Monday, June 6, 2011

Studio Issues - Redesign or Relocate?

Summer is upon us and that means I will be traveling for much of the summer.  As a result, I have cancelled piano lessons for the summer and using the time to reflect upon the past year while planning for the fall semester.  At the top of my list is the question of redesigning my current studio situation or simply relocating.

The spring brought massive amounts of rainfall to the Memphis area.  Many properties experienced significant water damage, including the Arts Annex of Delta Arts.  The arts organization of Crittenden County, Arkansas has generously allowed me to use the annex for the past few years at no expense.  The facilities have been convenient and the price was right.  During the storms, the annex experienced some severe damage.  Add to this the constant threat of losing the annex due to the financial constraints of the arts organization and you will understand why the thought of relocating is on my mind.

The instrument in the room is sufficient for teaching beginner students (yes, I hear your collective groans because of that statement), but most of my students are now reaching a level where a better instrument is no longer a luxury but a necessity.  The space is not exclusively devoted to my teaching; other organizations benefit from the use of the annex. This is wonderful for public relations, but causes difficulties for me when it comes to scheduling and decorating.

I would generally grin and bear it, but another option is available at this time.  The church that I work for has mentioned that it might be possible to begin teaching there with the idea of developing a music conservatory to serve the community.  There are definite benefits to this scenario.  The instrument is concert quality.  The facility is already equipped with technology and sound equipment.  Students would be able to present recitals on the same instrument they use weekly.  Personally, it would eliminate an additional stop in my already over-scheduled life.  The benefits are great.

The negative comes in relation to my current students.  The church is approximately 30 miles away from my current studio location.  While it is not unusual for families in eastern Arkansas to commute across the bridge into Tennessee, it may deter some of these students from continuing their studies with me.  I have come to enjoy working with these young people and we are making strides together in their love of the piano. 

The other negative relates to the process of recruiting new students.  I consider this to be one of the greatest difficulties in establishing a piano studio.  While I do not currently have students in the southeast Shelby County area, it is a larger market and one in which I regularly perform.  I have a reputation in the area.  When I consider the fact that there are only 7 students in my studio at this time, I feel confident that I will be able to find the same number of students across the river. 

As you can see, I'm in the early stages of making a decision, so nothing is settled at all.  What factors do you consider when thinking about relocating your studio?  If you have already gone through the process of moving, what lessons have you learned from the experience?  What would you do differently if you had it to do all over again?