Would like to start a brand new Suzuki program in my town-any advice?

Gulrukh Gurevich said: Mar 12, 2015
Gulrukh Gurevich
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
Westlake Village, CA
1 posts

Dear colleagues,
There is not a Suzuki program in a town I recently relocated myself to and I would like to start one.
Those of you who have done that in the past, would you please share your experience?
Could you please elaborate on how you went about advertising, spreading the word about it, financial considerations and any other tips would be greatly appreciated!
Thanks so much!

Sue Hunt said: Mar 13, 2015
Sue Hunt
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Violin
390 posts

One of the most successful things that I have done, was to write an article on music and the mind for a local parent magazine. Parents contacted me just because they had picked it up in doctors’ waiting rooms. The rest was up to me. Susan Kempter’s “Between Parent and Teacher” helped me nurture prospective parents and before long, I had a nice group of new Pre Twinklers.

Erin Rushforth said: Apr 11, 2015
Erin Rushforth
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Suzuki Early Childhood Education, Suzuki in the Schools
San Antonio, TX
19 posts

I made sure to update my website, printed some business cards, and dropped them off to local music stores where potential students could rent instruments. Another idea might be to visit elementary and pre-schools to perform for them or share your contact information with the music teacher. Also, make sure you are listed in the SAA teacher location service.

Heather Figi said: Apr 17, 2015
Heather FigiViolin
Eugene, OR
97 posts

First, BEST WISHES!!! How exciting to be at the beginning of something!!! This is an incredible time to dream and really get clear on the your specialties, purpose and service in this world.

If you send me a message, I will share a rather lengthy email I recently wrote to a colleague about this very subject. It is too lengthy to share here even though very relevant.

Here are a few ideas to get started:

1- You are new in town so make meeting people your job. Join organizations, meetup.org, etc…You sell an experience with you and people will be trusting their most precious treasure in the world with you—their beloved child. Meeting you and getting a sense of your sincerity and balance would be a first step. Also, you meet your community and get ideas from the conversations you have with your new friends.

I always say: winning the lottery is hard, winning the lottery without a ticket is even harder. I compare this to starting a studio if you are new in town—starting a studio is hard, starting a studio if no one knows you are even starting a studio is even harder.

2- There are some great Facebook group designed specifically for addressing how to begin a studio and or grow a studio. Message if you need specifics.

3- Hold parent classes to share with the community the good news about the work you do ;)

Please let us know how this goes.
Thanks, Heather

Heather Figi said: Apr 17, 2015
Heather FigiViolin
Eugene, OR
97 posts

One more thing—It is worth your money to invest in making sure your website has SEO (search engine optimization) otherwise no one will find it.

again, best wishes

Jennifer said: Jul 21, 2015
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
9 posts

I am also starting my own Suzuki studio this year…would you mind forwarding me the email you mentioned above? I would really love your advice! Thanks so much!

Keep us posted on your progress! I am in the same boat, trying to start up my own Suzuki program this year.

Brecklyn Smith Ferrin said: Jul 21, 2015
Brecklyn Smith Ferrin
Suzuki Association Member
Kaysville, UT
28 posts

You may want to take a page from the food and toy industries’ marketing plans, and go directly to the kids! I have had colleagues have really good luck taking an “instrument petting zoo” to local elementary schools.

You could get in touch with the music teachers there, and arrange to come in and volunteer or give a presentation. if you can get the kids really excited to learn an instrument, they will pester their parents until they call you!

Sounds sneaky, but it works! That’s why businesses market to kids. Parents are going to have more incentive to find lessons for their children if the children actually want lessons.

I’ve never tried this, but I have toyed with the idea of running Facebook ads, because you can make them so highly targeted. I don’t need more students right now, but I will let you know how it works when I try it!

Best of luck!

Henry Flurry said: Jul 22, 2015
Henry FlurryInstitute Director
Suzuki Association Member
Prescott, AZ
22 posts

I agree with everything said above.

I tried all sorts of advertising when I moved to a new town. The one that generated the most calls of interest were tri-fold flyers in pediatrician waiting rooms. I purchased flyer holders for them and put a post card in the back instructing the office to call me when the flyers were gone. (I still needed to be proactive to keep them filled.) Most doctors seemed happy to allow me to put such flyers there.

One word of advice: if you can financially afford it, be as choosy about the families you accept as you ideally would like to be, right from the start. After initially accepting any piano student into my studio, it took several years of attrition and new students to end up with the studio I really wanted.


