TTTV063: How the 4-Week Challenge helped Colin grow his studio by 800% - Creative Music Education
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TTTV063: How the 4-Week Challenge helped Colin grow his studio by 800%

By Tim Topham | Inner Circle

Oct 22

4-week challenge

In the Inner Circle every so often we have ‘4-Week Challenges‘. In these challenges piano teachers set themselves goals to complete within a four week timeframe.

This gives them accountability to the other teachers inside the community, and the motivation and support to achieve their goals. As many piano teachers are self-employed, this can really help to get things done with the encouragement of other teachers.

colin-young

Colin Young was the winner of the last 4-week challenge. Not only did he manage to stay away from chocolate, he also increased his student load by  800%.

At the start of the challenge Colin just had one piano student. He now has 9 students, and a waiting list. The progress he has made during this time, as well as his engagement in the Inner Circle community in general is truly inspiring.

Transcript

Please find a full transcript of this episode at the bottom of this page. Alternatively, click below to download a PDF. If you are an Inner Circle Member, you can find the full video and transcript in the Member Resources AreaNot a member? See below for how you can get $50 off your membership today. 

In this episode, you’ll learn

  • What led Colin to piano teaching
  • Why Colin joined the Inner Circle
  • What the 4-week challenge is and how it’s structured
  • The biggest benefit Colin got from doing the 4-week challenge
  • Examples of goals teachers set for the challenge
  • Some key things to think about when starting a blog
  • How to get started with student recitals
  • How to approach getting to know a new piano method

Links Mentioned

Podcast Video

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There are a lot of podcasts you could be tuning into today, and I’m grateful that you’ve chosen mine.

Being a full-time teacher myself, I know how busy teachers are and how much time, effort and passion we put into our students. Sometimes, the last thing we want to do in our time off is listen to more piano teaching stuff! So, well done for using this time for self-improvement.

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Full Transcript

Click here to read a full transcript on screen

Tim: All right, Colin, welcome to the podcast today. Great to have you on the show.

Colin: Thanks, Tim. I'm happy to be here.

Tim: And I know that we've said...just before we started recording, you said that actually you weren't 100% sure about whether you wanted to do this before we went live, so I'm really glad you have decided to do that. Because I know that it's...you've probably listened to a few different episodes and you're probably wondering why on Earth you're on here and up there with some of these people that I've been interviewing, but of course, you're the winner of our first four-week challenge that we had in the Inner Circle.

So I want to talk about that a little bit later on. But before we do that, can you give us a little bit of background about how you came into piano teaching, firstly?

Tim: Yeah. I mean, it's the strangest thing. I probably started playing piano a number of years ago. I think I was about 6, roughly, so 30-something years. I'm in the right side of 40, so. And then I started playing percussion later on when I was about 14. I ended up studying at the Academy in Glasgow nearby and ended up taking a bit of a break. I think it seems to be quite a common story, the more I read about these things.

But I decided I wanted to get back into music again, and piano is where I really went because my sister-in-law kind of pushed me into a local operatic group, which made me do some rehearsal piano playing for the chorus. Decided I was really enjoying it and got back into it. And then, as I was playing, I was thinking, "I really enjoy being part of music as a whole. It's not just about performing and helping with rehearsals." I decided I wanted to go down the sort of teaching route because when I was really young I did some teaching. I was maybe about 17, just before I left school. And I thoroughly enjoyed it back then, and I just decided once the performance side of things died down a wee bit, I was going to start teaching and, you know, pass on some stuff and get the kids involved in music if I could.

Next thing I knew, somebody phoned me and said, "Have you started teaching yet?" And I said, "No," and they said, "Well, I've got somebody for you." I was like, "Okay." So that was the one pupil that I had, and it has just gone crazy since that. And, you know, after that, I ended up joining the community and it's been great since.

Tim: Brilliant. That's fantastic. And we better explain to people because there's gonna be people listening or watching all around the world who might not have heard your accent before. You better tell us where you're from. I should have asked you straight up.

Colin: I stay in a sunny seaside town called Largs, which is in Scotland and the United Kingdom, if you want. Certainly not part of Europe anymore, that's for sure.

Tim: Oh, man. Let's not get talking about that. I have yet to interview a Scotsman, so it's great to have you. Great to have that accent. I love it, it's really good.

