I wanted to share the transcript to a recent podcast that I was featured on, discussing the growth of Eric's Piano School in Costa Mesa, CA in less then two years.
Tim Topham: This season of The Creative Piano Teaching Podcast is proudly supported by My Music Staff. Announcer: Welcome to The Creative Piano Teaching Podcast. The place where teachers from around the world meet to share innovating ideas about music education. Listen and learn as we help you motivate your students, grow your income, expand your studio and become a more creative piano teacher.
Tim Topham: Welcome back to the creative piano teaching podcast. Your weekly dose of creative inspiration, fun conversation, and teaching tactics for your studio. We'll help you keep motivated and inspired as you teach and run your business and give you the confidence you need to explore new ideas, teach more creatively, and grow the studio of your dreams. My name is Tim Topham, your host for the show, and you're listening to episode number 158, and a very special shout out to my Inner Circle piano teaching community members. I absolutely love case studies. I don't know about you, but as I've grown my own business and studio and have researched things online and listen to podcasts myself, I always enjoy case studies because you can get an incredible amount of inspiration from other people's real world experience and I find that the strategies that people talk about are really actionable, so if something's working for someone else, and you think it might work for you, you can actually just try these things because the other really important thing about a case study is that it does show proof. It shows proof that something is working and that someone is having success in some way or for that matter a failure that you can learn from in some way. Now, today it's all about positive things. We're certainly not talking about failures because my guest today is a member of my Inner Circle and when I found out just how much he had expanded his studio in such a short period of time after moving to a completely new city, I just had to get him on the show to unpack his experience and share his growth strategies with others because I know many of you do move around © timtopham.com 2019 timtopham.com from time to time, sometimes quite a lot due to your spouse's work. So, this can be an incredibly hard thing to do. Tune in as my Inner Circle member unpacks just how he was so successful in building his studio. Today's show notes and full transcript are available right now if you type into your browser, timtopham.com/episode158. And we've got a freebie today. It's a job description for hiring a first teacher for your studio. You'll hear in the episode that my guest has made big changes in his studio this year, one of which was to hire another teacher to help him. He's kindly offered to share his full job description, which is available to Inner Circle members in our resource library right now. This will save you heaps of time in coming up with an engaging job ad if you would like to hire another teacher yourself. Now, if you're not a member, of course you can join us now and access this resource. Hang out with today's guests and thousands of other members and get access to all my courses, lesson plans and business advice. All you you need to do is head to timtopham.com/community. My guest today has grown his school based steam and Costa Mesa, California to a student body of 47 weekly students in one and a half years in business. He attributes much of the success to the many resources and contacts gained by being a member of the Inner Circle. He sees studying the piano as a quest to help students on a self improvement journey. Through pursuing mastery, he believes students build virtuous characteristics, core to their being that can translate into all aspects of their life. His mission on the podcast he told me is to provide inspiration and proof that you can build your ideal studio with the right education, guidance and a little bit of patience. Welcome to the show, Eric Rinehart .
Eric Rinehart: Thank you for having me, Tim.
Tim Topham: It's been so good hanging out with you. We got to hang out at MTAC. I've caught up with you a few times. We've had some Zoom chats and things like that, so really good to come on and get your story out to all the teachers who are listening because you have done some extraordinary things in just a very short amount of time and seen some great growth. So, we're gonna unpack a bit of that today. I thought we might just start with about a year and a half ago when you join the Inner Circle, I think it was about July, 2017. Tell us what brought you into the Inner Circle and perhaps a bit about how your studio looked back then.
Eric Rinehart: I was living in Napa, California, and I knew that I was about to move to Orange County, which is like 300 miles south, or I guess it's like 500 kilometers south and so with no contacts or anything. I knew that I was about to basically have no contacts and really needed to make teaching full time work. In my studio I had like 10 students or so. You had asked like a monetary figure. I was somewhere around like $1,000 to $1,700, depending, I guess on the month and things like that. It was a small studio as I was just in those early stages of teaching. Yeah, and then I relocated and had zero students. © timtopham.com 2019 timtopham.com
Tim Topham: Scary, and I hear that a lot from teachers who have to move because maybe their partner's working or whatever it is. It's actually quite common and it's really tough. Right? No friends. Well, I'm assuming. A few contacts, certainly no students, a new apartment. It's like, oh my goodness, I've got to begin again. Eric Rinehart: Yeah. That was basically what it was like, but I had plenty of youth and energy to make it work.
Tim Topham: Well, how old are you, Eric?
Eric Rinehart: 25. Tim Topham: 25, fantastic. Go on.
