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#1983900 - 11/07/12 07:53 PM Lower Rates... bad idea?
Scott Coletta Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/07/11
Posts: 514
Loc: Chicago
Hi everyone. I'm wondering what you all think about this scenario... I've been in my new location for a year and a half. I currently have 20 students. I'm advertising on google maps, pay-per-click, and several online teacher directories, and I recently did a new website. But I seem to be stuck. I've been losing students as fast as I'm gaining them since January. In my last location, I had 35 students a year and a half after starting out, and a year later I was full with 50 students and a waiting list. So I'm not sure what's going on here. Aside from being a different area, my rates are comparatively higher than my old location, and the economy is certainly sluggish compared to a few years ago.

So I'm considering lowering my rates to be more competitive. My thinking is that I'd rather have to work more for less money, than work less for less money. Thing is, I'm not sure if it will even help. I'm concerned that I may not bring in any more students than at the higher rate, so I'll just be shooting myself in the foot. My current rates are $27 for 30 minutes and if I drive to the students I add $18 (regardless of lesson length). So I'm thinking of cutting my rates down to $25 or maybe even as low as $22, and the travel charge down to $13. If I lower the rates this much, I'd need roughly 10 students for every 8 at the higher rate to make the same income. So I just don't know if this is worth the risk to try. I've researched what other teachers in the area are charging, and my current rates are not the highest but there are alot of teachers out there with equal or lower rates. I'm just wondering if a change in the rates to put me on the lower end of the scale might draw in alot more students. When I started out at my old location, I charged $30 for half hour lessons in the student's home. I quickly filled up, but that was a bargain rate. A couple years later I had raised my rates up to $40 for the same service, but I found out other teachers were getting $50 for the same thing.

So has anybody else ever lowered rates successfully? Any thoughts about this? Or is this just perhaps the bad economy and a declining interest in piano lessons? Are you all experiencing slow to non-existent growth now too?

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#1983942 - 11/07/12 11:12 PM Re: Lower Rates... bad idea? [Re: Scott Coletta]
Candywoman Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/14/03
Posts: 855
Originally Posted By: Scott Coletta


My thinking is that I'd rather have to work more for less money, than work less for less money.


Why would you rather work more for less money than work less for more money? There are several advantages to doing so. You build a reputation faster; your recitals are more interesting; you may learn more about teaching because of the increased numbers.

How many phone calls have you had where you felt you lost the student based on price? If it's not many, your real problem is the area you live in or marketing. I'd try putting an ad in the community newsletter if it's a marketing problem. If your great desire is to teach many students, you need to study the demographic charts for your area and move.

You could also be content with what you're earning and concentrate on saving more money in your personal life, as well as having more time to practice, exercise, or socialize.

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#1983958 - 11/08/12 12:14 AM Re: Lower Rates... bad idea? [Re: Scott Coletta]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5548
Loc: Orange County, CA
You might live in an area saturated with piano teachers and/or "music schools." I certainly work in an area with a plethora of piano teachers, including some who deliberately under-charge in order to hog up all the students.

I'm hopeful this economy thing will eventually turn around. My studio has been slow-go for the past three years.
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#1983963 - 11/08/12 12:33 AM Lower Rates... bad idea? [Re: Scott Coletta]
LoPresti Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/07/10
Posts: 1304
Loc: New York
Hi Scott,

Several years ago, the Tri-Cities Opera, one of the primary local “feeder” organizations for The Met and the New Your City Operas, conducted a rather elaborate audience evaluation and marketing study. One of the key questions they wanted answered was, “If we lower ticket prices, will we sell enough additional tickets to come out ahead?” Without going into excruciating detail, these were the findings:

>> Opera fans are going to go to the opera, almost regardless of ticket price (as long as productions are excellent). Most fans considered the then-current ticket prices a bargain, and were HAPPY to pay more if asked!

