10 Tips for Teaching Transfer Piano Students

“Hello…Ms. Hall?” “Yes, this is she” “My name is Sherry I am looking for a new piano teacher for my daughter Angie do you have any openings in your studio for  new piano students?”

“Hmm, a transfer piano student,” I think to myself. Am I excited because I may get a student who can play well and is ready for some great repertoire? Or am a filled with trepidation thinking about all of the remediations I may have to do? To be honest, a little bit of both. But transfer students are part of the game so here are 10 tips that will help you book those transfer students have great success.


  1. Have both the potential student and her parents attend the first lesson. You really want to be able to speak with whoever is responsible for booking the lesson. Ask that the student bring along any music on which she is working. Let them know that you will be expecting the student to play for you so that you can place the student at the correct level.


2. Be well prepared and ready for anything. Make sure your teaching space is neat and free of distractions. Have many levels of music on hand for the student should he show up without any music to play.


3. When potential transfer piano students first enter the studio have the student sit beside mom or dad while you sit at the piano. Take this time to get to know them a little. I always ask how long the student has been playing, how much practicing they are normally doing and most importantly whether or not they enjoy playing the piano. I want to make sure the student feels at ease and not as though they are at an audition.


4. Be ready to play something yourself. Parents love this! A nice, short but flashy piece is sure to impress both student and parent and set you up as the expert.


5. At some point, it is time for the new student to play something for you. Ask him to play something he likes and knows very well. Be sure to point out all of the good things you see and hear. Does he have great technique? Perfect rhythm? Does he sit up straight and tall? I am sure you can find something good to say. After that, do some teaching. Dive in and show your stuff. Parents want to get an idea of your teaching style and your expertise.        Read the post about “Sight Reading”


6. Refrain from asking questions about the previous teacher or criticizing his or her pedagogy (or lack thereof). Keep everything positive. You will have plenty of time to remediate problems and teach new concepts later.


7. Assuming things go well. Five or so minutes before the end of the lesson be sure to book the next appointment. Now is the time for them to sign up. Have your schedule ready, any parent materials you want to give them including your studio policy. If mom or dad is not prepared to pay your monthly or semester fee at that moment let them bring it to the next lesson. There is always a chance they may not come back but you have a much better chance of getting the student if they have an appointment set up. Read the post “10 Ways to Make Your Piano Studio More Profitable”


8. During the second lesson, it’s time to get to work. My number one most important tip for working with transfer piano students is, always assign repertoire that is about two levels below where you think they should be playing. There are two reasons for this; first, most transfer students have some gaps in their learning and second, it is much better to speed through some easy music and boost a student ahead then it is to have to pull back and assign an easier piece. Working through some easier music builds confidence and gives the student a chance to review some skills and fill in some gaps while having to step down to something easier is discouraging.


9. As you work with your new student you will discover her strengths and areas that need to be worked on more. You will most certainly find things that you would have done differently than her previous teacher. I recommend reserving judgment and gently steering your new student in the direction you would like to see her go.


10. Keep an open mind about everything. It will take time for you to develop a relationship with your new student. There are many reasons students change piano teachers. Some are wonderfully trained and are coming to you because of a move or because the former teacher has retired. Others have had a bad experience with a teacher or may have been dismissed from a teacher due to a lack of practice or some other situation.

I hope that these tips will be helpful when getting started with transfer piano students. I have had many over my years of piano teaching. By and large, they are a pleasure to teach and do very well. I find that I am challenged and learn a lot from each and every one.

Thanks for reading. If you like this post please share it. To download hundreds of pages of free music and resources for your piano studio join Paloma Piano’s forever free Gold Membership


If you like this post check out my book,

“The Happiest Piano Teacher in Town, Empowering Teachers to Inspire Students”


Ideas for Keeping Online Piano Students Over the Summer

Summer is coming, and it’s a tough time of year for piano teachers even when we are not going through a global health crisis. I (along with many others) am concerned about students dropping out of piano lessons for the summer and maybe leaving altogether. I did some research and put together a plan to try and retain students.

