Starting a Business as a Music Teacher

January 30, 2012 at 3:46 pm | Posted in music education, Music Teacher Profession | 4 Comments
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Music teachers should not be afraid to take the leap into private sector teaching. Teaching music is almost a traditional occupation, with roots that go back hundreds of years. Today there are a few more legal hurdles to face, but setting up a music teaching business is no more difficult than setting up any other business.

A business plan is where most prospective small business owners start. Business plans can be very useful for obtaining loans and other forms of financing, but they are also useful as a way to get the details of a small business out on paper. The Small Business Administration offers templates for business plans. There are a number of commercial business plan templates available as well as software to help streamline the writing process. For example, MBA Online has a resource for entrepreneurs looking to start a business during an economic downturn. The Small Business Administration also recommends looking into classes to help with starting a small business and building business plans.

In addition to traditional hoops that businesses face, music teachers must formulate a marketing plan and methodology for attaining students. Consider using your existing network of music programs, teachers, and stores to help get your message out. Teach your students exciting music and set up recitals to give visibility to your teaching.

The next thing to consider is location. Most people are familiar with the traditional image of the music teacher meeting students at home. This is usually the cheaper option for teachers starting out, but it may not be the best option when local laws and ordinances are involved. Many towns will permit teaching of music in the home if teachers see one student at a time. Others, like the one in the article, have restrictions for parking. In that case, it may be necessary to book an outside location for recitals, while it is still possible to teach from home. Regardless, it is important to comply with all of the local zoning laws.

Financing a home-based music teaching business may not be difficult. Monthly rent for an outside location makes a music teaching business more intensive. Home-based teachers often rely on existing community relationships and word of mouth for advertising, while teachers who have to support an outside location need more regular students to keep the business going. Outside financing might be necessary to defray any startup costs. Small businesses can qualify for a number of low cost loans.

Business structure is the next thing to consider. Many small music teaching businesses manage well as sole proprietorships and limited liability corporations (LLC). Business structure determines which forms are needed for filing taxes, but it can also affect legal liability of the proprietor. Check state laws for business name registration. Most states do not require registration if small business owners use their own full name. Some states require registration for any fictitious name. Others base registration requirements on the business structure.

Small businesses are required apply for a tax number, register for state and local taxes and apply for any necessary permits at the state and local level. Contact the city and county government for music teaching permit information. Most local areas require a business license for private music teachers.

Beginning a music teaching small business is not a daunting task. Prospective teachers need to follow a few simple steps to ensure that everything is setup correctly. If in doubt, see the Small Business Administration for guidance. Many times classes for small business owners are available locally at community centers and other venues. Check into these for additional help with creating a business plan and taking care of business details.

—- Elaine Hirsch


What Makes a Great Music Teacher

January 20, 2011 at 1:54 pm | Posted in Music Teacher Profession, Music Teaching Tips, My Experinces | 6 Comments

What makes a great music teacher? Someone with years of expert training and dedication? Someone who knows all the answers to music students’ questions?  Someone with a track record of incredible students?

It would be easy to say yes. Music teachers like that are very impressive. And certainly training and dedication are essential. But over the years I’ve realized that there are other qualities even more important than these.

I had a friend who majored in Music and French at University who ended up teaching German, her second foreign language, in a high school. One day, in the midst of a German lesson, she taught her students a German word that she later discovered did not exist. Mortified, she was hoping that her students would forget it along with all the other vocabulary they frequently forgot, but no such luck. The students remembered and continue to use this invented German word, and she did not have the heart or the courage to tell them the truth.

This story made a great impression on me when I heard it, and I determined at that moment that I would never pretend to know all the answers. As a child, I had thought my teachers had all the answers. Now as an adult, I know they did not. And so if a student asks me a question and I don’t know the answer, I tell them truthfully that I will find out for them and let them know. They don’t seem to have a problem with that.

What about having impressive students? Isn’t that an important yardstick by which to measure a teacher? My take on this is that it’s more important to have students who love what they do, and to have a good relationship with them. Worrying about whether they are excelling can get in the way of these other more important aspects.

On that note, are you aware of what your beliefs are about your students and about your teaching? If your students don’t excel, are you taking it personally, blaming your own teaching, or, conversely, blaming your students for being lazy or unmotivated? If you are driven by the need for recognition, it is easy to fall into this trap. Notice what drives you, and whether it is working for you. I decided a long time ago, when I was teaching some students with some personal challenges, that it was more important to give them love and attention, than for them to succeed at the piano. I’ve noticed that this works much better for me as a general rule.   If they are talented, it certainly can be more stimulating to teach them, and I love to hear the results, but I have developed some really close relationships with more typical students that were far more satisfying.

Another important issue is boundaries. Be clear about what you are able to offer.  What has worked best for me is to be friendly and warm, but not to try to be a best friend. To be clear about starting and ending times, fees, cancellations, and about the structure of the lesson. To be focused and not overly chatty. To give the students space to make discoveries, and to be objective as far as possible.

