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Joined: Apr 2009
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Northern California teacher, Sacramento area. Business is booming, not enough good teachers where I live.


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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Business is booming in Orange County, CA. I've never seen this many students taking the CM exam. A few branches of MTAC have grown so large, they stopped accepting new teacher members. The main problem is that there are simply too many piano teachers and people posing as piano teachers.

Thinking back 20 months ago I'm starting to think this is also an issue down where we live in Southern Delaware.

We talked to/interviewed with four teachers before we thought a decision had been made. Her situation was not perfect, but she way more impressive than the other three.

We had also contacted a fifth teacher, who based on her website had impressive credentials, however she was out of town at that time and would not be returning for 10 days.

Thank goodness we waited, because as things turned out she was (and still is) perfect for us. Since then, after attending various performances with colleagues of hers, it is clear that a very small number of advertised teachers down here are really top notch.


Yamaha C2X | Yamaha M500-F
Groucho Marx: "Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others."
Curriculum: Faber Developing Artist (Book 3)
Current: German Dance in D Major (Haydn) (OF); Melody (Schumann) (OF)
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OMG my husband is insane. What constitutes a “full” studio? I wish I knew.

I am embarrassed to tell you he currently has over 70 students a week, mostly half hour lessons, but a few 1 hour, including several families with multiple kids in lessons. And they just keep coming. Will he put them on a waiting list? NO! “I’m losing so-and-so next fall! I need to fill the gap!” I get that, but taking on three more students in lieu of the one you’re losing makes no sense! **insert rolling eyes

Business has been just fine throughout the economic downturn of the last few years. He lost only one student directly due to someone losing a job. Several did leave because work moved out of state, but just due to no longer able to afford? Only one, and that was in 2009, not long after the big crash, and I think there might have been a death in the family. But when the money came back, so did the student.

He raised rates in 2011 and will raise them again this year, in the fall. Notices have already gone out, and new students are being quoted the new rate. Before 2008 he was raising rates every other year, but the crash kind of slowed things down. No one has so much as sniffed at the new rate.

As for adhering to studio policies, his big weakness is make-ups (MUPS). He always says he needs 24 hour notice, and MUPS are not guaranteed, but he bends over backwards to work kids in to his very full schedule. I’ve devised a plan to make this a little easier next fall. The plan is to close the studio on Mondays, and open it up on Saturdays, leaving Saturday afternoon as the standard time for MUPS. I dunno if this is going to work, or if we’re going to wind up with a bunch of MUPS on Mondays, but I’m really hoping he’ll actually have a day off now and then. We’ll see.


Originally Posted by Barb860
Northern California teacher, Sacramento area. Business is booming, not enough good teachers where I live.


We are also in NorCal, same area. Are you a part of MTAC? Do we know you? smile Just curious.


(wife of piano teacher here)

The answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything is not 42. It is grandchildren.

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Originally Posted by oldbegonia

As for adhering to studio policies, his big weakness is make-ups (MUPS). He always says he needs 24 hour notice, and MUPS are not guaranteed, but he bends over backwards to work kids in to his very full schedule. I’ve devised a plan to make this a little easier next fall. The plan is to close the studio on Mondays, and open it up on Saturdays, leaving Saturday afternoon as the standard time for MUPS. I dunno if this is going to work, or if we’re going to wind up with a bunch of MUPS on Mondays, but I’m really hoping he’ll actually have a day off now and then. We’ll see.


Not sure if this will work for you ... since your husband has taken on a lot more students than I have. And I'm in Hawai'i' ... and am not sure if location matters here either. But from the first day I make it clear that there are no "make-up" lessons .. but I soften the blow with a little trick. I tell them that every couple of months or so, there is an extra day in the month and that is a FREE lesson, if they haven't missed any. Or is a "make-up" if they have. I don't believe I've ever had an objection here. But I've been clear from day one with my policies. When they sign up, most people are pleased with the idea of something being "free" and I slide in that rule quite easily. I can't ever remember an objection. Here's a link to an article posted on this topic a while ago.

https://thehappypianoprofessor.word...reer-music-teachers-fair-fees-and-rules/

As I say, I don't know if it will work with you or in your area. But when I began teaching twenty-five years ago in America, those "make-ups" were my major Waterloo.
(Of course you can always make exceptions for real upsets .. accidents or the occasional trip ... but you'll be free of those whims and students who cancel when they "didn't practice". ) But otherwise As we stay here in Hawaii .." Ku pa'a" ( stand firm) laugh

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(*groan) oh HPM, if only...
It's a great idea and would undoubtedly work in this area. "Free" is one of the most liked words in English! 😊
Alas...
His current approach to monthly billing already "spends" that 5th lesson. His rate is expressed this way: "X/month, some months have 5 weeks, others have 3, but most have 4. From September to June, there's a total of [typically] 39 lessons. The rate is the same, month to month, payable in advance."

Excellent article!
To Rule #1, and criterion for setting one's rates I would add the thought of looking at the going rate for other activities and lessons. Dance and gymnastics, for instance, which are typically group affairs, as well as assorted sports, from Little League to soccer. The purpose is to know what parents are paying for these activities and be able to compare and point out piano lessons are private and customized, not one size fits all.
About Rule #3: With the help of our financial planner, he developed an approach that works well for us because, being on the mainland, we do deal with that summer break. The new rate is announced in a letter mailed to the students' homes (i.e. not an email, on May 1 and takes effect the following fall. New students are quoted the new rate. It's worked really well.
Rule #6 - YES!! OMG, he did that with one student for a couple of months. Never again!
Perhaps you should present this list as a countdown, so that Rule #7 is Rule #1! How many teachers would benefit from this Rule! For heaven's sake, new teachers, you want referrals? VOLUNTEER once in a while at the local elementary school, especially if you already have a student there. You don't have to say a thing to the students. The buzz will be out there, your name will come up when parents are looking for a piano teacher. And scholarship! At an MTAC Convention a few years ago we heard someone talk on " The World Needs Our Music". The speaker broke it down by speaking to each word in that sentence. The one thing he said that really struck me was that it's not just the GIFTED student who needs music.


(wife of piano teacher here)

The answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything is not 42. It is grandchildren.

www.beckerpiano.com <--dad
www.begoniarising.com <--mom
www.suzysellout.com <-- daughter
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