What is your Studio Story? How did you get to where you are now?
I travel taught for over 10 years. I also worked at several music stores when I was younger. I enjoyed travel teaching, because I felt connected to each family. At some of the music stores, parents didn't come to check in on their children's progress. It felt like a big disconnect. After having my son, I absolutely hated being away from him. I was spending so many hours in my car driving from town to town and unpaid at the time since I didn't charge a travel fee. I had the idea to open a small studio and see how it went. I started out in a 500sq ft, 2 room space with offices as neighbors. I did well and expanded to a space about a 1000sq ft on the first floor with 4 teaching rooms, a waiting room, and it's own bathroom just 3 ½ months later. That is where the studio is today. Moral of the story, I wanted to maximize my time with my son and be able to offer all my programs in one place. This includes children's classes that I was renting space for in a few different locations.
What is one thing that you think you do really well as a teacher?
I think I connect with students really well. I really love teaching young elementary aged beginner students. I am creative and like being able to see the lightbulb light up for kids just because I explain a concept in a way that they can understand.
What is one thing you think you do really well as a business owner?
I maintain a friendly character and get to know all the families which at this point most are not my personal students.
What is one thing that you really struggle with as a teacher?
Most of the time, I wish I had more time with my students. I just want to keep teaching!
What is one thing that you really struggle with as a business owner?
Getting things done! I have so many ideas and not enough time. I find it difficult to get my office work done at home with two young kids. My husbands schedule changes daily. I'd like to think I'd be even more organized with adequate uninterrupted office time.
Share a funny student story.
Funny & Sweet: I have a 9 year old student who has been with me over 2 years. He's always enjoyed coming, but his big realization of why he wanted to play piano was just over a year ago, because I was pregnant. He told his mom that he needed to practice extra so he could make beautiful music for Baby Ridgeway! Little did I know how serious he was and how far he'd come!
You seem to have really exploded in the past year. What happened? What changed?
When I took some time off/maternity leave, I plugged into this group. I read a lot of what others were saying. Consistency, that word stood out. I started using Facebook daily to advertise. My studio doubled in students in 3 months.
What is your six month goal for you studio?
Avoid tons of summer drops best I can by saying I can put them on the bottom of the wait list for Sept; Start 1-3 more rockbands, successfully host summer camps, start September with more students than ever!
What is your one year goal for your studio?
That we have to hire more teachers bc our schedule is full
What is your 10 year goal for your studio?
Have 2 successful studios and be able to afford several vacations just from that income
You’re an author! Tell us about your books and your future plans.
Becoming an author was a big accomplishment and learning process for me. My published book Exploring Treble Clef C Position is one of a series. The other books are in the pipeline. This book is designed for beginner piano students from preschool through about 5th grade. The story line is very repetitive, but that is a useful tool for memorization skills. Children learn about real life animals in funny colors that match the music alphabet which allows them to use these animals as a reference point in their mind when they are reading black and white music with notes on the staff in lessons. By the end of this book, the animals all put on their music note costumes. I love that adults ask, sometimes beg, for this book as one of their lesson books. They have said that because it is written for young children, it is simplistic and makes it easier to remember.
I have a much larger dream when it comes to writing more books and publishing.I have actually decided to start a publishing company. I am very excited to be releasing it to the public in the near future. I hope to additionally help others make their dreams come true
I think I saw that you’re opening up a second location?
Can you tell us a little about that.
I have had a tremendous amount of interest in our lessons from people who live in my town and south of here. I am about 20-25 minutes south of my current studio. I decided opening a second location would allow us to bring in many more students who won't travel to our current location. I do have students that come to our current location who drive up to 45minutes and pass several other music studios on the way. So, what we offer clearly stands out. It makes me want to expand that to more families. The building is currently under construction. My two fabulous teachers will be making the move with me. They are both actually leaving their other jobs so they can take on as many students as possible with my studio. I'm really excited about that!
What is your #1 tip for advertising and marketing?
CONSISTENCY!!! Don't let up! Bring it up in conversation wherever you are.
How are you using Facebook to attract new students?
I post on facebook buy/sell/trade groups regularly. I will advertise for specific lessons whether it be piano or guitar or voice. Sometimes, I will say that I have specific spots available. I should honestly do that more. I also post pictures and videos of our students on my facebook page to attract attention to what we have going on:
What about retention? What do you do to keep your students in your studio?
I try to always have something going on. Take April for example, it was Practice Challenge month. Each student decides with their teacher a reachable goal with how many days and minutes per day they will practice weekly. They fill out a practice sheet every week for the entire month. If they reach their weekly goal throughout the month, they get to attend a studio party in May!
What is your niche? What sets you apart from every other studio?
There are music stores near us that also give lessons. We strictly give lessons. The education is our number one concern. There are 3 of us total as teachers and we truly work as a team. Parents see that. Kids see that. We are all friendly with the families. We like to jump into each others lessons at times just to see what's going on and get to know the student. Sometimes, we decide to pair up students during lessons to do teach a quick duo. We are flexible (to an extent, don't get this confused with being firm on the business end with policies).
What is your favorite band or artist?
Jimmy Buffett has honestly been a favorite since I was a kid. He's one of my dad's favorites, and my dad plays his music a lot. It's relaxing for me. I really love The Beatles too though!!
What is something people would be surprised to learn about you?
As much as I'm comfortable in front of a large group of people, I am not comfortable performing solos!! I was in a few bands, and I really enjoyed that! I wish I could be in one now, but the timing isn't right.
Let’s say I’m just starting out as a teacher.
Give me one piece of advice you wish you would have known when you started.
Students are not your friends. They may feel like it on some days, but the truth is it all comes down to business. So, teach from your heart and give it all you've got to enjoy the time you do have with them, while preparing yourself that they may discontinue at any time.
Let’s say I’ve been teaching for a few years and I’m just feeling burned out.
How can I add some life into my studio?
Do something you've never done before! Games/activities are fantastic when you need to grab a student's attention and give yourself a break. You can create them yourself or purchase from other teachers. This allows students to learn new concepts or work on familiar concepts with a different approach.
We’ve all had that one student or parent that just drives us crazy.
What do you do with that kid or family?
Be firm. Do not let them call the shots. Whether it is talking while you are teaching, doodling while you are talking, excuses of no practice, or whatever it may be, just be firm with whatever you need to say, but do it in a manner that you can build a better studio relationship. I've been surprised by some. Some do come around.
What is your craziest idea?
What is something you would love to do if money, time, and space weren’t an issue?
I would own commercial property and have my studio there! I would even have an outside practice space so when the weather is nice, we can all enjoy it! I would love to offer a recording studio as well.
If you weren’t a studio owner, what else would you do with your life?
Right now, I would just be an author. I am enjoying that route. It still allows me the time with my kids. If I wouldn't miss my kids too much, I would work as a 1st grade teacher.
Check out Amy's Book here!