Stay Connected

I want my students to know that I really care about them. Everyone is feeling isolated these days. So, making an extra effort for some social time seems to make sense.

1 – When I log on to teach a lesson, I give my students and their parents a little time to talk. I make it a point to ask them how their day is going, and how their week was.

2 – Host a group. Every other Saturday I have been hosting a piano party on zoom. It’s free and the kids and their parents love it. I do too!

3 – Send a postcard in the mail. One teacher I know is doing this and her students really appreciate it. I plan to give this a try.

Include Some Variety

Variety may be the spice of life but during online lessons it’s essential. Online lessons require students to be more independent which can be more mentally taxing. I want to make sure my students are feeling relaxed and having fun.

1 – Take a break mid-lesson. About 15 minutes into the lesson I have the kids play a game watch a short video, play a name that tune game or do some flashcards.

2 – Take a few minutes to learn some music history, tell an interesting story about a composer or the history of a piece of music.

3 – Do something surprising. Tell a joke, do a magic trick, sing or play a silly song. Change it up each week, your student will look forward to seeing what you have in store each week.

See the post Making Online Teaching Easier

Make Sure They are Making Progress

It’s really important that both students and their parents feel that piano lessons are worth their time, effort, and money. Things are uncertain right now. Young families, if they are fortunate enough to be working are working from home while trying to homeschool their children, or they are essential workers which is very stressful. As much as they want to keep things normal and do the best for their children the last thing they need is to have to worry about piano lessons. Therefore, I want to do whatever I can to have things go as pleasantly and as smoothly as possible.

1 – Err on the side of easy. I have a few students who love to be challenged, I can throw anything at they and they will prevail. But for most, I feel that now is the time to make sure the music I assign is something that they can learn without too much trouble. I am assigning shorter pieces that can be learned fairly quickly. This helps keep students motivated and feeling good about what they are doing. Parents appreciate hearing new music more frequently which they tell me is more pleasant than hearing the same piece week after week.

2 – Point out successes. Call attention to everything your students are learning and doing well.

  • They are coming to the lesson on time and ready to go with their music and a pencil and notebook.
  • Good posture/hand position.
  • Attention to phrasing and dynamics.
  • Correct notes and rhythm.
  • Improving focus and attention at the lesson.
  • Learning about music history or music theory.
  • Improving ear training and playing by ear.

You get the picture. Take a moment to speak with parents or caregivers if possible. Send a text or an email highlighting their child’s success.

Here are a few additional ideas that will help students stay connected and highlights their success.

1 – Host an online recital. This is a great way to show parents and students that piano lessons are a valuable part of their lives.

2 – Have your student record a piece he knows and send it to a friend or relative.

3 – Work on some music composition with your student give her parents a beautifully engraved copy of the sheet music. If you aren’t familiar with music notation software, you can find people who will engrave music for you very inexpensively.

Stay Organized

1- Have plenty of music and resources in Pdf format ready to send to your students. I recommend sending plenty of extra music. I know this is a challenge. It is even for me, and I run a music publishing website!

Note: Be sure that you are sending music legally. You must own a studio license to copy and send music that is not in the public domain. This includes arrangements and engraving. For example, Bach’s Two-Part Inventions are in the public domain however, you can not scan Alfred, Schirmer, or any other editions and email them to your students.

You may share the music at Paloma Piano with your own students for as long as you remain a member. Gold members can share Gold level music. Platinum Members can share everything. Your music comes stamped with your licensing agreement so your students will know you are legally sharing.

2 – I have to take notes while I am teaching so I remember who needs what. On Sunday night before I send an email to Paloma Piano teachers. I send out all of the music I think my students may need for the coming week. (No small task.)

There is always free music and resources at palomapiano.com if you are in a pinch (and don’t forget Platinum members get everything.)

3- If your students are buying books, be sure to order in advance. (I am sure you all know this.)

Consider changing the way you charge for lessons.

I know some studios that usually charge for the semester are switching to collecting payments monthly or even weekly. This may be a good idea because nervous families won’t feel as though they have to make a long-term commitment.

