Before I launched my own studio, I was teaching under the umbrella of two different churches and my own home.
I was easily able to retain 80 - 90% of my students each semester.
When I launched my own studio, 98% of my students who had been taking with me between the churches and my home followed!
But after the first year of being in the new studio, I noticed retention had dropped to 60%.
My studio actually ended our first year of lessons with MORE students than when we started!
But it didn't matter.
Shauna and I were focused on making more money, so naturally, we focused on learning how to advertise and persuade MORE new students to sign up for lessons.
We achieved the goal, but ironically, it cost us more.
Here are 3 reasons why...
1. Our current students were our biggest fans until we put them on auto pilot.
I didn't have a clear path of where I was taking each student, but I also had stopped thinking about it.
They caught on.
Most of them didn't even leave disgruntled.
Most of them gave valid reasons for moving on!
The underlying problem was this:
Because I stopped focusing on making the lesson experience better, they lost interest.
2. If I had kept my current students happy, they would have stayed and brought MORE referrals my way.
I think parents were still happy to refer others to my studio if they were specifically looking for lessons... but when their kids were LOVING lessons, parents would actually START UP conversations with others about how much Billy loved guitar and how Stickandstrum was amazing.
3. I wasn't able to keep the NEW students walking in my studio!
I had also hired a lot of teachers who were brand new to teaching.
Though I don't regret hiring beginner teachers, I do regret not training them well enough to teach.
A lot of our teachers were flailing.
Most of them overwhelmed or underwhelmed their students.
Kids left our studio either bored, or thinking they weren't good enough to play since they were over-challenged.
Trying to fill our teachers' schedules was like trying to fill a styrofoam cup with a hole in the bottom.
We were working our BUTTS off advertising, but all of it was wasted because we weren't able to keep them!
At The Studio Challenge, we talk aggressively about getting new students...
We all want a full schedule of happy students!
We don't want to worry about money.
Our dream is to sustain ourselves and make a living doing what we LOVE!
NONE of it matters if we can't keep our current students invested!
I learned how to improve my student retention, but it took a few years to figure it out HOW to grow and keep students engaged without having to consume my time worrying about them!
As studio owners, we have MANY things we have to worry about.
Let's get the necessary systems in place to improve retention and the lesson experience so we can keep students happy and keep growing...
Let's make sure your studio is set up to both ATTRACT and KEEP students in your door so you don't end up over-working like I was...
We're going to talk and work through 4 things next month:
We'll focus on one of these areas each week. A workbook and lesson videos are included.
We all know first impressions matter.
It's a one time shot and there are no do overs.
So, what is the first impression that your students and families get for you?
It should start BEFORE their first lesson.
Here are some simple things you can do that make a HUGE impression on students and parents after they've signed up for lessons...
Send them a Greeting
Email, Phone Call, Text, Postcard...Video?
Before students begin their first lesson, you have the chance to really make a great impression on them.
Chances are that you've been talking to the parent this whole time.
Not a lot of 9 year olds sign themselves up for lessons, ya know?
Now is your chance to make an impression with the student.
While an email, phone call, or text would be a great way to reach out we want to take it up a notch.
A postcard is a solid option.
NO ONE gets anything good in the mail anymore. But kids never get mail.
How awesome would it be for mom to head to the mailbox and for your student to hear,
"Hey Jonah! You've got some mail!"
What? That has likely never happened before. I mean, maybe a card from grandma but even she is just sending a birthday text these days.
He runs over to the mailbox to see a postcard with a handwritten greeting from you introducing yourself and saying that you can't wait to meet him and start lessons next week. Awesome!
But, how about we take it a step further?
What if you sent a personalized video to him?
Take a quick video in your studio introducing yourself, calling him by name, and saying how excited you are to meet him and get started.
How cool is that?
LessonMate is a great and simple option for this. You can quickly record a video DIRECTLY into your browser and send a link over to his parent's email. No awkward download/upload process. No waiting. No having the parents sign up for some confusing new software that they'll never understand. Just a quick way for you to send a video and put a smile on a kid's face.
