Usually, when a teacher begins their business, clients are hard to come by. Also, choosing who to work, with as a niche-focus, seems counter-intuitive. You need the business, you don’t want to turn away anyone else. However, to stand out in the crowd, it’s always advisable to choose a niche focus. Every small business can better differentiate themselves with a specific target audience or focus.
Teaching as a business
When I began focusing on teaching music as a real business, I stumbled across a secret. What I stumbled upon, was a virtually untapped market - preschool and early grade school students. It began out of a personal need. My son was 3 and asking for lessons. There was not a teacher I found that would accept him at this age. Thus, I went back to my teaching roots and started it as a homeschooling project. Before too long, my son’s classmates began asking for lessons and I was spending more and more time as a music teacher.
Some of my students at our Spring 2016 recital.
I discovered that the youngest students were not being served by anyone in my community. By specializing in music lessons for kids 4+, I stood out from the sea of music teachers.
As I developed my methods and tested new lesson plans daily, I began to attract quite a following. I am humbled and grateful to have worked with so many students in my community, many of them for years!
Why younger is better
By starting my students younger, I have been able to work with them for much longer periods than most other teachers. My average student seems to stay with me for 5 years or more. While I think some of it is due to my skills as a teacher and the use of the Musicolor Method, I also realize there are other factors.
Parents of preschoolers are generally more involved with their children’s lives. They want to be there and look forward to activities they can share. Practicing music is definitely a learned discipline that can benefit from this.
Preschoolers have a lot of passion and curiosity about music. They are ready to learn! It’s only recently that Universal Pre-K has become recognized around the world as a powerful way to affect society as a whole.
Young preschoolers at 3, 4 and 5 years of age are generally less busy. They are not being booked with as many activities as older children and definitely less than teens. The older the child, the more conflicting schedules!
I have noticed that beginning around 8 years old, my students start to try to adjust their schedules to fit swimming, religion, soccer and other activities. From middle school on, they have even more activities like traveling soccer teams or choruses and debate teams. High schoolers also have a ton of homework and the beginnings of teen romance!
Because I have started my students so young, we get to cover the basic groundwork of technique and basic concepts of reading music. By the time the pop/rock/rap music or Broadway shows interest begins to blossom, we can actually start playing those kinds of songs instead of working on basics.
So the next question is how do I teach a preschooler when they can’t even read?