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How to Recruit Beginners?
#1928357 07/18/12 01:44 AM
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I have noticed that about 90% of inquiries I get come from students who have already had lessons. I very rarely get calls asking for lessons for complete beginners. The beginners I've had in the last several years are mostly the younger siblings of current students, or their younger relatives.

Why is that?

I noticed a parallel expansion of "music schools" in my area, which probably ate up all the beginners. And, judging by the complete wrecks transferring from these "institutions," I'm almost certain that the best way is to get these poor kids started on the right track from the very beginning.

So, what's the best way to advertise to these young, new students?


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Re: How to Recruit Beginners?
AZNpiano #1928365 07/18/12 02:08 AM
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Word of mouth through adult students.

I referred at least 4 students from 5 to 8 to my teacher and 2 more in waiting (my teacher does not teach anyone less than 5 years old). I have been working for a very large company 10 years. My friends / colleagues I deal with every day at work are between 35 to 50. Whenever I say that my hobby is piano, there is always someone who asks my teacher's name. Obviously, I say what a great teacher she is since she is wonderful.

Yesterday, I went to a lunch with our consultants. When I told them my hobby is piano, a computer programer consultant, suddenly jumped in to the conversation.. "My wife and I have been trying to decide between Suzuki method and traditional method..." that's how conversation starts. Anyway, then a female VP at the table asked me if piano is good for developing kid's brain etc. I typically say that I don't know if there's any scientific proof for that but all the kids in my teacher's studio are high achievers (true). I send them to my teacher for them to see each other. My teacher now says that there is no opening..

Re: How to Recruit Beginners?
AZNpiano #1928496 07/18/12 10:24 AM
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Hi AZN,

First a disclaimer: I have absolutely no first hand of knowledge of recruiting beginners.

With that out of the way, if one thinks about the process of an uninitiated parent selecting a teacher for their kid, it probably isn’t much different on your side of the country than on ours. [1] Go to the computer and do a Google search for Piano Teachers; or, if one can find a telephone book, look through the yellow pages. [2] Select the most attractive ad (it might be informative, too). [3] Register for a trial lesson on-line, or give them a call and set something up.

So, unless you have a nice jazzy web site, with lots of animation and at least a dozen colors, you are probably out of luck. A big display ad in the yellow pages, although somewhat “old school” , can work for the masses too. Just be certain there is a nice, cartoon graphic, and that your telephone number is something like 415-88- PIANO or 415 – LES-SONS

As you may know from other threads, I believe in a much more professional, personal approach. Carry a few business cards with you. Visit local music stores that do not offer lessons, ask what beginning piano methods they are carrying, and your conversation about your profession starts from there. Visit local elementary schools, introducing yourself to instrumental/vocal/general music teachers. Ask what they are doing when they encounter a potential student pianist, and leave a card. From those musicians, ask the names of teachers of the grades from which potential beginning students might come. Contact those teachers, and mention that you have a PROFESSIONAL studio in the area, with a few openings for beginners. Piano technicians are probably another good source, where an older sibling already plays, and little Suzie is about to start.

Obviously, my preferred methods involve some leg work and lots of personal contact, and I WILL BET that the students you get from these methods will shine!

Ed


In music, everything one does correctly helps everything else.
Re: How to Recruit Beginners?
AZNpiano #1928543 07/18/12 12:15 PM
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Run a deal with Groupon, DealFind, or LivingSocial.
Pros: I did it and it was 99% beginners, so, if you want beginners only, this would be a good place to start.
Cons:
1. You need to prepare a lot of time to give out free lessons (near to free lessons, each lessons only $2.
2. You need to deal with fresh new beginner that still not having a keyboard at home and convince the parents that the child is good for piano lesson and persuade them to buy one.
3. Be prepare to see only 10% of those beginners sign up with you.

Good luck!


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Re: How to Recruit Beginners?
AZNpiano #1928606 07/18/12 02:35 PM
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Word of mouth is probably the best way to go. Since you are currently getting mostly transferred students, I have a hunch that you are known in your community as a teacher for more advanced students. You can start by telling all your current students and parents that you have some openings and would like to recruit new young beginners.
I too prefer to teach kids starting from scratch. I always tell my clients that, and eventually I am known in my community as such. I teach them all the way till the end of high school. So, most of kids stay with me for 12 to 13 years.
Since you are a member of the MTAC, I assume you are probably involved in the annual testing and other activities organized by MTAC, such as festivals, competitions, and branch recitals. That is another way to disperse the information that you are also a teacher for young beginners. I got many referrals from other teachers since they know that I teach young beginners and they do not.
It will take some time for your reputation to get out there, it will happen eventually. Like everything else, you have to show "results" or good "product" to attract more students.
Good luck.


