How to Manage and Empower Your Music Teachers with Jared Erlinger | Ep 44

September 27, 2019

Empower Your Music Teachers

Jared Erlinger’s pathway to music studio ownership is a unique story. He started out as a teacher at my music school. He identified a need in the studio and received a promotion as a result. In 2019 he bought my studio.

 

Jared’s competitive edge is that he experienced a business from truly every aspect. From instructor to an administrator, to manager, to the owner. This experience allowed him to see my studio from every perspective. It provided him with insight and sensitivity that allowed Jared to better manage and empower your teaching staff.

 

The following are quotes and the takeaways from this episode. 

 

How To Get More Students With the Telephone

The more you study sales and you study copy, you realize that this actually heightens your love for what you do. It really does. What I learned initially is that someone would call and say, “Hey, we want to sign up for lessons.” “Great lessons are X amount. What’s a good day for you?” You weren’t really making a connection there with the parent. You were failing to recognize why that parent called you initially. I think that’s really the key to increase sales and the key to loving it and enjoying those phone calls. I don’t know about you. I used to dread it. You’d come in and see that you have 10 new people to call and you’re like, “Man, I’m going to be stuck on the phone all day.”

 

How To Connect With Your Customers

You connect with those parents and they love their kids, that’s why they’re calling. They want to do something great for their kids and whether it’s music or a different activity, the fact that they reached out to you shows that they have that level of caring that you have. So when I’m having a sales call, I always like to try and identify that thing that I think will really resonate with that person. If you have a young child be cognizant of the fact that these parents are trying to find lots of different activities. A lot of them are new parents, so they’re kind of new to this ballgame. They’re trying to figure out which activities they should be putting their kids into.

 

Music Lessons for Young Children 

That’s why Kidzrock licensing is such a great idea. The parents call because their kid is interested in music and they don’t know what to do about it. This program is a great way for your child to learn how to play an instrument. They get to rotate on several different instruments with some of the exposure to all these different things. As a parent, you’re always kind of wondering “Okay, I’ve got a five-year-old, do I really want to invest in buying a $300 guitar?” You probably don’t because the day before your son said he wanted to be an astronaut and your daughter said she wanted to be a doctor. Knowing if they’re going to commit to this as a hard thing. You’re letting them know this is a way to try this out and what this is going to do for your child.

 

Kids Learn  More Than Music

I guarantee you that your child is going to be better off throughout the rest of his or her life as a result of this. We’re going to start learning some socialization skills. This is a big thing that the band programs, in particular, can really help a kid with. Plenty of musicians are shy and introverted. We also get a lot of kids on the spectrum who have trouble communicating verbally with other students. By putting them into this band setting, it’s a way for nonverbal kids and verbal kids to be able to learn how to express themselves and their emotions with their peers. We’ve got several kids who are on the spectrum who have a hard time in school. They have a hard time making friends, but when they come into the band, it’s this totally different experience. They’re all on the same level and are all working together for this common goal. That’s one of the things I bring up when I’m talking to parents.

 

Empowering Kids Through Music

Depending on the age of your kid they might want to learn about responsibility. Music is a discipline. It’s one of the few skills that people hone for their entire life. The physical demands aren’t the same as with a sport. People play music until they die. What other activity are you going to get your kid into that they’re going to thank you for the rest of your life? Here’s an example. I took classical piano lessons and I struggled at times to practice and my mom and I would get into fights about it. My teacher and I would also get in fights about it, but my mom kept me in it and I’m so grateful that she did. I just saw her last night and told her how much I loved that she forced me to stay in music. I’m truly grateful because my whole career is based around the love that I developed when I was six years old. How many other people learn something when they’re six, say that’s what they want to do for a living and then actually get to do it? I just laid out a master class on selling music lessons.

 

How To Hire a Music Teacher

I conduct a video interview followed by an over the phone interview if I like the person. And then if that goes well then do it personally. The telephone interview is usually 10 minutes long. I set up questions to accommodate this length. If the in-person interview goes well then I’ll check hand-rolled referrals. If that goes well, and I feel like I want to hire this person, I bring them in and have them play for me. Then I have them do musical evaluations. I had one candidate teach my mom and then my studio. I asked all these questions and I had her do this the same day that she did her musical evaluation. She only came in for two actual interviews and then I had her play and then teach. That was followed by checking with my customers to see how it’s going. Then, once everything goes well for a year, I’ll do an annual review.

