How To Start A Community Music School: Your Guide

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Is music your passion? If you’ve played a range of different instruments from a young age and have always dreamed of starting a music school, you’ve come to the right place! Here’s how to start a community music school, from initial brainstorming to finding your students. Let’s get started.

How To Start A Community Music School: A Checklist

A checklist is a great way to visualize the path in front of you. Think of it as a roadmap. Here are the tasks you need to tackle.
  1. Shadow or apprentice at a music school you respect
  2. Create your music school business plan
  3. Find the right venue for your music school
  4. Hire office staff and teachers
  5. Focus on getting organized
  6. Grow your music school with marketing
  7. Plan on what types of music education curriculum you want to offer prospective students
If you’re ready to learn more about how to start a music school, read on for details.

1. Shadow A Current Music School Owner

It’s important to have a clear understanding of the many roles you’ll take on when you’re starting a music school. To start, find a music school you admire and introduce yourself to the owner or manager. Ask if you can spend time shadowing them to see what a typical day is like for them. Try to find someone you won’t be in direct competition with—a school in a different part of town or one that serves different types of students. Once you know more about the daily operations of a music school, and are sure you want to pursue this dream, it’s time to get started.

2. Create A Detailed Music School Business Plan

Your music school business plan is an important document that lays out your goals and how you plan to achieve them. You’ll also dive into specifics about your cost of starting a music school. While every business plan is unique, it should at least include the following sections:
  • Executive summary: Clarify your goals and values in a few sentences. This section should also establish what type of legal business entity your school will be, and how you’ll comply with licensing or regulatory requirements. Accounting for all legal requirements will ensure you are prepared for what a music school requires.
  • Market analysis: Research your potential customers, as well as the competition. Be honest about any potential challenges.
  • Products and services: Discuss important details about the types of classes you plan to offer, the ages you plan to teach, and more. Note if you’ll provide both in-person and online classes, or if you’ll sell any accessories. Know the course of action you want to take and how to foster your brand. Music students and teachers will want a well-rounded idea of what teaching lessons, voice lessons, and music education will be taught before they sign on.
  • Financial projections: Detail where your revenue will come from and how much your bills will cost. Whether you have the money for starting music lessons, or will be using a bank loan, be thorough about how you plan to get up and running. Keeping an accurate record of all ongoing expenses and revenue streams will be a good way to keep financial projections in order.
  • Marketing overview: Whether your marketing strategy will use social media, in-person referrals, newspaper advertising, or a combination, develop a plan. Break down the cost of each method. Any new business will need a legal entity to ensure all advertising is good on the business side of things.
If your music school is a joint venture, be sure to work on this with the entire team. This document will help you lay the foundation for a successful school.

3. Find The Right Location For Your Music School

When you start dreaming of how to start a community music school, you probably envision a warm space filled with music and smiling students. Piano lessons can be heard, local music stores are around the corner, and sheet music is displayed during in-person lessons. While you want to find a place that is inviting, there are several other practical aspects to consider. Think about parking, safety, and potential foot traffic when you’re making this important decision. Give special thought to the acoustics of the space. Some locations will be more costly than others, so ensure that the cost is within your studio’s financial resources. Also, will you want a dedicated area in the studio to host online classes for another revenue stream? What size will your classes be? Think through these things before signing a lease on a new place. Starting a music school with a convenient location is just step in attracting customers. Once you have your space, map out where you’ll host in-person and online classes. Note any waiting areas for parents or other shared spaces. From there, you’ll need music stands, sheet music, and of course, instruments! Don’t be afraid to find used instruments, especially in the beginning. This is one way to help you cut costs while you’re trying to get your music school up and running. Some music teachers may have spare instruments as well, so asking a teacher is always a good course of action. If you’re lucky, someone might be donating a piano or a set of wood instruments nearby, so checking local listings is a good idea to get low cost or free supplies.

4. Hire Support Staff And Teachers

While you probably want to spend all of your days teaching music, it may take some time to get there. Don’t be afraid to hire support staff, especially while you’re still getting your business off the ground. Having teachers who understand the curriculum, teaching methods, and how to interact with students is preferred. Find someone to help you manage your office and front desk, as well as a music teacher to take on some of your classes. If possible, consider investing in a studio software tool to streamline some of your administrative tasks, like student enrollment, website postings, communications and billing, to reduce your workload.

5. Focus On Organization And Sustainability

Building on this, the organization is key to keeping your music school running smoothly. Develop a plan for your systems and processes early on (and plan to re-evaluate them as your school grows!). Starting a music school will take a lot of planning and financial projections to be in order. In the beginning, consider how you’ll keep track of enrollment, billing, and your annual teaching and events calendar. Tools like music studio management software can even analyze your data and track trends in your business over time. This will help you make well-informed decisions as you move forward. When you create a course of action and goal for your business, know that it will likely include outsourcing some management. Also, remember that it’s important to keep your customers coming back year after year! Don’t lose students during the summer or holiday breaks. Make a plan now to capitalize on these times by hosting camps and other unique events, like online classes, workshops, or performances. This not only will retain students, but provide more money to the location to have year-round services and attract potential students who want a full-year of music education.

6. Grow Your Music School With Marketing

Marketing should begin from day one, long before you open! There are so many ways to get the word out without breaking the bank. These include:
  • Posting flyers on local community boards
  • Starting social media accounts to engage with your potential students
  • Looking into newspaper or magazine ads
  • Offering virtual or online workshops for new students to test your services
  • Connecting with local parent bloggers or social media influencers to tour your school
  • Hosting an open house with performances and live workshops
  • Networking with partner businesses who could advertise your services, such as daycares, schools, or dance studios
  • Introducing yourself to one teacher from a nearby school to refer students to your music school business
  • Create a group for parents of students for information on teachers, new business opportunities, and music lessons.

Speaking of, networking is an essential part of starting any organization or business. Consider adding banners outside your location to gain awareness and create excitement from the public. Get involved in your community by joining the local Chamber of Commerce and Better Business Bureau. Ask about ribbon-cutting opportunities that can help you share the news that you’re officially in business! Getting involved within your community will get your music school on the radar of the public and encourage enrollment.

Connect with other music teachers and performing arts professionals in your area as well. These connections will help you stay in the know when it comes to your industry. Try and connect with a music instructor at another school to strategize and talk through any challenges with teaching, pay, and how to motivate a student. They can give helpful guidance on how to optimize your piano lessons, engage families, and foster a sense community inside your music school.

Start Your Community Music School

You’ll have more time to enjoy the music and grow your studio when you have The Studio Director helping out. Our music studio management software handles the many details that will make your studio run efficiently. From class schedules to financial reports, as well as communication with students, The Studio Director can do it all. It will give you more time and money to invest in other aspects of your studio: the perfect location, class offerings, and having more resources to dedicate to your music school. Ready to see for yourself? Take a look at how we can help with our free demo!

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