Walking in for their First Lesson...
Make sure that you, the teacher, or the desk staff is there to meet the student and family at the front door and greet them BY NAME as soon as they open the door.
Their first moment is everything.
They are in a new and unsure location and looking for a sense of belonging. Give it to them.
One of our members, Emily, has a GREAT way to do this. She has a board welcoming in new members. She calls it her VIP Board, or something like that. Basically, it's a board welcoming in new students and they can see their names and feel like rock stars as soon as they walk through the front door.
But it doesn't stop there. Expand on it with a full VIP package. Give them a backstage pass to wear with their name on it. Give them a Swag Bag filled with studio merch like a t-shirt, stickers, pencils, headphones, and anything else you can think of or get your brand on.
The idea here is to completely overwhelm them with awesomeness from the first time they step in the door.
This is going to help to boost confidence and help them feel like they are part of the community from their first step into the door.
The Actual Lesson
No matter the instrument, the first lesson can be a little intense.
We have to go over posture, music reading, how to hold the instrument, and a hundred other insanely boring tasks that zap the enthusiasm out of your young and eager student.
So, how can we improve this experience?
There are too many instruments in here for me to get into specifics but here are a few suggestions. I also tread lightly here because you're here for business advice, not pedagogical advice.
This first lesson should be experiential, more than educational.
Do NOT overwhelm with information.
Overwhelm with the power of music and let them experience it!
For drum students, that means we're playing We Will Rock You at the first lesson. I don't go overboard on stick grip or proper posture, though I mention it. I just want them to get in and have an awesome time. I want to inspire them so that they can't wait to come back for more.
Take time to get to know the student. It's easy for us to just switch into full on teacher mode.
After the First Lesson
Typically this is where it ends, right?
"Well, start practicing and I'll see you next week! "
But that's not where you end.
First, make sure you have time to go and talk to the parents even if you have to cut the lesson short by a minute or two.
Go over what you learned, but don't overwhelm.
This is a chance to talk about how awesome their kid is.
Find something that you connected over and brag about their kid!
When they Get Home
Within 24 hours you need to follow up.
Like before, this can be call/text/email or you could also send another video.
Just depends on your style.
But it's important to follow up after the lesson is over to help them to realize that they are getting more than just a 30 minute lesson every week.
It also helps to remind and reinforce what they should be working on in between the lessons:
"Hey! Enjoyed our first lesson today.
"You did great! Remember to work on blah blah blah and I look forward to seeing you again next week!"
A postcard or email later in the week before their next lesson will also go a LONG way towards making them feel like they are already an important part of your studio.
What are some ways you make new students feel welcome at your studio?
Let us know in the Facebook group!
Join us for November's Challenge:
Starting next month, Studio Challenge Members are going to work on improving the lesson experience at their studios!
When you are done with this month's challenge:
Join TSC's Silver Membership NOW to take part in November's challenge.
(You can cancel anytime.)
Growing your studio takes time, but sometimes you cannot focus on the long term growth.
If rent is due next week and you need money ASAP, here's a quick way you can get some new students in the door this week...
Nothing will EVER beat word of mouth in our business.
If you have a studio full of happy and engaged students, you have a network of people ready to help you.
Your students have:
So, it’s time to use this!
On the simplest level you can just send an email letting them know that you are looking to grow your studio and wanted to see if they knew of anyone interested in lessons. Make it easy by extending an offer or flyer for them to give to friends.
Emails to Current Students Quick Tips:
Which one grabs you more...
"Come take lessons with me! I am open every day, and you can sign up whenever."
"I only have 4 spots left for guitar lessons on Monday! If you enroll today, you can begin next week!"
Using scarcity marketing not only prompts people to sign up for lessons, but it also gives them comfort in knowing:
1. You have students taking who trust you, and
2. You run a legit business and your time is valuable.
When you flaunt being open all the time for anyone to take, well, you look sketchy like this guy.
That's why Shauna create ads for YOU that are designed attract students to sign up, and do it NOW.
Subscribe today, and get your first scarcity marketing template immediately.👇
Meet one of TSC's founding members, Kaylah! She's awesome...
