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Re: How dependable is being a Piano Teacher? [Re: Elissa Milne] #1414107
04/09/10 08:50 AM
04/09/10 08:50 AM
Joined: Apr 2007
Posts: 16,524
Boynton Beach, FL
Morodiene Offline
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Morodiene  Offline
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Joined: Apr 2007
Posts: 16,524
Boynton Beach, FL
A local referendum in a neighboring school district didn't pass that would keep music in the public schools. I have a feeling that those parents who do feel music is important will be looking to get their kids in piano lessons since they won't get any music at school. Of course, they will get football.

In our smaller town, the economic downturn has been a bit slower to hit us. I mostly have lost adult students due to them or their spouses losing jobs or have hours cut. I belong to Musiclink which gives benefits to teachers who offer scholarships (at least 50% off their lesson charges) to students. I only have one student on this program, and another student who takes both piano and voice from me needed to have 45 minutes for each, and his father cleans my studio for me twice a month, and they pay for only one 45 minute lesson a week. Making these accommodations has helped, but unfortunately, there wasn't anything I could do to save the adult students who left. I do know, however, that during tough times, people do turn to music and the arts because they know it is important. Also, parents are more willing to sacrifice to make sure their child keeps up with their music lessons because they know how devastating it would be to them to have to stop, whereas an adult student may be more willing (sometimes) to sacrifice their own lessons for a time.

I still have a waiting list of about 7-8 people. Part of this is due to my reputation in the area, but also it's partly due to the fact that I am in a highly visible area. We owned a rental property that had a storefront on the first floor and apartment on the 2nd in our downtown district. People walk and drive by all the time. Moving in there did wonders to my studio and getting my name out there. Also, I didn't used to have my name in the phone book, but ever since I did that, I've gotten a lot more calls. I was surprised to open our phone book and see that only one other teacher and the local conservatory were the only ones who were listed under piano lessons! Unfortunately, we have two competing phone book companies, so I have to be listed in both. Also, I have gotten a few students from websites like www.getlessonsnow.com, but I think having my own webpage has helped as well, and I refer people to it as often as I can. When I have been in need of students, I have placed ads in the local family newspaper. Many of the readers are parents of younger children, but if you can start with a young one at 4 or 5 with some basics and then when they're a bit older get into more piano study, you will be building that child up to love music and stay with you a long time. I think when you start with them young, you get more loyalty from the families.

Perhaps some of these tips will help, perhaps you're already doing them. Sometimes it's good to reevaluate what you're doing and changing it up when things aren't quite going as they used to.


private piano/voice teacher FT

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Re: How dependable is being a Piano Teacher? [Re: Morodiene] #1414118
04/09/10 09:19 AM
04/09/10 09:19 AM
Joined: Jun 2009
Posts: 1,702
CA
M
Minniemay Offline
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Minniemay  Offline
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Joined: Jun 2009
Posts: 1,702
CA
Gary: You are so right. These are tough times. While I personally have not been affected, I know many are. My sister's husband has been out of work for almost 6 months. I had one family quit last spring because mom lost her job and dad's business was down.

I hope things get better for you and for your students and their families.


B.A., Piano, Piano Pegagogy, Music Ed.
M.M., Piano
Re: How dependable is being a Piano Teacher? [Re: Gary D.] #1414337
04/09/10 03:40 PM
04/09/10 03:40 PM
Joined: Jun 2001
Posts: 4,827
USA
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Bob Offline
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Bob  Offline
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Joined: Jun 2001
Posts: 4,827
USA
Originally Posted by Gary D.
[quote=Bob] I don't buy the economy excuse, in fact I don't buy any excuse.


That statement came out stronger than intended, but meant no disrespect to those struggling. Successful independent teachers are business people first, and are good at finding students and retaining them. A teacher should have a solid system in place to find new students and create a "wait list". A teacher should be flexible and evolve with market changes.

What market changes? Well, how about all the digitals being sold? How about teaching students with a Clavinova how to sound like a one person band - If Chopin isn't paying the bills, try Barry Manilow and Elton John.

My tuning customers are always asking for a teacher who comes to the home. It's more convenient for them, especially if they have 2-3 kids in lessons. They are willing to pay extra for it. Choose a subdivision - most have newsletters, advertise and go for it.

A teacher does not "teach" for a living.

A teacher SELLS piano lessons for a living.

The busy teachers have learned how to sell piano lessons.

My best to all those struggling in this economy.







