In the Upbeat Piano Teacher Mastermind, we talk a lot about goals. I love goal-setting. But there’s a downside to setting goals.
If you really want to achieve your goals, you have to get good at saying no.
Here are some comments from our group. The topic was about putting students on a waiting list.
"Saying no is the worst!!! How many are on my waiting list? None. That's because I keep creating new time slots for them all!!!!!!!!!!! Aaaaghhhhh!"
"I love teaching and have a difficult time turning people away. In my mind I'm saying "It'll only be a couple hours," but I know it'll ruin my whole day off."
"I have a real tendency to say yes to all students - and then my home life gets crazy."
MY PERSONAL STORY
That last quote is from yours truly. Yes - I confess - in the past, I’ve added students AFTER all my slots were booked, thinking..... It’s just 30 more minutes.
True . It's 30 more minutes of work and 30 more minutes away from my family. I always regretted it.
But recently a friend looked at me and said "You've gotten good at saying no." Really? I hadn't noticed. My immediate concern was "Have I been rude?"
But then I thought about it and decided to take her words as a compliment. It meant that I was keeping my priorities and that's everything to me.
My 5-STEP STRATEGY FOR SAYING NO
Here's a basic formula to help you have some backbone! I'll follow it up with a couple examples.
How does this play out in real life? I asked my Upbeat partner, Sara Campbell, to weigh in with a couple examples. She does a fantastic job of putting on her "business hat" when necessary!
EXAMPLE 1: SCHEDULING REQUESTS
Let's say a family wants to have lessons on Saturday mornings, but you don't teach that day.
Glad we’re connecting about the fall schedule. The studio is not open on Saturdays, but here are three options for you: Tuesday at 5pm, Wednesday at 3:30pm, or Thursday at 4pm. Let me know which works best for you and I’ll get that on the schedule! Thanks so much. Looking forward to seeing you and Sam at lessons soon!
EXAMPLE 2: MAKE UP LESSONS
Let's say a student chooses to miss her piano lesson.
I’ll miss seeing Cindy in person today! I hope she has a nice time at the amusement park! During her lesson time I’ll record a short video assignment that she can watch tomorrow at home. This will help keep us on track during this busy time of year! Thanks again for letting me know about her absence. If she has any questions about her assignments, have her text me! I’ll be happy to help.
ONE FINAL TIP
Don't delay giving an answer because you feel bad.
Being wishy-washy isn't fair to the other person and it won't "soften the blow" at all. in fact, it'll make things worse and cause hurt feelings.
If "no" is your answer, go ahead and say "no." (Confession - though I strongly believe this, I still struggle with it. Hey, I'm far from perfect!)
How do YOU say "no" when necessary? I'd love to hear!
NEED MORE HELP WITH YOUR BUSINESS?
Upbeat Planning Academy is only held ONCE a year and we're about to start!
It runs July 2nd - August 10th. (Between June 26th and June 28th, you can get it for less than half the regular price! Yay!)
Upbeat Planning Academy is a LIVE Coaching Class filled with practical solutions to help you ditch the stress and overwhelm of running your own business and learn to revitalize your studio instead.
Here's what you'll learn in the Academy (It's different from all the business info you're used to hearing!)
Space is limited in the academy, so click here and register now!
Here's a question that often comes up in Online Lesson Academy: Do you charge less for online lessons? (Not make-up lessons, but students who are 100% online students.)
It always makes me smile because my online students actually pay MORE than my in-person students. Gasp! MORE? Yes - they really do!
I'll give you the nitty gritty details on that in a minute....but first....
SHORT ANSWER - DON'T CHARGE LESS
Many teachers feel a little.....guilty about online lessons and want to charge less. I'll be honest, I don't get it.
Here are the facts:
WHY YOU CAN CHARGE MORE
Online lessons allow you to teach students who live absolutely anywhere. You have a lot more freedom when it comes to pricing.
When we lived in the Dallas area, my rates were higher. After we moved to a smaller city, I needed to lower my price, but I kept my Dallas students at the same rate. Even though they transitioned to online lessons.
If you want to build your studio (and your income!) you can do the same thing by adding online students who live outside of your area.
It's a great solution for teachers who live in small towns. You're able to teach students who live anywhere in the world - and yes, you can charge a higher rate.
HOW I STARTED WITH ONLINE LESSONS
When my family decided to move, I was faced with a big decision: try online lessons or lose my entire studio.
Believe it or not, I let my fears get the best of me - and I told all my families to find a new teacher. Yep! I really did!
But then, as our move date got closer, reality hit. I didn't want to lose my students. We'd invested SO much time together. Fortunately, I decided to get brave and go for it!
Thank goodness I did!! YOU CAN DO THIS TOO!
TEACHING ONLINE LESSONS
Do you want to add this option to your studio, but find yourself hesitating? You're not alone!
