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Advice for New College Grads #2750839
07/11/18 05:51 PM
07/11/18 05:51 PM
Joined: Aug 2007
Posts: 7,647
Orange County, CA
AZNpiano Offline OP
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AZNpiano  Offline OP
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I guess I'm in the unique situation because I had two jobs after graduating. My public school job paid for the majority of my bills until my studio became self-sustainable.

What do I tell recent grads who has only the piano degree? Any advice for these young people? Perhaps they should pick up some part-time jobs because it's hard to get a full studio immediately?

Any other thoughts and advice would be appreciated.


Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member
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Re: Advice for New College Grads [Re: AZNpiano] #2750860
07/11/18 08:11 PM
07/11/18 08:11 PM
Joined: Dec 2017
Posts: 183
USA
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Andamento Offline
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My situation was like yours. Right out of college, I got a public school music-teaching job. I also inherited 20 students that the previous music teacher taught piano to at the school after the school day was done.

That doesn't help your recent piano-degree grads, though. Here's something that might:

Would they consider subbing for a piano teacher going on, say, maternity leave for a while? They could "inherit" a whole studio of students for a temporary period, and perhaps consider asking those families to provide a testimonial to jump-start their new business after the teacher for whom the fill-in is subbing returns to teaching.

When I was in college, a music store owner asked me if I wanted to teach the piano students of their teacher who was going on maternity leave. I accepted, and it was a good way for me to get my feet wet with students who had already been playing a while.

Turned out, for me, that the teacher who went on leave decided to stay home with her baby and not return to teaching, so I got her whole studio!

That's probably not likely to happen most of the time, but if there's any way like that to step in where someone is leaving (temporarily, or permanently, like putting one's name out there with retiring teachers), that might help to become more visible to students, parents, and teachers.

Maybe?

Re: Advice for New College Grads [Re: AZNpiano] #2750900
07/12/18 02:09 AM
07/12/18 02:09 AM
Joined: Aug 2007
Posts: 7,647
Orange County, CA
AZNpiano Offline OP
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AZNpiano  Offline OP
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Interesting...

About 10 years ago a teacher (with over 80 private students!!) had to temporarily find subs for her studio while she battled cancer. Fortunately, she recovered. Unfortunately, I found out how her studio operated. I'm glad I didn't sub for her. Let's just say it was one of those horror stories about how parents and students can put up with an incompetent teacher for YEARS and not notice very little teaching is happening.

The obvious choice for these recent grads is to go work for one of the "music schools" where they can get many students, but get paid in peanuts. And these students are predictably awful. The grads I'm talking to don't have the top conservatory pedigree, so they'll have a much worse time trying to sell themselves.

Maybe they'll have to work 2 or 3 jobs in the morning hours. Anything to make ends meet.


Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member
Re: Advice for New College Grads [Re: AZNpiano] #2751043
07/12/18 04:53 PM
07/12/18 04:53 PM
Joined: Aug 2008
Posts: 6,258
South Florida
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Gary D. Offline
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I've never done anything but teach music, and looking back I don't know how it happened.

I did work as a busboy in a ribs place for about a year after getting my degree, which gave me LOTS of perspective on the world, but I moved from that right into music.


Piano Teacher
Re: Advice for New College Grads [Re: AZNpiano] #2751045
07/12/18 05:09 PM
07/12/18 05:09 PM
Joined: May 2015
Posts: 3,487
Florida
dogperson Offline
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dogperson  Offline
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I can offer what an experienced teacher did who moved into my area:

-make yourself visible: perform publicly both solo and in ensemble.
- advertise at local schools as an accompanist
-join MTNA and network with local teachers
-consider church or restaurant jobs


"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow" - F. Chopin
" I never dreamt with my own two hands I could touch the sky" - Sappho
Re: Advice for New College Grads [Re: AZNpiano] #2751119
07/12/18 11:12 PM
07/12/18 11:12 PM
Joined: Aug 2007
Posts: 7,647
Orange County, CA
AZNpiano Offline OP
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AZNpiano  Offline OP
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Thanks for the suggestions.


Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member
Re: Advice for New College Grads [Re: AZNpiano] #2751269
07/13/18 05:18 PM
07/13/18 05:18 PM
Joined: Feb 2018
Posts: 47
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mostlystrings Offline
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I was not a new college grad at the time, but in the early days of my studio, I happened to walk into a music store and they were looking to replace a teacher who had recently left. At another store I covered a maternity leave (the mom-to-be had posted on craigslist and was also moving out of state anyway) and as I had no intention of staying on long-term, happily left when they found a non temporary teacher.

