How to Get Students?

Barb said: May 7, 2013
Barb Ennis
Suzuki Association Member
685 posts

Hi Nicolas,
Welcome to the world of teaching!

I am in a different situation as I am the only cello teacher in town, but here is what I have done:

Told everyone (including other music teachers) I am teaching and offering free trial lessons.

Put this info on a homeschool email list.

Made a website (see link in my signature—website is free) and made sure that my home page had “cello lessons” and cello teacher” and the name of my town and my name. I’m now easily found on google.

Put posters up in our music store after introducing myself to the staff. Also on other bbs around town.

Set up a table in our mall’s annual “sign up” event.

Offered a pre-cello day camp for parents and preschoolers through an activity centre (they advertised for it and provided location- I set the price and they paid me less their portion afterwards).

I made my skills known by accompanying a choir and playing in an orchestra and at church.

I wrote a press release. They didn’t print it as I wrote it, but a reporter phoned and interviewed me and they sent a photographer out. (Maybe that’s a small town thing.)

I always put my student recitals in the free events section of the paper.

Offer my free trial lessons on our church’s website marketplace area (no charge).

Be the best teacher I can be. Happy parents and students who play with excellence speak well.

I don’t have a mega studio, and I like having only 10 students. Otherwise maybe I would also put paid ads out, too. :-)

Some teachers also offer incentives to current students for referrals.

I’m guessing you’re not the only guitar teacher in town. Make your niche or areas of specialty clear in your advertising.

Maybe you could offer a free showing of the video “Nurtured by Love” and introduction of the Suzuki method to parents at preschools, or ask preschools to advertise this for you.

Take a small guitar in to a preschool to give kids a chance to try it.

If there is a music teacher’s association in your town join it.

Best wishes!

(Edited to change some wording -for some reason I thought I saw “piano” in your post- sorry about that!)

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

Lori Bolt said: May 7, 2013
Lori BoltPiano
San Clemente, CA
262 posts

I empathize with you Nicholas….I’ve been teaching Suzuki a long time, but due to family obligations and then the recession my studio numbers were very small. Word of mouth wasn’t working like it had for years, so I was forced to think of ways to sell my program. Barb has many great ideas. I’ve done several of those. Each one helps a little. I’ve had to try to be patient, as they do yield small results sometimes. I’m seeing slow growth in my studio.

My most effective promotion has been to have attractive professional flyers made with all my basic info on them, including the complimentary trial lesson. Postcard size on heavy (glossy?) card stock is good for placing on windshields of cars or bullletin boards. They should be eye catching. I take the flyers to community events or locations (parks, pools, library story time) where I know families will be….the community Easter egg hunt has always brought a couple of calls.

Also be sure you’re on the S.A.A. teacher directory. Google guitar teacher or lessons in your area to find other directories to place your name on (many are free).
Some tutoring sites have music teachers on them too. I have not had positive results with Craig’s List, mostly scams —beware of them.

Good luck!

Lori Bolt

Paula Bird said: May 7, 2013
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Piano, Viola
Wimberley, TX
404 posts

do some public playing:

  • library story hours
  • local community events
  • visit local elementary and Montessori or other private schools; contact the music teachers and volunteer to showcase something, especially when the kids learn the letter “G”

Just a few ideas. Make up some flyers and have them available when you perform. It amazes me how quickly students come once they have seen what it is you do. Play at the local flea markets or market days. Where do kids go? Play there. If you have a student, then make up a performance together and appear together. Seeing another student will interest the little ones.

Contact music teachers in all local schools. Make up flyers and hang them in band halls. Get out there and be seen. Flyers in music stores. Where do guitar people hang out? Any other teachers in your area? Call them and ask if they have a waiting list or if you can combine resources for something.

A local teacher and I did an elementary school performance when I first started out, and the local newspaper came and wrote a short blurb about us and the Suzuki method. I also gave free parent classes (which were my introduction to the Suzuki Method). I filled up my studio by the end of the year.