Eric Rinehart: I wanted to add, you had asked about my reasoning for joining the Inner Circle and I have a biochemistry degree from university, so I didn't get this like collegiate academic education. So, I really needed to feel good about the service that I was offering to make sure that I was getting some wisdom from people who had been doing it. And since I didn't have it in that formal sense, I sought out you and the Inner Circle just to kind of legitimize that what I was already doing was gonna work and it would also just give me some creative ideas because not only do I have your courses and your ideas, but people in the forum, it's just like they just throw out everything that they do. So, it's like I don't have to be limited by my imagination as much.
Tim Topham: Fantastic. It's really great to hear that. I think one of the other things, perhaps it gave you, 'cause I've certainly heard this from other members, and that's just confidence. A bit more confidence than what you're doing was right. Confidence that you could try some new things and confidence perhaps in your business too. Would you agree with that?
Eric Rinehart: Yeah, absolutely. As I was preparing for chatting on the line with you today, mentioning the multiple courses that I've taken in the Inner Circle and each one sort of adding another feeling of that I can make this new addition to my business. And it also sent me down other rabbit holes of other resources.
Tim Topham: What's possible.
Eric Rinehart: Yeah. To call on different other content creators who I discovered through the Inner Circle and things like that.
Tim Topham: Yeah. That's awesome to hear. Let's fast forward to today. One, how you feeling about your business? Two, how does the studio look now?
Eric Rinehart: At this point, the school is sitting at 47 students. I have one contractor who's about at 70% capacity. She's in school. I just hired a VA who I found through a friend of a friend. So, I'm just getting comfortable like delegating skills and trying to allow them to touch my baby. Just 'cause I got to the point where I am now, a lot of it based off of independent work. In order to scale a business, you have to have some help. Not to say that I did it all by myself, but the day to day work was done by me.
Tim Topham: Yeah.
Eric Rinehart: So, I was really relying on myself for the web design and running Google ads, Facebook ads, though I had some guidance coaching on that and things like that, but I was the one pulling the strings, of course, doing the trial servicing lessons, managing the billing and the reschedules when kids get sick.
Tim Topham: Yeah, like here, the one man band or one person band to start with. I actually was talking in the last episode, which was all about how to hire a VA about superhero syndrome, which is what we all can easily fall into, that trap of, "I can do this better myself. It's gonna take too long to train someone else and I don't have the money and it's too hard. So I'm just going to keep doing it all myself." It sounds like you've broken out of that and taken that .. well, it's a bit of a scary leap sometimes to hire someone for the first time. Let's just talk a little bit about that if it's okay. Who did you hire first? Have you got a teacher working with you as well? Eric Rinehart: Yeah.
Tim Topham: So, who did you have first out of the VA and the teacher?
Eric Rinehart: The teacher was first just because my schedule is just getting so crazy. So, I wanted to get another teacher on board to start taking some of the students also who might not necessarily be a perfect fit for me. In the past six months, I really transitioned away from doing mobile lessons. My contractor, she continues to offer that service, which is super important in Orange County for the convenience. Also, she's really great with the age three to five year olds, which, although I've taken the preschool beginners course, it's my personality. I can do it, but it's a lot easier when little girls, they are not so afraid of a motherly figure. It takes maybe two to three months with me before they were willing to like say a word or do what I asked them to do without being so bashful and things like that.
Tim Topham: Well, it's great that you've worked that out within the space of a year or so, what your skills are and where you really want to spend your time, which I gather is for eight plus year olds let's say. Now, instead of just saying, "Okay, I'll take everyone, I just need the cash." Instead of doing that, you're going, "You know what? I don't like teaching those three to five year olds." I'm sure you love three to five year olds, but maybe not the teaching. So, I'm gonna focus on what I really enjoy and see if I can find someone to help with that other age group who can also travel to their houses, which sounds great. It's what one of our other members talked on the podcast about, episode 136 I think about, which is hiring her first teacher who also went and traveled to student's houses. So, how long has she been working with you and how has it worked out? © timtopham.com 2019 timtopham.com
Eric Rinehart: Since September. I think it's like five months or so. I got real lucky just as far as having a really quality professional working along with me when I think I could have probably been a little bit more rigorous in the hiring process as the first go abouts. I feel very lucky that I have full amount of trust in her and everything and know better for next time.
