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Getting Clients

Lesson 12 from: Becoming A Music Teacher: The Art of Sharing Your Talent

Mike Johnston

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Lesson Info

12. Getting Clients

Next Lesson: Making a Living Q&A

Lesson Info

Getting Clients

This is huge for me and hopefully this will make sense for you guys I dealt when I first started teaching it taught at music stores and those music stores had current drum teachers and I thought everything I thought it was going to like the greatest thing ever like I have drum teachers standing around me and now I'm one of them I'm in this cool crew of like these guys were like amazing drummers I'm assuming every time we don't have a student we're going to jam together that didn't happen I'm assuming I can ask you anything and since you're knowledgeable you'll tell me that definitely didn't happen and I'm also assuming that I can be nice to your students and their parents and that didn't happen the reason why it's because of money and the fear of losing money and so people are so scared to lose money they don't want to help you get any better at the instrument understandable I guess I don't feel that way at all I feel like whatever I show you guys I hope that it mixes with your current...

influences and mixes with who you are as a musician and you turn into something amazing and has nothing to do with me and your success will never threaten me ever if all five of you guys got record deals today and just started touring that would not threaten my success at all just be happy for you so the other thing that was happening with these private teachers was they would see like hey, I saw you were talking about you know, students parents like yeah I actually I know I know timmy's dad you know we actually story spikes together back in the day why are you talkinto because we raised bikes back in the day like that's it because timmy's dad is doping he drives a ferrari and I just asked him like how like that's awesome like do they only come in red that's really cool? I don't understand this so and what was happening was this the teachers are scared that I'm poaching their students like why are you looking at while you're talking the parents where you were you looking at my student? Why did you show him that thing on the practice pad before our lesson dog I did I can't stop myself from sharing information so should you create new clients or fight for someone else's existing clients? Well, if I moved to seattle how many students do over an attack give or take twenty so jack's got twenty students have a choice I can fight for jack's twenty students I can poach them I could find out where they hang out and be they came in your teachers dope but uh there's my card my name is laszlo given the card way like among the last just letting you know uh you know and I can do that and I can get, you know, probably maybe three or four of your students and I also in the in the process of doing that, I get you to hate me or I think about probably close to two or three hundred thousand kids that go to school somewhere within forty five minutes of driving distance that haven't picked a hobby that's what I want don't want twenty I want two hundred thousand and I don't understand why people never take that approach and they always think like like way just don't have any drums students here then go make some some kid right now is trying to choose what to do with his or her life get in front of them and so guys, as far as promoting yourself let's say that you're starting to teach in a new town like I don't know how to get students this is it right here do not fight for someone's current students create new students, take people that have never even entertained the idea of playing drums and turn them into students. That's how you grow your business don't fight for the left overs that are out there create new clients so what I did, I moved to a town called san listen this but when I quit touring I was in my band and I realized that teaching was for me I just I you know it's spent all the time on the tour bus teaching anybody that came to the show or other drummers and I was never out doing what bands were supposed to be doing I was on a rubber practice pad you know and I thought I'm going to teach the rest of my life I moved to a town called san luis obispo it's a beach town I've never been there before and I didn't know anyone there and I talked to the local owner and at this time there was no mike johnston branding I had no name whatsoever my band had never been were the opening band for everybody else and it wasn't like I didn't say oh just you know I'm like from corn like I had nothing that I could say I said I'm mike from sacramento california that was it the place was called the drum circuit and the owner's name was steve hill stein and steve just like creative live took a chance on me and said okay, well I have no students for you but nobody teaches in that room on thursday nights it's yours if you want it it's all I need just like we said before just give me a chance please so it gave me a chance the next step ok I can fight for the students that are here which I'm going to create a lot of hatred around me if I do that when create new ones so I went to all the elementary schools in the area there's a nearby town called atascadero I went there I went to pismo beach I went san luis missile has its own school system went there I went and had meetings on the phone I got a shirt that had sleeves and one of those you know colors you have one yeah, like I got a professional search with buttons and everything and I