 

Interview Questions for Music Instructors 

I have some set questions for that first ten-minute interview. First question, what’s your availability? Have you ever played in a band? Why do you think you’re a good fit for the job? While they’re answering the questions, I’m listening to how they’re communicating and thinking about my initial impressions of them. Once the interview goes well, I might have a parent interview them for 15 minutes. The problem is that there are no interview questions that show whether or not they’re great with kids.

 

What To Look For When Hiring a Music Instructor 

Who’s your favorite musician or songwriter? You’re going to hit them with a hard question that’s coming in a few seconds and I think every musician loves to talk about who their favorite musician or composer. Get them talking about music and make that connection with them. The next question helps you get a sense of their educational philosophy. Have you ever been in a position where there was something that you had to go up against? What did you find challenging about it? Have you ever been in a position of leadership? While they’re answering, listen to how they communicate, how they convey their passion, because that is something that they’re going to have to do in the lesson. Next question: What hopes do you have for love? That question is another one to just get them to open up and talk.

 

Calling and Checking References

Let’s say that in-person interview goes great. Now you’re moving towards hiring. I would call their references and ask, “What did this job candidate do for them? How long did they work there?” I want to make sure that what’s on the resume matches up. I asked them to have more describe the kind of work they did and get their overall impressions of this person. I don’t tell them about the job that I’m considering them for. If the candidate makes it past the reference check, I’m going to have them come in for a musical evaluation.

 

How To Manage

I think it took me a little bit to really come into my own in terms of how I would approach the staff. We’ve really tried to build this sense of community amongst the staff. You know, I think it helps, because now if the teacher needs to miss a lesson because they’ve got a gig or something like that, one of their other staff members is going to fill in for them because they care about this person. They want to hop in because they want to do it for a friend. That’s a great thing to be building in the staff.

 

Manage and Empower Your Music Teachers

I reached a point once I moved into management where I wasn’t just one of the guys anymore. It took me a little bit to really find my voice in this position, especially when dealing with negative criticism. When I initially started, I just wanted to be everybody’s friend. And I think that’s a very natural reaction for a lot of us. We’ve all come to this place where we decided, “Hey, I, I could make a little bit more money if I did something in a corporate setting, but I’ve decided that I want to better the world.” I think that really resonates with everyone. Everyone who’s ever taught music is doing it because they think it’s the right thing. This is a tradition that goes back hundreds of years.

 

Beethoven had students and was one of the greatest composers of all time. To think that just because you write music doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be passing that along to the next generation. When I made the transition from just letting things slide to being more of a sticker, it was because I learned that I wasn’t actually helping them by doing this. There were times where I’d even try and make excuses for them, but it wasn’t helping the teacher by doing that. They built up bad habits and you can build bad habits and when you don’t get criticized, you think that what you’re doing is okay.

 

The Problem with Keeping an Employee File

That was a faulty premise. Telling people that I should leave all this stuff for the annual review period. It builds resentment, because every time you go back in that document, you’re seeing everyone’s little faults. This is the fourth time this guy has been late. Or this is the second time that a parent has said that they’re not giving notes or they’re criticizing their student too harshly. It would just bring up all these emotions in myself any time I opened that file up. A lot of times it wasn’t that big of a deal, and because I wanted to be everybody’s friend, I wasn’t helping them. I was avoiding this versus going, “Hey Jack, you know Suzette’s mom just said that she’d really like it if she could get some notes to practice at home. Can you do that?” That’s not a harsh comment.

 

I didn’t come down on them. I wasn’t saying anything about their character by doing this. It was initially as simple as, “Hey, I don’t know if you realize you’re not doing this thing.” From that person’s perspective, whenever you hear someone say something negative to you, you push back, because you think your character is under attack. However, if you do it quickly in the moment, then it won’t be a problem further down the road. If you start noticing trends though, that’s when you start really having to escalate your procedures with a staff member.

