If you’re serious about filling your studio with more of your ideal students, the essential place to start is with your Bio. I know this may seem counter-intuitive but my clients have proven to me that to attract more music students, you need to upgrade your teaching Bio.
Why do teaching Bios matter?
Think about it from the point of view of the person looking for a music teacher. Let’s imagine that a prospective student—or their parent—has been given the names of 3 music teachers to consider.
What’s the next step that person will take? Yep, they’ll look these prospective teachers up online.
Here’s what they’re likely to find. Out of the 3 music teachers, one won’t have a website, one has a site for her performance work but nothing on it about her teaching. And the other has a teaching page on her site filled with boring credentials that fail to answer that person’s burning questions about her teaching.
Readers don’t really care about your degrees or the number of years you’ve been teaching. And they don’t really want to read the long list of where you’ve performed and every competition your students have won.
So what SHOULD be in your teaching Bio?
Your ideal students (and their parents) want to find out what you’re actually like to work with. They want to get a real sense of who you are as a teacher.
Music lessons are personal. Studying music makes people feel vulnerable, whether you’re 5 or 55 years old. Whether it’s one-on-one or group lessons.
Parents want to find a teacher they trust, someone who’ll be a good influence on their child. And adult students want to know that you’re a good person to work with—that they’d feel comfortable with you and that you’re the right person to help them level-up their music-making.
So let’s look at an example of an effective teaching Bio. This one is from pianist and educator Walter Aparicio, a wonderful client I had the pleasure of working with on his teaching Bio.
Note: please don’t mimic or “borrow” any of the wording here. In the end, that’s not going to help you describe what’s true and distinct about your OWN teaching. Instead . . .
As you read this teaching Bio example, ask yourself what unstated questions it addresses
Analyzing this will help you clarify the unstated questions YOUR Bio needs to answer.
“As a teacher, my aim is to help students unlock the meaning and message of any piece of music. For me, teaching and learning are both about exploration, inquiry and experimentation. And I approach each lesson fully committed to spark a student’s imagination and musical understanding through these principles. The joy in my teaching is seeing students’ ideas develop and being there to guide them each step of the way!
Together with my students, we discover a wide range of repertoire, from Schumann, Kurtag, and Prokofiev, to Beethoven, Ravel and Philip Glass. I also equip students with the practical skills of lead-sheet reading, accompaniment styles, transposition and improvisation so they can take their creativity and love of music in many directions.
But my goal is to do more than teach piano. I help students become problem solvers and independent learners, as they find their own artistic voices. I ask lots of questions to help students make their own musical decisions and take ownership of their interpretations. I’ve taught students ages 5 to 68, and have found that at every age, the discovery of how music can communicate and connect people is richly rewarding.
Music is meant to be shared, so with my students each year culminates with a celebratory studio recital. Not only does this create a concrete goal and a sense of accomplishment for students, but it further cultivates the shared supportive studio environment they contribute to and enjoy.”
Identifying unstated questions to unlock how an effective Bio works
In a sense, any piece of promo material is aimed at answering key unstated questions that the intended customer has.
What questions did you identify that were being answered in the example above? Here’s how I see it . . .
The first paragraph’s first two sentences answer the question . . . What is your aim as a teacher? The third sentence answers How does that play out in lessons? The last sentence in the paragraph addresses the question of Why do you teach?
The second paragraph addresses the question, of What do you focus on in lessons? Walter addresses this in terms of the wide range of repertoire and the breadth of skills he teaches. And he adds WHY he does this: so that his students “can take their creativity and love of music in many directions.”
In the third paragraph, the first unstated question is What results do students gain? Walter addresses the larger goals of his teaching: the transferable life skills that he helps students develop. The third sentence explains What are lessons like? And the last sentence works in the age range that he’s taught and re-emphasizes the larger value and gratification that he offers students.
In the final paragraph, we get the answers to the questions of How does performing fit into Walter’s studio? and What are studio recitals like? We learn that these are approached as celebratory events that contribute to a “shared supportive studio environment.” This conveys a sense that Walter is not simply teaching individuals but that he welcomes them into a community of positive learning.
Note: I’m NOT saying that your teaching Bio has to answer these exact questions in this order—it doesn’t. The point is that your Bio should answer concrete questions that YOUR ideal student (or their parents) have. That way, your Bio will work as a compelling call to action—to motivate readers to click “contact” and set up a first meeting with you.
Where do all the credits go—the boring lists of where you’ve taught and student successes?
On Walter’s studio site’s “About” page, next to his teaching Bio is a sidebar with a series of “at-a-glance” lists. These include his relevant teaching credits: his current and past teaching affiliations, where he’s presented master classes, and his students’ successes.
Instead of filling his Bio with these boring credentials, Walter focuses in the Bio on addressing who he really is as a teacher and gives readers a real sense of what studying with him is like—answering the real questions prospective students have.
This keeps his Bio short and compelling. And it still makes it easy for readers to see his relevant teaching credentials in the side bar and quickly locate whatever category they’re most interested in.
Again, you don’t have to put your credits in a sidebar, but if you have them in the body of your Bio, make sure you only include the most relevant handful of credits. Otherwise, you’ll bore the pants off your readers.
In the end, I’ve found . . .
The #1 problem with most teaching Bios is that they don’t address the real questions readers have.
Think about the students you have loved teaching. Think about what mattered most to them—what they wanted from studying music and what they most appreciated about working with you.
Ask yourself what questions a similar student would want answered in order to see that you are a good fit.
Writing prompts to the rescue
When I work with clients, we end up having a series of conversations to tease out HOW they teach and what’s distinctive about their teaching. We dig deep to get at the goals behind their teaching.
To get you started, think about the last time you taught a lesson and had a moment when you felt LUCKY to be doing this work. Keep that memory in mind as you complete the following sentence prompts:
My aim as a teacher is to . . .
Beyond the musicianship skills I teach, my goal is to help students gain (name transferable life skills). . .
For me, the most rewarding part of teaching is . . .
In lessons my students and I . . .
I love teaching because . . .
With the raw material from these prompts, you’ll be a lot closer to having an effective and memorable Bio that helps attract more of the students you love working with.
Why bother to upgrade your teaching Bio
In working with clients on their teaching Bios I’ve found that many have never taken the time to answer such questions. And they’ve never articulated for themselves what’s distinctive and effective in their teaching. Although it can take some real soul searching to find the answers, it’s worth doing. The process itself—of clarifying your purpose—can be transformational.
One of the reasons I love helping musicians upgrade their promo materials is because I get to see them gain a renewed energy and commitment to the work they do. They gain a new sense of the value they bring to the world. And they gain the confidence that can only come from being centered in their life purpose as they move forward toward their goals.
So how will all this attract more students?
When you directly address a prospective student’s concerns you help them feel seen and heard—like they’re connecting to a real person who “gets” their needs. And with that they’ll be far more likely to click the “contact” button to set up a time to meet with you.
Plus, when you can articulate your value as a teacher and clearly describe what’s distinctive in your teaching, what you value, and why you love teaching—then networking, self-promotion, and recruiting conversations all become easier.
Why? Because you’re no longer hiding behind what you imagine will make you seem impressive, professional, and successful. And instead you are focusing on being honest and open—connecting with others as a human being.
If you want more focused help writing an effective, dynamic teaching Bio, check out my Musician Teaching Bio Workshop video program, complete with worksheets and examples.
And if you’re pursuing college teaching jobs and want in-depth, hands-on help with your teaching Bio along with the rest of your teaching job application materials, check out my signature Land the Job program.
Here’s to your better future,
Dream Big, Plan Smart, Live Well