Halloween Festival

Happy Halloween! A week and a half ago was my studio Halloween Festival. I always like to do some kind of pass along game during the event. The trick is to think outside the box so I’m not doing the same thing every year. This year I had the idea to do a trick or treat “live” board game. Students would perform their Halloween piece and then pick a card that said Trick or  Treat. The Trick’s were something silly to do (ie: cackle like a witch, walk like Frankenstein…) and the Treats were questions (ie: what is your favorite candy, what day is Halloween…); then it would tell them how many “spaces” (aka people) to move the treat along. (forwards, backwards and even miss a turn) Turned out to be a fun pass along game.

I posted pictures on my studio blog, feel free to stop by!

Halloween Festival 2012

Tech Tuesday: Halloween Lab Assignment

With Halloween being on Wednesday, I wanted my lab assignment to be something in that theme. I was going to do something with Night on Bald Mountain but then decided to hold off since I have a lot of younger students and it may be a tad scary for them. I always loved the story Sorcerer’s Apprentice and felt like it was appropriate for all ages, so that is the piece I decided to focus their lab assignment on.

I based my worksheet from this wonderful resource online.

Here is the SORCERER’S APPRENTICE Worksheet you can download to use in your lab for your students which details the instructions. The sheet on Dvorak and listening map that I refer the students to in the worksheet can be found here.

This is the YouTube video I used for them to watch.

Happy Halloween!

Scholarships

I’m not a big fan of giving discounts. I have found that some people expect discounts, almost like it is their right to a discount. They aren’t as appreciated and they don’t typically treat it serious as maybe they would a scholarship, for example…

Every once in a while you might come across a student that needs to quit lessons due to financial difficulties. Sometimes, it’s a student that you really don’t want to lose because they are very dedicated and come to lessons prepared each week, the parents are supportive, the student is advancing well and it just hurts you to see them quit knowing they have so much potential and love for music. I have had this happened to me several times over the years and I just can’t bare to let them go. So I offer these families a partial scholarship through the MusicLink Foundation. While I can still offer a studio scholarship on my own, I like to make these scholarships more official, I feel that they are treated more seriously since they are represented by MusicLink. Now even though the teacher does not get any sort of reimbursement from MusicLink when offering scholarships to their students, there are several benefits to going through MusicLink.

First what exactly is MusicLink? Taken from their website, “The MusicLink Foundation is a non-profit organization that seeks out promising music students in need and links them with qualified music teachers willing to teach them at up to half their normal fee for as long as the student is committed to the lessons.”

Now for some of the benefits of offering a scholarship through MusicLink:

Discounts on music and materials– Several publishers have partnered up with MusicLink and have extended discounts to MusicLink Scholarship students. Sometimes the music is even free! A great benefit that students can use!

Grass Roots Grants for MusicLink Program– This program can provide reimbursement to teachers for student music and event fees.

Assistance with instruments– MusicLink receives thousands of donated instruments that they are able to pass to MusicLink Scholarship students.

Music Camp Scholarships– This provides the opportunity for students to attend the music camp of their choice through the MusicLink camp scholarship program.

One of my favorite things about MusicLink is the policy form that the parents and students sign. This form spells out the responsibilities of the family, student and teacher during the scholarship period. I like this because if you find students are taking their scholarship for granted and sliding on their responsibilities (coming unprepared to lessons, etc…) the scholarship can be removed if the requirements aren’t being met. I also think it’s a good idea to put a time period on the scholarship (ie: 1 year) and then re-evaluate when the term is up if there is still a financial need.

Regardless if you use MusicLink or come up with your own studio scholarship, they are a great option to help those dedicated students in your studio that you don’t want to see go.

What about cost of living?

The other day a friend of mine had asked on Facebook if anyone knew of a piano teacher that was not super expensive. She had messaged me for my rates as well, which I shared and also mentioned that I did not have any openings at this time. After I saw her question on Facebook there were a couple replies. I thought they were, well… interesting.

The first reply was from someone who had a son taking lessons. She shared that she thinks the going rate is $50.00 a month in our area. Yikes! If that’s the case (more on that later), then I’m almost triple the going rate!

The second reply was from someone who offered to teach her kids for only $10.00 a lesson and $8.00 for siblings.

In the early 1980’s my Mom was paying $40.00 a month for lessons. I was curious what the cost of living increase for 2012 would be so I checked using a cost of living calculator online and it came to $110.03.

So… there are teachers in my area charging 1980 rates. Am I surprised? Sadly no, I hear of this often and it makes me sad that there are teachers that still don’t treat piano lessons seriously.