 

Working with Music Instructors 

The other day a teacher came to me a week before he needed off and said, “Hey, I’m going to be out all next week.” The policy states that you need to give me two weeks’ notice. We just said, “Hey man, I think we can work this out.” And I did work it out for him. I want to be there for him. I want to help them. This was his first time ever taking off, so maybe he just wasn’t well versed on the procedures. Part of that blame can fall onto me for that. I need to make sure that people know exactly what I expect of them. Rather than get angry at him for this, I just explained to him very simply that “I really need two weeks’ notice and I’ll let you know.

 

It’s not because I’m going to deny you taking time off. I think taking time off is good for you. It’s good for your soul, it’s good to get out of the work environment to go recharge. But the reason we have this policy is that you have new students who are supposed to start next week. And if you had given me proper notice, I would’ve had this person starting when you are back. Now, the negative consequence of this is that another teacher is going to be getting that new student because they have the opening and it doesn’t make sense for this kid to have their first lesson with one teacher and then switch them off to another the next week.” He learned his lesson that way and that Jared is fair. He’ll give me the time off, but because I didn’t do this, this is the consequence of my actions.

 

Employees Are People Too

I didn’t lead with anger and thought of how I want to be treated. Things pop up in our personal lives that are bigger than our jobs. That’s just the reality. We all have families that we care about and they come first. It’d be easy to be upset about someone not following the procedure. Then they call an hour before their lesson saying, “Hey, they just found out that their grandma’s sick and they’re distraught over it.” I could be a stickler and say, “The policy is that you’ve got to let me know by noon because I need to get subs if you’re out this day.” But think of this person as a real person. You know, if my grandma was sick, I would hope that my coworkers and friends would step in to help me out.

 

I had a situation the other day where someone had a family emergency and I told him “Family’s the most important thing in life. Don’t worry about it. I’ll take all your students today. We’ll figure this out man. You know, go be with family, because that’s really what’s important.” I gave up my afternoon to go sub for this teacher. I think they know that I care about them as a result of this and, and that’s going to make them more likely to want to help me out when I need someone to assist me, whether it’s in the office, at a concert or teaching.

 

Balancing Leadership with Being Liked

I think the human desire is wanting to be liked even by those that you manage. How do you balance that need to lead, to be firm, to be definitive, but also to be liked? You know, not everyone loves the boss all of the time. No matter who’s in charge, you’re going to get push back. We all those days when we don’t want to work. That’s pretty common. I think the big thing is treating everyone with respect and always having open communication. I know those are clichés, but when it comes to what I expect from my staff, that’s really common.

 

Helping Children Play What They Love

People assume that we automatically knew how to sell a music class set to parents when the reality is that we went through years of really tuning that part of the craft. You and I were on the same page with what this parent was expecting when they’re coming in, but unless you talk to the staff about it, there’s no way for them to know this as well. When I’m pitching to students or parents, explain why they should come here, I emphasize that we want your child to play the music that they love. We want them to fall in love with their music and have these instructors who can really be mentors for their kids. If you’re a parent, you think that sounds great. They’re probably thinking, “Oh yeah, I played Chopin while I was a kid and I hated it. I didn’t connect with my teacher. I went to like an old woman’s house that smelled kind of like cat pee. We didn’t really have a relationship outside of lessons.”

 

Mentoring Students

You can have a very unique role as a music teacher where you fall in between being a parent and a teacher. I have kids who come to me asking questions that I’m sure they don’t feel comfortable asking their parents, such as “Hey, my best friend just says that she’s in love with this boy, and I’ve had a crush on that same boy for a long time.” We’ve all gone through that and I can talk to them about it. Becoming a mentor was something that I really learned to love. That’s something that I would sell to parents. To bring this all kind of back, initially, we weren’t telling teachers that this is how we’re selling them to the parent. You do have this unique relationship, where you can be there for the kid, ask them questions about their life, and find music that they really connect to. If I’m telling a parent that they’re going to play the music that they love, but the first month of lessons, all they’re doing is playing scales out of a book, I didn’t fulfill my promise and the teacher didn’t fulfill my promise. That’s on me for not explaining what the students expected.