Kaylah is the owner of Harmony Project Music Learning Center in Wyoming. Her studio has two locations in Wyoming, the first of which she opened in the small town of Wheatland.
Though Kaylah's studio is growing and she's done amazing things for her community, her journey has been ANYTHING but easy.
Here's her story...
My parents made the decision to start driving.
Every week for the next decade we drove 140-160 miles each week for my lessons."
Kaylah said the sacrifice her parents had made for her sparked her desire to give kids in her hometown, Wheatland, the same opportunities given to her without having to make the same kind of sacrifices.
"So, I decided to pursue a music education degree and start teaching private lessons," she said.
Kaylah said when she decided to officially launch her studio, her biggest struggle was transitioning teaching into a full time job.
"There was a lot of stress the first year that I moved the studio out of our house because of the fear of the unknown and the potential instability of being completely dependent on lessons for my primary income — especially since I had no formal business training and my husband was constantly in and out of being employed! There was a lot of pressure that I HAD TO succeed!"
Kaylah has come a long way in the past few years!
Today, her studio Harmony Project has 2 growing locations, over 100 students and 6 teachers between them.
Kaylah has not only fulfilled her dream of providing the kids in her small town the opportunity to take violin, but thanks to her, they can now also take lessons in multiple instruments (everything from piano and guitar, to violin, harp, flute, etc)!
The last 2 years have been the most challenging for Kaylah...
Since 2018, Kaylah has had to work through:
(Kaylah said she was actually in the middle of launching her second location when her brother passed!)
"The fact that I am still standing and still have my business . . . and honestly, any sanity left . . . is nothing short of miraculous!
However, I have to say that I WOULD NOT trade any of the events of the last 2 years because they have ALL caused me to grow!
Spiritually, physically, emotionally, as a business owner, as a friend, as a musician, as a person in general, I've grown all across the board! I am so thankful to have a faithful core of students who have never given up on my studio because they know me and they trust me, but I am also thankful for our numbers starting to climb again after a pretty dramatic drop due to Covid!
All in all, I am incredibly blessed to get to do what I love every single day and to share that love of music and of people with a pretty spectacular #MusicFam as a way to make a living!
Things can only go up from here, and I am really excited to see what God does next!"
"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." - James 1: 2 - 4
We want to send a HUGE thanks to Kaylah for sharing her story with us this week!
We are truly inspired by her grit, and cannot wait to see what awesome things the future holds for her. Kaylah is a fighter and bound for success.
If Kaylah's story resonated with you and you'd like some help and support with your music school, check out TSC's Silver Membership.
No matter what you teach or where you're from, we're here to help you achieve YOUR studio goals.
Your website has ONE purpose:
Get people to contact you and sign up for lessons.
Anything not serving this one purpose needs to go.
Most websites have WAY too many pages.
Or too few.
It’s a total Goldilocks syndrome.
Let’s talk about the main pages that your website should have.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t have additional pages.
Just that they shouldn’t be prominently displayed.
Also, you probably shouldn’t have a need for much else than these.
Ready? Here we go.
The 5 Essential Pages for a Music School Website:
Let’s break them down, shall we?
Your about page is NOT about you.
Read that again and really let it sink in.
Here’s the hard truth about teaching and life in general.
For the most part, people do not care about you.
They care about what you can do for them.
Almost every private music teacher website looks the same:
“My name is John Smith and I have a BA in Tuba Performance from Really Good Tuba School. I also have an MA from Even Better Tuba School. I studied with Dr. Frank Furter, Julius Caesar, and Dr. Tuba McGee. I have been teaching for 8 years and I enjoy teaching students of all ages and strive to make tuba a fun and enjoyable experience.”
Sounds a little ridiculous written out like that, right? But that’s what most parents will read because they don’t know any of the people that you studied under and don’t really care what your degrees are or what school that you went to.
They already assumption is that you are skilled in trained in what you do.
You don’t have to lay it out for them.
At least not in explicit detail.
Instead, you need to talk about your studio and your students.
