Piano Teaching Tips

Ideas to help your studio get started and flourish!

If you're thinking about starting a piano studio or you're still working on your first few students, I have some piano teaching tips to help you grow your success student by student!

These tips come from my own years of teaching: some things I did right, and some mistakes I made that I'd like to help you avoid.

Or maybe you're still only dreaming about teaching. These tips are for you, too!

Like any small business, teaching piano lessons requires some decisions at the beginning to make sure you, your students, and their parents or caregivers, are happy.  More than happy, we want them to be thrilled with everything: the lessons, the progress, and the value for the dollars that they are giving you.

1. Know your method.

What piano method will you teach?  What books will you use?

Traditional methods like Piano Adventures?

An alternative approach like Suzuki or Simply Music? Your own mix?

One of the first questions potential students will ask, along with what time slots you have available, is what method you teach.

Knowing the answer to that question, and why, and being able to articulate your choices to students and parents, is crucial.

Your confidence will go a long way to winning you new students. 

You might also consider a free demonstration session to recruit new students, or a free introductory lesson.  Opening up your studio in this way can bring in entire groups of new students and fill up your schedule!

2. Choose your policies.

I can't stress this highly enough: decide your attendance and payment policies, and stick to them.

If you want help crafting policies for your studio, you can ask local teachers if they're willing to share, or get on a good piano forum and ask the teachers there.

Have students (or parents of young students) read, discuss, and sign your policies, and give them a copy.

Spend some good time in your first lesson making sure everyone is absolutely clear. You'll save yourself a lot of heartache! 

Your policies can change over time as your studio grows and evolves, but it is so, so important that all of your students and parents actively understand their roles, especially around payment, cancellations, practice expectations, and being on time.

Some people will actively try to take advantage of you if you don't enforce policies; and some, it won't be purposeful -- it will simply be that being on time or remembering your payment isn't high enough on their priority list.

Either way, stand firm, talk about EACH point on your policy, and get those signatures.

Kimball piano tuning pins

3. Brand yourself.

Get a logo!

If you're not graphically handy, you can use an online logo maker to make one with just a few minutes of your time.  Logo Maker is a good one.  Your web-ready logo is free and the high-res file is $49.

You can also try Fiverr and find a highly-rated logo designer and give it a shot.  Work on Fiverr can vary in quality so make sure you have a good idea of what you want and make sure the designer has a policy that includes at least 1 (even better, 2) revisions.

Then go to Vista Print and get a bunch of business cards to carry and hand out every where you go.  You could also get some 5x7 postcards to give/mail out with more information.  

Believe it or not, many small businesses never even get this far -- this will set you apart

4. Be professional.

It's true, many of your students will show up in flip-flops in the summer. That doesn't mean you should!

Be professional: act, dress, and speak like the business owner you are.

This doesn't mean you can't develop friendships with your students or have a relaxed teaching atmosphere. Just make sure every part of your business is as professional as you can possibly make it.

It seems that being professional is on the decline.  It's true that we live in a more casual culture, but that's an even greater reason to stand above the crowd.

5. Build your network.

Check out your local Chamber of Commerce, Toastmasters, or other networking or professional development groups.  Join, serve the neighborhood, and take part in your local business community.

Other business owners and leaders in your community can send you terrific customers, and also teach you about running a business.  You'll be surprised at the friends and connections you can make.

Also look into joining your local chapter of the MTNA (Music Teachers' National Association), if there is one in your local area!

Work hard and set yourself apart!

The best thing you can do for your students is to push yourself to keep growing and learning, both musically and professionally.

Being a business owner can be demanding and stressful, but there are also great rewards to helping students, both kids and adults, reach for their musical dreams!  Teaching private lessons is such a privilege -- having that one-on-one influence in another person's life.

Enjoy each moment as you build your studio!

I have some more great tips on teaching piano here:

More Tips for a Thriving Teaching Studio

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