You know teaching is going to be a part of your life, but you don’t know how to find the student to start your practice process. There is no need to be aggressive in your search for students, as the demand for teachers in most regions far exceeds the availability. Distilled below are the four things you must do TODAY to connect with your first student.
1. Register for the SAA, set up a profile
A resource often not taken advantage of by new and old teachers alike, the Suzuki Association of the Americas website is a gold mine of information. The first step is to sign up for a membership which allows you to register for training courses, receive a monthly journal publication, but most importantly to set up a profile as a teacher on their database. Even without any teaching experience or training, you can list yourself as available to the area and post your contact information and biography. To add credibility to your profile link to a personal website or videos of prior performances.
2. Email a Suzuki teacher to observe
This is the beginning of your network building. The Suzuki community in your city is tight knit, which can make it hard to break into but an exceedingly strong resource once you are involved. Thankfully due to Dr. Suzuki’s philosophy on sharing, Suzuki teachers are committed to sharing their ideas with others and being open to observation. Select one teacher from the SAA member directory to contact and request an observation within the next week.
3. Contact local middle school and elementary orchestra teachers
Who are the elementary and middle school orchestra directors in your area? Send an email to every single one of them saying you are available to teach lessons. You aren’t the only person to do this, but it only takes one student to start your teaching career.
4. Tell your peers who teach that you are taking students
Because the demand for violin teachers is high, many of your teaching friends turn away students due to a full load. Just as you share gigs, teachers share students. Make sure that your friends know today that you are available to teach so they will refer families to your care. Text, call, pull them aside in the hallway, and knock on their practice rooms because today is the day you are going to connect with your first student.
Think of these as the first steps in your outward facing commitment to teaching. Once people know you are available, someone will approach you for your services. I recommend two more steps TODAY so that you are prepared to speak intelligently about what you are able to offer as a new teacher.
5. Order Nurtured by Love and Teaching From the Balance Point
These books are the foundation for how I operate as a Suzuki teacher. Dr. Suzuki’s philosophy speaks through the pages of Nurtured by Love. Though it can be mystical and ideal, the language points our efforts as teachers far beyond the professional push to survive. Teaching from the Balance Point is Ed Kreitman’s foundational book capturing twenty years of experience. He covers everything from philosophy on music to details of posture to his theory on note learning.
6. Do your first observation
Chances are while you read this, hundreds of observable lessons and group classes are occurring in your region. Did any of the teachers you contacted have lessons to observe? Go observe them today! And if not, seek out resources online of quality violin teaching. Just as your playing is guided by the reference recordings you use, your teaching instincts will be guided by the teaching you observe.
Tomorrow I will discuss the mindset of teaching.