Updated: Jan 14
Whether you’re a full-time teacher or teach as a side hustle, preparing your studio for the school year will help you and your students succeed. By considering the following aspects, your teaching methods this year will be more successful, lucrative, and enjoyable for both you and your students.
What are your goals for the year? Do you have any? By setting goals, we give ourselves something to work toward, whether it is big or small. Maybe you’d like to reach a certain number of students or hit a financial milestone. Perhaps you have goals for individual students, such as preparing and performing recitals or taking auditions. Whatever your ideas may be, take some time and make goals for the year; write them down on a physical list and review it periodically to either check off goals or to keep yourself on track. Here are some additional ideas for potential goals:
Purchase new equipment – piano, music stand, sheet music, etc.
Compile and organize sheet music
Find and rent a teaching space
Hire additional teachers
Recitals & Performances
Arranging performances or recitals for your students is certainly not a requirement, but it motivates students to practice by giving them something to work towards. Organizing a studio recital for the first time can be a little intimidating, because there are many things to plan. Consider planning at least one small performance for your students, however formal or informal it may be. For example, try contacting local coffee shops or nursing homes to see if they would welcome a small group of performers. These informal performances can give the students performance experience, and ideally the smaller performances will prepare both you and the students for the “big one.” Many studios tend to do two big recitals per year: one at the end of the fall semester and one at the end of the spring semester. If you teach younger students, parents tend to expect recitals once or twice per year. If you’re thinking of preparing your first studio recital, keep in mind the following:
Finding and renting a performance space
Hiring an accompanist or sound technician (if needed)
Writing and printing programs
Providing a reception
A very important part of teaching is getting paid. Perhaps you already have a wonderful payment system in place, but if you don’t, payment can be a nightmare to coordinate. To better prepare you for the upcoming year, consider trying a software that formulates invoices automatically.
This school year, you may also consider increasing your tuition rate or changing your billing frequency. Some studios bill monthly and some bill per semester. Less frequent billing should lessen your load, but you will need to have policies in place for those who may have absences or other conflicts. And why not increase your rate? Most businesses increase their rates with inflation, so you can certainly increase your rate by a small percentage every year. Keep in mind the going rate for your area, but don’t forget your experience and education that allows you to charge your current rate. You don’t have to increase your rate, but it’s something to consider as you prepare for the new school year.
The beginning of the fall semester is the best time to recruit new students. Look into purchasing Facebook or Yelp ads to advertise online, and you can also try posting flyers around local schools and coffee shops. Don’t be afraid to contact the music teachers at the public schools in your area. You can ask them to put up one of your flyers, refer you to students, or even offer conducting a masterclass during the school year. Word of mouth is certainly one of the best references, so ask your students to refer you to their friends. You can even offer a referral discount to those whose friends sign up for lessons.
Lastly, what do you want for you students this year? Outside of setting goals and arranging performances, how will you motivate your students? Perhaps you can develop a practice program complete with incentives to keep them on track. You could post audition flyers in your teaching space or post daily music theory questions on a board to keep them studying. Whatever your idea may be, try to find new methods for this school year to keep your students motivated, inspired, and coming back.
The new school year is a chance to get a fresh perspective on your teaching. By being prepared and changing up things for a refresh, you can be a better and more successful teacher, and your students will thank you for it.