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I will be moving soon.

Currently, I've been using Takelessons so they do all the marketing but take a significant % of your rate.

But I'd like to be independent. Think back to when you first started out as a teacher. What was it like? Where did your first students come from? How many students did you have in your studio and what was a comfortable amount for you? Did you have kids?


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When I was still in grad school, I started with three students who are my mother's friend's children plus their best friend. Soon it became just their best friend, but that best friend's mom was active in a local Chinese School, and she got be a busload of students. I got a lot of students very very quickly before I even finished my MA degree.

I do drive to students' homes, so that accounted for the bulk of the clientele.


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I am not a teacher, but an adult student. When I moved a few years ago, I knew no one here when I was looking for a teacher. Some ways I looked which may/may not be helpful:
- Craigs list
- Area piano techs
- Asked at church

I would recommend as much local advertising as you can: craigslist, local schools, piano techs, neighborhood association; small, local newspaper. Make yourself visible by performing even if it is just a mini-demonstration/lecture at a local school or a small venue; Start a quartet/quintet and perform.

Maybe prepare a well-designed, small brochure and business cards and send to area techs? Their clients may be looking for a teacher.




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I'm a piano mom with a 10 year old son who plays. I found my son's teacher through a recommendation of a piano dealer. I told the piano dealer that I wanted...a highly educated non-competition teacher good with kids smile.

I think you should ask yourself, what type of parent would be interested in having their child take lessons from you? A competition teacher/ non competition teacher are each going to have different clientele eg. Try to put yourself in the position of where a potential parent would look.

My kids are involved in certain activities and if I had found an advertisement for a piano teacher there I would be more willing to consider that option. A recommendation from my children's academic summer camp group would mean a lot eg. Parents who put their kids in the camp are probably more serious in general...but they'll expect more from a teacher too.

I personally tried word of mouth first, advertising, directories but for me it was the piano dealer that helped me find the "right one".

Last edited by pianoMom2006; 03/25/17 09:10 AM.

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The best marketing I ever did: any student who referred a student to me who signed up for lessons got a free lesson. Not only did I end up with a studio of friends, but it got them used to talking about me to others, and it's much easier for me to give a free lesson than it is to pay for marketing.

Most students who were referred this way stayed in lessons. I can't say the same for craigslist.


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Originally Posted by hello my name is
I will be moving soon.

It depends on where you are moving to. If the area has a lot of students, but not yet saturated with teachers, then you don't have to work very hard to find new students.


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Originally Posted by pianoMom2006
I told the piano dealer that I wanted...a highly educated non-competition teacher good with kids smile.

I think you should ask yourself, what type of parent would be interested in having their child take lessons from you? A competition teacher/ non competition teacher are each going to have different clientele eg. Try to put yourself in the position of where a potential parent would look.


Hi pianoMom, I'm curious, what made you want a non-competition teacher? Or what exactly do you mean by non-competition? Does your son do exams? Festivals? I imagined that most parents who are serious about piano lessons would prefer if their teacher did competitions, but you seem to not be the case. I'm personally not that into competitions myself, but I did do them as a piano student. As a teacher, in order to join MTAC, I would have to enter students into CM. I'm also under the impression that competitions are a part of the typical piano student's experience under a piano teacher with high standards. Currently, I don't do any kind of performance with my students. I'm just here to teach them, but I thought if I wanted to establish a "studio" it might be expected that I as a teacher offer performance opportunities.


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I got my first few students from Craigslist ads but that was only a gradual trickle. One family is still with me though smile During the first 2 years or so I only ever had 4-6 students at a time.
I also tried posting paper flyers, signing up for online services like yours, and writing letters to local elementary school music departments. None of those ever yielded a single student.
What really worked was word of mouth. It took a couple years, but once I had about two families with kids who loved my teaching and were social enough to talk about it to all their friends, I suddenly was up to 20 students in about my fourth year of teaching.

I know that people who are new teachers or new to town and want a lot of students quickly will often sign up with a community music school in a different but nearby location, while they build up their home studio gradually. That might be a good route for you. The school does take a cut of the lesson fees though.

