I have one, most all important wish for every person (adult or child) who comes into my studio to begin piano lessons. That is, that they fall in love with the piano. Why? Because I know only that if they truly love the piano will they be able to persevere through the tremendous amount of work and sacrifice it takes to learn to play the piano well and discover they joy playing will bring them.
I don’t know about you, but I feel like things are getting more and more expensive and money is getting harder and harder to come by. As piano teachers, we don’t get raises every year, (neither do most workers these days). Many teachers are nervous about raising rates, in fact, many teachers I know have not raised lesson prices in years. This post will focus on 10 ways to make your piano studio more profitable without raising lesson rates. I’m not talking about a few dollars here and there. These relatively painless tips can increase the profitability of your piano studio by thousands of dollars per year.
There are always questions coming up about piano studio policies. Recently I was asked to help draft a studio policy for the Arts Center where I teach. The idea was to come up with several different options and decide on which type of policy would work best for all of the teachers involved. I thought I would share these ideas with all of you.
In my home studio, I am much more flexible with my piano students. This is because I need to travel often to see my family in another state. Being flexible works for me right now.
The bottom line is all teachers need a studio policy so that everyone is clear about what is expected. As the teacher and studio-owner you have the right to set the piano studio policy that works best for your situation.
What Kind of Piano Teacher am I?
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I my last blog post “Still Trying to Please Everyone? Stop it! You Can’t” I describe an incident with the parent of a prospective student. This particular parent questioned how and why I teach the way I do. This got me to thinking, why do I teach scales and arpeggios after my students have learned to read music? Should I include more technique? Are my music theory books good enough? Am I strict enough?
Something New Every Week
It seems as though every week I come across some new teaching idea. Some way of doing things I hadn’t thought of before. Just last Friday I went to a lecture on piano technique given by Nancy Bachus, whoa!! I thought I knew a lot about piano technique. After hearing her, I think to myself there’s definitely room for me to up my game on that front. I wonder what else I can improve.
Then there’s Facebook. So many cool things, great music, and awesome opinions. It literally makes my head spin (OK not literally). But it can be overwhelming, and at times I find myself questioning my teaching. What kind of piano teacher am I anyway?
What Kind of Piano Teacher am I?
I had almost forgotten.
It’s been a little while since I’ve been hit with a dose of negativity. Things have been going pretty well lately. I got a job at a studio I love and I’ve picked up quite a few students in my home studio too. All of them happy. Parents, students, everyone’s been really great! Full of compliments and tidings of goodwill.
Yesterday…I got the worst email I have ever received from a parent, ever! (and for me ever is over 30 years).
Here’s what happened.
We would all like to be THAT teacher. The best piano teacher. The fun one that everybody talks about. The teacher who’s got great students that are awesome players. The one who doesn’t need to advertise because she gets referrals galore from happy parents. I know some teachers like that, I had at least two teachers like that, and I certainly hope to be THAT teacher myself. Here are some things I notice about awesome piano teachers:
Awesome teachers want to be teachers. Great teachers love teaching and sharing music as much as, or more than, performing music.
Little Kids on the Keys
Imagine having a great time teaching preschoolers. Imagine those lessons are so much fun that you could teach eight three-and-a-half and four-year-olds back to back and feel energized and inspired. Imagine that you are really teaching them music, they love it and their parents are not just happy but thrilled. Imagine you can’t wait to get to work because it’s so much fun and the time flies by.
This isn’t only possible, this is my life. I left my well-established studio of beginning through advanced students behind. I said goodbye to West Palm Beach Florida and came to Cleveland Ohio ready to start teaching. I have a home studio but I also teach three days a week an arts center that is famous for Kindermusik, as a result, I have 25 students (so far) 19 of whom are four years old or younger. I love it and here’s why.
Students need a piano because they need to be able to practice at home. Learning to play any musical instrument is a big undertaking that depends upon regular lessons and daily practice. It takes practice to understand musical concepts and to acquire the coordination and motor skills it takes to become a pianist.
What Should We Get?
There are basically two types of pianos Acoustic and Digital. First, let’s look at Acoustic Pianos.
Acoustic Pianos are made of wood and have steel strings. An acoustic piano a great choice if you have space in your home to accommodate one and if you can afford it. Concert artists always play on fine acoustic pianos and almost all pianists prefer them. Acoustic pianos need periodic tuning, however, this is a minimal expense. If carefully chosen and properly cared for an acoustic piano is an investment that will last a lifetime.
It is important to know that acoustics pianos vary wildly in price, quality, and condition. In order to be useful for piano practice an acoustic piano must be new or a well maintained pre-owned piano. You must also look for a reputable brand of instrument. Acoustic pianos have over 10,000 moving parts, these parts wear out if not properly maintained. I always recommend that families get help when selecting an acoustic piano. Consult your teacher he/she can certainly point you in the right direction and help with your piano selection.
Digital Pianos are electronic instruments. Digital pianos have a full set of 88 weighted keys. The weights inside the keys make these instruments feel more like acoustic pianos when playing. They also have an assortment of different sounds and computer interface capabilities.
Digital Pianos have improved greatly in price and quality over the past 20 years. In my opinion, a good quality digital piano with its own case and bench for proper seating is a good option for families that do not have space and budget for an acoustic piano. Digital pianos also vary in price and quality so please consult your teacher before purchasing a digital piano.
Keyboards are not pianos and are not acceptable for piano practice. They do not sound or feel like a piano and practicing on a keyboard will be discouraging and foster bad habits. I would also prefer that my students forgo practice on a keyboard and concentrate on the lessons in “First Four Week Before a Piano” rather than practice on a keyboard. In my 30 plus years of teaching, I have seen that keyboards just don’t work. Piano students need pianos.
There are many many affordable options when it comes to getting a piano. You can rent or buy. Some of my students have even received nice pianos from friends or relatives. The bottom line is that the sooner you get a good quality piano the better.
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