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Competitors Should Be Colleagues

Competitor music schools should be colleagues

I’ve had way too much coffee in East Brunswick today, so here it goes. Un-edited and first draft…

My industry is music education and instruction. Here’s why I think music schools and private music teachers should start working together more and stop closing doors to their local competitor music schools and private teachers.

Know Each Other

  • The owners of music schools and its directors should know each other. We all cannot teach music to everyone. There will be no dominating music school that takes over a county or part of a state. It’s never going to happen. Look at School of Rock, they’re everywhere as a franchised operation. There isn’t one, there are multiples and they are franchised locations. These days, and in recent school years, for parents and adult students, enrolling or not enrolling here at Music Notes seems to be more about what day and time is available versus who their teacher will be. If we know each other as a community of music schools and teachers, we can at least make referrals and point prospective students and parents to others we know if we cannot accommodate a specific student’s availability. If several competitors kept referring the same schools, it would say something stronger as a community of music schools and professionals compared to saying nothing about one another. What this does, is it helps prospective clients and the local businesses at the same time. If we’re all working together and talking about one another positively, this can only be a great thing for everyone – students of music, parents and the professionals doing the teaching.

Know Competitor Offerings & Specialities

  • Most music schools teach select or offer all instruments of study and voice. Music schools might also teach classes, bands and workshops. Some have a musical instruments component or retail store within where others do not. Some are open all the time, some on a smaller schedule. Each music school has its own slant or specialty as well. Its directors have different backgrounds and certain schools may be a voice and musical theater specialty school, versus a woodwinds and brass specialty school. This is a great thing. It’s also great to be knowledgeable about your competitors and perhaps call on them for professional development or meetings. Competitors can learn from one another. The more collaboration we have in music and the music industry the stronger everyone will be, including the students and the parents.

Come Together

  • Come together for something larger and bigger. A great example of this is our MAMTG Student Music Festival. This Student Music Festival allows for competitor music schools and teachers to come together for a 3-day weekend event that includes competitions, evaluations and showcases for soloists and ensembles. This is an opportunity to showcase our customers or our students, and strengthen our industry as a whole. Yes, we are in the music education and instruction industry. We need something bigger than our in-school concerts and recitals or the local outside fair.

This isn’t rocket science or music theory. Every musician cannot open and own a music school and survive. There are not enough students and parents to support an abundance of music schools. However, the schools that are structured, care about what they’re doing and have an approach to look at the bigger picture, will hopefully survive and continue to be successful. What music schools need are great teachers, who are dedicated to teaching music in this format of afternoon, evening and weekend hours and an environment that supports what we’re doing, teaching music and how to play a musical instrument. The only way to do this is to keep supporting one another – to keep this industry viable and legitimate. When I’m teaching music myself with my own students, I feel like I’m on vacation. I only have to focus on music and teaching music, not everything else that goes with owning and operating a brick and mortar music school in the almost impossible state to survive in – New Jersey. It’s a lot of work and most people have no idea what it means to own or operate a music school.

If competitor music schools start coming together as colleagues, it will strengthen the music schools, the teachers, parents and students and the music education industry as a whole. This may sound like a nice dream, but it shouldn’t be. If any music school owner or director is reading this… ask yourself, how many transfer students did you enroll last school year or this school year? How many new students did you enroll this school year? How many students have suddenly dropped out, disappeared or quit? How many students are not practicing their music in between their classes or lessons? To me, all of this can be related back to a strong industry as a whole. If school owners and directors do not care or uphold any operating policies and procedures of excellence for its staff, students and parents, then all of those people are not going to care. Please, let’s get to know one another, learn from one another and continue as a music community. If we don’t care, no one else will. Let’s make more people care about music education. It is supposed to be our industry. If we can help ourselves we are helping others.

If you’re reading this and you own or manage a music school… Email, call or visit here at Music Notes in East Brunswick whenever you’d like. We’ll drink coffee together. I’m serious.

Founder of Music Notes Academy, a '12 NJSBDC award-winning community music school in East Brunswick, NJ. A teacher of music since '00, with degrees in music and education, specializing in curriculum and instruction.

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