Lots of teachers are worried about technology. Or lack confidence with all the equipment. Or they're afraid they won't know how to troubleshoot. That's the very reason Sara Campbell and I created Teaching Online Lessons. (Click here to access our Valentine's Day Sale!)
Once you register, you'll be invited to join our Facebook Mastermind group. We're there for you with any questions you might have.
You'll be up and going in no time!
Have you ever gotten an idea and launched right into it, without stopping to think it through? This happened to me just a couple weeks ago.
Because my son will be a senior in high school this fall, one of my goals is to lighten my teaching schedule. I really want enjoy this last year with him before he heads off to college!
It occurred to me that hosting group lessons once a month in lieu of private lessons would be the perfect low-stress solution. Idea planted. Done!
But then I talked with my Upbeat partner, Sara Campbell. The first thing out of her mouth was "Will planning that every month actually be more stressful for you?"
Hmmmm...I hadn't considered that. I was only thinking about "teaching" time.
And then I realized....I hadn't really looked at this from every angle. What I really needed was to STOP everything and do some serious thinking.
Here's the point: When we take time to really think over new ventures BEFORE we dive in, we increase the odds of success.
Are you considering a new venture that involves preschoolers? I hope these questions will help you figure out if it's the right move for you!
1. DO YOU LIKE WORKING WITH YOUNG CHILDREN?
It sounds like an obvious question, but the truth is most people have age preferences. For example: teenagers. Some people LOVE teaching teens - and other teachers will avoid them at all costs!
Take the time to think about what ages YOU like to teach.
Yes, adding preschoolers might be great for your bottom line, but if you don't like this age group, you'll never find the success you're looking for.
2. HOW WILL THIS OFFERING BRING VALUE TO YOUR STUDIO?
Adding preschoolers will help YOU in several ways:
But this option would also benefit your students. Take the time to think about this option from the perspective of your families. How will it help them? What will they gain from preschool lessons?
One thing's for sure - you'll be helping youngsters develop a love of music early in life. That's invaluable!
3. DO YOU HAVE TIME TO INVEST IN A NEW VENTURE?
Starting any new venture is exciting! But there's always a learning curve. Do you have time to research everything?
You'll need to think about:
If reading that list got you excited, then teaching preschoolers is probably a good move for you!
4. HOW WILL YOU ADD THIS OPTION TO YOUR STUDIO?
I'll be honest - when I started teaching preschoolers, I didn't give this question enough consideration. I simply launched into what I was already doing - private lessons.
But there are several options to mull over: private, group, or partner lessons. Each choice has pros and cons. Write those down. Play around with them in your head.
I encourage you to think about what type of lesson YOU would enjoy the most. If YOU'RE happy and having fun, your preschoolers will too!
5. WHAT METHOD WILL YOU USE?
The GOOD news - There are LOTS of methods to choose from.
The BAD news - There are LOTS of methods to choose from.
Seriously though, take the time to do your research and find a method that fits your personality. Ideally, I suggest that you find a couple methods you would feel comfortable teaching.
The truth is that all kids are different. You might find that certain students would benefit from a different method. I know that often happens in my studio with older students. Preschoolers are no different. (See this post for more.)
ARE YOU SAYING YES TO PRESCHOOLERS?
If you decide that preschoolers are right for you, make sure you check out Playing with Preschoolers.
It's on sale for Valentine's Day!
Sara and I interviewed 7 teachers who are having great success with this age group. You'll learn:
Do you have any preschool questions? If so, let me know!
MY FAVORITE PRESCHOOL STORY...
It was an ordinary day at school, but not for my student. I'll call her Katie.
I was walking Katie to her makeup lesson and she was over-the-moon excited! Literally skipping all the way to my room with a BIG smile on her face.
Truthfully, I thought it was a little odd. Katie liked piano, but her excitement was a bit...over the top.
Fast forward 15 minutes and she looked at me with those big beautiful eyes and asked "When is my makeup class going to start?"
I was confused. "This IS your makeup class."
Then she reached up and patted her cheek "No, my MAKEUP class."
Oh my! Katie thought we were putting on makeup! Isn't that the cutest thing? And yes, her mother did give me permission to pull out the cosmetics the following week. To this day, thinking about it all still makes me smile!
Here's the point - preschoolers have a different mindset. They DON'T always think the way we expect them to. If we want to teach them successfully, we need to change the way we think.
If I could start over with this age group, here are 4 things that I'd do differently:
1. I SHOULD HAVE RESEARCHED MORE.
There are plenty of teachers who are successfully teaching preschoolers. I wish I'd spent more time learning from them first.
Sure I researched different curriculum, but there was a lot more I could have done to prepare. I wish I had asked teachers about:
To be honest, this is the very reason that Sara and I created Playing with Preschoolers. Hearing what worked for different teachers was a game-changer for me!
