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Your Biggest Struggles
#2999492 07/06/20 03:51 PM
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Hey everyone! smile

I'm curious: are you full-time teachers? What are your biggest struggles around your teaching business?

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Re: Your Biggest Struggles
Tom-mmh #2999692 07/07/20 12:19 AM
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Customer acquisition: Competing against the behemoth "music schools" that eat up 80% of your clientele.


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Re: Your Biggest Struggles
AZNpiano #2999829 07/07/20 11:00 AM
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I get what you mean, but it doesn't necessarily need to be like that! Competition is present in every type of business worth pursuing, don't you think? The trick is to find a good enough differentiation point smile How can you be different in a way that's meaningful for somebody?

Re: Your Biggest Struggles
Tom-mmh #2999884 07/07/20 12:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Tom-mmh
The trick is to find a good enough differentiation point smile How can you be different in a way that's meaningful for somebody?
I'm sort of interested in what you have found yourself so far?

Re: Your Biggest Struggles
Tom-mmh #3000087 07/08/20 12:15 AM
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Originally Posted by Tom-mmh
Competition is present in every type of business worth pursuing, don't you think?

No, I don't think of it as a competition. The very idea of turning the teaching profession into a competition is tragic.

Originally Posted by Tom-mmh
The trick is to find a good enough differentiation point smile How can you be different in a way that's meaningful for somebody?

I've found plenty of differentiation. I'm better at teaching, and I get much better results. The problem is that the parents who consume the product 1) can't tell the difference, or 2) don't care.


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Re: Your Biggest Struggles
keystring #3000153 07/08/20 07:18 AM
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Originally Posted by keystring
Originally Posted by Tom-mmh
The trick is to find a good enough differentiation point smile How can you be different in a way that's meaningful for somebody?
I'm sort of interested in what you have found yourself so far?

Tom, since you are not a teacher, what specific help can you offer?


"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

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Re: Your Biggest Struggles
Tom-mmh #3000211 07/08/20 10:28 AM
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Saw a post on NextDoor asking for piano teacher recommendations. One guy replies that he had used an app/video to learn guitar and was now beginning piano and loving the results.

A couple of others were school of rock "learn only what you want" music studios.


My struggle is trying to explain to a new parent/potential family, that a classically trained teacher will teach the fundamentals so the student can learn to read. Along with posture and technique, etc...

Once they see how much work (if the observe lessons) I do, (and now they see even more when I type write-ups after a Zoom lesson,) I get much improvement.

The struggle is that is does take time to learn.


Learning as I teach.
Re: Your Biggest Struggles
Tom-mmh #3000218 07/08/20 10:51 AM
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Originally Posted by Tom-mmh
Competition is present in every type of business worth pursuing, don't you think? The trick is to find a good enough differentiation point smile

There is no known method for the average parent to tell a good teacher from a bad one.

There is a 100% foolproof method for the average parent to tell which teacher is cheaper.


gotta go practice
Re: Your Biggest Struggles
missbelle #3000226 07/08/20 11:23 AM
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Originally Posted by missbelle
Saw a post on NextDoor asking for piano teacher recommendations. One guy replies that he had used an app/video to learn guitar and was now beginning piano and loving the results.

A couple of others were school of rock "learn only what you want" music studios.

I don't want to create the illusion that all classical piano teachers are teaching the fundamentals and non-classical teachers are not. It's not a true dichotomy. Plenty of classical piano teachers don't know what they are doing, including teachers who have been teaching for 40 years!


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Re: Your Biggest Struggles
Tom-mmh #3001049 07/10/20 11:10 AM
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AZ,

agreed. It was more the the "learn only what you want" that bothered me.

Learn English, but only rap poetry!
Learn math, but only addition!
Learn to cook, but only pasta!
learn piano, but only Fur Elise!
learn music, but only the latest pop song by rote!
and so on...


Learning as I teach.
Re: Your Biggest Struggles
Tom-mmh #3001096 07/10/20 01:03 PM
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Just to give you an idea of what's going on in these "music schools" in my area.

One of the teachers there has over 70 students. I'm not kidding. 70. She got her degree from a pretty good music conservatory. BUT, she doesn't own a piano at home, and she hasn't practiced any new pieces in 25 years. The only "practice" she gets done is playing the Piano Adventures pieces out of the students' books.


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Re: Your Biggest Struggles
Tom-mmh #3001265 07/10/20 06:27 PM
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AZN, by my math, this piano teacher may be earning $100,000 a year, even if she is teaching all half-hour lessons and takes summers off. Should I take some mentoring sessions with her? :-)

Re: Your Biggest Struggles
Peter K. Mose #3001303 07/10/20 08:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Peter K. Mose
AZN, by my math, this piano teacher may be earning $100,000 a year, even if she is teaching all half-hour lessons and takes summers off. Should I take some mentoring sessions with her? :-)

She makes less than half that. Remember, she's at a "music school." The owner takes 70% of the fees.