Tim Topham: Yeah, absolutely. Well, it's a learning process. You'll get better each time you hire someone. Where did you find your teacher? Eric Rinehart: I posted on Indeed. I had some help from my coach, Daniel Patterson, growyourmusicstudio.com on writing a really quality job description because that is what's going to attract the right person and being very clear about the job responsibilities and who it is that I'm looking for. Initially, I didn't realize that you didn't have to pay for Indeed, but you can pay if you want, like a lot of people that apply in a short amount of time.
Tim Topham: So, it's free, but if you pay, you will get more applicants, is that right?
Eric Rinehart: Yeah, and it's not like when you don't see boost like a Facebook post, you're still getting applicants. It's just not like 101 day.
Tim Topham: Got it. Yeah, which is probably too many anyway, to be honest with you. I think one of the hardest things about hiring is when you get 300 applicants, it just takes so long to find that right person. Look, we could keep digging into how you hired this person, and the role they're doing, but I also want to find out about your VA given that that's what last episode was all about. Tell me, how did you go about finding the VA and what role is he or she doing for you? Eric Rinehart: I'm a part of a couple different piano communities, and I happened to be chatting with a friend who I met through there. We actually met in real life, and I found out that she had like 10 teachers working for her. She's crazy busy and runs like four businesses. So, she had a person. I asked this VA if she could do work for me, she couldn't, but then she had referral for me.
Tim Topham: Fantastic.
Eric Rinehart: That's not to say, I know that you've talked about Upwork, and the building a music academy course talks about going to Upwork, how to find those people, paying for a quality individual and don't be shy of paying somewhere between $15 and $25 or up to have a really good English communicating assistant going alongside with you. I'm still getting the ropes of what I can ask her to do, and I'm currently going through some education around working with an assistant and identifying the different areas of my business. The normal term has hats, but I think it's like the responsibilities, the job titles.
Tim Topham: Yeah, the different hats you wear. You're gonna say, yeah?
Eric Rinehart: Yeah. I'm starting to get a little bit clearer about what those hats actually do, like in a normal corporation or business, and then I can kind of identify what the responsibilities for each of those roles is. Just today I had her begin to start a survey for recital dates. So, she will be in charge of reaching out to the venue to book, choosing between, if we're doing three recital this year or two recitals or just one, based off of the responses, so she'll send out that survey, she'll follow up with the individuals. Again, keep following up until we get enough responses. And then, the plan is to have her do the programs as well. Tim Topham: Yeah. That's great.
Eric Rinehart: So that I can show up to the recital.
Tim Topham: And not to have spent hours and hours wasted organizing things that someone else could do for you. So, a fantastic decision there. I know that as time goes on, you'll find more things for her to do, or you'll be able to hire someone else who's a specialist in something else you need done, however it might work. Can I ask how much you're paying this person approximately so that we've got an idea?
Eric Rinehart: Yeah. $2,150 US dollars. Tim Topham: Yeah, great. Yeah. That's a high end VA, so she would know what she's doing. Which country is she in? Eric Rinehart: She's in the U.S. Yeah, she's in New York. Tim Topham: Yep. Fantastic. No, that's great.
Eric Rinehart: Just just based off of guidance that I've been given for certain at responsibilities my coach really suggested, really pushed, it's worth maybe spending a little bit of extra money just to have it be done right the first time.
Tim Topham: Right. That's true. [inaudible 00:17:40] hard way as well. You started, I think you said in your first year or I don't know. About a year ago, January, 2017, you were at about $2,500 a month as income. Where do you, where have you got to now? If you're happy to say.
Eric Rinehart: Well, I'm super proud and excited of my January month, where I had a peak month of $8600. Whoa. It's like breaking the six figure if you extrapolate out for 12 months. That was a major goal that I was working on with myself and my coach. I say a peak month because I've been selling like three month packages to adults who typically quit around the five week mark. So, it helps with the accountability to be financially in the game. © timtopham.com 2019 timtopham.com So, probably averaging somewhere around $5,000 to $7,000 depending on the month and sign ups and things like that.
Tim Topham: Yeah. Congratulations. That is a massive achievement, and I know how hard you've worked [inaudible 00:18:50] for the last year, and I've kept up with you. Congratulations again. That literally is more than a three times revenue increase year on year, which is just so, so impressive. How do your teaching hours compared from then until now? Are now teaching three or four times longer or are you teaching about the same or less? If so, have you structured it? Eric Rinehart: Yeah, I would say I have been teaching more. There was a period in quarter four of 2018 where I was just running myself ragged, like working six days a week and really booked out quite a bit. Monday through Friday, 2:00 to 7:00, Saturday mornings until like 1:00 or 2:00, and realizing that there's a physical limit to how much I can do and as well as how much I want to do. and then like maintain the joy of teaching and not feel completely drained. That's a current thing that I'm working on, but ... Tim Topham: We all work on that as well.
