Re: [Harp-L] Advice About Being a Harmonica Teacher

If you are reading this and were my student and I am giving advice that is
the exact opposite of what I did with you and that is why you left, how did
you think I learned about it?

You can choose to believe it is mostly adults or men or whatever.  Or you
can choose to believe you will teach lots of men, women and children of all
ages in your career.

Set goals.  I will make $50 this month from teaching.  I will make $100
next month from teaching.  If you don't make that goal, up your advertising

Google is how people find you.  Type in the name of your city and harmonica
lessons.  Does your name, website and phone number come up first?  If not,
learn how to up the Google presence.

Regular advertisement in the same place works.  Don't run a newspaper ad
for 2 months and expect students.  Run the ad for 3 years and expect

Give free lessons on your website and Youtube and forums.  Let people get
to know you and your abilities.

Get business cards and always carry them.

Retention is the most important tool.  Give great lessons.  At the end of
every lesson ask directly if they want to do another lesson and get them on
the calendar.  If they balk, let them go.  Trying to sell them when they
are not ready will cause separation.  It is okay to ask, can I send you an
email on this date?  And then follow through.

When someone who has taken lessons still seems interested but has
disappeared, send an email.  I often include something to the nature of "I
do not want to bother you.  This will be my last communication on this
issue.  The ball's in your court.  Please feel free to contact me with any

Have a nice website with information and testimonials.  Have there be how
to contact you on every page.  Have the email be a click away.  Have a
Paypal (or other transaction business) button on the page that works even
if they are not Paypal members.

Do not include the rate on the website.  That is why they contact you.
Also, your rate may change.  Unless you are a website guy, you don't want
that information to not be updated.

The first phone call is crucial.  If you do not get them on the calendar on
that first phone call, there may be a 1% chance of booking them later.
Steer them towards a date on the calendar.

Email is more of a back and forth.  They will ask a simple question like
what is the rate.  I tell them almost all the details.  Rate, if discounts
are available,  days of the week I work, first lesson and last lesson
starting time, loose location, type of harmonica I require and where they
can get one quick, and finally availability for the upcoming week.  ADVISE
AVAILABILITY IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE!  Super important!  If you have no
evening classes available next week, but do them, advise they reserve
quickly and say we can look at future weeks if need be.  Advise to contact
you with any questions.  Give your phone number at the end of every single

If you don't hear from them in 3 days, write back offering a discount.
Just advise as low as you go, but that you appreciate anything closer to
your standard rate.  If you don't give discounts, that's probably it.

If they book a time, confirm it and advise your actual address, what they
need to bring to the lesson, if you sell any instructions books, cds, etc.
Advise that you can trust them on the first lesson but all future lessons
need to be paid at the time of booking and you can reserve as many lesson
times as paid for.  Suggest they budget for the first and second lesson at
this time at least.

Advise your cancellation policy.  Advise what exceptions constitute

Expect to lose students for following through with the cancellation
policy.  You can let them slide, you can charge 50% of a lesson, but
ultimately those who do not respect your policy will screw you more than
once.  Let the disrepecters go.

What Phil said about group lessons is true, it brings in extra income and
enables me to get new private students.  I teach at UT 4 times a year.  The
money I make from UT is not even close to what I make privately, but it
enables me to meet private students.  As does attending harmonica
conventions and being active on harmonica forums.

Every little bit helps.  Don't be sad about the one time lesson.  That's X
more money than you would have made if they didn't come.  Regular students
are gold, one timers to a few timers to 6 monthers are silver.

Hold up your end of the bargain.  Be on time.  Be good with scheduling.  If
you mess up, make it up to them.

I recommend expecting 10 years of work before it pays enough for the
American dream.  In the first few years, have a part time job, gig at
night, live in an efficiency apartment and eat ramen.  This is not going to
happen overnight.
Michael Rubin

On Mon, Dec 21, 2015 at 4:52 PM, Rick Dempster <rickdempster33@xxxxxxxxx>

> It's also mostly adults because harp is not so 'cool' with the younger set
> these days.
> It's all ukuleles out there. The harp will have its day again, but probably
> not in my lifetime.
> RD
> On 22 December 2015 at 05:39, Ari Erlbaum <ari.erlbaum@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:
> > Hello all,
> >
> > I'm looking for some advice about how to get business as a harmonica
> > teacher. I've been teaching for a few years on the side of my day job,
> but
> > am now trying to work less on other things and more on harmonica. But
> what
> > I've noticed is that it tends to attract more adults than kids (parents
> > usually send their kids to piano lessons or something). Adults tend to be
> > much less reliable for consistent lessons, since they are more connected
> to
> > their pocketbooks and busier. They always go away from the first lesson
> > super excited about playing harp, but tend to email later on saying that
> > another bill came up so they can't afford lessons for a while, or the
> trip
> > is too long for them to get here, etc. So for you all who have been doing
> > this longer than I have, do you have any suggestions for either making
> > adult students more reliable, attracting more kids, or finding some other
> > scheme for being profitable-ish doing harp related things? And for any
> > non-teachers, what might entice you to drop money consistently on
> harmonica
> > lessons?
> >
> > For reference, my website is
> Any
> > feedback on that would be great as well. Thanks so much everybody!
> >
> > Best,
> > Ari
> >

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