It seems that our city is experiencing a teacher shortage. It amazes me how a studio can grow from one year to the next, even without active advertising- word of mouth works wonders! This year I find myself overwhelmed with students to the point where I am trying to refer them to other teachers, and they are swamped too.
I am taking on some students for a teacher friend of mine, which is maxing out my student capacity for this time in my life. Even so, it's more than double what I had last year. My husband will love me when it's time to babysit while I teach. :) (Just kidding- he fully supports what I do!)
Just when I thought things were settling into a schedule, my neighbour approached me. He is a piano teacher also, and lives at then end of our street. "Do you want some more piano students?" he asks, and then explained why he needed to refer his students. "I have 10," he said. Gulp!
I'm also seeing a trend in the music academies in our city. Some of our music stores have studios on the upper floor, and guess what? They are short on teachers too. A teacher friend of mine got a call from them just before I asked her if she wanted some of the ones coming my way. For various reasons, some of the teachers in our area (including myself) are not keen on recommending students to the music schools. But what to do with all these students?
I have had to resort to a "first come, first served" policy. I leave slots available for our church people, but for the general public, I still can't get over the fact that I am turning students down.
Thoughts for discussion: Teachers, how do you handle a rush of students? Who do you refer them to? Do you recommend your city's local music schools?
Sounds like you have a "problem" situation the average teacher dreams of!!
By the way, I have heard some teachers suggest that when this situation occurs, it is time to raise your rates and choose a teaching specialty!
Janelle, that's an interesting point about choosing a specialty. I can see myself choosing theory tutorials as my specialty in the future, but I'm not ready for that yet.
I think part of the reason for excess students is the fact that the public school system is now offering instrumental lessons for just about every instrument EXCEPT piano. This is GREAT for us teachers- but if they started offering piano we just might be out of a job.
My piano teacher had a waiting list that had about 20 people on it all the time. When a student would graduate or move or just quit, she would bump up the next person on the list. You might consider doing a group lesson for beginners, too. It might weed out the not-so serious students. I was teaching part-time when we were at home (not on the road) and another woman offered me all her students (20 or more) if I wanted them. I would love to teach piano, but my schedule does not allow that freedom! Do what you can, but don't be afraid to say no. Know your limits and stick with them. It makes for a happier experience for both student and teacher if the teacher isn't stressed all the time! :)
Sarah, group lessons are on my "plan to do" list for the future. :) I actually have a few kids from church who are on a waiting list to start next year (their parents think they are still a bit young this year) so I'm thinking I may withdraw my advertising in the city. It's still a juggling act to know how many to take on each year.
Definitely "up" your fees.
I would also look at a probation feature so that you are not stuck with students who have no desire to be there, are making no effort, but mummy insists - :)
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