A day in the life of a piano teacher 🍎 🍏

I find myself really busy all the time. There are a million things on my todo list and honestly, there’s not enough time in the day to get everything done. For me, I always make sure that all of my students are progressing. And that takes a lot of attention and decision making every day.

Today, I started out with a doctors appointment. I cleaned out my teaching bag yesterday night so I have a clean start for this new week. I also answered some text messages from parents. I almost always get texts every day from parents either to reschedule or cancel a lesson. Before lessons, I spend time answering all these texts for the day. I then start packing my teaching bag. I carry a lot of materials with me when I go to teach. It’s a big deal to really stock up on materials because my students use it up very fast. After that, I usually almost always bring a big bottle of water and a coffee for the day. Then, I’m out the door.

For me, I use google calendar for all of my scheduling. I know I’ve written a separate blog post about google calendar before, but if you guys want me to write another one, I can explain more about how I use it. Google calendar is my lifeline. It’s where I store ALL of my information on lessons and addresses. I also store personal events and reminders for every aspect of my life on there. It’s kind of like a planner, but more catered to my style of planning. I also share my calendar with my boyfriend so he can see what I have to do for the day. He also shares his calendar with me. I glance at my calendar for the day and I see how my day is going to be.

I travel to each of my students’ homes to teach. It’s convenient for me because I don’t want to teach from my own home. And they like the convenience of it. Each student has lesson books and technical exercise books I’ve chosen for them. We go through the lesson by me watching them play. And I give feedback. At times, I’ll have to teach a concept and they just listen. I have four lessons today. That’s quite a large load for me on a typical day. I average about 4-5 lessons a day.

I don’t know how today’s going to go because I haven’t started my lessons yet. But I hope it’s going to be a good day 🀞 I hope everyone is having a good Monday!

What’s been new with me

My birthday just recently passed and I’ve been working a lot. I have 21 piano and double bass students that I teach every week. They are quite a handful of young kids. And I’ve been noticing that some of the younger ones are not practicing. I’ve been thinking of implementing a check in on practicing every Thursday to see how their progress is going.

I dealt with some trials and tribulations yesterday, but I shared that with my other blog. I went out to buy my own shoes, so no one will steal them. And I hid my current ones away too 😁 They are my β€œteaching shoes” that I wear every day to go teach. Even my oldest sister, that I don’t live with anymore, knows that those shoes are mine. But somehow, they were taken when I needed to wear them… now that won’t happen! I’m also going camping today with friends. We’re camping in their backyard haha because we don’t want to tough out the actual wilderness. And bathroom breaks are a lot easier.

I have my first piano lesson of the day in 45 minutes. And I’ve been spending these last few minutes, as I always do, just relaxing and calming down. Yesterday was a good full day of lessons. My students definitely cheer me up when I feel down.

I hope everyone is having a great day πŸ‘

Burnt Out

I’ve been constantly on the go moving from task to task. I haven’t really had time to relax. My job requires me to be there six days out of the week and I’ve finally hit the wall today. My brain is fried. I know that if I push myself to work today, I will end up regretting it later. And I’ll also be very miserable.

So what did I do? I canceled my lessons for the rest of the day. I knew that it would have repercussions because not everyone has the ability to make their own schedule. I do, however. I rescheduled my lessons for another day. For my own mental health, I had to do it.

It’s good to always be on the move. People strive for progress and are always surrounded by responsibilities. What happens when we finally relax and give our mind a break? Great things. Even better. I think we come back stronger than ever. And we are recharged to start again. Just like a low phone battery, we have to recharge. And then, we’ll be ready for another day.

How are my incentive programs going??

Incentive programs:

When you use incentives (candy, prizes, or small promises) to motivate your students to accomplish goals

Hi! Yes, I’m back again writing another blog post. And I have no shame posting multiple blog posts in a day. It’s my blog and I do what I want! In my opinion, incentive programs are definitely worth using. Some teachers are against it like, “they’re too expensive…” or “the motivation should be the music” or “I’m a good teacher and I don’t need that, haven’t used that ever in my 100 years of teaching.”

That’s good for you guys. There’s noΒ right way of teaching, but each teacher has the freedom to customize their studio the way they want. As long as you are keeping up with everything each week, you do you!

For me, I use three different incentives. And I never really explain what they are unless I’m talking to my teaching friends. The reason I’m using three incentive programs is because it’sΒ summer time. And I want to reward those students who are still taking lessons consistently over the summer πŸ™‚ Summer should be fun also, so I like to spice it up and give them more fun things to do.