Eric Rinehart: Yeah. I've realized that teaching six days a week, I'm just trying to allow my brain a little bit more space to do more of the thing and talk less about the thing that I do. Like actually play piano and do the process for myself rather than continuously lead people through that process. You start to sound like a broken record after a certain amount of time. Tim Topham: I think we all could take a leaf out of that book with regard to how much we talk about what we're doing. I don't know if you could break down maybe between when you started a year and a half ago with the membership and now. Could you break down maybe three or four milestones, like major decisions that you made, which have enabled you to get where you are now? I know you've done probably 400 different things, but what the ones that have driven the most growth or that are giving you the most time and that sort of thing?
Eric Rinehart: This has been the most profound a change for me. Honestly, I really gotta say that having a coach is really helpful. Daniel at growyourmusicstudio.com has really helped. It's like I keep on saying we, when I talk about my figures because that's how I view it. So, there is a very important need for curated content and having somebody really guiding you because there's an infinite amount of information out there, and you got to know what is the right stuff to do.
Tim Topham: Absolutely.
Eric Rinehart: Yeah, there was a period, so last January is the point that we're talking about. Around like the April to July, 2018 timeframe, I was starting to get randomly a bunch of preschoolers reaching out. So, I took advantage of those preschool courses. I was also like diversifying my services, so I also was like teaching special needs at one point, © timtopham.com 2019 timtopham.com which I don't think is a course offering at this point. But I had some education elsewhere. So, I was just like saying yes, yes, yes. So, making it work consistently. This was all mobile lessons. This is July, did you say last year? You were still traveling to everyone's houses.
Eric Rinehart: Yes.
Tim Topham: And how many students approximately?
Eric Rinehart: I was probably sitting somewhere around there like 30 to 35.
Tim Topham: Wow, that's huge. The amount of travel time, particularly in California, I can only imagine.
Eric Rinehart: Yeah. I tried to make it work as best as I could. Actually round that time, so in July, I started being interested in group teaching, and I quickly realized, so this is third milestone, started really investigating group teaching. I, of course took the group teaching of course on your guys's, I think you have a couple of blogs on group teaching as well. I think you might even have a full roadmap.
Tim Topham: Yeah. We've got a lot on group teaching. Yeah, we do.
Eric Rinehart: There's all different styles of group teaching. So, in July, that's when I started offering and taking in some students into my apartment, which I previously didn't even think that I could do.
Tim Topham: Was due to space, wasn't it? I remember you telling me.
Eric Rinehart: Yeah, and just this feeling of lack of professionalism and I guess in my apartment. But I pursued on, something coach Daniel challenged me on, I took his SGL course as well. I was just [themed 00:25:40] for these different ways to run a group program, to figure out which ones I liked best because there's people along this different spectrum of how much are we going to have kids interact with each other? Or is that their practice time and they're all working individually with headphones or are they learning a song together? Or are doing different ensemble parts and stuff like that? I actually kind of do all of those.
Tim Topham: Like a hybrid approach.
Eric Rinehart: Yeah, just to keep things fresh and boost morale. Tim Topham: Yeah, no it seems [inaudible 00:26:17]. I think it's a great way to work. Sometimes they've got headphones and doing some private stuff, sometimes they're playing as they ensemble, best of both worlds.
Eric Rinehart: Along those lines, with group teaching, a really big change in addition in my studio was really buying into the use of panel marvel. I find it incredibly helpful especially in groups where I don't have to talk about the notes and rhythms very much. At the end of the day, in my teaching, I want it to be enjoyable for the students and not feel like they are hating every second of it. And so, there's all these different resources of things to re-engage students, whether it's a four chord composing course, making pop songs. Different kids have different preferences. I found that on Piano Marvel, I can put a seven year old who's never played piano. The first modules are just on C, and it's different combinations of half notes and quarter notes and whole notes. They literally are so obsessed with getting 100% and they're so engaged. They're just playing middle C in different combinations and they're like having a blast. And I'm just like, "Go to town." It's enjoyable. And it's actually makes things really easy as the teacher when I'm running three or four students through Piano Marvel and they're all getting their assessments and they're getting feedback based off of the computer. Of course, I only have digital keyboards currently. So, it's just funny, people, the kids will like, they'll yell out when they get 100% and they get the fireworks and stuff like that. That's something that has been super helpful for making kids addicted to piano.
