Today’s Money-Making SAHM is my wonderful neighbor and friend Linda Garner. Linda has been teaching piano lessons for about 40 years and is wonderful at what she does! In the following interview she shares what she did to get started, stay educated, and how she continues to bring in income by teaching music lessons.
Q. What inspired you to begin working?
A. I was a stay at home mom with four small children. My husband was a school teacher, and there was never enough money to go around. My sister invited me to take a music teaching class with her. The class was on Suzuki Piano. I never intended to start a business. I intended to teach my own children to play the piano. I soon had people contacting me about piano lessons and so I began to teach.
That was nearly 40 years ago. I’ve been teaching ever since.
Q. How did you go about starting your business or arranging a work at home position?
A. A lot of it was trial and error. I had only taken the beginning class, and I wasn’t very confident, but when people starting asking about lessons, I could see the potential. I soon had my very own music laboratory and I began researching what works, while people paid me to teach their children.
It was a good match because I love children, I love music, and I love to teach.
Q. What are some tips you would like to share with others who are interested in doing something similar?
A. Get all the training you can. Sign up for classes. Talk to other teachers. Study your craft. Be professional. Join professional organizations. Read professional journals and books.
Q. How many hours do you work a week or how much of your time does this position require? Is it flexible? Is it consistent?
A. I control my schedule. I decide when I want to work. I decide how many students I want to take. I set my own prices and my own expectations. I have sixteen students. Some have half hour lessons, others have forty-five minute lessons. Some students have hour lessons. The length of the lesson is based on their skill level. At the moment, I teach thirteen hours each week.
I also spend extra time on preparation and training. No one pays me for this time, but I choose to do it so that I can improve my teaching. I can also choose not to do extras when I am stressed or busy.
Q. When/how do you find the time to work?
A. Since I teach children, I am limited to before and after school hours. I spread this out during the week. When my children were at home, I had to schedule times for them. This is important because the after school hours are critical for your own family.
Q. Are there certain tips/advice you’d want to share with others who want to start working like you?
A. It’s important to set standards and professional policies. If you are professional, people treat you as professional. If you are too casual about your standards then people are less likely to value your time and your expertise.
Here are some things you should decide before you have that first conversation with a prospective student/parent: When is payment expected? Will you give credit for missed lessons? What involvement do you expect from parents? What are your expectations about assignments? How can you be professional and friendly at the same time? How can you be kind but firm?
Q. Was training/schooling required for the position? How/when did you complete it?
A. I began teaching after taking only one class. I had much to learn, but I learned a lot from teaching. I continue to take classes and meet with other teachers on a regular basis. I need ongoing training to upgrade my skills and keep up to date.
Q. What is the income percentage you bring in? or Does the income help a little, medium, or is the main source of your family’s income?
A. When our children were young, my income made it possible for them to do the extras such as dance, sports, and swimming lessons. It took care of those unexpected dental bills and car repairs. It helped us build our savings and our food storage.
Now that our children are grown and we are both semi-retired it makes up a good chunk of our income.
Q. How would someone who wants to do something similar get started?
A. Basically, you need to be comfortable playing the instrument, and have a good instrument that you can teach on. I recommend two, but I started with just one. You need to enjoy working with children and also be comfortable around parents.
If you are interested in teaching piano, I highly recommend joining the Suzuki Community. There is so much good about the method, and you would be part of a supportive piano family.
There are many ways to learn the method. You could begin by taking the ECC course, (Every Child Can) which is offered each spring. You could also study with our state teacher trainer, Cleo Brimhall. She offers weekly study at her studio in Cottonwood Heights area. Check out the official SAU website (Suzuki Association of Utah) to find out more. http://www.suzukimusicutah.org/
You can also find students by word-of-mouth, advertising, posting on social media channels, putting an ad in the classifieds, and hanging up or passing out fliers at local organizations, clubs, and churches. Usually referrals are the biggest source of new students for music teachers. To encourage new referrals you could offer a few free lessons for students/families that refer new students to you.
Thank you Linda for this information!
Linda Garner is a mother, grandmother, Piano Teacher (for almost 40 years), author, and a wonderful neighbor. If you live in the Sandy, UT area Linda does have a spot or two for preschool age piano students. (She seldom has after school openings for older children). Preschool children make wonderful Suzuki students. If you have a preschooler in the area that would like to take lessons from Linda, please comment below. Parent Involvement is required when working with her. But she does offer parent training and support. Also, Linda just completed an E-book for Suzuki Piano Parents called Suzuki in Action: Piano Parenting 101. Please watch for it. (I will add a link to it as soon as it’s up for sale).
Other Posts in this Money-Making SAHM series:
Series 31: Sell Shaklee (MLM)-removed
Series 33: Sell Mary Kay(MLM)-removed
more coming…pin or bookmark for more.