Chat – Things That Work
Kerry H (USA) Hi Everyone! I thought what I’d do tonight, instead of it being a session where you guys ask lots of questions, that I just talk about a few things. If there’s anything that’s unclear as I go along, please feel free to stop me and ask questions.
Well this is a very broad topic, and there are many areas that I could discuss, and we could be here all night/day, but we’ll just see how much we get covered.
The first thing I want to talk about are actual teaching things, then Introductory Session preparation, Advertising, and Admin.
As far as teaching goes, one of the things that really worked for me, was running groups. I ran groups in Perth, Western Australia for years. Sometimes I would just run 50-minute groups, but I also ran a lot of weekend workshops and 5-week workshops also. in fact, for a few years, I ran 5-week workshops virtually every 5 weeks, and I usually had 3 lots of those happening at the one time.
Marie S (Aus) Kerry, who is attracted to learning in groups? Is it for the companionship/competition or because it may be cheaper?
Kerry H (USA) Marie, there are a lot of reasons why learning in groups is a good thing, and in fact at the time, I wasn’t offering any private lessons because I didn’t want to give up the teaching time and just get the money that a private student would pay, given what I could earn from a group.
Marie S (Aus) Were they for your existing students?
Kerry H (USA) No. They were for new students.
One of the great things about learning in groups is that the students learn so much from each other. The other thing is that, if a student doesn’t practice one week, in a private lesson, you cannot move forward and are forced to review. In a group, you can move forward and work with other students, and the other student can catch up during the week.
You could argue that in a private lesson, the student is under pressure to come up with all of the answers by themselves, whereas in a group they can be a bit laid back while the others take a turn and can learn while you’re watching.
There are some of the things that we do, such as doing rhythm diagrams like in Alma Mater Blues, which I believe can be taught much better in a group environment because you can have the whole group drumming the rhythm, and then have each person drum it….etc…
It gives a change of energy, and many more ways of producing the same result, which I believe gives a better result. There are many more reasons, but we could spend the whole session talking about that.
Julie T (AUS) Kerry, I would be interested in knowing how you advertised for these weekend workshops, how many hours they ran for, what you charged, did a lot of them convert to regular lessons/groups and approximately how many did you average per workshop?
Kerry H (USA) I used to advertise these in my community newspapers, which is where I did most of my advertising because that was the most successful thing. Usually I would advertise to run a free Introductory Session and would have a date set for my next Weekend Workshop and then if people wanted to book into that they could.
It would usually run from 9-5 on Saturday (with an hour break for lunch) and then slightly less on a Sunday – perhaps
9-4 or something like that. I mostly had around 10 people in a workshop. I had enough keyboards and a big enough room/rooms that I could set up keyboards on stands that were at the back or in a next door room, so that students could go in pairs to the keyboards to try out something that we had just learned together in the group.
Kerry H (USA) There would be keyboard breaks regularly throughout the day….. not that they had to have everything processed like they would after a week’s practice…but they would have to have gotten the idea enough, that they would be able to get it processed later, in the days and weeks to come.
Julie T (AUS) Kerry are you saying that the people who attend the weekend workshops had usually attended the intro session? Also, would you do it with any less than one keyboard between two people? What do you mean by keyboard breaks?
Kerry H (USA) Not always (intro session)….sometimes they would just inquire about lessons, and that would be one of the options if they were interested in lessons. I usually made sure there were 2 people per keyboard, because I had enough to do so…..however, I think it could also work with 3 people to a keyboard.
By keyboard breaks, I mean that we would do a lesson on something, let’s say it was the RH sentences of Dreams Come True, and then after doing that around the piano, with a “volunteer” doing that at the piano, then I would tell everyone to go to the keyboards with a partner and try that. I would wander around and check everyone. I’d give them a few minutes and then have them come back to the piano, and we’d look at the next section. Sometimes I might do more than that before they would get a keyboard break.
Cathy H (USA) How many pieces would you teach in a weekend Kerry?
Kerry H (USA) I think with Simply Music, you can cover a lot more. It is very exciting for students. Imagine if they got to play 6 to 10 songs in a weekend?
Cathy H (USA) very much so, but the workshop must be somewhat costly then? for the student that is.
