Best Ideas – RPMDA Convention 2018

Images © 2018 Richard Rejino Photography

Lindy Campbell, Music on the Hill (The Winner!)

Idea:  Giving new students a list of what they need to buy when they start lessons

A consistent problem at my store is that my private music teachers feel uncomfortable “selling” to their students. So last summer, I worked with all my teachers to create “first lesson shopping lists,” designed to resemble the back the school lists the local schools send out every August. This takes the job from my teachers and puts it where it belongs, with my sales staff. Now that teachers were free to pick their student materials away from the pressure of justifying it to every new parent, the list of books and materials expanded, from a single lesson book to a lesson book, a theory book, a songbook, and a metronome, to give one example. My sales of method books, songbooks, music stands, metronomes, guitar stands, and cleaning kits tripled under this new system, while also improving morale among my teaching staff.


Ian Bullen,

Idea: Tell your students: if they invite a friend to start lessons, they’ll get free lesson after the friend comes twice.

Current regular students are told that they will get a lesson for free if they invite a friend to learn at your school, and that friend takes at least two lessons. Everyone wins. The current student is proud to have helped their parents, you have been brought a new regular paying student that you didn’t have, all for the investment of the teacher portion of one lesson fee.

When I did this, I filled up all my time and started passing on students to others on commission. It doesn’t get old. You could use a form to audit its success but if a clever parent is working their contacts sequentially to get you more regular students for only a free lesson each, and talking up your lesson program, great!


Tristann Rieck, Sarah Pulfer, Brass Bell Music Store

Idea: Keep kids excited about their lessons as they “level up” via Plinko.

We wanted to connect with our lesson students (about 720) in a way that is meaningful to them as they complete their lesson books. We customized a Plinko board so that every score earns a prize, and every prize is supplied by Brass Bell or a small business located down the road from us. They get a chance to play Plinko when they finish their current method book and “level up.” Students can earn prizes as small as a kazoo and as large as a $125 gift card to our store. Examples of prizes to local businesses include $5 gift cards to a bakery, custard shop, coffee house, and even a set of movie passes. We bartered with the businesses to obtain some of these prizes. To make our social media more personalized, we have the Plinko player fill out a form about their books, their favorite song, and the parents sign the photo waiver at the bottom, so we can post the winner’s picture online.


Ron Manus, Alfred Music

Idea: Think of yourselves as community center instead of as retailers – shift the perspective.

Perspective and attitude are powerful things. Everywhere you look these days retail is getting analyzed and diminished with the advent of internet shopping and big box stores discounting. I think sometimes we forget that we are not really retailers and competing with stores like Target and The Gap. We provide a service to our communities that connects us in a much deeper way. We aren’t usually located in the high rent retail locations, we are in the communities, built into the fiber of education and are part of the family dynamic. I wanted to remind the group of how great and important they are and remind that that they are so much more than retailers.