If you do have students who say they want to “take a break” ask them why. It may be a problem you are able to solve. If it’s a financial decide that is another matter. Now is the time to decide what you will do in these cases. Unfortunate as it may be the fact is that no matter where you live the economy is probably going to take a hit. Think about what you might do in these cases should they arise.

I will be posting about the topic of students leaving for financial reasons next week.

Keep going teachers, you are doing a noble job. I pray you and your family and friends are safe and well. I know all of you join me in thanking all of those on the front lines bringing us medical care, and essential services.

Visit our sister-site pianoparents.net

Two Great Books!

Free Piano Teaching Games You Can Use Online

Online Piano Games


I am so very heartened by people’s response to the pandemic. So many people are pitching in to help. I want to help too, so I am making all of the printable games at palomapiano.com free until 4/10/20. That’s right, Free piano teaching games you can use online.

All of the free printables can be found at www.palomapiano.com

I know that just about all us are going to online lessons these days and who knows how long that’s going to last? So why not include some games?


Imagine how excited your students will be to receive a colorful printable game in their parent’s email!  

Not only that! Parents will be delighted to see how much fun their child is having.

You will inspire confidence, and thus, retain students!


Lessons over the internet may be different than in-person lessons but that doesn’t rule out fun! My students love games. For preschool students games are essential. For older students, games are a great way to give them a two to three-minute break from the music and reset.


Here are some great games you can play games with your students online including 3 free printables that you can download and send to your students. Many of these are featured in my book “The Ultimate Preschool Piano Activities Book”



 Dice games



You can purchase musical dice, or you can make them yourself.

I make mine out of wooden cubes I got at a craft store. I write musical symbols on each face of the cube.


I use separate cubes for the finger numbers 1 through 5 and R and L for the right and left hands. I write treble and bass clefs on a die. You can also use the dice to practice rhythmic symbols and accidentals.




At the craft store purchase plain wooden blocks. These come in various sizes. Depending upon the size of your teaching space you may want to choose larger or smaller blocks. Use a Sharpie to write on each side of the block.

In the studio, students roll the dice but you can make the dice and roll them and have your online student do the activities.


  1. Fingering Block – Write finger numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and * on each side of the block. (If the student rolls the asterisk, they get to choose which finger to use).
  2. Note Name Blocks – Using two blocks write a letter of the music alphabet on each side. (Some letters will be written more than once.)
  3. Clef Blocks – On each side of the blocks write a treble or bass clef.
  4. Right and Left Blocks – Write and R or L on each side of the blocks.
  5. High-Low Blocks – Write H or L on each side of the blocks.





  1. Have your student roll the dice and find the note.


  1. Roll the dice and find all of the notes with that name on the keyboard.


  1. Roll all three, then find the note with the corresponding finger and hand.


  1. Same as 3 but with treble (high) and bass (low) clefs for high and low notes.


  1. Have your student roll the dice several times, write the notes on a paper or chalkboard and play them in succession.


  1. Roll several dice with note names. Have your student set the dice on the piano music stand play the notes in succession.


  1. Roll the dice and place a bead on each key that has that note name. (Students can use a penny or other small object.


  1. Use the hourglass timer with any of these activities. (The hourglass timer is a small game timer that I use to keep things moving. If you have board games at home you likely already have one.)




Hi-Low Flash Cards

These can be downloaded for free at palomapiano.com


Only one set is needed. Pick a card and place a penny on the corresponding key.

Example; Middle group of two is D





Here are some of the other games you can play using wooden dice.


  1. Have students roll several dice at once and play all of the notes.


  1. Have students roll the dice and write the note rolled on the staff. I use a chalkboard with the staff drawn on with a permanent marker.


  1. Use the dice with the fingering numbers to decide how many times a student will play a certain piece or passage.


  1. Use the numbered dice to decide how many minutes you will work on a given activity during the lesson.




Origami Fortune Teller (2 versions beginning and intermediate).


