When we need to find more students, that need is often accompanied by a feeling of desperation and panic. But it would be a mistake to rush into looking for and accepting students.
As music teachers, there are only a limited number of teaching hours in any given week.
It is crucial that these hours are filled with students that we enjoy teaching, and who connect with our teaching style.
This is the most important step in the process of finding your ideal students. You are not Amazon.com of music teachers, you cannot serve every need or help every student.
Ask yourself these questions:
1. What kind of students do you enjoy teaching?
If you already have students, answer these questions and consider your current students. I highly recommend writing down your answers. The act of can help you sort through your thoughts.
Which students are you most happy to see? What students leave you feeling energized when their lesson is over? What do these students have in common?
Which students do you anticipate their lesson with anxiety or even dread? Which students seem to leave you feeling discouraged after their lessons? What do these students have in common?
I know, this seems very mean-spirited, and no students have wonderful lessons every time. We’re just collecting data right now. No need to make any judgements about your students or yourself.
I’m not suggesting that you should drop students who don’t fit your “ideal student criteria,” or that we shouldn’t teach students that require more effort, creativity, or energy. Teaching “challenging” students is one of the best things we can do to improve our teaching, so don’t misunderstand me. We are merely gathering information about what you enjoy as a teacher.
Filling your studio with students you enjoy and can really help will leave you with more to give to students who require more from you. If your studio is full of students that drain you, and no students that energize you, well, that is a recipe for burning out and finding a job in another field.
2. Who and what are you qualified to teach?
I think I would really enjoy teaching piano students. I love the piano. Unfortunately, I am a very poor pianist, and have no training in piano pedagogy. I am qualified to teach the violin. I am also qualified to teach the Suzuki Method.
I know this seems like a no-brainer, but we have to talk about it. Not because I think teachers want to teach students they aren’t qualified to teach, but because we want to have pin-point accuracy in our student marketing message.
Asking this question can also give us clarity about what professional goals and training we should pursue. If you would love to teach Mommy and Me music classes, maybe now is the time to look into training in Kindermusik, Music Together, Musikgarten, or Suzuki Early Childhood Education.
If you are getting many calls from students who want help preparing for college auditions, but I really only feel comfortable with beginning to intermediate students, something is wrong with your marketing strategy.
Be specific. Who is your ideal student? And more importantly, who is their parent?
I share more information about identifying your ideal student, and I share my own ideal student avatar in my free guide, “How to Fill Your Music Studio with Students You’re Excited to See Every Week.” You can download the guide here.
Who is your ideal student and parent? Share your answers in the comments.