 

 The Challenge of Managing Employees That Are Friends 

Do you feel like now as you’re approaching 30 that it is helpful for managing the staff? Yeah. When I started managing, I was close friends with a lot of people on the staff. It makes it harder to tell a friend that they’re messing up than it is to tell someone where you have a little bit of a barrier. I still see staff members out on weekends. I still like going to their shows, but that, that friendship really caused some issues with how I manage people. I know at least on one occasion there was a time where I had to have you step in because I didn’t feel comfortable criticizing a certain individual because this individual is in a band with me. Having that gray area of criticizing someone that I hung out with all the time was really hard.

 

Age and Experience Matter

I think, you know, the age for me right now plays a role in this, as does experience. I think especially with new teachers, I can tell them this is what I’ve been doing and it might not necessarily be exactly how you should do it. You need to find your own voice as a teacher. This is what I’ve done over the years. It’s just something I find helpful and the more that I can share this knowledge with them. This just came up a couple of weeks ago. I’ve got a teacher who for the first time, he’s getting to teach some of the older bands, which he’s never done before. Managing a band of 14-15-year-olds is very different than managing seven-year-olds.

 

Teaching  Music to Young Kids Versus Older Ones

With seven-year-olds, the kids come in and a lot of them aren’t listening to a whole lot of music. So you say, “here’s your songs. This is what we’re playing.” You’re there to guide them by giving them this music to play. When he started managing the older band this year, he went in and he told all of these 15-year-olds, “here are the songs we’re playing.” And they pushed back, man. I realized, “Oh, I never explained to him that when I’ve taught this band before, I have each come in with a list of 10 songs that they want to play. And then we’re going to look at these songs together.” Each kid in the band is going to get to play a song that they chose and that’s going to help them feel ownership over their band and over their setlist because every single person, this band has played a role in creating that setlist. That was an easy thing that I had been doing for years. And I just like never thought about it as something that I should make sure other staff members are doing. Experience plays a large role in it and age plays a role in it.

 

Working Well With Long-Term Employees

I am now older than everybody on the staff with the exception of one person who’s a couple of months older than me. The two of us have been working together since we started. I have mutual respect for him. He respects me and we have a great back and forth. And honestly, it’s really easy because I don’t have to manage that guy at all. He just has to turn his timesheet in 100%. The thing I love about him actually recently he came to me and said, “Hey Jared, I noticed you’re running these Facebook ads online. I’ve actually been studying copy and Facebook ads and marketing over the past couple of years and I’m working with a couple of businesses now to help them with their ads. Would this be something that I could help you with?”

 

Getting Help with Promotions

That’s what you want. It means that Adam’s invested in this company. He’s helping me check out some new stuff that I’m doing, such as Facebook ads and leads. Before I always sent them to a landing page site. He’s helping me out with that. We’re going to the Taste of St. Louis this weekend. It’s a big fair in downtown St. Louis. All these restaurants come and they have a family zone. And Adam’s coming there and we’re running a musical petting zoo. We’re bringing a few kids with rock instruments and visitors can come in and we’ll show them a little bit of music either on the drums or the guitar at this fair.

 

When Music Instructors Quit

I learned with Jordan, the old instructor, the feeling of, “Oh my God, if they leave, it will devastate the school. Everyone’s going to leave.” There’s this fear of them quitting. I’ve learned that these teachers are super valuable. They bring the business to life, but you can bounce back from them leaving. And if Adam were to leave, there will never be another Adam. That’s like when Matt left, there’s never going to be another Matt and it hurts. I think it’s easy for the manager to lose their power or lose their authority when they feel as though they can’t do it without this teacher. When that teacher needs to be redirected, we’re fearful to do it out of fear of them quitting. We had a teacher, I think you were there when he was there where I didn’t want to reprimand him because I didn’t want him to quit. With that line of thinking, you lose that power and it’s not to the benefit of the business if you’re afraid to lead. You can’t be afraid to let somebody know, “Hey, here’s the expectation and you’re not meeting it.”

 

An Important Example About Discipline

To speak to that point about fear – we had a concert coming up and we let that fear of the extra pressure it would put on ourselves dictate how we discipline this instructor. This is something that I’ve thought about for a while now. How I could have handled the situation better. We told ourselves “let’s get through the concert” for probably two months. As a result, it hurt members of the staff and it hurt our productivity. Things were being said online and in-person that was totally unacceptable. Staff members shouldn’t be treating each other like that.