Talk about how happy and engaged your students are and how your studio helps them to get there. This is where you get to quietly brag about yourself and your studio through telling people how awesome that your students are.
The entire point of this page is to help parents to picture their kids in your studio.
Don’t talk specifically about lessons (that comes next), but about what makes your overall studio unique and why students and families should want to be part of it.
Make sure to include testimonials and lots of pictures.
[ONE NOTABLE EXCEPTION: If you are only trying to attract the highest quality students, then you should talk about your pedigree and what separates you from other highly skilled teachers. But this will be a VERY small percentage of teachers. This is only for the teachers that are working with students that are winning national competitions and getting into top music schools. For the rest of us, focus on the students and families.]
This is your information page that talks about what you offer.
Do you offer private lessons?
Talk about them here, but keep it brief and include lots of pictures and a testimonial or two.
Use bullet points, not paragraphs.
Most teachers do well on this page because it’s where we get to talk about what we DO.
Don’t go into crazy amounts of detail but go for a sales pitch.
What makes your lessons unique?
What do you do better in your lessons than ANY other studio in town?
This is one of the first questions that people will ask.
If you put your pricing on your website, I bet you'll stand out from the competition simply because your competitors probably don’t list their pricing!
We want to be transparent and give all of the information that we can so that people will want to contact us and sign up.
I have had a commercial studio for 5 years and I still don’t know how much some of my competitors charge. And it’s not for lack of trying.
Short of sending over a spy, I’m not sure how I could ever find that information.
It’s not on their website.
It’s not on their Facebook or social media pages or any other directories.
People want to know how much things cost.
Make it simple for them.
Lay out your pricing simply but this page isn’t just about pricing...
This page is about VALUE.
Not only do we proudly display our pricing information, but we get to brag about what an incredible value it is.
What is included in your pricing?
Access to apps and games?
Free student concerts?
Swag bag on signup?
Access to the teacher to ask questions during the week?
It may seem odd but, as an exercise, write down EVERYTHING that you do for a student that isn’t physically teaching them the lesson:
Lesson prep, student concerts, communication through the week, access to music apps, lending library, videos for students to watch, etc.
When it’s all written out it looks pretty impressive, doesn’t it?
That’s the point.
We want to drive home the value that they are getting for the price.
Can you believe that you get ALL of THIS for only this small amount of money each month?? Wow!
State your pricing cleanly and then drive home the value.
Make sure you include pictures and testimonials, even on the “boring” pricing page.
Make sure that they can see why they want to be part of your studio while they read over the business stuff.
Put all of your contact info on this page: phone number, email address, physical address.
Put a Google map.
Include a simple contact form with 3 fields:
You can personalize that a bit if you like but keep it extremely simple and don’t ask for extra information. You want them to send you a message and you want to make it as easy for them as you possibly can. Don’t complicate it.
Also, you guessed it...include some pictures and testimonials here.
Let them look at pictures of happy, smiling kids and read about how much Kate LOVES piano lessons as their finger is hovering over the ‘send’ button.
Keep this page simple and uncluttered.
Just the form...and maybe a picture and testimonial.
Make it very easy for them to Sign Up here and get the information that you need without getting too much extra.
I like to get information like student name, age, instrument, and experience so that I can have an informed conversation with the parents about signing up their kid for lessons.
I don’t like to go in blind, so this gives me a little bit of information.
One of your goals should be to run the most efficient studio as possible.
Similar to the Call To Action, you need to teach people how to contact you and what information you want them to give you.
If your main type of contact on your website is an email address or a phone number you are missing out on a great way to save yourself time and get more inquiries. Most emails or phone calls are either generic requests for information (“I’d like some more information on guitar lessons”) or woefully lacking in information (“I have a nine year old that would like to take piano lessons. How do we get started?”)
The first request means that that your website is probably a bit confusing or lacking information because they couldn’t find the information they needed. Or, that they just don’t read and want someone else to do the work for them. Let’s be real. That definitely happens.
