June 30, 2005

Welcome America - Opera on the Square

Philadelphia is the place to be during the week of July 4th celebration. Welcome America is a massive production that is sure to bring the mayor John F. Street to all the events.

One of the finest events is Opera on the Square, performed by current students and alumni of the Academy of Vocal Arts. I say it proudly since all of them were my students at AVA (map), at one time or another. And as the mayor predicted in his speech to the audience, they entertained in “high fashion.”

Then, there is the six degrees of separation. More like one. Read on.

The show must go on. The skies were ominous. It was threatening to rain. Yet, people packed the Rittenhouse Square (map). Pictured left to right are soprano Latonia Moore, soprano Cristina Nassif, mezzo-soprano Jennifer Hsiung, tenor Stephen Costello, and missing in the photo baritone, Yungbae Yang.

Susan Anders Brizick, a member, was one of the performers on stage. As I tried to get her attention, the back stage area began to flood with fans. Oh well, Susan, I will say hello by email.

Next season, Cristina Nassif will appear in La Traviata with Virginia Opera. Here is Cristina with her little fans Rachel and Gabrielle.

Stay tuned. The party isn’t over yet.


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What and How vs. Why

People talk and people listen. When we tell stories listeners form all sorts of conclusions that range from true/false, good/bad to interesting/boring.

A prospective music student is a hiring authority and how a private music teacher tells their success story determines if engagement takes place. So think about the following.

Large companies and universities use an interview method called Behavioral Event Interview (BEI). In a nutshell, the method isolates a specific past event, a success story, which gives one a more accurate prediction of future performance in similar situation.

When you tell your story, one listens for what you actually did and how you did it in a specific past event that caused you to succeed vs. what you think you did.

The why questions force you to interpret while what and how questions elicit cause, action and outcome, resulting in a more accurate account of your behaviors, knowledge, skills and experience.

Some examples:

Fortune telling: “What I would do …”
Generalization: “What I usually do …”
Specific past event: “I had a similar situation. This is what I did … this is how I did it… this was the outcome …”
Improve on how to tell a more accurate story of your past success and watch your business grow.


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June 29, 2005

Referrals Equal Lifeline

For private music teachers generating referrals is innate. Musicians have done it for centuries; it’s second nature. How well one executes on leads is a different issue.

Referrals are a lifeline for all businesses, big and small. Asking for referrals is one of the most important business habits one can develop.

For example in brokerage, insurance or executive search, sales people either swim or sink. Some companies may offer a distinguished brand name but little in terms of marketing support. Constant person-to-person networking, generating referrals, and following up on all leads is the key to success.


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June 28, 2005

Invaluable Skills - Referrals

This comes from Maryann Devine:

Ghena, re: referrals in your post, I was reminded of a great Harvard Business Review piece called "The One Number You Need to Grow," by Frederick F. Reichheld. The author found in his research that the greatest predictor of business growth for companies that surveyed their customers was whether the customers answered "yes" to the question, "Would you refer the business to people you know?" Pretty powerful. -- Maryann


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June 27, 2005

Invaluable Skills

In large companies, marketing is a complex machine divided into inbound and outbound functions.

Inbound marketing group -- product management -- is responsible for researching market needs/wants to help create a product/service.

Outbound marketing group -- product marketing -- is responsible for getting the word out to the market about a product/service.

A marketing person that can wear both hats effectively is invaluable.

Here is a marketing cycle of an individual private music teacher:

  • Researches student needs/wants first-hand
  • Develops/delivers customized educational service
  • Grows business by referral

  • Ghena

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    June 26, 2005

    Lesson in Brand Positioning

    Once, I saw a clever TV commercial by a good company. The narrator talked about what goes into building of a quality company against a backdrop of a ship receiving two of everything -- two Mercedes-Benzes, two Steinway pianos, etc. You get the picture, very clever.

    I recall the brands in the ad except the company brand that ran it.


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    June 24, 2005

    Harvard. Steinway. Tiffany.

    Periodically, many organizations do, and should do, short-term and long-term strategic planning. Today I served on a branding committee at the Academy of Vocal Arts, where I am a faculty member. Very glad that Maryann Devine, AVA’s Director of Marketing and Public Relations, invited me into this group of very smart board members.

    One day before the meeting, Maryann introduced us to an excerpt from Tom Asacker’s book A Clear Eye for Branding.

    A Clear Eye for Branding

    Tom Asacker, an important marketing expert, explains branding in a simple language. To paraphrase, a brand is a sum of many elements evoking a feeling people have about a product or service. It is an expectation based on prior experiences. That’s it.

    Now, look up and read the headline again. Any feelings?


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    June 23, 2005

    Artist Spotlight

    We just announced a new monthly Artist Spotlight feature. It complements the Studio and Event Spotlight that we run on our main pages, including this blog. members are private music teachers, performers and recording artists. The latest feature closes the loop and brings our message into focus.

