Studio Success Path for Music Teachers

Take your studio from “Meh” to mind-blowing with the Studio Success Path.

Studio Success Path for Music Teachers

Do you feel “stuck” in your music studio?  We’ve all been there and that’s where the Studio Success Path comes to the rescue.

Whether you teach online or in-person, groups or individuals, and whether your students practice two hours a day or…not at all, we’re here to support and guide you. We’re here to give you confidence and to help you feel a little less isolated in your studio.

The last two years have been anything but easy. For most of us, everything has been tipped on its head. It’s OK if you’re struggling and not flying high right now. It’s OK if you’ve lost some students. It’s OK if you’re a little burned out. And it’s OK if you feel like you need to cry or scream or just cancel your lessons for a day and watch Netflix. Honestly, it might be the best thing you can do to recharge!

However you’re feeling, I want you to know that the TopMusic team is here for you. Our primary goal with all the work that we do is to help you succeed. Things will get better and you can do it! I have complete faith. If you’re reading this, then you’re exactly the kind of teacher who will make things work and end up turning these challenges into an opportunity.

So at the end of last year, we sneakily launched a new course in the TopMusicPro membership called the Studio Success Path. We wanted to explain a little more about why we created this and how the system we’ve developed can help shape your teaching in 2022, whether you’re a member of our community or not.

Knowing how to get your studio from meh to mind-blowing can be a real challenge. No one gives you a roadmap or path to getting where you want to go (until now!) And sometimes visualising your destination is clouded by your own perceived inadequacies, insecurities, concerns, or just a feeling that your teaching work is more of a community service than a business and struggling through is the nature of the career you’ve chosen.

You can enjoy whatever measure of success you want. You just have to dream it, target it and then use our studio success path to help you get there.

The challenge with creating a successful studio path is that everyone starts at different places. Whenever we welcome teachers into our TopMusic world, it’s more like taking on a transfer student than a beginner because everyone is at a different stage, and everyone has different goals.

Some teachers have been teaching for 20 years +, some are graduates or even teenagers just starting.

But there are also often commonalities in where our teachers are starting. Maybe you’re feeling stuck in a classically-trained box. Maybe you’re just teaching like your teacher and realise it’s no longer connecting with your students. Perhaps you’re burnt-out, bewildered, undercharging, working all ours, lost your direction or just feeling disconnected and dreading your next lesson.

Perhaps every term or year just feels like more of the same and you’re bored and ready to quit and “get a real job”…

We call this starting position on our path a “run of the mill” teaching archetype. And by “run of the mill”, we don’t mean that disparagingly. But if you’re feeling a bit “meh” with your teaching, your students and their parents may well be feeling the same. If you know that your studio isn’t differentiated, or you can’t attract the right students, or you’re not charging enough to live comfortably, or you’re losing students faster than you can gain them, then the success path is designed to help.

Not all teachers will be starting at the beginning either. Everyone is on their journey and has a huge variety of experiences. That’s why you can approach the success path from any starting point.

The most important thing is that you’re no longer spinning your wheels and you’re on a path to your goals.

The “success” of a TopMusic teacher isn’t about studio size, the number of recitals, how many pop songs you teach, or how much money you make. It’s about YOUR SUCCESS. It’s about what YOU consider is success FOR YOU.

Related: TC267: What’s Your Studio Success Path for Teaching Music? 

So the first thing you should consider is “what does success in my teaching or business look like for you”.

If you could click your fingers today and have the life of your dreams – your perfect studio, the number of students, the income you want with the hours you want to teach, how would that look?

We’ve worked over the last 6 months to refine our process into a 9-step studio success plan. It is comprised of 10-minute audio lessons over three levels that you can listen to anywhere and just enough homework to keep you moving without overwhelming you.
This isn’t about studio growth as we know not everyone is trying to grow.

And it’s not just about creative teaching, because that’s only a part of our teaching repertoire and isn’t the focus of most teacher’s studios.

And it’s not about “examination/performance success” because again, not every student or teacher is focused on this.

But what we all want from our studios is to be a stress-free business that we enjoy daily and that has a meaningful impact on students’ lives.

This is what we call our “Standout Success.” Making you a standout success according to your own measure of success is the goal of everything we do at TopMusic.

Before we do that, some of you may remember our Studio Growth Roadmap that we released into our TopMusicPro membership back in 2017. This Roadmap has been taken by 1237 teachers over the last 5 years and has been a hugely popular aspect of membership.

The only problem was that this roadmap was MASSIVE: six stages with well over 124 resources. We tried to put everything in. And if we couldn’t fit it in, we linked to even more resources, and it just became a monster of overwhelm!

Exactly what teachers DON’T need right now!

So one of the things we learned from the original roadmap and from exploring apps like Duolingo is that shorter, smaller bite-sized chunks of information are much better for effective learning and progress.

How to Navigate the Studio Success Path

For each of the 9 steps on our path, you’ll listen to (or read the transcript) a 10-minute audio lesson about the topic.
We then invite you to “Step Forward” by completing one task related to the topic. This might be to try a new way of teaching or to set a plan to implement a simple change in your business.

The main focus of the success path is getting.stuff.done. There is no point listening to all the stages and not taking action. (Unless, of course, you’ve already taken action on that in the past!)

When you’ve listened to the episode, you take action before checking it off and moving to the next step.

Now, for those of you who are already feeling confident about a step, we give you some “sidestreets” on the path that you can take if you’d like to dive a little deeper. These are great if you’re more experienced or passionate about the topic or know you need more help. But you can also stick to the path and move to the next step without exploring the sidestreets.