Tim Topham: Sorry to interrupt. It's a very clever bit of software. I interviewed Aaron who's the CEO, last year and the podcast, so people who are listening, if you're interested in Piano Marvel and what it can do, check out that episode last year that I did. Just search for "Piano Marvel Tim Topham" and you should be able to find it on Google. A great recommendation, Eric. Eric Rinehart: The last one, and I actually I didn't plan this to be so powerful, but I'm most proud of this one, was really shifting my mindset sort of at the end of 2018 as far as the type of parents and family that I wanted to work with. Especially as my time was starting to get really valuable, I made a really significant increase in my fees and tuition price, and really tiered my instruction so that if a parent really wanted mobile lessons, it was going to cost quite a fee, because that travel time, honestly I think I can get a better product, I can give a better lesson when the student is not in their own home and they feel like in their environment and they feel in control, 'cause it's all a part of that control aspect. Well, I do fully believe in the group lesson. I think it's a great way for me to earn a higher amount of income and also give a great product that is reasonably priced for the generalist student who doesn't quite know if they're gonna be into this yet. So, by charging a hefty fee, not hefty, but, it's a premium fee. It's more than what my local market charges, that's doubling down and saying that I'm committed to my craft that I'm studying every single day, whether it's marketing, but I still I'm learning spending time each day to learn some sort of pedagogy or whatever. I'm studying with my teacher. When I talk often talked to other teachers who are afraid of charging a higher fee, oftentimes it's most related to their lack of commitment to teaching as a whole. They're doing it just sort of as a side gig and they don't want to fully invest into like, this is what I want to do. So, by me having my commitment, that's how I've been able to rationalize that I'm going to be charging a higher rate. I'm not the best player for sure. There's so many classical musicians who have that upbringing from a child who they can play all these sonatas and things like that, but I am continuously researching different tools and techniques to re-engage the student. That's why I get so many people asking about lessons from me and then the person who might be this virtuoso pianist who hasn't spent any time on their marketing or thought about it as a business, doesn't have teaching hours or students.
Tim Topham: Or is perhaps not charging what they're worth or whatever it is.
Eric Rinehart: Yeah.
Tim Topham: Wow, that's big.
Eric Rinehart: Yeah, very significant. Not one family quit that I changed these fees. Some people I didn't offer this price increase in mobile lessons. I just said I'm ending the program. But then there was other families who I knew there was absolutely no way that it was gonna work because of just them being so far away. So, I said, "I'm not willing to just say goodbye." It actually seems like the families are more committed to me now than ever.
Tim Topham: I bet they are.
Eric Rinehart: A feeling of being very valued by these families. It also makes me even more motivated to ensure that they're getting the results in the best possible experience that they can.
Tim Topham: Yeah. It enables you to potentially higher and other traveling teacher down the road if things go well because you're able to still take a profit and pay your teacher to go around. So, nice work setting yourself up really well for the feature, Eric.
Eric Rinehart: Yeah. Tim Topham: I'd like to, I actually didn't comment on it before, but I noted it down. I said how you're feeling about your studio and you said you called your studio, your school. I thought that was really ... I was actually really telling, and I wondered whether that was a slip or whether you're consciously thinking, "Now, this is a school and I could build something big here."
Eric Rinehart: The choice behind that, so I call like, it's Eric's Piano School on Google. One of the reasons I do that is, I just get a general sense that the word studio is a little bit aristocratic. I just used the word school as being a little bit more approachable for the generalist family, which tends to be the kind of people that I attract. So, rather than saying like conservatory, that we'll definitely get you a particular type of student who is very results driven. But as far as growth for the future, yeah, I think there's a limited time for how long it can be called Eric's piano school when there are all these other faces that are contributing. But I think it's a place for education and growth.
Tim Topham: No, you're right. I think it's clever.
Eric Rinehart: Very quick to the parents mind. Oh yeah, it's teaching.
Tim Topham: It's a school. Someone's gonna learn, there are gonna be teachers. Yeah, I like it. Just quickly, how did you get over the professionalism issue of teaching in your own home? 'Cause I can see you're ... I think you're still teaching in your home, aren't you?
Eric Rinehart: I am still teaching in my home. Well, it's the situation that I currently have. I would like it to be in a different way as far as living in a house and having them park in the parking lot or parking in my driveway and things like that. But at this point, it's not a reality, but I still know that despite it not being the ideal situation, I make it as easy as I possibly can for them to come, giving them my personal parking spot, making parking really easy, as convenient as possible, serving them water and stuff like that. Having that just readily available to give that sense of hominess or familial type of friendly vibes and to new students that are coming in. The students, especially as they're staying with me longer, they're staying there for me and I hope that they're seeing ... the amount of change that's gone on in my studio over the past year, I have lost some students, but the families who have been with me, I think they realize that my phase of evolution happens quite fast. I don't tend to hesitate too much.
