Have you recently lost a piano student? A couple piano students? A whole lot of piano students? At some point every piano teacher will deal with quitting, moving, graduating and just plain old disappearing students. It leaves a hole in your schedule (and a little hole in your heart) and you wonder… “What now?!” Well, we’re here to help!
5 Ways Piano Teachers Can Regroup After Losing Students
We’re not here today to delve into why those students may have left. Students leave for a variety of reasons and whether or not some of those are preventable is for another post. But instead, today we’re here to share our 5 tips for getting back on your game and minimizing the effect that these lost clients have on your piano teaching life. So, throw back those shoulders, stick your determined chin in the air and follow along!
1. No time is ever “empty” – After students depart, the resulting “hole” in your schedule should never be considered “empty”. Until you have a newly registered student on your bench, that time should be used for other income-generating purposes that you can create using your current clientele.
Offer extra lessons to your more advanced students on a rotating basis (3 students who have one extra lesson every 3 weeks or similar), offer a duet class to two of your keen students (as an additional weekly class to their solo lessons), create some group pairings for extra theory instruction, offer a weekly composing workshop… the opportunities are endless. Making use of your existing clientele to fill that hole minimizes the financial effects and offers even more programming to your current students.
2. Offer Free Lessons to Parents and/or Siblings – Another fabulous way to fill that time is to offer a free lesson or two to a parent or sibling of one of your students. Look to the families who come for lessons either before or after your opening as it’s likely the timing would be convenient for them.
Offering a free lesson to a parent as a “Would you like to learn a bit about the piano to be able to help Sarah at home?” often can result in a kindled interest for the parent themselves! Offering a free lesson to a sibling as “I’ve noticed that Ben seems quite interested in what Cara is doing with her piano.” will also often result in a new student. The best part about this strategy is that it really builds relationships with your current clients regardless of if they then sign up or not. And if they if they don’t… you’ve lost nothing but your time… which you now have more of anyway.
3. Extend Lesson Times – Another strategy is to look to the students on either side of your opening to see if they are students who would benefit from a longer lesson time and could thus be extended into your opening. Those of you who have moved from 30 minute lessons to 45 or 60 minutes know how much more can be accomplished even with just 15 extra minutes of contact time each week. Not all families are in the financial position to add on more lesson time, so flexible opportunities such as overlapping those extra 15 minutes with another student (during which time you do duets, play your piano games, do composing activities etc) can reduce the cost but still add lots of value to their child’s piano education.
4. Offer Something New – Adding a “new” aspect to your program and announcing it to your current clients can result in students adding a second weekly lesson (or a longer lesson) to their time with you. Our studio added “Sing & Play” lessons in the past where students learned to chord along as they sang and it was a huge hit. Add beginner’s jazz piano, accompanying lessons, Sing & Play, “recording studio”, composing, improv… choose something that excites you and then present it as a brand new program to generate new interest from your current students.
Over 2000 teachers have chosen to add WunderKeys Piano for Preschoolers as their new program offering. One teacher recently wrote to say “It has only been 32 hours and I have 8 new students already booked for WunderKeys and I am waiting for dates/times for at least a dozen more”. Click here for more program information if you’re eager to fill openings fast!
5. Marketing Hour – If the above 4 strategies don’t pan out and you are still left with an opening, than commit this time to nothing but marketing and advertising each week. Sit down in this time and re-vamp the visual side of your advertising. Come up with a social media marketing plan. Create a studio Facebook page and update it regularly. Network with other instrument teachers in your area. Spending time that is set aside only for advertising puts a laser-like focus on your efforts and it won’t be long before brand new students are knocking on your door.
Get Back In the Saddle and Let ‘er Ride!
As the saying goes, “Every cloud has a silver lining”. If you learn to look at openings in your timetable as opportunities for growth, then your studio will continue to thrive even in times that would normally feel disheartening. With a bit of ingenuity you will be able to get back in the game quickly and minimize the effects that lost students can have on your financial well-being.