>> Folks who do not know, or do not care for the opera, are NOT going to attend, regardless of ticket price.

>> There was a very small group, something like 5%, that were occasional, or casual, or “social” opera goers, who maintained they would either welcome a reduction, or not attend if there were an increase in ticket prices.

From these findings, the Tri-Cities Opera (and their sister Symphony orchestra) mounted a campaign to recruit, and educate, more (new) opera and symphony fans – the kind who would attend regardless. AND, instead of lowering ticket prices, they raised them! It was a win/win solution.

Maybe this applies to your situation, and perhaps it does not. I do see many parallels.

Ed
_________________________
In music, everything one does correctly helps everything else.

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#1984044 - 11/08/12 08:18 AM Re: Lower Rates... bad idea? [Re: Scott Coletta]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12135
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
I think your rates seem very reasonable, although I don't know the particular economic conditions of your area. However, it sounds to me like you have a decent number of students - 20 - at this rate. I think if you lower your rates, you will be telling your current students that you don't feel you're worth what you were previously charging in a subliminal way.

Instead, I recommend keeping your rates as-is, and try other avenues of gaining students. Have you been in contact with the local elementary school music teachers? Perhaps if you get to know them and give them your business cards, they will pass them out to students or parents who inquire with them about lessons. You can do the same at your local sheet music store (if one exists, otherwise a piano store). Also, don't forget to ask your students and parents to advertise to their friends for you - give them a free lesson for each friend of theirs that signs up. It gets them talking about you! Word of mouth is huge.
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#1984059 - 11/08/12 08:45 AM Re: Lower Rates... bad idea? [Re: Morodiene]
malkin Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/09
Posts: 2666
Loc: *sigh* Salt Lake City
I would also guess that marketing is the issue rather than price. Go do some outreach--meet people and play piano. Set up a demonstration or something at a music store; have an informal performance for your current students and invite the public. Play at nursing homes. Do something interesting and get yourself in the news. Volunteer to run a music activity in a disadvantaged school. Of course, you will be passing out cards and flyers to anyone who is willing to take one!
_________________________
A good student is one who makes the teacher feel like a good teacher.

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#1984157 - 11/08/12 12:49 PM Re: Lower Rates... bad idea? [Re: Candywoman]
Scott Coletta Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/07/11
Posts: 514
Loc: Chicago
Originally Posted By: Candywoman

How many phone calls have you had where you felt you lost the student based on price?


Good point. Not many have said the rates were too high. And I guess I wouldn't have any students at all if they were.

Thanks for your input.

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#1984158 - 11/08/12 12:50 PM Re: Lower Rates... bad idea? [Re: AZNpiano]
Scott Coletta Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/07/11
Posts: 514
Loc: Chicago
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
I certainly work in an area with a plethora of piano teachers, including some who deliberately under-charge in order to hog up all the students.


Yes, I don't want to be that teacher. smile

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#1984159 - 11/08/12 12:52 PM Re: Lower Rates... bad idea? [Re: LoPresti]
Scott Coletta Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/07/11
Posts: 514
Loc: Chicago
Ed, thanks for sharing the marketing study done by the orchestras. That does make sense and is probably very similiar to the market for piano lessons.

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#1984161 - 11/08/12 12:57 PM Re: Lower Rates... bad idea? [Re: Morodiene]
Scott Coletta Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/07/11
Posts: 514
Loc: Chicago
Originally Posted By: Morodiene
I think if you lower your rates, you will be telling your current students that you don't feel you're worth what you were previously charging in a subliminal way.


Yes, I was concerned about how to handle this.

Originally Posted By: Morodiene
Have you been in contact with the local elementary school music teachers? Perhaps if you get to know them and give them your business cards, they will pass them out to students or parents who inquire with them about lessons. You can do the same at your local sheet music store (if one exists, otherwise a piano store). Also, don't forget to ask your students and parents to advertise to their friends for you - give them a free lesson for each friend of theirs that signs up. It gets them talking about you! Word of mouth is huge.


