Are you a music teacher who is looking to increase your student base? If so, you are in the right place! In this blog post, we will discuss some tips and tricks that you can use to recruit more students to your private music lessons business.
Yes, it's totally possible for musicians to make a decent full-time income. But it's important to keep in mind that the music industry is a competitive one. There are countless music teachers out there looking for students' attention (and money). The great thing about teaching private music lessons is that you can be your own boss, set your own hours, and charge whatever you feel is fair. You are in complete control of your business! However, with this freedom comes the responsibility of finding students to teach. This can be a daunting task, especially if you are just starting out.
Private musical instruction is usually good for teaching a particular skill or instrument. The students usually work individually or in small groups. This type of instruction is designed to introduce beginners to music. They can offer lessons on how to improve your skills on an instrument, how to prepare for an audition, and other related topics. These lessons take place in a physical music studio where in-person, hands-on instruction takes place OR because of modern video conferencing software, lessons can be held online.
Now that we have gone over what private music lessons are, let's discuss how you can recruit more students to your business.
If you want to be successful, you need to set yourself apart from the competition. This can be done by offering unique services that other teachers do not offer, or by marketing your business in a way that catches people's attention.
So, how can you start up a new business for yourself? There are a number of things to put into place that will help you stay organized and straighten out the logistics of teaching.
It's more about the purpose behind the goal than it is about how to accomplish it. So, number one, people who aren't afraid to ask questions are the ones that perform best. The thing that really makes someone successful in building a studio is a time-sensitive motivation.
So having a time-sensitive goal is really important. Of it's not something that you have a sense of urgency for necessarily, you can create a sense of urgency for yourself. Part of that is accountability working with another teacher or having a community of like-minded music teachers that could give you a push.
The other part of the equation is identifying what it will do for you and some of that's doing the math, because income is a big factor for a lot of people. If they wanna add $5k to $10k a month, then we're looking at starting immediately. If it's like, a couple of hundred extra dollars here and there, it's going be a little bit slower. The income part of this as well as the time flexibility that comes with owning a private teaching studio is important to calculate because it affects the urgency and personal motivation for starting in the first place
Someone who really enjoys teaching is going to work harder at growing their teaching business, it's that simple. If you're looking at teaching because you think it might be a good side hustle, but you're not actually sure if you're going to like it, try it first of course, but people aren't motivated to do something if they're not actually sure it's going to be enjoyable.
Many musicians are excited about teaching because they're excited about the money but once we actually start to dive into what it's gonna take to get there and the work that's required, frequently people will opt out, and come to the conclusion that teaching music isn't actually a passion. When a music teacher is passionate about what they do, the success and lifestyle is much more sustainable.
There are several things to consider when deciding whether to teach in-person or online as a delivery method.
In-person lessons offer:
The ability to create a personal connection with your students
The ability to assess your student’s level of skill and understanding by observing them play/sing
The opportunity for immediate feedback
On the other hand, online lessons offer:
A wider reach to students who may not live near you
The ability to teach students in different time zones
Flexibility in scheduling
Now that we’ve gone over the pros and cons of each type of lesson, let’s move on to some tips for recruiting more students!
In general, most private music lessons instructors should focus on these three pillars:
The "original" private lesson format is a tried and true method to delivering high quality instruction. The student and teacher get the benefit of hands-on instruction with practicing and learning the instrument.
Video conferencing software allows for group lessons to be more and more scalable for a private music teacher. Just because there are more students, doesn't mean that quality of instruction decreases. Students benefit from collaborating with each other as well as a little bit of healthy competition.
This style is trending in the remote music lesson community. Students send a video recording of the practicing and send it to their music teacher. The teacher recording their feedback and instruction in another video and sends it back to the music student. What is really cool about this is the time flexibility it creates. No need for scheduling or make-up lessons!
Setting up a studio management software from day one can help you run the day-to-day operations. Usually a private music business is started by "solopreneurs" who can benefit from some automation, billing, scheduling and task management. Businesses use customer relationship management (CRM) software, and so should private lesson instructors.
Adding your business to online directories can help! Google My Business is a great way to get started. You can also add your business to Yelp, and create a Facebook business page.
A basic website is helpful, but should not be the main focus! This adds legitimacy to your business and allows people to find you. The investment into a fancy website and SEO can me made once you're running and profitable.
Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Youtube, TikTok....
There are so many to choose from, but start with 1 or 2 that your audience hangs out the most on. If you're not sure, ask them!
The best way to find out what social media platforms your future students are using is to simply ask them. You can include a question in your initial contact form or add a field to your student information sheet that asks “What is the best way to reach you?” By identifying which platform your students prefer, you can focus your efforts on the platform that will be most effective in reaching them.
Posting relevant and engaging content regularly is key to building an online following. But what counts as “relevant and engaging” content?
Here are a few ideas:
• Share photos and videos of you teaching or performing
• Write blog posts about music topics (How to practice effectively, The benefits of learning an instrument, etc.)
