Studio Business

Your Qs Answered, and How I Use Notion to Manage My Piano Studio

As my friend Amy Chaplin and I prepare for our upcoming online workshop about how to use Notion (a productivity/note-taking app we are both fans of), we’ve been receiving great questions from piano teachers about Notion. Today, I thought I would answer some of those questions and also share more specifics about how I use Notion to manage my piano studio.

An aside: I hope I’m not bombarding you with too much info about Notion! I think you’ll find this blog post interesting, but if not, rest assured I have content on other topics coming down the pipeline soon. 🙂

Q: Is Notion specifically for music teachers/professionals?
A: No, Notion is not music-specific. It’s a general productivity/note-taking app that is taking the world by storm right now. Tons of people are getting into it and are finding great ways to use it.

Notion is part of the “no-code movement” — an effort to make it possible to build your own interactive pages, systems, or software without having to know computer programming. The basics of Notion are easy to learn. And over time, you can continue to learn and “grow into” it. It’s kind of like building with Legos: once you know what building blocks you have, you can build whatever you desire.

During our workshop, Amy and I are excited to share our enthusiasm for Notion and help other piano teachers find ways it can support our unique work as independent teachers and business owners.

Q: Can Notion take the place of studio management software?
A: Yes and no. Notion can do a lot of things, but it cannot do things like invoicing or collecting tuition payments, for example. You would need other platforms for those functions.

Personally, I have never used an all-in-one program such as My Music Staff or Duet Partner (although I do think they are good services). Instead, I use a variety of services for managing my studio business. For example, my students pay a flat rate tuition payment automatically each month using Coinhop. This eliminates the task of manual invoicing. For keeping track of my teaching schedule, I use Google Calendar. To keep track of student information and much more, I use Notion (more on this shortly).

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Studio Business

An Introduction to Notion — A Customizable Digital Workspace to Organize Everything in Your Life

Do you find yourself using paper LESS and using apps MORE when managing your to-dos and projects?

I know I do! Although there are a few areas of life where I prefer paper, most of the time I prefer keeping things digital.

In fact, I’ll admit I’m a little bit of a nerd when it comes to following what new apps or platforms are available in the productivity and note-taking space. I find it fun to see what each one has to offer, and if it looks interesting enough I might even take it for a test drive.

In 2021, I revisited a platform called Notion and was blown away with its capabilities. I downloaded a few of their free page templates and started customizing them to my own needs, and I’ve been hooked ever since.

Notion has become my go-to hub for keeping track of almost anything in my life, both personal and professional. For me, it has replaced other tools such as Apple Notes, Evernote, Trello, Airtable databases, and even Google Docs/Sheets/Forms in many cases. Notion is simple to use, yet can be incredibly powerful, flexible, and customizable.

In this blog post, I’ll tell you why you might want to give Notion a try, what it can do for you, and how you can get started with it. Perhaps Notion will become an all-in-one place for you to keep your life organized, as it has for me!

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Studio Business

Freebie: Lesson Attendance Sheet Updated for 2023-24

I just updated one of the studio business forms from my Printables page for the 2023-24 school year.  It is called the Lesson Attendance & Payment Sheet PDF.  Even though I don’t personally use this sheet myself anymore (I now charge a monthly flat tuition rate), every year I receive requests from teachers asking if I would please update it for the upcoming school year. And I’m happy to do so! 

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Studio Business

5 Steps for Successful Interview Lessons with Music Students

Interview lesson, meet-and-greet, intro lesson, trial lesson, consultation—whatever you choose to call them, introductory sessions are a great way to jumpstart your potentials students’ success in music lessons. This article presents five steps to help you make the most of your interview lessons with new music students.

Step 1: Define Your Goals for the Interview Lesson

Before conducting an interview lesson, it is important to determine your goals for an interview lesson. For many music teachers, these sessions are useful for setting expectations for their music studio and determining if a student-teacher fit is possible. They allow you to build rapport, communicate your expectations for practice, behavior, payments and other studio policies and procedures, and assess the student’s goals, needs and level of interest.