 

Sometimes Letting Someone Go Is for the Best

We all know as owners that if someone leaves, your life will get a little crazy for a bit because there’s a good chance that you’re going to have to step in and teach if you can’t get those students to other teachers. But does that really help your brand? Having someone who’s not fully committed and who can do what they want? I’m going to have a couple of weeks where I’m working late and I’m teaching and that means that I’m going to be up until midnight doing these other things, because I couldn’t do it during the day. But ultimately you’re going to have a better product. You have a better staff, you’re going to have a better school and you’re going to create better young students who are going to go out there in the world because they have good role models.

 

Hire Slow, Fire Fast

Don’t sell yourself short. Don’t take the easy way out. No one wants to have their whole week messed up because they had to fire an instructor without an available sub. JM has this code. He says he might’ve even shared it with you a while ago. He said, “hire slow, fire fast.” And I love that. I think we all have the tendency to hire too fast and fire too slow. When the writing is on the wall with an employee and we try so hard to save them because we don’t want to deal with the headache of firing them, we’re causing more harm than good. It brings us back to wanting to be liked because neither of us is jerks. I don’t really want to fire someone if I don’t have to. But I think that that desire to be liked really played a role in that. I never fired a teacher out of the blue. Dave and I would stew over a teacher for probably three to six months before we’d finally pull the trigger and fire them. I think everybody can relate to that and you’re just building that resentment in yourself. I would go home and just complain about this teacher to my now-wife or I’d call my dad just complaining about it. The situation just takes over your life. It’s toxic. When you catch yourself thinking about an employee at night for a negative reason like that, you know it’s time.

 

When to Fire an Employee

When you’re laying in bed, it’s one in the morning and you’re thinking about how angry and resentful you’ve had become, it’s time to let them go.  I was trying really hard to make that connection with an employee and direct him down the right path. I wanted him to succeed. I really wanted it to work because this employee was bringing a lot to the table as an educator but was butting heads with me. There was a power struggle going on. I do think we handled that well. Whenever you’re writing somebody up, you’re basically saying to them that you’re on the road to getting fired. Staying up late at night worrying about an employee and then the next day kind of going, “Oh, well maybe it’s me. No, maybe it’s him,” that’s bad.

 

Reevaluating Your Leadership and Making Adjustments

I’ve also learned that whenever you do need to let an employee go, you should really reevaluate your role and how you approach it. I’ve had it where sometimes it is your fault how an employee got to this point. You didn’t lay out your expectations clearly enough. Think about whether or not you gave this person every opportunity to succeed. Did you try and help them and train them when you thought that it was a salvageable case? A lot of times I think it’s a really great time to reevaluate if you’re training people the right way. It’s easy to just assume that they know everything on their own.

 

A great example is when I used to get mad all of the time at teachers for not responding to their emails. What I learned is I am on email all day. And I get home and I email and I’m at work and I email. This is a part of my everyday life, but it is not a part of theirs. When I would have a big thing that I needed to talk to about, I emailed them. I’d get mad when they didn’t reply, even though the subject said “please reply” and I put a read receipt so I could tell if they opened it. Eventually what I learned was to send a text message, saying “Hey guys, I sent an email out, please check it. Thanks.” And you know what? The staff is so much better about it.

 

You have to stick to your ground when you have things that you want as an owner, but at the same time, you have to learn to accommodate your teachers’ personalities as well and do what makes the most sense for everybody. I wasn’t helping myself by getting all mad that they weren’t replying to these emails when a simple text message, which they all respond to, was a very easy solution and it took me 20 seconds to do it. It puts everybody in a better place.

 

When Your Children Take Lessons

My son’s playing music and I want to hop in the room and see how he was doing, but it paralyzed me. Sometimes it’s like the instructor thinks that, “Oh my gosh, my boss is watching me this closely.” And then my kid quit and I was like, “I’ve really messed this up. If I can’t get a musician son to stay in here what am I doing wrong?” But then he came back and he’s a great student and I loved having him. I think we developed an awesome relationship. But just you know, the instructor believed that my coming in there put extra pressure on him. I understand that. I explained it to him as, “Jared, you’re a musician and I’m a musician. I’m a person. You’re a person. Why would my presence mean anything different? You’re not doing something bad right now.” I didn’t understand that dynamic.

