Help a piano teacher target high-paying students?

19 replies
My friend undersells herself as a piano teacher.

Charges something like $15 for a lesson... which she drives to!

I convinced her she should brand herself and raise her rates.

She's not a concert pianist, and doesn't have musical degrees or anything like that, so we can't brand her as the most distinguished teacher.

She's the director of a city-wide choir, has years of volunteer experience with youth programs, and has a master's in and job as a vocational rehab counselor (helps disabled people find jobs).

Any ideas on branding approaches to hook the wealthy crowd?

I'm thinking something like "best at working with children," or "helps your children learn faster," or "best at helping your children love the piano."

And any ideas on methods to find and contact those willing to spend $75 on piano lessons?
#highpaying #piano #students #target #teacher
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  • Profile picture of the author Kay King
    I would expect lessons to be from 15-40 per 30 minutes BASED ON the qualifications/experience of the teacher. But also the lower end would be having students come to her.

    As for brand - the idea that you can reach 'high paying' students isn't a good one. Unless your child is exceptionally talented parents don't look for 'high end' teachers....if a student is talented, the parent will look at teacher qualifications.

    Why does she travel to the students rather than teaching at home?

    That's the problem - a 30 minute $15 lesson makes no sense if you spend 30 minutes or more in your car to go to and from the lesson.

    She should have two fees - one for teaching in her home and one for lessons with travel required. That's common sense. What are the going fees in that area? Music lesson costs vary widely from one location to the next.

    She might also consider offering "special" lessons to 'challenged' children or adults. That would bring her educational creds into the picture and potentially be a higher fee.

    If for some reason she HAS to teach in the student's home - she needs to set prices accordingly. She is saving the parent time and money but that can't be profitable for her.
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    • Profile picture of the author lee goupil
      What approach is she currently taking now?
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      • So far, she's just been using word of mouth. All her students come from her social circle.
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    • Kay King, thanks, a lot of good stuff in your reply.

      I agree working from her home would be best. She's been looking into that.

      "Special" lessons is a great idea.

      I'm not sure I agree about reaching higher paying students. I brand myself in a certain way as a copywriter and only work with the highest paying clients. It's gotta be possible for a piano teacher to do the same. You're right that it'll be difficult since most of that demographic will want more traditional qualifications. But parents also want their children to enjoy lessons. They want fast results. They worry their sensitive little girl needs a kind teacher. Some parents will have tried lessons already and had specific objections to the experience. Branding to offer a benefit that overcomes those objections, or that offers an additional benefit to "piano teacher," I think will let her successfully charge more.
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      • Profile picture of the author socialentry
        Originally Posted by Rose Anderson View Post

        Well, I said these were young children. I should have specified mostly preschoolers or first grade.
        Sorry to say but you've been had.

        Most people I know who played piano started private lessons around first grade(including myself) if not sooner.

        Originally Posted by Benjamin Farthing View Post

        It's gotta be possible for a piano teacher to do the same. You're right that it'll be difficult since most of that demographic will want more traditional qualifications. But parents also want their children to enjoy lessons. They want fast results. They worry their sensitive little girl needs a kind teacher. Some parents will have tried lessons already and had specific objections to the experience. Branding to offer a benefit that overcomes those objections, or that offers an additional benefit to "piano teacher," I think will let her successfully charge more.

        I think you should have a further discussion so that the teacher and you are on the same wavelength.


        Piano is lots and lots of practice every evening for years. There is no escape and there are no fast results (unless the student is truly an exceptional prodigy --- and even then it's more like 10 years crammed in two). It takes a lot of hard work (and sometimes demanding parents).


        Something to think about is that Asians dominate piano competitions and they tend to view "fun" for the kid as very very secondary to education.

        If it were me, I'd take the opposite approach.

        I'd target a few tiger moms then I'd go for bat to make sure their cubs succeed in competitions or get into good schools.
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  • Profile picture of the author JohnMcCabe
    Originally Posted by Benjamin Farthing View Post

    She's not a concert pianist, and doesn't have musical degrees or anything like that, so we can't brand her as the most distinguished teacher.
    Being a concert pianist or acquiring a MFA has nothing to do with teaching piano. Playing, yes. Teaching, no.

    I'm more familiar with the sports world, but the idea should translate. Some of the very best coaches/teachers in sports were fair to mediocre players who had to count on technique and hard work to make up for gaps in natural talent.

