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When students quit

I quit piano twice. During my last year of high school, I left my long-time teacher a handwritten note in an envelope on her desk. In it I detailed the reasons I was "quitting piano." I no longer remember what those reasons were, but I suspect they were related to feeling I had let her down by losing a then-recent contest. I don't remember that she...
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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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Promoting interest in your class or studio

​We all have heard a teacher exclaim, "I can't make my students do anything. They have to want to do it on their own." The teacher's belief presumes music students are a set of individuals innately eager and curious to study music. I believe some students love music and naturally want to study it. Others, however, grow into music, and its offe...
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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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The many benefits of teaching in a large program

As musicians and music teachers, we are immersed in a field that necessarily comprises creativity, not just in the finished product of our art, but also in the way in which we accomplish that art. As such, there is an endless array of teaching environments and studio set-ups that can be tailored to facilitate the needs and dreams of any music teach...
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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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Studio policies for your sporadic adult students

​I am a very happy and fairly healthy "Baby Boomer"—my father was a World War II veteran, and I was born in the fifties. We "Boomers" are your current and upcoming adult piano students. Why? Because we realize we have more to learn—we are excited learners. We are not isolated but are well read and intelligent—we are logical learners. We are wonderf...
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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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Still on fire or burning out?

W​hat type of music teacher burns out? Often she is an idealistic, "on fire" individual who does not have a firm pedagogic sense of what is real and what is fantasy. Someone who believes that all children can achieve a high level of mastery at the instrument, regardless of their level of intelligence, talent, discipline, and parental support. He ma...
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Music teacher as CEO: Marketing your strengths as a teaching artist

Music teacher as CEO: Marketing your strengths as a teaching artist
​During this political season, you will hear a lot about small businesses and their role as the engine that drives our economy. Did you ever stop to think that the politicians are talking about piano teachers? As an independent teacher, YOU are a small business. You are the owner and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of your business—a business dedicat...
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Surveying the college job market

Surveying the college job market
​Teaching piano or working as a staff accompanist at a college, conservatory, or university is a desirable career for many pianists. Holding a full-time position in academia can have many rewards: teaching piano, chamber music, piano pedagogy, and piano literature to promising young musicians; performing solo recitals and chamber music with colleag...
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Feeling singing? Coping with burnout

As you returned from the holiday break (or madness!), did you look forward to your regular teaching schedule, or did you feel less than enthusiastic at the idea of seeing your students again? Most of us have times in our lives when we feel tired and withdrawn, not ready to face another long day of teaching.  In this issue and the upcoming May/...
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Social media, teacher directories, and websites: online marketing strategies for your piano studio

In the Spring of 2011, Clavier Companion sponsored its fourth annual Collegiate Writing Contest. College students at any level from any country in the world were invited to submit 1,500 word essays on a pedagogical topic of their choice. The grand prize was publication of the winning essay in Clavier Companion . The esteemed panel of judges was com...
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How can student notebooks be more effective?

W hen I first started teaching, I was determined not to make my students fill out the dreaded practice log. As a young teacher, I still had fresh memories of my own student days, and times spent scrambling right before a lesson to reconstruct (or perhaps invent?) my practice times for the week. Even as a kid, it seemed like a pointless exercise to ...
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My life as a job applicant

One pianist's quest to obtain the elusive faculty position I found that the most difficult part of entering the academic job market was getting started in the first place. At the time, I was teaching (adjunct) at a university and finishing up my doctorate. Finding more time to gather job prospects, prepare cover letters, recording so and other mate...
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A question of focus

"What is the future of piano pedagogy?" An astute teacher asked me this in the last session at the end of a three-day conference. It stopped me in my tracks. What an excellent question-one I have even asked of others. But now, in front of a very intelligent and experienced group of pianists, it was my turn to grapple with an answer. And grapple I d...
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