Being in the business of teaching music lessons is NOT easy guys!
You have to get students.
Then the hardest part:
You have to figure out how to keep current students while you work on getting more students to fill your schedule.
To get students to stick around, you need to give them a REASON to stick around.
After they've learned the basics, why should they continue doing lessons?
Students need a path to follow, like Karate.
Karate students typically stick around for YEARS... even the younger kids ages 4 - 6!
We enrolled our son Josiah in Karate when he was 4 and he stuck with it until we was 6.
(We left when first lockdown happened last year.)
To be honest, we didn't feel the owner was great at the business side of running the karate studio. Josiah liked going, but he didn't LOVE it.
But we kept him in there because we KNEW they had a plan for him and we could clearly see what he was going to accomplish!
THIS is why Karate is so successful at keeping students for YEARS...
There is a CLEAR path for Karate students!
You memorize a move or two, then graduate into the next belt where you learn a new move.
Music Teachers and Studio Owners:
You need the same for your students.
You probably already have some sort of graduation path mentally noted for your students.
But you need a way to SHOW THEM that path and a way to motivate them to follow through to graduation.
If your students don't know the goals they are working toward, they WILL QUIT.
Before we laid out our level system at our studio, we had the problem of guitar students quitting after they learned 4 chords.
Piano students quit after they finished their first piano books.
It drove us crazy! And we'd verbally tell them there was SO MUCH MORE for them to accomplish, but they wouldn't listen.
We didn't have a way to celebrate their wins and SHOW them their path!
Once we put it on paper and started "graduating" them into levels our retention went through the roof!
Creating a graduation path also sets you apart from your competition! ;)
So, how can you create a path or graduation system for your studio?
We put a color to each level and gave students a checklist they could follow along with.
They knew EXACTLY what they needed to accomplish in order to graduate into the next level.
When they graduated, they received a different color wrist band, certificate, and we'd take them out into the lobby and celebrate them in front of everyone as soon as they finished a level.
It cost us almost nothing, but was HUGE for our students.
Want some examples of what fellow music teachers are doing for their graduation levels?
So, what is your student path going to be?
I'm sending out a template THIS week Marketingfor9 subscribers can use to create their level system checklists for students!
If you'd like the template, subscribe NOW at marketingfor9.com
Are you getting the most out of your students and studio, or just doing what is comfortable?
I think all of us have done private lessons before, and you may even prefer to teach private lessons?
Private lessons are the LEAST PROFITABLE way music teachers can make money.
- you can only teach so many hours in a day
- you need to make the most of your studio
- less time, more money.
You've probably heard of some of the other lesson options you could offer.
Actually most music teacher blogs explain HOW you should teach group music lessons or labs!
But we're going to tell you WHY you should...not how.
And don't worry, it's not going to tell you how it's better for performance and team building.
Nope. It's all about the money!
There are 4 lesson options you can offer besides private:
1. Buddy Lessons
2. 20/20/20 Lessons
4. Group Lessons
Group lessons are by far the MOST profitable option.
But I hear you...
What if you are a music teacher who KNOWS they just love to teach students one-one-one?
Stay tuned my friends. You'll love options #2 and #3.
Buddy lessons are simply when 2 students share a private lesson.
They work best when both students are around the same skill level. We offered buddy lessons to mostly husbands and wives, or parents and kids that wanted to take together.
You can organize group lessons in a few different ways. 30 minute or 60 minute slots.
3 people or 20 people...
For us, we found they worked best when we did 4 - 6 students during a 30 minute time slot.
Students also ideally need to be around the same level on their instrument.
We actually took our instrument curriculums and divided them into 4 levels. Beginners started in a group class on level 1, and we'd work with the class together to get everyone to graduate into the next levels together.
In a nutshell, the 20/20/20 method is when you take 3 students during a 60 minute time slot and divide them into a 20 minute rotation. They can spend 20 minutes practicing at a keyboard, 20 minutes working on music theory or playing games that reinforce what they are learning, and 20 minutes in a private, one-on-one lesson with you!
