I am excited about unveiling this new feature on The Studio Challenge. We have some amazing teachers in our little group and I wanted to take some time to highlight a few of them. What I love about this group is not only the encouragement, but the openness and honesty. In short, this group is real. Here is a little peak into the real life of one of our members.
Does anyone have a more common Facebook notification than this: "Emily Quiles posted in The Studio Challenge"? Yeah, I didn't think so..
Emily has been with The Studio Challenge from Day One and is actually the one that gave me the push to start our little Facebook group. She runs an amazing piano studio in Kansas and has seen her private studio grow from around 50 students last summer to almost 100 students in early 2017. She is eager to learn, not afraid to ask questions, and quick to share knowledge and experience with others.
How long have you been teaching?
I’ve been teaching for 2.5 years.
Where is your studio located?
Do you teach in your home? Commercial studio? Rent space?
I teach out of a home studio in our apartment actually. We have one room dedicated to piano.
What instrument do you teach?
What is one thing that you think you do really well as a teacher?
I adapt very well. From adapting to different learning styles to adapting when students have bad days...you never know what is going to come up!
What is one thing you think you do really well as a business owner?
I’d like to think that the thing I do best as a business owner would be providing a service that people want. We all have our own ideas of what piano lessons are like based on our experiences with them as a kid. Some people have horror stories about their piano teachers. (I don’t...Mrs. Coker was an awesome piano teacher!) People want their children to enjoy themselves during lessons. If your students leave smiling, you’re doing it right!
What is one thing that you really struggle with as a teacher?
The hardest part about teaching for me is when a student quits piano. Especially when it’s because the parent is concerned that they aren’t practicing enough. I understand their reasoning but at the same time it’s hard to see someone you’ve put so much time and effort to just quit. As a child, my practice habits were rough but my mom never let me quit and I am so grateful for that every day.
What is one thing that you really struggle with as a business owner?
The one thing I really struggle with as a business owner is finding the balance between work and life. This is especially hard when you work and live in the same place. I love the business side of this and I could do it all day!
Share a funny student story.
I have tons! The best one was when my very energetic 65-year old student started practicing a lot more. She came to her lesson and started playing her song incredibly well. She was so proud she started bouncing up and down on the bench screaming “I DID IT!!! AND IT SOUNDED LIKE THE SONG!!!” The studio dogs jumped, I laughed so hard I was in tears, and she had the best lesson of her life. Maybe this one was more special than funny.
You seem to have really exploded in the past few months. What happened? What changed?
Several things changed! I quit traveling for lessons, I changed method books, and I started working more on giving back to my studio families. By ending traveling lessons, I was able to open more time slots for in-studio lessons. Changing to a method book series that kids enjoyed increased retention as did giving back to my studio families.
What is your six month goal for you studio?
My six month goal is to retain the number of students I currently have.
What is your one year goal for your studio?
My one year goal would be to expand the studio in a physical way. I’d like to still have an in-home studio because I love that atmosphere but I would like to have it a little bit more separate from my home life. See “issues with work and home life balance” above.
What is your 10 year goal for your studio?
Hmm, how old will I be in 10 years? (That’s terrifying!) I can’t even think that far ahead even though it is important for business owners to do so. I would like to expand the studio and add additional teachers so that I could run the business side of thing and teach a little bit less.
Most of us wear a few hats: musician, teacher, business owner. You own a hat shop. Helicopter pilot, Therapy Dogs...did I read something about motocross? What DON’T you do?
Yes, I did race motocross back in highschool. (My poor mother.) All of these hats have one thing in common: the challenge. I LOVE to be challenged. The world is a big and exciting place. I like that I can bring all that life experience into my lessons to make it more fun. When teaching beginners how to use the pedal (especially the boys) it’s great to be able to tell them that being able to multitask like that will help them throughout life. When they realize that pedalling a piano is like shifting a dirt bike or changing the direction of a helicopter, the whole lesson experience changes and we are having a BLAST!
What is your #1 tip for advertising and marketing?
I’m a huge fan of community based marketing. It’s great to help the community and it shows your current and perspective studio families that you are a genuine person who cares about the community. In addition to that, a marketing plan and consistency are key!
How are you using Facebook to attract new students?
I built my studio by advertising in Facebook community groups. I used it for probably the first year and a half of my business and it didn’t cost me a penny. Since then, I’ve started using sponsored Facebook ads more but I still rely heavily on those community groups. I also use my business page to help keep current families in the loop and to show prospective families why their children should be in lessons here.
What about retention? What do you do to keep your students in your studio?
The big thing I just started this year is using a Piano Points system. Students can earn points for things like practicing, performing, and completing books. Parents can earn points for their children by writing reviews, referring friends, and checking in on Facebook. Points are used to buy fun items from small things like pencils and stress balls to Minecraft games and $20 gift cards. It’s been a lot of fun and I’ve retained students because they are motivated to practice!
What is your niche? What sets you apart from every other studio?
These are “not yo’ mama’s piano lessons”! Because of technology, music education is totally different than when I took lessons. Kids these days love technology and video games. Why not use that to your advantage? I use technology in lessons more than I probably should! I love using Minecraft to help teach students composing, playing by ear, and note values.
Having the only music therapy dog in the United States helps too. :P
What is your favorite band or artist?
Is it bad that this was the hardest question for me to answer? There are SO many. Many of my students would be shocked to read that Miss Emily likes to rock out to some good ole Credence Clearwater Revival, Aerosmith, and Avenged Sevenfold.
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.
Create the policy you want for your business in 5 years, NOW. Most of us start of with pretty flexible policies because we are trying to build our studios. If you create the policy you really want and start using it immediately, you will save yourself from being angry, upset, and stressed out.
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?
Take a week off and come back with a bold new idea. The first year I did this I came back from vacation and completely revamped my studio. I made it more “official” like with credit card processing and automated scheduling. Last year, I came back from vacation with the points system to reward students. That time off gives you time to reenergize and to realize where you are unhappy in your studio. Once you realize what’s making you feel burned out, you can fix it!
We’ve all had that one student that just drives us crazy. What do you do with that kid?
The student never bothers me. Whatever issues there might be are not the child’s fault. It’s the parent’s fault. Realizing that makes it so much easier to work with the child. Having a serious face-to-face conversation with the parent about whatever issues helps too.
What is your craziest idea? What is something you would love to do if money, time, and space weren’t an issue?
I don’t know how it would work but somehow being able to tie actual helicopters into piano lessons would be INSANE!!!
If you weren’t a studio owner, what else would you do with your life?
I would be flying air support for a law enforcement agency.