 

Know When to Give a Compliment

We were in the midst of moving locations when I pulled an employee aside and said, “Devin, you’re like a really good band director. You just have this great way with kids.” And I pulled out a one-minute manager, Trek, and put my hand on his shoulder just for a second as I said that.

And then later he said, “Dave, I really appreciate it. What you said to me.” People need to hear that. You know? Had I been a better manager, I would’ve been more sensitive to what you might be thinking and feeling. It would have meant so much to you as a new employee to hear, “Oh, Jared, you really are doing great with these kids.” If you were to say that to Adam, the seasoned veteran would say, “Well, thanks for telling me that, but I know that I’m the man here.” It’s so important that our employees hear from us more so when they’re doing something right as opposed to doing something wrong.

 

Earning Respect from the Teachers

It’s the same thing about telling a parent that they’re doing a great job. Even a teacher like Adam, you know that that’s the easiest teacher to ignore. Giving positive feedback to your best ones because you’re not really managing them too much. You don’t have to work hard at it. Anytime I can bring something up that they did great, I like to tell them immediately on the spot. Also, any time that I get a note from a parent about a teacher, I like to share that with the employee.

 

Tell Jack “great job, Nina’s loving her lessons right now/. You’re absolutely killing it, dude. Keep up the good work.” By building this up the teachers respect you more. They’re going to feel appreciated and they’re going to feel loved both by you and by their student. And then when you do have to criticize someone, it makes it a little bit easier because you’ve got a bit of padding that you’ve been building up with this person and they know where they stand with you.

 

Know When to Scale Back on Teaching

As the owner, one thing that did happen is that I scaled back on my teaching a little bit. I have a couple of students who I’m having a hard time letting go of because I’ve been teaching them since they were seven years old and now they’re in high school. I’ve got Ethan. I was doing C and E and Sandler/ I have these four students right now that formed a band called The Troublemakers. You can look them up online.

 

They’ve got original songs out there. Their last bass player was amazing. This is a group I had worked with since I started and I realized as an owner that if I am devoting this much time to this band, all the other parents and students are not getting the chance to interact with me. These kids weren’t going to quit. That band is solid and they’re easy. It can almost run itself at this point. I had this heightened sense of ego, thinking, “Oh, well I have to be with them because I’ve been the one doing this the entire time.”

 

But, they’ve got a new teacher right now. They’re loving their new teacher, Gill. Honestly, I think it was probably time for them to hear another voice. After all, kids in school have new teachers every year. By having a lot of different people teach and educate you, you learn a lot of different opinions and viewpoints and many ways to approach a subject. That’s important. I’ve given up this band and the reason I did, was because I wanted to make myself more available to the students, to the staff, and to the parents.

 

Building a Rapport with Students and Teachers

Now, what I do is if I’m not greeting new students upfront, I like to walk around the school. I’ve made sure to do it in a very fun way. What I mean by that is I’ll come into the room and tell the teacher, “Hey man, I’m so bored upfront like you guys, mind if I jam with you a little bit?” The kids are like, “Yeah!” And they start cheering. I’ll walk in, headbang, and act and like a total goofball. The kids just think I’m a total weirdo, but they love it because they see my personality. I’m just there to have fun. Then after we play, I’m always sure to say, “Hey Gill, your band is killing it right now.” Those kids sound awesome.

 

I’ll say this in front of Gill and in front of the teachers because everyone then goes, “Oh, Jared thinks we’re cool. Jared thinks we’re doing great. He owns his school. We must be doing really well.”  I’m developing this fun atmosphere where they know Jared’s going to come in and we’re going to headbang and jump around and have a good time. I make sure to never criticize that teacher in front of that band or the individual students. The students need their teacher to be an authority figure and you can’t undermine their status.

 

When to Give Criticism

I can’t even think of something that would be so awful that you would need to pull the teacher aside. Maybe some terrible curse words in a song or something like that would warrant saying something in the moment. But you know, you need to wait, although you shouldn’t stew on it. Wait until the best time, when you and the teacher are alone, and say, “I noticed that you spent 25 minutes just helping the piano player out. Even though your guitarists in there are great, you need to be sure that you’re giving everybody equal attention.” When I’m in there, the teachers know I’m in there to have fun and, and oftentimes I just phrase it as, “Hey man, I’m so bored of doing phone calls or billing.” Then you come in and have a great time with them. I’m hoping this means that the teachers don’t feel like I’m watching them too closely.

