Closing the deal: Turning an inquiry into a committed student

Whether my studio is full to overflowing, or if there are a few gaps to be filled, my response to every new inquiry is the same. I’m happy. I’m enthused. I’m keen to learn more about this potential new student who shares a passion for music and the harp. But what does it take to turn this question about possible lessons into an inspired and motivated student who not only wants to learn the harp, but wants to learn from you.

It all starts the moment a possible student (known in the marketing trade as a ‘lead’) comes across your details. Whether it is through word of mouth, or some form of advertising, it is inevitable these days that a prospective student will check out your website, or a page on a teaching website, or even your social media pages.

The crucial thing for any advertisement or online presence that is targeted at students is that it is just that- targeted at students. While it is important to show the student (or sometimes more importantly the student’s parents) that you know one end of the harp from the other, any kind of blurb at this point should be about what you can do for the student.

Yes, it’s great that you have a Masters degree in performance, but can you engage little Beryl who has never learnt music before? And that freelance work with the local symphony is also great, but what the student really wants to know is you can help them learn an Ed Sheeran chart. Or Over the Sea to Skye. Or whatever it is that the student wants to achieve. Make your blurb not about what you have done, but what you can do for them.

Exhibit A- An unhappy student. Clearly not having their musical needs met. 

Do your homework by checking out some other teacher’s web pages in your area. What are the areas where you are similar? And how are you different? Can you find a way to highlight your particular strengths as a player, teacher and person without undermining (or very importantly undercutting) your competitor?

If you choose to undertake an interview with the student before officially signing then up, ask as much as possible about them as people and their musical journey. What do they like to listen to in their spare time? Is there a driving motivation for learning? I once taught an adult male student who wanted to play the harp so he could sit on the back verandah and play music to his granddaughter. It was such a gorgeous and insightful thing to learn about him, and it completely shaped the way I taught him. So try to get beyond the whole “This is how many hours I expect you practice” and get to know why they are likely to practice.

By becoming student focused from the beginning of your relationship with a potential new learner, you are far more likely to gain a student with clear motivations and goals while leaving an impression that you are a teacher who will listen and help in the achievement of those goals.


person jumping photo
Exhibit B: What a motivated student may look like. Though I’ve never seen one quite like that. 

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