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Growing through music: Pivots

pivots
To achieve the highest versions of ourselves, it is necessary not to be rigid. After all, being alive means we are in a constant state of motion where nothing is permanent. There are times of significant forward motion and times where things are much slower. Sometimes we have substantial shifts, and other times we take smaller, baby steps. There ar...
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How to become an indispensable piano teacher

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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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Parents attending lessons: rewards and challenges

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Why would teachers want to encourage parents to attend lessons? Although some teachers—Suzuki, Yamaha, or preschool, for example—routinely invite parents, not all music teachers find that children or their guardians benefit from a shared experience. The following is an overview of some of the rewards and challenges of parental attendance at lessons...
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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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Studios are not just in living rooms anymore

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Sometimes the world brings people into your life who ignite your energy and restore your passion for teaching. Last February, on a sunny morning in Austin, Texas, last February, I met two such individuals, Wendy Kuo and Klondike Steadman, the executive directors and owners of The Orpheus Academy, a music school with 410 students employing more than...
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Reflections on music's life lessons

I imagine that, in one way or another, you are caught up in the drama of politics these days. My feelings have been impassioned and vocal around the proposed elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). It is not unusual for me to write when my sensitivities feel challenged, as is cur...
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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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Writing a great critique

The written critique is the single most important responsibility of an MMTA judge. It provides the student with a tangible record of the audition and it may affect and influence the student's development for years to come.   A great critique is nurturing A great critique is always respectful and kind. Set a positive tone by including positive ...
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Procedures and protocols for hiring an evaluator

In groups as large, active, and diverse as most state and local music teacher organizations, the task of hiring an evaluator is one that circulates among different members. While I'm aware that the terms adjudicator and/or judge are probably used more often than evaluator , they are all one and the same. My personal preference is evaluator, as I be...
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To judge and be judged

Teachers should always strive to provide positive and successful music experiences for their students.  Within the walls of the teaching studio, it is much easier to create these experiences—the environment and people involved are familiar, and the teacher has more control of outcomes. However, this is not the case when students leave the stud...
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Another world

I recently had the privilege of attending the Winter meeting of the National Association for Music Merchants (NAMM) in Anaheim, California. This is one of the two biggest music industry trade shows in the world, and it was quite a spectacle. The Anaheim Convention Center covers fifty-three acres, and NAMM occupied every inch. Imagine a main exhibit...
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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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Variations: Being comfortable in your teacher skin

I recently met a passionate young teacher who told me this story: "One of my students came up to me the other day and observed: 'Mrs. L., you either love what you do, or you just can't find another job!' The child, only seven years old, had already intuited society's adage: 'Those who can, do; those who can't, teach.'" We laughed together over this...
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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

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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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Girl Scout tricks: What music teachers can learn about retention from scouting

Girl Scout tricks: What music teachers can learn about retention from scouting
Who would have thought that my experiences and the training I received as a Girl Scout leader would influence my approach to piano teaching? Good retention is as important to the Scouts as it is for piano teachers. Teens everywhere are busier than ever, and it's increasingly difficult to fill the spaces they leave in our schedules when they drop ou...
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