Re: How dependable is being a Piano Teacher? [Re: Minniemay] #1414356
04/09/10 04:15 PM
04/09/10 04:15 PM
Joined: Feb 2010
Posts: 69
Kent, WA (Covington)
M
Miss Karen Offline
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Miss Karen  Offline
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Joined: Feb 2010
Posts: 69
Kent, WA (Covington)
I have to respond again here. In Washington state, our unemployment rate in King County is around 10%. When I got laid-off 9 years ago, the unemployment rate was 5.8%. Jobs were not as scarce as they are now. I was able to get work, after looking for 2 1/2 years, and also after completing my graduate degree as well in that time-frame. I applied for 180+ jobs before being hired in the school district at 1/4 of the pay I used to make prior to being laid-off.

For every job listed NOW, more than 1000 people apply for it like on Craigslist. One of my friends, who used to be an executive at Weyerhaeuser, has been out of work since last June.

I have at least 3 families that are still in my studio, that have had their spouses lose their jobs and still cannot find jobs. I had two students quit before starting because they lost their jobs. They were adults.

I have been trying to get a waiting list created since 2007, but, in this economy, I cannot.

I think our local economy will become well in four or five years from now. People are more careful spending their disposable money.

For those studios that have waiting lists and not in terrible economies, I'm happy for you. Every few months, I'm thinking of new ways to keep my current students and new ways to diversify my studio.

I'm also part of the MusicLink program as well so I can give discounts to kids with families that have financial issues.

I keep check with all the other new piano teachers that have flooded our market up here. I'm in Betty's area and I know what she is talking about.

Between the competition and the lousy economy, I'm doing great. I use my studio to pay for bills as well. For every payment I get from my studio, it helps.

I know what it is like to work at a large company then be laid-off (first time in my life), then think about how to handle it. Now most of my friends are going through what I went through 9 years ago. It is not fun filling out forms, calling the unemployment office every week to get your check, and maintaining your job log, in case you are audited by the unemployment office. Rejection becomes your friend especially when looking for work. It was very stressful and how to figure out how to pay bills and keep your house. Fortunately my husband was still working and we made the transition well.

Now I'm making almost half what I use to make before I was laid-off. I enjoy my job more and I like being my own boss. I'm now taking care of my husband full-time, who is sick and disabled and he is not working. He has been out of work for two years now. I do not know when and if he will return to work. Now I'm the bread-winner and so I'm very careful on how I run my business. The last two years have been very stressful and our finances have tanked due to the recent financial banking crisis including some of our retirement funds (Non-IRA).

Thank you for letting me explain my story but I have been to the side of being laid-off and now I'm on the other side being the main breadwinner and being a caregiver.


Karen
Redwood Piano Studio
http://redwoodpianostudio.atspace.com/
Re: How dependable is being a Piano Teacher? [Re: Miss Karen] #1414367
04/09/10 04:29 PM
04/09/10 04:29 PM
Joined: Jun 2001
Posts: 4,827
USA
B
Bob Offline
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Bob  Offline
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Joined: Jun 2001
Posts: 4,827
USA
My wife was laid off 14 months ago from a real estate investment firm. With her job went our health insurance. We took a look around and saw that the medical field was hiring. That interested her, and she enrolled in school for medical records/billing. Upon graduation last August, there was a job waiting with health insurance, and she grabbed it. She took a cut in pay, but for us, the lay off was an opportunity - and we took advantage of it. Look for the opportunity. It's there somewhere. Best to everyone.

Last edited by Bob; 04/09/10 04:31 PM.



Re: How dependable is being a Piano Teacher? [Re: Bob] #1414469
04/09/10 06:30 PM
04/09/10 06:30 PM
Joined: Nov 2002
Posts: 13,837
Iowa City, IA
Kreisler Offline
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Kreisler  Offline
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Joined: Nov 2002
Posts: 13,837
Iowa City, IA
In response to the market, I've had to "diversify" a great deal.

I moved to an area that already had a saturated market (I compete with three community music schools and several independent music teachers.)

So...I invented new jobs for myself. I have 15 students, am on staff at the university as an accompanist for dance classes, and do a ton of freelance accompanying. (The university's music department does not employ a staff accompanist, so people needing accompanists for their recitals and lessons have to hire other students or people like me. Since students are always too busy to bother with accompanying, that leaves plenty of stuff for me to do.)

Bob is right about one thing, though - and I've gotten the exact same advice from every business owner I've met:

"When you own a business, you're a salesman, no matter what you think..."


"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

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Re: How dependable is being a Piano Teacher? [Re: Miss Karen] #1414477
04/09/10 06:39 PM
04/09/10 06:39 PM
Joined: Jun 2007
Posts: 4,896
Puyallup, Washington
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Betty Patnude Offline
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Joined: Jun 2007
Posts: 4,896
Puyallup, Washington
I appreciate your tenacity in music teaching, Karen! Thank you for sharing how it is in your community at this particular time.