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Re: Your Biggest Struggles
missbelle #3001337 07/10/20 11:19 PM
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Originally Posted by missbelle
My struggle is trying to explain to a new parent/potential family, that a classically trained teacher will teach the fundamentals so the student can learn to read. Along with posture and technique, etc...

Maybe you could use a sports metaphor as non-musicians are more familiar with sports.

For example tell them how much coaching is needed to produce good tennis players, how many hundreds or thousands of hours of practice it takes hitting balls and using every stroke first in isolation then under stress.

If there’s a good tennis player who got there in “ten days” or “three months” with minimal work ... well nobody has heard of them.

Then maybe, hopefully, they will get an idea of what’s needed to learn piano.


Modesty is a form of pride.
Re: Your Biggest Struggles
AZNpiano #3001341 07/10/20 11:51 PM
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by Peter K. Mose
AZN, by my math, this piano teacher may be earning $100,000 a year, even if she is teaching all half-hour lessons and takes summers off. Should I take some mentoring sessions with her? :-)

She makes less than half that. Remember, she's at a "music school." The owner takes 70% of the fees.

Is she living in the US illegally?Or does she have a rich partner, and doesn't understand money? I don't get it.

Why would someone not go independent in her situation? Or find a more legitimate, maybe nonprofit, music school to teach at, one that takes a cut of maybe 30% of her fees? Don't the latter exist in Orange County, California? I know you don't respect her as a teacher, and maybe I wouldn't either, but if she has over 70 students, she is enormously successful by some yardstick.

Last edited by Peter K. Mose; 07/10/20 11:52 PM.
Re: Your Biggest Struggles
Peter K. Mose #3001352 07/11/20 12:41 AM
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Originally Posted by Peter K. Mose
Is she living in the US illegally?Or does she have a rich partner, and doesn't understand money? I don't get it.

Why would someone not go independent in her situation? Or find a more legitimate, maybe nonprofit, music school to teach at, one that takes a cut of maybe 30% of her fees? Don't the latter exist in Orange County, California? I know you don't respect her as a teacher, and maybe I wouldn't either, but if she has over 70 students, she is enormously successful by some yardstick.

I never said I don't respect this teacher. She hasn't done anything wrong or illegal, and she shared some musical insights with me regarding my own students. She's in the country legally, but the "music school" sponsors her work visa. She can't go independent.

70 students merely means the owner of the school stuck 70 kids under her care. It has nothing to do with her teaching style or ability. And she's not the only teacher there with such a huge number of students. Now do you begin to see the enormity of these behemoth "music schools" and why I kept on complaining about them?? The teachers are not to blame. The owner is taking advantage of a situation.


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Re: Your Biggest Struggles
Tom-mmh #3001562 07/11/20 04:09 PM
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Even more interesting, AZN. Now I begin to get it. Maybe she doesn't even view her situation as exploitation, even though many of us would. Has the LA Times ever done a story about this piano school phenomenon? Or the Orange Country Register? It seems to be an ethnic, Asian immigrant story that confines itself to the Chinese community in your region of southern California. Actually it's a fascinating tale of US immigration, upward mobility, classical music culture, etc.

One simple solution is for us to find this lady a US spouse right here on PianoWorld. Then she wouldn't be tied to a work visa, and could teach independently.

Re: Your Biggest Struggles
Tom-mmh #3001629 07/11/20 08:45 PM
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"Cute piano teacher seeks rich sugar daddy piano teacher for a good duet. Must have two pianos and a good camera set-up for on-line lessons. Call me and we can make beautiful music together!"

As to the topic of music schools, it is easy to teach from there if you do not have your own piano. (But even the smallest of homes can ditch a couch for a piano, I say!)
Your home may have too many distractions, or restrictions for private business.

However, going to one of these high overhead "schools" is hurting yourself as a teacher. You can find a church, a neighbor, work out a deal somehow, instead of getting shoved into the back of a "school" that hires most anyone, and churns through teachers and students rather rapidly, while taking huge commissions. They usually offer discounts on books and rentals from their store. And because of the high volume, you are mostly just a number.

As to struggles, yes, the ads like "just 10 minutes a day will having you playing like a pro in three weeks!" or whatever is bogus. It's like the gym in January.

Be better to yourself.


Learning as I teach.
Re: Your Biggest Struggles
missbelle #3001656 07/11/20 11:45 PM
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Originally Posted by missbelle
"Cute piano teacher seeks rich sugar daddy piano teacher for a good duet. Must have two pianos and a good camera set-up for on-line lessons. Call me and we can make beautiful music together!"

I love it! And maybe a postscript: "Must be US citizen or green card holder, and currently single."

Re: Your Biggest Struggles
Peter K. Mose #3002096 07/13/20 09:03 AM
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Originally Posted by Peter K. Mose
Originally Posted by missbelle
"Cute piano teacher seeks rich sugar daddy piano teacher for a good duet. Must have two pianos and a good camera set-up for on-line lessons. Call me and we can make beautiful music together!"

I love it! And maybe a postscript: "Must be US citizen or green card holder, and currently single."

You guys are too funny!


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