Getting New Students During a Crisis or Recession

by Daniel Patterson

Getting New Students During a Crisis or Recession

My goal with this live stream is simply to address the thoughts that I’m seeing in the community right now. We’re going to talk about a number of topics—online lessons, how you can thrive over the coming months, and answering dozens of questions that I have received from the community over the last few days.

We will also address how to market your studio and get your families on board during this crisis.


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Click here to download the transcript. 

Video Content

  • Opening remarks about the most dangerous part of the pandemic for your business (see summary below)
  • (12:45) What should I use for online group lessons or private lessons in my studio? What are some resources I can find on this topic?
  • (15:35) Do you recommend a camera setup that shows my full body at the piano or just a face view to give instructions? What is the best way to set up a camera for online piano lessons? How can I get the camera to show my fingers and keys?
  • (17:26) How do teachers address the issue of lag time with online lessons?
  • (22:16) What if parents want to pull out of lessons and/or not pay?
  • (28:10) Regarding the functions of Zoom – how do breakout rooms work? How do you set them up? How many accounts would a larger academy need?
  • (31:15) How can I approach families who are unsure about online lessons and encourage them to make the switch?
  • (44:46) Is it wise to jump into online lessons ASAP or wait a week to get it right?
  • (46:18) How do I retain my students during this time?
  • (58:22) What should my funnel of emails look like? I would love to know more about how to write a funnel for prospective students during this time.
  • (58:29) What are your thoughts on Active Campaign and could you use it as a landing page for building a new program fairly quickly?
  • (1:01:06) What are the best ways to receive digital payments for my studio?
  • (1:02:28) How do I find students interested in online lessons? How can I recruit online students while we’re all essentially under quarantine? And where are the students who want group lessons? What attracts them? 

The Most Dangerous Virus for Your Business

Now, right from the beginning I want to make something clear. My intention is not to comment on the pandemic itself.

I’ve received some hate mail from people saying, “How dare you address this or talk about this thing at a time like this! How can you be thinking about business right now?!?!?”

My goal with this live stream is simply to address the thoughts that I’m seeing in the community right now. To help promote peace and calm.

So, what actually is the most dangerous virus right now? What is the most dangerous thing to you, your business, your community, and your happiness?


During this time, your mind is going to make suggestions to you. Here’s a range of things that you could be thinking:

  • The Smith family said that they’re thinking of taking a break. Everybody must feel this way. 
  • This family is out of work. Everyone must be really hurting right now. I wonder if we’re going into a recession. 
  • Everyone’s probably going to stop spending now. Everyone is going to just hunker down—I’m sure millions of people are losing their jobs and this is just going to be terrible. 

Because you’re thinking about it, you’re going to believe it. And then because you believe it, you’re going to be thinking about it. 

It’s an endless cycle of, “What you think is what you think about.”

Eventually it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Eventually, you think it so much that you actually begin to believe your thoughts. They become truth to you!

This is the “mind virus” that can kill your business, your happiness, and your creativity!!!

HOWEVER, there’s another range of thoughts you could have in response to this situation:

  • There are so many people stuck indoors right now. I wonder if they’re getting bored?
  • I wonder if parents are looking for things for their kids to do?
  • I wonder if Facebook ad costs are the lowest they’ve been in years? I wonder if now would be a good time to educate myself on Facebook ads and launch a campaign? (by the way, the answer to both of those questions is YES).

Of those six responses—three were negative, three were positive.

Which ones are more helpful?

Which ones would get us moving? Which ones lift us up? Which ones tear us down?

What Are You Saying to Yourself? 

I have a seven-year old. What would happen if every day, when my seven-year old woke up, I said, “Hey, listen man. The world is an awful place full of awful people. They’re out to get you. You can’t trust people. Life is just a struggle and then you die.”

Picture that child growing up into an adult. 

Now picture, instead, this scenario:

“Hey, listen little guy. The world is full of people, and honestly, there are a few bad seeds out there. But for the most part, people are good, and genuine, and the experience that you put out in the world is the experience you get back. If you generally look at people positively, and you go out into the world and move towards people in service, and kindness, the world is really going to respond to that in a kind and generous way.”

Now, here’s the point.

There’s no way of knowing which of those two views is correct. But which one of those children is going to grow up to be a happy, functional, kind adult? And which will turn into a cynical, unhappy, neurotic adult?

Here’s the point—you can do the same thing to yourself every day! 

And if you primarily respond to the situation with those three things—oh, we might be going into a recession or oh, we better lock down on spending because things are probably going to get really really bad—I’m telling you, it’s going to become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

On the other hand, if you’re looking at this as an opportunity for change and growth and development, you’re going to have a much different experience in the next couple months.

Once again, I’ll point out… we have no way of knowing which is true!!!!

But, which will be the most helpful way to think over the next few months?


I got an email from a client. He said he’s having trouble remaining objective. He said, “You know, I’ve only lost three students out of many, and there are only two that have even put up any kind of objection to online lessons. But I don’t know what it’s going to be like going forward.”

And it was that little thing right there at the end. He’s leaving that seed of doubt in his mind.

Nothing bad has happened. And he even said that since the quarantine started he’s gotten a student with an old funnel that doesn’t even address that we’re in a global pandemic.

Yet, he’s assuming he knows what the future holds.

Admitting that we don’t know what’s happening and that there is room for creativity will make things better for you and your studio.

Do you have a fixed mindset that is not growth-oriented or do you have an opportunity / growth mindset? Beware the mind virus!

What do you think? What questions do you have? Let me know in the comments!


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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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  1. smoretraiolit

    Great post. I am facing a couple of these problems.


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