Paula E. Bird
TX State University
Wildflower Suzuki Studio (blog) (podcast)

Merietta Oviatt said: May 7, 2013
Merietta OviattViolin, Suzuki in the Schools, Cello, Viola
Stevens Point, WI
107 posts

Yes on everything the ladies above have said. I have had to move around a lot due to my playing/educational obligations—so I have had to try to get students in both large and small towns. Believe it or not it has been easier in the smaller towns! The larger towns can have a saturation of music teachers, making it difficult to break in. However, I have slowly been able to gain a few students at a time. As soon as you can get one or two students, they can usually help you gain a few more a little more quickly.

Here are a few more suggestions to add to those from the others:
- Some of the music stores have teacher books and will list your name in it for free. They may also offer music lessons—you could start by teaching at one of the locations to get by until you can get some outside students on your own.
- Offer to help your church, school, or community organization gain money or goods and do a concert as a fundraiser. Admission is by donation or by bringing a can (depending on what group you are helping). They will usually give you their venue to play in for free, you’ll be helping a good cause, and you will get your name out there to people who may be interested in guitar lessons. Just make sure that the program includes a quick bio of yourself as well as your contact info for lessons.
- Volunteer to play some educational concerts at local schools. At the end the teachers can hand flyers out with your information on it (you may be able to get into the music classrooms easier than an entire school assembly).
- Find other teachers in your area and introduce yourself. Let them know that you are looking for students, but that you are available to sub for them if needed. Some studios fill-up and they can pass interested students your way. I also recently received 3 students from a teacher who was having a baby and needed to down-size her studio.
- Find some of the dance studios and offer to play with their dancers for their next dance recital. By showing how amazing live music and dance are together you may be able to get some siblings of the dancers—perhaps even some of the dancers themselves!
- Offer a great deal for a per-twinkle group class. You can charge much less than you would for individual lessons, but they would only be in a group environment until after they have completed the Twinkles. Then they would filter into private lessons with your regular rates. Many people like the thought of being able to try something out for a much cheaper rate to see if they like it before any larger commitments.
- I believe I saw that you are a guitar teacher. My mother is as well. You may need to offer more than just classical guitar. Be open to teaching some non-suzuki methods so that you can get some of the kids who want to “rock” in your door. After that you can make a huge point as to how the best guitarists are those who can play more than just chords—particularly classical.

I have had to teach some Bruno Mars instead of Vivaldi a few times in order to get some students in the door. It’s better to bend a little in the beginning to keep your dream of being a music teacher alive than to give-up. As soon as you have a few students you can start to stick to your guns and be a little more picky as far as what you will and won’t do. I know some will disagree with me on that, but I’ve been in the situation where ramen noodles were just a no-go anymore and I needed to make some money. It’s a little annoying, but after a bit I usually can persuade the students to learn in my way. Good luck, and I really hope this helps you!!

Dr. Merietta Oviatt
Suzuki Specialist
Viola/Violin Instructor
Aber Suzuki Center, University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point
[javascript protected email address]

Carmen said: May 7, 2013
 13 posts

Have you tried introducing yourself to local parenting email loops highlighting what you can offer? Homeschool loops? Demonstration at your local schools? From a parent’s perspective, I am more likely to check out a teacher in a group setting (either seeing him/her perform, or participating in a low cost trial group class, like $10 or less). Music teacher listing? Work at local music school/store? Those are the ways I go about looking for a music teacher for my kids, besides word of mouth.

Barb said: May 7, 2013
Barb Ennis
Suzuki Association Member
685 posts


Have you seen this Suzuki guitar video? I love it. If I taught guitar I would have a link to that on my home page!

I wonder if one obstacle is that people are used to seeing young children play piano or violin, but are not aware that other instruments are available for young children?

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

Hadley Johnson Gibbons said: Jun 29, 2013
Hadley Johnson GibbonsViolin, Viola
Seattle, WA
37 posts

I know that it’s a little late to chime in, but what has worked the best for me is to advertise at local violin shops. (Do you have guitar shops in your area?) Nothing really worked for me to bring in the numbers until I made business cards (Office Depot, cheapest ones available were about $20 and perfectly adequate) and put them on a sign that had a business card holder (small enough to put on the bulletin boards that they have in shops). When I brought the signs in I always asked permission and tried to strike up a conversation with the business owners.

