How To Get Started Teaching In A New City

Erica Darr, M. Mus

Jun 7, 2017

A brand new city with new people and opportunities to explore is an invigorating experience for most people. However, a move will also mean you have to relocate your studio as well.

The thought of relocating your private studio can be a bit intimidating at first but if you already have an established studio in your current city then the transition, though not effortless, can still be smooth and steady.

Good planning is key

You have to plan your teaching life in a new city before you actually get there.

Private studios are typically filled from word-of-mouth referrals. Here’s how to make the most of them:

  1. Before you leave your current area, talk with your students and associates to see if they have any referrals they can give you in your new area.
  2. If they do not know anyone actively searching for a teacher, perhaps they have a contact or two that could help spread the word about your arrival, helping you make some connections before you ever place roots in your new city.
  3. Ask your current students for recommendation letters and offer them assistance finding a new teacher. Recommendations and referral letters from those who know you best can help you establish a positive reputation in your new city.
  4. Going the extra mile to help place your current students with a new instructor will not only make their transition easier, but yours as well. Knowing that your students have been left in the good, capable hands of a colleague can give you one less item to worry about during your move.

Get yourself online

Consider starting a digital portfolio or user-friendly website in advance of your move, if you do not already have one (check out this great checklist if you are revamping or launching a website).

It’ll really help raise your profile in the following ways:

  1. Many potential students research teachers online and an online portfolio can give those students a chance to learn more about you, your teaching style, and credentials.
  2. Use the global reach of social media to your advantage. One of the wonderful qualities of social media is that it brings the entire world a little closer. You can sit in your current area and start connecting with people in your new area before you get there.
  3. I have always had great success with Facebook groups. Most major cities have well-established Facebook groups that allow people to connect with their neighbors in general conversations, as well as post advertisements or ‘wanted’ postings. With a little time and effort, you can both advertise your arrival and teaching services, as well as seek out people in those areas who could become potential students.
  4. You can also seek out groups related to your profession and/or content, such as groups for piano teachers or vocal coaches. These types of groups can be a great way to connect with teachers in your new city that can give you an inside track on finding students specific to your new city. Of course, always abide by the group’s rules regarding postings and member interactions!

After you relocate

Once you get settled in your new location, all of the preparations you made before you moved should start to pay off. However, it will take consistent effort after the move to keep the momentum going.

  1. Follow up with any referrals you received before you moved by letting those individuals know that you are now in the area and ready to start taking new students. Plan to get them started as soon as possible to start the process of getting a consistent studio schedule established.
  2. Reflect on when you first started your past studio and consider the activities that worked well for you then. Is there a way to use any of those strategies in your new area? If it worked well for you once, it may work well again.
  3. Let business cards do some of the work for you while you explore your new surroundings. Have a steady supply of business cards on hand to give out or leave on bulletin boards everywhere you go. Leave a card on the community bulletin boards at your new local post office, grocery stores, fitness center, and public library. Did you find a new hairdresser? Leave them with a business card too!
  4. Connect with ensemble teachers at local schools and ask permission to share your studio information with their ensemble students or to be placed on a referral list. As a school teacher, I work with a large number of students and am sometimes approached by parents seeking private instructors for their children. Believe me when I say that it helps to have a go-to list of vocal coaches in the area that I can refer them to right away. Partnerships with public and private school teachers can help you reach a large number of potential students.
  5. Try setting up at local festivals and fairs to spread the word about your studio, and get as many referrals and leads as you can. Drawings and giveaways are a great way to get a large number of leads at once. Have people enter a drawing for two or three free lessons, draw one winner, but be sure to offer every participant a chance to join your studio.
  6. Group lessons can be a great way to gather several potential students together all at once. Once you have gathered a large number of leads, set up a free Studio Open House event featuring sessions of group lessons over the course of a day or two. Encourage each attendee to bring someone with them, perhaps offering them a free individual lesson if they bring someone who also signs up for lessons.

Be patient

Lastly, the biggest tip I can give is for you to be patient. Establishing yourself in a new city takes time.

Planning ahead of your big move gives you the advantage of momentum. It then becomes possible to arrive in a new city with leads, referrals, and a positive presence in the community already established.

In addition to setting up your studio, you may also have other general moving items to tend to, and it can easily get overwhelming.

However, with a little time, effort, and advance planning, the move can be an invigorating and energizing undertaking for both you and your studio.

Erica Darr is currently the director of choral activities and guitar instruction in the Greater Nashville area. She has taught for 13 years in public school and private studio settings. Connect with her on her Well Fed Music Ed blog, as well as on Twitter and Facebook.

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