Heather Figi said: Jul 23, 2015
Heather FigiViolin
Eugene, OR
97 posts

I can honestly say I have never in 7 years gotten a referral from the SAA website. I think this is an incredible resource and appreciate this service but I just wanted to be honest and was curious how other people did it.

My students almost exclusively come from word of mouth (which I know is impossible if you are building from the ground up.)

My studio is my treasure in this world and something I am grateful for everyday. One reason for this is because of the amazing families I get to serve. I credit this in part to starting slow and having clear policies up front and again the word of mouth. The great families I started with told their friends who are also of high integrity and great to work with.

Jennifer Visick said: Jul 24, 2015
Jennifer VisickForum Moderator
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Suzuki in the Schools, Violin
998 posts

I’ve had several referrals from the SAA website. But I teach in more than one location, and I did notice that when I added a certain teaching location, I suddenly received a lot of inquiries for that specific location.

I did a search for SAA members in that location and discovered there weren’t all that many.

So I think it depends a lot on supply & demand, as to whether or not you get referrals from the SAA find a teacher directory or not.

Laura Burgess said: Jul 24, 2015
Laura Burgess
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
32 posts

Unlike Heather, I have had the most referrals from the SAA teacher finder, when compared to other online sources.

Brecklyn Smith Ferrin said: Jul 25, 2015
Brecklyn Smith Ferrin
Suzuki Association Member
Kaysville, UT
28 posts

I’ve had more success with my local Suzuki Association website’s teacher finder than with SAA’s. (Suzuki Association of Utah.) I think it is very helpful to be a member of your local Suzuki Chapter. The bulk of my students came from referrals from other teachers in my area who know me because of our collaboration through SAU.

Amy said: Jul 27, 2015
Suzuki Association Member
50 posts

In my experience, the SAA find-a-teacher resource is most helpful in connecting me with potential students when I’m living in an area that is at least moderately familiar with Suzuki. When I’m not living in such an area (as currently), it doesn’t occur to any potential students that Suzuki even exists. A large part of building my studio, then, has to do with raising awareness of what an amazing approach Suzuki is. You do this by volunteering your musical services at churches, day care centers, schools, community centers, libraries…you name it.

I have had the additional challenge of not having other classical string teacher at all in my small town. The local schools do not have strings programs, and I think I am the only Suzuki teacher of any instrument. This carries with it incredible potential, but also formidable challenges. Though there aren’t other classical teachers around, there are a few fiddle teachers. I have had several students who have contacted me about being a fiddle teacher, and I have had to explain that I neither know how to fiddle, nor how to teach fiddle, but that I love working with kids and would value the privilege of helping their child learn to play violin, and that the skills they learn as a classical violinist will serve them well in the fiddle world. Because I have had a few students transfer to the fiddle teachers—and the fiddle teachers have been very impressed, I often get referrals from them because they strongly recommend that students have at least one year of Suzuki before starting to fiddle. The grand majority of these families have been wonderful Suzuki families.

Word of mouth does seem to be the best way for me to find new students. Though this method is a very slow way of building a studio, in the long run it is very rewarding.

Alice Painter said: Jul 28, 2015
Springwood, NSW, Australia
6 posts

Hi Gulrukh,

Please do let us know how you are going with this. I’m in much the same boat—moved to a new area six months ago, spent a few months trying without success to find a job in my ‘old’ career, and have finally taken the plunge to return to music and start teaching.

My area isn’t completely Suzuki-free—there are two others, but one is at university studying something else, and the other is close to retirement, so neither has a full studio.

I’m doing a lot of networking to get out there and meet people, and also to make a name for myself as someone ‘in the music scene’. I’m lucky in that I go to a big church and also sing in a choir—and I recently joined the local community orchestra as well, as a way of getting to know the musical types in the area. Facebook has been great—I use it a lot anyway, so I’ve joined all the groups I can find.

Heather—would you mind letting me know about the FB groups you mentioned on setting up and building a studio? I think that would be very helpful. Thanks!

Mircea said: Aug 3, 2015
Mircea Ionescu
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Suzuki in the Schools, Viola
Crestwood, KY
23 posts

I highly recommend to look into music stores, arts centers, wherever lessons are already offered to get started. Alongside all this you can start teaching lessons from your home. Or maybe you can partner with the art center or whoever to teach for to establish a Suzuki program. All the best to you Gulrukh!

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