I write a lot about "adding value" to your piano lessons because I believe strongly that every piano teacher should keep this in mind when running their business. When I say that, I'm referring to the things you do above and beyond your regular lessons to make piano lessons a worthwhile investment of your client's time and money.
This is especially important for your adult students. They are BUSY. And, especially if they are parents, they are probably BROKE. And yet, they are taking time out of their busy schedule and taking money out of their budget to take lessons from you.
So, how can you make piano lessons more than a good idea? How do you make it a GREAT idea that they take lessons?
Enter the Piano Circle.
Two nights ago, I hosted something I call "Piano Circle Adults" at my home. (I do one for kids too, called, wait for it: "Piano Circle Kids" -- I know, genius.) From 4 - 6 p.m. on a Saturday, five of my adult piano students arrived with their lesson books in tow, ready for a Music Theory Masterclass, taught by yours truly.
They gathered in my den and I began a class on notation for them. I sprinkled it with stupid jokes, and funny anecdotes. I invited them to interrupt me to ask a question or offer a different way of looking at something.
For some of the students it was review -- stuff they had heard before. For others, it was preview -- totally new information. Either way, it was valuable all around and the students really appreciated it.
For a twist, I threw in a few surprises, like telling them all I was inviting them to play something, anything on the piano at some point throughout the night. So when, I felt like eyes were starting to gloss over a bit from all of the theory instruction, we took turns "performing".
Some students played a scale, one played a Hanon exercise. Another played the James Bond theme. It was totally last minute, no warning, and they just plain didn't have time to panic about it! It stretched them, and gave them a chance to practice performing, and even more importantly, a chance to practice making mistakes in front of others.
Then we ended the class with a simple dinner that I had made for everyone ahead of time and kept warm in the oven. At each place setting, I had given a "party favor" of a small manuscript book for each student to take home. We dished up food and sat down for a simple dinner together (who does that anymore, right?!).
Around the table, we shared what our other hobbies were and then I had a spontaneous flashcard quiz before anyone could leave. Some of my adults were literally shouting the answers trying to outdo one another. The highlight of the flashcard competition was when the "newbies" of the group each got a card right -- much to the surprise and applause of everyone else.
So, all in all, the two hours were a smashing success.
Did I get paid extra for that? Nope. Was it a little more work? Yep.
Was it 100% worth it? Absolutely. The six of us had a great time together and I had a chance to get to know my students a little bit better. They had a chance to see music theory in a slightly different light, apart from the rush of a 30 minute lesson.
But, I think the biggest payoff of my piano circle was the comment I overheard my newest adult student say to another student as she was leaving: "Wow, I had no idea piano lessons could be like this!"
Boom. That's why I did it.
So, how can you add value to your students? It doesn't have to be a Piano Circle, but is there some other way you can bless them?
I'm betting you could think of something and, furthermore, I'm betting that when you do it? Your students will love it.