The first few months with a new student are vital for establishing the right relationships and practice routines. So what are the most important touch-points? What emails should we send and when?
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Vibrant vibrant vibrant music teaching proven and practical tips strategies and ideas from music teachers.
This is Episode 18 of the vibrant music teaching podcast I’m Nicola Cantan.
And in this episode I’ll take you through three e-mails that I think it’s essential to send to all new piano parents in your studio.
Well hello there lovely music teachers in this episode. I want to talk about what you might call onboarding e-mails for a new piano parents. And in this hemisphere where I am we’re actually heading into basically our third month of the Year of the academic year November is when students are really starting to settle into lessons and new piano parents are starting to get used to how your studio works. Now if you’re in another atmosphere that might be even more relevant because over December when you’re off and when you’re off in this hemisphere too you might be thinking about OK how can I serve students better when they first joined my studio because I think this is a huge factor in how long they stay at lessons how successful they are, how well their practice habits develop. If we can bring them into our studio more effectively and treat those beginning months with a lot of care. I think we can have better retention rates and overall happier students and parents. So today I want to share with you three e-mails that I think it’s essential to send to new piano parents. Now even if you’ve missed the boat a little bit on when the time frames I’m giving you for these e-mails I think it’s absolutely fine to still send them I hope they’ll still be beneficial but I want to encourage you to set up a system now that you can use in the future.
It doesn’t have to be my three e-mails or with the timings that I’m suggesting here. You can have a system of 20 e-mails you can have it automated through a system like MailChimp or you can just have it laid out as bullet point in a notebook that you keep on hand. The point is that it’s repeatable and that you can rely on yourself to do the same thing roughly every time rather than just winging it. Because if we’re just flying by the seat of our pants it can mean that some students slip through the cracks a little bit and you look back and go oh yeah I guess I didn’t let them know about that practice tape or this incentive or how this works in my studio. Right. And that’s so easy to do. Everything should be systematized as dull as that sounds it’s actually so useful. And it’s how I get so much done in my days and how I make sure that consistency is there in my studio so that everyone is cared for. So I have the specific check points that I try to send these e-mails to new parents. Now I mentioned the word onboarding there before and if you don’t listen to sort of business podcasts marketing and that kind of thing then you might not be familiar with this term. This is basically what we call it when a customer is new to a business and you’re bringing them in and sort of making sure that they know that they made the right decision choosing you.
So it’s after the quote unquote sale, after a student has signed up to your studio. Your work shouldn’t end there in terms of marketing. You want it as we know keep them warm. Making sure that they know that they belong in your studio that it was the right choice and that they shouldn’t quit. Right? So from the very beginning we need to confirm in parents in students minds that they made the right choice in signing up to lessons at your studio that this is perfect for them and that they’re going to get along really really well there. So there’s onboarding process can be as many e-mails as you like but I’m going to give you just three so that you can get started and have something that’s repeatable. The first e-mail I’m calling the Your Child is Awesome email and this is preferably even the most importantafter the very first lesson you have with a student. And I’m not talking about the interview by the way so this isn’t the first time you meet them probably. This is probably the second or third time you’ve met them but it’s the first proper lesson quote and quote. So after the first proper lesson send an e-mail to the parent that basically says why their child is amazing.
OK. So point out something specific about that child or if it’s an adult student point something specific about them. That means that you’re excited to work with them and you think they’re going to do great now for each child this is going to be different of course. And you want to point out something unique. So they improvised really really well. The first lesson and they obviously have a great ear and they landed on the tonic at the end of the Improv mentioned that explain why that’s amazing and fantastic. If they took two notations straight away if you start reading a first lesson and they find it a piece of cake mentioned that if they just have the best stories about their school or their pets mention that whatever you bonded with them over the last in whatever musical attributes you saw make sure to point them out to the parent because a parent wasn’t there or even if they were there they don’t really notice these things that we see as music professionals as teachers day in day out. We see the differences between different students and how they work on things and how they’re going. So to parents even if they were there send a follow up e-mail and just tell them why their child is awesome. Why you’re so so excited to work with this student and just why they’re fantastic. It should just be pure fodder for the parent to gloat about their child.
