Changing to Group Piano Teaching:
Building a Group Piano Studio in Georgia
By L. Stevens
(This article originally appeared in the 1997 Spring Muse News©, Vol. 7, No. 1, Page 2)
My first year as a group piano teacher went very well. A few parents were afraid of change, of course, but the large majority of parents and students trusted my judgement that group piano classes would greatly benefit their children. I had about sixty students and lost only six when I changed to group piano classes from private instruction. By January, my advertising efforts had increased my studio enrollment to eighty students!
When I say "my studio" I really mean "my studios"! My husband and I live too far in the country for me to have a home studio, so I teach piano classes in different locations in town: a music store, the civic center, a private school, and at a jazzercize store. Except for the music store, which supplies me with in-store keyboards, I must transport my own keyboards from location to location. My husband built a wooden rack in my mini van to hold my keyboards, and now I'm a "portable studio." This is tough on my electronic keyboards, and my goal is to one day move into town and be able to teach in my own home studio. But for now, I am busily building my group piano business!
Following Mayron's advice in her Advertising & Business Manual, I formed an advertising plan. First, I placed ads on three radio stations. I wrote a general idea of what I wanted the ads to cover, and the stations made the ads sound professional! I was pleased with the results. The ads were of two parents talking about piano lessons for their children. Next, I placed signs in the window of the music store. Then, I had T-shirts made that say "The Lori Stevens Piano Studios", listing all the studio locations and my home phone number. These T-shirts were given to the students when they registered for group piano lessons! I also ran ads in the local Penny Shopper. Those ads generated many calls for lessons. In December, I took my students to the local mall, and we played Christmas music! All of the kids wore my studio T-shirts, of course. Interestingly, in addition to many children, I have gotten fourteen adult students from all this advertising!
Because of my high visibility with all the advertising, many students are transferring to me. But, it is very difficult for a privately taught student to play ensemble piano. They are generally very weak in counting and sight-reading. I offer a free sight-reading lesson for all students before I place them in a class. This really tells me the student's level of musical knowledge. Overall, the students like group piano instruction much better than private lessons. And, the students are becoming better pianists because of the concentration on correct rhythm counting. In fact, they are incredibly better! I love the fact that Mayron's music introduces eighth notes on the first lesson!
As for my teaching time, I am now teaching about twenty-two hours a week. Before, I was teaching thirty-five hours each week with fewer students! My income has gone way up, too! I'm much happier, and so is my husband!