Additionally, an interview lesson can also be an opportunity to:

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Studio Business

Freebie: Lesson Attendance Sheet Updated for 2022-23

I just updated one of the studio business forms from my Printables page for the 2022-23 school year.  It is called the Lesson Attendance & Payment Sheet PDF.  Even though I don’t personally use this sheet myself anymore (I now charge a monthly flat tuition rate), every year I receive requests from teachers asking if I would please update it for the upcoming school year. And I’m happy to do so! 

In case you haven’t seen this from before, here is how it 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.

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

  Lesson Attendance & Payment Sheet (2023-24) (138.1 KiB, 36,546 hits)

Studio Business

Q: Who buys the music books — teacher or student?

Today’s blog post topic comes to you as a result of a question submitted by a reader. The question I received was essentially: How do you go about acquiring music books for piano students and managing the reimbursement/expense?

While there is no single “best” way to do business, there are certainly a number of good options to consider in order to find a procedure that works best for you and your clients. In this blog post, we’ll explore a handful of possible procedures and discuss their potential downsides and upsides.

4 Main Options for Acquiring Music Books and Managing the Expense

As I see it, here are the main options for self-employed music teachers:

  1. You can ask students/parents to purchase their own sheet music.
  2. You can purchase sheet music on behalf of your students and then collect reimbursement afterwards.
  3. You can purchase sheet music on behalf of your students and cover the expense yourself via a special books/material/registration fee.
  4. You can purchase sheet music on behalf of your students and cover the expense as part of the tuition fee charged for piano lessons.

Let’s discuss each option in more depth.

Continue reading “Q: Who buys the music books — teacher or student?”
Studio Business

Freebie: Lesson Attendance Sheet Updated for 2021-22

Just a quick post today! 

I just finished updating one of the studio business forms from my Printables page for the 2021-22 school year.  It is called the Record of Lesson Attendance & Payment PDF.  I do not currently use this form myself anymore, but every year I receive multiple requests from teachers asking if I would please update it for the upcoming school year! 

In case you haven’t seen this from before, here is how it 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.

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

P.S.: Here is a link to where I explain an alternative system for tracking payments received. But nowadays, I enter everything into a Google Sheet! I explain my system and share the spreadsheet in my online course for piano teachers, Excellence for Piano Teachers. If you’re interested, you can learn more and join the email list to be notified when the next session is offered (usually in January).

Hope you are having a great week, everyone!

Studio Business

Printable: Welcome Poster for Piano Studio

In yesterday’s post, I talked about my gradual transition from online lessons to in-person for my Michigan-based students (my Ohio-based students from before my move will remain online). As promised, in today’s post I am sharing a free printable poster you can use to welcome students and help remind them of your protocols when they first arrive.

Any time students come for their first lesson at my studio, I find it’s important to “train” them, so to speak, with my expectations such as removing shoes, washing hands, etc.. After welcoming students at the door, this involves stating something like: “Whenever you arrive in the future, I’d like you to remove your shoes here, wash your hands here, and then head to the piano!”

I thought it might be useful to post a friendly poster with these reminders, in case it helps students remember what to do the first few times they arrive until it becomes a habit. I laminated it and use poster putty to hang it where it will be easily seen.

I created a few different variations of the poster, in case you might like to use it! I’ve included versions with and without masks (for pandemic times and non-pandemic times). And there are versions included for using hand sanitizer versus washing hands in a sink.

To download this PDF, visit the Printables > Studio Business page and scroll down to “Welcome Poster for Piano Studio.” Enjoy!

  Welcome Poster for Piano Studio (158.9 KiB, 1,246 hits)

Studio Business, Teaching Piano

Transitioning Back to In-Person Lessons During/After the Covid-19 Pandemic

[Just for fun…here’s a selfie taken after chopping off 12 inches of pandemic-time hair and donating it to Wigs 4 Kids!]

Hello readers!

