Archive for the ‘Management’ Category

Minute for Marketing: Review for Philip Johnston’s Promoting Your Teaching Studio

Friday, September 25th, 2009

practicespot1By Laura Lowe

Republished with permission from the Piano Studio

No series on marketing the independent teaching studio would be complete without a review of Philip Johnston’s book The PracticeSpot Guide To Promoting Your Teaching Studio.

In general, I think this book’s a worthwhile read. It will help you launch and maintain a full-fledged advertising campaign, as opposed to utilizing a few isolated marketing efforts here and there. Especially since most of us have spent more time learning how to play and teach well than how to advertise effectively, it provides a valuable education in how to think like a marketer. It’s one of the only books about marketing geared specifically for piano teachers. The ideas range from yellow pages ads to community involvement.

Most reviews of this book praise it for the many ideas it presents for advertising the teaching studio. I think the book’s greatest strength is not in the individual tips, but in the marketing theory which is woven throughout the book and which you’ll assimilate without even realizing it as you read. Most of us could think up those practical marketing ideas – we see other businesses using those techniques all the time! But, I think we fail to realize that we can do the same things, or even need to do those things. By the time you finish Johnston’s book, you’ll be thinking of your teaching studio as a business that needs a marketing plan just like any other business, and you’ll some good practical ideas for how to put your plan to work.

I do have a couple of criticisms. First, the book fails to address how to prioritize marketing efforts according to cost-effectiveness. Most of us have very limited advertising budgets. I think this should have been a major point, and it will be the subject of my next Minute for Marketing post.

My second criticism is that, even when it was copyrighted in 2006, the book was limited in its discussion of online advertising. The last chapter of the book, Using the Power of the Internet, is an advertisement for Johnston’s own web service for teachers, PracticeSpot’s webvertisements. While I don’t blame him a bit for doing this (he’s a savvy marketer and after all, the book’s title is The PracticeSpot Guide to…), it does prevent the book from being complete as a guide to marketing the teaching studio. Even in 2006, the power of the internet for music teachers was certainly not limited to PracticeSpot. For instance, there’s no mention of blogging, a medium alive and healthy in ‘06. By now, the book is sorely outdated where internet marketing is concerned as social networking, social bookmarking, and other dynamic applications are changing the game in a big way.

In short, I like the book and would recommend it to anyone looking for ways to grow a teaching studio, especially new teachers and especially those who are opening a large community facility. Just keep in mind that it’s incomplete.

What 10 Things Do I Wish I’d Known Before I Started Teaching?

Friday, September 25th, 2009

By Leah Coutts

This blog was inspired by an article with the same title that I read in the Autumn 2001 Keyboard Companion magazine as part of my studies. As I was reading through the article, I noticed that my list of things I wish I’d know was quite different. I thought I’d share the 10 things that I wish I had known before I started teaching:

1. That my studio would grow so quickly – I could have been more selective about the type of students I decided to take on.

2. That teaching is my livelihood and that it is vital to have a steadfast policy from the start – this would have saved so much hassle with lack of payment and ridiculous catch-up schedules and missed lessons.

3. If you lower your expectations, so will your students – if you keep saying it is okay when no practice has been done, students will not start to practice efficiently.

4. Importance of educating parents as much as the child students – parental involvement is critical for a young child’s success.

5. Play up to natural motivations rather than trying to bribe students to do just what you think is important.

6. It’s not all about the written music – from the start it is about exploratory games and the essence of music, not just learning the notes on the pages.

7. You can say ‘no’ to students – whether it is taking them on as a student, requests outside of your studio policy, or requests for pieces of music that are obviously outside of their current playing standard – and your reputation will not be brought into question, as long as you are reasonable in your response.

8. A student’s goals do not have to match yours. If you understand their motivations for wanting to learn, your relationship will be a lot more successful.

9. You can’t practice for the student. This is one that I still have trouble with – even though it is such an obvious statement. I guess that only those who have been there know how much you can actually achieve when you put in the effort. All we can do is help to motivate and cultivate the desire to want to play.

10. Have designated ‘work’ hours, or it can totally consume you.

If I had known all these things from the start, I don’t think I would have been as good a teacher as I am now through learning these things along the way, as it is experience that shapes you more than knowledge.

Now it’s your turn – are there any things that you wished you had known before you started teaching that aren’t listed here? Do you agree with the above list?

Finding Ways to Communicate: Fitting Your Audience’s Style

Friday, September 18th, 2009

by Rachel Velarde
Republished with permission Music Teachers Helper

I have a voice student who only communicates effectively through her MySpace account. Emails and phone calls don’t work when trying to reach her.

One student communicates solely through text messages. Her mother I can ONLY contact through land-line (no email, text, cell phone messages – although she has that capability).

When I was in college (early 1990’s!), I would try to call home and the line would be busy – my mother was on the internet! So, I’d send her an email and 5 minutes later, I’d get a phone call. When I graduated for college, one of the running jokes was that we were going to grad school so that we could continue to have an email account (hotmail was JUST in its infancy, Windows 3.0 had just come out and Gmail wasn’t even a thought in Google’s nonexistent eye).

via www.telephoneart.com

Nowadays we have SO many options to reach one another that frequently we are communicating TO other people rather than WITH others. Blogs (like this one, for instance) often tend to talk a lot without having conversations. I am trying to raise my “presence” as a blogger so as to increase my conversations, but don’t want to monetize the blog. I just want to communicate with more people! So, it’s a slow process.

Communication, though, is KEY! Social Media (TwitterFacebookMySpace,FriendFeedGoogleDelicious) allows you to share and network information throughout your “friend network.”

I use Twitter (via Seesmic Desktop – which integrates my Facebook updates) to find cool information. I’ve found some really amazing people out there who have worthwhile information. I started by following a few really interesting people I’d run across while doing web searches (it started with Chris Foley at The Collaborative Piano Blog). Then, I went through who THEY were following and followed them too. Chris Brogan is the social media guru I ran across through Chris Foley (I’ve subscribed to both of their email RSS feeds for almost 2 years now). Between the two of them, I’m covering a large portion of musicians and social media information. Through this method, I now have over 1000 followers on Twitter (which I’ve only seriously been using since March 2009) and am “following” over 1000. It’s not easy keeping up, so I don’t try to follow everyone.

With Seesmic Desktop, I can do a search for my favorite “tweeple.” I then keep those searches at the side and can pull them out at any time to view what they’ve been saying recently. I also go through my stream at least once daily. I then use an application called TweetLater to send out interesting links that I’ve found at spaced out intervals (I’ll sit down at Twitter for about 20 minutes, but send out links that post on my schedule – I choose about 1 per hr throughout the day). Seesmic then lets me know if/when someone responds to my tweet.(more…)