OK. This helps them to see that they made the right choice with you because they can see that you understand why their child is awesome. They know their child is great right. Every parent thinks their child is fantastic. But if you can see it if you can see the unique special factors in that child that helps them to see. This was the right choice. This teacher gets us. She’s the one for us. OK. So that’s after the first lesson. E-mail number who is about two or three weeks in I would recommend sending this out depending on your preferences and how it works in your studio. Two to three weeks in. You’re going to send an e-mail. That is the practice support e-mail in this e-mail you on offer support. And I genuinely mean support in their practice time. So this is not an email to give a about a student not practicing not that you would ever give out. But you know what I mean it’s not pointing blame at the parent because there is no blame. They barely started and they probably are practicing already because students at the very beginning are pretty excited to get to the piano and it’s not really a problem. But this is exactly the point. This is why you want to get to them now because if you get to them now and offer the practice support and the best practices and all of that great stuff then you had so many things off at the pass that could happen down the track when it comes to practicing.
So in this e-mail I offer support. I say again how great their child is doing and mentions some things that are going on in the lessons in this studio more generally and let them know that I’m here to help when it comes to practicing. I give suggestions on times that work for other students who are similar. So I give the example that actually several of my students find it really helpful to practice before school because I have so much going on after school. So if they’re early morning risers then that might be a great fit for them. I also mentioned that a lot of people tied to homework that they just do it as part of that or that they’ll often do it while mom or dad is making the dinners so that if the piano is nearby they can shade in and out and encourage them while the dinner is on the stove. So I make suggestions like that simple things about establishing a routine. And again reiterate as I’ve already said to them by this stage several times that routine is what we want. I want them to establish your routine. If the child is resistant on any days practicing get them to piano to play something doesn’t matter what it is on those types of days it’s that they play something.
If all they do is get there and make up their own song on the block is awesome I love it. Go with that. If all they want to play is a rope piece they learned at the very first lesson and there two months in that’s fine. That shouldn’t happen every day. But on the days when there is resistance keep the routine over everything else. It should be a habit. There should be some piano happening every day or five days a week whichever you want to say. So those are my suggestions to do with the routine and I’ll give some specifics about stuff to do with their repertoire their child’s working or their method books or stuff like that. So if a student is in piano safari for example I’ll let them in on. Okay. The site reading cards and this is how those work wrote pieces. This is where you can find the reminder videos if you need them. Encourage them again to listen to the listening tracks that come with piano safari wrote pieces. Stuff like that tapes are back their actual repertoire or whatever that student is learning and through right that I give them links to where they can download those tracks or find the videos. Other resources video tutorials of how to do various things so that I’m supporting them and while I’m writing this I have in mind whether the parent has a background in music or not and to what level and what instrument because I have all of that on their enrollment forms.
So I’ll have made a note of that to myself. So if the Mom is all the way up to grade 8 piano I’m not going to be talking down and explaining things that she obviously doesn’t need explained but I am going to explain the things that probably weren’t the way she learnt. Like the piano safari sight reading cards. Those are unusual. That’s certainly not the way most parents as in that generation my generation that’s probably not the way they learn. They probably learnt no names and were drilled on them and they never really thought about intervals although they instinctively pick them up whereas we’re going the reverse with something like piano safari or we’re talking about intervals landmark nodes and not emphasizing note names in the beginning so I’ll explain it from that perspective. If they have piano experience and if they don’t. Almost so much the better. All I need to do is encourage them to just think about it logically. They may not have a background in music but they absolutely can read these beginner type pieces. They can support their child in practice. All it takes is paying attention to simple things like patterns and they can learn alongside their child that’s totally fine so I’ll give them some tips as I say about specific repertoire method books and how all of these things work.
Some stuff about the piano routine and the practice routine. And then lastly I’ll encourage them to get in touch make sure they know that I want them to email me if they have a problem. If they don’t understand an assignment I’ve written if they think I’ve written something in error or a page number’s wrong fine email me I found even as much as I encourage this it doesn’t overwhelm me. I don’t get that many emails. I get far more emails from teachers on that side of things but my piano parents it really is very manageable and it’s much better for me if they email me midweek than if they arrive at the last and the following week and say actually we had no idea what this meant. That makes me feel really bad because I wasn’t clear enough with my instructions. They were worried about what to do at home. It didn’t make them feel good and I’m aware of that. So I want them to email me midweek if something like that comes up and I make sure to make that as clear as possible. Like I say it’s really very manageable on my end. Okay so that e-mail number two. So far we’ve sent Your Child is Awesome straight after the first lesson.
