The Social Network

Hello to all. For those who have followed me since the beginning, thank you so much for your support. This will be my final installation of this blog on the redefinition of music education. Last week we talked about how to kick start your business in the most cost effective way possible. The term coined for this process is called Bootstrapping. In addition to finding cheap forms of advertising, easiest way to accomplish customer outreach, and becoming profitable, the one theme that was always mentioned throughout this entire experience was the influence of networking. They say knowledge is power, that can only take you so far in your career. More often not it is the people that you know that will help you get farther in life regardless of the the occupation or choices you make.

Throughout your entire career, even in music education, your personal brand is your most valuable asset where ever you go. This directly ties into the importance and presence of one’s social capital. This relates to someone’s personal social networks populated with people who willingly cooperate, exchange information, and build trusting relationships with each other. This network of  connections, as interconnected as it may be, creates a flow for information that is crucial to your success and equally as important to everyone else’s in your network. Once you have those relationships, the most important thing you have to do is not burn those bridges that were already difficult to create in the first place.

For any musician, there is a key distinction between bonds, bridges, and linkages that need to be know about in order to prioritize and organize one’s network. bonds are the connections with family, friends, and others who have a similar cultural background. For example, people I have a bond bond with would be people from Russia or Boston because we are immersed  and aware of our cultural intricacies. Bridges are the links that go further than simply sharing an identity. An example of this would be contacting someone from your high school graduating class to meet up and talk about business opportunities. Both you and the high school friend come  from different backgrounds and cultures. Finally, linkages are the connections to people or groups regardless of their position in an organization, society or other community; basically anyone else that you know in your entire life. There is only one person who know how far to take each and every relationship with people in personal life or business life; that person is you. YOU are the one to control who knows about the information that you will be spreading for the mutual benefit  of everyone involved.  That is why making a good impression becoming extremely crucial to the operationalization of the business.

People say that first impressions are everything, well the first impression is just the start. It becomes the foundation of what you change, whether positively or negatively, your impression to be in your peers’ eyes. People should make a conscious effort and pay attention to the way they perceive others and how others view them. Keep your personal brand in check and make sure that you have the trustworthy people needed to reach your full potential for the business.

These Boots are Made for Walking

Hello everyone! Thank you for following this blog and reading the latest addition about my journey. Last week I spoke about the pricing strategy used when running your own freelance business. Depending on what your target audience is, there can be a differentiation in how you set a price on lessons. In terms of who the end user becomes, that factor tends to help the freelancer separate who the business ends up being offered to and who pays for the lesson. For example, the child can be the end user while the parent will be the economic buyer. This then creates the huge divide in terms of which market to enter into; teaching kids or teaching adults who pay for their own lessons out of pocket. With this in mind, the most important group of people to communicate with always ends up being the adults. This convenient fact tends to reciprocate to being able to jump start someone’s business.

Like most  entrepreneurs out there, the budget aspect of the business never seems to be the most ideal. All of the ideas are set in place and you have the passion and drive to get started on your business venture. Well, have no fear! (In comes an imaginary man with money in his pockets) There is always a way of starting one’s business on a budget, and there is a little term for it called Bootstrapping. This is process of building or starting a business with very little money or equipment; basically starting from the bottom and having nothing except yourself. In the case of the freelance musician/teacher, the only person that is needed ends up being yourself. This makes life a whole lot easier within the confines of a sole proprietorship; there is only one person to watch over. The only thing is that you are the one who ends up doing all of the work. Imagine being the captain of your own ship and you do all of the sail work and deck scrubbing. The benefit of all this individual hard work pays off when the value and interest in your business increases from that hard work. Sweat Equity can help any entrepreneur put their foot through the door to potential investors. For the freelancer, there is not much that needs to be done in terms of outsourced investment since the money comes from the transaction of the completed lesson/gig. There is no bigger idea or project projected for the future and that takes away the need for either crowdfunding or crowdsourcing. The main opportunity that a freelance musician can take all comes back to networking. Make sure to attend every possible networking event to make connections and get introductions to people who may be able to give you more business.

Overall, it seems like starting the freelance musician/teacher business seems to be easier compared to most and could potentially give you the head start that most other ventures would not provide. The primary focus on self-promotion and networking for the service being provided makes for a tedious but worth while experience that can only help for future endeavors.