I contacted all the local school music teachers last fall. Some said they would keep my name on a list, others said they weren't allowed to recommend private teachers. And I have a flyer up at the local sheet music/band instrument store.

I have thought about offering an incentive to current students for recommending me. I've always had good luck with people passing on the word, just because they like me. But it couldn't hurt to reward them I guess.

Thanks.

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#1984162 - 11/08/12 12:59 PM Re: Lower Rates... bad idea? [Re: malkin]
Scott Coletta Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/07/11
Posts: 514
Loc: Chicago
Originally Posted By: malkin
I would also guess that marketing is the issue rather than price. Go do some outreach--meet people and play piano. Set up a demonstration or something at a music store; have an informal performance for your current students and invite the public. Play at nursing homes. Do something interesting and get yourself in the news. Volunteer to run a music activity in a disadvantaged school. Of course, you will be passing out cards and flyers to anyone who is willing to take one!


Interesting ideas here. I'll have to think about some of these things. I appreciate your feedback.

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#1984173 - 11/08/12 01:31 PM Re: Lower Rates... bad idea? [Re: Scott Coletta]
Candywoman Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/14/03
Posts: 855
You might also get some of your more advanced students to learn the piano part of a duo. Then find a violinist (child preferably) or clarinetist and stage a small recital at home. People talk about things like this to their friends or neighbors.

If you can do something a little mysterious, or strange, such as owning a turtle, people will talk about you as the piano teacher with the turtle in the bathroom. You might want to be known for your brilliance as a teacher, but since your clientele really doesn't know how to compare you on that basis, it would be better to be known as the teacher who always wears a tux, or owns a polar bear rug, or has a red piano and a red slide in the yard. This last paragraph is just to stimulate conversation!


Edited by Candywoman (11/08/12 01:32 PM)

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#1984248 - 11/08/12 04:26 PM Re: Lower Rates... bad idea? [Re: Scott Coletta]
Rm403 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/10/11
Posts: 31
Loc: TN
I think in this market, and it is not just cost driven, we need to come up with more ideas to attract students. Piano is hard work for most students and is time consuming. Our parents value sports and social activities more than the development of talents, skills, and abilities that have to be focused and developed. That is just our society. I don't think cost in your area is that big of a factor (opera study). So, have you tried "novelty" piano classes that other teachers don't offer: duet classes where students only learn to play together; ensemble classes where other instruments work with a piano student of a similar level, holiday theme classes where students only work on music related to a holiday, etc., adult lessons as a focus-market to adult groups like churches, senior citizens centers, etc. This could go into what ever niche you could find in your area. I personally wish I could find an adult duet only class somewhere. I love to play duets the most and as an adult I hardly ever get to play with anyone. These types of classes would involve teaching with a different style or in a different way, but what fun for the participant would have.

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#1984256 - 11/08/12 04:47 PM Re: Lower Rates... bad idea? [Re: Scott Coletta]
MaggieGirl Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/18/11
Posts: 492
This might be kind of "out there"...but I live in an area where parents like compete for "best kid".

Do you have any kids you can use as advertising? For example, maybe students who did well in competitions or who got a scholarship based on music achievement? With the parent's permission you can write a press release and have it sent to the local paper and or invite the community writer to your recitals/events. You can also advertise your recital in the community section of the paper (they do it online as well and usually there is no fee for listing community events). If you can, provide a link and highlight the graduating seniors with their senior picture on your webpage. These are all free ways to be seen and parents LOVE to talk about their students and brag and your name will get out there.

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#1984263 - 11/08/12 04:52 PM Re: Lower Rates... bad idea? [Re: Scott Coletta]
ezpiano.org Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/10/11
Posts: 1027
Loc: Irvine, CA
How about incentive when your current student referring a new family to you by word of mouth.
Among all the advertisement that I have done so far, word of mouth is the best.
If your incentive is good enough, your current students will go extra miles for you when referring.

