Kickstart Your Fall Planning: Ideas for Enhancing Your Studio this School Year

Amy Chaplin

Jennifer Walschap, NCTM

MTNA Business Digest, Volume 1, Issue 4

July 2022

Do you need fresh ideas to invigorate your studio this fall? Perhaps you are wanting to fine-tune a few of your studio policies as you go into a new school year. These podcasts and blogs provide some of the most current tips and tools that private teachers are considering in their fall planning.



Group Class Scheduling Experiences and Ideas (The Piano Pantry Podcast)

Are you looking to add group classes to your current studio offerings or experiment with a new group class format? Hear the pros and cons of a variety of group class designs including fee integration and scheduling.



My Top 5 Tools for Online Lessons (by Janna Carlson)

Five tools to make your online lessons simpler, more engaging and highly effective. Get specific recommendations including using a virtual studio, digital games and more.



Cheers to Sanity-Saving Policies (Beyond Measure Podcast with Christina Whitlock)

First, ask yourself “What is working?” and “What is not?” Then, consider these three “zero-exception” policies that could really save your studio-teacher sanity.

Looking for a good read?

Martha Smith, NCTM

Better than Before: What I Learned About Making and Breaking Habits, by Gretchen Rubin

book cover;

Habits are the invisible architecture of daily life; roughly 40% of our behavior is repeated daily. Inspiring students to develop wise daily practice habits is a basic responsibility of music teachers. As lifelong learners, we teachers, too, owe it to ourselves to review and improve our habits.

Though not specifically addressed to music habits, this book demonstrates the four basic tendencies people have that influence habit formation. Are we Upholders, Obligers, Questioners, or Rebels? How do our students’ tendencies differ from ours?

Considering these tendencies, what strategies make good habits thrive? A strategy for Rebels might be to offer a series of short-term challenges. Obligers would benefit from modest, manageable steps—since minor, but real accomplishments help build their confidence to continue. No less important than understanding our students’ habit tendencies is knowing our own nature and what habits serve us best.

The Foundation for habits is critical. Exercise helps people sleep; sleep helps people do everything better. Exercise and sleep are good places to start for any kind of habit change. Next comes Monitoring, Scheduling and Accountability. Working out appropriate roles for teachers and students in each task is beyond the scope of this book; however, I found the framework for analysis helpful.

When we change our habits, Rubin maintains, we change our lives. “We can use decision making to choose the habits we want to form, we can use willpower to get the habit started; then we can allow the extraordinary power of habit to take over. We take our hands off the wheel of decision, our foot off the gas of willpower, and rely on the cruise control of habits.” Habit is notorious for its ability to control our actions, even against our will. By mindfully choosing our habits, we can become better than before!



Amy Chaplin


Amy Chaplin loves talking about all things piano teaching, studio business, organization, and good food-related. She combines all these passions at and runs a highly successful independent studio in Bluffton, Indiana.



Jennifer Walschap


Jennifer Walschap , NCTM, is the founder and director of Imagine Music and Arts in Norman, Oklahoma, where she teaches Suzuki piano. She received an MME degree in piano pedagogy from the University of Oklahoma.



Martha Smith


Martha K. Smith taught piano in Arlington, Virginia, from 1977–2011. She was the president of the Northern Virginia Music Teachers Association from 1989–1991 and Virginia Music Teachers Association from 2001–2003. She continues to teach in Boynton Beach, Florida.



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