You are the kind of professional in music teaching who I know is doing an excellent job in their piano studio. And, I know it has been daily progress in building it, as it has also been for me. You continue your on-going education and work hard in every way as I've heard about some of your projects and interests that you've shared with other piano teachers.

The requirement of us at this more difficult economic time is that we not get discouraged but continue to use as time in preparing for the time when things begin to recover for everyone.

For some teachers it's a lifestyle not a job and I've been spending my time resourcing and preparing for when I again have a bigger clientele. All is not lost we have more time to apply ourselves to the things relating to music teaching that we were having trouble finding time to do. I think my life is nicely paced right now to my satisfaction, but I am far from retired despite being of the right age for retirement.

I think we are able to invent and reinvent ourselves many times during our lifetimes. In many ways it is about the survival of the fittest. It takes time for our clients to discover who we are and what we offer and how that compares in the world of music instruction in the community.

Great and realistic posting, Karen!

Re: How dependable is being a Piano Teacher? [Re: Betty Patnude] #1415351
04/11/10 03:27 PM
04/11/10 03:27 PM
Joined: Mar 2010
Posts: 347
Massachusetts
danshure Offline
Full Member
danshure  Offline
Full Member

Joined: Mar 2010
Posts: 347
Massachusetts
Hi All

Chiming in a little late on this one. To try and bring things back to the original question, how dependable is it being a piano teacher - it's as dependable as you make it!

I'm very much with Kreisler and Bob on this one.

Three years ago, I married, left 30 students behind in NH and moved to a completely new area where I didn't know anyone and had no connections and no students. I didn't even have a real piano until last fall!

Now I have 25+ students, with more coming all of the time. There is competition - several private teachers in my immediate area, a large lesson program at the regional high school right down the road and many private music schools in the area.

My prices are high for the area and have had only a few students drop out in the last three years. I even mostly limit my enrollment to grades K-8, don't travel and limit my available hours (I do other part time work.) I also live 2 minutes from Worcester, the city with the highest unemployment rate in Massachusetts.

My wife actually LEFT her job (which included health insurance - although we still paid $400 a month) intentionally in January so we could focus more on my music and other work (I do some other music work, web design and work part time for my father).

I am certainly very sympathetic for anyone who has experienced misfortune and hard times due to the economy and factors beyond their control. There are certainly many situations that one can simply not change.

BUT SOME PRACTICAL SOLUTIONS I CAN OFFER ARE:

Read these books
- 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
- 80/20 Principle
- Mavericks at Work
- Made To Stick
- The Truth About Search Engine Optimization
- The Tipping Point (a bit more just entertaining but still useful).

I actually borrowed every one of these books (except for "The Truth...") on audiobook from the local library and listened to them in the car. It was free and took no extra time.

Take what you learned in those books, apply it to these free or inexpensive resources.
- Wordpress or other blogs
- Craigslist
- Some of the other sites, getlessonsnow etc
- Or create a custom webpage for yourself. Hosting/domain names are cheap.
- Word of mouth used properly is very powerful

The above are all TOOLS but the problem is that people usually do not use them correctly and to their full potential. For example, using some basic HTML you can embed links, photos and video into a craigslist ad, as well as format text. You'll have an ad that stands out from the others.

As far as the economy, again, I wish everyone well that has had misfortune but my philosophy on it? Ignore the news! I have not read a newspaper, watched or listened to the news for probably over a year (expect when my wife insists on NPR, which admittedly has some good programming). It's not denial, it's choosing to not focus excess energy on something I can not do anything about.




Last edited by danshure; 04/11/10 06:44 PM.

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Re: How dependable is being a Piano Teacher? [Re: D4v3] #1415598
04/12/10 01:37 AM
04/12/10 01:37 AM
Joined: Oct 2007
Posts: 24
Illinois, USA
ILoveMusicTheory Offline
Full Member
ILoveMusicTheory  Offline
Full Member

Joined: Oct 2007
Posts: 24
Illinois, USA
Good piano teachers are super-hard to find no matter where you go. So if you're good and you know it you can pretty much teach in any area, charge a reasonable amount, and have a line out the door. Suggestions for making it MUCH more dependable:

Get a website with your own URL. Internet is how people find you these days.

Teach some popular and jazz music. "Light music" does not necessarily mean "bad".

Incorporate recording. Digital recording (on computer) is cheap and easy.

Have short recitals at least 1x per year.

Hope I helped.


I'm an independent piano & guitar teacher from Illinois.

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