Colin: If I'm talking too fast, just tell me to slow down a bit.

Tim: No, no, no. I can't understand you anyway, so it doesn't matter what speed you talk.

And just tell us quickly about your family as well. You've got a couple of kids, have you?

Colin: Yeah, I've got two kids. I'm married as well, and I've got two kids. One's just turned 15 a couple of weeks ago. He has nothing to do with music at all. And I've got a wee girl who's just turned seven and she loves music. It's a struggle sometimes to get some practice done or to get lessons done because she's always peeking through the window and coming into the room and stuff. Starts playing the drums. But she loves it, it's great.

Tim: So she plays drums? Does she?

Colin: Well, I don't have a drum kit as such, but I've got...I mean, I can show you later, but I've got like congas and bongos and a whole bunch or percussion equipment lying all over the place in my extremely untidy studio. So she comes in and then plays all the time. And she plays a bit of piano, she plays the viola all herself as well, actually.

Tim: So does she have lessons in any particular instrument?

Colin: I tried teaching her piano, which just didn't work very well. You know that with very short attention span, especially when it's her dad that's teaching her, but she does get viola lessons, which she seems to thoroughly enjoy.

Tim: Perfect. That's great. Brilliant. Okay, so let's just talk about the Inner Circle and your membership. Was there one particular thing that made you go, "I need a bit more help here," or, "I heard about that and that was pretty cool"? What made you decide to join? Can you remember?

Colin: Well, it was one of those things. I mean, like anybody else, I'm sure they've been involved in different hobbies and such like, and seen membership sites all over the Internet for each and every thing. And I've always been a bit skeptical about the whole membership thing. You know, I keep on thinking, "Oh, I can do this myself," but I've kind of taken this a bit more seriously than any other sort of fly-by-night hobby that I've ever had because, obviously, I've got a lot of background in it.

And I think it was just...I had started teaching that one pupil and it was the same old story that you see on the website all the time, and you talk about it all the time, how he was just coming, he had a couple of pieces in his book to do, we did that. I told him that it wasn't quite right, this is how to fix this, that, and the next thing, and then he went away with and he came back next week and I was just thinking, "This is dull." And it's not actually what I want to do, it's not how I want to teach. There must be better ways. So I started having a nosey about the Internet and found yourself. I listened to...was it Amy Chaplin's podcast? The one about all the marketing.

Tim: The woman I interviewed, yeah.

Colin: Yeah, I saw your webinar and I thought, "This is interesting," And then, of course, you had your offer at the end and I thought, "Do you know what? I'm just gonna jump on this, take a bit of a leap of faith, see how it goes." And the rest is history, I suppose. it's been good so far. I've enjoyed it.

Tim: Yeah, and you've been one of the people in there that's just been so involved in everything. Like you're asking so many questions, you're responding to other people, you obviously did this challenge that we'll talk about in a sec, and I think that's partly the reason why you've got a lot out of it and you've had a lot of success, is that you've put a lot into it as well. And so, I wanted to thank you for the way that you've committed to it and joined and helped everyone else, too.

Were you gonna say something?

Colin: No, I was just gonna say that the four-week challenge thing, I mean, the forums and all the rest of it are great, but the four-week challenge was just...it turned things around completely for me. I'd already started reading and, as I said, listening to your podcast, getting some fresh ideas and listening to some of the people in the community who have got such a huge amount of experience and knowledge behind them that, as I said, it just changed the way I looked at things. So it's been great. The four-week challenge was brilliant.

Tim: So let's talk a bit about it. Can you explain to us...I mean, I could obviously talk about it, but from your perspective as someone that was involved for the first time, what was it all about? Could you explain it quickly to people that are listening who have no idea what we're talking about?

Colin: Yeah, sure. The four-week challenge, which was set up by yourself, it's a great way to set yourself specific goals to approach. One of the big things for me was that when you're overwhelmed with information about the million and one things that you could possibly do within thirty-minute lessons, you know, to try and enhance your teaching. It's really difficult to focus because there are so many great ideas out there.

