Being organised and productive is sometimes the best way to ensure your business runs smoothly.
How can you expect to continue expanding your piano studio with all these new students that your awesome website is attracting if you don’t have the time to fit everything in?
Even the most disorganised person can learn how to be productive. And, of course, there’s more than a few online tools which can help you sort out your payments, lesson planning, documents and more.
At the end of today’s post, you will find a handy PDF document to download for free, which will continue to help show you some of the ways you can get more organised in your studio business.
1. Organise Your Business
It’s very well and easy for me to sit and here and tell you to ‘ORGANISE YOUR BUSINESS’, but how do you actually do it?
For many people, it can be very overwhelming organising invoices, sheet music, lesson plans and the plethora of other documents, handouts and the like that music teachers are in possession of.
One of the most important things you can do to help organise your business and improve your teaching productivity is to set up automatic and recurring monthly billing for your piano students. If you are still manually sending out invoices, then this is one simple thing you can do to save you time and allow you to focus on teaching your students.
One option you have for easily setting up an automated billing process is through a website called My Music Staff.
Members of Tim’s Inner Circle are able to access an exclusive discount. Find out more here.
If you would like to read more about this and how Tim processes his billing on a monthly basis, check out this post: How to Change to Monthly Billing for Piano Lessons.
2. Store Your Music Digitally
Are you sick of having stacks and stacks of sheet music, random photocopies of music lying around and spending hours searching for a book you knew you had somewhere?
The best way to ensure you have all of your music in one place is to store it digitally.
There are a number of ways you can do this. One of the most popular is by putting it onto an iPad or other tablets. The advantage of having an iPad is that they are easy to transport, easy to use and there are applications designed to help you organise your music.
Related: Best iPad Apps for Piano Teachers
By having all of your sheet music as well as other sight reading resources in one place, it means you will spend more time on planning and delivering better lessons. And if you think about it, by providing fantastic music lessons you are more likely to be referred and take on new students.
It all comes back down to saving time and productivity. Moving all of your music into one digital location will do just that.
That’s not to say old school books don’t serve a purpose, and of course, you will have a sentimental attachment to some music books you may have learnt on as a child. Keep those and share your stories with your students.
But do think about space and time, and whether you really need to be clogging up your studio with new music books when you could just store it all on one device.
Check out this blog post if you are interested in moving your music to a digital location: How to Import Sheet Music into Your iPad
3. Use Dropbox
I’m sure you have heard of Dropbox. If you haven’t, here’s the run down.
Dropbox is an online resource that allows you to upload and store a range of files. They exist somewhere up there in the internet and it means whenever you log on to Dropbox, and from wherever you are, you will be able to find those files safe and sound, like magic.
Join the the preeminent professional development, learning and networking community for instrumental music teachers.
Dropbox has a few options, and like anything, you will have to pay to get the full service. You will be able to store a few gigabytes of files on Dropbox for free (that’s a fair bit of music!). There are payment plans and other business related plans you can also sign up to.
The biggest advantage of Dropbox is that it will set up a folder for you on your computer, making it extremely easy for you to add new files to your Dropbox. Once you have files in there, you can share them with people all over the world.
I also use Dropbox as an automatic, continuous backup method.
Remember that anything you store in the Dropbox folder on your computer is magically synced to all your devices and into “the cloud” (whatever that is!). What that means is that if you put your “My Documents” folder (and anything else that you don’t want to lose) inside the Dropbox folder, you’ll never have to manually backup your computer again.
By the way, if you aren’t backing up your computer and other devices regularly you need to start doing this now. Immagine losing all of those files forever. It’s not worth the risk.
With Dropbox, gone are the days of remembering to plug in an external drive and manually copying across all your files each week. Forget it – it’s a waste of time.
Move everything into Dropbox and you’ll be backed-up all the time.
This may sound all confusing and technical, so what you really need to do is give it a try for yourself.
4. Plan Lessons with YouTube
YouTube is a fantastic resource Tim has been using in his studio for years. It can really help you fast-track your students’ learning and piano tutorial videos are a great way for your students to learn music at home.
One of the biggest ways you can boost your teaching productivity through YouTube is to encourage your students to prepare for lessons by watching videos at home.
They could watch some tutorials and try playing one of their favourite tunes at home, and come to you at lesson time with questions or already know what they need help with.
Even better, you could record yourself teaching some important piano concepts and upload it to YouTube for your students to refer back to. After all, you aren’t always sitting with them at home when they have a question.
This has become known in the education world as Flipped Learning and is as relevant in the piano studio as it is in schools. Click here for a great run-down of how you can save time in the piano studio with Flipped Learning.
5. Integrate Your Teaching
One of the biggest mistakes piano teachers make is segmenting their teaching. That means in a half hour lesson, spending 15 minutes on pieces, five minutes on sight reading, five on general knowledge and five on ear testing.
All segmented into little boxes of time.
This just doesn’t make sense.
Music lessons aren’t long enough to be segmenting your lessons like this.
Try to integrate many aspects of music and piano learning into similar activities during your lesson times. This will help boost your teaching productivity and your students will see the benefits in their understanding and knowledge.
For example, instead of spending a part of your lesson all on scales and arpeggios, you could base technical work on the pieces your students are learning. You could use intervals of one of your students’ pieces as a way to rehearse ear tests.
Get creative in your teaching and most of all, save time!
Paul Harris featured on Tim’s podcast to chat about this in more detail: Podcast Episode 9: Paul Harris on Simultaneous Learning
If you would like more information on how to increase your teaching productivity and get organised in your studio, I’ve got the perfect download for you.
It’s Tim’s Five Quick Tips to Boost Your Teaching Productivity and it’s a quick reference that you can print out and check off as you try things out.
Stick it to your wall in your studio or office as a reminder of how to save time and become the most productive piano teacher you can be.
Do you use any of the resources mentioned in this post already? Are there any others you think piano teachers could benefit from?
Leave your suggestions in the comments section below.