covered up the tattoos and I bought a fake nice watch and I tried to look as professionals possible I had a meeting with the vice principal I said, hey, how's goldman is mike johnson I'm educator I had established I'm not a drummer anymore I'm an educator, not a teacher either I'm an educator so I use that term my name's mike johnson, an educator I would love to come in and teach your kids about geography and rhythm and like, okay, I'm interested talk to me ok it's going to be free assembly, we'll get all the kids in the room and what I'm going to do is I'm going to play something on the drums that that'll be super fun and exciting to listen to and I'm gonna get up time to talk about where that rhythm came from and the people that created that rhythm and I'm going to we're going to call this you know rhythms of the world creating all this stuff in his meeting rhythms of the world and I'm going teach about all this stuff I'm going to take them through brazil and through africa and through india and definitely through america I'm just show them the different places that created these amazing rhythms and the vice president presidents like that would be awesome I'm like ok how much she charged nothing it's free vice president presidents like but vice principal vice president anyways so vice principal says like ok so what do you need? All I want is I'm going to give you a stack of five hundred giftcertificates good for one free drum listen please just hand them out to the kids that are interested that's all I'm asking vice principals like yeah no problem at all sweet I'll see you on wednesday go home I practice my rear end often I create this assembly all by myself loaded I do the assembly awesome it goes well the kids freak out I let him play the drums I involve everybody everyone's happy these air all kids in grade school level under seventh grade they haven't chose a hobby a fresh minds ready to go everyone hands up their gifts to get snow in my mind I'm probably not gonna get any calls right away I'm not banking on that what I'm banking on is this that gift certificate is on someone's refrigerator right now and someone's about to have a birthday and I'm just hoping that the parent will take that gets to the get off the fridge later and they you still want to drum lessons let's do that for your birthday and I'll get that call and then christmas is going to come and then easter is going to come and then halloween drum lessons are going to come and that those gifts but it's going to last on fridge aerators for a year and they're going to keep going and so as soon as I was done, it wasn't like pack up and try to tell the kids like ok and make sure your parents call me that's that's sham well, it's nineteen ninety nine of the screen I don't want to do that it's like a man I had a blast hanging out with you guys, I'll be right back I go talk to vice principal, I go into the vice principal's office and say, hey, thank you so much for letting me do that I had a blast if you want to do it again next year, I'd love to do it we'll do a whole bunch of different countries we didn't do this time can I ask you for one more favor? Yeah, sure what's up can you write me a letter of recommendation that this went well oh yeah, of course that's all I needed that's my chance I have my letter of recommendation from a vice principal of you know of an elementary school I take that to atascadero I take that to pismo beach to get into those schools now after my third one of these there's fifteen hundred gift certificates for one free lesson I'm not undercutting anybody my price is one hundred dollars a month, so I haven't I haven't undercut anyone it's one free drum lessons it's my chance it's my audition to earn your business and that's what I did in the town I'd never been to and within sixty days I had like sixty five students and we had to actually find places for me to teach us that couldn't teach everybody that was coming in so you can't say like well, but you have this brand and you have this name that was a brand new town that I'd never visited my life so this goes all the way back to the beginning of this course. What is the difference between me and whoever else was in that town couldn't change their talent I couldn't change that they were more gift in that the drums of me but I could outwork them they had to go to sleep it sometime I could stay up later I could outwork them and I could make sure that I got those students so I took fifteen hundred giftcertificates and said how about I have the potential to get fifteen hundred brand new students rather than fighting over the twenty that jack already has? It makes no sense to do that, so I hope that concept makes sense to you guys I hope you understand fighting over the scraps is pointless go find new clients and create them and show them this amazing instrument do you know how rad this instrument was to me when I was a kid? Because I tried football tried baseball, I tried sports and it didn't work out and all of a sudden it was like, I guess I'll just never be cool. When the drum set came along it was like, this is kind of cool and people like all you play drums said that's awesome and was like, yeah, and people wanted to come to my house to play my drum set and that was really cool well, kids identify with that stuff, so definitely do that. All right? So boom now, due to some restrictions of copyright laws, there was supposed to be a dope slide of the cobra kaido joe right there from the karate kid, but we couldn't broadcast that so so that's what you've got instead hollywood's role in building your business this is huge for branding and for business and