I’m really bad at self-promotion. But if you’re self-employed and the economy is in the crapper, self-promotion is a highly desirable skill to cultivate.
Beyond the psychological challenges, though, I really don’t know what to do. I teach cello. My student roster has fallen off a bit since last fall, and I’d like to build it up.
I told my friend Roger I was thinking about this. He laughed and said, “Play on a street corner.” He was joking, but not really. The point is, people need to know you exist, and if possible they need to be able to see (and hear) for themselves that you’re good at what you do.
Roger plays acoustic guitar and sings folk songs, though: Busking is a practical option for him. But cello? No. A street corner would be too down-market. I mean, would you want your kid to take classical music lessons from somebody who plays on a street corner? I don’t think so. Plus, the noise level would make it an unpleasant activity.
I’ve tried to interest a few local middle-school and high-school teachers in letting me drop in on their classes and do a free demonstration. They can’t seem to get motivated.
I have a web page. Search engines can find me. Once in a while I get a student that way. I tried putting an ad on craigslist, but got no hits there.
In theory, the stores whose teaching studios I use get me referrals. Haven’t seen any referrals lately.
If I were in a good string quartet and we played locally, that would certainly help. But I don’t have a quartet. I don’t even have a duo. Recruiting and organizing a group to play gigs is a whole other challenge, and I don’t quite know where to start with that one either.
I know there are dozens of kids here in the valley who would benefit from cello lessons! But how do I get the message out to their parents? Skywriting? Wear a signboard? Go door to door? I have no clue.