The steps we are giving you today are just an overview. If you’d like to check these items off as you move through the path, then come and join us inside TMP. If you’re already a member, you’ll find the studio success path in the Academy.

9 Stages to the Successful Studio Path

First, we’re going to lay the groundwork. The first 3 steps on the success path are the Ground level and the first step is:

  1. GROUND> TOPMUSIC MINDSET: The first thing we’re going to do is help you move from a Narrow to a Holistic Mindset for music education. We believe in a holistic approach to music education and we think you do too. That’s why you’re here, isn’t it?
    It can be hard to include some of those things that you weren’t taught growing up. As you read about the most common left-out elements, think about which ones you need to re-balance in your own teaching.
    We have courses and resources to help you with each of these but it starts with knowing what’s missing. Four areas we consider important are: Improvising, Modern Reading approaches, Composing, Chords. We’ll introduce you to our iceberg view of holistic music education, our chord pyramid, and our student-first approach.
  2. GROUND> DETAILED DREAMS: If you don’t know where you’re going, how are you going to know how to get there? If you’ve been feeling overwhelmed with content, ideas, and “STUFF” out there, it’s probably because you’re looking at all the shiny new objects and not focusing on what will get you to your goal. So what is your goal – for you and your studio? Where do you want your students to get to? It’s time to dream about your future success, how that looks and we’ll help you put it down on paper. This will set you on your path to success.
  3. GROUND> ISOLATION CIRCUIT BREAKER: From detached to connected. One of the biggest AHA moments our new members have is the instant feeling of connection and community that emerges when you become part of a membership like TMP. As much as we want to make it as easy as possible for you to connect with other teachers, there’s one step you have to take yourself. You need to raise your hand and ask for help. Our community forums are buzzing with amazing teachers and invited experts from around the world, here to help. But you need to put up your hand sometimes. And, even if you’re already confident and have no questions (yet), you can always answer questions from other people. One of the most fulfilling parts of my role as a podcaster, blogger, etc. is to help other people. Just simple answers to questions can be incredibly meaningful. So this step is a vital one on your path because it’s going to open up so many more windows. Having a community and team around you is a vital part of your future success. Very few people make it on their own and we’re here to put an arm around you when you need it.
  4. CREATE > Repertoire Remix: We’re now moving to the create level. As we move to the create level, we’re going to show you how incorporating regular creativity into our lessons will contribute to your success by setting you apart from all your competition. The easiest way to do this is via Repertoire Remixing, which is step 4 on our success path.
  5. CREATE > First Lesson Revolution: At the core of the TopMusic Approach is being creative with students from lesson 1 and delaying reading in the same way in music as we do in language. You’ll learn all about this, and how to implement this, in Stage 5. You’ll experience more freedom, creativity, fun. AND your students will become infinitely more musical, have better rhythm, and will understand much more about music.
  6. CREATE > Improvisation Integration: For most teachers, while initially scary if they haven’t done it before, most teachers can get confident enough to try some improvising in a lesson. The challenge comes in making this a regular, integrated part of the learning experience for students. So this step is all about trying to integrate improv and creativity into your teaching through the music students are already learning. How is this related to your success? Improvisation is more than just about making up music at your instrument. If you develop an improvisation mindset, you’ll be more creative and flexible in all aspects of your life. You’ll feel less impacted by roadblocks and things outside your control. You’ll pivot more freely and be able to see challenges as opportunities.
  7. Next, we move to the BUILD level > First stop (or “STEP”) is Business Breakthrough: Now that we’ve got your mindset and teaching set up for success, it’s time to look at your business. We’re going to help you understand your key numbers and effectively hourly rate and make changes to improve both. You can’t achieve your measure of success without having a business that works for you, so this step is crucial.
  8. BUILD > Marketing Machine. Most teachers struggle with marketing, with many relying on WOM and referrals. The only problem is: what happens if they dry up? In this step, we’ll give you options and explain that tracking and traction, rather than tactics, are the best approaches for teachers.
  9. In the final step, we’re unpacking the BUILD > Entrepreneurial Mindset. You may have balked right away at the term entrepreneur. But, just like money, it doesn’t have to be a dirty word in the arts. If you’re sitting there thinking, “Who am I to call myself an entrepreneur?!” Then you’re exactly the kind of person we need in business. Too many teachers are held back by the belief that they’re not enough. They end up thinking small when they could have gone big. Stop asking, “Who am I?” and start thinking, “Why not me?”

Now, of course, that’s just a quick overview of the success path. If you’d like to hear that actual audio for each step, find out more about the action step tasks for each level, track and check off your progress, ask questions and explore the many sidestreets we offer on the path, then come and join us inside TMP membership. We can help guide you through the process.
Remember: you don’t have to endure another year of just the same old thing in your studio. Make a change by joining us today.

Want to join us live to learn how to achieve stand out success without feeling overwhelmed?

Check out our upcoming free webinar to find out how to take your teaching and business to the next level in just 10 minutes a day. (you read that right. Just 10 minutes).
You won’t want to miss this exciting event on March 1: Tim and Nicola are sharing Your 9-step Path to Music Studio Success.
This is for you if you’ve just started teaching or even if you’ve been teaching for decades. Register today

Tim Topham

Tim Topham is the founder and director of TopMusic. Tim hosts the popular Integrated Music Teaching Podcast, blogs regularly at and speaks at local and international conferences on topics such as integrated teaching, creativity, business, marketing and entrepreneurship. Tim has been featured in American Music Teacher, The Piano Teacher Magazine, California Music Teacher and EPTA Piano Professional. Tim holds an MBA in Educational Leadership, BMus, DipEd and AMusA.

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