The bottom line here is about awareness. When you are teaching, are you aware of your breathing? Is your body relaxed? What thoughts do you have in your mind? How are you feeling? Are you present with the student? Do you feel in balance? Are you taking care of yourself? Are you still learning and growing as a musician and a person every day? Are you open to having fun? Are you genuinely enthusiastic? Are you even willing to look silly if it will help the student understand a certain principle or connect to a certain piece of music?

One of my advanced students, a teenage boy of 17, was learning a contemporary piano piece written for dancers. He was finding it difficult to connect to the piece, and I suddenly had the idea that maybe it would help him if I moved around the room and danced to it myself. I remember blushing as I had the idea. Although I often danced to music, I was in no way a professional, and I was afraid of embarrassing myself. But here we were in a large empty studio, and it just seemed like the right thing to do. I suggested it to my student, and he was very receptive. So I got up and started moving and dancing to the music. And an amazing thing happened. As he accompanied my movements, and I expressed physically and emotionally what I was hearing, the piece transformed. And neither he nor I have ever forgotten the experience.

Know more tips and ideas on how to become a great music teacher; visit these music teaching resources. – Earl Marsden

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So You Want to Teach Music

November 27, 2008 at 5:48 am | Posted in Music Teacher Profession | Leave a comment
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Not everyone has the talent to impart knowledge; as we all know, teaching is a vocation. But what is more difficult is this: to teach another vocation. An example? Teaching music.

Music has a wide range of classifications since musical instruments are discovered or invented from time to time. And to impart the knowledge about these instruments, music teachers are called.

The art of music is a special thing. And passing on knowledge about it is a great responsibility.

There are certain characteristics, which music teachers are supposed to possess. These are attitudes and capabilities that can help them make things easier for themselves, as well as for their students.

Teachers should have at least the most basic knowledge about instruments. No one can teach if he do not know anything. This reflects their love and dedication for the art. If they would not be able to provide students with information, no one would believe them.

It is not enough that music teachers possess the characteristic above. They should also have the knowledge on fields of psychology and philosophy. Teaching music means dealing with people. And dealing with people means the ability to relate with them.

Music is a subject in which two-way interaction exists. Teachers and students must jive with each other to justify the music they are supposed to play together. Practicing psychological and philosophical techniques on students can help teachers make this interaction more possible.

Patience and understanding are two essential values, which music teachers should possess. Repeated lessons are normal. One cannot expect a student to learn music with just one session. And once a lesson is learned, it is a must that they both go back to it. It is a never-ending cycle in teaching this art. And those who lack patience and understanding cannot teach music.

Adjusting to the learning level of the students can be applied by music teachers. They should utilize the abilities of their learners in teaching. For example, a teacher is used to teaching music in a direct note-reading manner, but one of his students cannot learn through mere reading of notes unlike some others.

Perhaps, he prefers listening to what he is supposed to play first. Then, the teacher should be able to adapt to the nature of this child so he could learn, and the responsibility of the teacher be justified.

As implied in the first part of this article, music is a vocation. It is a call to people who are devoted to their craft. The desire to see their students excel most on music is one basic principle, which music teachers should have. It is not merely music lessons that they should impart, but also the love and complete dedication to the art of music.

Not everyone can teach music. Just like as it is in other fields. But things change. Who knows?

See more available help and resources for music teachers, browse and read our blog posts.

The Reason I am into Music Teaching

November 27, 2008 at 1:27 am | Posted in My Experinces | Leave a comment
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My career as a music teacher is definitely not an accident; it is my choice. Yet, it was my father, who motivated me to have such passion for music. He was not able to finish his Music Major course in college but still he managed to become a successful musician.

Teaching Music is also a passion for my dad. Not known to many, he scheduled a twice a week session for music enthusiast who wanted to learn how to play guitars without charging a single cent. This was just a reason why he gained a nice reputation in our neighborhood.

I would not sleep without my dad playing a tune with his flute; my mom always told me. There are also instances when I giggle aloud whenever he softly blows his trumpet just beside my ears. But that was when I was still a baby, unaware of my future.

Honestly, my mother would not want me to follow my father’s footsteps. She wanted to train me to become an engineer, just like my grandfather. It was just funny that whenever we are going out to watch my dad perform, she always tries to get the farthest seat possible. Yet, in spite of these tactics, she failed. I still evolve to a young man dreaming of being a music professor some day.

This music teaching desire has urged me to pursue Music Education in college and because of my firm conviction; I was able to finish such degree with flying colors. And guess what, it is not my father who get on the stage with me to accept the honors; it was my mom.

After graduating college, I never wasted time. With my parent’s permission and financial support, I established my own music studio just beside our home in a vacant lot where my father used to teach guitars to our neighbors. I was able to attract four students initially.

It has not been so simple for me. I experienced many problems that almost compel me to quit music teaching. Yet, because it was my dream to help young people learn Music, I still gave myself a chance and look for ways to resolve the concerns that I am experiencing then.

My friend introduced me to a website that aims to help teachers manage their own music studios. I got their services only last year but until now, they were able to provide the necessary services I need to be an efficient music teacher, as I wanted to be.

See more resources in Music Teaching, log on to our Music Teachers Website.

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