Essentials for a Great First Piano Lesson
We all know the adage, “You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.”
It’s true first impressions are super important. Especially if you are building your business and you want to have a thriving studio. Depending upon where you live and whether you are teaching online you may be facing a fair amount of competition in which case you really want to be able to stand out.
I have a pretty good track record when it comes to signing up new students and starting new studios. In fact, in my teaching career I have relocated to new cities five times. The most recent was six years ago when I moved from West Palm Beach Florida to Cleveland Ohio (yeah, that’s right, Cleveland Ohio.)
Here are the things I do before and during the first lesson to increase the chances of a second lesson taking place. These things might not work for everyone, but they do work for me. I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments below.
First and Foremost
Have the right mindset. I start out believing that I will most likely get this new student to sign up for lessons with me. (I say ‘most likely’ because there is a chance that a particular student just isn’t the right fit.) But more than likely they will want to take piano lessons with me. I will figure out how to help them learn, reach their goals, and be successful.
The Set Up
Have a nice-looking website that’s easy to navigate. I post my studio policy and my prices. I don’t like doing a hard sell, bait and switch routine, or dealing with people who are looking for the cheapest teacher in town. Having all the information available saves me time and aggravation.
When someone contacts me through email or by phone, I get back to them within 24 hours. I prefer to speak on the phone whenever possible. I make sure to get the first lesson booked right away.
I ask the parent their name, get their contact information, and ask the students’ names, ages, and grades in school. (Write these things down.)
I give free introductory lessons. One free lesson in-person and two free lessons online. This has always paid off for me. I am a firm believer in giving high-quality time and content to potential students and everyone I plan to do business with.
Make sure your new students have your address, or links needed. Give them instructions on where to park and enter your studio. Online students need to know what to bring to the lesson, whether parents can sit in, and how to set up their camera.
Ask for some background information. Is the student a beginner? Have they taken lessons before? What pieces has the student played? If they have studied previously ask them to bring some of their music. But be prepared with some new stuff as well.
On the day before the lesson, I confirm the appointment. I send a text saying; “Hi Mrs. Brown I’m looking forward to meeting Sarah tomorrow and 5:30” I include my address or the online link
As a potential teacher, I really want to stand out. I want my students to feel like friends from day one. I want to make sure they walk out excited about learning to play the piano. I know that whatever investment I make in the beginning will come back to me many times over. My average student retention rate is about eight years.
Meet them at the door. Most people are a bit uncomfortable about new situations. So, I always watch for by newcomers. I am sure to smile look them in the eye and remember their names.
I get the studio ready. I make sure my place is neat and inviting.
If I am teaching a student while waiting for the new people, I let them know what is going on so that they can also extend a warm welcome. (And tell the new people how amazing Ms. Doreen is)
Have comfortable seating available for parents. I direct them as to where to sit and tell them where the bathroom is located.
I don’t stop teaching. If I am with a student online or in person. I keep teaching for a few minutes. This way, they get to see a lesson in action. My students are used to performing and dealing with new people, so I have never had a problem with shy students. Most of my kids play well so I have them play something for the new students. There is no better advertising than having good students. Proof that the piano lessons with me work.
I have books and materials ready. I have my own music publishing website. It’s right here where you are reading this post. So, I print out the book 1a and some other materials and give them away at the first lesson. (Did you know you can get three free method books right here?) You can find out more about that by clicking the link below. I email several pages of music to online students and ask them to print them out for the first online lesson.
Give them a notebook so you can write their assignment, a pencil, and some business cards.
I have hands-on activities ready to go. I wrote a book called “The Ultimate Preschool Piano Activities Book” but the truth is that I use many of the ideas with elementary-aged students as well. Colorful popsicle sticks, wooden dice, printable board games, etc. This makes me stand out as most parents have not seen these things and are impressed. Kids think this is fun. Fun is good.
I also use Ice Breaker Flash Cards which you can print out by being a free Gold Member right here at palomapiano.com (shameless plug alert)
I have a parent hand-out packet that I also give out.
After the introductions and some friendly banter. I teach a lesson. I just jump right in. I think it’s important that my new student walks away having learned something and having an assignment to practice at home. After all, they ARE coming back next week.
I relax and be myself, I have been doing this for a long time, so I feel comfortable with the process. (If you’re new it may take a while, but you will get there).
Lastly, I ask if the parents have any questions, and then I tell them I will see them next week. I ask if this time works. If it doesn’t, I book a mutually acceptable time there and then.
I let them know that they can contact me during the week with any questions. I tell them how excited I am to have them on board.
And then I play something for them.
I follow up with an email and I send a confirmation text the day before next week’s lesson.
This strategy has worked well for me. Let me know what works for you in the comments.
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