Today’s teachers often create their own web sites to attract students. A teacher remarked recently on a forum that she was having trouble getting a full class. So I went to have a look at her website on which she gave a list of the characteristics parents should have as well as what would be expected of parents and students in order to learn and play the instrument successfully. You might think this is reasonable. But the effect this had was to give students and their parents reasons NOT to study with her. The first requirement (parental musical experience) was off-putting enough. Some of her other requirements had the same deterring effect: obligatory daily practice and very few other outside activities, for example. If I were a qualified and dedicated prospective parent, I would fear that I lacked the commitment and other qualities to match those high expectations. In other words, her site was not warm and welcoming, but scary and off-putting. If you met all the requirements, you could consider calling her. It’s no wonder that very few did. She came off as interested in teaching the violin, not the student. She seemed interested in success, not the student. She even posted a video of her possibly most advanced student playing a difficult concerto, something that could discourage beginners or less advanced players of the same age as that student.
Contrast this with the website of another teacher who teaches beginners up through advanced students, some of whom she has gotten into the better college and conservatory programs in the USA. Many of these former students still come back to her for lessons anyway. You wouldn’t know it from her website which is brilliant in terms of warm and welcoming. She gives very few parental requirements other than that they attend the lessons and take notes (for the young ones) and that practicing should be done every day but she would accept five days a week. There is a lovely gallery of pictures of her smiling, surrounded by happy students of all ages. There are no videos or mention of her advanced students who, other than the ones she brings up herself, come to her by word of mouth – she is trying to attract beginners. You take one look at this website and grab your telephone. Instead of running the other way, you would LOVE to have lessons with this warm and inviting individual who is giving you every reason to want to study with her – whatever she may teach. She makes having lessons with her sound easy and relaxed. She seems approachable, warm and accepting to students of every kind and age. No prerequisites other than what any parent or older student is easily capable of. However, if you think she is not a demanding and exacting teacher, you are wrong. But her students adore her and the occasional student who is mired in the practicing doldrums will continue to practice anyway just to avoid disappointing her.
She also knows something any good salesman knows: you have to get people in the door first so you have the chance to allay their doubts and convince them of the value of your service in person. What if the parents want little or no involvment in their children’s music education? If you scare them off with your website, you will never be able to convince them to change their minds. People can change and it’s up to you to make them want to, not issue ultimata.
The same goes for terms and conditions. One experienced, successful and business-like teacher Continue reading