Word of mouth is still my primary advertising, but I'm doing a lot more playing in various places than I was when I was new to town in those first 2 years of teaching. So now a lot of contacts come to me through places I've played.

Last edited by hreichgott; 03/27/17 10:17 AM.

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Originally Posted by hello my name is
Originally Posted by pianoMom2006
I told the piano dealer that I wanted...a highly educated non-competition teacher good with kids smile.

I think you should ask yourself, what type of parent would be interested in having their child take lessons from you? A competition teacher/ non competition teacher are each going to have different clientele eg. Try to put yourself in the position of where a potential parent would look.


Hi pianoMom, I'm curious, what made you want a non-competition teacher? Or what exactly do you mean by non-competition? Does your son do exams? Festivals? I imagined that most parents who are serious about piano lessons would prefer if their teacher did competitions, but you seem to not be the case. I'm personally not that into competitions myself, but I did do them as a piano student. As a teacher, in order to join MTAC, I would have to enter students into CM. I'm also under the impression that competitions are a part of the typical piano student's experience under a piano teacher with high standards. Currently, I don't do any kind of performance with my students. I'm just here to teach them, but I thought if I wanted to establish a "studio" it might be expected that I as a teacher offer performance opportunities.


'What is typical', I cannot answer. But my current teacher has a masters in piano perforance from one of the big guys,and no longer does competitions or recitals. Standards couldn't be higher.

Search for posts made by one of our forum members, TheHappyPianoMuse. She feels strongly about NOT doing competitions....and tells potential students to look elsewhere if that is what they want. She is a Julliard graduate.

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Originally Posted by hello my name is
Originally Posted by pianoMom2006
I told the piano dealer that I wanted...a highly educated non-competition teacher good with kids smile.

I think you should ask yourself, what type of parent would be interested in having their child take lessons from you? A competition teacher/ non competition teacher are each going to have different clientele eg. Try to put yourself in the position of where a potential parent would look.


Hi pianoMom, I'm curious, what made you want a non-competition teacher? Or what exactly do you mean by non-competition? Does your son do exams? Festivals? I imagined that most parents who are serious about piano lessons would prefer if their teacher did competitions, but you seem to not be the case. I'm personally not that into competitions myself, but I did do them as a piano student. As a teacher, in order to join MTAC, I would have to enter students into CM. I'm also under the impression that competitions are a part of the typical piano student's experience under a piano teacher with high standards. Currently, I don't do any kind of performance with my students. I'm just here to teach them, but I thought if I wanted to establish a "studio" it might be expected that I as a teacher offer performance opportunities.


My son only participates in Piano Guild which provides an independent assessment of his skills (I call it his annual piano test). I think it's good for him to know that it's not just his teacher that cares about phrasing, dynamics etc. His teacher also has three recitals a year. This is the perfect approach for our family. He performs in front of a group he feels comfortable with and I think learning to play in front of an audience is a great life skill. He has no desire to "compete" in piano- it's just a journey to find out what he's capable of doing- and his teacher provides him with the perfect amount of challenge.

I'm fairly certain if we had accidentally chosen a competition teacher, he'd have quit piano by now. He doesn't need the pressure nor would he thrive on the results. Perhaps he's a more introverted piano student though that sounds kind of funny to write smile.

I know there are other local studios that encourage or mandate that a child must participate in several "competitions" per year to stay in good standing. That would be way too much pressure for our family.

I'm not sure if my son would considered a "serious" student though either. He does what he can with the time he has available to him..that's all.


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pianomom/dogperson/heather thanks for the insights!


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As old tech as it sounds, word of mouth is how I and ALL teachers I know get their students. Moving stinks, as students typically don't move with you (although some will drive the extra miles if you are still somewhat local). I lost a studio of 54 students because I moved states one time...:(

Interesting comments about the non-competitive teacher, above. I am a non-competitive teacher, and parents and students love it. I had a 7yo start a month ago, and his mom was so relieved because all of the other local teachers they talked to "forced" (her words) their students to do recitals and MMTA/MTNA stuff. I will do that if the student wants to, but most of my students just want to play for themselves and grandma. They have no desire to be college-bound, competitors, etc, and as long as they are playing piano and can play Disney songs some day, that is fine with me, too!! Contrary, I have had students who do quite well through college and are now teachers themselves (scary to think I have been teaching long enough already for that to happen!).


