How to Select the Right Students

Now, you’re probably thinking, “What do you mean, ‘select’ students? I just need students… I don’t care who they are!”

Well, there are several reasons you don’t want to accept just “any” student.

  • Accepting any and all students makes you seem desperate. And you don’t want to come across as desperate to potential students, you want to be professional and selective.
  • You want to make sure you and the student are a good fit. For example, your teaching style or personality may not be conducive to very young students or very energetic children, etc.
  • Your goals and the students goals may not mesh. The student may want to learn jazz, but you prefer teaching classical music.

As you can see, there are several reasons that you should be selective when accepting new students. Schedule a consultation in your studio with the student and at least one parent (if the student is a child) to “qualify” potential students. This will help you to:

  • Observe the energy and personality of the student on your turf. If you have a boisterous personality, an extremely shy child may not warm up to you. Or a very energetic child may get on your nerves so much that you would come to dread the lesson.
  • Ask the student a few simple music questions at your keyboard so you can decide where the student is musically and determine the best method and level to begin with. There are several methods to choose from. Some move quickly; others are more repetitive. You must decide which method best suits the student.
  • Discuss your policies, philosophy and teaching style with the parent and student. Is the child so involved in extra curricular activities that he doesn’t even have time to practice and attend lessons every week?  It’s better to find out now. Where do you want parents to be during the lessons? Discuss your fees and payment policies.

A 30-minute consultation will give you plenty of time to determine if this student fits your goals for your students. If not, politely let them know that you don’t think you’re a good fit for the student. Or, if you aren’t comfortable being direct, tell them that you don’t have a spot in your schedule  at this time (and you truly don’t… for them), but that you’ll be glad to add them to your waiting list or recommend another teacher.

Believe me, I’ve learned the hard way that it’s better to not accept a student than to start one and wish you hadn’t because she doesn’t practice, or worse, quits in a month or two.

Being selective puts you in control of your schedule as well as your peace of mind. You’ll be glad you took 30 minutes to make an informed decision before accepting that potential student.

Dana Martin


January 22, 2010. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

For Piano Teachers

Do you play the piano or keyboard, and have thought about teaching others how to play? I’ve been teaching piano for over 30 years, and I’ve gleaned a lot from my experiences from how to find/select the right students and how much to charge to choosing the right books and motivating each student in a way that helps her achieve a passion for music and the piano.

Today’s post is about where to find students. Here are some ideas:

  • Your local schools
  • Your church
  • Other nearby churches
  • Friends
  • Neighbors
  • Homeschool co-ops
  • Local music stores

Create a flyer — templates are available in Word and Publisher — that tells about you, your music education and experience, the style(s) of music you most enjoy, as well as other relevant facts that may be of interest to a potential student. Put a little personality into it — keep the info light and upbeat. It’s best not to sound too stodgy or boring. Make sure you include your contact info — tear-strips along the bottom are a good idea so people can tear them off. Distribute your flyers (by hand or mail) to the above listed places.

Create a website so that people who search online can find you. There are lots of free and low-cost web hosting services that supply templates to get you started if you aren’t sure how to create a website. See my website for ideas:

List your services with an online music teacher finder such as It’s very affordable, and a quick and easy way to get your name out there for online searchers. It will pay for itself with your first student.

More than FINDING students, you also need to SELECT your students. Now, you may be thinking, “What does she mean by ‘selecting’ students? I just want to FIND students — I don’t care who they are!” Believe me, you WILL care. Read my next post for why you NEED to be selective and how to best go about it.

Please leave a comment below.

October 31, 2009. Uncategorized. 1 comment.