1. Star Page

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The one I use above to the right is the first star page I give to my students. It has less stars so it’s easier for them to complete. Students earn a star when they work on a song, complete a song in the book, or work on a work page. They use a marker to color in a star. Once they color all the stars, they earn a prize! And it’s usually a very nice surprise when I come to their next lesson with their prize. It’s not too difficult for them to complete even the one on the left. I like it because they have to work hard for it and learn to try the songs that they don’t like. But I also like it because it takes them about 2-3 months to complete it. I don’t want to be spending money every single week giving out prizes consecutively. Here are what my prize bags look like. I’ve given out more prizes than this but I didn’t take a picture every single time. Oops!

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I like to decorate these a lot because it makes them look even more special! This incentive isΒ very effective. If I had to choose, I would implement this one first and keep it. Students are also mucho motivated by this. Don’t tell them what surprise they’re getting! Leave them in suspense.

2. Small motivational erasers

smiles-wedge-erasersThese are not the exact ones I use. I didn’t take a picture of the ones I use, but these will do. I give one to each student per lesson. There are a lot of designs in mine, so I tell them that they can collect a new one each time. I haven’t shown them what they all look like, so it’s also a surprise to see what they are getting each week. This is a small token of my appreciation for them. They are helping me out by giving me business, and I really appreciate that. It’s something small, I get about 10 erasers for $1, but it has a huge meaning behind it. This incentive has been very effective so far. Students love it!

3. Gumball Machine
clipart-gumball-machine-picturesque-bubble-gum-learnfree-me-remarkable-emptyThis is my last incentive I recently added. I can’t take all the credit for this one because I got the idea from a teacher friend. Students will color one gumball each time as a practice chart. I am the judge on whether or not they practiced enough. The song has to be played better than last week. There are 100 gumballs, so this one also takes awhile to complete. As a joke, I like to tell them that the prize is… 5 cents! Haha it’s not, but it’s still funny to see their reactions. I know that this one is going to be difficult to implement, but it’s so new that I don’t have any results to share yet.

 

If you guys have any other ideas on incentives, please let me know πŸ™‚ If you liked my ideas, please like and share this blog post!

Cheers!

Should you travel or have students come to you?

If you are looking to start teaching, you have to ask yourself what kind of students you will be looking for. It’s difficult. There are days in which I wish my students would come to my studio and there are days in which I enjoy teaching in their home. Therefore, I prefer both. My studio caters to both kinds of students and that makes me happy πŸ™‚ However, if you are looking to figure out which is best for you, please keep reading.

Teaching from home

I’m not going to say that this is my favorite method, but it definitely has its benefits. I don’t like driving all the time because driving from location to location can take some time. It is also beneficial to be able to stack many students into one day. I understand that we are all trying to make money and this would be the best way to do it. There are some downsides to teaching from home though. I’ve found that my students make the piano keys dirty or they pound on my piano. It might not bother you, but it can depreciate the quality of your personal piano. Therefore, it does take some cost and benefits analysis to determine if this is the right method for you.

Traveling to students’ homes

I know that I said this wasn’t one of my favorite methods either, but that is why I have a mix. When you travel to students’ homes, you have to think about the time you are using and how much gas it takes. It’s not ideal, but many families would rather have the teacher come to their home. And you have to understand that many parents can’t leave their other children at home by themselves. On the other hand, I think that these are the most rewarding kind of students. I am able to create a stronger student-teacher bond when I travel to my students. They are happier and a lot more comfortable. I also find it interesting to see what their piano looks like haha The other day, I had a student rip a piano key out of her piano. It was definitely something, but I would never have been able to see that if they were at my studio. I can also create a large vision board of their progress for them if I teach at their home. Whichever method you choose, I wouldn’t recommend one over the other. It’s up to you on how you want to structure your studio πŸ™‚ Good luck and let me know how it goes!

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What to expect from your child’s teacher

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You may feel like your child’s teacher is not doing enough to prepare your child for success. You may also feel like they are extremely hardworking and you are more than satisfied with the results. Either way, your teacher is an extremely crucial part of your child’s learning. Their teacher is working to instill your child with knowledge and concepts. It takes awhile for this process to happen. I have found that it takes me 1 month to see significant progress from a student. I teach in 30 minute, 45 minute, and 1 hour intervals. If you choose to have lessons for 30 minutes a week, I am able to sufficiently teach your child enough information in that time. How is that possible? For many teachers, 30 minutes is not enough time. It goes by quickly and teachers are often rushing to finish teaching. For me, I spend ALL of the time teaching. I might begin by asking how your child is feeling that day or how they’re doing at school. However, that conversation is short and I jump right into teaching. All of my students know this about me. I am very focused and I cram lots of information into one lesson. I have students practice the music multiple times. I’m not a rigorous teacher either, I just expect accomplishments to be made. I am too nice to my students and I am not good at discipline. However, when we are having lessons, my students progress further. They learn more and they are constantly challenged. Teaching is heavily varied among all teachers. Ask your teacher what their method of teaching is and what kind of timeline/expectations they have for your child. Remember to also be kind to your teacher. They are inevitably putting more hours into teaching than you may think. Cheers, and have a great day!