Eventually I found a “favorite” shop, where I always bring my violin to get repairs and have a great relationship with the owners. They not only have my cards out, but they recommend me as a teacher to families that come to rent or buy instruments. (The first year after I arrived in Seattle every last one of my new students came recommended by this particular workshop.) I buy them a Christmas gift every year :). Not only have I built a full studio, but I have met some really wonderful, interesting violin makers as a result!

Alicia said: Sep 25, 2013
13 posts

I have had some trouble in the past getting new students as well. I only briefly scanned that other suggestions, so this may be a repeat of what others have said, but I just wanted to share what has worked for me recently.

I created a Facebook page for my studio a while back, but have really begun using it over the last few months. I love it because it easily allows my Facebook friends to share my information, and then I can see how many people I am reaching. I have had a few inquirees about lessons, and should be starting two new students next week who saw my Facebook page after a friend shared my page. It is such a great way to allow others to see what is going on in your studio!

Good luck!

Alicia Reid
Suzuki Piano Teacher
[javascript protected email address]

Becca said: Feb 3, 2016
Becca FishViolin
Queen Creek, AZ
2 posts

So I’ve just been browsing through a few of the threads here and came across this one and thought I would comment. I’ve been trying to build up a small violin student in Metro-Phoenix area in Arizona. There’s tons of competent and competitive instructors in my area and I’m located on the outskirts of town so getting students is a little bit of an uphill battle.

That being said I’ve had a ton of success with thumbtack of late and facebook ads. My husband has also tried to do a little bit with my website through SEO and google ads but those have been significantly less successful.

Where I’ve found thumbtack and facebook ads to be successful is to be very transparent on my profile so everyone can see my contact info and I make sure to be the first person to contact anyone. Doesn’t matter if it’s 2 am in the morning. If it wakes me up I’m going to be sure that I respond. My student’s have been blown away with this approach and even those that are traveling 45 minutes to get to their lesson are excited to learn from me.

That has worked for me. Does anyone else have any recent success with different service or tactics?

Rebecca said: Feb 5, 2016
 20 posts

Vehicle Magnets.

I know many people may not be comfortable with this, but I was, and it worked very well. I just had “Violin Lessons” with my phone number, studio name, and a picture of a violin, and that worked wonders. I got a lot of contacts in parking lots and on the road. Not only did prospective students get my information, but it seemed like someone knew someone who was looking for lessons and they could refer me, and being in a small town it was easy to spot my vehicle. I’m at the point now where I don’t have the magnets on because I have a waiting list and it may be several months before I can take new students.

Jana said: Feb 6, 2016
Jana MacKayFlute, Piano, Violin
Elizabethtown, PA
3 posts

I’ve considered vehicle magnets but never actually used them. Where did you get yours?

Rebecca said: Feb 6, 2016
 20 posts

I think it was Vistaprint- one of those online print places. They provide the photo and a template, so you can just plug in the words. I got an 11×17 pair and everything plus shipping came to about $35. Cheaper than a newspaper ad and people actually look at it, and it doesn’t expire.

Jody said: Mar 1, 2016
Suzuki Association Member
Cello, Suzuki in the Schools, Guitar
Coral Springs, FL
9 posts

What kind of program do you present at story time? By the way, I played in Austin Symphony a while ago. Jody a long while ago

Richard Franklin said: Mar 16, 2016
 7 posts

Have you tried introducing yourself to local parenting email loops highlighting what you can offer? Homeschool loops? Demonstration at your local schools? From a parent’s perspective, I am more likely to check out a teacher in a group setting (either seeing him/her perform, or participating in a low cost trial group class, like $10 or less). Music teacher listing? Work at local music school/store? Those are the ways I go about looking for a music teacher for my kids, besides word of mouth.

Sylvia said: Mar 18, 2016
Sylvia Evert
Suzuki Association Member
Inchelium, WA
19 posts

Be open to teaching via Skype. It actually works quite well! I have several skype students, I take my own lessons via skype. My daughter takes violin via Skype (she took her first year in person), and piano. We live in the sticks— so it’s been a necessity.

If you have a web an inviting web site and offer Skype lessons, there are many people who enjoy not having to leave their home. You’ll get students!

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