for understanding what's about to happen when the karate kid came out the amount of people that signed up for karate lessons for the next five years was through the roof through the roof that was the most popular activities to do in the world for for that little chunk of time because hollywood told the world that this is cool and if you want to be cool like daniel son and you want to make sure that nobody sweeps the leg then you've got to do this and hollywood told us all of that and it is important that all of the music teachers in the world understand that that happens all the time. It happened with drumline when that movie came out immediately it was cool to play drums it was called me in marching band you know how hard that is to do guys do you know how hard it is to make marching band cool hollywood did it you know how hard it is to make marching band cool with nick cannon way ardor and they still did it so yeah, america does got talent that's what it's about is hollywood will direct everything that we think is cool and it's really important that all of the drummers out there understand it's about to happen again it's going to happen with a movie called whiplash have nothing to do with it I know nothing about it other than what I've seen on youtube but it's a legitimate movie about a drum set player going away to a berkeley type school and trying to become a great drummer when that movie hits theaters you need to be ready for what's going to come at you and what's going to come at you is a bunch of people that want to play drums because they saw in a movie theater and it looked cool hollywood will control that and you have to be ready for the fact that they're going to do it again two years later with something different and you need to be ready to possibly lose some students to that new thing so be conscious of what's happening why are the drums cool right now? Do you know how how big our industry got from travis barker? People try to deal with that guy out all the time I've spent time with him we've matched chops on a pad together it's a really cool guy he's a really nice guy but I never judged him as a drummer ever I never thought like oh I thought you'd be faster I thought you'd have better control your rudiments by the way he's a great drummer but I thought damn, our industry is thriving because you're cool right now that's amazing is on really like you're a celebrity for and you just played drums set you know I mean way toured with blink when you two in my old ban and right around the time that travis got the band and I remember blink one is who was about to go on stage we had just finished, we're leaving and I was just going back to the bus was going to go take a nap, but I wasn't a big bling twenty two fan and this was our first show with them was like, I'll see it later in the tour and I see all the drummers from the tour dave girl, taylor hawkins, foo fighters were on this tour, abe cunningham from the deftones and john from stained and john auto from limp biscuit all the drummers air headed towards the stage and I'm leaving and I was like, where you guys going? You know, I was like the little kid good and they're like, travis is about to play we believe we need to know why is that a big deal? And they were all like, you never seen travis plans like nope, and I don't really care to know I think you should see him play was like, all right, fine, I'll do my nap later, so I went I watched him play do immediately all I could think about is every kid in that in that, you know, crowd must just be thinking that's, what I want to do for the rest of my life because he made it look so cool and you have to be ready as business people out there it's very important that you're constantly aware of what you know pop culture is doing with your with your instrument whether be guitar bass drums vocals piano photography if there's a moment that the world is saying this is hip that's your moment to pounce you need to be ready for that and that's when you strike you have to get his many new students as you can during that moment because the world is saying this is cool so imagine coming to you know a school the week after this movie whiplash comes out everyone's excited about drumming and then you show up with a drum set and you have a gift certificate for one free lesson you know what that was but dude that would be huge the kids like I give me I'm gonna take this home right now mom mom mom mom mom I have to play drums so hollywood has an impact on what happens right now that being said who is your competition? So this is definitely kind of goes back to what we've been talking about this whole thing is other drum too just treating me as their competition that happened in the private you know, less something that happened when I was trying to do mork clinics you know, other clinicians we're treating me as their competition definitely happened when it did the online thing all the hatred that I would receive through the internet I usually try to call that person like if somebody really hated me with and said like just you know like the world would be better if you stop breathing was like wow wow you are highly upset at me all I do is teach drums I don't even know what I did to deserve that so I'd find this people can we talk on the phone like you seem really upset what over bro all right and they put their cell phone number so I called him okay this is my did he seem to hate me pretty bad well I do all right cool no big I don't know what he talks like shack do you know why do you hate me? Well, you know it's just you know it's just the whole thing and no I don't know what you're talking about