Finding students

  • Participant
    carl-swanson on #149529

    I’m curious to know how you teachers started attracting students. Word-of-mouth works once you have an active studio in place. But what did you do at the very beginning to get yourself known as a teacher and start attracting students. I know from my many years of dealing with harpists, both as a regulator and repairman, I’ve talked to many harpists about their teaching studios. Some of them have a gazillion students and others 4, 5, or 6. Certain harp teachers seem to have a knack for attracting lots and lots of students. When they move to another part of the country and have to start from zero again, in short order they again have lots of students.

    So what did you do when you first started? I’m sure that just being seen playing a gig or wedding will cause some people to come up and ask about teaching. But what other strategies have worked? What things did you try that didn’t work as well?

    Member
    patricia-jaeger on #149530

    For 16 years I taught a well-attended

    Participant
    Saul Davis Zlatkovski on #149531

    Ah yes, that is a great model, but how did you get all the instruments together to begin? I started in such a class with Frances Miller. In those days, Lyon & Healy was promoting the Troubador harp with such classes, and great success in creating a huge generation of baby boomer harpists.

    It is not so simple now, I think. I think women sometimes have an edge here, if they are good with children and mothers. It is also, I think, a question of social networks.

    In the old days, the master teacher would teach in a downtown studio or some other artistic setting, sought out for learning and knowledge (whether he had it or not). He might even “mesmerize” his students into being performers. At least in the movies. I think that script is not so workable any more.

    I think the other side of the coin is important, how do the students find the teachers? I have often been called and told, I’ve been looking for years. People don’t know how to find a harp teacher when not in musical circles. This isn’t helped by the many schools that don’t offer harp. The online teacher directories are the best resource I know of. Advertising in the American Harp Journal for several years never brought in one student. It helps to be networked with other teachers who will refer a student who is moving, or needs something different, or to advance.

    Member
    patricia-jaeger on #149532

    Saul, I was able to buy four lap sized harps at once, and was given a discount. Over time, I acquired forty, but Mildred Dilling bought more; she was the maker’s “best customer”, he told me. These 22-string harps with no levers, had perfect concert harp

    Participant
    Saul Davis Zlatkovski on #149533

    In my youth, I think Lyon & Healy was underwriting, or providing troubador harps for the classes, as long as they were conducted at music dealers by teachers they had an established relationship with, or something like that, or a teacher with dealer status. It was a good arrangement.

    Member
    mr-s on #149534

    Hi Carl, what a good question, i was thinking of giving the same question, as i am now in my 4th year of teaching and having not a very happy experiences unless for me, but really now and after that all i cant give you an answer , me my self dont know what to do, maybe the situation i am is not that right as i am struggeling hardly to prepare a students just they come from a walking r a journey and make them professional in one year, i take them without any background, and work hardly i take every year one student just to give him or her the time of 10 students give lessons 2 times per week every lesson about 4 hours, but at the end some decide that dont want to continue studying or aother make me a bridge just to move to another teacher without any loyality, really dont know how to attract them, but after that i want to change my scheme

    Member
    patricia-jaeger on #149535

    Mr. S, I do believe the high cost of harps holds much talent from being developed, that is out there, We all know that musical talent is not tied to wealth; it can be hidden in the most unlikely people. Therefore, find a way to acquire or have someone make

    Participant
    Saul Davis Zlatkovski on #149536

    Four hours is way too long for a lesson! Guided practice is another thing. One hour twice a week is plenty, and it could be shorter. I think you are wearing them out.

    Member
    mr-s on #149537

    Thank you Patricia for your idea .

    Participant
    deb-l on #149538

    Saul, in response to how do students find teachers, I have always looked to the nearest music store where they have lesson rooms with various instructors.

    Participant
    carl-swanson on #149539

    Basel- There are cheap lever harps being made in Pakistan. You might try to get some of those to start students on.

    If you’re having trouble keeping students, then that’s another issue. Look carefully at how you are interacting with the student. Not every student wants to become a professional harpist. Talk to each student and listen carefully to what they say. Ask them what they want to learn. Ask why they decided to study the harp. Maybe they want to play pop tunes, or folk music. If that’s what they want, then go with that. When you are teaching beginners, most of them are frankly not going to be very good or go very far with the instrument. You may get one really talented student every couple of years. Try to find easy pieces that new students can pick up fairly easily and that makes them sound like they can play something. You have to adjust your teaching to fit the student’s desires and needs.

    Member
    mr-s on #149540

    Carl dear,I am preparing students to go in the High institute of Music, and the image is different from what you imagine,they come very late in age to study and to get in to be professionals,most of them don’t know solfege and rarely to find a piano student that want to be a harpist, they should be prepared for the exam in one year, I do work very hard to teach the basic things : hand and body positions, essential technique and to play tow pieces that they can’t read it easily of course not that difficult pieces, how can I get or keep a students that I work hard an waste my energy for them and then some of them decide to give up and other decide to move to another teacher dealing with teachers as an old shoes change it to another new , they can’t play pop music for exam or folk only Classical.

    Participant
    Saul Davis Zlatkovski on #149541

    If you could get the message out, somehow, that they need to start at age 12, not later, that might help. If it’s any consolation, harp students here are often the same.

    Yes, music stores are a logical place. There are very few around Philadelphia, some in the suburbs. The main ones closed. As far as I know, I am on a referral list nearby, but have never been called.

    There are also teachers who specialize in exposure rather than teaching. Giving frequent performing opportunities, being a promoter-personality type seems to help. Then there are teachers who are part of a “feeder network” to a famous teacher. So those are two examples, one of network placement, and one of personality type. If one is shy, contemplative, or self-deprecating, to name a few characteristics, you are likely to have a harder time than someone who is extroverted, outgoing, ebullient, at least initially. Then, there are the personality types of students and parents and how that enters into the interaction, not to mention community expectations, and above all else, location, location, location.

    A teacher told me, in this area, a parent cannot drive their child more than perhaps ten miles to a lesson because traffic is so bad, it would take an hour to go further. So that certainly has an impact. Philadelphia probably has fewer freeways than any other city, basically two, and one peripheral, where other cities usually have twice that, it seems.

    And how much does luck play into it, or how nicely your studio or house is decorated, things like that?

    Even having the perfect student who should be able to draw in others may not always work.

    In some cases, success does breed success, but not consistently, I suspect.

    Participant
    Misty Harrison on #149542

    specializing in exposure rather than teaching or serving as a highway to a well-known teacher

    yep, a lot of teachers with large studios have one of these two things going for them

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