So the four-week challenge just...everybody was asked to make very specific goals based around different areas of teaching and, well, sort of health, self-improvement and that sort of thing. And it helped me to decide, "Well, here are six or seven goals," whatever it was, "To solely target on for the next four weeks." It forced me to push everything else to the side and just get on with the work and, you know, do that, and it was so beneficial. It was really good. It was great.

Tim: That's brilliant. And, look, I joined in as well and got a whole load of stuff done that I wouldn't have otherwise. Things that, I don't know about you, but they're on my to-do list and they've been there for ages, but I just hadn't committed a time to do them and a date to do them by. And so, they kind of never get done. And I ended up finishing a whole lot of things, too, which was really productive.

If you could summarize it down to one thing, what was the biggest outcome for you and your teaching, do you think, from completing the challenge?

Colin: Put it down to one thing is probably quite difficult. I think...when it comes to the marketing side of things, I think that's probably where it helped the most, is where I realized that, you know, there's so much to do there. And that was my strongest...well, that's where I got the biggest outcome from.

For anybody who doesn't know, I mean, I only had the one pupil when I started with the Inner Circle. I've now got...well, I had nine at the end of the four-week challenge. It was a huge jump, and I've now got another one as well, and a waiting list. Because I work a proper job, I can't...which is a total inconvenience. But anyway, you know, I can't take on anymore just now, until I get my head fully around exactly what I'm doing with my teaching.

So that was it, and it all came about through sort of doing some work on Facebook. So that was the biggest thing for me, getting my name out there a wee bit and managing to get on top of any local competition as well, you know?

Tim: Yeah, absolutely. Is there much competition in your particular area?

Colin: I don't think it's particularly fierce. The more people I talk to, the more people I realize actually teach piano, but I never knew about any of them, and the only way I knew about the one that I've seen is through doing a search on Google for local piano teachers. And there's only one in Largs, according to Google. Or there was, but now there's two. But when I speak to other people, you know, they keep on talking about, "I used to go to such and such round the corner from you, and I used to go to such and such," and I'm like, "Who are these people?"

Tim: Where are they? Probably not online or anything.

Colin: No, but I'm delighted about that, obviously.

Tim: And I was delighted, too. To see someone go from one student to nine with a waiting list, I mean, it just blew my mind. And I know that that first webinar that you checked out was Amy's webinar on marketing, and it obviously got the juices flowing, got you thinking, and you've gone ahead and tried a whole lot of different stuff.

So, obviously, you're gonna be at a bit of a crossroads soon, potentially, with regard to your full-time work and the piano teaching. So look, I think this is a good time. Why don't we flip things around a little bit? I'd love actually to give you the chance to ask me some questions. I'm always asking questions, so your turn to ask me some questions. Have you got some questions about your teaching, your studio, your business, students, that I could potentially help you with?

Colin: Yeah, I mean, there's a few bits and pieces, and that was another good thing about the four-week challenge as well. Although I thought I had a whole bunch of things that I wanted to do, it wasn't until I actually focused on specific areas when I started to realize there was more important things and more, you know, that would help develop the studio more. But yeah, I've got hundreds of questions, but I'll just ask you a few, if that's okay.

Tim: Just before we start, too, you've made me think about another question for you. Can you remember a couple of your goals, too? Because I know...so for people watching, we split into pedagogy goals. So, teaching goals, technology goals, business goals, and health, and life, general fitness and that kind of thing goals. So there were plenty of people who were finally, you know, committing to going for regular walks, or swimming, or cycling, or getting a gym membership, or cutting back on bad foods, or whatever it was. And there was obviously people using technology and things like that. Can you remember a couple of your goals?

Colin: Yes. One of them was to get more involved on...with online work and, as I said earlier, I think that was one of the biggest turnaround point for me. I have a website, which is immature, I think is the best way to describe it at the moment. I'm still working on that, but that was it, really.

I didn't have a YouTube channel. I didn't even think about looking at Vimeo for videos. I don't think I had...oh, no, I did have a Facebook page, but it was primarily sort of focused around performance stuff, you know, just publishing pictures of events that I'd been involved in. So one of the goals for me was to try and start to turn the technology around to be slightly more teaching-focused. And as I said, there was a big achievement in that area. In fact, the whole reason that everybody can see me is because I ended up buying a webcam because of one of these...

Tim: Because of the challenge.