I've never met you why do you hate me? Well, you know I started doing the online lesson thing it didn't really work out and you know you're doing well with it it's just lame wait so you hate makes them succeeding and something you feel that we'll know it's just it's like ok that's really common so it's like all right well in the back of my head I mean to stay on the phone with this guy for an hour like we're going to talk about we're going to find out what happened with his website I'm gonna look at his content, I'm gonna help him like crazy one it's a good business move he's going to run around telling people that I talk to that my guy was actually really cool I'm not helping him to be fake I want to help the guy, but I know I know what the residual effects of helping someone like that are so I do that but two it's kind of like one of those things and say, look, you're confused, I'm not your competition and I never have been this is your competition sports, karate, taekwondo, whatever everything that people do as a hobby instead of drums or whatever you're teaching that's your competition and you have to get there first, and that is what no one ever does. Everyone gets their last and says, how come you didn't choose me? You're competing with the nfl? I can tell you exactly what people didn't choose you. You could be with the n ba compete with people that spend billions, not even millions but billions on marketing that's why they didn't choose you get there first and then they can choose you, I'm not telling my student to not do taekwondo I'm not telling my student to not play basketball or not play soccer I'm just trying to get there at that exact same age and just a human just you know this exists it's awesome and if you play guitar if you play bass it's even easier our instrument is loud no hard is to convince apparent allow this in their living room a student so you know usually then I just showed them a practice pan I say we'll do a bunch stuff on this you know and still try to get in so this is your competition and it's very important that you understand that you're not trying to discourage that you're just trying to get there first and all of us at some point don't feel like we fit in with that I know that I don't when I look at that that scares the heck out of me just thinking about that happening to my bass drum foot oh my god like I'm gonna have to pepper spray I can't we can't have physical contact so you know if I feel like that and if and if that scares me well then maybe it scares other people too you know and so I think that you need to get in there and say look man do you not feel like you fit in anywhere maybe drums this for you here's how cool could be and then whatever you feel the pressure on as far as like this is what drumming is it's a rudiments and it's it's perfection dude, don't do that don't put that stuff on your resume like I teach you know, order bleak is a blip of bill and I teach you know out of syncopation stick control nobody wants you can do that once you hooked them once you get them there what I put is favorite bands all of their favorite bands, favorite drummers all of their favorite drummers I have to get them in and then once it's like a man who's your favorite drummer and they say you know joey georgeson I love slip not cool man joe is awesome or mike mangini I just love dream theater awesome and that's cool so that's it either is and there's no judgment judgment never comes. What happens is over the next year start exposing them to our masters. You know the rial nothing mike mangini isn't but showing them, you know, like just letting him walk in while I'm freaking out over a dave weigel cliff letting them walk in while I freak out over keith carla clip in there like what you watching like it's? Keith kerr like man plays a weird like that right is not awesome. He plays like that so that nobody considering on his drum set at a gig that's why his drums air still messed up is so that no one can ever sit in that's awesome like, no and you and you started to say, yeah, all right, let's, turn this off. You know, we watch a little more, like all right, and you're hooking them into, like our masters. Instead of saying just so you know, your favorite drummer sucks, and these air, the great ones. That's, so, so counterproductive. That doesn't help at all.

Ratings and Reviews

fbuser b4d93b5f

Mike is such a great educator. He is well versed in all aspects of teaching and also branding and making a living with it. He is a passionate and truly dedicated teacher. I also really liked that he made it clear that teaching is not a plan b for him but his true calling and it can be such a rewarding experience. I got a lot out of this session and I truly recommend it to anyone who is interesting in taking this path.

a Creativelive Student

Mike, thank you for your wonderful teaching. I have been a performer and vocal educator for over 20 years and I've learn so much today to add to my own personal instruction. These teachings are so transferrable and your passion is simply awesome. I see you and I see a reflection of myself. I'm going to study you some more by purchasing this session. It's been awesome to watch. Thanks for the inspiration!


This is the most brilliant class. There are so many great points in here, it is an information overload; but explained it such a simple way. I watch one of these videos almost every week, just to top up on what I should be giving my students - it serves as a good reminder and an even better teaching aid. Mike; time and time again, he releases great media that everyone must see. I can't speak highly enough of this.

Student Work