Looks like I have to get full-time work, cut back on teaching…

Laurel said: Aug 15, 2011
Laurel MacCullochViolin
Langley, BC
120 posts

Hubby and I are at the point where we’re doing OK financially, but nothing is allowed to happen—the car better not need new brakes, for example, or the dog better not need to go to the vet—because of the financial pinch.

I do not have a full studio, and all the ideas I get for promotion or advertising are either expensive, or not working, or not working anymore. The other school where I work has always had chronic low enrolment/little to no advertising (at least not effective advertising). So I’m really not making much money. Add to that the fact that my degree is not actually in music, and it holds me back from working at other music schools.

I’m getting so disillusioned… I do get excited when I get a new group class idea, or look at new repertoire for this or that student, but it’s really getting trying. I’m dedicated to the Suzuki Method and do love to teach… the bank account speaketh, though.

I can probably still teach a bit, but… I just can’t afford to live my dream just now. :(

And, therefore, if I’m working full-time—I’ll have to pull my own kids out of THEIR group classes. Well, one of them at least, because it is after school (the other one is later)—but I can’t really see keeping one in but not the other. Plus the “rush” factor kind of puts me off too.

I hate to do this to my existing students, however. One in particular has a very specific schedule, needs the private lesson after school and before my 5:00 group class, then they have to go as both (musician) parents have gigs/teaching that same night. If I changed the group class to another day, I’d lose a teacher (for Orff, an integral part of our program). And where can I hire another Suzuki teacher to replace my earlier teaching times? (Well, yes, this website has been useful in the past for this, but I’m just venting).

Sigh.
Laurel

Patricia said: Aug 15, 2011
 
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
Martinsville, NJ
58 posts

I don’t know what the economy is like where you are.. but it is down everywhere here too. (some places more so then other places.)
Do you have a website? I would make sure you do and then get it into all the search engines.
In my Program—I don’t pay for advertising—but I do have a referral thank you for students who refer others into the program. It used to be a CD of Joshua Bell or some great violinist…. last year and I will carry this to this year—parents asked for a credit to their lesson tuition.
I have a feeling the economy is going to get worse before it gets better…. hopefully everyone can ride the tide for another year? As far as students saying they are inflexible—sometimes they surprise you—if you tell them you have to change—they find they can change too?
Good Luck!

Lori Bolt said: Aug 15, 2011
Lori Bolt
Suzuki Association Member
Piano
San Clemente, CA
226 posts

Laurel—I truly feel for what you are going through. Our family is also experiencing tough economic times as many of my piano families have dropped out due to their own financial difficulties. I also have a very small number of students at this time. We normally use my income to fund the “extras”—but there are very few of those now. I understand the disillusionment you struggle with, as I also have tried to market my studio.

I have used the idea Patrizia mentioned of offering a small tuition break (equal to one lesson’s fee) when a family refers a new student (who actually begins lessons). The teacher locator service of this website has helped some. Just know that times are tough. Hang in there, think outside the box and—hopefully—we can one day say that we are again able to live our Suzuki dream! :D

PS: I think your Suzuki families may be willing to work with you on scheduling. I’m also hoping you find a job which pays what you need, but allows you to teach too.

Lori Bolt

Irene said: Aug 15, 2011
Irene YeongViolin
160 posts

Do you advertise through Google Ad? Try that, very effective, that’s how I found my daughter’s violin teacher. There is no ad in google anymore, I think her schedule is so full now, she doesn’t need to advertise anymore. But try Google. It works.

Good luck .

Teresa said: Aug 15, 2011
Teresa Skinner
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
69 posts

Laurel (and all other teachers out there…)
This year is the first time I have increased my rates since 2005, and it’s only a 4% hike. My studio rental expense has gone up 50% since 2010, my medical insurance has more than doubled since early 2002. Then of course there’s home rental, gas, utilities etc. Ironically, the “scholarship” students want to pull out of the studio because they’re uncomfortable receiving lessons for virtually no outlay of dollars (I do give scholarships to some families who have kids that practice WELL, love to play and otherwise could not have lessons in their life), and my more well to do families are balking at a 4% increase per month. Many families do not realize that there’s more to what we do than the 30-45 minutes we spend with their children each week. Many parents are dedicated to invest in their child’s musical education. What about our own personal dedication and investment in their childrens’ human development?
I too, like so many people, am feeling a HUGE pinch in the pocketbook. What used to cost $100 ten years ago now costs $125 or more for the same thing! It’s irritating and disheartening when some can take a Mediterranean cruise for a month in the summer and plead poverty when tuition is due upon their return.
Just curious- is there anyone else out there that has given leeway with tuition only to get bitten in the okole (rear-end for all y’all mainlanders)?
Just saying…