JN
Re: How to Recruit Beginners?
LoPresti #1928666 07/18/12 04:26 PM
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Ed, I have related how I ended up helping a friend's child who after 6 months of music instruction in school did not understand the simplest theory, and then found myself contacting a stranger on-line since the child had been handed a trombone by a "music teacher" who didn't know how it was played. I can add the two kids who knocked on my door asking me to join them in playing the recorder. They had been "taught" like trained seals to memorize numbers and had no clue what they were doing. I was subsequently hired by one of the parents for lessons. Again, the "music teacher" had no idea about music. The main goal was public relations.

I would not recommend going to schools to recommend a teacher already based on these kinds of experiences. Secondly, how is it possible for any school teacher to know all the teachers in the area? In the least, I would not state that it is unprofessional to have a web-site, if I understood this. Why put all eggs into one basket?

Going then to the idea of business cards. So a school teacher or owner of a music store has someone's business card. Does that store owner know anything about how or what that teacher teaches? On what basis does he "recommend" that teacher. "I have a card in my hand. Therefore I recommend this teacher." There would have to be more if I were the person asking.

You describe a web-site of a teacher, where the teacher explains what and how he teaches, what his background is, his expectations are etc. And you are saying that this is inferior and "less professional" than a business card - the above scenario? If that is what you are saying, I'd have to disagree.

Last edited by keystring; 07/18/12 08:54 PM.
Re: How to Recruit Beginners?
LoPresti #1928668 07/18/12 04:30 PM
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Last edited by keystring; 07/18/12 08:54 PM.
Re: How to Recruit Beginners?
AZNpiano #1928759 07/18/12 08:33 PM
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Set up a website. Most of my transfers are referrals, but the majority of my newbies' parents found me on Google.


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Re: How to Recruit Beginners?
AZNpiano #1928786 07/18/12 09:29 PM
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If you believe that music schools have attracted the majority of beginners, it would be wise to figure out why beginners have enrolled there, and then offer those things.

Visibility?
Ease?
Convenience?


Learner
How to Recruit Beginners?
keystring #1928797 07/18/12 10:08 PM
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KeyString,

You and AZN both know that I am not advocating handing out business cards like at a trade show. I am writing about building personal contacts with other musical professionals in the area. I am writing about conversations about how AZN teaches, his philosophy, his background, how he works; and I am writing about getting referrals from MUSICIANS of kids who might be potential students of his.

I am not asking your ubiquitous music teacher who cannot instruct in trombone, to teach piano. I am asking her/him, as an associate, if s/he knows of any young students who might like to learn piano.

There is a community of musicians, and people working with music, virtually everywhere. We can ignore these individuals, and turn to much more impersonal methods for finding students. But just have a look a ezpiano’s post above to see what that yields.

Websites: Tony the Butcher has many, many sides of beef hanging in his cooler. They all look pretty much the same - cows and bulls without their tails or fur. They are hung in orderly rows, with no apparent priority or preference. So, I guess buying beef is kind of like a crap-shoot - like a point-and-click - whichever one happens to be in front, those are the steaks that will be wrapped in plastic, and placed in the display case. They are the ones you will be getting on your way home from work. And, they will be wonderful.

But I happen to know old Tony (I gave him a business card once). So, when I go in, Tony takes me aside and TELLS me he is going to give me something special - “from the back”. I watch as he pulls a quarter off the hook. “For the grill?”, he asks, and sets the saw blade to the thickness he knows I prefer. Zoom – zoom - perfetto. Then, a final trim of the fat with the sharpest knife. On the scales, wrapped in paper, and tied with string.
Websites?


In music, everything one does correctly helps everything else.
Re: How to Recruit Beginners?
malkin #1928801 07/18/12 10:15 PM
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Originally Posted by malkin
If you believe that music schools have attracted the majority of beginners, it would be wise to figure out why beginners have enrolled there, and then offer those things.

Visibility?
Ease?
Convenience?

With all respect for your opinion, this is precisely what I am suggesting AZN NOT do. If he is "a cut above", as I believe he is, then why on earth would he want to make himself appear exactly like all the other sides of beef?