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Overcoming Fears of Rejection (Piano Teacher Edition)

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I mean, let’s face it… fear is probably the number one reason why we can’t expand our business. We often ask ourselves why our business is not working or if investing into our business is worth it. Remember this: it takes money to make money. You have to invest your time and some money in order to be successful. You can be as safe as you want and that is definitely okay. However, you have to ask yourself whether or not you really want this. Do you want to make your own business work? Do you want to be able to work for yourself? I think the answer to these questions are up to you. YOU make the decision, but never let other people make the decision for you.

Another fear that I initially had was the fear of losing students after only a couple of lessons. I had lost so many students that I liked and I almost thought there was no point in continuing to teach. However, I had to get over it. People will stop taking lessons eventually. I have to be happy that I even got the chance to make money and that I was able to teach them something.

There are many fears that we may have, but we cannot live in constant fear. We have to reach for our dreams. Even if they may seem far away, you have to believe in yourself. If anyone is going to believe in you, it has to be yourself. Stay strong and grow your amazing business. Don’t let the fear stop you πŸ™‚

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Is thumbtack a good method of getting piano students?

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Ahhh… I think this is the age-old question that I always encounter. Is thumbtack a good method of getting students? My answer? No. I’ve had a lot of teachers recommend that I use thumbtack. I actually started out on thumbtack, but it was never a successful tool for me. Thumbtack was good…but it lacked the ability to give me good students. I only got one student from thumbtack and she was paying me in 1 dollar bills. Now, you can imagine my frustration. I was driving to her house one day for lessons in the pouring rain. My car was skidding in different directions, but thank god I managed to get to her house safely. She lived about 35-40 minutes away from me. And she wouldn’t answer her phone. I was like… okay? How am I supposed to confirm with her whether or not she is available for a lesson today? I rang her doorbell when I got there. It took her 15 minutes to answer the door. She told me that she cannot have lessons today because she has to go somewhere. In addition, she also told me that she is not planning on continuing lessons for now. I was okay with it, but I asked her to pay me for the rest of the lessons we had. I wanted the payment now because I knew I wouldn’t see her for awhile. She was hesitant, but she came back with a large stack of 1 dollar bills for $25. I drove all the way over to her house just to have a lesson canceled in person! This isn’t the first experience I had with thumbtack. I decided to give it multiple tries and it wasn’t successful. Students wanted the cheapest price, but they also wanted good reviews. They WANTED to start learning the piano, but they want it to be free. Not everything in life is going to be free. I can guarantee you that if you are contemplating on using thumbtack, make sure that you are actually getting clients/students. Do not continue to use it if the people you get are flaky or hesitant because thumbtack charges you for every request that you make. I would continue to use it periodically if they let you do a free quote. Otherwise, I highly recommend other methods of getting students.

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The beginning.

I’m very new to blogging. I’ve made many posts on Facebook about teaching and my experience with the piano, but I feel like that was different somehow. Making my own business was a harsh, daunting task. I often found myself stuck at a low number of students for awhile and I just wasn’t making enough money to support myself. It wasn’t until I decided to just go for it, that I grew my piano studio exponentially. I mean… I literally grew it over a three day span.

I plan to share with you how I set up my studio, what I did to maintain my studio, and how I advertised.

In the beginning, I was living in my parent’s home. And that was great because it allowed me to host my classes there. It was a place for me to invite students and teach. It may seem very easy to teach someone, but I STRUGGLED. I wasn’t good at teaching and many people were dropping out of my studio. This was very discouraging for someone at the age of 20. Why didn’t people like me? Why were they just ignoring my calls? Did I do something wrong? The answer to all of these questions was… calm down. I needed to stop worrying about the negative things. I was a beginner. How could I expect to keep 5 students at a time when I literally had 0 students two weeks ago? My advice for you is to keep calm. Do not be discouraged by students canceling or not showing up. Remember that people are busy and they are trying their best. Do not judge everyone right away and you will save yourself a lot of heartache.

After 2-3 years of maintaining my studio, I found myself getting used to a routine. I was always checking my schedule and managing my time well. My motto was to never be late to anything. And that worked! People started to like me and they were very pleased with my service. I guess the best part of teaching was that it was very flexible. Maintaining your studio is not very difficult. You just have to stay focused, organized, and dedicated; these three traits are very important to maintaining and keeping your studio.

Stay tuned for another blog post about how to effectively advertise πŸ™‚

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INSTAGRAM: Pocketfuloflearn

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