Some of you may have a full studio with a waiting list of students who are desperate to study with you when a slot opens up. But there is probably a large percentage of you who have empty slots in your teaching schedule that you would like to (or need to) fill. Depending on where you live, there may be a great deal of competition for music teachers. As a matter of fact, anyone can post a sign out their window saying “Music Lessons Taught Here.” It is up to you to target the kind of students you want and actively recruit them. So here are some tips for how to recruit students for private music lessons.
First things first: Decide who you want to recruit
It’s important that you define the type of students you want to have. If you have completed your studio business plan, you have already done this. But you need to very specifically define who your target market is – the students that you want to fill your studio. What is their age, their gender, their geographic location, their experience, their socio-economic background, their ultimate goals, their reason to study with you? If you define this from the onset, you will know how to go about recruiting them.
Reach out to local school music teachers
The music teachers in the public or private schools around you have a captive audience of students who want to make music. Introduce yourself to those music teachers. Offer your assistance for their program by offering to do a free workshop for their students on the pedagogy of your instrument, or a masterclass for their students who are preparing for solo competition or college auditions. Offer to accompany their choir or participate in the pit orchestra of the musical. Make sure that you tell them how you want to help them and support their program. If they aren’t able to offer you an extensive amount of time for a workshop or masterclass, then ask them if they would allow you to come into their ensemble rehearsal for 15 minutes when you can introduce yourself to the students, talk to them about the benefits of taking private music lessons and leave your cards and brochures so that they can take them home to their parents. Once you have a school music teacher on your side, the relationship will pay off greatly because if they have a choice, they will send their interested students to you for years to come.
Give public masterclasses
Rent a good space in a central location (or if your studio is big enough you can do it there) and organize a public masterclass. At first, talk to a handful of your most eager current students and offer them the chance to perform in the masterclass and then ask them to bring at least one person they know who might be interested in taking lessons. Make sure you tell them that this is not only an opportunity for them but it is also a chance for prospective students to see you and how you teach. Confirm with your students before the class that they have a guest coming. Have a series of these classes with maybe one class a month that is for your current students and then one class a month that is for prospective students. You can recruit those participants at your current student masterclass or with your network of local school music teachers. When you first start these masterclasses, I would offer them for free. As you become more in demand, you could charge a small fee for participants and a smaller fee for auditors. It would also be a great idea to video tape these classes and post them on YouTube or your website as an advertisement for your studio.
One more note about masterclasses: remember that this is an opportunity for prospective students to see you work and get a sense of who you are as a teacher. But these students also want to see that you can produce results. A masterclass is not a place to get too specific in the minute details of technique. Identify an issue that you can fix on the spot. No, the student doesn’t have to be able to do the technique perfectly but you do want the student and the listeners to see that when they do what you tell them to do, there is a positive difference.
Start a Summer Music Camp
If you have connected with a school, church or community center, talk to the music teacher/coordinator about starting a week-long summer music camp for their students or the students of several schools or churches. Make it affordable enough so that you will get the maximum amount of students. Offer lessons and theory and some performance opportunities. It doesn’t have to be complicated but the more good feedback you receive, the more popular your program will become in future years. And the students won’t want the fun to end during the school year and they will sign up for lessons with you!
Offer a discount for referrals – and then get referrals!
Let’s face it: the bulk of your studio is going to be filled with students who were referred to you by word of mouth. If students like their teachers, they recommend their teachers. Have a generous referral policy in place that is beneficial for the current student and the prospective student. Offer a new student a free lesson when they mention the name of their referrer and offer the referrer a 50% discount on their next lesson once the prospective student has had their free lesson. Or you could have a bulk policy – if a student recommends three new students who end up taking regularly from you, offer that current student one free lesson. The possibilities are endless at what you can offer. Just make sure you tell everyone about your referral policy so they will want to take advantage of it!
Referrals can also work within your network of teachers and musicians. Tell the school music teachers or church musicians or anyone else who may know prospective students that if they mention the referrer by name when they contact you, their first lesson is free or heavily discounted. Make sure you thank your referrer for their recommendation!
Need more ideas?
This is just the tip of the iceberg as far as ideas for recruiting students is concerned. There is an excellent book filled with ideas that we reviewed and you might want to check out. It is called “The PracticeSpot Guide to Promoting Your Teaching Studio.” But whatever you do, make a recruiting plan and work it every day! Your studio may not be filled overnight but it will be filled!
Do you have any great recruiting ideas that have worked for you? Let us know in the comments below!