Finding Your Studio’s Unique Message (w. Tim Topham) [7FMS Ep. #109]

by Daniel Patterson


What makes your studio special? What makes it unique?

So many schools struggle with an identity crisis… wanting to offer something unique to families.

Our guest today doesn’t really need an introduction… Tim Topham is an enormous figure in our industry. He emerged as an important voice in pedagogy a decade ago and created

Tim came on the podcast to talk about how we educate beginners in our studio, creativity, and how his passion for pedagogy led him to discover his studio’s unique message.

There’s a lot to learn here… as well as practical tips on making lessons fun for beginners (laying the groundwork for great retention in your studio or school).

Click below to listen to the episode!



Or, check out the video version of the podcast:



Here’s what we cover in the episode:

  • Teaching beginner lessons without a method book / How to make students want to go home and play piano after their first lesson
  • Discussing the crisis of unimaginative approaches to music lessons
  • Discussing the identity crisis of music schools / how to differentiate
  • Why don’t kids go home and create things like they do in art class?
  • How an imaginative approach in first lessons leads to better retention rates
  • Rethinking the goals we have for our students (leaving old ideas behind)
  • How to get students to teach themselves
  • How to redefine success for your music students
  • Game examples for your music lessons, Tim’s 10-week beginner program
  • Building a new imaginative vision for your studio / foundations of a creative music studio


Show Notes

During the episode, we discussed Tim Topham’s new book, No Book Beginners it’s a step-by-step framework for creative piano teaching, right from lesson one. Check it out! 


5 Reasons Your Trial Lessons are Terrible – A lot of things have to go right for someone to discover your studio, be interested in your studio, contact you, and then set up a phone consultation or trial lesson. After getting all of that right… It can be really discouraging to see that only 3 out of 10 of your trial lessons or consultations turn into a new student. Why don’t people sign up!?!?

Are you struggling to get new students?

Check out this free training I did on how to get more students in your school!

Also… if you have Instagram, give us a follow!


SPONSOR – Piano Express from

Would you like to start a group piano program in your studio… but are concerned about the logistics, the setup, and (most of all) the response from your studio families?

Don’t be scared!

Head over to, sign up for a free demo, and we’ll show you how hundreds of studios have easily started a new group program (sometimes in just a few weeks)… with little to no difficulty.

You can even begin our owner training for free (download our shopping list, and look through our teacher guides and method).

Don’t let an imaginary “boogeyman” keep you from making a profitable change in your studio!

SPONSOR – Big Music Games

Big Music Games provides fun with a clear purpose. Ear training and music theory for students ages 4-14. 

Level up your student’s ears & ignite their passion and motivation to practice with 15 levels of rhythm, melody, harmony and songwriting games. 

Join the tribe of teachers dedicated to improving the way the world educates the next generation of musicians.


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Daniel Patterson is a private teacher, writer, and marketing consultant for music schools. He began teaching in 2004. He co-founded and led marketing operations for a summer music camp that sees over 200 children each summer.

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