How to Move Your Studio Off the Bench (Part 2)

Have you been thinking about adding group instruction, summer camps, Off Bench time–anything different from what you have offered in the past in your studio?

If so, you MUST read this second post in a series of two written by Daniel Patterson. (Check out his website, GrowYourMusicStudio.com.) He has a way with persuasion and it will equip you with words to encourage your parents to be on board with your studio game plan and help you gain their trust as a teacher and expert in the field.

Once you master the script Daniel provides below, you may need some help determining your course for a new ON Bench OFF Bench (OBOB) format and ideas on how to fill that time with productive assignments.  Or, you may be adding group lessons and summer camps into the mix and need activities. Why not work with me and I’ll help you find solutions for your specific needs. You’ll find more details about a personal consultation and a discount code at the end of this post.

Take it away, Daniel…


Are you ready to make a big change in your studio?

Are you considering or do you already use the Off Bench method?

In the last post, we learned just what a format change can do to make your studio look and feel special to a new student.

In today’s post, I will show you exactly how to implement that change in your studio.

This is a very tactical post. It is the “how” of making a change in your studio.

AN EXACT SCRIPT FOR DESCRIBING OFF BENCH TIME

I have come up with an exact script that you could say to a parent who is considering beginning lessons in your piano studio.

Obviously, you should subtract, add, or modify this script to make it fit your personality and Pic5situation.

Do you use a different format (like group lessons?) The script can be adjusted to fit your format. All you need is a little creativity.

Here are the exact words I would say to someone if I were talking about my studio that uses the OBOB system:

“Did you take piano lessons as a kid? You did?

Then you are very familiar with how piano lessons work.

The traditional way that piano lessons are taught is that teacher teaches facts. Students are required to go home, learn the music, review the facts… all on their own.

Week after week after lonely week.

That is not how I do things here.

Each week, students come in for lessons and we work together learning new ideas and songs. After we learn new songs, students get to spend time using all of the technology, games, resources, and activities that I have available in my studio.

In other words, students get to instantly begin using what they’ve learned. They are reviewing these intellectual concepts in multiple domains: sensory, auditory, kinesthetic.

Not only is this fun… it is a sneaky and fun way of getting kids to retain everything I’ve just taught them.

Also, they are doing it under my supervision. I have eyes in the back of my head. If they do need help, I’m able support them. It doesn’t happen often because kids are absolutely a whiz with technology!

One other thing… Traditional piano lessons can be very lonely. I will frequently do review games with both students. This is an efficient way of doing review and also gives kids a sense of camaraderie. The social environment also triggers different kinds of learning.

Maybe one out of 100 teachers uses a format like this. This is why my students tend to love their lessons.

We all know the stereotype of the struggling piano student. They begrudgingly go to the piano and can barely play “Mary Had a Little Lamb” with one finger after a year’s worth of lessons!

That just doesn’t happen here. My format supports kids in their learning. It injects an element of fun and excitement into their lessons that you just won’t experience anywhere else.”

At this point, I will usually stop and ask for questions. I like to get parental feedback.

Why is this presentation so convincing? Because it DOES NOT focus on cold, hard, Pic6analytical facts.

It focuses on the outcomes. It focuses on the result.

It differentiates you from almost every other teacher in the world.

It tells a plausible story of how lessons can be different.

It demonstrates that you are an expert at the subject manner and should be trusted.

You’ve told a story. It connects facts that parents know are true (kids generally don’t like work) and solves the problem with an external solution (kids love technology).

You have convinced someone without even trying.

WHAT ABOUT PARENTS THAT ARE ALREADY IN MY STUDIO?

The easiest way to make this format change is to offer other options for new students. Over time you will gradually convert your entire studio to this format.

However, wouldn’t it be nice if you could switch your entire studio over at once?

I have a few suggestions:

  • Give Advance Notice

If you intend to switch over in the fall, you should give advance notice NOW. This will give you plenty of time to gauge the number of people who will quit.

I think you will be surprised how few people leave your studio over this. For a small to mid-size studio, I would be surprised if it was more than one or two students.

  • Use Leila’s Resources and Wise Advice

Leila has resources showing how to effectively incorporate the OBOB method into your studio.

Become an expert on this material. When skeptical parents challenge the new format, you will be armed with loads of information.

  • Don’t Rely On Just Information

Having said that… don’t rely on just information alone to persuade! Stories, emotion, and analogies will always beat logic and reason.

Focus on outcomes.

You will be surprised how easily parents will accept this approach to lessons.

  • Be True To Yourself

Do you believe this is the best for your studio? Do you believe that this format is better than the traditional format?

If so, then you have an obligation to your studio and your students to do what is best for them.

Do not let one or two obstinate parents derail you. They are actually seeking to sabotage the progress of your students!

It is your right and duty to do what is best for your students.

I do not take what I’m about to say lightly:

Consider this your permission to ignore their protests.

  • Grow a Spine of Steel

Of course, it’s easy for me to sit here and tell you how to run your studio. I’m casually suggesting that you change your format and business model.

I offer these two comforting thoughts:

  1. I have been through two format changes in my studio. They both were quite difficult. I know how you feelHowever, my desire to improve myself and my studio gave me the courage to see them through. Even better, seeing them through made me a stronger, bolder person. It improved my studio and the results my students experienced.
  2. I have found that it is easier to have courage when I am certain that I am going to be able to pay my bills! Are you good at promoting your studio? Attracting new students? Having a system for bringing in a predictable number of new student leads each month can give you an enormous amount of confidence.I have created a giant resource for piano teachers on how to attract new students. Go to my blog and download my free guide on 14 ways you can attract new students through Facebook.

CONCLUSION

I believe that most problems that piano teachers face are not “teaching problems.” They are business problems.

Do you want to grow your studio?

Do you want to grow as a teacher?

If so, then you need to understand your own psychology and the psychology of others. This understanding will have a disproportionate impact on your studio.

Effectively communicating the value of Off Bench time has the potential to change your studio. Stories beat facts. Emotion beats logic.

This is how you gently persuade people to your vision.

You will gain the reputation as a forward thinking teacher. Kids will love the lessons more. You will attract high quality students. It’s even possible you could raise your rates!

How do you communicate your value? Do you have questions about the script I wrote for you? I won’t know unless you leave a comment! I look forward to chatting with you in the comments below.


Thank you, Daniel, for sharing your experiences. Your sage advice and  invaluable guidance is encouraging to all of us! -Leila


If you know you are ready for a change and feel equipped to communicate the change, that’s half of the work. Now you made need some direction with where to go with this change in format. I’d love to work with you and make your plans a reality.

A personal consultation includes:

  • A video presentation of how to address any of your fears about adding Off Bench time to lessons: Time, Space, Cost AND technology.
  • A handout to accompany the video packed full of guidance and ideas.
  • An email exchange where you list topics and questions for discussion prior to the consultation.
  • 60 minutes of time with me via FaceTime or Skype.
  • Extensive notes emailed to you after the session for future use.

Contact me, Leila Viss, at lviss@me.com and mention OBOB for 10% off the $60 fee. Looking forward!

Remarks from Marie in Nevada after her consultation:

This is so exciting! I can’t stop thinking about all the ideas you shared and probably won’t be able to fall asleep tonight I appreciate you taking the time to make notes for me to refer to, and your connections to other teachers will be invaluable.

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Leila Viss

Creative Pianist, Piano Teacher, Organist, Blogger and Author of The iPad Piano Studio