In music, everything one does correctly helps everything else.
Re: How to Recruit Beginners?
asiantraveller101 #1929064 07/19/12 12:09 PM
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Originally Posted by asiantraveller101
Since you are a member of the MTAC, I assume you are probably involved in the annual testing and other activities organized by MTAC, such as festivals, competitions, and branch recitals. That is another way to disperse the information that you are also a teacher for young beginners. I got many referrals from other teachers since they know that I teach young beginners and they do not.

I am heavily involved in MTAC and its festivals and exams. My heavy MTAC involvement has yielded me dozens of transfer students and maybe 3 complete beginners (and all three beginners quit within a few months of lessons). I've just about given up using MTAC to attract beginners.

The complete beginners I get from word-of-mouth referrals tend to stick it out much longer, the longest being 9 years and counting. Of course there are also those who quit within months, but the chances are better that these referrals will be more "serious" about taking lessons.


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Re: How to Recruit Beginners?
malkin #1929074 07/19/12 12:27 PM
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Originally Posted by malkin
If you believe that music schools have attracted the majority of beginners, it would be wise to figure out why beginners have enrolled there, and then offer those things.

Visibility?
Ease?
Convenience?

The reason that so many kids go to these "music schools," as one of my students so expertly reasoned, is that "All of my friends are going there." Unfortunately, none of those kids play piano well, and all the really good piano students at her elementary school (and there are quite a few of them!) study with private teachers.

My guess is that these parents are just lazy in their research for a piano teacher. They think that, since so many people take their kids to this school, it must be good! There are several really good private piano teachers in town, and the only "invisibility" is a lack of a storefront. If these parents actually talk to one another, it won't take long to locate one of these excellent teachers.

Or, perhaps more accurately, these parents just have different goals: Piano is just another activity like dance, swimming, tennis, Tae Kwon Do, Kumon, soccer, and a host of other activities. I commonly see students with 4 or 5 different activities. They are stretched so thin, it's hard for them to be good at anything.


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Re: How to Recruit Beginners?
AZNpiano #1929286 07/19/12 08:00 PM
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I don't know if schools will let you send home fliers, but ours does and many teachers get students by doing this. Contact the principals and prepare a nice flyer just letting students and parents know of a "community service" that is available in their area. Some schools in our area even have teachers that come to school in the afternoon and teach on the school's piano. Schools and communities need to work together to complement each other and provide services to educate the whole child. JMHO.

Re: How to Recruit Beginners?
AZNpiano #1929321 07/19/12 09:46 PM
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by malkin
If you believe that music schools have attracted the majority of beginners, it would be wise to figure out why beginners have enrolled there, and then offer those things.

Visibility?
Ease?
Convenience?

The reason that so many kids go to these "music schools," as one of my students so expertly reasoned, is that "All of my friends are going there." Unfortunately, none of those kids play piano well, and all the really good piano students at her elementary school (and there are quite a few of them!) study with private teachers.

My guess is that these parents are just lazy in their research for a piano teacher. They think that, since so many people take their kids to this school, it must be good! There are several really good private piano teachers in town, and the only "invisibility" is a lack of a storefront. If these parents actually talk to one another, it won't take long to locate one of these excellent teachers.

Or, perhaps more accurately, these parents just have different goals: Piano is just another activity like dance, swimming, tennis, Tae Kwon Do, Kumon, soccer, and a host of other activities. I commonly see students with 4 or 5 different activities. They are stretched so thin, it's hard for them to be good at anything.


In that case it sounds like you do not want these students after all, so why fret about it?


Learner
Re: How to Recruit Beginners?
LoPresti #1929372 07/20/12 01:08 AM
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Ed, I only saw your response now. I must say that I do not object to your suggestions, but more to the implication that any other means are not good and "unprofessional". However, you have clarified a few things:
Originally Posted by LoPresti

You and AZN both know that I am not advocating handing out business cards like at a trade show. I am writing about building personal contacts with other musical professionals in the area. I am writing about conversations about how AZN teaches, his philosophy, his background, how he works; and I am writing about getting referrals from MUSICIANS of kids who might be potential students of his.

That makes sense. This is a genuine question: do teachers contact students that they heard about wanting a teacher? (I think that is what you are saying - a musician tells AZN that parents X want a piano teacher, so he contacts parents X?).
Quote

I am not asking your ubiquitous music teacher who cannot instruct in trombone, to teach piano. I am asking her/him, as an associate, if s/he knows of any young students who might like to learn piano.