Have you notice any trend that you get calls and contact but they shy away when hear your tuition fee? If yes, you might want to lower your price. If no, it is just your current location of not a lot of people value piano lesson, or blame the bad economy.
_________________________
http://ezpiano.org
Piano lessons in Irvine, CA
Watch the introduction video on YouTube
@ http://bit.ly/Ready123

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#1984296 - 11/08/12 06:27 PM Re: Lower Rates... bad idea? [Re: Candywoman]
LoPresti Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/07/10
Posts: 1304
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: malkin
Do something interesting and get yourself in the news.


Originally Posted By: Candywoman
If you can do something a little mysterious, or strange . . . You might want to be known for your brilliance as a teacher, but since your clientele really doesn't know how to compare you on that basis, it would be better to be known as the teacher who always . . .

Scott could always set himself on fire! That usually garners a lot of attention.
_________________________
In music, everything one does correctly helps everything else.

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#1984545 - 11/09/12 08:48 AM Re: Lower Rates... bad idea? [Re: LoPresti]
malkin Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/09
Posts: 2666
Loc: *sigh* Salt Lake City
Originally Posted By: LoPresti
Originally Posted By: malkin
Do something interesting and get yourself in the news.


Originally Posted By: Candywoman
If you can do something a little mysterious, or strange . . . You might want to be known for your brilliance as a teacher, but since your clientele really doesn't know how to compare you on that basis, it would be better to be known as the teacher who always . . .

Scott could always set himself on fire! That usually garners a lot of attention.


Please carefully weigh the pros and cons of self immolation before implementing it as a marketing strategy.
_________________________
A good student is one who makes the teacher feel like a good teacher.

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#1984572 - 11/09/12 10:03 AM Re: Lower Rates... bad idea? [Re: Scott Coletta]
manyhands Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/19/12
Posts: 129
Loc: Md
Have you done follow-up interviews with those who came then quit?
_________________________
many hands many smiles

Big Mama Yama U1

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#1984637 - 11/09/12 01:01 PM Re: Lower Rates... bad idea? [Re: manyhands]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5548
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: manyhands
Have you done follow-up interviews with those who came then quit?

Why would you want to do that? What are the chances you'll gather useful and honest answers?
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#1984638 - 11/09/12 01:02 PM Re: Lower Rates... bad idea? [Re: malkin]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5548
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: malkin
Please carefully weigh the pros and cons of self immolation before implementing it as a marketing strategy.

I'm pretty sure it was a joke.
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#1984660 - 11/09/12 01:45 PM Re: Lower Rates... bad idea? [Re: AZNpiano]
malkin Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/09
Posts: 2666
Loc: *sigh* Salt Lake City
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
Originally Posted By: malkin
Please carefully weigh the pros and cons of self immolation before implementing it as a marketing strategy.

I'm pretty sure it was a joke.


Me too.
I think the turtle or even lower rates would be a better ideas, but still, it could be interesting to see a thread titled:
Self immolation...bad idea?
_________________________
A good student is one who makes the teacher feel like a good teacher.

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#1984744 - 11/09/12 06:27 PM Re: Lower Rates... bad idea? [Re: Scott Coletta]
Scott Coletta Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/07/11
Posts: 514
Loc: Chicago
Thanks everyone for your suggestions. I'm convinced I shouldn't lower my rates, and you've all given me some food for thought. I need to get out there more, so I'll see what I can do.

In the meantime, where are my matches? smile

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#1984746 - 11/09/12 06:40 PM Lower Rates... bad idea? [Re: Scott Coletta]
LoPresti Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/07/10
Posts: 1304
Loc: New York
Sorry, Scott,

You have a very interesting and timely subject on the table, and I seem to have opened the Gufaw Box again.

