My Music Career Journey

I am Heather Johnston, Director of Lessons In Your Home in the Washington D.C. and Baltimore areas. In this article I share my journey with the company over the last eight years and explain why it was — and still is — a great fit for me as a piano teacher.

That's me playing at a wedding ceremony during my college years. The beginning of my music career?
That’s me playing at a wedding ceremony during my college years.

Eight years ago, as a senior at Georgia State University looking for a summer job, I saw an ad in Creative Loafing, a local paper. A company called Lessons In Your Home was looking for music teachers of all instruments to apply for in-home teaching positions. At the time, I was a music major about to complete my degree. During college, I was a church staff pianist and had occasionally performed professionally at wedding ceremonies, but I had never taught.
I was intrigued.
I needed a job. I definitely wanted to work in the field of music. And I was pretty confident I could do this.

Could I really do this?

But I also had many questions. I had been considering teaching music for a while (many of my college friends had gone this route), but I really didn’t know what to expect.
How far would I have to travel?
Could I fit this into my already busy schedule?
Did I know enough about business to be successful?
And, of course, would I be a good teacher?

I liked the idea of teaching in my students’ homes.

The first thing that captured my attention and interest — and the main reason I applied for the job — was that I would be teaching in the homes of my students, not in my home. As is typical for college students (and music majors), I was living with three other classmates in a communal house. I’m not saying our house was a disaster, but suffice it to say it wouldn’t have worked out if I had to have students come to me.
So I went ahead and applied, and I had my first interview with Jay Maurice a few days later.

Concerns put to rest

One of my biggest concerns had been my schedule. I was finishing up college and had lots of important commitments. I couldn’t let my grades slide, even for a job. Given my course and study schedule, there were really only two days a week I could teach, and I was afraid my limited availability would be a problem for the company.
Boy, was I wrong about that!
What I found out is that the company is very flexible when it comes to scheduling its teachers. All I had to do was let the office know what time ranges would work for me during the week. I could even tell them how far I was willing to travel! Luckily, I lived in an area of Atlanta that was a hop, skip, and a jump away from Dunwoody — a major Atlanta suburb which was (and still is) a very active market for the company’s music lessons. It turned out I was able to get a number of students who lived between my house and school, en route with my commute, which was very convenient.

Me at 21, when I first started working for Lessons In Your Home. My music career has started!
Me at 21, when I first started working for Lessons In Your Home

One interview led to a second, and within a week of finding that ad, I had my first job as a piano teacher!
I’ll go ahead and tell you the end of the story: I’ve been working for Lessons In Your Home ever since, and I’ve never looked back or had a single regret.

The Business Side of Teaching Music

Lessons In Your Home was a great fit for me as a young teacher. I had no idea how to handle the business side of lessons when I started out, but the company provided all the support I needed to succeed. It’s not uncommon for musicians and other artists to focus on their art and not on business, but Lessons In Your Home allowed me to blossom as a teacher, and I came to realize the importance of the business side of music under the company’s guidance.

family surrounding graduate embarking on music career
That’s me, clutching my diploma at graduation, surrounded by my proud immediate family.

Gaining my footing during those first four years in Atlanta, I graduated college with my Bachelor’s degree in music and was able to expand my availability to every weekday. It has never ceased to amuse and amaze my parents (or myself, for that matter) that I was able to actually get a job in my area of study — musician and artist — and actually make a good living with a music career!

From Teacher to Director: My Music Career is Launched

When the opportunity arose to become a director of a new Lessons In Your Home location, I jumped at it.
I would be able to move to a new, exciting city and start a business. After the four years in Atlanta, I felt I was ready. And it ended up being a great decision, as I am still in Washington D.C. four years later, and both the D.C. and Baltimore Lessons In Your Home programs are continuing to grow and flourish. I have a music career that wouldn’t have been possible without having stumbled upon that Creative Loafing ad back in 2006 when I was looking for a summer job.

Shameless Pitch?

These are really just the highlights of why working with Lessons In Your Home worked for me. If this article seems like a shameless pitch aimed at encouraging music teachers to consider working for Lessons In Your Home, I suppose there’s some truth to that. We’re always looking for great teachers. We currently have programs in nine cites across the United States, and the competition is stiff.
If you’re already teaching music on your own, consider expanding your reach as a Lessons In Your Home teacher. (You’ll love being able to just teach, while the company takes care of managing tuition payments!)
Check us out. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Subscribe to our YouTube channel. And you can read more about me in the Teachers section of our Web site.
If you’re ready to take the plunge, do what I did eight years ago: apply!

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