Colin: Exactly, yes. I ended up getting one of the Logitech cameras, so that was one of the things. I had other bits and pieces that, you know, that I wanted to do. I want to set an exam at the end of the year, so it kind of made me focus on some practice for myself. I also wanted to look into other methodologies, and I ended up having a wee look at some Dalcroze stuff, which I've started putting into lessons.

Tim: Oh, really?

Colin: Yeah. I mean, the kids love that stuff. It's almost as if half an hour's just not long enough when you're doing these things.

Tim: It never is, is it?

Colin: No, no. And I did other things as well. I started going to the gym a wee bit more, which was one of the health-based things. I tried to cut down on chocolate, which was okay for the four weeks, but...

Tim: Not so much now?

Colin: Not so much now. I've got water her because I thought it would be unfair of me to drink wine, since you're at 6:00 over there.

Tim: I should mention, I've just had a look back through my podcasts, too. For those who are interested, you mentioned Dalcroze eurhythmics, which is kind of movement and how that can be used in lessons. And that's podcast episode number 28, if anyone's interested in finding out more about that.

No, that's brilliant. You had a goal about wine as well, I think, which kind of shocked everyone because, you know, we all couldn't believe that someone could stop drinking wine. But then you were like, "No, no, no, I'm not stopping wine."

Colin: No, no, no. Just cutting back. I'm just down to four bottles a day now, I'm okay. It's fine.

Tim: It's what you do up in Scotland, right?

Colin: Aye, a lot of the time.

Tim: Oh, dear. I was actually...I don't think you know, I taught at Gordonstoun school in Scotland for a semester, I think. Do you know Gordonstoun?

Colin: No, I was just going to say, "Where's that?"

Tim: Near...I flew from Glasgow. It's near Aberdeen, on that coast. And it was amazing, it's a school that was all about out...when I was doing a lot of outdoor education. So they're what they call a round-square school, which sounds crazy, but it's a group of really...the school's really focused on outdoor and service and that kind of stuff. So, there you go, I've explored a bit of that part of your country.

Colin: That's good.

Tim: All right, let's get back to the questions. Fire away. What can I help you with?

Colin: So the first thing I wanted to say, and I've mentioned it already, is that my website. As I said, it's quite immature. It's just really there at the moment just to be, you know, to have a presence, if you like. I don't necessarily know that I've had much contact through there.

I do have one person on the waiting list that contacted me through having the website and then putting that on Google Business, and they managed to get in touch with me that way. But just now, there's not a lot of blog posts on it, there's not a lot of pictures on it, and I think I just need to, you know, get some direction when it comes to the website.

Tim: Cool. So, look, I think you're actually next on my list of website critiques. So each month in the forums, as you know, but to let everyone know, I give a website critique. So I actually film myself using someone's website and give you ideas. Not being a website master, but someone that's been involved in it for a long time. And I think the thing that I have to tell you and everyone about websites is that they're continually evolving, and don't give yourself a hard time. The fact is you've got something up there with your contact details and information about you. You're a step ahead of many, many teachers. So, you know, good on you for doing that, and it can only get better as you refine things. So I'll definitely be checking it out this...end of this month and give you some feedback on that.

But I think you were asking about blogs, and so, I guess my question would be...you know,having a blog, or regular updates on a website, is brilliant because people can go there and I'll see that there's new information coming up all the time. But the question you probably need to ask yourself is who is the audience for the blog? So, would you be writing articles for parents or students? Would you be writing for other teachers to give them some ideas of performance things you've been doing, or I don't know what it is. Have you thought about who you might be writing for?

Colin: Alright. Can I be honest?

Tim: Yeah.

Colin: No.

Tim: No? Okay.

Colin: I don't want to go down the line of speaking to other teachers, if you like. So the likes of the stuff you do yourself, you know, is great for where I am, but I think I more want to look at having information for students, potentially people who want to start playing the piano or have been playing for a while maybe. You never know where you can pick things up. I think they would be my primary focus.

Potentially some hints and tips because, I mean, one of the things I've noticed over the last few months of teaching is the importance of the sort of parental guidance and help at home. Because even if they can't play, it doesn't matter if they can't play. The level that some people are starting at, you know, it's impossible to not pick up some of the earlier method stuff. So I think I'd quite like some of that stuff as well, some positive reinforcement things. You know, things like that to help the kids along.

