There are certain aspects of teaching the violin that can be automated.
You should not re-create the wheel every time you send a contract to a new family, tune a violin, or print off a batch of practice charts.
There are processes and tools you can cultivate in your studio and have on lock (many of which I discuss here). You’ve thought through the best solution, and now you replicate that solution for each one of your students. You don’t think, and you don’t have to think, about changing this solution every time, which gives you the mental space and emotional energy to do more important work.
But one of the things I love about teaching violin, is that I’m not trying to be Facebook or Ford. I’m not even trying to be your cool, indie product maker (maybe this one?). And I’m certainly not attempting to trade your attention on my words here for paid sponsorships.
I have literally no incentive to work at scale.
The narrative of success today usually involves two words: big and fast. Growing quickly, acquiring investors and funding, enchanting a vast audience, and scaling a service to maximum efficiency will get the spotlight.
But, I am violin teacher. My value as a teacher is diminished as I take on too many students. With a full course load and extracurricular commitments, teaching beyond my maximum load would actually hurt my studio.
I need the headspace to iterate and refine my processes. I need the headspace to care for each and every student. I need headspace.
In other words, big and fast aren’t in my vocabulary.
But what space affords us, as violin teachers, is a beautiful opportunity to do the unscalable. We can take the time to intimately know each one of our students. We can remember and celebrate our students’ birthdays. We can tailor our sequences and methods to suit the learning style of every unique child within our studio. We can spend hours helping a student find just the right violin. We don’t have to speculate the needs and AB test the values of our ideal customer, we can easily ask every student at every lesson.
Of course, this doesn’t make viable, financial sense if the goal is to be a large company with a high profit margin. But we’re not trying to be a large company; we’re trying to teach violin. We’re trying to teach well.
And I can’t tell you how grateful I am that I have the opportunity to pursue this craft every single day. I’m so grateful that depth, and slowness, and focus, and mastery are tools of my trade. Gratitude wells up within me when I reflect on my opportunity to do exactly what I love, and more incredibly, make a living from it.
So this holiday season I took the time to do something unscalable.
I wrote a brief thank you to every family in my small studio. I thanked them for their time, for their kindness, for their trust in my journey as a teacher. I wished them a healthful and joyful 2017.
I didn’t do so in an effort to ‘energize my audience’ or to ‘increase customer loyalty,’ I did so to honor the deep, real relationship I have with my families.
What powerful, unscalable actions can you take to honor your opportunity to teach the wonderful individuals in your studio?