They paid peanuts but provided instant students at the time that I needed it (to practice on willing, er, victims and for income while my studio was growing slowly). For income purposes, it doesn't have to be a peanuts-paying music store job. It could be other part time work, just not too extensive and draining so as to prevent you from working on building your book of private clients, if that's your goal.

How to find out when there is a position open - networking, being at the right place at the right time. I've never been on the freelancing circuit but I'm sure that also helps in terms of visibility and knowing more people who might know of positions. Creating your own position - depends on your local market but I also approached private schools and community schools to pitch a music/lessons program and had a few of these, which I gradually dropped in favor of my own studio.

Re: Advice for New College Grads [Re: AZNpiano] #2751559
07/14/18 08:53 PM
07/14/18 08:53 PM
Joined: May 2007
Posts: 6,214
Down Under
currawong Offline
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Down Under
Originally Posted by AZNpiano
I guess I'm in the unique situation because I had two jobs after graduating. My public school job paid for the majority of my bills until my studio became self-sustainable.
What do I tell recent grads who has only the piano degree? Any advice for these young people? Perhaps they should pick up some part-time jobs because it's hard to get a full studio immediately?

The thing which worked for me was being involved in music in the community, and becoming known as a pianist and musician generally.

I came out of university with a couple of music degrees (not specifically piano, I might add), unsure of *exactly* what I wanted to do. I taught in public schools for a number of years, initially because of how the scholarship system worked back in the 1970s here. (The school education dept paid your uni fees and then you were bonded to teach in the public system for 2-5 years.) The stable employment helped me get settled, buy my first little house, and gave me lots of experience in figuring out how to teach concepts, and working with challenging children. Too much of the latter, at times smile

During that time I was active in various amateur and semi-professional musical groups around the place: local orchestra, choir, music theatre, opera etc. I played at restaurants, weddings, and accompanied instrumental teachers’ student concerts. I did it primarily because I enjoyed it, and it helped me deal with the (considerable) stress of school teaching! It was not specifically to build up contacts, but people were always asking me about lessons. I had a few private piano students, and I gradually increased the numbers over the years so that by the time I was ready to ditch school teaching, I had maybe 2/3 of what I needed.

I suppose you need to be patient, enjoy what you’re doing *now*, but think long-term as well. At first I had the vague thought that I was building contacts for my teaching studio, and of course I was. But it turned out in the long term to be building contacts for my freelance accompanying, and these days I do hardly any teaching.

Grads with only piano teaching qualifications may not have all the options of initial employment with an actual salary, but they still may be able to find part-time employment in schools, depending on how your system works. Here we have private schools which employ instrumental teachers to come in and teach individuals and/or groups. If you're willing to be a bit flexible and use your general musical qualifications things may open up. Look around, and talk to people.


Du holde Kunst...
Re: Advice for New College Grads [Re: AZNpiano] #2751813
07/16/18 01:46 AM
07/16/18 01:46 AM
Joined: Nov 2004
Posts: 1,653
Opus_Maximus Offline
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I think the only way to do it is to get several side-jobs.

However, as one poster mentioned, it IS possible (though unlikely), to "inherit" a private studio. I ironically saw an add when I was in school placed by an established private teacher who was moving to New Zealand to begin a concert career and literally "giving away" her entire private studio in the same area that - unbekownst to me - I was to move into 5 years later. It was a full load of 25 hours teaching at $75 per hour, and included the small house she had been renting as a studio, along with a grand piano. There was a stipulation that 15% of the first year's income was to go to her (Perfectly fair, I think), but after that the studnets were yours.

Such things are very rare, but they are out there. So keep an eye out for who is moving, quitting, retiring, or expiring!!

Last edited by Opus_Maximus; 07/16/18 01:47 AM.
Re: Advice for New College Grads [Re: Opus_Maximus] #2752017
07/17/18 01:28 AM
07/17/18 01:28 AM
Joined: Aug 2007
Posts: 7,647
Orange County, CA
AZNpiano Offline OP
7000 Post Club Member
AZNpiano  Offline OP
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Joined: Aug 2007
Posts: 7,647
Orange County, CA
Originally Posted by Opus_Maximus
Such things are very rare, but they are out there. So keep an eye out for who is moving, quitting, retiring, or expiring!!

Funny you mentioned that. My first branch of MTAC was full of teachers over 70 years old, and many did quit, retire, and die. I did inherit a few of these students (including one VERY talented student who had been held back by the old lady), but the vast majority of these students quit lessons right when the teachers quit. Also, these teachers have pre-planned their semi-retirement, so we're not even talking about full studios--at most 4 or 5 students. There was one teacher who died very suddenly, but all of her students went to the cheap teachers in my branch.