Tim: That's great. Yeah, I'd think about questions that you get asked by parents that might want to have lessons with you. When they ring you up or email you, they might ask, I don't know, "What piano do I need for my student," or, "What if my student's already been learning for three years? What if she only plays pop music?" Maybe some of these questions. Perhaps you could write articles that answer those questions for parents. That could be a good kind of focus, potentially.

And I think coming up with articles, one of the best ways I come up with articles is just to go by what people ask me, the questions I get asked either in person or by email, and just writing them. Because if one person's asking them, chances are someone else will be. And just capturing them.

So I, even last night...and as part of the last four-week challenge, I committed to not using my phone in the bedroom, but it hasn't lasted, I'm afraid. And so, thanks to Joyce who did the productivity webinar that's on the site, I use an app called Asana. And just last night I was doing some reading, and I wrote down a new blog post that I want to write about...it was an education book, but it gave me the idea of writing eight things to look for in today's piano studio, or a modern piano studio, something like that.

And so, I just have this huge list of things. Anytime an idea comes to me, it could be any time of the day, I just write it down. And so, I'd encourage you to do the same thing. And I think the more you start reading and being aware of those kinds of questions that you're asked, and the other blogs that you read, too, you'll get plenty of ideas coming through. And you might not hit your audience first time, by the way. I used to write things for students when I first started. Schools. I used to write about my own performances. So, you know, it has refined over time, it's kind of narrowed in focus.

Colin: Thanks.

Tim: No worries. In fact, if you want, I've got a list of...I keep a list of all this on a Google Doc. I could pop it up in the forums for you, if you want, and other people could share from it, too.

Colin: Yeah, that's a good share. Yeah, brilliant. Cheers.

Tim: All right. Question two, if anything else.

Colin: Question two. So one of the things I'd like to do, and I think it's good for the kids, and it's the thing that I love the sound of, is recitals. I think it's a great opportunity, especially from the early stages or early-ish stages, to get involved in some sort of performance, even if it's to tiny audiences of half a dozen or, you know, twenty or thirty, Just anything just to get people's sort of performance juices flowing. This is definitely something that, you know, you have to just get used to. It's one of those things, "Well, if you want to perform, it's something you have to get used to," and I'd like to do it.

However, the flipside of that is, currently with nine or ten students, I don't know if that would be enough to have a recital. Or if I did, could you call it a recital if it was only 20 minutes long? What sort of stages do you get, you know, your students involved? If they're still in book one, for argument's sake, you know,are they ready to do a recital? I don't know. It's an unknown thing to me at the moment. What do you think about that?

Tim: I think the answer's really easy. I would say yes, go for it. I do recitals for my students, absolutely, and I've done small ones and I've done big ones. So I think nine students is great. And let's say 3 of them can't make it, even if you had 6 and they each brought 2 parents, you've got an audience of 12, and I think that's totally fine. It's not about the size or the quality of music, really. It's just about the experience and getting people together.

And I think you've got a great advantage in a small group because you could potentially make it a real little community event, where everyone brings some food, and afterwards the kids can all muck around on the piano and eat some food, and the parents can have a glass of wine afterwards or something like that. I think it's almost...you're in a good spot. I'd really enjoy it while it is small, that you could have this great community feel.

And kids can play music at any level. My only kind of thought with that is if they are playing something that's a little five-note melody, I'd encourage you to play along with them. Like, do a duet with them and maybe get them to play a couple of pieces because they are so short.

Colin: That's good, thanks. Because the method I use just now is the piano pronto stuff, and it's got loads of...and I do that with them all the time. I think they thoroughly enjoy it when I make mistakes.

Tim: Oh, yeah, absolutely.

Colin: And I don't know if I miss half of what they're playing half the time because I'm so focused trying to get what I'm doing right. But it's a great thing and you see them change over time. Because the first time you do a duet with a student who's new, it's mind boggling to them, and then they begin to grow to like it. And it just makes their tunes, as you said, if it is just a five-note melody, or three, or two, or whatever stage they're in, then it just brings music to life for them a wee bit.