This printable Origami Fortune Teller is part of the free Online Game Package at palomapiano.com


Download and send one to your student. Have fun doing the folds together. Then your student can play along with you and follow the prompts.

Find it at palomapiano.com



Advanced Beginner and Early Intermediate Students


Students with a bit of experience can play some fun games as well.


Here are a few games I like to play that just use the keyboard.


Name that tune – See how many notes it takes for your student to identify a song. It could be a familiar folk tune, pop song, or something from their repertoire.


Play Back – Start with one note and have your student find it on the keyboard. Add notes one by one, see how many your students can get right. Your student can test you!


Clap back – same as above using rhythm.


Sing Back – Same as play-back except your student sings.



Rhythm Card Deck.


They are so much fun!


Print a set for yourself and have your students print out their own set.


You can play games like battle or concentration.


To play battle each of you chooses a card from the deck, whoever has the higher note value wins the cards. If you get the same note value, turn three cards over and then one up. The highest note value for that card takes all. Keep track by each of you making two plies of cards so that you can count who gets more cards at the end.


Here’s how to play with a regular deck of cards.





Intermediate Students


Intermediate students can play games too!

They can play most of the games above.

There is an intermediate version of the Origami Fortune Teller.


Here are some fun games to play with older students.


Name the composer – This game could be played a few ways depending upon how much experience your students have with music history. You could give some clues about a composer and see if they can guess who it is. You could name pieces and see if your students know the composer, or you could play examples and see if they can identify the composer.


Name the musical period or genre – Along the same lines as Name the composer. Except that you would be playing examples for your student or having them listen to a video or recording.


Join as a Free Gold Member 

I have many more ideas so stay tuned. To access the online materials, you will have to join as a free Gold member and log in. You never have to pay anything, and I don’t sell your information or anything like that. Paloma Piano is supported by a number of loyal Platinum Members.


You will then be on my email list where I will be sharing more materials and information for you as you move forward with online teaching. You will also have access to other free resources including method books and music.


A few last words,


Be confident, you know what you are doing. Online is not much different than in-person your students are paying for your knowledge and expertise.

Have fun, let your students know that you plan to have a great time teaching them online. Take time to stand up and do a crossing the midline activity at the beginning or mid-point of the lesson. Play a game, let the children meet your pet (if you have one) kids love this.


We’ve got this! People are pulling together in amazing ways!


Love to you all!

Here is a blog for piano parents.






Piano Studio Program Statement


In my book “The Happiest Piano Teacher in Town” There is a chapter about the piano studio program statement. I believe most teachers already have a studio program statement. Teachers know intuitively what kind of studio they are running. I think it can be beneficial to think about this or even take it one step further and put it in writing’


Thinking through your Piano Studio Program Statement will do two things.


  1. It will help you find students that are a good fit for your program.


Teaching students who want to learn what you are teaching makes sense. Piano teachers are all so unique so are piano students. Teaching students who fit with your program helps ensure a successful experience for both of you.


  1. Having a program statement will help you feel organized and confident.


Piano teachers are unique. Knowing that you have thought through what you want to teach and how you want your studio to run will you stay on track. You will participate in the things you have decided are important and take on students who you are going to thrive under your tutelage.



My studio program statement is something I do for myself. I generally do not feel the need to share this with students and parents.


This is my Studio Program Statement each teacher will have his or her own.






  • How would I like my ideal studio look and feel like? Relaxed or competitive?

A relaxed but focused environment. A place where students who want to learn to play the piano can come and learn without stress or judgment. Students who want to learn the piano as a hobby or as a second instrument are welcome as are students who want to learn to play at a professional or semi-professional level. However, all students must practice at home and make progress.


  • What are my hopes for my students?

That each one will have a positive experience studying with me. That piano lessons will enrich their lives. That they will have a life-long love of music.


  • What kinds of things do I consider important for my students to be involved in order to fulfill my Mission Statement?

Students must practice independently at home.

Students must listen to a variety of great music.

Students should participate in performance opportunities (recitals, festivals, school accompanying, online recitals, etc.)