Money Makes the World Go Round

Hey folks! Thanks for tuning back into the latest addition to this blog. Last week we discussed the do’s and don’t’s regarding the process of becoming a freelance music instructor. This involves developing the practical skills needed to play and instrument and acquiring the needed knowledge to then teach others their instrument of choice. On top of the necessary customer based, there is a need for networking opportunities in order to advance and improve on your career in the near and far future.

Yes people aspire to be happy and “never work a day in their life”, but at the end of the day, people need to make a sustainable living. After speaking to some of my past music instructors for piano, guitar, and drums, the overarching challenge that each one had was the decision making regarding the price of each lesson they offered. The main factor to consider is the range of demographic that you provide your service to. As mentioned in the last post, there are about 900,000 musicians in the United States. That means that there is an exponentially larger amount of students out there learning from these teachers. When diving into the realm of demographics, the age category seems to be the most important due to financial opportunity; usually its a parent paying for their kid’s lessons or anyone wanting to learn and pay for the lesson on their own. This can make the student search difficult because, in the case of the kid playing, its not the parent who has to be pleased. The reason behind this thought is that the parent will transitively be happy if their kid is happy with the teacher and the lessons.

Being a freelancer musician or teacher is still completely considered to be a for of running a business. Due to such circumstances, a freelancers still needs to create and keep track of all expenses and revenue generated from the business. This requires you to decide what type of pricing strategy is to be used and see which would best  curtail itself to the specific line of work someone does. One method that my father uses is the introductory offer. He gives his students their first lesson free to see how they like it. This is a good version of trail-and-error for a musician and help avoid “mistakes”. After this first lesson, the teacher tends to be the one who decides how much the cost of each lesson will be. Never in my musical experience have i encountered a customer-led pricing strategy. Usually the main form of pricing lessons comes down to the middle ground; the fair pricing strategy. This entails the customer agreeing to the price being offered by the teacher. Back to my father’s method, once the free lesson is completed, then it is up to the parent to see if the price for a regular price would be worth the value, time, and money.

Any instructor can find that sweet-spot price for customers to pay for that projects and depicts the level of expertise and quality of the lesson being offered. More often there are those who failure rather than succeed. Why does this happen you may ask? Tune in next week to hear more about the struggle of success.

Ready. Set. Grow!

Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen and welcome to the latest addition to this family of blog posts. Last week, for a little recap, we discussed some of the ideas involved in increasing the exposure and availability of music education. The idea of incorporating the implementation of online education for higher music education institutions. Instead of focusing on the professional track for music, lets help out everyone else who just has music as a hobby.

There are thousands, maybe millions, of people in the United States who seek the fundamental skills and knowledge about music. Whether it be guitar, piano, or tuba for all I know, people can usually find the lessons they need to become the “master” of their craft. According to, there are just about 900,000 composers, songwriters, and music publishers in the US alone. That goes to show how great of an opportunity it is to teach music.

Now, what does one do in order to become a freelance musician and/or teacher? There are a couple of steps involved with becoming an accomplished and successful freelancer. The absolute first thing you should do is decide which instrument to choose. Regardless of which instrument you choose, you have to be able to write, compose, edit, transpose, and create music lead sheets.  This can be reached by taking part in many things. Here are some examples: study and rehearse musical scores, play music in recitals as an accompanist, improvise and arrange music, and play under the direction of a conductor.  In addition to individual skills, the musician network becomes key when trying to figure what your’e specifically trying to do with the music.

When you tie all of these together, these successful musicians all fall under the umbrella of having some specific traits. These include having the musical skills, being creative, having motivation and perseverance, having self confidence, and being able to focus for extended periods of time. On top of all of these necessary skills, being able to be a team player and having a certain level of credibility separates from those who are good and great. Once you have complied your network of musicians, now its time to be able to market yourself to the outside world with those connection to your advantage.

This by far is the hardest part about being a musician. Being able to find gigs and people offering opportunities is usually slim to none. Usually, once you find a scene and group of people you are comfortable with, stick with it before someone else latches on. Depending on how much of a name you made for yourself, you could make up to $500 for each gig.  It is unrealistic to find such high paying positions, but anything is possible! More often than not, the higher paying opportunities come with one’s experience and natural progression as a musician. As lucky or unlucky as you could be, in the end it all hangs on who you know and which new musicians you will meet and play with in the future.

Overall, the success one looks for comes from skills, networking, and available opportunities. Next post we will discuss the paths one can take when the musical skills and network have been acquired.

Take out your notepad

Welcome back those tuning in from the last post. I am glad you appreciate my passion and the venture that I decided to go into as a result. To those reading for the first time, Welcome!

