The Free Fifteen Minute Meet & Greet (M&G) session can be a huge boon to bringing in new students to your studio. This is especially true if your teacher charisma shines in person. A fifteen minute meeting is short enough that your potential clients can definitely make time in their schedule sooner rather than later. You want to get them in the door and started! It’s also long enough that everyone in the room can get a good sense of whether or not this relationship would be the right fit. Or, if the student is ready to take on the commitment of lessons. As a teacher, the more M&Gs you do, the quicker you will be at assessing the type of student you are meeting.
The DNA of the Free 15 Minute Meet & Greet
Many teachers are on one side or the other about initial lessons. They either provide a full initial lesson for free or they don’t offer one at all. I like the free fifteen minute option for the simple fact that you can set a lot of the groundwork without giving away all of your valuable information for free while students are teacher-hopping before getting started.
I always warmly greet new students and their parents at the door. When we’ve set up the Meet & Greet via email, I make sure to let them know what they should expect. “Parking on the street by the driveway is perfect. Feel free to come on in right at your time. I may be finishing a lesson with a student in the minutes before I meet with your daughter. The studio is right inside the front door to the right. You can have a seat.” Don’t you like having more information about where to go and what to expect before a new situation? So do most people.
That extends to the introduction as well. I am slightly more formal with my students and studio families than others. I always refer to my students as “Miss Violet” and their parents as “Mr. Smith” and so on. When I introduce myself to my students, I make sure to do it in the way that I want them to refer to me. I even do this with my college students. This can be more difficult for students than some teachers realize. Do I refer to you like my teachers or professors at school? Do I call you by your first name? Take the guess-work out of it by making it clear up front.
The Information Gathering Stage
I always welcome new students to come into the studio and have a seat. This is the part where you can put parents at ease: “Feel free to come in and talk with us. For lessons, you’re always welcome to stay or not. It’s totally up to you and your child.” The Meet & Greet is as much for the parents as it is for the students if you’re working with students younger than college age.
The first half of the Meet & Greet is about gathering information. First, I set my timer (I use a timer for every lesson and meeting) and say something to the effect of, “I always set my timer otherwise I’ll just want to keep going and going!” I grab my notebook and sit down with the parent and the student and say, “Miss Violet, tell me about yourself. Where do you go to school? What grade are you in? What do you like to do? What do you like to read?” I pepper a bunch of questions like that up front so you can get to their basic information as well as their major interest areas really quickly and they don’t feel uncomfortable or unsure about where to start. I usually follow-up with, “Do you play any other instruments? Have you taken lessons before?” You want to ascertain their musical knowledge and understanding before you jump into lesson material so you can hit the perfect stride without over/under-whelming them.
My final question for them is always, “Will you tell me about your musical goals? What makes you want to take lessons?” What is the problem that you can solve for this student? They are telling you, with their answer to this question, how you can change their world. I never take that lightly. I may have my own goals regarding technique and musicianship, but if their main goals is “I want to get into show choir” I better be addressing that and using that as the frame for my teaching to get them truly invested in lessons.
How Do Lessons Work?
The Meet & Greet is all about getting a sense for how lessons work. Before we jump into making sound, I always give the outline for both parents and students. For my voice lessons, I say, “I run lessons in three parts. We always start with technique exercises. Then, we will move into sight-reading and rhythm clapping. Finally, we’ll round things out with repertoire.” Depending on the non-verbal communication I perceive from the student or parent based on any of the aforementioned parts, I’ll dive into giving a bit more information about the reasons behind why that’s part of my pedagogy.
I always finish this section for voice lessons with the phrase, “there are a million ways to talk about the voice. I want to make sure that I’m always explaining it in the way that works best for you, Miss Violet, and your learning style. If I’m ever saying anything that makes you feel confused, please stop me and say, ‘Miss Megan, I’m not sure I know what you mean. Can we talk about it in a different way?'” This reinforces that I’m here to help them toward their goals, dialed into their learning styles, I know their name, they know how to refer to me, they know they’re allowed to “not get it”, and how to ask for clarification. It’s one short sentence but provides the student a lot of information even if subconsciously.
Let’s Get Started!
Whew! That seems like a lot already. But, we’re talking about economy of presentation. It is my goal to get those concepts into as few sentences as possible as much as I can about this potential student. The student may not realize what I’m doing, the parents often do, but they get the feeling that I am interested in them, their progress, and achieving their goals.
With the remaining time during the Meet & Greet we jump into technique exercises. I always start with the same exercise ritual, more on that later. But, this tells me one of the handful of introductory concepts I would like to address with a potential new student during the M&G. I pick the one that will make the biggest impact and have the most take-aways for the student in the short time together. That way, they get in the car with their parents after the meeting and they are so excited about what they just learned that they cannot wait to start regular lessons. The Free 15 Minute & Greet is the “trailer” for your studio. What will make them say, “I need more of this in my life?”
If I have written my studio policies effectively and had a good M&G, then the response to “Do you have any questions?” is most often “When can we start?” That is the ideal situation. However, sometimes parents and students will have other questions. You’ll want to leave a little time at the end for any of those questions. Since I set my timer for the 15 minute duration of the M&G, that usually allows for some talking time after it goes off before my next lesson is walking in the door. Even if their questions are explicitly written out in the policies, do not mention that. Just respond positively and demonstrate that you are always open to their questions.
It’s surprising, really, how terrible people can be at the termination of communications like telephone calls or meetings. No one wants to look like they’re rushing out the door but they don’t know how to leave either. Be the leader in this situation. After your meeting is over and you’ve answered questions, take the initiative by saying, “This has been wonderful. Let me walk you to the door.” You have two goals: leave them feeling positively about your meeting and tell them the next step of the process. Try, “Thank you so much for taking time out of your family schedule to meet today. I’m looking forward to seeing Miss Violet in the studio more often. I’ll send you the open lesson times.” You’re not forcing them to sign up on the spot but you’re leading them to get started as soon as possible.
How Do You Meet & Greet?
I’m sure by now you realize how passionate I am about the importance of the 15 Minute Meet & Greet. I hope that this little tip will help you revolutionize your studio and help you get more students on your roster. Have any good initial lesson tips to share? I always love hearing your thoughts. I learn so much from our exchange of ideas. It’s one of my favorite aspects of writing these types of series. Please feel free to comment below or share on your preferred social media platform. You know I’m on all of them!
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