  • Will I have students participate in recitals, evaluations, festivals, and competitions?

Bi-yearly recitals, No festivals or competitions at this.


  • Do I consider it imperative for my students to continue studying the piano over the summer and during other school breaks?

Students are highly encouraged to take lessons a minimum of six weeks during the summer break. If a student will be away lessons can be conducted online or a teacher can be found where the student can study locally.

Students who take the whole summer off may lose their slot for the fall.


  • Am I willing to teach adults? Preschool students? Special-needs students?

Yes, all students are welcome.


  • Will I teach siblings? If so, will I use the same method for each one?

Yes, siblings are welcome. Method and music selections will be determined according to the needs of each individual student.


  • Some students want to take piano lessons just for fun and may not be very motivated about practicing is this acceptable? or would I prefer more serious students?

Every effort will be made to help students establish and execute a workable practice routine.

Students show some effort and make progress. Students who are consistently coming to lessons unprepared, missing lessons and not making progress will be put on the last chance program.

Read about the last chance program – Time to Say Goodbye

Exceptions will be made at the teacher’s discretion for students who may be going through challenging situations.


It’s OK to Make Changes

I reevaluate my studio program statement each year. I may decide to participate in festivals next year as I have in the past or I may decide to focus on teaching adults. The main point is that if I know where I am going, I am more likely to get there and get there with the maximum amount of peace and joy.


If you like the post – Why not read the book

“The Happiest Piano Teacher in Town, Empowering Teachers to Inspire Students”


Invite you to browse the website, There are many excellent resources for you and your students.


Teaching Piano When Life is Stressful

No one ever talks about this, but teaching piano lessons can be hard on days when you are stressed, sad or overwhelmed with concerns outside of the studio. It’s difficult to keep your mind on what a student is doing when you are weighted down with personal issues. Watching and listening to someone else play (especially beginning students) takes tremendous mental focus. As piano teachers, we aren’t able to excuse ourselves and leave the lesson. We can’t take phone calls or seem visibly upset during a lesson. We work with children; we must remain calm and cheerful, this can be challenging if there is a lot going on to distract you.

I know a thing or two about teaching during life’s challenging times. Keeping my own mind engaged and free from stress is a tall order on some days. I do my best to have a positive perspective at all times. But I am gloriously human and sometimes have trouble with this. I might be worried about a sick child, an upcoming recital, global warming, the price of tea in China, or anything else. If I let this overtake my mind, my teaching day can become a bit trying. Actually, it will become painfully difficult.

Here are some things that work for me on days where my stress level and concerns outside the studio are high. These ideas may work for you as well.

  • Leave Your Worries Outside

I imagine yourself leaving your troubles outside of the studio. This is your workspace. The ability to leave your outside life and focus on your work will take time to cultivate. If you are struggling more than usual on a particular day, write yourself a note about whatever is troubling you and leave it in another room or in your car. Tell yourself you can read the note and get upset or worry after you are finished teaching.

  • Live in the Moment, Focus on Your Student

Focus on the student. Look at your student—really look and consider the fact that you get to have this amazing person in your presence for 30-60 minutes. Enjoy her! She is unique and special.

I learned something about a from a Zen teacher.  He said to look around and survey your surroundings.  Consider that at this very moment nothing is wrong. Enjoy this moment.  Live in it be present. I look at whomever I am teaching at the moment and try to be thankful that I am able to be the teacher. I choose to be thankful for the impact I have on this wonderful person.

  • Be kind to yourself.

Have some fun!  Pick out a duet to sight read with your student, play a piano game, sing a song, tell a joke. Look at how cute your little ones are.  Have a short conversation with an adult student about the music they are working on. Ask your teens and tweens how their day is going.  Celebrate the work you are doing and be inspired by how far your students have come.

Sometimes a little treat can help. A small piece of dark chocolate can pick you up and boost your mood. The theory is that chocolate stimulates the neural activity in the regions of the brain associated with pleasure and reward.  A hot cup of tea on a cold day or a cool drink on a hot day can make you feel better on days when you need a little extra pampering.