Think about it... you can not only ensure your students are practicing, but you can also GET PAID for them to practice!
Labs are similar to 20/20/20 but you can decide on the time frame and fit 1 or 2 more students in.
We did labs for our piano students. During a 30 minute time slot, we'd have 4 students come into a lesson room that had 4 keyboards and headphones. Each student would go to their assigned keyboard and open their books to wherever they last left off and start practicing. Our piano teacher would then rotate around the room teaching each student and answering any questions.
Labs were not only extremely profitable, but we noticed when we shifted our students to taking lessons in this format, they were progressing through the material FAST.
So... How do you charge for Groups, 20/20/20 Lessons, Labs, or Buddy Lessons?
For simplicity's sake, let's say you charged $100 for 30 minute private lessons.
Hopefully you're charging more than that.
30 minute private lesson - $100/month per student (1 student)
30 minute buddy lesson - $75/month per student (2 students)
30 minute group lesson - $65/month per student (3+ students)
20/20/20 lesson (60 minutes) - $100/month per student (3 students)
60 minute group lesson - $130/month per students (3+ students)
Premium Option - $150 to $250+ per month
Math gets a little tricky for some, but here would be your breakdown PER HOUR using the above numbers.
Private Lessons - $200/month
Buddy Lessons - $300/month
Group Lessons - $390/month for 3 students, $780/month for 6 students
20/20/20 Lessons - $300/month
Premium Option - $300-$500+/month
What I want you to see is that, from a strictly business standpoint, the worst thing that you could offer would be a full schedule of private lessons.
Group Lessons will offer the highest profit margin which is why I recommend teachers strongly consider group lessons.
Do you ever have those days where you just wake up in a slightly bad mood and then the rest of the day just seems to snowball into a bad day?
Isn’t it weird how that works?
Your view of the world shapes the world around you.
What does this have to do with being a music teacher?
Your view of yourself as a music teacher and how many students you believe you deserve will determine how successfully you will actually become.
If you believe you can’t do something...you won’t.
Your students and clients will pick up on this weakness.
How you feel about yourself as a music teacher and your studio shows.
If you feel like you’re unorganized…
...or if you have a teacher working for you that you feel isn’t doing a good job…
You will have a hard time selling music lessons because people will pick up on your lack of confidence.
Music teachers need to believe in themselves and their music studios in order to be successful!
We’re going to show you how you can start fighting self-doubt RIGHT NOW.
1. Music teachers need to surround themselves with people who believe in them.
As a music teacher, this means you need to surround yourself with students, parents, friends, and family who believe in you.
If you think negatively about yourself AND surround yourself with overly-critical people, it makes it easier for your brain to feed you even MORE negative thoughts.
If you’ve thought through negative thoughts before (even if they’re lies) your brain says:
“Hey! We’ve talked about this before! Here’s the summary: You’re a crappy music teacher!”
You need to start feeding yourself positive thoughts and truths. But more than that, you need OTHER people to feed those positive thoughts and encouragement to you as well.
2. Music teachers need to take care of themselves.
You make your whole living as a music teacher by investing in your students through music.
You help people for a living.
But you can’t help people when you’re running on empty.
It’s the same reason flight attendants tell passengers when there’s a lack of oxygen...you have to put your mask on first before you help the person seated next to you.
Everyday music teachers give, and give, and give.
You HAVE to take the time to refill.
So, what are some things you can do to recharge?
- have some quiet time each morning.
- read a good book and drink some coffee every day.
- make time to exercise.
- go get a pedicure or a massage.
Do more enjoyable things and do them guilt free!
You NEED it.
Let's talk about this productivity tip for music teachers...
As I sit and type this I am a few minutes into a Pomodoro.
My whole family does them together.
We'll ask Alexa to set the timer for 25 minutes and we'll all get to work.
Currently I am working on new content for The Studio Challenge.
My 6 year old son is in the next room doing homeschool work.
We set the timer and we work.
Just 25 minutes of getting work done.
Can you imagine that?
Can you imagine at 6 year old being productive and NOT interrupting and asking questions every 90 seconds?
