School Music Teachers 

A Marketing Gem


A few days ago I had a Facebook private message from a fellow Indiana colleague with some questions regarding marketing.

I’ve heard you mention before that you had good luck meeting with school music teachers, letting them know about your services and asking them to refer students to you.

How did you find out which teachers to contact?
Did you call or email?
Did you meet with them in person?
What did you say to make them more likely to agree to the meeting, and what things did you bring up during the meeting?

“Aha!” I said to her, “This will make a perfect post for my readers, can you give me a few days?”

…and here we are.

She’s right. One of the many marketing tactics I took in the first two years I was open for business included contacting and preferably meeting in person all the school teachers in mine and even surrounding counties.

Psst…there’s a freebie at the end to help you organize your new marketing strategy so stick with me!


Why This is So Important

Who is it that parents go to when they look for lessons? They ask the kid’s music teacher. You should know who they are and what they look like so if you see them around town, especially if you’re in a small town, you can at least put a face with a name.

Building rapport with school music teachers is building your referral network.

Since I keep detailed records of every inquiry, conversation, and contact I have with potential students, I can announce for a fact, that 6% of my total inquiries thus far have come from school music teacher. This includes those who only inquired as well as those who ultimately registered. Even better, 8.7% of my total registrations have come from this marketing effort – nearly 1/11.


The Scarry Part

I realize this is a situation that will make some of you uncomfortable, and that’s OK. We’ve become a society of messaging each other, not talking to each other. It does seem harder and harder these days to talk on the phone, but I want you to do it. I want you to pick up the phone. That’s right; I want you to dial that phone and don’t be afraid.

Whatever you do, don’t send an email and definitely, do not send a text. Alright, maybe if you have a hard time getting ahold of them the email would be OK, but it’s much harder to say no in a conversation than in an email.

Here’s what I said:

“Hi, my name is Amy Chaplin, and I’m a local piano teacher in the area. I have a studio behind DQ called Studio 88.  Any chance you’ve seen or heard of it?

The reason I’m calling is I was hoping to get acquainted with all the music teacher in the county/area and was hoping I could drop by sometime during your free period for just 5 minutes to introduce myself.  I know you’re busy, so I promise I won’t take any time at all.”

This is what I said if I already knew/had met the teacher.

“Hi, this is Amy Chaplin, you may or may not remember me…I’m a piano teacher here in Bluffton. I believe we met a few months ago at a local theater production – my friend Sarah introduced us. Anyway, I’m just trying to touch base and re-acquaint myself with all the music teachers in the area. Since we’ve met before, I just wanted to put a bug in your ear and let you know if you are ever in need of an accompanist for any of your programs or solo & ensemble events I’m here!

You don’t even necessarily have to state that you’re asking them to refer you as a piano teacher. You told them you’re a teacher. They’re now aware.

Just beware that if you offer yourself to them as an accompanist, you’re prepared to answer the question of how much you would charge. Decide before you pick up the phone in case the conversation turns in that direction.


Organizing Your New Strategy

Answering more of her questions…

How did you find out which teachers to contact?

I spent some time on Google and the school district websites. I spent a few hours filling out my preparation spreadsheet which included the school district, specific school, teacher name, position title, phone number, email, school address (for future flier mailings), date of initial contact, follow-up contact, and notes. If I couldn’t find the information, I simply called the head office and asked who I should be in contact with.

Download my editable spreadsheet template to help you get started

Notes were made in the spreadsheet such as:

-Left phone message 10/16/2012
-Sent email 11/06/2012
-Spoke to on phone 10/17/2012. They said to drop in any day between 10:45-12:15 when they’re on lunch duty.
-Phone conversation10/25/2012. Band teacher forced to teach keyboarding classes. Take a few resources he may find helpful to casually point out if the conversation opens up a chance to help.


What Do I Say?

I’ve heard you mention before that you had good luck meeting with school music teachers, letting them know about your services and asking them to refer students to you.

What did you say to make them more likely to agree to the meeting, and what things did you bring up during the meeting?

Know that I did not directly ask them to refer students to me, at least not in a formal way.

The conversation was more like a –

hey, let’s put a face with a name and get to know each other briefly – cool, we’re both music teachers – I feel ya’, I used to be a public school teacher too – nice to meet you, and hey I just wanted you to know I’m here if you ever need a name to pass on to parents

– kinda thing.

Don’t think about the conversation being one where you have to convince them to agree to meet with you. Keep it casual. Just have a conversation with them teacher to teacher. Be nonchalant.

Ask them how long they’ve been teaching in general and at that school. Do they play much piano? What was their piano lessons like as a child? What kind of classes do they teach? Don’t grill them, just have a short get-to-know-you conversation.

Tell them a bit about how you do lessons. For me, I shared that students come for a weekly lesson and music lab and that I do group classes. Talk yourself up without it coming across like it. They will decide for themselves if they will refer you.

At the end of the conversation just tell them to let you know if they ever need anything and you appreciated their time. KEEP IT BRIEF. I spent anywhere from 5 minutes to at the most 10-15. You can sense how they’re feeling about their time. Some I stood in the office and had a quick handshake and hello and others took me back to show me their classroom.


You Don’t Know if You Don’t Try

I can’t think of anyone who turned me down. One teacher who lived in my town but worked in a neighboring county even invited me to drop by his home some evening rather than having to drive 45 minutes to his school, and I did. I would have been uncomfortable with this if I weren’t from a small town but I wasn’t the least bit concerned and had already heard great things about him. We had a lovely conversation.

If you’ve already done this or are ready to step out and give it a try, let me know how it goes! You may win some, you may lose some, but you won’t know until you try.

To your marketing success, cheers!


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