As you said goodbye to some of your piano students at the end of the last term did you notice that a few of them were happier to be leaving than others? Did you have students whose enthusiasm levels dropped lower and lower as summer came closer and closer? If so, don’t worry… every studio will have a couple.
But rather than passing these moods off as “just a phase” to be cured by a summer break, it’s a good idea to have a “Happy Piano” plan for these students when they return to lessons in the fall. If you hit the ground running in August and September you can help these students forget that they ever found lessons anything other than enjoyable.
So, today we’re sharing a 5-Step Plan to re-inspire returning piano students who may not be too excited about returning.
Boost Your Apathetic Piano Students With This 5-Step Plan
To begin, jot down the names of your piano students who could use a bit of a boost; these kiddos will be the focus of your “Happy Piano” plan. Then, follow along with our simple ideas to ensure their return to lessons is enthusiastic, energetic and exciting!
1.Make Their Efforts Feel Worthwhile
Everyone needs to be working toward something for their efforts to feel “worth it”. So, before your unmotivated students return brainstorm a list of potential goals that will ignite a passion for piano. These shouldn’t be rewards, but rather experiences that students would look forward to being a part of. Think in terms of recording projects, collaborative experiences with other students, composing projects, or motivating performance opportunities.
I am a major proponent of student participation when it comes to brainstorming goals, but for your unmotivated students it’s best that you create an irresistible experience catered to specific needs and interests. This way you are not met with the dreaed, “Dunno,” when asking a student what they may want to accomplish.
Do you have a teen who absolutely loves video games? If so, present him with a pre-made, video-game themed CD cover (find out how here), some epic-sounding sheet music and a date where you will record his performances and burn his CD.
2. Offer A “By Invitation Only” Opportunity
Blasé piano students benefit from feeling special… so create a “by invitation only” opportunity for these students. Organize a piano party, a coffee shop gig night, a game day, a bring-a-buddy day, a masterclass, or a field trip to a live performance.
Because a “By Invitation Only” opportunity only feels special if they are actually invited with an invitation mark the event as something truly special with a printed invitation that makes it clear that they were specifically selected to participate. These types of studio events can do wonders for your sense of community, and can also be something that younger students look forward to participating in during future years.
3. Offer Meaningful Encouragement
Finding key moments to recognize your piano students’ achievements (no matter how small) is important in re-energizing a student who is less than enthusiastic to return to lessons. Offer encouragement frequently, but ensure it is genuine and warranted…. and when it is, celebrate in a BIG way!
Piano studio photo props, a “wall of fame” in your waiting area, or a student-of-the-month program are all easy, yet effective ways of motivating and rewarding your students regularly throughout the year. You can also pop something special in the mail to celebrate a job well done. We have free postcard templates here!
4. Discuss Their “Path” Forward
If your piano students are apathetic about lessons it may be an indication that their current “piano lesson paths” aren’t meeting their needs. Not every student fits into the “work through a method book” mold. You may be surprised to find that your students really want to use their piano skills to accompany friends who play the fiddle or the choir at their church. Maybe your students have secretly been writing music at home, but have never brought it in to show you. Find out why your piano students are your piano students… and then look for ways to directly support their interests.
5. Change Your Lesson Routines
Unmotivated piano students are often bored piano students. If your lessons follow a routine that rarely changes then it’s time to shake it up and surprise your students with a different format. Changing up your piano lesson routines can be refreshing for both your students and for you. If you find a piano student is fully engaged in an activity don’t be afraid to scrap your entire lesson plan and run with what works.
Don’t Let These Students Leave
While the easy option for unmotivated students is to suggest a break from piano, re-energizing your blasé students makes good business sense; it’s much more cost effective to put your efforts into retaining students than it is to finding new students. A piano studio that knows how to “beat the blahs” is a studio that will thrive.
Be on the lookout for students with faltering enthusiasm at any time of the year (not just the summer months) and be ready with this 5-step plan so you can blast away the blahs before they turn into something more serious 😉
The Ultimate “Blah-Busting” Teen Books
We love hearing feedback from teachers who have used our Classical Pop Crossover piano books to save unmotivated piano students. Janna recently write us to say, “Two weeks ago, I introduced your Beethoven “Moonlight Session” to a 14 yr old boy student (who has been slacking a bit lately)—he went after it! It was literally all he practiced last week.”