It can be done.
My son is EVERY bit of an average 6 year old full of wonder, noise, and strange messes.
But for 25 minutes at a time the entire family is completely focused.
My dachshund, Flops, is even sitting here next to me napping. He's REALLY good at this.
Ok, let's talk about how this productivity trick works and a little history.
The Pomodoro Technique was developed by Francesco Cirillo in the 1980s. Pomodoro is Italian for 'tomato' and is named after the tomato shaped timer Cirillo used when creating the method.
There are six steps in the original technique:
But what we do is FAR from typical office work with typical office hours.
If you're anything like me, it's rare to have 2-4 hours of time to sit down and get work done before you have to teach lessons.
And we have weird schedules.
So, most often, work comes in spurts.
Here's my adaption of The Pomodoro Method:
1. Decide on task to be done.
2. Set the Pomodoro timer for 25 minutes.
3. Work on the task and end when the timer rings.
4. Take a break and restart when you're ready.
I like simplicity and this fits my schedule a little better.
Things to remember:
1. You need to set a timer and stick to it. That 25 minute window is important.
2. When the timer goes off it is time to stop. Just like the "Pencils Down!" tests when you were in high school. You don't get 'one more minute' to wrap it up. Stop and take a break.
3. Get rid of distractions BEFORE they happen. We had to keep our 5 year old occupied so he does his own version with us. Put your phone away. Close your browser. No Facebook notifications. No texts or phone calls. Seriously, the world isn't going to implode in 25 minutes. Whatever it is can wait.
4. The breaks are important. Crucial even. Take some time away to relax and recharge. Grab a snack. Go for a walk. Play with your kids. Do something fun that takes you out of work mode. This will help you to come back refreshed.
...Hang on...My timer just went off!
...ok, I'm back.
Seriously, those timers are for real!
For reference, there was about 20 minutes between those Pomodoros.
We checked out my son's work, my wife cleaned the house a bit, and I jumped into the Facebook group to hang out with some of you fine folks. And now we're all back in it.
I simplified the system to work for me.
And you can make adaptations to work for you.
Just make sure that you stay uninterrupted and that you set a timer and take breaks.
I think those are the cornerstone elements.
Do I do these every day?
Nope. Because my life doesn't really fit organized, scheduled systems, remember?
Yours probably doesn't either.
What I love about these is that we can fill a whole afternoon with 3-4 Pomodoro Sessions or we can just randomly grab one if we need to knock something out really quick.
It only took about a week to get into the habit of it and it is working really well for my family and for me.
Music Teacher friends:
Can you use the Pomodoro Method to better serve your studio?
Being productive is hard.
But it's not because you're lazy. Far from it.
As a music teacher and small business owner, you probably work longer and harder than most people that you know.
But you don't get to 'clock out' and your brain doesn't just turn off.
There is always something to do and something that needs to be done. Always.
So you work...
You have to reschedule students and try to collect payments.
You have to prep for lessons.
You see a post about new groups or classes so you start researching how to add it to your studio.
Someone mentioned a Facebook ad doing well, so you should do that too, right?
You start projects but never really get around to finishing them.
In short...you're flailing!
It’s like you got dropped in the middle of the ocean.
You know that there’s land somewhere but can’t see it.
So you start swimming.
But you aren’t sure if it’s the right direction. So you change course and swim the other way.
Over and over. With no land in sight.
Aren’t your arms tired by now?
So let's change it.
You need a plan. You need direction.
I was reading a cool story a few days ago.
A group conducted an experiment and dropped several people in a forest or desert and asked them to walk in a straight line.
When the sun or moon was visible or they had a reference point (like a mountain or large tree) they could do a pretty decent job of walking in a straight line.
But when no reference point was available they would walk in circles.
But they didn't realize they were walking in circles.
They were convinced that they were walking in a straight line.
Some of them walked in circles so tight that they didn't surpass 50 yards.
They walked in a 50 yard circle!
For reference, that's like trying to walk from one sideline of a football field to the other and never making it.
Just a continuous circle.
