Music School Success Ladder

No matter where you are in your journey of developing a music teaching business, or music school, you are not the only one who has been there. You may teach in your own individual way, have your own lesson content, courses, workshops and programs but the basic structure of a music teaching business remains the same.
Every type of business has recognisable models based on size:

  • Physical = the number of locations or staff
  • Financial = the amount of revenue and turnover
  • Customers = number of clients

For example, there is a local market burger stall at the smallest end of the scale, then a local independent takeaway shop, then a local shop that operates in several suburbs, and so on until eventually you have McDonald’s appearing in countries around the world.

How Does This Relate to Music Teachers?

Music teaching also has recognisable models largely based on size. If your goal is to increase the size of your teaching business then you will most likely increase the number of locations from which you teach, increase your student numbers, and grow your revenue and income.

You might not think of yourself as being ‘in business’ when you are teaching music to a few students from your lounge room or as a contractor in someone else’s studio, but the reality is that you are in business! If you think like a business owner, you will put more value in yourself and your skills, and it will help you to have a more professional approach.

You may have dreams of running your own studio or school department. You might want to develop your musical and teaching career to become as famous as Richard Gill or some other icon in your specialty. No matter what your dream, it is more likely to become a reality if you know the steps to get there and what skills you need to acquire.

Let’s look at the 9 levels of The Music School Success Ladder.

Stage 1: Foundation

The foundation stage is where you start on your journey of teaching music. You may be teaching from home, in a school, or be employed to teach in a retail studio. You are learning about all areas of teaching music: the teaching methods, the administration, the interpersonal skills, and so on. As in any field, you start at the bottom and work your way up the ranks:

Roadie: You work outside of teaching to earn most or all your income. If you have started teaching it is usually for someone else but only to earn a small % of your income.

Chorus Line: You teach for someone else to earn most or all your income and you have one or more locations, such as a music studio, or a primary or secondary school.

One Person Show: You teach for yourself to earn most or all your income. You manage everything yourself and you have one or more locations, such as your home or a primary or secondary school.

Stage 2: Enterprise

Enterprise stage is where your journey of building a team of teachers begins. You are learning to manage not just your own teaching, but that of other teachers. You are not only leading by example but supervising others to deliver teaching in a way that reflects your values.

Leading Lady/Man: You teach to earn most of your income. You manage everything yourself. You have one or two teachers working for you in a small number of locations.

Principal: You teach to earn about half of your income. You manage everything yourself. You have a growing number of teachers (perhaps five or six) working for you in a growing number of locations.

Manager: You no longer teach to earn income. You oversee many teachers working for you in numerous locations.

Stage 3: Alchemy

Alchemy stage is for master teachers who can build multiple businesses. Alchemy masters don’t rely upon teaching to generate income. At this stage your role is management and strategy.

Director: You oversee several managers and many teachers at several locations. You may have admin assistance. Example: Multiple Retail Music School owner.

Virtuoso: You are removed from most day to day employment and spend your time on big picture ideas and strategies to grow your partnerships, business and teaching opportunities. Example: Music School Franchisor

Icon: You are a legend in the Music Education industry. You are sought after for opinions, advice, and partnerships in numerous business and teaching opportunities. Example: World Renowned Conductor, Composer and Educator.


Things to Consider

  • There is always someone at every step of the ladder. Every step has an economic role and every person has different needs, goals, and skills, meaning there is always someone at each step of the ladder.
  • We change steps as we go through life. Knowing your step gives you the power to focus yourself on moving to where you want to be.
    Every step has different skill sets and demands. When we move steps, we need to change our focus and awareness, and develop or extend new skills. The problems and opportunities will vary at each step.
  • The step you are on is your choice, and you can succeed at whichever step you choose to be on. When you know your step, it is your choice to stay at that step, move up or move down. Each step has its benefits and costs.

What Next?

  1. Decide where you are on the 9-step ladder.
  2. Decide which step you wish to realistically achieve and when.
  3. Plan the tasks to get you there.


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