Tim Topham: No kidding.
Eric Rinehart: They're investing their faith in their child in my hands and so to continue to evolve, to make the experience better and better and more unique, just exciting recital experience or performance experiences or concerts that they get to see, things like that. That's ...
Tim Topham: It's the whole package.
Eric Rinehart: Yeah. They've been seeing the evolution slowly, but surely. The ones that are with me, they are a part of my tribe and the ones who have left over that time, it wasn't for them, as Danny Thompson says.
Tim Topham: You can't please every everyone and nor do you want to necessarily. So, I really liked that you've decided on the group of students that you wanna work with, the kinds of parents that you wanna work with, you've set your price appropriately. One of my final questions actually is, and I think other people listening are gonna be thinking about this too. You've invested a lot of money and time for that matter in your business, learning about marketing. You've paid for private coaching, which isn't cheap. You're a member of my community, you're probably members of other communities, you've downloaded courses. How do you a budget for it or rationalize spending what must be thousands of dollars to get where you are now?
Eric Rinehart: Well, the short answer first is, if you're not willing to bet on yourself then who will? '
Tim Topham: I like that. Go ahead. © timtopham.com 2019 timtopham.com Eric Rinehart: But that's a quote from a [inaudible 00:39:04]. But in the short term, some of those contracts, say that I paid, they were quite scary to deal with. Weren't held by popular opinion by a partner, family members, may be friends too. They just didn't get it. As a musician, you're gonna get all this sorts of resistance of people saying like, "How are you going to earn that living? Just get a real job." At this point, my body and my mind are the race car, the fuel or the race car. And I am very insensitive to education at this point as far as, if it's going to help me further down the road ... things like spending money on Google ads, It might sound like a lot of money to, say you put in $1, but then you get like $10 back, like eventually and maintaining that mindset. So, at this point I'm really starting to feel like I'm snowballing and doing the right thing. There have been lots of investments that have not been good, which caused a boatload of stress in those first six months in Orange County where I had limited resources living off of the money that I sold my grand piano. So, it won't be a linear trajectory, upwards of just constantly improving. You will make some bad investments, but bad judgment leads to good judgment, it leads to experience. Tim Topham: Yeah, to experience. I was gonna say, 'cause you learn from the experience. Yeah, look, I'm really glad you said that it was actually a bit scary at the start spending money on your own personal development when you didn't have a lot of money coming in, but you must look back now and go, "How, holy moly, I've done some amazing things and I probably couldn't have done all of that on my own. So, all of those investments have been valuable even if they weren't at the time and I've perhaps learned from them and I know better what to do in the future." So, yeah, that's great. I really appreciate your honesty with that, Eric. Look, we better start wrapping things up. It's been so great to talk with you. I haven't even got onto marketing. I really wanted to find out how you are bringing in new students 'cause I know you're getting in quite a few every day, and certainly every week. Maybe we should have another chat. We'll see what people think and how they find the story so far. Maybe we'll have another chat in the future. I'd really enjoy that. I think your website, Eric, is ericpiano.com, is that right? Eric Rinehart: Yeah, that's correct. Tim Topham: Fantastic. So, if you want to hang out with Eric ... Eric Rinehart: With C. Tim Topham: Yes, ericpiano.com, and if you wanna hang out with Eric, of course, he's actually one of our forum leaders in the Inner Circle, so thank you Eric for doing that. Come and join us, become a member at timtopham.com/community. You can hang out with Eric and ask him all about how he's got where he has now or do check out his website, ericpiano.com. Thank you so much Eric for joining us today. It's been great fun. © timtopham.com 2019 timtopham.com Eric Rinehart: Thank you, Tim. It's a pleasure and an honor. Tim Topham: I'll see at the Circle, and I'll probably see you at another event really soon
Eric Rinehart: Yeah.
Tim Topham: Bye-bye.
Eric Rinehart: Bye.
I am very excited to say I had the honor of interviewing Tim Topham. Tim is based out of Melbourne, Australia and is a piano teacher, and a teacher of teachers who is innovating the music education industry through technology and encouraging creativity.
In this conversation we talk about:
-living a balanced musical life with music
-the practice conversation for parents
-the important skills not covered in traditional lessons
-why music matters in the grand scheme of things.
