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

Welcome back! MISSED YOU…

Last time we left off, we were talking about some useful resources for music studio owners to get themselves out of the sea of confusion and into the Sparkling Pool of Wealthy Knowledge, where the wine flows freely (my basement?). Here’s some more spiffy stuff that I’ve picked up along the way…prepare to be served.

The Independent Piano Teacher’s Studio Handbook
Beth Gigante Klingenstein, 2009
This one is by far the most detailed. 444 pages…take that, Norton Anthology! Just kidding. Norton’s got us all beat, and always will. Anyhow, the attention to detail makes sense, as it’s published by Hal Leonard, our favorite neighborhood music conglomerate. I happened upon it after my studio had gained some momentum. I think if I had read it right off the bat, I would have been overwhelmed at all the things I should be losing sleep over thinking about, like public perceptions of the independent music teacher (you sleep in everyday, right?) and arts advocacy. Now, six years into my teaching, I can say this has became my most-consulted book of spells, but only because I’ve had a chance to get the basics under my belt. Piano peeps, take note: there’s whole sections focused solely on piano training and curriculum, but teachers of any instrument could benefit. Unless maybe you teach only Javanese gamelan. Or are an ocarina-exclusive studio. Or gongs. You only teach the gong. But even then, I think you’d appreciate this book…and I’d wonder a little.

Making Money Teaching Music
David R. Newsam & Barbara Sprague Newsam, 1995
Don’t let the publication date fool you. 99% of this book is fairly timeless advice. Judging from the authors’ last names, this might be some kind of family or husband/wife effort, which warms my heart some. A short blurb in the beginning says that one of the authors is a musician, and the other is just a plain-ol’ teacher who writes music and performs. I think that lent a fresh-prince perspective to the music studio and to music entrepreneurship, a new buzzword that’s gaining momentum in universities. If anything, this was a prelude to The Savvy Musician, which I talked about in my last post. It’s not a book solely on studio ownership, though there are hefty sections that address that. I dove into this one around the one-year studio mark, and was given a good lesson on how to expand my teaching opportunities. Because musicians shouldn’t be selling themselves on the streets…unless they want to.

The Private Voice Studio Handbook: A Practical Guide to All Aspects of Teaching
Joan Frey Boytim, 2003
So here’s a weird side story about this book: I ordered it used online. It shipped from Missouri (where I live), but didn’t say what town. I opened it up, and it was stamped “Hennessy Music,” which happens to be a local store (it’s since closed down). I don’t know who sold it online, or how it got to my door, but I thought that was a freakish coincidence.

So you can imagine my high hopes. It’s from an anonymous music neighbor and has “Voice” in the title? Relevance stirs my bones and enlightens my soul, folks. This one’s also put out by Hal Leonard and written by Joan Boytim, who is crazy-established in the voice world, having edited all those “First Book Of” solo lit compilations of which every voice teacher owns at least one, and it’s more often than not a carryover from your “childhood” (pre-college days) when you yourself had to buy your own second contest copy. Ah, memories…We can maybe single-handedly attribute the ENTIRE prescribed music list for solo and ensemble voice lit to this chick. She’s a voice rep guru! Be still, my heart!

Alternately…writing does not appear to be Boytim’s strong suit.  It’s organized, but is really just a big compilation of sassy pedagogical opinions. If this is supposed to be the voice teacher’s alternative to The Independent Piano Teacher’s Studio Handbook, I’d say this one falls shorter than Danny DeVito. A brief (as in, six page) chapter exists on business items. That’s it. Not nearly enough to keep the IRS at bay. And she is NOT afraid to impart her ideas on teaching voice to students under thirteen, copying music or, shamelessly, joining NATS (National Association of Teachers of Singing). No slam on the organization itself – I’m a member. I just feel like I shouldn’t read a book on studio ownership and be slapped in the face with a commercial for professional development. As a reader, I want to be presented with the options. Or see some research backing up one person’s option, neither of which happen here. There is a helpful little section on teaching voice technique that would be way more useful expanded in a separate volume. I’d be all over that. However, seventy percent of this book was pretty much useless to me in my early stages of studio development. It has more relevance now, but still, proceed with caution, know that the author is not impartial to studio issues, and maybe just pay attention to the sections on getting new students, studio organization, and “going public” (marketing your studio? I guess…is what she means).

I’ve got two more titles for you! They’re both by the same dude and are not for weaklings. I’ll be putting this out sometime this coming weekend, after a brief interruption by another true/embarrassing/stirring edition of Facepalm Friday! Got a good one…just you wait.

Until next time…


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