And speaking of teachers who are retiring or moving: I am dealing with the remnants of their studios right now. NOT a pretty sight.


Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member
Re: Advice for New College Grads [Re: AZNpiano] #2752134
07/17/18 12:58 PM
07/17/18 12:58 PM
Joined: Apr 2005
Posts: 10,940
Williamsburg, VA
Piano*Dad Offline
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Williamsburg, VA
If you have the chops to perform solo or in an ensemble, I can't imagine a better way for a trained musician to sustain themselves while they sort out the wide variety of options for making a reasonable living over the long run. If you live in an urban area of any size, there are lots of ways to earn some money and some exposure in the gig economy. Some people can work or sub as studio musicians. If they have the training, some can work on the technical side of music recording and performance. Some may collaborate with other recent graduates in forming small ensembles (classical, pop, whatever) that have a good niche in the area. Exposure is good. Options are good. You never know which door may open, so keep as many of them unlocked as possible!

Re: Advice for New College Grads [Re: Piano*Dad] #2752303
07/18/18 03:49 AM
07/18/18 03:49 AM
Joined: Aug 2007
Posts: 7,647
Orange County, CA
AZNpiano Offline OP
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AZNpiano  Offline OP
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Joined: Aug 2007
Posts: 7,647
Orange County, CA
Originally Posted by Piano*Dad
some exposure in the gig economy

I've been in the business for many years now, and I must say the gig economy is not good for us classically-trained musicians. And in an urban/suburban area like ours, there are SO MANY of us vying for a small number of available jobs, and most people get these jobs through networking and personal connections. I can imagine these recent grads taking maybe a church job, where they'll have one or two rehearsals on weekday nights, plus work Sunday morning. There are also accompanist jobs with singers and other instrumentalists.. But these overlap the hours of available work for teaching private students.

I'm thinking about telling them to look into other areas of work during non-peak teaching hours. For example, they can be substitute teachers during school hours, or go work at a bank, or even retail. I think I got lucky because my public school job matched perfectly with the hours of teaching private students--but I certainly don't miss waking up at 6:15 in the morning!!

At the end of the day, the most stable job I can fathom for these recent grads is to build a large studio with steady, secure base of students. But that may take many years.


Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member
Re: Advice for New College Grads [Re: AZNpiano] #2752361
07/18/18 10:52 AM
07/18/18 10:52 AM
Joined: Apr 2005
Posts: 10,940
Williamsburg, VA
Piano*Dad Offline
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Quote
...and most people get these jobs through networking and personal connections.


Well, performance students coming out of good universities and conservatories have networking benefits and instant connections. Life as a musician isn't easy, as we know. But a good student (I did mention "having the chops") coming from a good teacher at a good program has a leg up on finding work, even if it's part time work, as a musician or in music production.

Part of the problem that some students have, or so I'm told, is that many programs don't push performance majors to develop a broader set of skills beyond pounding the keys or blowing air through a tube. Some programs (Colorado is one) are working with their students to help them build a more diversified set of skills, including business training and some investment in learning the technical side of music. These skills can help a grad earn a living in music, broadly defined, or to transition into other fields where their music training is a mental discipline that builds a work ethic and approach to learning that transfers well.

Re: Advice for New College Grads [Re: AZNpiano] #2754622
07/29/18 10:49 PM
07/29/18 10:49 PM
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My first year after graduation I didn't make a lot of money teaching. I was looking primarily for accompanying jobs, so I emailed a ton of people I found online. I landed a few accompanying jobs through that (church, university, adult choir). The church job hours fit in well with building a studio - guaranteed one evening a week plus Sunday morning that doesn't conflict with teaching hours. I don't have much problem with the adult choirs and conflicts either. Yes, I have to drive out to rehearsal, but rehearsal goes until 9:30, and I don't have any students willing to go past 8pm.

I also looked into teaching at some of those music schools. The ones I contacted could give me a few students only, without any specifics on when the lessons might be (I imagine the students hadn't signed up yet), and at half of the rate I would charge myself. Mostly because of this rate difference, I figured it was better just advertise on craigslist - every student I got counted for two students at the music school. I think I just didn't contact the right ones though, because I know a couple first-year teachers who have 30 students through other schools. I also joined a couple of music teacher organizations to get my name in their online searchable teacher directories.

Last summer I took lessons from a very good, established teacher in my area. It cost a lot of money, but she has referred me for other gigs.

I didn't have to worry about money after I graduated, but if I did have to worry about it, I would have tried harder to find a part-time daytime job not related to music to help out while building a teaching studio. In the summers I worked for a landscaping company. This year, four years in, I didn't have to do that because I now make enough to live on.


Professional pianist and piano teacher.

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