Have you ever considered what it’s like to be a piano parent in your studio waiting room? Phillip Johnston, in his book “The Dynamic Studio,” suggests that you spend 30 minutes sitting in your own waiting room to get an idea of what it feels like for your studio parents. He suggests that the waiting area should be a sanctuary for parents; 30 minutes that they look forward to each week. If the seating is comfortable and they feel welcome and relaxed parents are more likely to keep their students enrolled in piano. If parents dread the 30 minutes spent on a hard, uncomfortable chair, they may be more willing to let piano lessons drop. This seems simple, but it could be an important element of student retention in your studio. Here’s a few suggestions for how to make your waiting are a sanctuary:
1. Provide free wifi and make the wifi password readily available. I’m always searching for free wifi networks when I’m out and about, why not provide this for your parents? Use this free printable to display your wifi network name and password. Here’s our in a simple frame, displayed where parents can easily see it.
2. Provide comfortable chairs. Johnston suggests that “parents should not only be sitting in the most comfortable, usable chair you own, but something that’s more welcoming than anything they’re likely to sit in at home.”
3. Provide cold water and coffee. Consider having a water cooler or fountain for parent use and also a coffee maker. Our studio has a Kuerig single cup coffee maker specifically for parents to use, with a small chalkboard sign letting parents know they are welcome to use it. We make sure to have disposable coffee cups, sugar, and creamer available as well.
4. Make sure the room is a comfortable temperature. You might not be able to know this for sure without actually sitting there for 30 minutes. When we are actively teaching we might like the temperature a little cooler than a parent resting in the waiting room would. Maybe you should add a fan in your teaching space so you don’t freeze out the parents?
5. Provide current reading materials. Consider subscribing to a few magazines parents would find interesting, or getting the local newspaper.
6. Provide a clean and attractive bathroom. You don’t want parents to have to dread using the bathroom in your studio, right?
Having a comfortable waiting room for parents is something easily overlooked in piano studios where students are the main focus, but parents are the ones who write the checks for the lessons and ultimately decide whether the student continues or not. Make your waiting room a place they enjoy sitting every week!
Spring Seals, NCTM, teaches 60 piano students ranging from age 3 to 70 in Fort Worth, Texas. She also serves as the Director of Certification for TMTA. She is passionate about helping teachers become more effective in their studios through professional development, new resources, and fresh ideas.