Episode 009 – Sean Murphy on Managing an In-School Studio of 100+ Students


Sean Murphy is a saxophone teacher who managed to teach 112 students on a weekly basis by teaching in schools, during the school hours.

In our interview, Sean shares his scheduling strategies, communication tips, and how he keeps his income up in leaner summer months.


  • Starting out
    • Sean’s personal network led him to  him find the opportunity to teach in the school
    • It took about a year to get acclimated to his new financial situation in Dallas and to build his studio to 30 students
  • Promoting an in-school music program
    • Benefit: An in-school program allows the band instructors to focus on the musical aspects of group playing and let the private teachers focus on the techniques specific to their instruments
    • Doesn’t cost anything to the band directors
  • Scheduling:
    • Sean was able to squeeze more lessons in the day by starting at 7am (when students arrived for marching band rehearsals – two hours before the regular school day started) and by teaching at multiple schools
    • Scheduled the majority of his lessons before school and during the band rehearsal periods of the school day. He scheduled his most dedicated students after school because they placed a higher value on music lessons and would be more willing to make the effort to attend at the end of the day
    • If teaching at multiple schools, schedule all the students in blocks by school to avoid backtracking and driving more than you need to
  • Billing:
    • Sean used a simple email system to bill his students once a month for however many lessons they would have that month
    • He simplified the system by BCCing the same billing email to all the Monday students at once, all the Tuesday students, etc.
  • Communication
    • When Sean reminded parents that teaching was his primary source of income they were more likely to pay promptly
    • It’s hard to keep track of the parents names for 100+ students, so Sean kept their email addresses listed in his contacts under their student’s name
    • Frame lessons as a “need” instead of a “want”
  • Summer
    • Trade-off to teaching in schools is that only 30-40% of students stayed on through the summer
    • Sean doubled summer hours by encouraging students to take hour-long lessons
    • Reach out to band directors to reach students who will be switching or starting a new instrument in the fall


Tools: Evernote

Books: Building Your Private Music Studio by Sean Murphy 

Savvy Music Teacher by David Cutler

Previous Podcast: Episode 003 – Regina Ngo on Teacher Development and Accelerated Learning Programs

Connect with Sean

Website: musicstudioteacher.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/musicstudioteacher

Twitter: @the_sean_murphy

Other: https://www.bw.edu


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