Tim: Absolutely. And those accompaniments are often...they're pretty straightforward, but you can make them so musical, not by adding necessarily anything, just by the way you play them and the emotion and the passion that you put into them. Even if it's really, really simple, the kids love it. And the parents just love seeing their student...their child play. So I'd definitely start doing recitals. Worth every minute.

Colin: That's good. I have to take a note of that, two seconds.

Tim: [sneezes] Excuse me, sorry. I should have muted my microphone, I apologize.

Colin: It's all right. As long as I don't catch a cold over the mic, I'm fine.

Tim: You'll get an Australian cold, you don't want one of them.

Colin: They're killers.

Tim: That's right.

Colin: So I think another thing for me...well, I'm gonna flip it around. I only had four questions for you. I'm gonna ask one first and it's sticking in a sort of teaching thing.

As I said, I use Piano Pronto. I think it's great. I thoroughly enjoy it. Their written work is short and snappy for the kids, so they're not getting dragged into huge amounts of theory at the early stages, and they seem to quite enjoy it sometimes, strangely. But as I read around, I start to see more methods that I quite like the look of. Like, one of the examples was My First Piano Adventure books. I quite like the look of them and I haven't used them.

Now, if you were to find a new method, what would your approach be? Would you suggest just buying the book, having a look at it yourself, see how you got on? Or would you just throw it at one of the students and see how they enjoy it, and go from there? What's your kind of approach?

Tim: That's a great question, and this actually happened just this year. I tended to use two different methods, either Piano Adventures for younger, or for older kids, Piano Pronto, like you're using. And then I came across at the conference in America, Piano Safari, and I'd sort of experienced it. I'd heard about it. I hadn't really dived into it, and then I went to a presentation about it and I thought, "Wow, this is fantastic for younger kids." It is what I think is the best method now, for me, anyway, because of the way it approaches improvisation. It includes rote, a lot of rote exercises, which I think are great. And the technique, like, it relates the movement of technique to animals, which is just great because kids get it.

But that doesn't answer your question. The question was more, you know, how do I approach a new one? I tend to explore it myself, so I'll actually play through it. I'll watch any videos that are online about it. I'll read about it as much as I can. But ultimately, you'll never know whether it's gonna work until you try it with a kid.

So you have to...I'd just say you test it out with one student. And in actual fact, the student that I tried Piano Safari with this year, I'd actually started on a different method. Hadn't got very far into it, and I actually said to the parents, "Look, I've just found out about this new method. I think it's going to suit Josh," my student, "Better. Do you mind if we try it out?" And so, we flipped across to it, and they were more than happy to do that.

The other thing this method has...I'm not affiliate for it, I don't make any money by mentioning it, but I will say that one of the things I think that's really hard about the early beginning methods is if there is no reference online for parents, it can be really hard to know how to help their child practice. And one of the things that the Piano Safari guys have done is put videos up for how to actually practice a lot of their music, so parents can look at it or students can look at it. That's one of the things that I've judged methods by.

So yeah, I think just try it out, and if it's a new student, you don't need to worry about telling the parents, you just go with it. They're not gonna know whether it's the usual method that you use. And if you wanna to try it out with someone else, you wanna flip them over to it, then I'd just have a conversation with the parents.

But it's so good to keep exploring new ideas. It's great that you're asking this question. This is great that you're looking at them all, and I wouldn't be surprised if my...I'll keep looking around. If something better comes along, something new, I'll definitely check it out.

Colin: Aye, that is a good thing. There is always new stuff appearing. It's funny to see, actually, I remember when I was a kid, I used John Thompson's books.

Tim: So did I.

Colin: They're still on the shelf, to this day.

Tim: It is amazing that they're still there. Well, good on him or whoever's collecting his royalties, that's for sure.

Colin: Absolutely.

Tim: I was gonna say...what was I gonna say? I was gonna say something else as well. Oh, yeah. I'd always encourage to supplement methods with other things, as I'm sure you do already, given what I've heard of you talk about in the forums. But throwing in some rote pieces if the method doesn't include it, which just means, you know, helping kids learn something by not having to read the music, or doing some improvising, or throwing in the odd bit of sheet music from somewhere or other. I think it's all great, really good to do.

Unfortunately, I know there are some teachers who stick to a method book, and when they've finished that method book, they start method 1B, and then they go to method two. And then three, and four, and then when they finish it, they don't really know what to do. But I'd just use it as a base.

