Friday, September 16, 2011

Offering Music Classes

Wow!  I didn't realize how hectic my week was going to be!  I started lessons again this week and as you know, that means geiting used to new students and everyone's new schedule!  I thought I was prepared only to realize that I have to make a few adjustments in my planning!

I also started a weekly homeschool music class.   I was contacted over the summer to see if I would put together a 6 week class for a group of 13 homeschoolers.  Even though the grade levels vary from Kindergarten to 6th grade, the class is working out surprisingly well.  I adapted a camp I did last year and they are loving it!  The kids were all very attentive and excited.  With that in mind, I thought I would share why I believe this is a good investment and would recommend it for any independent teacher. 

1. It's an additional source of income. 
I charged for the class and added a materials fee to cover the expense of booklets I put together for the kids.  I did some quick research to find out what other programs in the area were charging groups like this for their classes (art, nature, etc.) and charged the same.  Within less than a week I had these 13 kids signed up AND all of them paid for the class UP FRONT!  Be sure to insist on this so that you aren't stuck paying for materials you won't be reimbursed for.  I also made sure they understood that it was a non-refundable fee which is common for every other business offering special classes. 
2. It's a way to fill timeslots earlier in the day. 
I have found that generally homeschooling parents like to do lessons in the morning and then take their kids to special classes right after lunch.  As you know, most students are looking for "after school" lessons so filling the time before school ends is an easy fit.
3. It's a way to build your reputation.
I was thrilled to hear that my reputation as a teacher was extremely positive on this homeschool forum.  Of the eight families represented, seven of them were new to me so the additional goal is to give these seven families the best experience I can.  Hopefully when they are looking to do music classes in the future, I'm the first contact.  Another way to ensure this...offer the coordinator of the event something free.  I let the coordinator of this homeschool class bring one of her children for free.  She was thrilled!  It's a great way to add more "buzz" about who you are and what you offer.
4. It's a great marketing tool.
Remember that every family/person that you interact with is a potential student.  If you can get them coming to you on a weekly basis, they get to know you, your teaching style and the quality you offer.  One parent has already contacted me about putting her two children in lessons...after only one week of class!   Believe me, if you offer a quality program, you'll gained several marketers - free of charge!  It's also a way to "interview" the child and her parents.  You see them in action for 6 weeks and you'll probably have a good idea what to expect from the child AND the parents!
5. It's a way to keep you thinking creatively.
It takes time to put together the material, but besides benefiting the "attendees" of the class, your students will gain from it as well.  All that creativity easily transfers to your own workshops and weekly lessons.   When you put together a game/activity for a homeschool class, you've just added to your arsenal of games/activites for your studio.  A win-win!

I'm thrilled with the results and hope you consider trying something similar.  If you do, please let me know how it works for you!


Jennifer Foxx said...

I would love to hear more about what you do in this class. What the focus is, etc... Is it mainly like a pre-piano course for homeschoolers? Were there any that had piano/music instrument experience previously? I have thought of doing something similar, just never panned out. But what I was thinking was doing music appreciation classes that can start with a focus in the 6 weeks and then move to a different focus another 6 weeks etc... Is that what you are doing? Glad it's working out well for you!

Sheryl said...

Hi Jennifer!
This class is a group of kids with virtually NO music background. When I talked to the coordinator who contacted me, we talked about a couple of options and decided to do a class that introduces the instruments of the orchestra and teaches them basic music concepts. So, I put together a fun mystery/detective type element that runs through the 6 weeks (Discover the missing instrument, etc.). The first 4 classes introduce the four families of instruments, the 5th talks about the conductor and I plan to devote the 6th class to the piano. Each week will also include games that teach the musical alphabet, the grand staff, note ID, rhythm, terminology. I've also put in some ear training activities. It works well, they stay active while learning and parents are happy. I would be happy to share more details if you are interested.

jason @ soundproofing said...

If I did this, and unfortunately time stops me doing it even though I am a MAJOR music buff with no talent for instruments, one thing that I would get from it that you've not mentioned is the JOY that teaching gives and the JOY that you get from pupils reactions.

Do you get that?

Jennifer Foxx said...

Thanks Sheryl, it does sound very similar to what I had in mind. That is great! You'll have to keep us in the loop with how it all turns out. Do you think when this one is done you will offer a different one with a different focus?

Sheryl said...

Thanks for your comments Jason! I receive GREAT joy doing these classes! I love kids and obviously love music so the combination is the best! I really look forward to them during the week!

Sheryl said...

Hi Jennifer!

Yes, I plan to do more of these classes and I actually already have another one just about ready. It will have an entirely different focus with different activities. I love doing these!

Anonymous said...

It's great that you're offering a music class for homeschoolers. Along with introducing some of the more formal orchestral instruments, I think using Orff instruments and the Orff approach in your class would be great too.

Joy Morin said...

Thanks SO much for blogging about this, Sheryl! I've been looking for creative ways to diversify myself, since finding piano students has been slow in my new area. I managed to get a few homeschoolers together and am starting a homeschool music class next week!

Sheryl said...

Glad it was of help to you, Joy! Please let me know how it goes!

Val said...

Sheryl, I love this idea!! I have taught private and group piano lessons for years, but I have young children, some of which are now in elementary school. As such, I'd love for my afternoons and evenings not to be quite so full with piano lessons, so this seems like a logical avenue for me to try. I've also been teaching a preschool music class, which I've LOVED, but I would definitely like to do older groups as well, so we can go a little more in depth. :)

I would be very interested in details of the 6 week music sessions you did.

Thank you!!! I always enjoy your posts and fantastic ideas!


Sheryl said...

Hi Valerie,
I have one homeschool class plan - Meet the Composers in my store. I'm currently working on putting together a few more so "stay-tuned"!