And i'm talking about the WIDTH of a football field...not the length!
People don't even know that they're lost.
They feel like they are right on track.
They are working JUST as hard as if the were walking in a straight line...
After all a step is a step whether it is in a straight line or a circle...
but they were never getting anywhere.
All of that work and nothing to show for it.
But if they were able to fix their eyes on a target, everything changed.
You need a target and a destination.
Let's talk about how you can be productive and stop walking in circles...
1. Stop worrying about what everyone else is doing.
You are unique and awesome. So is your studio.
You KNOW what makes you special and awesome.
Why are you chasing other people's success?
Keep focused on you.
No one can make your studio successful except for YOU, and your success will look different than theirs.
What works for other people may or may not work for your studio. Just because you see someone doing something new or hear about something that works incredibly well, it doesn't mean that you have to suddenly change direction and chart a new course.
***SHINY OBJECT SYNDROME is a REAL THING.
Do not get distracted by every new shiny thing that comes along.
Set a plan and follow it.
Here's another big one...
There is no SILVER BULLET.
No MAGIC thing to find that is suddenly going to make everything work for you.
But most advertising is geared towards this instant gratification.
There is no instant gratification when you're building a successful business.
There is healthy growth.
There is planning.
There is hard work.
Then there is success.
Don't look for the easy way. You're better than that. Look for the RIGHT way.
Stop looking for Shiny Objects, Silver Bullets, and Easy Solutions and focus on you and what makes you amazing.
Use others for inspiration and encouragement, NOT DIRECTION.
I love the amazing resources that are out there for music teachers these days.
There was basically none of that when I started teaching 15+ years ago.
But, like any social media, it's easy to start comparing yourself and lose focus.
Be inspired. Be encouraged. Get excited.
Then get to work.
2. Brain Dump
One of the first things to do is find a place to get everything out of your head.
As a musician and a creative you likely have a lot of ideas in your head.
They don't come at opportune times.
They don't come when it's convenient.
So, one of two things likely happens:
1. You never actually get any of these things done because you either forget them or you're too busy.
2. You jump ship and chase after every idea like a fat kid behind an Ice Cream Truck.
Like the Fat Kid....you're never going to get that treat.
And, even if you do...you'll just see another truck heading in the other direction.
You need a way to harness all of these amazing ideas that you come across.
You can organize and categorize and strategize them later.
Right now we just need to capture them.
Could be a sheet of paper, app on your phone, or something like Trello.
It just needs to be something that you will ALWAYS have with you so that you can jot down an idea and then move on.
The idea here is to clear your head.
There are only so many things that you can carry around and think about.
It's time to lighten the load. It's time to focus.
This is free-writing. No editing or organizing.
Just get it out as it pops into your head.
Just write. Get it all out.
No matter how it sounds.
This is JUST FOR YOU.
3. Get Systems and Help
Don’t reinvent the wheel.
If you can find something that makes your life easier, just grab it and move on.
Trust me, I'm the DIY type.
I like to do things myself.
Sometimes to save money.
Sometimes just to prove that I can do it.
But time = money. Actually...it's worse than that.
You can make more money.
But you cannot make more time.
Grab something like My Music Staff for scheduling and billing.
Try LessonMate to fix your makeup and cancellation problems.
Don't waste your time chasing payments and juggling endless Google Docs.
You can bang your head against the wall or find ways to make what you need to do simpler.
But BE SPECIFIC.
What problem do you want to solve?
Don't let this become Shiny Object Syndrome. Don't chase solutions.
But if you have a problem, find a tool that fixes that problem for you and make it happen.
You have to stop sometimes. You have to unplug.
The problem many people make is assuming that if they just keep working harder that eventually everything will work out and it will get easier.
Not unless you make it that way.
You can't outwork this.
First, take some time off from studio work.
Find a hobby that is not studio related.
Even if you love it, find something else.
Trust me on this one.
Can you pick up a new sport or hang out with friends?
Spend some time with the family?
Just walk away for a while.
Secondly, take time to UNPLUG from technology.
Go on a walk.