Some helpful apps Tim mentions:
Check out more of Tim's content and story at his website:
It is with great pride that I present my most recent graduate of the Simply Music Foundation Level 1 program... NOLAN EVERS!
Nolan always brings such a drive to get things right - he probably gets that from his other extra curricular activities namely baseball. In lessons, we often draw analogies to that from my 7 years of baseball as a kid.
Over the past couple months we are slowly breaking him out of his shell. Learning piano can be a little bit intimidating, but I know that with more skill in piano comes more confidence. Thank you Nolan for trusting in me - I know with your hard work you can take you far in piano and also in life.
This week, my student of 4 months Idriss wrapped up level 1 of Simply Music. He is a prime example of why the Simply Music home materials will skyrocket your success in piano.
We got off to a rough start in that first month, but as soon as he figured out how to use the home materials to remind himself EXACTLY how to play his assigned songs, he blasted through level one with flying colors and the smile that is as big as the picture.
It's such a joy to watch him grow. He asked me if he would get to the last level (level 18) of Simply Music; at this rate, I don't see why he won't get there!
Today I want to recognize one of my brilliantly hard-working students Syler. Last Tuesday, he completed level 2 of the Simply Music Program.
I really have to say, there is nothing more gratifying then seeing a student who is so hungry to learn. Each week I show up and he is so open to trying new things, and the entire time we both are smiling from ear to ear.
What is special about Syler is that he LOVES to sing - many kids are too shy to sing in front of others but what makes this guy special is his unapologetic love for music and singing. It is warming to see. I can tell he inspires his brother with the way the little brother sings the words from downstairs as we are working on the familiar pieces within Simply Music.
Not only is he playing for himself, but I think he loves to share with his family and perform.
So excited for him to keep up the good work and continue on his studies!
The below section is a question originally raised on Quora:
Classical music is referring to the era of time and the art often reflects the time that it was created in and what was going on politically. For example, the piano-forte was invented in the late classical/early romantic era giving way to a larger dynamic range (larger volume shifts) because the new instrument allowed it.
That being said the Baroque era is characterized 1600 to 1750, the classical was considered 1730 - 1820. See the overlap? Inevitably there are going to be similarities. Perhaps the conditions for performance were different. If memory serves me, I think of the Baroque era as being influenced much more profoundly by the church, while the Classical had more of a private funding for concerts unassociated with Church.
Certain composers such as Mozart and Beethoven definitely have elements of classical music, but they were most likely influenced by Bach and other Baroque composers. Especially Mozart who I believe had some direct relationship with Bach.
TL:DR - The art, the politics, and the materials available at the time all had a direct impact on the characteristic sounds found in each type of music.
Today I want to briefly share a little clip from a music concert I attended this last weekend with Tomoko Sato on Harp and Stephanie Getz on the flute. I found this incredibly inspiring to see such talented musicians in the Orange County Area. The concert was by donation making very accessible - many parents brought their children to expose them to beautiful music. Enough talk - time to listen!
What did you think of this? Did your jaw drop? I know mine did being in their and I could only imagine a child being inspired to pick up their closest musical instrument, and start taking some piano lessons or harp lessons or flute lessons to be able to play like THAT.
In the comments below, would you let me know if this would be something you would like to be informed about and does the idea of a studio wide field-trip sound like something you would like to be apart of!
We talked in the previous post about the underlying themes of a long-term relationship. Today I want to help parents understand the role they can play in piano lessons, even if they don't play music themselves.
I believe that each one of us (parent, teacher, student) has a role in creating a success in a student. Without one leg of the 3-legged stool, it falls over of course.
This is where the role of the parent comes in:
Parents are known as the life-coach within Simply Music and they can play an enormous part in the success of the child. They are called the life-coach because I, the piano coach, only have 30 minutes/wk with your student. Most of the progress can really come in the 6 days 23 hours without me if the student can make it to the piano most days of the week, and watch the student home materials.
You contribute a lot more then just bringing the students to lessons (or make sure they are ready at home). You have the power to be a primary source of motivation for the kids. Imagine the impact you could have by simply asking your child a couple of times a week, “I love listening to ______________. Could we sit down and you play it for me, like a mini concert just for us 2. It would really make me quite happy and proud”. This could drastically extend the benefits of playing the piano beyond self. When the student realizes that they can serve OTHERS with their music; now that's a game changer. It is no longer a solitary process but an avenue to connect with other people!
