Anna Goldthorpe, 39, is one of Tim’s Inner Circle members. She is from Idaho in the United States and has been teaching piano, guitar and voice for more than 15 years. She has taught for various music schools in both Australia and America and now has a home studio of more than 35 students as well as a waiting list.
In fact, she is looking to add another teacher and also at hiring some teaching space. Anna’s story shows the true power of a community like the Inner Circle, in helping harness the potential of creative piano teachers all around the world. Here’s her story.
Before joining the IC, my studio was a mere 10 students and I couldn’t seem to grow beyond that number at any given time no matter what I tried. I had to take other jobs to supplement our income. I was attending university to obtain my bachelor’s degree while raising three young boys and didn’t have the time or energy to put more effort into growing my studio.
I became burnt out, bored and uninspired in my teaching. I even tried making a career change by switching to a Psychology major. This is how discouraged and uninspired I was. I thought for the longest time I had to be strict and teach traditional methods only for a student to succeed and rarely branched out into thinking I could make lessons fun.
I was literally about to close my studio doors down for good, when one day I came across some really fun game ideas to teach to students about hand position and note names on the piano. Nicola Cantan, the owner of Vibrant Music Teaching and Colourful Keys, had posted a free game on a piano forum I followed. I decided to give it a try with my students that week and see if it caused some smiles during lessons.
Well, as you can guess they loved them and begged for more. Several months later she did a webinar with Tim Topham. That is when I first heard about the Inner Circle. At the time I had only 10-15 students and couldn’t afford to purchase the yearly membership but I signed up for Tim’s weekly emails and did all the free online webinars I could.
Once I started implementing a lot of the strategies I learned, coupled with Nicola’s Games, my studio started to take off. Word of mouth started to spread and my current families were giving me five- star reviews on Google which then created more inquiries from web searches. I am so proud to say I am going on my second year of having a completely full studio.
I am at capacity and I rarely have openings for new students because my current students don’t want to leave. I have had to add two more days of teaching to my schedule this year and now have a waiting list of families who only want to take with me. I regularly get compliments and comments from parents about how their students hated learning the piano before they came to me and now they love it again.
The Community has helped transform how I approach my studio through the studio reboot challenge. The challenge helped me find my “niche” in teaching. They did this by committing one whole lesson to focusing on narrowing down the four things you want your students to learn in each lesson. I wrote down all of the resources and materials we would need to achieve that.
This helped me zero in on specifically those things only instead of allowing myself to be overwhelmed by the broad range of materials, resources and ideas that are out there. It helped me see that I was overspending on materials and resources and not even using most of the things I was buying.
It helped me change my studio policies and learn to be assertive when it came to cancellations, makeup lessons and refunds. I feel like the Inner Circle has literally walked me through all the most valuable steps to run a successful studio.
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Tim’s 4 Chord Composing framework has been the most influential resource in my teaching. He geared it towards teens but I have started using it with my youngest students. Over the summer I even ran a chord course for all my students.
All ages from five-year-olds to adults, were working on chords, composing and playing pop rhythms. I also love his left-hand pattern worksheet, which I use along with the chords course.
I refer to chords a lot during my lessons because I want my students to be what I call “portable” musicians, meaning they can play in any situation with any kind of sheet music whether it be lead sheets, chord charts or written sheet music. Grab your free download from Tim’s 4 Chord Composing course here!
I charge a $25 registration fee to each family every year when they sign up and I use this amount to cover my subscriptions and recital fees. I feel it’s worth its weight in gold and this year I was finally able to sign up for the yearly membership due to my full studio and more funds. I would not have been able to reach a full studio capacity and a larger income without the Inner Circle and I feel forever indebted to the Community!
My future goals are to start more group classes to cut down on the extra hours I spend teaching private lessons so I can spend more time with my family. I am also hoping to branch out into a storefront location and hire on another teacher or two. I am also going to work towards running summer camps for low-income families who can’t afford yearly private lessons. The Inner Circle has so many resources and training for members that address all these things so I am planning out when I’m going to take those courses and begin to implement each step.
The best thing about the Inner Circle for me is the plethora of varied resources, material and courses available to us as members. I feel like I will have a never-ending supply of fresh ideas on what to teach next. This helps save me time prepping and it means I don’t have to reinvent the wheel, because there are so many ideas there for me to us.
With young boys, my family time is precious and anything that will help me savour that time is worth it to me. I would say to anyone thinking about joining the Inner Circle, just try it for a month and you will see what everyone is talking about. Once I joined the Inner Circle, I started implementing the things I was learning and my income started to increase.
I was happy to pay the membership fee as I saw it as worth every penny. After all, I wouldn’t have that extra income if it weren’t for all of Tim’s great resources.
Find out what all the fuss is about and how Tim’s Inner Circle could completely transform your studio.
Get access to heaps of courses including No Book Beginners, 4 Chord Composing, Growing a Group Teaching Studio and plenty more on the way.
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Anna has a B.S in Music and Psychology from University of Idaho and is continuing on to her Masters so she can pursue her dream of becoming a Musical Therapist. She has taught music for over 12 years in a variety of settings both locally and internationally. She has taught well over 300 students through the course of her career. She is a singer/songwriter and released an EP in January of 2012 available on iTunes.