Canadian Music Trade - April/May 2017 - Page 25

Denise Chan of Cosmo Music, Richmond Hill, ON “Remember,” she says, “you want to get them involved and get them talking about themselves so that you can tell them how you’re going to enhance their lives through your lesson pro- gram.” Hamlyn tacks on a bit of advice that he and his colleagues at Gary Bennett Music have found to be very effective in enrolling and retaining students: focusing on fl uidity, and allowing the stu- dents to learn what they want to learn. “So if someone is clear they don’t want to read music, that’s fi ne,” he says. “We’ll teach you kitchen party guitar.” Of course, your teachers should still be well trained and able to offer more advanced instruction, but as Hamyln shares, “That’s not for everyone. We teach people what they want to know and put an emphasis on keeping them interested.” ENGAGE THEM ELSEWHERE The staff at Cosmo Music in Richmond Hill, ON, are current- ly gearing up for the 2017 edition of CosmoFEST, the store’s annual gear exhibition and live music celebration. Last year’s event drew 10,000 attendees in a single day and featured over 200 product experts representing over 120 top brands under a 12,000 sq. ft. expo tent, clinics and masterclasses with the likes of Tosin Abasi and Omar Hakim, and main stage performanc- es from Big Wreck, Brass Transit, and Yukon Blonde. Headliners announced for this year’s edition include Mother Mother, Honeymoon Suite, and The Beaches, with workshops set to feature Nita Strauss, Dennis Chambers, Alain Caron, and more. Denise Chan heads up the Cosmo School of Music and has a lot planned to promote her program during CosmoFEST. “First of all, we’ve got a pretty big area this year,” she says of the 60 x 20 ft. tent that will become the Cosmo School of Music’s Kidz Zone. In and around that site will be a stage exclusively featuring per- formances by students and teachers, on-the-spot group lessons on instruments like ukulele and hand percus- sion, and plenty of fun physical activities to engage young people and their families. Even though it happens on Cosmo Music’s property, CosmoFEST is essentially a community event that appeals to an audience beyond the store’s typical customer base – and that’s saying a lot, considering the size of this destination loca- tion mega-store. That’s worth noting because one could easily employ a similar approach to engagement and promotion at any community-targeted event in your area. Chan and many of her teachers will be onsite answering people’s questions about the lesson program, and can even bring them into the school for a walk-around if need be, as lessons will be going on during the event. She also plans to have several iPads open onsite to get people’s information for later follow-up. “It’s a great event and all of our teachers love to take part,” she says. “It’s really about giving back to the commu- nity – it’s not just to advertise the school. We want everyone to try out the instruments and meet some of our teachers and see what we can offer as far as rewarding musical expe- riences.” Your lesson program doesn’t have to be everything to every- one to be successful. Instead, focus on what your community wants and what you’re good at. The important part is to recognize the enormous potential that comes with a reputable lesson program and how it can benefi t virtually every other aspect of your business. And as with all of those aspects, avoid complacency at all costs. As Cook said to begin her session at The NAMM Show 2017, her approach is always evolving. “We’re always reinventing, trying to make ourselves better in this arena,” she says, and that’s a sure-fi re approach to success. Andrew King is the Editor-in-Chief of Canadian Music Trade. e VENTS Carol Cook of The Music Room, Palatine, IL CANADIAN MUSIC TRADE • 25