The second request gives you more to go on but still leaves so many unanswered questions. Is the nine year old a beginner? Any prior experience? What style of music do they like? What days and times are they available? What kind of piano lessons are they looking for? You are going to have to ask all of these questions and more through emails, phone calls, or in person. Unless it’s through email, you probably won’t have a written record of the information either.
All of your pages should have a Call to Action!
Throughout the page and at the bottom tell them EXACTLY what you want them to do.
Pages You Should Never Have On Your Website
Those five pages are sufficient for most music teacher’s websites. But what about all of the other pages that you may be thinking of? Let’s look at a few…
Let us help!
Our #1 goal here is to help you grow your studio without overworking yourself.
Check out our budget- friendly options and join the tribe!
As always, success is a journey and growth takes time.
However, sometimes you CANNOT wait for that growth.
You need to pay bills NOW and if you can't pay rent this month, your studio's future success and growth is irrelevant.
Here are my go-to ways to get new students in the door ASAP:
1. Contact your current students and ask if they know if anyone that would like to take lessons.
Your students love you and want to help! Just ask them.
Your reach is only so big, no matter how much you market and advertise. However, if you tell 10 students to spread the word, and then they each tell 5 of their friends, then you’ve reached 50 PEOPLE by only sending a quick email to 5.
2. Think about siblings AND parents as potential students.
Having a whole family taking lessons with you is amazing! Especially if you have a multi-teacher school or groups, see if you can add a family member at the same day/time or into a current group.
If they’re already at your studio, they may as well take lessons! Just ask them. You can send them an email that says something like,
"Hey! Would Jason's brother be interested in taking drum lessons?" I think he'd really enjoy it, and we can get him scheduled at the same lesson time as Jason!"
Even if they initially say, "no," they might surprise you and say, "No, but what spots do you have open for piano lessons?"
3. Contact your Old Inquiries and Former Students.
Try the Nine Word Email. It is GOLD.
“Hey [Student]! Are you still interested in lessons?”
That’s it. Done. You will get more responses from an email like this than most finely crafted emails with tons of information. Seriously, try it!
4. Scarcity Marketing.
If you are advertising generic lessons it’s hard to have any urgency for people to sign up.
“Only 3 spots left!”
“Registration closes in 4 days!”
If you want them to sign up NOW, you have to give them a reason to sign up NOW and not push it off.
5. Post on Social Media and Facebook Community Groups.
Facebook, Instagram, Google My Business. Post there. Post regularly and frequently. Be specific with what you’re looking for but get the word out.
All out media blitz.
6. Open Day.
Take a Saturday or evening and do Free Intro Lessons.
Get them started and excited and then be ready to close the deal and sign up students on the spot.
SC Member Paul Andrews has some great stuff in the Membership group and on our Podcast about his Open Days. Hear more about his success through his podcast episode here.
You have enough to worry about as a music teacher and studio owner.
Let us worry about the marketing!
When you enroll NOW for Music School Marketing for $9 (offer expires THURSDAY, 9/24!), you get the Music School Facebook Calendar ($59) for FREE!
This is your chance to STOP wasting time worrying about what, how, and where to post to get new students and student inquiries.
We've all been there!
Whether it's the car salesman that tried to manipulate you into buying an overpriced lemon, or the guy that came to your house trying to scare you into buying a security system for your new home...
You know you have to "sell" music lessons, but you don't know how to go about doing it because all you know is this:
You don't want to be THAT guy.
Is it even possible to sell without coming across as a slimy, greedy salesman?
I feel like most of us music teachers HATE selling lessons and here's why:
We CARE about people, and we want the BEST for them.
When I get my feelings hurt I try to convince myself that I hate people. But the truth is at the end of the day, I find myself constantly concerned about being a genuine person, doing the right things, and wanting to not wreck the lives of those around me.... ESPECIALLY kids.
We know how slimy salesman make us feel, and we DO NOT wish that on any student or parent that comes in our door.
I was listening to someone talk about sales this morning, and something the guy said really struck me.
“When you sell from the heart, it becomes serving. It’s about inviting people to join you so you can serve them at the HIGHEST level.”
Thank about that for a minute!
So... what's the difference between YOU and those slimy salesman that wrecked your perception of sales?
