Music theory. Composition. Ear training. Piano literature. Music history. Choir. Jazz Ensemble. Recital attendance… If you are majoring in music, you know there are more than enough music courses to completely fill your class schedule and leave you wishing for a real life Time Turner so you can still make time to practice.

These music classes give you much-needed content knowledge to be a great teacher, but when it comes to giving you business skills to run a studio…they don’t help very much.

You could pick up a second major or minor in business to get these skills, but you might not have the time, resources, or desire to go this route. After all, you want to be a music teacher! I recommend a more practical and less time-consuming solution: take a few electives outside the music department to give yourself some business training.

I did get a second major in business and, eight years later, I can say that some classes have been far more helpful in the day-to-day management of my studio than others. Financial Accounting – Super useful! I use skills learned in this class every day. International Business – Much less useful for a local studio owner. It’s not a bad class, but if your goal is smart studio management, many other classes are higher priority.  By taking just a few classes that relate to running a business, you can get the skills you need without wasting time and energy on stuff that won’t help you much.

Here are the top three classes I suggest taking to boost your business skills:

1. Accounting

Look for a course in Applied Accounting or Personal Accounting and Finance.

How it will help: In the same way that a Foundations of Music class is like an intro to Music Theory  (usually taken by non-music majors), these accounting classes will give you (a non-business major) an introduction to the most important principals of accounting and give you the vocabulary you need to understand your business finances and taxes.

2. Management/Entrepreneurship

Look for a course that covers business planning. This may be its own class or part of a course in entrepreneurship or small business management

How it will help: This class will help you think through the nuts and bolts of your business. How much will you charge? What expenses will you incur? How will you get students?  This process of putting your plan into writing will help you get a realistic sense of what it will take to make it work. Plus, doing this with a professor will allow you to get feedback and ideas from a seasoned entrepreneur or business owner.

3. Marketing

Look for a course in social media marketing, public relations, or advertising and sales promotion. (These courses may be in the communications department or the business school.)

How it will help: In these classes you’ll get clear on the characteristics of your ideal customers (or students), what makes your studio unique, and how to communicate these unique things to your ideal customers. Bonus points if you create a marketing plan as part of the class!

Your passion may be for music, but the bills will get paid by smart studio management. Invest some time in developing your business skills! Your Future Self will thank you!

If you have been through college, what classes have you found most helpful in running your studio? Is there a class you didn’t take and wish you had?

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