And How Automation Keeps Me Sane…
In recent years, I have begun to realize how much power I have to create the culture and community in my Suzuki violin studio. Any “issues” or “frustrations” I have had with parents or students, if I look hard enough, I can trace back to my own actions. And, as enticing as it is to blame other people for these “problems,” this knowledge, the realization that I’ve created my own student headaches, is a wonderful thing! If I created the issue…then I can fix it!
( I have found this to be true in many if not all areas of my life, not just in my Suzuki violin studio.)
Here’s an example:
I have spent the last five years, longing to start holding weekly group lessons with my students. I loved the weekly group lesson model in the String Academy at IU, and I really wanted my violin students to have that experience. I whined about it. I complained about it. I said “No one will come to violin lessons twice a week.” “Parents and students in my area don’t want that.” “They probably won’t want to make that kind of commitment.” “I’ll lose all my students, not be able to pay rent, and we’ll all be out on the street…” Okay, maybe I didn’t spin out that far, not all the time anyway.
Last summer, after attending Intermountain Suzuki String Institute and taking Suzuki book 4 with Mark Mutter, who holds weekly group in his Suzuki school and loves it, I resolved to do it. I prepared myself to take the plunge. I decided to fully commit.
I carefully crafted an email to my studio families to notify them of the change. Very deliberately, I explained why weekly group lessons were a great thing for them (the parent.)
Want to know how I explained the change? This will be coming in another blog post soon, so make sure you don’t miss it by subscribing to my email list at the bottom of this post.
I raised my rates, which was long overdue anyway, to cover the extra time required of me to hold these group lessons.
Gritting my teeth, I prepared for the worst.
And you know what, it wasn’t so bad. In fact, it was great. The majority of my students were excited about the changes, and weekly group lessons completely changed the culture of my studio for the better.
This experience taught me a valuable lesson. If I don’t something about my studio, I need to take steps to change it.
I quickly realized that there were things that I could do to address these issues: lack of parent involvement, poor practice habits, lackluster listening, and more. I had no system for Suzuki parent education. I encouraged people to read Nurtured by Love, and hoped they’d figure it out by osmosis, or by my passive aggressive reminders in lessons. And, mostly, I just whined about it to my husband. Very effective. (sarcasm.)
I didn’t feel like I had the time to hold parent education meetings, and I have rolling admission to my studio, so to do a meeting every time I had a new student wouldn’t be practical. So, I decided to create an email course. When I have a prospective parent contact me, I send them a little bit of info about my studio—including the pdf “What Every Parent Needs to Know about the Suzuki Method.” I also let them know I will be sending them an 7-day email course with more information for helping children thrive in music lessons.
I use Mailchimp, an email marketing service, to automatically send these emails at intervals to people who contact me about lessons, I also sent the course to all of my current students. It’s super slick. And I think it is working. My students are more dedicated, and more committed. My parents are on the same page with me. We’re working together.
I’m happier. And I think my students and their parents are too.
If you’d like to use my 7-day email course, you can purchase it here.
It’s 25% off until March 1st with the code: VALENTINE
All proceeds from the sale of these templates go towards hosting and maintenance of the Plucky Violin Teacher blog and coming podcast!