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#948702 - 11/24/04 09:27 PM Becoming a private teacher - help!  
Joined: Nov 2004
Posts: 18
jennied Offline
Junior Member
jennied  Offline
Junior Member

Joined: Nov 2004
Posts: 18
Ontario
Hello everyone. I was wondering if I could get some advice from someone who's been teaching privately. I have been teaching at a school of music for two years now, but am moving out of the area and ready to tackle teaching out of my new home. My question(s) - how do you really start it up? Do you recommend purchasing a bunch of books to have on hand for each student? Or find out about the students I might get before figuring out what books they need? How do I start the business end of this thing?
Also, what is the best way to be prepared for having new students (and in the home, no less?) I am not interested in teaching under someone anymore, the place I am leaving was poorly organized and undermined my intelligence as someone who knows music. I am fully prepared to teach, that part is no proble, it is just figuring out how to start it. Any advice would be great!
-Thanks!

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#948703 - 11/26/04 06:50 AM Re: Becoming a private teacher - help!  
Joined: Jul 2004
Posts: 282
cranky woman Offline
Full Member
cranky woman  Offline
Full Member

Joined: Jul 2004
Posts: 282
Phoenix, AZ
Quote
how do you really start it up? Do you recommend purchasing a bunch of books to have on hand for each student? Or find out about the students I might get before figuring out what books they need? How do I start the business end of this thing?
Also, what is the best way to be prepared for having new students (and in the home, no less?)
Congratulations on your decision to become a private teacher. Teaching is such a rewarding experience! I'll do my best to answer your questions based on my experience. (I've been teaching privately for 18 years, 14 years of that I was affiliated with a University but continued to teach in my home studio as well)

how do you really start it up?

First, I would suggest you join your local Music Teacher's Association. There you will find other teachers that can offer suggestions as well as supply you with students. You may also find a mentor whom you can observe and continue to learn. You can also find students by making yourself known at a local music store and asking if you can leave fliers with information about you and your studio. Eventually, if your students are happy with you, word of mouth is the best way to get students.

I would also suggest creating a policy letter of your studio policies, ie: tuition, late fees, cancelled lesssons, make-up lessons, practicing requirements, materials, student/parent/ teacher expectations, performance opportunities, etc. I've found that it is much easier to create studio policies and address certain issues before students begin their lessons. This way, everyone knows what is expected up front. I also have the parents as well as the students sign the policies for my files.

Do you recommend purchasing a bunch of books to have on hand for each student?

This is not necessary as you are just beginning your studio.

Or find out about the students I might get before figuring out what books they need?

Yes, determine their needs before purchasing. Each student is different, and there are so many methods out there that I believe appeal to different types of learners. You may want to consider creating a "Music Library" I charge my students a yearly fee of $15. I then have the funds to purchase music to supplement their methods.

How do I start the business end of this thing?

You're on the right track in creating a business. Ask a lot of questions from experienced teachers. This is a great forum for that.

Also, what is the best way to be prepared for having new students (and in the home, no less?)
The best way to prepare for new students, IMO, is to know about what is age appropriate to the ages you want to teach, have a solid music foundation, love teaching and children, have a solid studio policy, and plan on having fun!

If you are teaching in your home, it is a must to have a quality instrument to teach with. Next, create a professional teaching environment. (if you have children, get a sitter!) Don't answer the phone while teaching or let other things distract you while teaching. Your student is paying for your full attention.

Also, check to see if you have a Home Owners Association, and if you are allowed to teach in your home. In my area, HOA's are a real problem.

I hope this helps! If you would like me to send you a copy of my studio policy letter, just pm me and I'd be happy to do it.

Good luck!

Cranky laugh

#948704 - 11/27/04 06:40 AM Re: Becoming a private teacher - help!  
Joined: Jun 2001
Posts: 4,612
Bob Offline
4000 Post Club Member
Bob  Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Joined: Jun 2001
Posts: 4,612
Florida
New teachers by me put an ad in the local paper. Also, some subdivisions have association newletters and websites. These are good places to advertise. Contact your local Piano Tuners. I get asked once or twice a week for a teacher referral. I carry a list of 200+ teachers with me, but have about a dozen I prefer to recommend because I know them to be good. Teaching is word of mouth. Once you get established (which might take a few years) you will have a waiting list, and you will be able to pick and choose your students.

Just one more thing, have students pay at least 3 months in advance. This weeds out some of the lousy students and gets you immediate cash flow. Don't make "arrangements" for missed lessons either. Missed lessons are missed, not made up at your expense. Consider strict rules from the beginning and stick to them.

#948705 - 11/27/04 01:31 PM Re: Becoming a private teacher - help!  
Joined: Oct 2004
Posts: 139
pianafetish Offline
Full Member
pianafetish  Offline
Full Member

Joined: Oct 2004
Posts: 139
Greenville, NC
congradulations!!! i hope your dream comes true. anyway, i'm gonna strongly recommend this to you as to anyone else who plans to teach [or learn] piano, which i believe will save you a lot of time and be of great convenience to you.
go to pianoworld.com and type in the box 'virtual piano chords' and then click SEARCH. Then it'll take you to it, and then go over to SCALE, and choose from Major or Minor and put a click into the box that lets the keys cover the keyboard so that your [students] won't get confused as to where all of the chords are. you might want to draw out or make a copy of all of the chords to give to your students so they'll remember where the chords [keys] are. i hope that helped. if so, then let me know.

#948706 - 11/27/04 06:11 PM Re: Becoming a private teacher - help!  
Joined: Aug 2004
Posts: 159
David Kirkham Offline
Full Member
David Kirkham  Offline
Full Member

Joined: Aug 2004
Posts: 159
Provo, Utah
Congrats!

I will post from a business point of view.

I can not stress this enough.

Get a set of guidelines, or rules, print them, have the students sign them, and stick to them! You can probably get some VERY GOOD ideas from the rules where you teach now.

People will over and over and over tell you their dad died, their cat died, mom is sick...on and on. It may be true, but you will become sick if you don't set firm rules and stick by them. Just ask me...I know--I learned the hard way.

I would be very careful about late payments and I would be strict in applying them. If you aren't strict, you will be the one making late payments in short order. I would be very, very careful about your time and I would keep strict track of it. Your time is what you sell, (like a doctor or lawyer), so you MUST keep track of it and not let anyone abuse your time.

Finally, remember, you don't have to teach everyone who walks into your door. Some people are just simply better not to deal with. (This includes parents.)

I know this sounds doom and gloom, but it is not meant to be. I really believe if people think you are serious from the beginning, the cheats go elsewhere and everyone is happier.

I very much wish you the greatest success in your new business. Business is harsh, but if you are strict and treat EVERYONE fairly and honestly you will grow your business and be very happy. I love my business and I LOVE to go to work. Of course, I love to play the piano after work.

David smile smile smile


David Kirkham
Kirkham Motorsports
www.kirkhammotorsports.com
I bought my piano from www.pianocraft.net
#948707 - 12/01/04 08:56 PM Re: Becoming a private teacher - help!  
Joined: Nov 2004
Posts: 18
jennied Offline
Junior Member
jennied  Offline
Junior Member

Joined: Nov 2004
Posts: 18
Ontario
Thank you all for your advice!
Some great thoughts I'll definitely keep in mind!

-Jenn


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