How can I increase the number of students in my piano teaching business
August 3, 2011 7:11 PM   Subscribe

How can I increase the number of students in my piano teaching business

I have a lot of experience as a pianist, musician, and music and piano teacher. And I am very successful with the students I have.

I know that once you reach a certain number of students it becomes self-sustaining and can grow exponentially through word-of-mouth, as long as you are a quality teacher. My problem is I can't seem to get the eyeballs to get started. I've tried Craigslist, classified ads and an ad in a local newspaper.

Anyone have ideas to get started and start growing?

posted by frodoxiii to Education (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Reach out to the music teachers at the local elementary schools and middle schools.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 7:14 PM on August 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

Seconding JohnnyGunn. When I (briefly, to my regret) took piano lessons my mother found one of my teachers through asking at my primary school and other by asking around at her church.
posted by Wantok at 7:18 PM on August 3, 2011

I frequently get flyers for local music instructors in the folders my kids bring home from their elementary school. Contact schools in the area you're working--you may need to do this through the district, or possibly through the individual schools--and see if it would be possible to distribute leaflets in this way. This would almost certainly be at your expense, having your own copies made and delivering them to the schools for distribution.

You could also see if school newsletters sell ad space (ours does, and it's a very reasonable cost--it helps defray the cost of copy paper and toner which otherwise would just come out of the PTA budget, so it's nice to have a little give and take from local business and I hope it evens out well for the businesses who place ads with us).

Other places I see flyers for music instruction: the bulletin boards at libraries, churches, and community centers. Some of the local parks here have kiosks for flyer posting as well.
posted by padraigin at 7:21 PM on August 3, 2011

My sister taught piano for a few years. She was up to about 20 kids before she wen't off to college. Just like you said, it started with one kid. Moms friends daughter. Then it wen't from there. One you snatch a few kids from that age group, around 7 or 8 years old, moms start talking, and you start getting phone calls.

You have undermined all the "professional" teachers. They want $20+ for a half hour. Parents don't want to stick their kids with a 20$+ teacher when they're just starting. They will go with someone cheaper. My sister started by charging $9 an hour. That got the ball rolling really well. When she got about 15 kids, she started upping her rates for new kids, but the older ones were grandfathered in to the rates that started with.

You can always tack on incentives, if someone brings you a new kid, the next 3 lessons are free, and the first 3 lessons of the new kid is free as well. You get the idea. :)
posted by NotSoSiniSter at 7:21 PM on August 3, 2011

ugh double post, sister started charging $9 for a half hour. Not one hour.
posted by NotSoSiniSter at 7:25 PM on August 3, 2011

My wife and I used to run a cram school in Japan. While we did not build the business from the ground up, we still had to recruit students each year.

As NotSoSinister notes above, it's really a good idea to start with younger students, as they will keep coming back year after year until they hit the age of 12 or 13.

Most of our business was through word of mouth, but I also worked in the school system for a time, and I was a popular teacher, so students would want to study with us after school.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:28 PM on August 3, 2011

My district's music department keeps a list of private teachers on hand- all you have to do to add yourself to the list is call and ask, potential students call you at their own risk. Does yours? The local sheet music store (now kaput) also kept a list and, additionally, had a board where teachers could post a card or a flyer.
posted by charmedimsure at 7:32 PM on August 3, 2011

Aww, I was all hoping you were in my area so I could say "student added," because I'm looking for a new one-on-one piano teacher for my son.

If you're teaching kids: I found a flyer for my son's first (group) piano class at my local library. They had them in the kids' section. The library is a prime location for finding parents who want to educate their kids. And libraries often let educators leave flyers or brochures for free.

You could also ask music teachers who teach other instruments if they would set up a referrral exchange with you. Sometimes students who learn violin also want to learn piano, etc.
posted by BlueJae at 9:11 PM on August 3, 2011

I took a group "intro to piano" class that was offered through the local university extension/continuing ed program. The teacher was a private piano teacher who had her own teaching business, and several of the people from the class (myself included) continued on with private lessons when the class was over. You might see if there's any opportunity for something like that in your area.
posted by sharding at 10:50 PM on August 3, 2011

If there's a local music teacher's association, join that. My mother is very active with two in her area and has become friends with a number of other piano teachers. They refer students to each other for various reasons (at capacity, location, more your speciality). And it's a great support system.
posted by Measured Out my Life in Coffeespoons at 12:04 AM on August 4, 2011

A lot of music shops keep lists of teachers, too. Make sure you're on those.

Really, though, it's mainly word of mouth. Not just parents; make yourself visible to other musicians. My favourite singing teacher has had a shed load of work from me because I love working with her students – always so well prepared, always really good. If you're doing well with the students you have, they're your best advert.
posted by monkey closet at 2:10 AM on August 8, 2011

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