When I was a new violin teacher, I struggled to find students. I had only two students for about a year, and I was making all of these mistakes. I blamed the economy. I blamed my youth. But when I finally figured out what I was doing wrong, my studio jumped to thirty students in a matter of a few months!
Making a living as a violin teacher is not easy. We all know that. We are in charge of every aspect of our business, and most of us have little or no business background! I see new violin teachers making all these same mistakes.
You can maximize your income and effectiveness if you avoid my five pitfalls.
I Charged Too Little.
The first mistake I made was setting my tuition prices too low. I looked at other violin teachers in the area and made my prices much lower in order to attract students. This was a double-edged sword. I didn’t always make enough money to cover my bills. Even worse, I sent a message about the VALUE of my violin lessons. People know that they “get what they pay for,” and if you are offering low, low prices, they will think that you offer a low-quality product.
And let me tell you, the people that want your “low-quality” violin lessons, are NOT the ones you want in your studio.
I had a Lesson-by-Lesson Payment Plan.
This is the fastest way to lose money. If your students aren’t paying at least a month in advance, they have no incentive to come to lessons! Many teachers charge a monthly, or even quarterly, tuition. Parents are much more likely to get their kids to the lesson if they have ALREADY paid for it.
I Offered Make Up Lessons.
This is a pretty controversial topic. Many teachers feel dishonest charging for lessons that they did not teach, but we shouldn’t. Your time is invaluable, and you cannot get it back. When your students choose not to attend their lessons, you cannot turn around and sell that time to someone else. You LOSE money. If you then give them a make up lesson later in your week, not only do you lose out on the original lesson time, you give away your precious personal time at your expense. Not to mention the time it takes to schedule that second lesson. If you don’t respect your own time, your students won’t either. If you are still on the fence about make up lessons, you can read my blog post all about why I don’t recommend teaching make up lessons.
I didn’t take advantage of the teaching community.
The quickest and easiest way to find new students is to talk to other violin teachers! Contact other violin teachers where you live, and explain that you are looking for students. You can tell them a little about your qualifications, and unique aspects of your studio. Then ask them “If your studio is full, would you mind giving potential students my contact information?” Almost all of my students have been referrals from other teachers in my area.
When your studio is full, you can do the same for other teachers!
I took my current students for granted.
This is particularly dangerous. You’ve heard the saying, “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” This is true of students as well! Your current students need to be consistently reminded of the value of their lessons. Make all the efforts you can to be the best, most engaging teacher you can be, so that your students stay with you. (Obviously.)
Your students are also an effective advertising tool. If your students are loving their experience, you can bet they will tell their friends and refer anyone interested to you! If you are doing a good job creating a studio community, the power of word-of-mouth marketing will make your studio so full you won’t know what to do with yourself!
If you are doing any of these things, don’t worry!
The first four are really easily remedied, and you can fix those today. Email your students and explain your new tuition changes or make up lesson policy. You may lose a couple students initially, but in the long-run your income will be much better and much more consistent.
If you are already an established violin or music teacher, what mistakes (if any!) did you make when you started? Share in the comments so we can all benefit!
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