Now I do have to say these teachers are not my competition. Matter of fact, I have a very long waiting list and even charge almost triple what they do. They don’t have a waiting list but also don’t typically treat their “business” as seriously as I do. They are what I call “hobby” teachers. They are doing it for a little extra income but they aren’t serious or even interested in making it a business (even though it really is because they are being paid for a weekly service) and they aren’t interested in bettering themselves or getting involved in any professional organizations. They use the excuse that they are just doing it for “fun”. Honestly they make it harder for the professional piano teachers out there that are trying to make a living and many times doing it on their own as sole income. They are teaching the community that piano teachers aren’t worth paying what they are worth. They make it very confusing to the community.

I had a phone inquiry the other day asking for my rates. I gave it to him and he was a little surprised. I told him that I had a waiting list so I would be happy to refer him to other teachers and he asked if my rates were what he should expect from other teachers. I told him that it will vary but it is average among professional piano teachers. I also explained that I do include music in my tuition so that accounts for a little higher rate in addition I offer many many opportunities and if he looks at other teachers he will see the difference. I encouraged him to look and meet with several teachers to see what is out there and figure out what will fit his wants/needs the most.

A little over six years ago I lived in Utah for 9 years. If you ever lived in Utah, then you know Utah people in general are notorious for being cheap. Finding students is typically not a problem because families want their children to learn but they don’t want to pay a lot of money. They see the value in lessons, but aren’t always willing to pay for it. I was one of the highest paid teachers in my small community and always had a full teaching schedule, but I always felt that I wasn’t being paid what I was worth. When I moved back to Arizona, I decided that I had the opportunity to change that and after a little research I decided I was going to charge what I was worth and immediately more then doubled my rates. My husband was very nervous about me doing this, because we needed the income badly. Within a month of advertising I was full and have been since. I can’t tell you how much more satisfying it is to know that I am being paid what I think I am worth. It is truly a good feeling.

So when I hear of the “hobby” teachers charging $10 a lesson, I feel sad for them, for the community, but not for me. I am glad I am not one of them. I work hard for my students, I put in a lot of hours for them and in my studio and I earn every penny that I make.

Give Me a Break!

Last week was fall break for my studio. My family and I took a belated Senior trip for my son. He chose DisneyWorld and Universal Studios Florida for 10 days. We had a blast! I think my favorite place was Harry Potter’s World at Universal. It totally felt like we were in HogWart’s. I tried some ButterBeer, which tasted very much like creme soda, topped with a butterscotch flavored whipped creme. Yum!

If you look at my studio calendar, you will notice that I give plenty of studio breaks. The breaks usually coincides with school breaks. I think it is important to have breaks for several reasons.

1. First and foremost; My family needs a break from students coming in day in and day out.

2. My family needs a break to go on vacations like our most recent one.

3. I need a break so I can recharge.

4. Students need a break to recharge.

My calendar reflects a yearly tuition broken up into 10 equal monthly payment installments regardless how many lessons are given that month.This works well for me. I explain this concept clearly in my calendar as well as my studio policy so when parents sign up they know that tuition will be the same each month. I do charge for my summer workshops separately but make them mandatory if they are planning on continuing in the Fall. Occasionally I may have a family tell me they are taking a break and not participating in the summer workshops and I just remind them that is fine, but they won’t have a spot for Fall if they want to come back. When they are reminded of this, they decide to take their summer workshops, which still leaves them plenty of time for a summer break.

Having breaks throughout the year is important for me and my students. As much as I love seeing my students and teaching, I look forward to my breaks too.

Extra Tip: Adding breaks into your studio calendar is also a great way to give yourself a raise without affecting the tuition. Tuition rate can stay the same but you now have an extra week off!

MiniMusic- 40% off!

Last year I did a review on MiniMusic, an early childhood music prep program. If you missed my review last year be sure to take some time to read it.

For a limited time, you can purchase MiniMusic for 40% off in the Kjos Piano Music Sampler catalog! What a deal! Here’s the info to order. Call 1-800-797-5567. The item number for the Teachers Kit is #KP18T if you want extra student workbooks (the teachers kit comes with one) it is #KP18S. Normally the price is $199.95, this brings it down to $119.97 AND because it’s over $100 you get FREE shipping!

I had bought the original MiniMusic kit before Kjos had picked it up and decided to go ahead and upgrade with this deal and I’m so glad I did. And might I add I remember paying a lot more for my original kit. The new kit is totally worth it!

P.S. The 40% discount expires November 15th, so don’t wait too long to order!

Tech Tuesday: Tools for Educators, a Free Resource for Teachers!

A few days ago I was searching online for a Halloween game idea that I can do with the audience at my upcoming Halloween Festival. In my search, I was reminded of a website: Tools for Educators. Tools for Educators offers free printable worksheets and games such as word search, crossword puzzles, board games, bingo, mazes, a dice maker, a domino maker and even a link for free certificates. Each resource has a “music” category that allows you to simply click on what music clipart you would like to use and type in the text. It’s super easy! Be sure to check it out!

*I’m on Fall break next week so I will be taking a blogging break as well. Happy Fall!