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How to set up and build your own private teaching practice – part 2

Part 2 of our seminar highlights from Music Education Expo, focusing on marketing yourself and oft forgotten must dos.

Image of Music Education Expo

At this year’s Music Education Expo, we held a seminar for all music educators looking at how to set up and build your own private teaching practice, hosted by the MU’s own David Barnard. Part 1 looked at some business basics, including putting together your business plan. Part 2 looks at what next… 

Market yourself, starting with your website. It’s easier than ever market yourself. Start with content, and think about what service you want to provide. Buy a domain name, and build a website using a template. You can do that all yourself, but if you want online payments or have backing tracks for students to download and play along to, then you may want to consider hiring a pro.

Google yourself, and make sure you check the Google Image results. You never know what photo you’ve been tagged. Think about what you want to create and how your social media can perform a service for your students. All your accounts will need regular content so as not to look abandoned.

Talk to people. Ask local retailers if they can put up a poster or if they would be willing to set up a referral system. Ask students and their families for endorsements that you can use online and in any printed materials. Consider offering taster lessons (get in touch for more advice on how to make these fair for you and your students), and taking part in events such as Learn to Play Day. There’s more to marketing than online, and word of mouth can have a massive impact.

Make your teaching space work. Also think about your waiting room, especially if you teach in your own house. Make sure visitors have access to appropriate facilities, and that you inform students / parents about details like what parking is available and how long for. Be sure to check in with neighbours so they know what is going on and when noisy periods may be. And if you are working from, be sure to check with your local authority as you may need to register your home as a place of business. 

Think about your curriculum. Especially your students’ personalised learning programmes and where you can add value. You could bring students together for occasional group lessons or concerts with appropriate parts for each player. Consider putting together a masterclass. Perhaps you could host a short course in the holidays, for example in composing for video games. You can then bring that back into the classroom and build on it in your regular lessons.

Get insurance. Public Liability Insurance (PLI) is essential, and MU members get £10 million PLI – members can log in for a pdf of their certificate. You will also need instrument / equipment insurance, and MU members get up to £2000 worth at no extra cost. You should also consider professional indemnity insurance, which protects your professional judgement and reputation (for example, if you recommend an instrument or workshop and things go wrong­). If you employ someone, you may also need employer’s liability insurance. It’s important to know what you need, and what you’ve already got with MU membership or other policies you may have. 

Register for DBS checks. Get a DBS check – join the PVG Scheme if you live in Scotland, get an Access NI check in Northern Ireland – and register for the DBS update service. There is a small fee, but it will save you time and put parents’ minds at ease.  

Manage your time. With so much going on, it is easy to forget to build in time to plan, reflect, breathe… and then do some admin. Things like invoicing, lesson planning, and managing social media accounts all need attention and in between all of that, you need to be taking time out for yourself too. Planning your time is one way to stay on top of it all. 

Personal development matters. Keep your skills as sharp as you possibly can, as they are fundamental to the quality of your product. Visit events such as the Music Education Expo and network. Get to know people, share experiences and ideas, and look at what else is going on locally. Make sure you stay up to date with copyright law. And you must make sure you have appropriate child protection, and health and safety training.

Get in touch. We can advise on all of the above, and have plenty of resources available to help you set up your teaching practice - from teaching resources to contracts, insurance, networking, training and access to DBS checks. Get in touch with our specialist officials for expert advice

Haven’t joined yet? Find out how the MU can help you and your career as a music teacher.
Published: 07/03/2016

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