I could not agree more with Morodiene here:
Originally Posted By: Morodiene
. . . try other avenues of gaining students. Have you been in contact with the local elementary school music teachers? Perhaps if you get to know them and give them your business cards, they will pass them out to students or parents who inquire with them about lessons. You can do the same at your local sheet music store

In fact, I posted these precise ideas about six months ago, and I believe it was on the Teachers’ Forum.

I know you mentioned having visited the schools and some music retailers in the fall, and I firmly believe in that one-to-one, personal conversation. Not to hammer and hammer on this point, but it might be time to go back(?) This is a topic that AZN and I have discussed before, also: You, AZN, and many others have something truly special to offer in your devotion to music, and your desire to teach it “right”. In some way, you need to convey that uniqueness TO SOMEONE WHO MIGHT APPRECIATE IT. And who might that be? Other musicians, for starters!

After seeing you a couple more times in person, getting to know you some, and realizing that your studio is local and “for real”, other musicians (school teachers, store owners) are going to feel more comfortable about recommending you to the parents of prospective students. Others have mentioned the idea of you performing personally. This brings me to the thought of OFFERING to the school teachers to be a “guest artist” at one of their general music classes, showing all the different sounds that a piano can make, and answering questions. A miniature Master Class, if you like.

Ed
_________________________
In music, everything one does correctly helps everything else.

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#1984749 - 11/09/12 06:43 PM Re: Lower Rates... bad idea? [Re: Scott Coletta]
LoPresti Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/07/10
Posts: 1304
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: Scott Coletta
In the meantime, where are my matches? smile

We have always maintained that you were -- wait for it -- matchless.
_________________________
In music, everything one does correctly helps everything else.

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#1984754 - 11/09/12 07:11 PM Re: Lower Rates... bad idea? [Re: Scott Coletta]
Peter K. Mose Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/06/12
Posts: 1374
Loc: Toronto, Ontario
Scott, I think your rates are fine, and the fact that a teacher with your strong background is willing to make house calls - when you also have a home studio - is noteworthy, and very attractive to many people.

Perhaps the period when you had 50 students in Maryland was the anomaly, and should not be considered your benchmark. Or perhaps you are forgetting that students were quitting then as often as they were starting. Or perhaps you are forgetting some explanation for your East Coast success that you can't presently duplicate in suburban Chicago. Weren't you connected to a school? Did that provide students?

In the meantime, keep teaching well, and preserve your core of 20 students. I've had good years and lean years as an independent piano teacher in different locales, and I have given up trying to explain why. Just be consistently good at your teaching, and continue to market yourself as you see fit. (I like the turtles as a concept...)

I'll send you a PM as well.

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#1984770 - 11/09/12 07:58 PM Re: Lower Rates... bad idea? [Re: Scott Coletta]
Opus_Maximus Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/27/04
Posts: 1497
I would recommend teaching one day a week at a music school/store. You will be paid much less than what you charge privately, but will develop a contact base that is unrivaled. Unless you have signed a legally binding agreement with the school, you can quit after a certain point, and take the students with you. Even if you don't quit, you may get enough word-of-mouth referrals from the students who study with you at the school. This has been my how I built my studio here. The tremendously low rate that you subject yourself to may repay you later on in the form of how many wonderful, dedicated families you are introduced to in such a short period of time.

I've been in my location for the same length as you - a year and a half - and have been getting on an average of a call (or email) a week for the past 6 months. NONE of these calls - not a single one - has come from my website, flyers, online teacher directories, or any effort I made at all at advertising (and I did a heck of a lot). Every single one has been a new student at a school where I teach, or (even mores lately), somebody who has heard of me FROM a student at a school I teach at.

I think there is something about the human psyche that is more disposed to becoming a customer of a place they physically see often. These schools and piano stores are often on big, bustling boulevards that thousands of people drive by every day (and tens of thousands of different people in a month), so of course statistically the chances of bringing in students are going to be astronomically higher than a specified web page or teacher directory. (Granted, I'm talking about the average, run of the mill person interested in lessons here. Advanced students or very serious people will do their homework. Alas, the latter is a much smaller group than the former).


