Technology to Increase Communication
in Your Music Studio
Noreen Wenjen’s experience in marketing with Nissin Foods and MacTemps (now Aquent) has helped bring a business savvy to her piano studios in Torrance and Seal Beach, California. She has given many presentations for MTAC and MTNA annual conferences on technology for the music studio, including Zoom! Text, Tweet! Interacting with Today’s Music Students through Videos, Websites and Technology and Two Year Wait List: How to Build and Maintain a Recession-Proof Music Studio. Wenjen’s impressive accomplishments include a listing in Who’s Who Among American Women, President-Elect of the California Association of Professional Music Teachers (CAPMT) and a fifteen-year MTNA National Teaching Certification. She received a BM degree in Piano Performance from the University of California, Santa Barbara, an Artist Diploma from American College of Musicians and was an Associate Instructor to the distinguished pedagogue Joanna Hodges, at her studio in Vancouver, Washington. She shares ideas about how music teachers can incorporate technology into their studio routine.
ONLINE EVENT INVITATION: EVITE VS. EMAILS
Communication is key to running a successful music studio. Almost everyone these days is digitally connected and depends on the social media rather than print sources to send and receive information - including parents and children as young as eight years old. The thirty-five piano students in my studio have many yearly responsibilities that include eight monthly performance workshops, two evaluations, one recital. And about twenty-five per cent of these students participate in auditions and competitions, so that’s four hundred and twenty-one events a year that require preparation, enrollment and parent notification. How do I make these events a priority for students also involved in sports, dance, academic classes, among others? According to Deloitte, “On average, people in the United State across all age groups check their phones 46 times a day.” Using technology helps people organize and plan their busy schedule and establish clear goals, which may increase studio size and free up time for relaxation – often lacking in the lives of busy music teachers.
To send online event invitations, I have found that Evite.com and Evite app for portable devices are the best way of setting up recitals, reminding parents of upcoming events and even organizing refreshments. These programs seem to provide more effective response than regular emailing, as you can set up your invitation to include specific details, automatic reminders, map, location and directions link, and tracking is offered, in which email addresses open Evite messages. I can even specify my own creative reply options such as Put Me on the Liszt, Maybe, If I Get Bach in Time or Sorry, I’m Out Chopin. The Evite app is accessible from a handheld device but does not have the same functionality on the Evite website, as for example a previous event using a template can’t be copied. Evite is free and may be upgraded for additional template choices. Here are some tips when using Evite to facilitate your event productivity. Copy the template each month, then just switch the date and photo for different events; store contacts as groups to allow for easy updates, additions or deletions; send automatic email reminders one day before the event; use automatic mapping link for location access; send emails to select people or groups; download your event directly to personal online calendars such as iCal and GoogleCal; for full functionality, use Evite with a computer or laptop, since the mobile app is limited.
ONLINE NEWSLETTERS: CONSTANT CONTACT VS. MAILCHIMP.
Music teachers with large studios have to be masters of scheduling and organization. Lessons, evaluations, recitals, competitions, workshops for teachers and holiday dates need to be effectively communicated to students and parents, as well as details about deadlines and tuition. Since most families rely on the social media for information, two great programs for this are Constant Contact and MailChimp. Constant Contact requires a monthly fee based on the number of emails sent, and MailChimp is free for up to 12,000 emails per month and offers fee-based service upgrades for business and marketing. Here are some guidelines for using Constant Contact and MailChimp. Constant Contact currently charges a minimal monthly fee (offering a pre-pay discounts of up to fifteen per cent), which includes access to an image library, customized template and social media marketing; Constant Contact’s monthly fee includes telephone customer service and the program offers more templates than Constant Contact; Constant Contact’s app is limited and emails cannot be edited on an iPad or iPhone, but MailChimp’s mobile app is available for iPad, iWatch, Android and has more functionality.
ONLINE LESSON OPTIONS: SKYPE VS. FACETIME
How many times have you had a student show up for a lesson with a runny nose or cough? I have developed a very strong immune system, however, using Skype and FaceTime offer a great solution when health, location or transportation become an issue. These programs are also ideal for teaching students who are on vacation and without a piano. Parent student and teacher need only have a telephone, iPad, computer, laptop and headphones or a speakerphone. To use the Skype program just download the app and create a user name, and for FaceTime, use your iPhone or iPad. My daughter has a mobile phone and is able to use FaceTime through WiFi. Here are some guidelines for using Skype and FaceTime. FaceTime requires WiFi or cellular connection to make the call; video calls are free when using Skype and FaceTime; FaceTime users need to have an Apple ID to make a call; time delay doesn’t allow for practicing or playing duets or duo piano pieces; Skype’s connection may be less reliable than that of FaceTime; some students focus better while using these programs, while some become distracted by the technology.
Communication and efficiency are important ingredients for maintaining a successful music studio. Teachers are good communicators by nature and transfer their knowledge to students and parents. All are part of the studio family, since attentive teachers have happy, dedicated students who in turn provide referrals to the nurturing environment. Although it may require a little time to become familiar with the technology of programs and apps, the rewards and gratification for teacher and student are worth the effort. To contact Noreen: www.wenjenpiano.com