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I think the competitive/non-competitive teacher is a false dichotomy.

I consider myself a very competitive teacher, but that doesn't mean I can't have non-competitive students. In fact, the great majority of my students right now are non-competitive.


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good point AZN, it doesn't have to be black and white.


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I am also non-competitive and I belong to MTAC...there's no requirement I have my students work toward CM in my San Francisco Branch. Some students find me through the MTAC directory, but like others above, most people find me by word of mouth which is great because a lot of kids are friends and play duets. Super fun! I hold two formal recitals a year and 3 "mini-recitals" at my house, so my students are performing year round. They are competitive with each other and it's friendly, respectful, and fun. I'm very blessed, I have a beautiful community of parents and students in my studio. We have a good thing going here.

I would join a professional organization (Craigslist is so 2002, you won't get quality students there) get your name out there in a reputable directory, and once you get a good student, that parent will recommend you out. Honestly though, every time I've made a major move, it took me a solid 18-24 months to really get going. It's scary to start over. Best of luck!

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Originally Posted by SchroedersCat
(Craigslist is so 2002, you won't get quality students there)

That is very true, in my experience.


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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by SchroedersCat
(Craigslist is so 2002, you won't get quality students there)

That is very true, in my experience.

Same here. I also used to be signed up with Thumbtack.com, but again, I find that I don't get quality students this way most of the time. I get some that actually sign up for lessons, but for one reason or another they don't stay. Students that I've gotten from word of mouth or just through my own website usually stay for years, however.


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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by SchroedersCat
(Craigslist is so 2002, you won't get quality students there)

That is very true, in my experience.

I wonder why that is?


In my first three years, here is what I had for additions/subtractions:
Year one (8 total):
- 6 students from Kijiji (it's more popular than Craigslist in Canada) and my niece, none quit
- two adult students from Kijiji, each lasted about 6 months

Year two (17 total):
- 3 new students from one family recommended by current student
- 4 new students from Kijiji
- 2 new students from Kijiji who quit at the end of the year
- 1 new student started lessons after I accompanied her for a flute recital
- 1 new adult from Kijiji who lasted ~ 6 months

- I decided to stop travelling 1/2 hour to drive to lessons, so I let 3 students go at the end of the year
- a high school student entering her senior year also dropped out

Year three (Started with 13)
- 1 new one from Kijiji who didn't even last the first month of trial lessons (and consequently left a hole in my schedule)
- 3 others from Kijiji
- second semester I lost a high school student and the flute player (college was too stressful)
- losing one other student who just wasn't interested in piano
- possibly losing another two students because I require my students to do their homework/practice (if this is the case, they would be the only ones I got from a recommendation!)
- had quite a few requests for lessons through Kijiji during the year, but none responded after I mentioned I start with 45-minute lessons. They were all asking how much I charge for 30-minute lessons.

Year 4 (starting in the fall):
I think my schedule will be full. So far I have recommendations from a choir director, some violin students I accompanied, and friends of one of my current students. I also have seen a few requests come in the last few days from Kijiji, but I don't know if they will respond again - the only question one of them asked me was if I allow makeup lessons. No thanks!

The first year was a little sparse for me, but the other years were pretty good. I think my max is around 20 students.


What time of year do most of you get your requests for lessons? From my ad, I've seen more requests in April and end of June than in August/September. Around here most things have to be booked well in advance to ensure there is space for the kids.


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Originally Posted by Arghhh
What time of year do most of you get your requests for lessons? From my ad, I've seen more requests in April and end of June than in August/September. Around here most things have to be booked well in advance to ensure there is space for the kids.

It used to be August through October. Now I can get inquiries at any given time.


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