• Share resources like sheet music, backing tracks, or instructional videos
• Post announcements about upcoming events or performances
By posting relevant and engaging content on social media, you can reach a wider audience and build relationships with potential students. Most importantly, make sure your content is shareable! Parents love to share posts of their children succeeding in their lessons.
The first step to recruiting more students is to create a lesson package that is attractive and profitable. When coming up with your pricing, be sure to consider the time you’ll be spending on each lesson, as well as the cost of any materials you’ll need to provide. In order to make your package even more enticing, consider adding in some bonuses or extras that will sweeten the deal for potential students. For example, you could offer a free music theory course to anyone who signs up for five or more lessons. Or, if you teach piano lessons, you could include a free copy of sheet music for popular songs.
How much should you charge?
Roughly, in the US the average is $1 per minute of private music, one-on-one instruction. One factor that will go into this rate include the experience and education level of the instructor. Location and a cost of living adjustment can also be factored in.
The second step to recruiting more private lessons students is to identify a source of potential students. There are many places you can look for students, such as online directories, word-of-mouth referrals, or even flyers and posters around town. Once you’ve identified a few potential sources of students, narrow it down to the most impactful and start reaching out and marketing your services. (We will go into depth on this later.)
Enrollment Process: The third and final step to recruiting more students is to create an enrollment process that is easy to follow and repeatable. This means having a system in place for handling inquiries, scheduling consultations, and collecting payments. By streamlining your enrollment process, you’ll make it easier for both you and your potential students to get started.
Now that we’ve gone over the three steps to recruiting more students, let’s take a look at some specific strategies you can use to find potential students, as well as a few things to avoid.
A common mistake when first starting a music studio or when trying to grow one, is advertising too early. There are many channels for advertising online, but without a proven lesson package, this can be like striking a match to light a giant log without any kindling. Another factor to this is that most often, students that sign up for music lessons via an advertisement are looking for a deal or a low price and are rarely an ideal student for a high-performing music teacher. These students are also generally one-time customers who will leave as soon as they find a better deal or their circumstances change.
One of the best ways to recruit new students is by asking your current students for referrals. Your current students are your biggest advocates and are likely to be more than happy to spread the word about your business. You can offer a discount or other incentive for anyone who refers a new student who signs up for lessons. Posting on online directories and social media can help!
Another great way to find potential students is to reach out to local schools and music programs. Many parents are always looking for ways to help their children develop their musical talents. By partnering with a local school or music program, you can reach a larger audience of potential students.
One way to find potential students is to attend community events, such as local fairs or festivals. This can be a great way to meet potential students and their families and get your name out there. You can also set up a booth at these events to promote your music business.
This can be a great way to meet potential students and their families. Fairs and festivals for "adjacent" arts programs like musicals, acting camps, homeschooling and even scouting programs can be great events to meet new potential students and their parents.
If you have any connections with past band directors or professors, they may be able to put you in touch with families who are looking for music lessons for their children. Remember to give before you ask. Build rapport with school teachers by offering to assist with a project or guest teach a class.
Most important thing here is to build rapport and a relationship with a band director, choir leader or industry professional before asking for a referral. Offer to teach a class, pick up a gig or complete a project first. When you make the ask, make sure to provide information on your music teaching business, including the openings you currently have and your contact information. Asking for referrals can feel daunting, but remember that everyone you ask knows other people who may be interested in taking private lessons. The more people you ask, the more likely it is that you’ll get a few students!
The most important thing to remember when marketing your studio is that you are not just selling a service, you are selling an experience. Students and parents want to know that their child will be able to learn and grow in their musical ability, but they also want to know that they will have fun doing it! Be sure to highlight the unique aspects of your teaching style and what sets you apart from other music teachers in your area. I hope these tips will help you recruit more students to your private music lessons business. Remember, focus on constructing a profitable lesson package, finding a predictable source of students, and having a repeatable enrollment process. These three fundamentals will help you get more private music lesson students.
If you are looking for quality coaching that gets results alongside a community of sustainable private music studios, you are in the right place! Outside the Bachs offers quality coaching and resources for music teachers who want to build a thriving business. Our community is full of music teachers from all over the world who are ready to support and help you grow!
Kelly Riordan is the co-founder of Outside the Bachs, LLC - a program designed to support musicians in creating their own private music studios and delivering the highest quality education to their students. Her passion for music education is present not only in her own studio, but in her support of 3,000+ students in studios around the world.
Kelly Riordan is a musician, pedagogue, and music business marketer. Her private studio was founded in 2012 and proudly boasts several recent graduates who have gone on to study music and music education. Her pedagogy is focused on interactive experiences that give students a strong foundation in both technique and aural skills.
Her marketing experience began with an internship at the Waukesha County Conservatory of Music, where she was responsible for running outreach programs in the community to build brand awareness and attract new students.
Upon relocating after the completion of her graduate program, Riordan used these same principles to grow her private studio to a full-time business of 43 students in less than 3 months. When the majority of lessons moved online in 2020, Kelly stepped up and began helping colleagues learn to teach remotely, refine their business management, and find students through organic marketing.