Occasionally, I will realize that I have really messed up my violin studio. I’ve not created boundaries around my time. Or I wasn’t clear about my expectations for practice or listening. I’ll come to the conclusion that things need to change. Maybe you’ve felt the same in your own studio. But how do we press reset on our studio families? How do we upset the status quo and transform our studios into the studios we dream of?
I think it all starts with a clear plan..
- What do you want your studio to look like once you’ve made the change?
- How do you want to create that change?
Once you’ve ironed out these details, it’s time to do it!
One option for creating change is to start fresh–a new location, new students and families, hey! Maybe even a new instrument. Who knows?
Another is to lead your current studio along, step by step, into a new way. A better way, hopefully.
As with any change, people usually are a little bit resistant. You know this is true in your own life, and you’ve seen studio parents and students balk at the slight adjustments. Just think about changing your shoulder rest. Chaos! Upheaval!
Last fall, I decided I wanted to change to a weekly group lesson in my studio. I’d wanted to for A LONG TIME. I love group lesson, and I remembered how wonderful weekly group classes were when I was involved in the Pre-college String Academy at Indiana University.
I resisted making this change because I was so sure that none of my studio families would be on board. It’s one more thing. They are already so busy. People just aren’t as dedicated to the arts in my community.
First, it doesn’t help me at all to be assuming these things, they aren’t even necessarily true or false! These are opinions–loosely based on my perspective of other people’s actions. Hardly good data.
So I decided to go for it.
But I wanted to be smart about it. And I want you to be smart about any studio changes in the works for your studio.
Your biggest hurdle will be to get your studio parents on board, so that’s where you need to start.
You need to sell them on the outcome of the change. How does it help them? How does it help their child? (If there is no benefit for the parent, you shouldn’t be doing it, or you be more creative to find the benefit.)
For example, when I changed to weekly group lessons, I thought the benefit to parents would be less child resistance to practice. Group lessons are crazy fun, but you have to be prepared with your review and technique if you want to play the games. (I ended up being right on the money here. Weekly group lessons are AMAZING.
If you can find a very compelling benefit for the parent AND the child, and paint a beautiful picture of how life will be different you will be much more successful than if you just give them the information straight.
Of course, some changes will be more difficult to sell. Changing to a “No Make Ups” policy, or raising your rates are trickier, but not impossible. Many parents will understand, and the ones who don’t… I’m not totally sure they are worth the emotional toil they require.
If it is helpful, I’ve included the text of my group lesson change email below. Feel free to copy as you need.
It is time to unveil some of the coming changes to the Ferrin violin studio! I’m so excited to tell you about them.I know that practicing is a struggle. I know it’s a fight, and I’ve been wracking my brain trying to come up with a solution to make things easier for you.I think I have one.Beginning in September 2016 we will be moving to a weekly group lesson. I know you are busy, and I didn’t make this decision lightly. Here is why I think this is the best move for the studio, and more importantly, for your child:There is nothing more motivating and fun than playing music with your friends. Playing the violin can become very lonely. Weekly group lessons will foster a sense of community and belonging for your child that just isn’t possible with a less frequent group lesson.Practicing will be less of a chore. Your child will be excited to practice their assigned review pieces for group, because they want to be successful in the games we have planned. They’ll put more effort into their solo pieces, because they know they will be performing every week in group lesson. They will want to polish their group performance pieces because they don’t want to let down their team.And…best of all, it’s one day a week that you don’t need to worry about practicing. In addition to all the group lesson fun, we will get lots of good practicing done–together! Take the day off, parents, I got this one.I’m collaborating with a few other teachers in the area to fill these classes but they will stay pretty small–just big enough to make them extra exciting and fun.
Because you have been in my studio for awhile, your tuition rate will be much less than what I am charging new students. In fact, even though I will be spending twice as much time with your student each week (and more planning time) your tuition change is not changing.I truly believe this is going to be a game changer for my students, and I’m excited to see their ability develop and their excitement grow as a direct result of this change.I have created a survey this week to get everyone’s availability for the Fall schedule, you can fill that out here. (I had a link to a google form here.) I need these requests by August 1st. The yearly calendar (with all workshops, recitals, and important events) will be sent out before August 1st, so you can plan for the whole year in advance.I have included more specific information about tuition below, if you have any questions or concerns please let me know.Best,Brecklyn
Suzuki Teacher? Download this free PDF to use in your studio: What Every Suzuki Parent Needs to Know about the Suzuki Method