Now where was I.  Ah yes, technology. As I last mentioned, implementing technology as a part of any business plan becomes the crucial ingredient in order to reach true success. Technology and that entire industry dictates the well of many other markets directly. This can be both a good thing and a bad thing for whatever it is you decide to dive into for yourselves! In the case of music education, the involvement of technology becomes very limited; there are countless apps and websites that offer the same service for the same instruments. The idea is to follow the same process of using this sort of technology, and then expanding its horizons.

The only way that I feel like I could comfortably understand the industry of music education is to educate myself, and all of my readers, about the history of music education in the United States of America.

The primary parts of music comes down to a couple of aspects; music theory, practical knowledge, and then physical ability. In terms of the available means of education, there are different levels provided for all; public school education  to private higher music education entities. For an outside example, the difference in music education just mentioned is like difference between buying $20 earphones in Port Authority for the ride and buying Bose noise cancelling headphones for over $300 that will last a very long time.

In the 18th century, the first American music school was founded in Boston with the goal of improving upon reading and signing music for religious ceremonies. That same trend followed and music school were opening up across many colonies. The 19th century created and provided music education on a whole new level. In addition to reading music, there was a curriculum for the study of music and the theory in direct relation to music. Lowell Mason, one of the founders and Boston native, brought this school to life by following the Swiss-based methodology of the Pestalozzian System.

From the 19th century and on, there were more opportunities for student to achieve musical greatness. From The Oberlin Conservatory offering one of the first Bachelor’s degree in music to the Tanglewood symposium, students and musicians from all over the world have the resources available for whatever their needs may be. Instead of the students coming to those schools, why not just bring the schools to them.

Online colleges have been around for decades and many students have utilized them for their first degree. That creates a perfect opportunity for higher music institutions; why not implement the online education for those who qualify cross country, even abroad. Professors would provide lectures and lessons online for those who need such services. There would definitely be demand for this form of a service. If there are people with the buying power and the time, then the service would be provided.

There has to be a trial run in order to test the outcome of such a venture. Maybe start off at one school, maybe Berklee School of Music on Boston. If there is a will there’s a way, and I believe that this could become a very successful opportunity in the music world.

What about those that cannot and do not want that higher level of education? What if there could be a private freelancer teaching online? Tune in next time to find out about how to go forward with opening up a small music education business, one click at a time.

Where do we begin?

Hello world! My name is Eliot Levitin and I decided to create this blog. One of my many passions in life is music and that is why I chose to speak about the redefinition of music education.

Growing up as a kid I learned how to play piano, drums, and guitar. What is not surprising is that learning these three instruments involves completely individualized methods for each. There happens to be one thing that all of them have in common; reading notes and listening to the song you learn for reference. This was the universal way of learning how to play music; sounds weird to someone our technological day and age, right?

My parents wanted me to start off simple and signed me up for piano lessons starting in 1st grade. I was being classically trained in Russian pieces, which was pain staking for a seven year old. Let me tell you, this way of playing benefited me then, now, and for the rest of my life . All that was needed was the lead sheet (the paper with notes on it), my eyes, and my hands; simplicity was key.  Reading notes was the primary and effective form of learning music. To this day there are professors and private teachers that stick to the basics.

Fast forward to 9 year old me who decided to learn how to play the drums (sorry mom). After the piano, I thought this  would be a piece of cake; I was wrong. There is a completely new set of notes to play with. Anyway, there were still lead sheets that I needed to look at while I was playing and listening to the music all at once. There seemed to be no alternatives and the old method stood its place.

Finally, last but not least, the guitar. This is by far my favorite instrument. There are many reasons why guitars sound great; low action, type of wood, type of pick-ups, etc. Yes, there is also sheet music still used today (shocker); there’s a catch though. You can create tablature or “tabs” for any melody and chords progression. Wikipedia defines tabs as a form of musical notation indicating instrument fingering rather than musical pitches.

Why do I bring this up? It’s not that tabs are a new thing; they’ve been around since the 1300’s. Out of the three instruments I named, guitar is the only one that has a second form of music notation for learning. So that got me thinking…why could there not be a second form of musical notation for all instruments? Whats stopped someone from creating that? So I decided to do a research project on the business of music education; key historical moments, affect of the 2008 market crash, past advancements, and future advancements. The list goes on and on.

Technology is getting better and faster every single day and is crucial to the success of a business, so why not use it to our advantage! Tune in next week to learn about the history of music education!