You CARE about serving YOUR students at the HIGHEST level. You want nothing but the BEST for them.
Slimy salesman don't care about anything but themselves and making money.
You care about making money too, but NOT at the risk of hurting someone else!
Sales has nothing to do with you.
It has everything to do with helping others.
- Helping your students make progress in learning to play.
- Helping them become better musicians.
- Helping them become BETTER.
So, how can you sell music lessons without sounding slimy?
Speak from your heart!
Share stories of success.
- Of students who achieved results.
- Of students who you love to teach.
- Of Students who love to come to lessons!
Here's the cool thing:
When we share stories, we generate more students!
Those who love lessons with you tell their friends.
You share through email or social media something awesome they did or said.
Then other people see that and come to you for lessons.
THEN, your new students have new stories to share and bring in MORE new students!
It's a wonderful cycle.
Start by sharing reviews from your students. If you don't have reviews (or students) yet, share YOUR story! Tell the world WHY you love teaching. Let everyone see your heart.
When they do, they won't think you're slimy in the least.
They'll see YOU and want to support YOU.
You've got this!
If you need help with your marketing, check out Music School Marketing for $9!
Subscribe by FRIDAY (9/24/20) and get the Music School FB Calendar for FREE!
For some reason, when I begin working first thing in the morning, I get this overwhelming feeling of stress.
(TSC MEMBERS: We have a few Live Chat recordings available to help you with Productivity, Organization, and improving Mental Health. Check them out here!)
The weight of my responsibilities as consultant, dad, and husband can be so overwhelming at times.
I can get bombarded with tasks and expectations.
The worse part? When I get overwhelmed, I completely shut down.
Which means I get NOTHING done, snap at everyone, and allow myself to become completely useless.
As a studio owner, I know you get overwhelmed too.
You have a lot of weight on your shoulders!
But we need to keep ourselves together.
We want our studios to thrive, our teachers and students to be taken care of. We want everything to go well.
Here's ONE MAJOR way we can keep our sanity and prevent stress. Ready for it?
I have started doing this first thing in the mornings, and it has been a HUGE help.
I was recently introduced to the book "The Miracle Morning," and while the title is SUPER cheesy, this book is amazing. Meditation is part of the "Miracle Morning" ritual and it involves sitting still and just BEING for a bit. I have also found Visualization (visualizing yourself doing a great job and thinking through situations BEFORE they happen) and Affirmations to be extremely helpful.
For Affirmations, my mind is often filled with negative thoughts about myself.
It's like my default mode.
Maybe it's a musician/creative thing?
I started by writing out a handful of Affirmations that I tell myself each morning:
I'm a great dad,
A great husband,
I work hard,
I am successful...
I know, it sounds silly and cheesy... but try it.
Seriously, this is NOT the type of thing that I normally do. I typically cringe at this type of thing.
But it's making a difference.
It's all about the little steps.
Getting 1% better each day.
And this is helping me to do that.
We NEED time to ourselves, and we need to take care of ourselves.
Put your oxygen mask on FIRST... remember?
Take care of yourself.
Allow yourself to breathe.
This work we do is NOT easy and our load is NOT light.
Just do it. You won't regret it!
Do you have a PREMIUM option?
I recently read something interesting about marketing.
Approximately 10% of your customers will gladly pay 30%-50% more for additional offerings and you are leaving money on the table by not having anything available to them.
Think of it like desserts in a restaurant. Most people don't buy desserts when they go out to eat, whether it's fast food or somewhere really fancy. But they do have the options available for a premium cost.
They would lose money by not having these options available even though most people don't take advantage of them.
And 1% of your students would happily pay DOUBLE or more your current rate if you had offerings for them.
Some people simply want THE BEST, regardless of the price and will always pick the highest option.
You will also sell more of your lesser options if a PREMIUM option is available to make them look more reasonable.
That's why you need a PREMIUM option.
Maybe it's access to additional classes or multiple lessons each week.
Maybe it's access to a super secret club in your studio. The sky is the limit.
What would you want to offer for your students if you KNEW price wasn't the issue?