    Originally Posted by Benjamin Farthing View Post

    She's the director of a city-wide choir, has years of volunteer experience with youth programs, and has a master's in and job as a vocational rehab counselor (helps disabled people find jobs).
    This speaks to her ability to teach. As you move outside of her social circle, this is the kind of thing you want to emphasize. This is a very usable USP.

    Originally Posted by Benjamin Farthing View Post

    And any ideas on methods to find and contact those willing to spend $75 on piano lessons?
    Just the fact that she is willing to travel should make the lessons more valuable. How much is it worth to students (or parents of students) to have the teacher come to them, and to learn on their own piano in the comfort of their own home? How much is the time and gas to go back and forth from lessons worth to busy people?
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  • Profile picture of the author DABK
    I think you might want to change your mind about how you end up as distinguished. She might have in her background other things that might allow her to be distinguished.

    High piano-lesson-paying parents in my areas live in certain areas... the areas with the bigger, expensive areas. So, if she were in my area, she'd have to hit those bigger, expensive areas.

    In my areas, a lot of schools (maybe all) have choir and band and orchestra. Many parents don't want to pay $1000 for a clarinet till they know Little Jimmy is serious about clarinet. So, they go to instrument stores that lease out instruments. If Little Jimmy ends up being serious, the buy the instrument, if Little Jimmy decides on another instrument or on raising turtles instead of playing music, they return the instrument and don't need to pay anymore.

    One such place I know about posts notes about musical events in their store and mails out a newsletter to a rather large array of parents of muciscally-inclined kids.

    In my area, the schools that have bands, orchestra, etc., have one or more music teachers. Said music teachers recommend private lessons for some of the kids... recommend private teachers.

    Every now and again, said schools put up a music show. And print a little 'pamphlet' about the event and the list of kids in the show and what instrument and piece they will perform. Which cost money. Which they get by featuring various local businesses.

    Any of that happens in your area?

    How about churches?

    Now, to positioning.

    She has to choose that she's not at the bottom. She has to accept that she is worth more. To do that, she has to make a list of what she has to offer and who she wants to attract.

    Then have her do a survey of how much her competitors charge and their qualifications. Because it will show her she's good enough to charge more.

    Point out to her that, for some people, her low price is an impediment to hiring her: if she were good, she'd charge more kind of thinking. If she wants to help talented kids who can't afford high prices, she can always charge them the high-price and apply a discount.
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  • Profile picture of the author marciayudkin
    Even when I was a kid, a couple of generations ago, my parents paid a premium for the teacher to come to our house. On the other hand, we got a slight discount off the premium rate for a second kid having a lesson at our house. (There were four of us but at most three taking lessons in any one year.)

    These days, when we hear so much about parents having so little time and energy to schlep kids around, I believe it would be a huge benefit to certain parents to emphasize that this teacher "comes to you." Also, there is a benefit to the student to have the lesson take place in their familiar surroundings, on the same piano they regularly practice on. Even more so, the piano teacher would be able to tell a clueless parent that there was something wrong with the student's piano, bench, lighting, etc.

    One more point. Even more important than the per-lesson fee is a fee structure that goes by, let's say, a semester, or month, so that the parents don't get away with not paying if they cancel a lesson because Susie or Jimmy has to see the orthodontist or has to go off to Florida.

    I got the best deal of all, by the way: My parents often said the one who stuck with lessons the longest got to have the piano when they got married. I got it at age 28 even though I was not married yet. It has huge sentimental value for me!

    Marcia Yudkin
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  • Profile picture of the author Alex Cohen
    Which desire of the high-paying parents are you trying to satisfy?

    Figure that out and position her accordingly.

    As an example, parents don't send their kids to martial arts school to become the next Bruce Lee. They're motivated by the desire to have their children become disciplined human beings.

    Alex
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  • Profile picture of the author ctrlaltdelete
    Honestly speaking, it's going to be difficult to reach out to "high-end" folks just because. She'll want to capitalize more on her experience to reel in more students. Set up different rates for lessons at her home/studio and for special private lessons where she has to travel. The latter ought to have a more expensive fee.