You can be this awakener for them. When you notice that the scheduled time for practice is coming up (which is next week’s discussion), you can give them a little reminder. Just like you wouldn’t expect your child to brush their teeth on their own, a child isn't always going to have the discipline to get to the piano for practice time. if you can make it as integrated into their routine, their piano success will more then speak for the small amount of effort on your part.
In explicit terms, you as the parent have a couple of responsibilities:
1. Keep your child attending regular lessons to ensure consistent progress.
2. Choose a time for your student's practice and attempt to get them to the piano without fail most days of the week.
3. Help keep their playlist alive by making requests of known songs.
Hope this serves you, and will be back with you about practice schedule times.
Until Next Week,
~ Y O U R ~ P I A N O ~ G U I D E ~ E R I C ~ R I N E H A R T~
Licensed Simply Music Piano Educator -
Events Pianist -
Recording Studio Artist -
Today I want to talk about a conversation created by Neil Moore of Simply Music and should be considered essential reading for most parents; the relationship conversation.
I want to remind everybody the importance of keeping this at the forefront of your mind. To remember that piano is a long term relationship is very important. I hang the relationship graph provided sitting above my piano to even remind myself in those periods of lull.
So here's what I mean by relationships and piano; everybody is going to go through phases of motivation. The relationship graph states that sometimes things are going to be amazing/exciting (trend line up), stagnating and wondering if things are improving (plateau), and the occasional feeling of getting worse (valley).
The thing is all these periods in the journey of playing piano are perfectly natural. The amazing novelty of Simply Music might fade after a time, and there will be instances where you as the parent have an critical role to play. You must remind your discouraged student that it isn’t going to be forever. Be their perspective! Remind them there are going to be good times again in piano. Remind them of all the previous wonderful experiences they have already had, and how far they have come.
You are assisting them and guiding them in perhaps their first ever long-term commitment. It's going to take some time to get used to it, but overtime the relationship graph will rest in their subconscious, they don't have to worry when they feel a stagnant energy in their playing. Just have faith in the process.
I can’t tell you how many adults I have conversations with that tell me “I wish my mom hadn’t let me quit piano”. You have a choice when things get tough; what life lessons are you going to teach? For your children's sake, take this conversation to heart. Give them the gift of support. If you ever need assistance, I will do everything in my power to have your family cherish the good times, and keep moving forward even in the plateaus.
I hope this serves you.
~ Y O U R ~ P I A N O ~ G U I D E ~ E R I C ~ R I N E H A R T~
Licensed Simply Music Piano Educator -
Events Pianist -
Recording Studio Artist -
As Christmas approaches, the natural seasons bring us into a place of reflection. As I reflect on this year, I have so much to be grateful for even though this year was TOUGH. To name a couple of gifts given to me over the year:
-13 Weeks of Life Coaching from Linda Fitzgerald
-1 Free ticket (2000$ value to Expert's Academy) compliments of Kat Robey
-1000 Dollars in Donations for my Christmas album and selling 100 Physical CD's which allowed me to buy my Garritan CFX Concert Grand Piano Sample.
-Nearly 100+ gifted/sold Little Reminders solo piano albums sold.
-Development of this exact website by Avi Rubin over at Iron Lion Soaps.
-Ableton Live from Ryan Toomey to help me produce the Christmas album
Plus many more!!
I say this not to brag, but to remind myself that there were so many gifts. If you are human, I am sure you can relate with the tendency to overlook the blessings that have happened into our lives. I encourage you to do this same exercise. It might pull you back into gratitude. I know I could probably do this everyday and it still wouldn't be enough!
These are definitely the highlights, but things were hard too. I relocated from Napa, CA giving up 10 students and ventured down to Orange County and started my piano studio from scratch. I am at a total of 11 students and aim to be at 20 students and creating a strong community by the end of quarter one of 2018. I got licensed in the Simply Music Method and it has completely revolutionized my teaching philosophy with my students. I also found my amazing new teacher Sam Grodin, international piano competition winner who has given me an amazing amount of confidence at the piano that is growing day to day. Money has been tight, though I believe in my ability to figure things out in 2018. Not in a deluded sense, but that if I put in the work, everything will be okay. All the while asking myself Seneca's favorite quote of stoicism given to me by Tim Ferriss, "Is the condition I so feared?"
In closing, one of my most proud accomplishments of all of 2017 is my Christmas album that is available on Spotify, Itunes, Google Play (any major distributor of music) so I hope you listen to the free sample down below.
Wishing you a merry Christmas, it's time to unwrap presents with the family!
About Eric -
Eric is a licensed Simply Music Piano Instructor offering mobile piano lessons in the Orange County Area.