We all wish we could spend more time on professional development for piano teachers. We want to be the best teachers we can be for our students and we know that great teachers are lifelong learners.
But where can that time come from when we’ve got lessons to plan, resources to print and invoices to send out?
In this article, I’ll help you find at least 30 extra minutes in your week with my magic efficiency pixie dust.
Automate your emails
Most of the emails you send to piano parents don’t actually need to be written in real-time. Almost all could be written in advance and scheduled.
What’s the point of writing emails ahead of time? How does that save you time?
Well, chances are, you end up writing almost the same thing, in slightly different ways, to different parents throughout the year. There’s no reason to keep coming up with identical emails (synonyms aside) again and again.
By writing emails in batches (several emails in one writing session) you’ll also be more efficient as you won’t be context switching. You’ll be in the email writing zone the whole time.
There are 3 categories the majority of your emails to piano parents will fit into:
- General information that could easily go out to everyone all-at-once, e.g. reminders, recital dates and studio closures.
- Emails that have to go out to certain parents at certain times, but contain the same content, e.g. information about where to download backing tracks once they start a certain book.
- Emails that follow the same format but that do have specific information for each child, e.g. practice tips and progress updates.
The first category, the “general info” emails, can be written all at once and scheduled to go out throughout the year.
- If you have a recital coming up on January 29th then write the reminder email now and schedule it to send on January 13th.
- If you want to remind everyone about the online resources you make available to them, schedule a separate email to go out 6 weeks after the start of the year. They’ll be more likely to pay attention when they’re not buying new books for school and starting ballet classes.
For the second 2 categories you can, at the very least, save a Google Doc with the outline of the emails, leaving space for any variables to be filled in when you’re actually sending it out.
If you need a super simple way to schedule emails to go out later I suggest Boomerang for Gmail. If you want to get into this whole email automation thing in a bigger way and get a little fancy, I suggest Mailerlite.
And if you’re still manually replying to new lesson enquiries, check out this post for how to automate that with My Music Staff.
Stop giving make-up lessons
Have you been following this blog for a little while? If so, you’ll know I don’t believe in makeup lessons.
They’re a waste of your time.
They’ll mess with your work-life balance.
And, they ultimately have a negative effect on your other students.
If you’re still giving make-up lessons, read this post about the 2 pivots you need to make. Depending on your previous policies, you might save several hours a week that you can invest in professional development.
Make your fees all-inclusive
Hmm. This is an odd one, isn’t it? How could moving to all-inclusive fees save you time?
Well, if your fees are not currently all-inclusive, you’re either:
- Purchasing books and invoicing parents afterwards
- Asking parents to buy books as they’re needed
In either system, you’re spending extra time in your email inbox. Possibly even going back and forth to explain the choice of book or make sure they get the right edition.
Because I purchase all my books for my students, I can simply do 2 big ordering sessions a year. I’ve gotten pretty good at predicting what I’ll need for the whole semester, so I can simply sit down for a couple of hours in August and January to buy them. That’s a huge time-saver.
What will you do with your extra time?
Become a Vibrant Music Teaching member and you can put that time to amazingly efficient use with my professional development resources for piano teachers.
Whether you want to grab a game to try out or learn how to teach chords, we make sure you can hop in and out and don’t have to waste precious minutes wondering if something is a good fit, or listening to long boring explanations when 2 minutes would have done the trick.