    Have you considered making a Facebook page or perhaps even developing a website( websites will cost quite a bit though, more so if you hire someone, but they can be a worthwhile investment) You can put up different courses and let students or their parents choose options on what level of lessons they want more easily.
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  • Profile picture of the author cearionmarie
    You are right when you told her that she should brand herself. That is the first step when you want to add more value in what you do or yourself. To do this, social media can help out, IG especially. Instagram marketing or influencer marketing, these two are great in building a brand.
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  • Originally Posted by Benjamin Farthing View Post

    My friend undersells herself as a piano teacher.

    Charges something like $15 for a lesson... which she drives to!

    I convinced her she should brand herself and raise her rates.

    She's not a concert pianist, and doesn't have musical degrees or anything like that, so we can't brand her as the most distinguished teacher.

    She's the director of a city-wide choir, has years of volunteer experience with youth programs, and has a master's in and job as a vocational rehab counselor (helps disabled people find jobs).

    Any ideas on branding approaches to hook the wealthy crowd?

    I'm thinking something like "best at working with children," or "helps your children learn faster," or "best at helping your children love the piano."

    And any ideas on methods to find and contact those willing to spend $75 on piano lessons?
    Branding is fine, but really it comes down to marketing. If you market her to the high end clients, you'll land high end clients.

    For example, if I were to use direct mail to market someone like this and I chose a zip code known for lower income families, the clients will be lower income. However, if I choose a very affluent zip code, the clients will be very affluent.

    I would look at more where and how you're marketing than branding.

    Benjamin Ehinger
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  • Profile picture of the author ryanbiddulph
    The toughest lesson your friend will likely learn Benjamin; until she addresses her fears related to her self worth, and related to money, no matter what she does/charges, her energy will scream "Money, stay away!"

    It is 100% on her to get clear on her skills as a piano teacher and on her comfort with receiving money.

    I recall my mom produced world class baked goods. Literally hundreds of folks from friends to fam, to people who ate her cupcakes and brownies at political events (high end events at that, in the Northeast, since we knew a connected, high end caterer), noted they were the best they ever tasted. But since she never got clear on her self worth and comfortable with receiving money, she charged a dollar a cookie versus 3 at a local coffee shop, and never scaled. She had to get clear, feel her fears, and align with the bigger money opportunities, be it business-wise, etc.

    If your friend does this, she'll find the high paying clients.....or they will find her

    Ryan
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  • Profile picture of the author Princess Balestra
    Thing 'bout the pianer is ... it ain't no accident.

    Back in the day when we got an uncorrupted atmosphere an' natchrl resources packin' more virgin potential than the crappy stuff we prostitutin' now as health givin' burgers, your friendly neighborhood NEANDERTHAL never tripped over no pianer like the Gold Rush boys walked home from the desert packin' IMMEDIATE PROFIT HOT STUFF.

    So I would wanna consider how pianers (an' the playin' thereof) got more to do with skill an' refined dedication than wandrin' round the desert in leather pants hopin' to get lucky with a frickin' SIEVE.

    Truth is, expertise always gonna be in demand from anywan seeks it, in ways that RANDOM OPPORTOONITY won't ever deliver.

    For sure, we could LOAD UP THE MULES an' TREK OUT to where the last GOLD HUNTIN' GOOBER SUFFOCATED ON HIS OWN PANNER.

    An' if we got speshly unlucky, we could conceivably do so AD INFINITUM.

    Link up with PIANER SKILLS PERSON, offer is clear.

    Sit down here, Sweetie, ima show ya how the keys work. Jus' gotta go home make this second nature, K?

    Gotta figure anywan myoosical packs a whole buncha kudos smack in one blam.

    If I were advertisin' pianer services on a purely fear-based ticket, prolly ima run with

    WHY RISK YOUR KIDS BEING BRANDED AS NO-HOPER SLACKER ****WITS
    when INSPIRATIONAL PIANO LESSONS could SAVE THEIR ASS FOREVAH!


    srsly tho, we don't all got all the skills we need to get where we wanna go, which means we sumtimes gotta go source a buncha HANDY PATSIES from THE HANDY PATSY DISCOVERY ZONE.

    Your mission is to value what you offer -- an' charge accordingly anywan' don't got that but really wants it.

    That way, you make it onto the WAY MORE VALUABLE THAN A PATSY app Top 100 & anywan with a smartphone got yr deets, if'n they wanna.
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  • Profile picture of the author Rose Anderson
    When my daughter was young she took lessons in a class setting. Each child had their own keyboard. They would play a song for a few minutes, then sing a song, then get up and do a dance, or play a musical game.

