Over the summer, PrivateLessons.com had quite a few inquiries from adults looking to start private music lessons. Some were taking early retirement and wanted to get back to playing the trumpet or flute, instruments they played back in high school.
Adult students take music lessons purely for pleasure. Private music teachers that understand the dynamic of teaching adults can be very successful in helping them provided both parties have an upfront and clear understanding of expectations.
In contrast with those that had prior musical experience, adult beginners encounter a major learning curve. Having said that, for many beginners taking music lessons is more about learning music appreciation rather than the pressure of conquering a musical instrument.
Successful music teachers understand that an adult’s life is complicated enough that practicing for lessons may not be high on a priority list.
Adult music students approach lessons intellectually and may want to learn how to appreciate music better and enjoy the how-to process during lessons. They may also be excited to have a unique vantage point into creative experience of their teachers who may be performing and recording musicians.
In seeking private music lessons, adult students should look for a private music teacher they can connect with on a personal level, whose company they like, and who can offer an enjoyable hour of discovery -- the way private music lessons should be.
Andre Enceneat, a PrivateLessons.com member in Maryland, reminds me that even for part-time private music teachers who teach a handful of students, all aspects of teaching process are equally important.
As far as $ not being a motivator, that is not the case. I like the money that it generates. I have a full time job, and I am also a part time father, cub scout leader, and professional musician, so to have more than 6 students would spread me a little too thin. I started my studio in 1996 to help prepare me for a job as a public school teacher (I have a masters in music education, but I was a banker at the time...long story!). The studio helped me to learn how to work with different voice types. Working in an elementary school, I only see children as a certain level of development. As a vocal instructor and coach, I have students ranging in ages from 13 to 55. I like the challenge that it presents. It has, in turn, made me a better vocalist as well.
By now, you must have noticed that I prefer marketing expertise from outside the music industry.
I do crave fresh perspectives and like to read smart guys that have meaningful stuff to say. Their business views easily apply to our niche of small music teaching businesses. That’s how we learn and grow.
Independent music teachers do not live in a vacuum and indeed must compete with other teachers, music schools (which still are very small businesses, but certainly are big in contrast with solo acts) and the rest of non-music market that competes for people’s disposable income.
Some independent teachers grow fast, so much so that their business model changes as they expand property, faculty, management, and more.
Business growth could be a good thing but some growth may pose management challenges of scaling a business. And then, there is the loss of intimate service independent music teachers set out to offer.
When is enough, enough? What is the optimal model of success?
So, here are some good ideas from these very smart guys I like to read.
Private music teaching is a small business and a rewarding profession in many ways.
Musicians have the power to define their own success. Some intend to build full-time teaching studios while others desire only a handful of students.
Full-time independent music teachers must be super dedicated, organized and focused on their business. Clearly, making a full-time living from a private studio is a major motivator, but to succeed it requires offering an exceptional educational service and top-notch client relations.
Some musicians are part-time teachers by choice and have other income streams. Motivation to teach is less about money, however to succeed as a teacher, again, an exceptional educational service and top-notch client relations are key.
Here is a terrific quote from Tom Peters on the subject of how small companies can be successful in a competitive world of large players. It applies to any business.
*Excellence! (A small player ... per me ... has no right or reason to exist unless they are in Relentless Pursuit of Excellence. One earns the right— one damn day and client experience at a time!— to beat the Big Guys in your chosen niche!)
Every month Artist Spotlight celebrates recorded work on CDs by PrivateLessons.com members in general, not necessarily just upcoming releases. August 2005 Spotlight includes recordings by very talented Rock, Jazz, R&B artists. Take a moment and listen to some samples. The talent is very impressive.