A few weeks ago, my friend Lynnette, who owns the Tessitura studio where I teach, told me that she is going to be renting her space to a personal trainer, who will convert Tessitura into a personal training gym. This is an opportunity Lynnette couldn't pass up. She had been advertising Tessitura as a place to rent space for office use, yoga, or whatever when she wasn't teaching. She was hoping for some extra income from some smaller renters, but instead, she was contacted by someone who wants to rent out the space full time. It's a win/win situation for Lynnette. She's leasing her space to the personal trainer and then paying some rent to another landlord two doors away so she can continue her music classes.
While I understood that Lynnette took advantage of a good opportunity, I was a little bummed at the change in my teaching situation. Fortunately, Lynnette gave me plenty warning, so it wasn't like I had to find another place to teach the next day. Being right smack in the middle of the Oakhurst neighborhood, Tessitura has been a good home base. I searched for another neighborhood spot to teach. It looked like I was going to be able to teach at a local church. The music director was excited about the prospect, but it turned out that they have a policy of only renting to non-profits. I suppose it could be argued that, being a musician, I am automatically non-profit.
After the church location fell through, I realized that, since almost all of my Tessitura students live in Oakhurst, I can come to them. Starting in mid-May, I'm going to teach in my students' homes. The reaction from the parents has been unanimously positive – no driving to the studio and sitting around waiting while their kid takes a lesson. On top of that, I'm not increasing the lesson fee. Lessons at Tessitura are higher than my normal rate so I can cover the rental cost. I charge more for home visits, but that price is offset by the fact that I will no longer be paying rent. Even with the cost of driving and the extra buffer time between lessons for travel, I'll be earning half again what I earn at Tessitura. Parents pay exactly the same. I earn more money per lesson. Win/win.
To be honest, I've been lazy about recruiting students at Tessitura. I hate the marketing aspect of the music teaching business. I've been relying on Tessitura's great location, waiting for students to drift in. With no central location, I'm going to have to be more proactive about recruiting students. I've ordered some postcards to sprinkle around the neighborhood. I'll also encourage word of mouth by giving parents some incentive to spread my name around. For example, if a new student comes to me because of a referral from one of my students, that student gets a free lesson. I've managed to build up a respectable roster at Tessitura without trying very hard. Imagine what I can do if I put some effort into it! At first, Lynnette's news about renting her space threw me for a loop, but now it's starting to look like a blessing in disguise.
Starting around the middle of May, I'll be zipping around Oakhurst and the surrounding area, teaching guitar, ukulele, and piano to students of all ages. Have guitar, will travel.
- Tom Godfrey
- Atlanta, GA, United States
- When I suffered a lip injury that ended my career as a classical trombonist, I thought my life as a musician was finished, but I fell in love with music all over again when Santa gave me a guitar for Christmas in 2003. Even as I was struggling with my first chords, I was planning a new performance career. As a trombonist, I performed with the Heritage of America Band at Langley Air Force Base, the Ohio Light Opera, and in pick-up bands for touring acts that included Rosemary Clooney, George Burns, and the Manhattan Transfer. Reborn as a jazz guitarist, I sing and play my own solo arrangements of jazz classics, am half of the Godfrey and Guy duo, and hold the guitar chair in the Sentimental Journey Orchestra. I have been a freelance music copyist since 1995, served as Director of Music at Northwest Unitarian Universalist Congregation from 2011 to 2017, and currently serve as Contemporary Band Director at the same congregation.