I hope you all are well. Here in Michigan, we are in the midst of BEAUTIFUL summer weather and it feels as if the worst of the pandemic is behind us (which I would certainly like to believe is true!). The current full vaccination rate in the state of Michigan is 46%, which is also the current rate in the U.S. as a whole (as of June 2021). In my local county, the full vaccination rate is even higher at 60% and the rate of reported Covid-19 cases per day is down to low single digits.

With these facts in mind, I have started transitioning a few of my students from online lessons to in-person lessons at my home studio. (You might recall — 75% of my students are in Ohio from before I moved and they will remain online.) I am taking a number of precautions, because I would much prefer to err on the side of caution and keep everyone healthy if I can help it!

In case you happen to be in the same position and might find this useful, below is the wording I used to communicate my precautions and expectations to parents via email.

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Studio Business, Technology

How I Use Instagram, and an Invitation to Follow Me There!

Are you on Instagram? Although I’ve had an Instagram account for a long time, I have been surprised to realize that the enjoyment I get from Instagram has been increasing the more/longer I use it. Although Instagram is owned by Facebook, I like Instagram better than Facebook.

In this blog post, I’d like to share a little about how Instagram works, how I use it, and why you might enjoy being on Instagram, too.

[If you enjoy the content here on my blog, you’ll probably enjoy the content from my Instagram channel, too. I invite you to follow me there!]

Using Instagram

Instagram is available as a free smartphone app (iOS | Android). It is also free to create an account.

Instagram is a visual-based platform. It differs from Facebook in that all posts must contain a photo or a video — you cannot post text alone. This puts the visual element front and center. For that reason, there is generally less negativity (and less political talk) on Instagram than on Facebook. I enjoy scrolling through my Instagram feed!

[Here’s an example Instagram post from earlier this year. You can find the mentioned BINGO sheet here.]

Instagram is a fun way to connect with friends and contacts. You can use Instagram for sharing anything you’d like, whether personal or professional. You can also opt to create multiple accounts — one for your personal life and one for your piano studio, for example. Personally, I prefer using only one account and using it to share a combination of things from my family life and professional activities.

In short, I use Instagram as a “microblog.” As the name implies, microblogging is like blogging except the posts are generally shorter and quicker to read. I see my blog here at ColorInMyPiano.com as a platform for sharing lengthier articles, while Instagram can be a platform for sharing smaller, everyday things. When I have something fun to share that doesn’t warrant an entire blog post here at ColorInMyPiano.com, I can post it on Instagram!

Continue reading “How I Use Instagram, and an Invitation to Follow Me There!”
Studio Business

Freebie: Lesson Attendance Sheet Updated for 2020-21

Just a quick post today!

I just finished updating one of the studio business forms from the Printables page for the 2020-21 school year.  It is called the Record of Lesson Attendance & Payment PDF.  I do not currently use this form myself anymore, but every year I receive requests from teachers asking if I would update it for the upcoming school 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.

Screen-shot-2010-06-27-at-9.33.12-PM

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

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

Studio Business, Technology

4 Tips For Using Gmail for Studio Emails

Do you use Gmail for email? Today, I’m sharing a few tips that might prove useful for your studio emails. We’ll talk about how to maintain email lists, use BCC, add an email signature (or two!), and create a simple-but-awesome template for your studio emails. Let’s streamline our emails and make our studio communication look great!

Some of these tips might still apply even if you don’t use Gmail, but you’ll have to search out the how-to instructions yourself. A quick Google search will hopefully help you out.

Without further ado…here’s my four tips for using Gmail for your studio emails!

1. Maintain a Student Email List in Google Contacts

In your Google Contacts, you can maintain a email list for your current students, which makes it easy to quickly send out announcements or reminders.

How to set this up? Visit contacts.google.com and click on “Create label.” Call it “Piano Students – Active” and then, if you like, make another for “Piano Students – Inactive.” Then, start adding your students’ email addresses to the list.

When students begin or stop lessons, be sure to return to contacts.google.com to update your lists to keep things current.

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