    These were young kids who would have never sat still for a traditional piano lesson. But they loved these classes. Parents stayed with the kids so it was also a parent/child bonding time.

    The good news for the teacher is she was being paid by eight or ten students, not one. They paid monthly, in advance, and there were no refunds if you missed a class.

    I know, not really an answer to your question but it's something for her to think about to bring in more money with less time.

    Having recitals every few months is another way to increase interest. The students relatives will attend and when they need a piano teacher, or hear of someone needing one, they'll think of the one they just saw.

    Offer to teach a free introduction to music class at a local library. The parents who bring their kids to these programs are usually ones who are actively seeking to give their children educational experiences. Give handouts with all your information and lesson offerings with a one time discount.

    Advertising that her teaching methods are fun and keep the children engaged is more important than degrees.

    Personally, I don't like using the word "best". It's too subjective. I think specifics such as 15 years of working with youth, or 120 happy students are more effective.

    Testimonials from happy parents and students are helpful, too.

    It never hurts to mention studies that show children who study music do better in school -- in all subjects.
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    • Profile picture of the author socialentry
      Originally Posted by Rose Anderson View Post

      When my daughter was young she took lessons in a class setting. Each child had their own keyboard. They would play a song for a few minutes, then sing a song, then get up and do a dance, or play a musical game.

      These were young kids who would have never sat still for a traditional piano lesson. But they loved these classes. Parents stayed with the kids so it was also a parent/child bonding time.

      The good news for the teacher is she was being paid by eight or ten students, not one. They paid monthly, in advance, and there were no refunds if you missed a class.

      I know, not really an answer to your question but it's something for her to think about to bring in more money with less time.

      Having recitals every few months is another way to increase interest. The students relatives will attend and when they need a piano teacher, or hear of someone needing one, they'll think of the one they just saw.

      Offer to teach a free introduction to music class at a local library. The parents who bring their kids to these programs are usually ones who are actively seeking to give their children educational experiences. Give handouts with all your information and lesson offerings with a one time discount.

      Advertising that her teaching methods are fun and keep the children engaged is more important than degrees.

      Personally, I don't like using the word "best". It's too subjective. I think specifics such as 15 years of working with youth, or 120 happy students are more effective.

      Testimonials from happy parents and students are helpful, too.

      It never hurts to mention studies that show children who study music do better in school -- in all subjects.

      That's a terrible idea. The thing with kids that go to these classes is that they can't keep time.



      In classical music, you need to be precise up to a fraction of a second. If the teacher is dividing her attention between 8 or 10 people, how is she going to catch the mistakes?
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      • Profile picture of the author Rose Anderson
        Originally Posted by socialentry View Post

        That's a terrible idea. The thing with kids that go to these classes is that they can't keep time.

        In classical music, you need to be precise up to a fraction of a second. If the teacher is dividing her attention between 8 or 10 people, how is she going to catch the mistakes?
        Well, I said these were young children. I should have specified mostly preschoolers or first grade. They were not learning classical music. They were learning the FUN and enjoyment of music. The children developed a great ear for music and learned to sing on pitch at a young ages.

        Obviously, as they grow older private lessons are needed.

        Rose
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  • Profile picture of the author Rose Anderson
    Probably, it wouldn't be the first time I've been had and won't be the last...lol.

    All I know is when I took piano lessons it was agonizing and I hated every moment. After a year my mother finally got tired of it and let me quit. Thank goodness.

    On the other hand my daughter loved going to her classes.

    It wasn't until I took up the guitar on my own that I learned to enjoy music again. I did take piano lessons as an adult and enjoyed them. The teacher can make all the difference.

    But I agree, it depends on the motive of the parent. Are they trying to give their children an appreciation and love of music or are they, as you say, wanting them to excel in competitions.

    Hopefully, the children's thoughts are at least considered somewhere along the way.

    I do agree with targeting moms who want the best education for their children.

    Rose
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  • Profile picture of the author misterme
    For what reasons would parents with the means to pay more, pay more for piano lessons?

    Barring the serious parent seeking their child prodigy be prepped for Julliard by a teacher with a proven history of getting students enrolled there, I'd guess the piano teacher doesn't really sell piano lessons. She sells self-esteem, she sells an additional dimension to one's interests and abilities, she sells the ability to be popular in social circles, to stand out among others because of this skill, be a more well-rounded and interesting person.
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