I’ve asked Leila Viss to share some tips on marketing piano lessons to adult students. Leila teaches students ages 6-86 in an independent piano studio which features a tech-savvy lab. She seeks to create innovative teaching methods and successful practice strategies to encourage the average player of any age to stick to the bench for life. She holds a Masters Degree in Piano Performance and Pedagogy from the University of Denver and has presented at local, state and national conferences. She adjudicates at local, state, regional and national piano and composition competitions. She serves on the Keys to Imagination Advisory Board and holds a full-time church organist/pianist position. Leila has a blog on teaching and also writes for the Music Teachers’ Helper.

Marketing Piano Lessons to Adult Students

by Leila Viss

by Elyse Patten

Before you begin marketing to adults, make sure that you are cut out for teaching adults. Are you willing to DEAL with:

  • less than regular attendance?
  • irregular income but still extra income?
  • extreme variance in abilities?
  • loss of hearing, arthritis, poor eye sight?
  • individual tastes that vary from classical, to big band, to rock?
  • providing a listening ear? At times the bench may turn into a couch 🙂
  • making new friends?

For more information about teaching specifically retired adults, see the previous article Understanding and Attracting Retired Adult Students.  If you are are willing to deal with these things, then WHY should you add adult students?

  • Fill up available teaching hours
  • Increase Income
  • Meet new friends
  • Diversify your teaching style

To attract adult students you need to know WHERE to market to adult students (ideas listed below are from personal experience):

  • Place an ad on the bulletin board at the Local Rec Center. (I did not post an ad on a bulletin board but acquired students thanks to “Silver Sneakers” chatting during class.)
  • Contact other piano teachers–keep in contact with teachers who instruct adults, they may be wiling to refer students your way. (A teacher down the road retired and I inherited a number of her students.)
  • Place an inexpensive ad in your local neighborhood newsletter or newspaper.
  • Dedicate a page on your studio website to adult students. Be sure to use key words and phrases specific to adult students like “adult piano lessons” “adult piano” on your page about piano lessons as well as include these terms under the Meta Keywords & Meta Description of your website.
  • Notify the families of your K-12 students that you teach adults.
  • Schedule public performances for you and your students at local stores, libraries. (My regular church job generates many inquiries as does my informal performances with students at a local Whole Foods store that hosts a piano)
  • Post ads on workplace bulletin boards and email distribution lists (My husband works at a large tech company and has shared my name many times.)
  • Count on word of mouth. Once you teach one adult, referrals will come your way.

When you secure adult students make sure you know the FACTS about them:

  •  Travel is an important part of their lifestyle and you will want to work around it.
  • They will need encouragement from you and will value support from other students so make time for them to meet each other at friendly, non-threatening classes such as RMM or performance opportunities
  • Various lesson formats will be a necessity. Some will want individual instruction while others may want a more social setting.
  • Work will come first and you will not, so remain open to their requests for drop-in lessons and to change lesson times, etc

When their lifestyles demand flexibility it calls for creative POLICIES. These will be (and should be) far different from those you offer your K-12 students and still honor your time and expertise. See Q&A answer  for policy, scheduling and lesson format ideas.

Also, it is good to know the BENEFITS if you add adult students:

  • Their joy of the learning process far outweighs their need to perform, however some highly value both.
  • Friendship will develop. In fact I receive souvenirs from one of my students every time she takes a trip.
  • Each one will set unique goals. Be ready to teach beginners (alone or in groups), the Classics, lead sheets, improvisation, technique…
  • Technology is a crucial part of their lifestyle and you will learn tips from their favorite iPad app or YouTube video as you share yours
  • Wisdom is by far the biggest benefit. Their life experiences and professions color every conversation. I count it a privilege to learn from their expertise.

Filling your day time hours with adult students can be a reality. It will be very different from your K-12 student experience. However, along with financial benefits, you will find a new circle of friends with which to share the joy and laughter of learning music. Isn’t that why we are in this business?


If you have questions you’d like to ask Leila, Kristin, or Wendy in the Dollars & Sense category, please email Wendy your question and we will answer your question in a future blog post.