“Isn’t it great? You’re getting two choir classes this year! They will both be mixed choirs from all grades!” My vice principal smiled as she informed me three days before the new school year was starting.
This was horrible news!
I was crushed!
I had been hired two years previous as a choir and math teacher at a public Intermediate School (grades 5–8) in Santa Ana, CA. After a fantastic second year, my program was cut in half and I would be teaching more math classes. Yes, I had a credential for it, but my passion is music! I had dreamed about teaching classroom music since the 7th grade. I was crushed!
A budding business
My first year of teaching private piano lessons ended with almost a 100% growth rate in new students. I started with 8 budding pianists and finished with 15. I was thrilled! Word of mouth by parents was my only marketing tool. I was grateful to add on students to my schedule during the year, though I certainly didn't anticipate so much growth!
I loved creating my own schedule and being my own boss.
The following summer in 1997, I received an unexpected phone call one afternoon that brought about big changes in my life. I was offered a job teaching at the "Old Towne Academy" in Orange, CA, pending a positive interview with the Board. They had lost their piano teacher and had been given my name by someone, somewhere (the details sure do get fuzzy after 20 years!). At that point, the academy consisted of only two other teachers — voice and dance — that taught in classrooms at the First United Methodist Church.
A few weeks later, I was hired.
1996 – The Beginning
I pulled up across the street from a gorgeous house in an affluent neighborhood in Orange, California. As I shut off the engine, I realized how my VW bug echoed in the quiet cul-de-sac. This was my first day to meet my future private piano students. I was 21 years old and it was the summer before my senior year at Vanguard University.
"Don't be intimidated. Just remember, you know more than they do."
Are you offering your first lesson for free? Or perhaps a free consultation?
There’s no doubt about it, everyone likes the word FREE!
Unfortunately, “free” also sometimes equates to: “If I have time I’ll show up, otherwise I’ll reschedule — maybe.”
I'd like to challenge you to replace your free consultations with an Introductory Lesson.
When I moved to Colorado Springs, I decided to implement Introductory Lessons. After 10 years of teaching I believed I could jump-start a student’s lessons by offering more than just a consultation. I could prepare clients for a very positive and productive first lesson!
Building my professional music studio took time and effort. There were some risks involved and occasional setbacks. Some days are filled with discouraging phone calls, difficult parents, or obstinate students. But most of the time, I am graced with lots of smiles and thank you’s. I became my own boss, work the hours I determined are right for me, and teach students that want to learn, all in an environment that I created. It was definitely worth it!
"When you’re in business for yourself, you write your own history, you write your own success story, you write your own legacy and most important, you write your own paycheck. Being in business for yourself gives you the opportunity to work your heart out for something you love.”
If you are getting ready to start your music teaching business or feel the need for a step up from where you are, here are some ideas to help you reach the next level.
So ... you've decided to start teaching private music lessons. One of the next decisions you need to make is:
Where should you teach?
I started teaching in 1996 the summer before my senior year in college. Each week, I drove around to student's homes -- 8 students' homes, actually -- and taught 30 minute private piano lessons.
It was the perfect fit for me at the time. I didn't need a facility, made my own hours, and worked fewer hours than when waitressing because I had doubled my hourly income.
You’re ready to take the plunge. You’ve decided to start teaching private music lessons. You just need a jump start to get going and some tips for organizing your business.
If you want to start teaching, you need 4 things:
Does everything magically fall into place one day? Does someone offer you an unexpected job that turns out to be the perfect fit? Do you bounce from one job to the next, hoping to land a great gig?
Not likely, so don’t hold your breath any longer. It takes a lot of thought and hard work. But it is possible! We all take a unique path in life, so I can only speak from my experience. Hopefully, the questions I asked myself can help guide you in your journey to finding your dream job!
First, I had to recognize within myself what my deepest desires for my career were. I had to answer some important questions.
Do you need to make some changes in your life? Is your current job or career not quite the dream job you hoped for? Can you be successful in a job that unites your passions with productivity to bring you a profit?
According to Wikipedia, an entrepreneur is:
an enterprising individual who builds capital through risk and/or initiative
Are you an entrepreneur?
Can you be successful in a job that unites your passions with productivity to bring you a profit?