Colin: Aye, no, that's great. Thanks.

Tim: Does that help?

Colin: Yeah, absolutely, because one of the things that I don't spend any time on just now is improvisation, and I'm so keen to get it in there because it's a weak spot of mine. Put music in front of me, I'm fine. Take the music away and I'm a trembling wreck. So yeah, it would be good to start teaching it to help myself get more comfortable with it, you know?

Tim: Yeah, Paul's been putting up some good resources in the forums. I'm not sure if you've had a chance to check them out. Really, really good. He has some really basic ideas, but just great ones to get started with, so I'd explore them. If you're not sure where they are, let me know. I'll send you a link to them.

Colin: All right, brilliant. Thanks.

Tim: I reckon I've got time for one more.

Colin: All right. Brilliant, yeah. I mean, hopefully, this won't be too in-depth. So this is more from my perspective. As I mentioned earlier, there's only so many students I can take on, you know, before I start interfering with my work. And obviously, my work's the one that pays the mortgage and all the rest of it, so that's a very awkward point where you get to that stage where, "Do you want to flip over or do you want to just continue doing this?"

And working 80, 90-hour weeks, I don't know if I'm that keen on it. I enjoy teaching, you know, but I don't know if I enjoy spending that amount time in front of either a computer keyboard or a piano keyboard. So I think I'd like to look into a wee bit more as, you know, looking at sort of passive income. And I just wondered if you had any thoughts or approaches on a good place to start with getting things out there that you could let tick away in the background? I'm not, obviously, looking to satisfy my income and all that, but it's just something that can help me push towards that sort of music career.

Tim: So just going back a step, what is your current work outside of the piano?

Colin: I work in Barclays bank. I don't really work in the finance side, I work in the IT side of it.

Tim: Okay. So you've got some good background in tech?

Colin: Yes, I'm certainly not afraid of it when it comes to using it. I'm afraid of it because everybody who knows me thinks I know how to fix every single thing on a computer.

Tim: Yeah, no, I totally understand. I reckon this is a great question, and I know a lot of people are going to relate to it. So it's really important, and I guess the other question is, is full-time teaching, or a full-time music career, a goal? Could you see yourself doing that?

Colin: I would certainly like to. I've got this strange...I quite like the job security. Going self-employed is something that I'm reasonably nervous about. I don't necessarily know if I do have any more or less security working for somebody like Barclays or not, but what I feel quite comfortable with just now that is if there was a chop and they decided to get rid of, you know, a whole bunch of redundancies, and if I was on that list, then at least I'm already going with the music and I've got something I can fall back on, should I not be able to get another job in that line. So I think that's my current position, where I'd like to know that if...

Tim: If you were made redundant.

Colin: ...if I got into trouble, that I've got something reasonably chunky to fall back on, you know, and I could just slip into that.

Tim: And it could then grow, hopefully.

So, I think it's really sensible you're looking at, or considering, ways to potentially make some income without more hours and I think many music teachers could benefit from thinking the same way. So I think that's right on the money because ultimately if we're always paid for the hours that we work, we're just going to be working more and more hours to make that money. So if you can leverage it somehow online, I think it's great.

What I'd suggest you potentially do...the other people, and there's quite a few of the Inner Circle members sell online, either courses or eBooks, about music. And I often tell the story of Tracy Selle, who's one of the members and who I've spoken about before at conferences, who just said to herself, "Look, I'm a piano teacher, I love what I do, but I've just had to move." Her husband moved to a different state and she had to restart from the beginning. She said, "What can I do?" And she thought, "You know what? I'm going to interview some people online about teaching, and record it, and I'm gonna package it up and sell it as a training."

And she did that and was really successful from it, and I think she's onto about three or four of these packages of online training webinars, they are, she calls them. Which is exactly what they are, on particular topics. So having an actual topic, recording some interviews in the case of this, and then packaging it together and selling them online.

And she had never done it before and she had no technical knowledge about it, and she just went and gave it a shot. And I love using her as an example when I talk about entrepreneurship in music because it's just so...it's just something that people can do these days with...

Colin: Inspirational.