Then we sent the practice support email two to three weeks into lessons and the next e-mail we’re going to send in our system it might not be the very next e-mail we send but the next really important landmark email for me is the Surprise Proud Parent Moment. Not a very catchy title but this is going to be maybe between a month and two. And so I would say around 6 weeks in something like that when it’s starting to become more the norm they’re settled into lessons practices in some kind of routine or not and it’s just becoming standard that piano is part of their week. It’s not really new anymore. This is when I really want to get in touch with them and make them see give them an opportunity to be proud of their child. So it’s not that they’re not proud of their job anyway. What do you think about something like soccer any sport or even something like art there would be much more obvious moments for Mom or Dad to yell a bit to give them a high five to say oh these awesome things in piano we have maybe two recitals a year or something like that. It’s not really that frequent your think about having a hockey game every single week or every few week where they can cheer them on and get them ice cream afterwards and all that stuff or if they’re taking an art class they would have something to bring home with them every week a little clay pots or a drawing or a painting or something and they could put it on the fridge they could put it on the shelf.
They can take a photo of them with their art and send it to grandma. That doesn’t really happen enough with music and it’s actually one of the things that makes music feel really lonely,that isolated especially piano because they’re not going to draw in an orchestra or anything with it. And I do lots of things to stop that happening. But one of the ways that we can make it a little bit more social give parents more opportunities to cheer them on is simply by recording things at the lesson and sending it to the parents and especially if the parent isn’t there. If the parent is there all this takes is turning around to them and saying wasn’t that also engaging them in the lesson. Don’t let them sit on their iPhone. But if they’re not in the lesson like money parents aren’t then sending them through a recording can make a massive difference. And one of the big things you can do with the recording that they won’t experience even if they’re heavily involved in their child’s practice is you can play a duet with them and beginning method books beginning repertoire even up into early intermediate stage stuff sounds way better with you at part with the teacher underneath supporting everything providing harmony providing richness and all of that in some cases even the actual melody is basically in the teacher’s part and the parent never gets to hear that unless you send it to them.
So if you don’t have permission to send them a video, a video is more fun for them to watch. But if you don’t have permission to do that just record audio you can just download a voice recorder app on your phone and record just the audio and send it through and that way the parent gets to celebrate and play it for everyone they know and send it to people and all of that good stuff and it gives them that moment that opportunity to heap praise on top of their child which is so important. So it could be a duet. It could be an improvisation if you’re doing a lot of that again with the duet part underneath anything you’re working on. Especially when it has your part together with the student so that the parent can actually hear that and hear how amazing their child is doing after only six weeks or eight weeks or so. It really is such a valuable opportunity. If you’re worried about how to send these videos through I’ll give you a quick tip on that.
So if you have permission to share a video I recommend you simply uploaded to YouTube and send it to unlisted. I went to do this and a little bit more detail in one of the Q and A episodes a few episodes back. You want to check that out but basically uploaded to YouTube set it to unlisted. That means that no one will find it in search. So only people who get the direct link to it are really going to look at it. So it minimizes the possibility that random people are going to find it on the internet but it’s not absolutely secure so you can’t do that if you don’t have permission to share on YouTube at all. If you’re going to send the audio you can probably get away with sending that via email because the file won’t be quite so big if you need more help with work arounds with that just get in touch with me write a comment below or email me if you haven’t more queries on that. Maybe I need to do a follow up episode or all of that because I do get a fair few questions but basically upload to YouTube or email it or send a dropbox link and you’ll provide that amazing proud parent moment. So those three e-mails again guys to review. You’ve got after the first lesson and the child is amazing. Then two to three weeks then send practice support, offer some support with practice and some tips and some valuable insights and then six to eight weeks and send some kind of surprise proud parent moments and the Mirror courting of a duet or an improv you’re doing together so that they can cheer their kid on the most important thing with all of this is that you put in place a system.
It should be repeatable as I’ve read it. So make sure you start a list for yourself. Set reminders in a calendar whatever way you like to manage these types of things. Make sure that you have something in writing something as an actual system and add to it as you go. If there’s an e-mail that you send out at a certain stage with a new student and you think actually I should send this to all new students at about this time then put it in your system start to build it up and create little templates for yourself so you just need to fill in the appropriate details. But you have some kind of a formula to work with that you personalized to each student. OK guys. So the chesnuts for this where I’ll put links to stuff I’ve mentioned are at vibrantmusicteaching.com/18. I hope that this has been useful and that you’ll start to put some of these systems into place and until next week have an awesome week and happy teaching. Bye for now.
I’m going to be talking in the coming weeks about recitals and how we can make them more exciting and some tips on improving your student’s recitals vibrant music teaching members can now find a set of recital program templates and posters for their recitals where they can literally just make things nice and simple for them. So those are in the library right now if you’re a vibrant music teaching member hop on over and check them out.
And if you’re not a member why aren’t you go ahead and sign up at VMT ninja today and I’ll catch you on the inside.
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