How to Add Value to Group Music Classes | EP 188

The Pros and Cons of Private Lessons

I think we all can agree that private lessons are a great way for a kid to learn music. It’s a high-value offering. You probably view it that way, and your customers probably view it that way.


Perhaps 99.9% of prospective students that reach out to you are specifically interested in private lessons. The problem with private lessons, of course, is they yield a low-profit margin.


Private Lessons Equal Lower Profit Margins

Fifty percent of the sale per student is probably going to cover your payroll expense. Your music teachers can demand high hourly pay. If you can’t pay them well, they’re going to either go to another music studio. Or if they’re ambitious enough, they’ll just start teaching out of their house and make even more money per hour.


That’s certainly how I started. If you own a music school, you have a lot of fixed expenses. Each student is helping contribute to those expenses. You’ve got rent, utilities, taxes, office supplies, and maybe a cleaning service. Perhaps you have a lease on your printer and common area maintenance fees. After the teacher is paid and money is set aside for your fixed expenses, you’re not left with that much money.


Obviously, the bigger your school is, the lower contribution each student has to make to those fixed expenses. At the end of the day, the private lesson business model yields a low-profit margin.




How to Add Value to Group Music Classes


1. Maximize Enrollment and Profits

You have to have a high-volume business to be profitable. That puts a lot of pressure on a music school owner. You have to keep getting more and more students. You have to retain students for longer. Music schools getting 300- to 500-student count range really start becoming profitable.


2.  Fine Tuning Your Sales Pitch

Group classes are another story. They’re considerably more profitable. Four kids enrolled in an hour-long class only require an hour of payroll expense. If those same four kids were all enrolled in 30-minute private lessons instead of having an hour of payroll, you’d have two hours of payroll that you’d have to pay. The problem with group classes is that most people aren’t interested in group lessons. They call specifically for private lessons, so if you try to pitch them your group class, they’re often not interested.


3. Lower Rates For Groups Can Send The Wrong Message

Most music schools lower their rates for group classes to make it more attractive, and for the more budget-conscious parent, that makes a lot of sense. Group classes can also be appealing to a parent that just wants to get their kids started out. Maybe they’re not so sure if their kids are really going to connect with the instrument, so the group class might be an attractive offering.


4. Help Parents Overcome Misconceptions about Group Lessons

These parents typically view the group class as a lower-value offering. Perhaps you do, too, and your pricing reflects that lower value. Most parents want to give their child what’s best, and they’ll be drawn to the higher-priced option private lessons. Besides, private lessons fit the narrative that they already have in their mind that private lesson is the best way to learn how to play an instrument.


5. Focus on The Unique Experience of Group Lessons

So many music schools I talked to really struggle with how to position their group classes. To truly be successful with group lessons, you have to position the group class as something that’s equal to or even of greater value than the private lesson, which then means you have to offer a group class that provides an experience that can’t be replicated in their private lesson and experience that’s clearly more attractive to a parent.


6. Ensemble VS Group Lessons

I was able to do that in my music school by focusing on turning the group class not into a group lesson, but into an ensemble experience where kids learn how to play an instrument, but they’re doing it as a group, not as a rock band.


7. Highlight Peer Interaction in Group Classes

A proper rock band class entails kids that at least they have some basic skills so that they can play easy-to-play rock songs. I tried doing that with beginners, and it didn’t work. Also, I developed classes for kids that didn’t know how to play an instrument at all. I developed teaching methods that would allow a teacher to work with kids on different instruments and teach them all at the same time. The basic mechanics of the guitar, piano, and drums—you can’t do that in a private lesson. There’s no social component in the private lesson. The social component is between the teacher and the student, but there’s no peer interaction in the private lesson.

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