Positive Perspective

Bad days will come and go. As musicians, we are especially skilled in the area of mental discipline. We are better able than most people to leave our worries behind and focus on our work.

This post is taken from the book “The Happiest Piano Teacher in Town”

Read it for free on Kindle Unlimited. Also available as an ebook or paperback.

Scripted Communication for Sticky Situations

It’s easy for me to know when boundaries are being crossed. I can feel it. It feels…well, bad. My blood pressure goes up, I lose sleep I feel angry. Maybe, my student is always being picked up late, or tuition isn’t being paid on time. It could be that my time and space is not being respected. Maybe it’s something blatantly disrespectful or maybe it’s a situation that has become more and more upsetting over time. This is why I am presenting “Scripted Communication for Sticky Situations”.

read the post “Piano Studio Etiquette 101”

I have been teaching for over 35 years. In my home studio, at commercial studios, online and as a teacher who travels to student’s homes. It’s been a great career! I have met so many amazing families. Occasionally I have run into some sticky situations. Over the years I have learned to be a better communicator. I have gained some insight into how to set boundaries and, make my expectations known. This has made me a much happier teacher and a happier person in general. In this post, I will present some situations that come up, from time to time and how I handle them. Feel free to take what you think will work for you and leave the rest.

Continue reading “Scripted Communication for Sticky Situations”

Ten Ways to Make Your Piano Studio More Profitable

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 Ten 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.

Continue reading “Ten Ways to Make Your Piano Studio More Profitable”

What Kind of Piano Teacher are You?

What Kind of Piano Teacher am I?

Take the Quiz below


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? I find my self-asking myself, “what kind of piano teacher are you anyway?”

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?

Continue reading “What Kind of Piano Teacher are You?”

10 Ways to Make Your Piano Studio More Profitable Without Raising Rates


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. Yes, you can make your piano studio more profitable!


  1. Educate Parents.

    The number one way to have a vibrant profitable studio is to make sure that your adult students and your student’s parents understand what is involved in learning to play the piano. When people understand the benefits of playing the piano and what it takes to learn to play well they will become students who will attend lessons regularly, purchase the necessary materials, and stick with the piano.

  2. Have a Studio Policy.

    Have a studio policy that excludes or limits make-up lessons. Stick to your studio policy this will ensure that your studio will run smoothly and you will get paid for all of the lessons you are supposed to be teaching.

    Piano Studio Policies

  1. Bill monthly, semester or yearly tuition.

    Don’t allow your students to pay weekly. Charging periodically will decrease missed lessons and make your piano studio more profitable.

  2. Use the internet.

    Using Skype or FaceTime for times when students can’t make it to a lesson because of inclement weather, sudden illness of a sibling or car trouble will keep your studio attendance up and therefore increase your studios’ profitability.

  3. Charge a Recital Fee.

    It’s your valuable time that makes it all happen. You should be compensated. Make sure you charge over and above what you will be paying if you are renting a venue. Charge a per-student fee or sell tickets to the event.

  4. Have a yearly activity fee.

    If you would rather not charge extra for things like recitals and supplemental materials consider having students pay a yearly activity fee to cover the cost of these things.

  1. Teach at Home.

    Teaching at home is the most profitable way to run a one-person, private piano studio. Not only does this eliminate the overhead of renting a space, and the time and expense of traveling to student’s homes, in the U.S. you can actually use your home studio space as an income tax write off, making your piano studio more profitable.

  2. Use Technology and Double-Up.

    Consider having 2 students share an hour lesson (semi-private). One student works on things like music theory, music history, and note reading while the other receives his/her lesson. There are many ways to do this easily with both students in the same room. Charge each student less than you would for an hour-long lesson and a little more than you would for 30 minutes. Everyone wins!