Tim: Yeah, and it's really doable. Of course, the biggest question is what would you write? What would you sell? And that's probably a bigger question than we could answer now, but I'd go back to trying to think about, and it doesn't necessarily...for you, it might be something to do with banking, finance, IT, or something like that. I don't know. It's just trying to find that question, the questions that people have, the need they have for information and whether you could solve that with either some courses that you present or some written material.

I think that's probably where I'd get you to start thinking, and if you've got any questions, then let's start talking about it in the forums, and we can link Tracy and some of the other people into the discussion, because I know they'd be more than happy to help you out with it.

Colin: Yeah, that's great. What's Tracy's surname?

Tim: Selle. S-E-L-L-E.

Colin: Alright.

Tim: And I know she's more than happy to help out, and I know she's more than happy for us to mention her. And her music, her webinars, I'm sure if you just Google them...I haven't got the link to it, but we'll pop them in the show notes anyway, for anyone that's interested. They're great teaching resources.

Colin: Alright, good. Yeah, thanks.

Tim: No worries. All right, well, look, I think we'd probably better wrap it up. I hope that's been useful for you.

Colin: Definitely, it's been great.

Tim: We've been able to solve...or start answering some questions. But thankfully, you know, you've got a great resource in the community, so hopefully you'll be able to jump in there and we can keep the conversation going. It'll be good fun.

So, look, I think let's summarize. I saw you taking some notes there, which is brilliant. Have you got a couple of action steps that you're gonna try and take in the next few days, do you think, after our talk?

Colin: Well, I need to get my finger out because I've not put my goals down for the next four-week challenge. That was very deliberate that I haven't done it yet, and I know it starts tomorrow. That doesn't leave me much time, but I wanted to have this conversation, you know, get some questions answered and speak to you to get some ideas.

So yes, I do have some stuff to do, definitely. I don't know if the recital thing will happen just now, but I'm definitely interested in, you know, getting a more complete set of work for the students to work with, including the rote stuff and the improvisation stuff that you mentioned, and trying to bring in more methods and do some more investigation into past types of income and website development. That's gonna be my focus for this challenge, anyway. Maybe not huge amounts of work on the website, but just something to make it a bit more attractive.

Tim: Yeah, brilliant. And also, remind me, I'll send you some links and we'll share them with others, too, some of the podcasts and blogs that you might like in regard to that kind of passive income online area, too. There's some great resources out there, which has helped me a lot with what I'm doing, too. So yeah, chuck up a forum post and I'll respond to that for you.

All right, that's brilliant. Well, if people are interested in lessons with you and happen to be in Largs, Scotland, where do they go to find your studio? Where do they find you online?

Colin: I've got the website. It's just colinyoung.scot, which is just S-C-O-T at the end. Bit of a new domain extension, but it's up there.

Tim: Yeah. Go, Scotland.

Colin: We've got a whole four people using the Internet in Scotland. And actually, I've got "Colin Young Musician" on Facebook, as well. So that's the two main places. I do have an Instagram account as well, which is...I've got no idea where I came up with this name, but it's "sarkywalrus," which is just S-A-R-K-Y walrus.

We were sitting with not a lot to do in the office one day, trying to think up interesting names for accounts, and that one won. Too much coffee. So that's me.

Tim: All right, we'll pop your links in the show notes. Colin, it's been awesome to chat with you. Thank you so much for all that you contribute to the community, and I can't wait to see what the next sort of six months has in store for you. It's gonna be exciting.

Colin: Very. Well, thanks for your help and to everybody else in the community. They've been great.

Tim: Brilliant. All right. Well, have a great night tonight, and we'll see you when the challenge starts tomorrow.

Colin: Cheers. Thanks, Tim.

Tim: Thanks, Colin.

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About the Author

Tim Topham has one mission in life: to stem the tide of children quitting music lessons by helping teachers maximise student engagement through creativity, technology and innovation. Tim hosts the popular Creative Piano Teaching Podcast, blogs regularly at timtopham.com and speaks at local and international conferences on topics such as pedagogy, business, marketing and entrepreneurship. Tim has been featured in American Music Teacher, The Piano Teacher Magazine, Californian Music Teacher and EPTA Piano Professional. Tim holds an MBA in Educational Leadership, BMus, DipEd and AMusA.