Some Books You NEED to Start Your Music Studio (and a few you don’t…) – Finale!

The Finale has arrived. If you’re not up to speed, go read Part Uno, then Part Penultimate.

I’m back from a four day out-of-town “vacation,” during which some nasty stuff went down with my husband’s jobwhich we somehow managed to navigate with the help of our family and an extremely trustworthy/local friend we had to call in to act on our behalf before lawyering up…also, Jack and Coke. Can’t forget those old pals. The whole ordeal is somewhat over, the Stew of Lividity has simmered down to a sludgy reduction, and I am ready to share with you two more titles in my Library of Things that Keep Me From Wanting to Eat My Feelings. Once again, I wish someone had blackmailed me to review these, but alas, my intentions of wanting to keep musicians and studio teachers from subsisting on Ramen (or at least get them graduated to Campbell’s) are entirely noble. Here are the last two I’ll push, and they frolic hand-in-hand in the Field of Merry Music.

Promoting Your Teaching Studio: how to make your phone ring, fill your schedule, and build a waiting list you can’t jump over
Philip Johnston, 2003
Heed my advice: this might be the most useful book that deals 100 percent with studio ownership, which really satisfies a niche. If you haven’t read it, GET to it and be prepared to be blown away by how little you have done to grow your business.  If you’re looking for an exhaustive list of Ways to Feign Hostile Takeover of Your Music Community, it’s probably in here. Johnston covers traditional approaches (like giving sample lessons or offering to help accompany local choirs), and oodles of fresh, contemporary things you may not have thought of (like generating a press release for recitals and performances, or having a practice-a-thon… whaaa?). The best tidbit I gleaned was that a good studio owner should be recruiting even when they are full, if not for sustainability then to increase the “awesome” perception, which ups your value as a teacher. My not-so-inner researcher went to town with a hi-lighter and dog-eared all but ten pages (I couldn’t stop…the demons took over at “strategic partnerships”). Every few months, I revisit this one in front of my fireplace…at night…during a thunderstorm…while cackling maniacally. I’m 70 percent serious about that.

The Dynamic Studio: how to keep students, dazzle parents, and build the music studio everyone wants to get into
Philip Johnston, 2012
Make sure to read “Promoting Your Teaching Studio” FIRST, and THEN hop on this one. This Johnston guy is pretty edgy. You can extract that from his website,, and some of his other titles are at the top of my amazon wish list. If you’re like me, here’s how things will evolve: you’ll have people banging down your door for lessons, start knocking them off with bats, develop a people repellant spray, then you’ll settle into your ways for a year or two before wondering how to stay fresh. This book is the answer. I’ll admit that was not the first thought I had upon discovering it’s self-published (so is the first title), but this guy is on top of his stuff. I also figured Johnston couldn’t possibly have 288 pages of entirely new things to say, post – “Promoting,” but I was wrong. Wrong like Uggs and miniskirts. The author advocates that studio teachers be “dynamic,” and points out 1,668,283 ways (not really, but close) to do so, which really is more of a method and not a tutorial on how to promote your studio. For twenty bucks, I can easily say I’ve gotten my money’s worth on a studio-specific method series, which is less than I can say for some of those $5billion textbooks I sold my soul for in college. Other considerations – Readability: plus. Perspective: plus plus. Frequent example blurbs on static vs. dynamic studios: plus plus plus. Just read this. You won’t regret it.

I’d be interested to see what other people have found useful, and all this has generated an idea for a future post…something along the lines of “Batter Up: What’s Next On My Studio Resource Wishlist.” Feel free to show and tell.

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