  3. Make Use of Summer and School Breaks.

    For most piano teachers, lesson attendance takes a nosedive during summer school breaks. Encourage students to continue lessons over the summer. Offer to teach students of colleagues who usually take the summer off. Consider offering intensive lessons where a student comes every day for individualized instruction for a week or two. Small group classes in things like improvisation or music history are also a great way to make your piano studio more profitable. If your student will be away for the summer, offer to teach lessons online via Skype or Facetime. This will make your piano studio more profitable.

  4. Sell piano books and materials to your students.                  Teachers can earn up to 10% of the price of most piano books by selling them to their students. Or…you can download and print Paloma Piano’s method books and materials put them into a binder and sell them to your students. Either way, if you have been giving books and materials to your students charging for these things will make your piano studio more profitable without raising lesson rates. Learn more about Paloma Piano

    Read the post “The Best Piano Teacher in Town”


The Bottom Line

Just how much more profitable can you make your studio? I did a rough estimate and here is what I came up with:

Of course, lesson rates and studio size vary. I am basing this estimate on a studio of 30 students at a rate of $25 per 30-minute lesson during the 10 month school year.

Billing monthly, charging periodically and limit or eliminating make-up lessons.

If you usually have 10% of you students canceling or skipping lessons in a given month this will increase your studio’s profits by $300 per month or $3,000 per year.

A modest recital fee of just $10 per student will earn your studio an extra $600 per year.

A $50 per year activity fee will increase your studio’s income by $1,500 every year.

Offering semi-private lessons at $120 per month per student will increase your studio’s profits by a whopping $6,000 per year! (This will save parents $4,000 over the cost of a one hour lesson).

Taking advantage of summer and schools breaks can realistically increase your studio’s profitability by $3,000-$5,000.

If the average student spends about $50.00 yearly on books and supplemental music you can increase your studio’s income by $300 if you are using traditional piano method books and $1,500 using Paloma Piano’s piano printable method books and materials.

Teaching at home can really boost your income if you are not already doing this. I know this is impossible for some teachers because of where they live or other considerations. I also know that some teachers are studio owners who are running very successful studios from commercial spaces. However, if you are a traveling teacher or you work for a studio consider teaching from home if possible. The tax deduction alone could increase your piano studio’s profits by about $1,000 per year.

If you travel consider the time you spend getting from student to student and the gas and wear and tear on your car. Teaching from 3pm-7pm at home you would be finished by 7 pm and earn $200. If you travel leaving just 15 minutes to get from house to house you would earn just $125 minus the gas and wear and tear on your car. This would reduce your hourly rate from $50 to approximately $30 per hour.

The factors of time and 30-minute lesson rate being equal moving your studio to your home would increase your profitability by $1,200 per month or $12,000 per year!

To equal what you would earn teaching at home traveling you would have to charge $45 per 30-minute lesson.

If you work at a studio that takes half of the lesson rate teaching at your home could increase your piano studio’s profits by $15,000 per year!

As you can see all of these ideas can potentially add up to some serious money for your studio. I sincerely believe earning a good living as a piano teacher begins with educating students and parents about what it is that we do. If people can see how much work and expertise is involved in they will value piano education and be willing to pay for it. When it comes right down to it to quote a famous commercial “An educated consumer is your best costumer”.

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How to Draft a Piano Studio Policy

There are always questions coming up about 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. Here are some ways to draft a piano studio policy.

In my home studio, I am much more, flexible with my 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 policy that works best for your situation.

Drafting your studio policy

These studio policy options deal with cancelations and make-ups. But in drafting your own policy you also want to consider how you want to collect payments (weekly, monthly or by semester). What to do about late arrivals and pick-ups and studio etiquette issues. You also need to address things like inclement weather, holidays etc.

Also include things like how payment will be taken (cash, check, Paypal, etc.) How books and materials will be obtained. Will Parents get them? Will you provide books and materials? (Like the ones here at Paloma Piano.)

What about recitals, festivals, and competitions? Will participation in these events be required? Will there be a fee?



A “No Show” is a lesson that is missed without notifying the teacher/studio prior to the start of the lesson time.

A “Missed lesson” is a lesson canceled within 24 hours of the lesson time.