Kerry H (USA) No, not really. Over the years, I think I charged between $150 & $250 – I think it’s a bargain – and you can make $1000 – $2000 in a weekend!
Cathy H (USA) OK, I was just wondering since 10 songs would basically be a level…
Julie T (AUS) Kerry, what songs would you teach. I mean would you just work through Level one in the usual order, given that they may want to continue in a group lesson. Do you give them the student home materials to take away?
Kerry H (USA) I suggest doing it in order and would definitely give them the SHM. Then they could be reviewing the lessons after the workshop, so even if you didn’t have a class for them to join in or start with immediately they could be reviewing the material in the meantime and processing the songs.
Julie T (AUS) Kerry, just curious about how many on average who attended the weekend workshops would convert to group lessons?
Kerry H (USA) Julie, I don’t remember that off the top of my head. But mostly I found it depended on how I set it up, and I have learned a lot about that. Some of it has to do with planning beforehand and having a class available. If there weren’t enough from the W/E Wkshp to form a group from purely the participants, then I would have them wait till another beginners group was up to the level that they were and then have them join in then.
I’m going to move on to some of the other areas now.
We are fast running out of time, would everyone like me to talk about things to do with advertising, administration and
management, or good preparation tips for running a free introductory session?
Kerry V (Aus) advertising
Julie T (AUS) advertising
Cathy H (USA) I think if you could do a separate talk on administration and management that would be great.
Kerry H (USA) OK, I’m going ahead with advertising.
I got extremely good results with newspaper advertisements that included a photograph. Over the years I spent 1,000’s of dollars on advertising; in fact I ran ads in the community newspapers in Perth sometimes as frequently as every 5 weeks, and sometimes just once per term.
Julie T (AUS) What approx. size ad would you suggest?
Kerry H (USA) Julie, my ads were about, hmmm….I think 3 columns by 7 inches?? But I found that that other thing that made a dramatic difference was the position in the paper. I used to pay a “loading” – which was an extra amount – so that I could appear somewhere in the first 6 pages of the newspaper. I found that if I appeared on P.19, I got almost no response. I am on a tight shoe string so these ads are not appropriate for me at the moment. So it was worth spending the extra, otherwise I was throwing money away.
Kerry V (Aus) is it worth biting the bullet and doing it anyway?
Kerry H (USA) Kerry, I think you need to look at your Student Acquisition Cost – ie, how much it costs you to convert a student, and then work out if the cost of the ad would be worth it… and how many students/calls you would need to get to make it worth it. Personally, I think you cannot build quickly without investing money in advertising.
The other thing was, that I had an account with my local newspaper, and they would send me a bill, so I didn’t have to pay immediately….which meant I could get the money in from the students and then pay for the ad, but that is a risk, it depends if you’re willing to take it or not…. and that I can’t advise you on.
Cathy H (USA) some papers give substantial discounts here if you pay within 10 days or so
Kerry H (USA) However, I always advertised for a free intro session, and had very good success with those.
Julie T (AUS) Kerry, would you say that there are some times during the year that you would not put an ad in the newspapers, either for running weekend workshops or groups etc?
Kerry H (USA) Well, I did find that I got much better results if I placed them at certain times. For example, if I placed the ad at the beginning of the school year in either the week before school starts or the first week of term, I would get the best results of any other time. It would fall off slightly as the year went along, and certainly the beginning of a school term always did well. However if I was late, and didn’t get my ad in until the 2nd or 3rd week of term, there was a significant difference. Most people had already decided what they were booking into for the term.
However, I don’t think I ever got a result that was a waste of time, except when I didn’t use a photo, or when I got a bad position.
Julie T (AUS) When you advertise for a free intro session, do you have the date and time on the ad? Do you usually do the intro sessions in the evening?
Kerry H (USA) Yes, I definitely have a date and time on it and I usually ran them on the weekends, usually 10am and 2pm on a Saturday. But I don’t put the address in the ad….and I have a whole conversation I could have with you about what to do to prepare successfully for those free intro sessions.
We are out of time, guys. There is so much more to talk about….
Cathy H (USA) ok thanks Kerry
Julie T (AUS) Thanks for your time and info Kerry – every bit helps!!
Kerry H (USA) You’re most welcome everyone.