Edited by Opus_Maximus (11/09/12 08:01 PM)

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#1984772 - 11/09/12 08:04 PM Re: Lower Rates... bad idea? [Re: LoPresti]
malkin Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/09
Posts: 2666
Loc: *sigh* Salt Lake City
Originally Posted By: LoPresti
Originally Posted By: Scott Coletta
In the meantime, where are my matches? smile

We have always maintained that you were -- wait for it -- matchless.


I was thinking...HOT STUFF!!
_________________________
A good student is one who makes the teacher feel like a good teacher.

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#1984888 - 11/10/12 04:09 AM Re: Lower Rates... bad idea? [Re: malkin]
Bobpickle Offline

Gold Supporter until July 10  2014


Registered: 05/24/12
Posts: 1383
Loc: Cameron Park, California
Originally Posted By: malkin
Please carefully weigh the pros and cons of self immolation before implementing it as a marketing strategy.


I think I read this the other day in my fortune cookie

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#1984948 - 11/10/12 08:21 AM Re: Lower Rates... bad idea? [Re: Peter K. Mose]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12135
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: Peter K. Mose
Scott, I think your rates are fine, and the fact that a teacher with your strong background is willing to make house calls - when you also have a home studio - is noteworthy, and very attractive to many people.

Perhaps the period when you had 50 students in Maryland was the anomaly, and should not be considered your benchmark. Or perhaps you are forgetting that students were quitting then as often as they were starting. Or perhaps you are forgetting some explanation for your East Coast success that you can't presently duplicate in suburban Chicago. Weren't you connected to a school? Did that provide students?

In the meantime, keep teaching well, and preserve your core of 20 students. I've had good years and lean years as an independent piano teacher in different locales, and I have given up trying to explain why. Just be consistently good at your teaching, and continue to market yourself as you see fit. (I like the turtles as a concept...)

I'll send you a PM as well.



Peter raises a good point here. Sometimes having 50 students isn't really that great, even for your pocketbook. With 50 students I have to assume they are getting only half hour lessons, and so I wonder are you teaching your 20 students half hour lessons? If so, you may want to consider increasing them to 45 minutes if they can manage it financially. When I started teaching 45 minute lessons as a standard and saying that 30 minutes is only for the very young student, it made a huge impact on the quality of my lessons. Just having that extra time to work on theory and sight reading and repertoire that I would normally have to skim through or skip that week due to lack of time made such a difference! Your students will be happier with it too as they see their progress.

Speak to parents about the possibility and tell them the benefits for doing so. Some won't be able to, but then you've planted a seed and perhaps in 6 months you can increase them.

I currently teach 17 students (2 of them take voice and piano, so that's really like 19 students) and most of them are 45 minutes. With my performing schedule I feel like I have a full studio.
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#1984958 - 11/10/12 09:00 AM Re: Lower Rates... bad idea? [Re: Bobpickle]
Overexposed Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2649
Originally Posted By: Bobpickle
Originally Posted By: malkin
Please carefully weigh the pros and cons of self immolation before implementing it as a marketing strategy.


I think I read this the other day in my fortune cookie


laugh

Fortune cookies miss the boat by failing to hire creative writers who could really enhance the experience of getting a fortune cookie.

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New Topics - Multiple Forums
What music do play for your partner/husband/wife
/sweetie?

by Johan B
11/20/14 04:51 PM
One for you soundboard gurus...
by RonTuner
11/20/14 03:08 PM
Yamaha YDP-S51 or Roland F130R?
by Vetyver
11/20/14 02:35 PM
Musical Neighborhood?
by DancerJ
11/20/14 02:01 PM
Dream Piano Search & Purchase
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11/20/14 01:00 PM
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