The beginning of the school year can be a hectic time as you finalize your schedule and recruit new students to fill the gaps. Whether you’re just starting out, or looking to expand your reach, there are many ways to grow your studio.
There are numerous methods for reaching prospective students and getting your name out there. The best is word of mouth. If students, parents, and directors are already hearing your name, that’s less work for you! Obviously this comes with time as you get settled in your area and start to produce results. Do your students enjoy working with you? Do parents find you reliable and easy to deal with? Do directors see the results in their students and enjoy the recognition the program receives from these students’ successes? As the year progresses, look for local solo contests, ensembles, scholarship competitions, and college events that your students can participate in. Hold recitals at schools, churches, or local venues to give your students valuable playing experience and show the community what your studio is about. Where can you and your students get involved? If your studio is more established, consider applying to perform at your state conference or your instrument specific conference if it is near enough.
If you’re new to the area, the best way to get in touch with directors is in person. Sending an email or making a phone call often doesn’t produce results because directors are so busy! Find out what the local band or orchestra directors’ association is and make an appearance at a meeting to introduce yourself and express interest in teaching private lessons or offering clinics. This is even better if a friend or colleague will introduce you and offer a testimony to your qualifications! Getting involved in these organizations often comes with opportunities to judge auditions and solo festivals, which is another good chance to connect with directors and students. Something as small as providing valuable feedback on a solo/ensemble sheet might get you a call from a director or prospective student! If you’re not busy, why not give some free sessions just to show them what you can do? Think outside of the box as well, any opportunity for some face time with other educators is helpful!
Another valuable resource for growing your studio is other private teachers. The people I respect as musicians and educators are the ones I recommend when parents or directors are looking to hire. Take the time to get to know other musicians in your area and consider chamber music or splitting recitals to gain exposure for everyone. Is there an established teacher in your area who will recommend that their overflow students contact you? Perhaps a multiple woodwind teacher will send you their more advanced players if a student is getting serious and you are more specialized. Getting to know local university professors is invaluable as well. You will be sending them prospective college students while they may refer younger students to you. Get involved with university events pertaining to your instrument and make yourself useful to their recruiting efforts and studio activities.
Remember to keep your recruiting materials up to date. Always have plenty of business cards handy and carry lesson flyers when you have an opportunity to pass them out or tack one up at the local library! Keep your resume and CV up to date with all teaching and performance experience. A website is also a valuable resource for those googling your name or searching for lessons in your area. LinkedIn or a Facebook business page can also bring in students.
If you have a school or area where you are established and wish to bring in more students, keep your focus there! Talk to the directors about performing for the class, holding sessions where all students can attend, and find opportunities to be visible and meet parents and students. Depending on how your local schools start beginners, maybe you can host a beginner session to start good fundamentals and meet new students. Even coming to class for a sectional early on will show students who you are and start developing that relationship. At higher levels, consider a back-to-school themed event to get everyone back on track after summer break. Fall is a big time for regional and All-State auditions as well, so plan to have events at schools where you already teach to help out your own students and gain interest from others who are not enrolled in lessons. Attending school performances and events is also a big way to show support and build your rapport with parents!
Remember that building a studio takes time. This is a people business! You need the trust of your students and other educators, which doesn’t happen overnight. The process of growing and maintaining a successful studio happens year round, so consider some of these suggestions throughout the school year to make your life easier next fall!