Hey WC peeps… thanks for joining me at colloquium! It’s always great to connect with the next generation of teachers, performers, and music entrepreneurs.
If you take away just one thing from today’s presentation, I hope it’s this: as a music teacher and entrepreneur, work towards establishing yourself as an authority figure and expert in your field, but in doing so remember to keep 1) an open mind and 2) a humble and grateful heart.
Here’s a list of resources that you might find helpful as you transition from the the role of student to teacher. Good luck and stay in touch! ~ Sara Campbell
Resources You Need
Piano (Or any Instrument) Teaching Business Solutions, from Wendy Stevens at ComposeCreate.com
The Independent Music Teacher, by Kyle McKenna
Music Educator Resources, by Jennifer Foxx
Music Ed Connect, organized by Michelle Sisler and Linda Christensen
Upbeat Piano Teachers, by Tracy Selle and Sara Campbell
Upbeat Piano Teachers on YouTube — Please Subscribe!
The Savvy Music Teacher: Blueprint for Maximizing Income and Impact, by David Cutler
The Personal MBA: Master the Art of Business, by Josh Kaufman
Music Business Handbook and Career Guide, by David and Tim Baskerville
ONLINE SCHEDULING/INVOICING SOFTWARE:
Advice from the Trenches…
Kristin Yost, Center for Musical Minds Owner, Author & Business Coach
1. If you are always looking back, how are you ever going to move forward? Keep your eye on the growth! Same with your craft.
2. Be smart about your finances. Get a hold on earning potential and basic business skills that artists need to not only survive, but thrive. Don’t be a starving artist!
Shannon C., Voice Teacher Extraordinaire
Be intentional about it. Make the decision to BE AN INDEPENDENT TEACHER. Realize sooner that you’re an entrepreneur and start to act accordingly: get a business coach. You’re smart and good at what you do, but no one is good at everything and it’s not a flaw to recognize this. You can’t get by on being a good singer, a good teacher, and a nice person.
Be intentional: figure out what you want. And then figure out the steps to get it. And everything takes work. You’ll love the work. But there will be so much more of it than you imagine. Work as if NOTHING will be handed to you, but expect favour at the same time.
Lynn V., Piano Teacher Extraordinaire
Lap up the opportunity to teach ANYWHERE. Be diverse. Don’t stick to your comfort zone. Teach in the “worst school” with the best teachers and learn from them. Be inspired by what they get out of students, despite their circumstances. Be open minded and problem solve. Treat every student like your BEST student and use your energy and passion to find ways for them to access your quality music education.
Christin R., Voice Teacher Extraordinaire
1) You are not a vocal performance major failure if you choose to primarily teach instead of primarily perform.
2) Who says you can’t work with kids? And why?
3) Find a teacher/mentor who you trust, and take as many lessons as possible.
4) You’ll never regret taking piano lessons.
5) Do as much continuing ed as possible. Whether it’s great or garbage, it’ll help you solidify your pedagogy and process.
Ben A., Professional Musician and Sound Engineer
My advice would be to watch out for those who pretend to “hook you up” with opportunities, but are really just using you for your abilities, talent and credentials to get ahead themselves. You’re green and seeking, they’re green (moldy) and stale, looking for someone to piggy back on for little to no money or recognition to further their career, not yours.
Only work with people you trust, and trust your gut if it tells you “something is shady here”. The music business of great, but it’s an ocean full of sharks ready to eat up the noobs to keep their position as sharks. Working for “exposure” isn’t paying your loans, and not working isn’t either. Be smart, be keen, know your worth, and follow your intuition when networking.
If you’re not careful, the music business (with the wrong folk) can shatter everything you’ve been striving towards. Ironically, there are plenty of songs written about this. Cheers and congrats to you all!!!
Rachel Helgeson, WC Alumna
Money management really is key. Being in the music industry (whether with a studio or performance) you never fully know all that will happen with your program and funding so it’s important to keep (even a small) savings and live on a budget for those days when things get a little lean.
I also wish someone had talked a little bit more about the politics of the music industry – it’s good to network with others but also be aware that others were there first and what do they have to offer (without stepping on their toes).
I would say have a good policy in place for your studio. When I first started my studio right out of college I couldn’t understand why people would skip, but if you are clear about your expectations it helps keep others clear about how they can continue in your studio. Finally, the skies are the limits and be creative because the world needs creativity and the arts!
Dan Severino, Piano Lessons Plus, Wexford PA
My advice would be to network with other teachers from the get go. Don’t try to “make it on your own”. Especially at the local level (person to person relationships). Social media is great, BUT you need to network in your geographical area to know the lay of the land you are going to do your teaching work, unless you’re going to involve yourself in “remote teaching” via “Skype”.
AND ……. think “streams of income” don’t limit your income horizon to teaching.
Jennifer M., Voice Teacher Extraordinaire
Be yourself. Don’t strive to be like your teacher or your professor or colleagues…go off the beaten path, follow YOUR dream, and teach with passion whatever works for you and your students. Sometimes when you feel like you’re standing all alone it is because you will be followed into new exciting endeavors.
Brian L., Voice Teacher Extraordinaire
Observe a lot of teachers. As much as you might idolize your professor, there is a lot to learn from others. Teaching what you were taught is only the beginning.
Lou Ann P., Piano Teacher Extraordinaire
I know there’s is so much advice to suggest! But the two things that keep coming back to me are as follows: the first one is practical. I wish I had set up better retirement plans. I have two small accounts, but I haven’t added to them regularly.
The second is more nostalgic. I wish I had an album with a picture of every student. I would list their name, age at the time of the pic and a favorite piece!
Jessica F., Voice Teacher Extraordinaire
Study all the vocal techniques and methods available. Do not rely solely on your own training. Every student who walks in the door is a new puzzle. You need to be able to find all of the pieces to put that voice together. What technique works for one may not work for another. Enjoy the ride! It’s such an adventure!
Lindsay Onufer, WC Alumna
So I don’t have advice for music majors, but myself (WC English major) and another Westminster alum (WC pre-med major) make up 100% of Program Managers in UPMC’s Center for Engagement and Inclusion, which is responsible for system-wide diversity and inclusion work.
So what I would say is use this time within undergrad to figure out what you care about most in the world, find a mentor who gets you and cares, and the organization (rather than the position) which will allow you to do what you want to do.
The best organizations care about the engagement and success of their employees and like to promote from within. Titles fresh out of college mean way less than opportunities to advance.
And if you love your community (and are ambivalent about money), consider AmeriCorp.
Karen M., Voice Teacher Extraordinaire
Teaching has brought me more knowledge and joy than I ever thought possible. I am a better singer and performer today because of my students and my constant need to learn and grow for them. In addition, having my own teacher and business coach has allowed me to share insights with my students that have helped them on their path to success. Share what you know and are learning with others and you will find true nirvana. Their successes become your successes!
Doug Butchy, Shenango Area Junior-Senior Highschool Band Director
Teaching is a “people business.” We must make our students feel welcomed and in some way important to us. Take time to learn about them as human beings.
Cynthia V., Voice Teacher Extraordinaire
Don’t try to teach everything you know at every lesson.
It’s ok to say, “I don’t know. I’ll see what I can find out.”
Ask questions, like “What else are you singing besides your lesson songs? What brings you joy and fun?”