What should the customer know about your pricing (e.g., discounts, fees)?
I have a package pricing for school year students. During the coming school year (September-May) students receive 31 lessons. (There is time off for end of the year breaks). To make it easy for parents, I pro-rate the cost of the 31 lessons over the 9 months of the school year, so that parents simply pay the same amount each month.
The non-package prices are on a per-lesson basis, but these are a little more expensive. However, the first 2 lessons are at a 50% discount.
Students who study with me over the internet will need an iphone, a laptop and a external web-cam positions on a boom over the keyboard. Since most people don't have an external webcam and boom, they can use the money they save from the discounted lessons to purchase these items. Neither the external webcam or the boom are expensive and in many places can be bought locally.
What is your typical process for working with a new customer?
I like to have an interview with the student and their parent(s) to determine their current abilities and their potential for successful study. This is a way to break the ice with the student, and if they have had prior study, to hear and watch them play.
Because each student is unique, I custom design a course of study for each student that works to improve areas of weakness, and continue to promote their strengths.
What education and/or training do you have that relates to your work?
I started piano study when I was 4 years old, and fell in love with it immediately. I continued piano study thoughout my high school years and then went to Oberln College Conservatory of Music for bachelor and masters degrees in performance. During those years, I also became interested in conducting and eventually earned a conducting doctoral degree from the University of Michigan School of Music. During all those college years, I had the priviledge of studying with many world-class teachers and performers.
How did you get started doing this type of work?
Right out of college, I opened a piano studio in my home town. With a little bit of advertising, I soon had 10 students. I found that I loved teaching piano and challenging students to do their best.
Following college I taught for 8 years in the State University of New York, and then as an endowed professor of music at Marshall University (WV).
I left the academic world to conduct professionally. I have performed in the US and throughout Europe as a professional pianist, collaborative music coach, church musician,conductor of amateur professional opera companies, symphony orchestras and choirs and jurist.
What types of customers have you worked with?
I have taught students of all ages from 4 to 67. But now, I am mostly focused on students 6 up to 24 years of age. Quite a few of my students have gone on to study at conservatories. Some of my current students are preparing to audition for conservatory study. Others are just deeply interested in creating beautiful music at the piano.
I believe that talent is the desire to practice. And so I work best with any student that has a keen desire to learn.
Describe a recent project you are fond of. How long did it take?
I am about to release in December a new book that gives students an exact plan for learning any piece of music quickly. There is also a parent's guide that accompanies the children's book.
The books are based on 10 years of research about how the brain functions and how best to learn a new piece of music in a brain-friendly way.
What advice would you give a customer looking to hire a provider in your area of work?
I tell them this story: Several years ago, I mother of a piano student called me about piano lessons. It seems her daughter had studied for 3 years, and had learned almost nothing. I asked he how much her daughter's teach had charged. Her response was $17 for a 30-minute lesson. She asked me what my tuition was, and at the time it was $35 for a half-hour lesson. So she agreed to have me teach her daughter. After three months of lessons, she said to me, you know Dr. Joe, my daughter has learned more from you in 3 months than she did in 3 years from her old teacher. I'm really getting a bargain with you. Moral of the story: when you consider a piano teacher, don't just consider the cost of tuition, consider value.
What questions should customers think through before talking to professionals about their project?
Has the student, on their own, expressed a strong desire to study piano? Without that desire, most piano study will be fruitless.