Same question. You see, I thought that it is students/parents who contact teachers. The premise I was going under is that as they look for a teacher, they also want to find the right teacher. The school teachers that I described would not know enough to recommend someone. Otoh, if such a teacher is truly knowledgeable, and such gems do exist, then it is a different story.

Again, I am not against this, but rather at the nixing of other means which are objects of reductio ad absurdum:

Quote

Websites: Tony the Butcher ...... On the scales, wrapped in paper, and tied with string.
Websites?


Websites indeed. Yes, on a good web-site a teacher will write what he or she represents, and background. I have seen a few good ones which are all different but all have some things in common. The teacher gives some personal background. She believes in particular things in music education which she promotes, and wants to cover certain elements of music with all students, and others as electives. Expectations of students and parents may be in there, maybe some information about instruments. The teacher may even have a blog if she is so inclined where she writes things pertaining to her craft. I get an idea of what this person is about as a professional. It is INFORMATION.

Yes, you get the car salesman type as well. But that's not what we're looking for, is it? There is a lot more information to this kind of site than you will get from a business card. I see no reason to discount this, and I definitely consider those sites that I am talking about to be professional.

I'll resist the temptation to joke about musical butchers with their scales and well tempered strings.

Re: How to Recruit Beginners?
malkin #1929425 07/20/12 02:46 AM
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Originally Posted by malkin
In that case it sounds like you do not want these students after all, so why fret about it?

But there are students who are not "these students." How do you target those?

I really don't want to sound condescending toward my colleagues who are forced to teach at these "music schools." I'm friends with a few of them. A lot of times, things are completely out of their control, and it's 100% the school owner's fault. But when time after time I witness the results of poor teaching (due to inept teachers, poor teaching conditions, poor instruments, poor scheduling, or whatever), it makes me wonder how to reach these parents before they realize what permanent damage they may be inflicting upon their children by registering them at these "music schools."


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Re: How to Recruit Beginners?
Rm403 #1929428 07/20/12 02:50 AM
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Originally Posted by Rm403
I don't know if schools will let you send home fliers, but ours does and many teachers get students by doing this. Contact the principals and prepare a nice flyer

I tried that. Schools around here are so paranoid about potential lawsuits, they are afraid to endorse anybody. Even the local school's "Tutoring List" comes with a disclaimer that the school and the district have not personally screened these academic tutors and are not responsible for their effectiveness or lack thereof.


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How to Recruit Beginners?
keystring #1929729 07/20/12 12:59 PM
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KeyString and others interested,

I am not for a minute suggesting that a teacher make the initial contact with the student/parent. That is the main reason for that BUSINESS CARD that has received such misuse and bad press on this thread. I am not certain why I need to spell it out this way, but here goes:
A professional piano teacher, wishing to increase his roster of INTERESTED, beginning students, visits the music teachers at a local school (for example), presumably where piano is not already taught. He tells the school music teachers about his studio, how he teaches, even his background. He asks them what they do when they encounter a young, potential piano student. He listens. He asks subsequent questions. If the conversation invites it, he asks the school music teachers if they would be kind enough to refer parents of potential students to him. Finally, he leaves the music teachers with a lasting means of contacting him - a business card.

Further, notice that this hot-topic, blown-way-out-of-proportion, business card does not disseminate any information other than name, profession, address, and telephone (and maybe eMail address, for those who can not do without one). It is not intended as an advertisement , because any “advertising” is handled word-of-mouth. The business card simply allows the music teachers, or their referred parents of students, to contact Mr. Piano Teacher.

Is this the only way of accomplishing recruiting high-potential parents and students? Obviously not. Is it a highly professional method? I think so. Will it be effective? Maybe someone will give it a try and see.

I think you SHOULD have done something with the Well-Tempered-Butcher-String! Opportunities of this Scale do not come along every day.
Ed


In music, everything one does correctly helps everything else.
Re: How to Recruit Beginners?
AZNpiano #1929754 07/20/12 01:54 PM
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Ed, it is my habit to keep asking, and also stating what I hear people saying, because we very often get the message wrong and we often cannot get our message across in the way we think we do. Therefore I will say what I understand, so that you can clarify. Thank you for doing so.

I understand now what you are saying about the business card. It is one means of getting business, and anyone in business for him or herself probably uses it. How about having one's web-site on that business card? At that moment the teacher can explain his policies, views on teaching, priorities, background etc. I still believe that a well designed site with substance and not just flashy appearance is a very good idea.

Last edited by keystring; 07/20/12 02:18 PM.
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