…if you listen to the music, it tells you what to do…

Patricia said: Aug 16, 2011
 
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
Martinsville, NJ
58 posts

I do decrease my rates for students who can’t afford to pay the entire fee. I never give totally free lessons though. They pay 50-60% of the fees. Never lost a student to wanting to pay more for lessons but I wouldn’t take it?

With so may parents being successful small business owners themselves with some of them holding practices…. I know of a violin teacher about an hour from me—who actually wrote to her parents and gave them her story…. 1 of her parents fathers is a dr… he offered her a part time job this past year in his office being a receptionist and she gets free medical care? (in his office). She told me she works for him 9-1 and then goes and teaches in the afternoon…. the only thing is her day seems long with a 3 hour break before teaching. But at least she is managing.

If you are renting space somewhere, chances are they know the economy is not what it should be—so see if they will decrease your lease? as far healthcare—don’t get me started…… we will have to wait until the next election for anything to change there? and then it still might not? SAA used to have healthcare options for us—but in NJ it is just Oxford now?

Good Luck… If I hear about anything else, I’ll post.

Barb said: Aug 16, 2011
Barb Ennis
Suzuki Association Member
Cello
678 posts

I think it’s a good idea to let your parents know the situation.

Would it be enough to raise your tuition? The parents might be happy to pay a little more to keep you and their lesson times. Or do some recruiting for you to help you fill out your studio.

Granted, I started with very low rates due to my lack of training and experience, but no one blinked an eye when I raised them two years later. In fact one parent asked for longer lessons. Of course the economy in Canada isn’t quite in the same state as it is in the States.

Would there be enough interest in an additional class every week such as theory or music appreciation/history—for your students AND others’ students, maybe even a class for adults? Our local college offers “continuing education” classes offered by “experts” in the community—gardening, scrapbooking, writing, cooking, painting, drumming, etc., and if someone proposed a music appreciation or “how to listen to classical music” or even an adult group violin class I’m sure they’d give it a try (they will of course cancel classes if there is not enough interest).

Are there kids’ group violin classes where you are for those who might not be willing to commit to private lessons at first? I don’t know if my parents would have started me in private lessons, but the school violin class got me started and when they saw my interest they signed me up for private lessons. Or could you attract those who can’t pay for private lessons by offering semi-private if they bring two children for one lesson?

I hope something works out for you and that you will live your dream, even if it isn’t this year.

Barb
Music Teachers Helper—for individual teachers
Studio Helper—for entire music studios or schools

Lori Bolt said: Aug 16, 2011
Lori Bolt
Suzuki Association Member
Piano
San Clemente, CA
226 posts

Great ideas Barb and Patrizia! I’m picking up some good ideas for growing my studio as well.

Laurel—here’s another thought: what about bartering lessons for services your family may need (car repairs, dr/dentist services, the vet….). Possibly you could even barter ahead of when you actually need the service, building a bit of an account with that provider. Also, look into the local home schooling community if you haven’t done so. Home school families are also on tight budgets (I know—we’re one), but love group music classes (or the semi-private idea).

Lori Bolt

Laurel said: Aug 16, 2011
Laurel MacCullochViolin
Langley, BC
120 posts

Those are great ideas everyone!

Unfortunately there might be a bit of a deadline—Hubby is on contract, which is up in October. They are supposed to hear “soon” if they’ve landed another one, but that would bring us only up to about February. So one of us needs a decent steady income; I’d rather get ahead of that rather than have him out of work and me only teaching a bit.

Plus, as hubby pointed out, benefits are worth a lot. They can be worth 25% of your income. With 2 kids who are definitely going to need orthodontics, that’s nothing to sneeze at.

We’ve done the math; even after paying for before and after school care, we’ll still be ahead.

Patrizia—I do have a website; we get a certain amount of space through our ISP. But how does one get it into search engines?

The thing I can’t quite admit to is my own attitude—things at the school have been so negative for so long that I’m just kind of dreading going back in September… Maybe I just don’t WANT to teach just now. :(

Laurel

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