    Here is a nice comment from Mary Johnson in Sunnyvale, CA:

    Mary Johnson - Education: B.M. Music, University of Michigan. Pianist, piano teacher offering piano lessons in Sunnyvale, California - CAVery significant new features! Thank you for all you do to promote private teachers! My studio has flourished with the power of your web resource. - Mary Johnson

    Many in the music business produce independent CDs. They finance these projects with their own money, which is tough enough, and recouping the investment is even harder.

    True talent, however, must create and is unstoppable.

    Exposing our members’ creative achievements via Artist Spotlight is important and it helps attract students that may be interested to study with recording artists.

    There is no two ways about it -- people are fascinated with the creative/recording process. This unique vantage point offers students a rewarding learning experience while helping support their teachers’ new recording projects.


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    June 21, 2005

    Tell a Genuine Story

    Loren West is friend and a talented Rock songwriter and guitarist. His music video was one of the first to appear on early MTV programs.

    One afternoon we had lunch at his house. We talked about music, music marketing, Rock School documentary, and mostly, I was nonstop about all the wonderful developments with Before long Loren says, “I want to join.” A few weeks later, I get his voice message. Here is the transcript:

    Loren West - Education: B.A. - Music Composition, Hunter College, New York  Offers guitar and songwriting lessons in PhiladelphiaHey Ghena, it’s Loren. How are you doing? Hey man, is kicking butt here. I got more students than I know what to do with, in less than a month. It’s really amazing! I want to give you some feedback. Give me a call when you have a chance. Talk to you later, dude.

    I called back saying that I was glad it worked out, and still, how I worry about overselling the network, particularly with friends. Loren replied, “You weren’t selling me. Your enthusiasm did. You know I am a very skeptical guy. experience blew me away.”

    I graciously accepted the compliment then turned the tables around. While has the reach, it is the individual stories that excite prospective students. Loren’s message is genuine, easy to understand, and straight to the point. That’s what our market wants.


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    June 20, 2005

    The Power of Context

    As in semantics, were words are merely shells until filled with meaning, derives its meaning from musicians that join the network every day. I am firmly convinced of that. They are sincerely passionate about music and each has an interesting story to tell.

    Our visitors respond to that passion. They get it instantly. The words private lessons and find a music teacher are simple guides telling students that they are in the right neighborhood. Here students find real people, highly creative musicians welcoming them into their world.


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    June 19, 2005

    The Keyword is Meaningful

    In the previous post, I brought up the book Blink by Malcolm Gladwell. It talks about cutting edge research on rapid cognition, about what happens in the first few seconds when we explore new things. Its message applies to all facets of our lives and certainly the Internet experience.

    We set out to build into a service that is meaningful for both musicians and students. I emphasize the word meaningful because that was the initial instinct and the driving force for building something special, something that offers real value.

    Attaining a clear message is a painstaking process, particularly on the Internet, where in an instant, while looking at a webpage people decide to take action or not.

    Several members recounted when they first visited they saw musicians on the roster that were just like them. They knew instantly the network was right for them, it was meaningful.

    In these moments of quick decisions, people apply vast knowledge that helps prioritize their Internet experience.


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    June 17, 2005

    Impressions in a Blink of an Eye

    First impressions are powerful. In the first few seconds, we get and know things.

    I am reading a fascinating book entitled Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell. It is about rapid cognition, the kind of thinking that happens in a blink of an eye. Here’s how Gladwell describes it:

    When you meet someone for the first time, or walk into a house you are thinking of buying, or read the first few sentences of a book, your mind takes about two seconds to jump to a series of conclusions. Well, "Blink" is a book about those two seconds, because I think those instant conclusions that we reach are really powerful and really important and, occasionally, really good.

    As I was flipping through the pages of Blink in a bookstore, the name Sergiu Celibidache jumped right out at me. Talk about six degrees of separation. I met Celibidache while still a student at Curtis in Philadelphia. A cult-like figure, he was a brilliant conductor, who was either loved or hated. In the next few weeks, I will add a story on Celibidache under a title (first that comes to mind) Radical Differentiation.
    I read the final chapter of Blink, and then I bought the book.


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    June 15, 2005

    Out of Chaos Emerged a Nice Little Service is turning nine this summer. It is with great pride I say that we now have substantial business traction and help thousands of students and private music teachers.

    My name is Ghenady Meirson (
    teacher, recording artist). My friends call me Ghena. I will use this journal tool to communicate with our various constituencies.

    Main theme is Music Marketing. For centuries, musicians give private music lessons to children and adults. We are a part of a multi-billion-dollar music industry, yet private lessons culture exists as a kind of invisible network. Many private teachers go in and out of business without a trace and word-of-mouth promotion is a standard marketing method. The Internet gave us the opportunity to organize, learn and succeed. We will talk about that.

    In the right column are links to journal entries, syndication tools, and Studio, Event and Artist Spotlight.

    Each journal entry has a Contact Me link that takes you to my Resume. Leave a private message and I will do my best to respond, but no promises. Should you like a particular post, click on envelope icon to send it to a friend.


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