 

Checking in Because You Love What You Do

If I go into your room, it’s basically for you to tell me if you need help with something. I can jump in and help a kid out on the guitar. I want you guys to know that I’m not doing this because I think you’re doing anything negatively. In fact, it’s the opposite. This is the reason why I own a music school – I love music, teaching, and working with students. That’s why I want to come there. I need to get that fix and stay connected to it. They know that’s the reason why I’m coming in. I’ve had discipline moments with teachers already, but it’s never in the moment.  It’s similar to when you go to a restaurant and find the owners out on the floor. They go to different tables and ask how everything tastes and how the service is. You don’t necessarily know who the owner is, but you can tell by how that person is behaving.

 

When to Stop Teaching Lessons

One thing that I really struggled with was the idea of teaching as well. On one hand, I’m thinking, “I’m saving on payroll because I’m teaching. However, in that 30-minute time slot, you’re only connecting really strongly with one person. By just walking around the school, you can connect with 15 people in that 30 minutes and you’re going to have a much greater impact on someone. If I had eight more hours a month or two more hours a week to do nothing but focus on nurturing the relationships that I currently have in the school and spend time on getting new customers, what kind of impact would that have? I think we all struggle with that balance of teaching and leading.

 

It’s All About the Music

This probably resonates with other owners too, is that you fear if you get out of teaching, you’re going to lose that spark. You’re not getting to play music and why are you doing this? Why do you have a music school if it’s not about the music? When I’m learning is that I have so much fun hopping into bands and hanging out with more kids. I get to play different songs all the time. I still get to connect with them and play music, but it doesn’t restrict me, into being completely unavailable for certain periods of the day. I do have a few students left and I think that’s something that as an owner you’ll have to figure out what works out well for you. You can be a little selfish as an owner. If there’s something you really want to do and you don’t want to give up, that can be okay. As long as you can find a way around this.

 

Hiring Office Help

For example, I have a young woman who helps me out on the weekends in the office. She’ll come in for a couple of days during the week as well. When I do have that small window where I teach, I’ll have someone there. Now she’s developing her own personality and her own relationships with the students. She’s in a marching band at a local university where she plays the trombone. One of the students was telling her, “Oh, they also play the trombone.” She wrote out Seven Nation Army on trombone for this fifth-grade kid. He just thinks it’s the coolest thing. What it comes down to is that you can get help if you still want to teach a student or two. I’m selfish in wanting to do that, but I’ve found a way to work around it and I’ve made sure that it’s not consuming the entire part of my day because I need to be there for those students.

 

Having the Time to Step In as Backup

If a teacher can’t make it to a class for some reason, if I don’t have anything scheduled, I can step in for that teacher. They appreciate it. I think that the parents see that I’m the one who’s going to sub for their kids. So they’re like, “Oh wow, this isn’t an unknown person. This is Jared. He clearly cares about the kids. He doesn’t want them missing a lesson. And he’s going to help them out with that.” It’s all about building those relationships with people. When you sub for a band that day, you’ve got five kids now that you can send those little emails home to that say “Hey, I worked with John today. It was really great to see his progress.” Whenever I did that, the parents always replied and they always thanked me for it. Those little touches go a long way.

 

Everyone Faces Similar Challenges

I really think that the listeners are going to get a lot out of this because we addressed a lot of the leadership challenges that people have. I hope it’s reassuring for other people to hear what you’re going through. That’s why things like this podcast or Facebook groups are important. I’ve met so many awesome musicians and music school owners around the country who I never would have connected with otherwise and know we’re all here for each other. We can bounce ideas off each other and take advantage of this technology. It sometimes gets lonely, because no one in your organization knows what it’s like to be the owner. Thankfully, we then become our own community and can learn from one another.

 

Relate Episodes

How to Hire a Music Instructor | Ep 42

How To Fire a Music Teacher | Episode 26

 

 

 

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