2. I SHOULD HAVE ADJUSTED MY MINDSET.
Don't judge me, but I went into preschool lessons thinking I'd teach piano at a slower pace. It honestly sounds dumb now, but I really didn't think that teaching preschoolers would be that different from my other elementary students.
Boy was I wrong. I needed a different mindset in many areas. Especially the idea of "piano lessons" verses "music lessons."
That alone would have helped my attitude AND my success.
3. I SHOULD HAVE CONSIDERED ALL MY OPTIONS.
First off, whether you teach preschoolers in private lessons, group lessons, or partner lessons - there is no WRONG answer. It's completely a personal preference.
My problem was that I defaulted to private lessons without really considering my options. The rest of my studio is private lessons, why would I do anything different?
That thinking was a mistake.
Again, I should have researched more. In hindsight, I would have chosen partner lessons. But of course, if you're looking to UP your income, a larger class might be the right choice for you.
Whatever you decide, the important thing is to give serious consideration to ALL the options.
4. I SHOULD HAVE CHOSEN TWO METHODS.
This was by far my biggest mistake: I decided on ONE curriculum, expecting it to work for ALL my students. When it didn't work for each student, I was left feeling frustrated and stressed out.
I'm not sure why I didn't consider this earlier. With my older students, I use different methods, depending on the child. I TOTALLY should have done this with preschoolers. Epic fail on my part.
Of course, if you're teaching to a full class, your program will obviously be geared toward a larger group.
But if you're planning on private or partner lessons, go ahead and find a couple methods that you like. Then you'll be ready to go to Plan B at a moment's notice!
NEED HELP GETTING ORGANIZED?
This FREE Rainy Toolbox will help you keep all your ideas organized. Being ready at a moment's notice is SO important when teaching preschoolers!
Click here to get it for free!
This week I've been sharing the truth about my first summer camp. Overall it was a big success! But I definitely made some rookie mistakes. This series is all about helping you avoid my mistakes!
(Did you miss the beginning of this series? Find Mistake #1 here and Mistake #2 here.)
MISTAKE #3 - I DIDN'T TAKE PICTURES
If you read my first 2 camp posts, you know that I did do several things right. I was very focused on registrations, daily plans, and activities. I was even smart enough to hire extra help.
But I never once thought about taking pictures.
This left me at a disadvantage on 2 fronts:
When the realization hit me, I was so bummed!
DO THIS INSTEAD
While you could take your own photos, you'll already be pretty busy! A smarter solution is to assign this job to someone else:
You'll love having this burden off your shoulders during camp week. Best of all, the photos will be invaluable to you when you're promoting your next camp. (Just make sure that your parents sign a waiver saying you have permission to use their child's photo.)
If you're planning your first summer camp, I hope this series has helped!
Sara Campbell and I have also created a FREE summer camp checklist to help you have a successful summer camp. Just print it out and you'll have peace of mind that you're not forgetting something important. Phew!
DID YOU HEAR THE NEWS?
This month there's a Free Group Coaching Bonus that comes with Group Lessons 101. (For those who register by 3/31/18.) Another great resource included with Group 101 is Sara Campbell's Music Blast Plan. You get daily schedules, a supply list, resources - it's all been done for you!
But you better hurry! The Coaching Bonus goes away soon!
OTHER CAMP POSTS YOU MIGHT ENJOY
A teacher recently posted on Facebook:
I am starting to plan my first week-long (5 days) Music Summer Camp ever and I'm a little (ok...a lot!) nervous about it! I'm looking for some insight and advice on how to run a wonderful, fun music camp.
It made me think back to my first summer camp. Between you and me, I was pretty nervous:
Fortunately I got over my fears and overall my camp was a huge success:
But it was far from perfect.
This week I'm writing a series about my 3 BIG rookie mistakes. Today's post covers Mistake #1 AND how you can set yourself up for success!
MISTAKE #1 - MY CAMP WAS TOO BIG
For that first summer camp, I went all out. I packed 12 kids into my 2-room studio. Not only did I have a huge group, they stayed a long time - 5 HOURS a day for a FULL WEEK!
Yep - I went a little....overboard.
I'll give myself credit for being organized.
But at the end of the day - it was too many students for my first camp. And definitely too long.
DO THIS INSTEAD
I would have saved myself a lot of stress if I had:
In the end, I think I could have earned the same income, but with a LOT less stress!
A SNEAK PEEK AT MISTAKE #2
Make sure you come back tomorrow. I'll share with you the big mistake I made with planning camp activities and what you should to do differently.
(And don't forget about the Free Group Coaching Bonus that comes with Group Lessons 101. Valid only if you register by 3/31/18.)
OTHER CAMP POSTS YOU MIGHT ENJOY
Hi there! I'm Tracy Selle. A Christian wife, mom, and author of 101 Piano Practice Tips. I'm also a piano teacher and founder of Upbeat Piano Teachers.