Just spend some time with family or friends.
Get away from your phone for a while.
Your mind needs the break from being always on.
Go and allow yourself to get bored for a while.
It's worth it.
How are you going to be more productive this week?
Sometimes life will be amazing.
You'll be signing up new students, birds will be singing, you will feel fantastic, all of your studio families will love you and have no problems, and everything will be right with the world.
But life doesn't always work that way.
We find ourselves with plans laid out assuming that we will feel amazing and have the time to get everything done.
But sometimes you're busy.
Or just not feeling it.
Or it seems like the ENTIRE world has conspired against you.
So, what do you do then?
List those things down, and when that day comes, you can check them off and leave knowing you accomplished what you needed to.
Anything you accomplish outside of your bare minimum list is bonus.
Treat it that way and DO NOT beat yourself up for having "red" days.
You have to take care of yourself if you want to take care of your students, staff, and teachers.
Give yourself freedom to have "red" days, so you can build up the energy for "green" days.
Music Teacher Bootcamp is 6 weeks long...
The first 5 weeks? We're going to sit down TOGETHER and tackle everything from our policies to optimizing our websites and improving our marketing.
That 6th week? We're going ALL OUT and doing a challenge to get new students in the door.
Most music teachers will get AT LEAST 5 new students during that 6th week of bootcamp! (No kidding!)
How are you doing RIGHT NOW?
There's always ebb and flow to every business, but when things are slow, it can get pretty FREAKIN scary...
Shauna and I hit that point a few times when we were getting started with our studio.
Sometimes you have the time and freedom to focus on getting the BEST students in and doing the BEST lessons...
BUT sometimes you just need students and money ASAP.
If you are there, check out the top 5 Ways you can get students in the door NOW.
These always worked for our studio.
Keep doing the work, being consistent, and they will come!
Actually, let's get you there SOON...
but in a way that doesn't stress you out or cause you to overwork and end up in the opposite direction:
More money but no time.
You CAN have time and money.
You CAN get to the point where you are able to focus on your favorite part of running your music school!
We can get you there.
Music Teacher Bootcamp starts in 5 days.
MOST music teachers undercharge for lessons.
I think it's because as teachers, we care more about giving our students the gift of music than the money we make from it.
THOSE hearts are what make us great teachers!
The problem is this:
If we don't make enough money for our hard work, we eventually burn out.
We can also become consumed with worry about how to pay bills...
Which means we're NOT giving our students our "A" game.
Not to mention the fact that we're undervaluing ourselves, making others undervalue music lessons, and negatively impacting our self- esteem...
In fact, I think all of our TSC Members have raised their rates AT LEAST once!
And if you're wondering if they had a mass exodus of students or anything from it...
(Last names and photos censored to protect members' privacy.)
Are you ready to start valuing yourself and raise your rates?
Grab your free guide and THE email template ALL OF THESE Music Teachers 👆used to notify their students and parents of their new rates!
Let's talk about chasing payments...
It's time to take yourself and your business seriously.
No more accepting individual payments for individual lessons.
No more accepting multiple payment methods and using cash apps like Zelle or Venmo. (Did you know it's actually illegal to use a lot of these cash apps for business transactions?)
Stop chasing payments and set up auto pay.
There's a smooth way you can transition your students into an automatic payment plan.
Your students and parents will appreciate and respect it.
Download your free guide on how to set up auto payments in your studio.
We've also included a template you can use to get started on your contract for auto payments!
Whether you do them or not, scheduling them can be tense and stressful.
So... what's the answer?
It doesn't matter if you offer make ups or not!
And I'm not going to tell you what to do here because NO two studios are alike.
I can tell you, however, what makes YOUR make-up lessons stressful is:
Let's talk about 3 different make up options you can choose from to make your make up lessons run seamlessly.
You can choose any of the 3 options that work best for YOU and your studio!
As long as you stick to any one of them, you're going to save SO MUCH STRESS, and your students and parents are going to be happy. :)
Click HERE to get your free guide to the 3 Ways to Make Your Make-Up Policy Less Stressful.