Should Music Teachers Fear Becoming Obsolete?

Obsolete-StampThere is no denying the fact, the growth of the online world instills fear in many a professional out there, including music instructors. This fear could be in part, but not limited to being replaced and rendered obsolete as would be the case for hiring a stock broker to buy stocks when it’s so much more cost-effective to trade your own stock online. It’s definitely a difficult subject to cover in one small article like this one but I want to offer some thoughts about what it takes to make sure that as musicians, we view the online world as a resource and not an enemy.

Let me start by saying I live constantly in both worlds. Personally I teach private students and offer music therapy to special needs children as well as run an online piano school so my perspective comes from finding value in both areas of pedagogy. I do not think one is “better” than the other at all and having made peace with the virtual side of life has made me a better musician, teacher and business person.

My first and most important piece of advice for those worried that students will need in-person lessons less and less is to make yourself indispensable. Early in my career I realized that the teachers that had a high turnover rate of students were usually the least professional and most cranky of all. To be in demand, you need to strive to be the best. Who wouldn’t pay for lessons with Mozart? Anyone would because they know the value of what they are getting. Granted we are not Mozart’s but we can make sure that our students receive instruction that is unlike any they have ever received. Think the teacher from the movie Lean on Me. Inspire people to become better and they will remember you and recommend you all the time.

The second piece of advice I have for you is to embrace the online world. Do you have an online presence? (i.e. website, Facebook page, twitter) This is where your students and potential clients meet and socialize and they need to be able to find you and see that you are active and connected. People will not go too far to search you out if they can’t find you or your services on a major search engine. That is a reality of the time we are living, plain and simple, it really doesn’t matter whether you agree with it or not. Make yourself available and students will find you.

Lastly, and this is something I constantly have to remind myself to do is to keep the lessons fresh and current. What I mean by that is if your student wants to learn pop tunes, don’t teach them a Beethoven Piano Concerto. That doesn’t mean you have to skip the good foundational principles of music but it does mean that you have to tailor your lessons to that student. I have heard many times students tell me that their previous teacher made them play music they didn’t like. That is crazy! All great principles can be snuck in with any piece of music. Keep it interesting and they will keep coming back and refer you to others.

Recapping out points, the three main tips we have to stay current and in demand as teachers are:

  1. Be the best teacher out there and go above and beyond for your students,
  2. Join the online world and do not fear it. It’s there to help you, not be your enemy.
  3. Teach your students the music THEY way, not just the pieces you want. They will stay interested and most importantly, keep coming back.

I hope that as music teachers we join the ranks of so many other professions that find their happy place in this brave new world and use the available resources to grow our business.

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