Re: How to start Teaching

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Posted by Wade (cut and paste) on October 27, 2003 at 00:02:14:

In Reply to: How to start Teaching posted by New Teacher on October 26, 2003 at 21:22:50:

You will have to do a good bit of work for free at first. But you are attempting to start what is, in essence, a small business. And, as they say: you must spent money to make money. You are essentially selling your time, much as a freelance performer.

1. Type up a short resume. Be honest: if you have no real experience, let your resume reflect that.

2. Spend some cash on decent business cards. Go to a real printer or lithographer, not Kinkos. Real cards with raised letters give a "professional" feel to transactions, whereas el cheapo ones reflect things that are negative to many parents.

3. Locate schools that lack a tuba or euphonium teacher. Do NOT try to woo away students from someone else's studio: EVEN IF THEY ARE A DRUMMER TEACHING TUBAS, TAKING MONEY FROM A FELLOW MUSICIAN IS A VERY BAD WAY TO ESTABLISH YOUR REPUTATION!

4. Make appointments with the Band Directors at your target schools.

5. Dress well, like in a coat and tie if you can; Dockers and a tucked-in Polo with real shoes will probably be fine. (Do not go overboard just because you have twelve Armani suits, either; just dress in a manner that says that you are aware that you are taking up this person's time and that you respect them. (If you do not respect them as educators, you have no business teaching their students; avoid the headaches in this case.)

6. Be on time. I am talking about getting there early and sitting in the parking lot if need be. I am serious about this.

7. Cough up a resume to each Band Director. It needs to have absolutely ZERO mistakes either typographical or informational!

8. Offer to teach a free masterclass to this person's low brass students in order to troll for prospective students. This is usually not a big problem is you are VERY flexible when making the appointment. (Most programs are burdened with Marching Contest and games at this time of year, so you might have to teach on some weird weeknight at 8 PM; you just have to be able to come whenever the teacher has time.

9. Teach and play REALLY WELL at your masterclasses. Topics that always work well: tone production, breathing, and articulation. Be prepared to play something for them; no screw-ups, as you are trying to convince these kids that you are someone that they will learn from and that they should respect as a player and teacher. No one wants to hear you mess up a really hard piece, so play something that you can make sound quite good under pressure and unaccompanied.

10. Have your cards ready to hand out at the end of each class. Have professional-looking sign-up sheets (which are easy to make up with MS Excel). Have columns for name, number, address, good times to call, and the name of the parent with whom you will deal. (Remember, many parents have different last names from their children these days, and getting that right makes a strong first impression about your organizational skills.)

11. Call each parent and sell yourself without sounding like a loser or an egotist. Explain your rates and policies regarding payment and attendance. MAKE SURE TO FIND OUT THE CURRENT GOING RATES AND LESSON LENGTHS SO YOU DO NOT END UP UNDERCUTTING YOUR COLLEAGUES!!!!! Again, your methods of operating your little business will precede you everywhere you go for years, so be a pro with your kids and their parents, and fit in to the local system as much as possible until you are comfortable enough to do things your own way!

12. Create a schedule that is realistic and that you will rarely have to miss. Parents want you to be 100% reliable and consistent, even if they might be total flakes!

That is how to start.

Running your studio is something else altogether!

Try to not ruin any innocent child's genius-level playing with your radical ideas and methods! (Kidding . . . ) You WILL hear things like that from a parent at some point in your career; usually the parent is way off base and angry that their little darling was unable to make the All-State band with only 45 minutes of practice per week. All you can do in that case is reevaluate and move on. Some kids are forced into lessons by Mom or Dad, and will not work towards improvement at all BECAUSE THEY DO NOT WANT TO TAKE LESSONS IN THE FIRST PLACE! (Wait until you meet your first honest-to-god, pushy, manipulative Stage Mother hoo, boy.) Just try to remember that most of your students will respond to you if you know what you are doing, and that you can't make chicken salad out of chicken sh**!

Let me know if you need help with record keeping or ideas for studio attendance, progress, and payment policies.

Wade "private teaching is scary at first, but can be very rewarding" Rackley

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