Understand that MOST of your students won't select your PREMIUM option.
They aren't supposed to. This is about having something available for the 1% that would.
I'm a big Disney fan and they recently released a $12k tour. Obviously not many people will take them up on that offer but some will. And it's another way for them to offer exceptional service and opportunities for people that want it.
This is an excellent example of a SUPER PREMIUM option.
Having a "Good, Better, Best" option is a great way to begin working towards a Premium option in your studio.
For our studio, we offer:
Good - 4 Week Intro Groups
Better - Beginner Group Classes
Best - Private Lessons
Students pay more as they work through the options and also get more commitment and get to dig in deeper.
We are able to offer different options for students at different price and commitment points based on where they are in the journey and what kind of access they want.
Do you have a "Good, Better, Best" option?
While living in the beautiful mountains of North Carolina is an EXCELLENT place for kids to grow up, "there isn't much for kids to do, especially when I started my business," Courtney said.
"My husband is the band director at the local high school and he was talking to me one day about the lack of lesson opportunities for kids and how it was very apparent at places like All District band which students lived in the urban area of Asheville(about an hour away) and which ones lived in the rural parts of our state. This lit a fire in me and I decided to set out on starting a small music school where kids could come and take lessons on just about any instrument. Nothing like this had been done in my area, so I didn't even know if it would work or not."
Courtney took the plunge and opened her school in June 2012 starting with four students: two piano students and two voice students.
"It was just me and I was renting dance rooms at a local dance studio. Of the four that started, only two continued for the year(I had no idea what I was doing!)."
When the school year started, Courtney was renting space at the dance studio, renting space from a church across the street, using the high school band room, AND doing home visits! By the end of the 2012-2013 school year, Courtney had about 14 students.
Courtney said she finally found a budget friendly commercial space in 2018 that allowed her to continue to grow.
"The center grew rather quickly from 2013-2016. We went from my 14 students in May of 2013 to 80 in May of 2016 with five teachers! It was then that I decided things were going well enough for me to quit my part time music teaching job at a charter school and just do the studio full time."
Courtney said things were going really well, but of course, life happened.
"I got pregnant. And then, every single one of my teachers had a major life change. Two had to quit due to the fact they were moving away and two had to majorly step back. This cost us about 25 students and a youth orchestra we were starting but couldn't continue because the director didn't have time for it. I couldn't find anyone else to run it. I was scared to death.
I now had to support not just me and my husband but also a child and my income had pretty much just been cut in half.
However, we were able to turn it around with some elbow grease and love. I often say it happened at just the right time cause....I honestly couldn't have done any more growth and paid attention to a baby."
Where she is NOW...
Wonderworks has also also recently gone from rural to international, as they were accepted as an organization on Outschool!
"My goals now are to really beef up the art program and get a streamlined way of registering students. Before, we had a bunch of options for each age level and our group classes never grew. Now, we are only doing groups for 10 and under. So far, it seems to be going really well and people seem very interested. I also want to work on make myself not as needed as a teacher at the studio so I can be home by 5:00 everyday."
We asked Courtney if she could go back in time, what ONE piece of advice or encouragement she'd give herself...
"Advice: Don't let people control you. You are in control of your business. If it doesn't work for you, let them know. Be firm in your policies, no matter how convincing someone might be.
Encouragement: You are always going to have low points and high points. Ride the excitement of the high points. It's ok to feel excited about that. But, when you hit a low, know that, as long as you keep working, it isn't the end. I honestly thought my business was going to end when COVID hit, but there is always a way!"
The biggest thing Courtney wants YOU the reader to know:
"It's easy to see people who have outstanding growth when they first open and wonder "what am I doing wrong?" But, know that isn't the norm. It does take work to get the word out but once its out, you won't be able to contain it!
Be the teacher you want to be. If something isn't working for you, don't be afraid to cut it or change it. You went in to business because you wanted to do something cool. Keep doing your own cool!"
Thank you SO MUCH, Courtney, for sharing your story with us and leaving us all with some encouragement to keep on moving forward with our studios and our passions!