How did you get started? - Just out of curiousity

Talk with other teachers, exchange tips, participate in polls regarding a teaching studio business

Postby 75-1095335090 » Tue Dec 07, 2004 9:08 am

When I was really little (just started speaking in full sentences, actually) my dad asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I told him that I wanted to be a secretary. His jaw hit the floor. (At the time, secretaries were seen as just answering the phone and typing, not as the professionals they are today). He tried to talk me out of it, but I kept on insisting that I wanted to help people to feel better and to fix things that they felt were wrong in their life. It turns out that I meant to say "psychiatrist" but didn't know the right word. Dad felt a bit better after figuring that out. lol

Anyhow, as I got older I found that I really enjoyed music. My older brother took piano lessons, so of course I had to too. Then I got a recorder from Santa at a Christmas party. I stopped taking piano lessons for a while, but started up again in middle school. There, I also learned to play the trumpet.

In high school I continued with music, taking every music class they offered, adding flute, clarinet, french horn, and sax to my list.

All the while I was still taking piano lessons privately (and then in the more advanced levels, in a small group... yes, I realize this is backwards of how it's usually done).

The studio where I was taking my piano lessons was going to start offering teacher training classes. The first year they ran it it was free (I don't know if it still is). We learned about making lesson plans, how to teach specific things, how to relate to our students, etc. One thing we never covered in any of my musical education was how to run a music business.

Anyhow, while I was taking the teacher training course I talked two of my cousins, their friend, and three of my friends into letting me practice teaching on them. Part of the course also invovled sitting in on lessons with an experienced teacher.

Shortly after taking that course I moved to another city. Once here I had no idea of how to find students. I was really shy and not outgoing, so I didn't know anyone in town, or where to find potential students.

I placed a few ads in the paper, but didn't get much return on it. I taught my boyfriend's sister's boyfriend's niece for a little while, but she wasn't really into it.

I finally applied to teach a studio in town, but after about a year of dealing with poor management (not to mention not getting enough students to pay for the gas to drive to that studio) I ended up quitting and decided once and for all to make a big effort to run my own studio from home.

It went ok for not knowing what I was doing. I heard about a special time in the summer where music studios and the like are able to set up booths at the mall for free. So, I jumped on that opportunity, and got quite a few students out of it.

Finally getting tired of winging it, I signed up for a business course offered by the region. I learned a lot about advertising and promotion and income tax, and liability insurance, and things like that.

I still have a small studio, but I am currently working on get my credentials recognised by well known musical institutions in the area.

I took a teachers' exam and scored exceptionally well on it, but hardly anyone around here has heard of them. So, now I'm working to get an equivalent with the Royal Conservatory of Music, which almost everyone around here has heard of. It's been fun, actually.

I'd say the secret to starting in my neck of the woods (southern Ontario, Canada) is to have some credentials (at least grade 7 RCM, or some kind of music-related university or college degree), also you should seek out some teacher training in the form of a course or workshop, and learn everything you can about running a business in your area (zoning laws in particular if you are teaching a loud instrument). Also, teaching experience goes a long way. If you don't have music teaching experience yet, usually something like teaching a sunday school class, or tutoring students in a school, or something like that helps.
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Postby Beckywy » Sat Dec 11, 2004 10:25 pm

I started teaching when I was in university. My uncle's co-worker was looking for a teacher, and he told her that his niece taught piano. From this one student, the word of mouth just flew, and I must have had at least 80-100 students walk in my door in the past 10 years. I'm now upgrading myself by taking a pedagogy course, history and some analysis.
"The real purpose of studying music-to unite ourselves with our special gifts in such a way that one would add strength to the other" Seymour Bernstein
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Location: Mississauga, Ontario Canada

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