the income throughout the whole year.  It can also depend on the students you have.  One of my piano professors tried to require weekly summer lessons, but for years students/parents gave her trouble about it.  Now, she requires them each to take just 6 lessons at some point during the summer.  I’m sure everyone has ideas about this matter!  So, tell us about your situation:

What are your current policies regarding summer lessons? Required or optional?  Week, bi-weekly, or other?  Regular tuition rates, or discounted?

If you don’t require students to take lessons all summer, have you found other ways to keep your income the same throughout the year?

I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts!  Add your comment below.

Photo Credit: athrasher | CC 2.0

Questions, Studio Business

Forum Q&A | What is your favorite piano brand(s)?

Last week’s Forum Q&A was all about the benefits of joining a professional organization such as MTNA.  There are some very interesting comments, so please take a moment to read them by clicking here!

This week’s Forum Q&A was inspired by Leah.  😉  I will be piano shopping over the summer, and am starting to think ahead about what kind of piano I’d like to buy!  I’d love to hear about what kind of piano you have in your studio, and what piano brand(s) are your favorite.  So, please tell us:

What kind of piano do you have in your home?  Do you have more than one?  =)

What piano manufacturer/brand(s) are your favorite and why?

Do you know of any good tips about buying pianos?

It would be so fun to see photos of what kind of pianos everyone has!  Perhaps if you have a blog, you could post a picture of your piano and share a link to it in the comments below.  If you don’t have a blog, feel free to email me your picture (admin[at] and perhaps I could put together a photo collage of sorts and post it next week!  This will be so fun!!

Photo Credit: shawnzrossi | CC 2.0