"Kristen does a great job of engaging the kids balanced with a command of the group. She incorporates educational aspects of music that are particularly appropriate for PreK kids - it's very exciting to watch! She uses active and quality songs that kids continued to sing, even after the class is over. The children are SO excited when they realize it is Ms. Kristen (music) day! I think she provides a balanced and exciting musical experience for the kids and is an asset to The Chapel's preschool program."
Teaching music has always been a passion of mine. No surprise there! I've been playing trumpet since I was in third grade and haven't stopped since. My passion has come full circle - 28 years later - now that my two girls are letting me teach them trumpet....and piano...and violin...and trombone.
(A 5 year old playing trombone is an amazing experience!)
Getting a music studio up and running isn't easy or fast. But it IS worth it. I'll share with you what I've learned along the way thus far in hopes it will help you, too!
Here is what you can do with a career in music that incorporates all aspects of passion:
Private students are a huge blessing. Teaching students one-on-one allow me the chance to build relationships with families in my community and to help other budding musicians fine-tune their craft. On the other hand, it's a great source of income.
How to Make Private Lessons Work:
1. Find your studio - I use my home, which sure does eliminate any overhead in rental fees! Plus, I love having access to my own children and getting them to see how music plays a part of our daily lives. (Also, mother's helpers are a dream in this situation!)
2. Spread Your Name - and qualifications - around town. Becoming friends with other parents will do that for you, easily. Facebook parent groups are a goldmine for getting your name out there quickly.
3. Scheduling - I now use a free online scheduling site, called Square. It's lovely, free, and eases the burden of me scheduling people.
4. Tuition - Set your price and shop around other music studios to see what everyone else is charging. I currently charge a few dollars less than everyone else. Why? Because I don't have to cover rental costs and I feel that I can pass that along to my families. DO charge a registration fee to cover sheet music supplements and other costs. DO charge a recital fee. Decide if you will charge monthly or weekly. Some teachers prefer to charge per semester. I charge per month and all payments are due at the beginning of each month. This way students are waaaaaay less likely to skip/forget/get-the-plague-five-minutes-before-your-lesson-time.
5. Set Dates - decide on your recitals and other programs you'll offer. I run two recitals, a Fall Recital (informal) and a Spring Recital (formal). The informal recital gives us to perform for one another and garner great feedback from peers. Then we let loose and play games, eat amazing food and hang out. This I hold in my home. The Spring recital is much more reserved. I rent a church that has great seating, wonderful piano and a beautiful hall. Students come dressed to the nines! And they perform for their whole family. This is followed by a reception (food always tends to please...)
6. Keep Constant Contact - email your families regularly! Share updates, successes, gather support for another family (if allowed and desired). Staying in contact helps your studio grow and earn respect of everyone involved when they see how seriously you take your craft.
7. Write Your Contract - This is important! You must have a legal contract to ensure proper performance from families. Note how many lessons students receive each month. Include how many make up lessons you will offer and on what day of the month. Get this all decided upon BEFORE opening your studio. Then there won't be questions later. Remember, this is a business and just like the monthly fees for gymnastics and dance, you are allowed to offer only one make up per month or add other restrictions. Make it work in your benefit with fairness to all families.
8. Stay On Your Game - Don't stop playing, practicing and performing! Get yourself involved somewhere out of the home where you can be musical. This is the only way we can progress as great teachers! Attend pedagogy workshops in your nearest college, go to professional developments offered at other music studios. Just keep moving forward in your craft.
Family Music Classes
Participating in music together - This is probably one of the *most* rewarding experiences I've been thankful to have.
Getting families in one spot to sing, dance, play and create is simply incredible. We as music teachers have a mission to bring music back into homes as a regular thing. Parents need to be singing, dancing, moving, improvising and creating with their children on a daily basis. We know it pays off in areas of child development such as reading skills, fine motor development, gross motor development, social growth, intentional actions, self regulation, number skills, diction and speech, geography/history and even science. ELA programs that incorporate music into their classrooms show far greater output. Even foreign language programs that include music as a teaching tool give students yet another way of understanding the material that is often Greek to them (ha!)
Here's how to run family music classes:
1. Be qualified - Good music teachers are backed by extensive training in their field. This goes way beyond strumming or picking a guitar and singing along. We learn how to carefully sequence each weekly lesson to include certain songs, games, movement activities and chants to slowly and surely build strong foundational skills in children. We ensure families are singing in their head voice. Qualified music teachers understand the fine details of creating music so much so that we can easily transfer that knowledge through what seem like silly and fun games. The bottom line: Know Your Stuff.
2. Be strong - physically fit is also helpful! When I first started this journey I was pregnant with my second child. And after she was born, I was trying to get rid of the baby weight. This means I was always out of breath! And, boy, do we move a lot in family music classes! Making music together requires tons of breathing, core support, leg muscles, arm muscles and neck support. We are constantly in up/down/turn around/pick a bale of cotton sorts of activities!
3. Be organized - Plan to have an email list, phone number list, emergency contact list, spreadsheets of payments received, notes on which families have already completed sessions and keep coming back for more. Print your booklet of songs/activities with a nice cover and have them bound. Include CDs that you have purchased legally from the main source. In other words, do not burn copies. Buy in bulk from the supplier at a discount. Include the original CD price in your tuition price to families. Find your venue to host. I hold mine in my home. It's covered under my insurance policies, and again - no overhead!
4. Be Legal - Have your contracts ready! These should include consent forms, allergy concerns, expectations for the parents (parents must participate in all activities), expectations for the children (no, your child will not be a musical prodigy like Mozart after six weeks of the Frosty Weather song.) Expectations on instrument use (what to do if it breaks). In general, cover everything. (There's always one family who thinks it's okay to talk on the cell phone while their poor child is neglected in the middle of the circle. They usually don't come back.)
Compose or arrange music for schools, churches, etc. - If you flew music theory and composition in college and loved every minute...you'll probably find composing and arranging easy peasy! Offer your services around your community. Maybe your local school music teachers need a school song or their chorus would like a folk tune rearranged just for them. Perhaps the senior center really enjoys the music of the 1940s but need to get it played on piano so they can sing along. Ideally, you can find your niche in your community and begin offering services that tend to be expensive in the professional world.
Kristen Galardi helps music teachers build successful businesses. Feel free to email me at FirstStepsinMusicNJ@gmail.com!