A “Rescheduled lesson” is a that is changed and rescheduled with 24 hours or more advanced notice.

My goal is to set up a situation that optimizes student learning and does not refund monies collected for lessons.

“No show” lessons will not be made up.

Lessons can be rescheduled if given 24 hours or more advanced notice.

I also assume that teacher canceled lessons will be made up as a private lesson.

So we are basically talking about “Missed Lessons”



Option 1

Allow students to make up lessons.

This means deciding which missed lessons will be made up and how many. I have seen studios set a certain number of allowed make-up per semester. Or only provide make-ups for lessons canceled with 24 hours notice or in the case of an emergency.


It’s flexible, parents love this option.

Teachers usually don’t mind if there is a set number of make-ups allowed so that their schedule isn’t disrupted too much and students get a weekly lesson.

Teachers who gig a lot need flexible schedules.


Sometimes hard to enforce because it’s hard to know what really constitutes an emergency and who really is sick.

Scheduling make-ups sometimes becomes a problem because of a teacher’s schedule and other activities in which a child may be involved.(In my experience when this happens parents always want refunds or credits).

As the studio grows it will become increasingly difficult to find space for make-ups to take place. (The last studio I worked at had 300 students and 4 piano rooms. It was difficult to find open rooms in which to conduct make-up lessons).

Teachers really hate to come in stay for 5 hours get paid for 3 and then have to return on another day to make up lessons. (I believe this is the number one biggest problem studios and private teachers alike deal with).

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Option 2

Offer Group make up lessons.

How it works.

Students who miss a lesson during a certain period (usually monthly) sign up to come to a group class which serves as a makeup for the missed lesson. These classes are conducted by the teacher. Classes can be recorded for students who are unable to make the class time.


Students get to expand their musical horizons with music history or music appreciation.

Teachers never do makeups.

Money never has to be refunded

The group class is twice as long as the regular lesson so students get an extra half hour of instruction.


Takes some advanced planning and coordinating

Space is needed for the classes

Some teachers/students may not be able to fit it into their schedule.

Option 3

How to draft a piano studio policy.

Include makeup lessons into the existing tuition,

How it works,

It’s actually mostly psychological (if you ask me). If a unit of 16 lessons is $600 you say that the unit is 14 lessons plus two bonus lessons for makeup lessons. Which means they get (or think they get) two free lessons if they have perfect attendance.


No makeups

No refunds

It encourages perfect attendance.

Limits missed lessons


If the student misses two lessons he misses the instructional time.


Option 4

No makeups.


No makes ups

No refunds


Doesn’t really seem fair to parents (although many teachers and studios are going to this model)

The students don’t really get anything out of it.

Some parents miss lessons and don’t worry about it because “After all the teacher is getting paid” so the student loses out on valuable instruction.


Option 5

Use a Google calendar or similar application that allows parents to check in and swap lessons with one another.

How it works,



This takes the responsibility of rescheduling off of the teacher.

Teachers do not need to give refunds for missed lessons.

Parents like it because they can have make-up lessons when needed.



Parents have to agree to be part of the swap arrangement.

Most parents will want to be accommodated if they can’t find an opening

in the schedule for their lesson to be made-up.

These are the 5 basic models I have experience with. We could do one or some combination of them. Ultimately it is your decision. You need to do what works best for you and your family. In my experience, most people will accept and abide by your studio policy as long as you are clear about what you expect and ready to hold your ground. This is how to draft a piano studio policy.

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Online Make-ups.

A lot of teachers are teaching online these days. Basically your policy options are the same for online lessons as they would be for in-studio lessons.

One thing that I do now is to offer to see students online if they can’t make it to the lesson because of inclement weather, car trouble, because a sibling or parent isn’t feeling well, or any reason that would enable the student to have the lesson.

I also offer online lessons if I need to be out of town for some reason.

This works beautifully. You can use FaceTime, Skype, or Google Hangouts. This cuts down on missed lessons.


There is much more in the book.

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“The Happiest Piano Teacher in Town, Empowering Teachers to Inspire Students”



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