Wendy Stevens, NCTM, is a composer, presenter, teacher, and owner of ComposeCreate.com. She blogs regularly on business issues, creativity, rhythm challenges, and piano teaching in general. Wendy’s pedagogical compositions are published with Hal Leonard, Willis Piano Music, and ComposeCreate.com.

How to become an indispensable piano teacher

communication
In a world where parents are constantly reevaluatiing the cost of a recurring service, job security may depend in part upon how indispensable we are to our piano students. How do we become indispensable? How do we keep parents from jumping from teacher to teacher or experience to experience? How do we cut past the busyness of parents, who migh...
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March/April 2018: Making money, making space

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 The swap list: Rules of engagement More and more teachers are moving to a no-makeup-lessons policy and reaping the emotional and physical rewards of not giving away too much of their time. 1 But for most teachers who have this policy, "no make-ups" does not mean that there are no reasonable alternatives. It simply means, as a general rule, th...
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What are the foundational reasons for having a policy?

policy
Sometimes it is easy to get into a tizzy about making policy changes when something pushes us to our limits. Conversely, some teachers "set it and forget it," to the detriment of not making policy changes when needed, or not revising policies to keep up with the times. But even teachers who are somewhere in the middle of these extremes can lose sig...
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Making Money Making Space: Creating space to move from good to great

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One of the wonderful realities and paradoxes about being a piano teacher in 2017 is that a good idea is only one click away. The proliferation of good piano teaching ideas and the increased connectivity that we have through email, social media groups, and websites means that there is never a lack of creative ideas, games, and teaching techniques. A...
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How to get paid on time

If you have successfully moved from a per-lesson payment system to a tuition-based structure, 1 you may still be left with the challenge of parents paying on time. There are many ways to tackle this issue, so choose what works best for your business.   Prepay in full The most effective means of ensuring that payments come to you on time is pre...
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How to dismiss a student with kindness

A studio full of hard-working and well-mannered students is every piano teacher's dream. But few teachers actually have the opportunity to live this dream for their entire careers. The truth is that most teachers have at least one student that they do not enjoy teaching. It might be due to a communication problem, a mismatched energy issue, a behav...
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Are your marketing strategies deep enough? Part II

In Part 1 of "Are your marketing strategies deep enough?" (Jan/Feb 2017), we talked about the first four frequently overlooked principles of marketing: 1. We must know what our clients really want. 2. We must make sure we have a product or service that they want . 3. Regardless of how they hear about you, we must remember that parents of school-age...
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Making money, making space: Are your marketing strategies deep enough?

marketing
While we frequently discuss the advantages and disadvantages of certain types of piano lesson marketing, we often stop short of asking deeper questions that can make our marketing more effective. Understanding how people in the twenty-first century respond to the constant barrage of marketing, and then tailoring our approach respectively, can actua...
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Are you a workaholic? Seven ways piano teachers can fight this damaging behavior

workaholic
Authors note: They say it "takes one to know one," and I humbly submit this as someone who struggles with working too much, simply because I love what I do! I hope these thoughts and tips help you as much as they have helped me. Workaholism is rampant in western culture, and, unfortunately, piano teachers are not immune. A significant study involvi...
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If my studio is full, why should I keep marketing?

Marketing piano lessons is most often used to refer to the process of obtaining new piano students.  ​Consequently, when our studio is full or has a waiting list, it is easy to think that we no longer need to market. But marketing is also about retaining current students, especially since we want the diligent ones to continue in our studio. In...
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Five income-affecting policy tweaks

As you review and send out your new studio policy for the coming year, it might be wise to re-examine a few important aspects of that policy. These five income-affecting policy tweaks have the potential to generate more income or more cash in hand, thus enabling you to concentrate on the most important part of your business: creative and effective ...
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Six keys to enforcing an effective studio policy

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A good studio policy is only effective if it is enforced. And while it is relatively easy to write a policy, it is certainly much harder to enforce it in a kind but firm manner. Yet enforcement of an effective policy is the key to a running a smooth, profitable studio that benefits everyone. Here are six important tips to help you enforce your poli...
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Should we fear the future?

Should we fear the future?
"What is the future of piano teaching?" is an important question, but it may tend to strike a bit of fear into each of us. Almost implicit in the question is another, more ominous question: "Will there be a future for piano teaching?" With the prevalence of online courses, YouTube videos, and iPad apps, all geared toward learning to play the piano,...
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Does word-of-mouth advertising fall on deaf ears? Seven web essentials for marketing

Word-of-mouth is often accurately touted as the best way to market piano lessons.  But the concept of word-of-mouth has changed tremendously in the last ten years, both in how it works and what it really is. 1  Consequently, word-of-mouth is starting to fall short in effectiveness and conversion for those who do not have some essential co...
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How often should I raise tuition?

​In the last article, we discussed how to determine a reasonable tuition and make sure that your studio is profitable. Once you've determined this and set your plan in motion, however, you can unknowingly sabotage your plan if you do not also plan to raise your tuition regularly. In any business relationship, knowing what to expect and when to...
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How to determine your rates and profitability

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Implementing a tuition structure that yields a consistent monthly income will ensure a comfortable income only if the chosen tuition rate is reasonable. 1 Whether you are just beginning to teach or have been teaching for decades, it is important to go through two evaluative processes regularly to ensure that your tuition rate is reasonable to you a...
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Three keys to making a consistent income

​One of the unhealthy mindsets in our profession is the notion that piano teachers cannot make a reasonable or a consistent income. This is tragic because it is simply not true! Adjusting your business policy to ensure a consistent and reasonable income can be accomplished in three steps. Reframe how you think and talk about payments When we charge...
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Effective,enforceable studio policies

Why do I need policies? Constructing effective and enforceable policies is ultimately about preserving relationships with our piano families. By communicating our expectations formally, we are making space to concentrate on what is most important—teaching. It may feel a bit stiff to require that parents read and sign a contract, but clarifying expe...
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Making Money, Making Space

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I am excited to be bringing you the first in a series of columns devoted to the business of piano teaching! Whether you are new to teaching or have been teaching for fifty years, I hope these columns will bring a fresh perspective on how to help your business run more efficiently, make a consistent income, be less stressed about business matters, i...
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