by David Birrow
One idea that intrigued me from Philip Johnston's book The Dynamic Studio was sending out a monthly studio newsletter.Probably not a revelation, since I'm sure many of you already do this in one form or another, but I thought it'd be great to share more information with parents.
One of my goals was to help create more context for percussion lessons so students and parents could better understand the entire eco-system that is related to being a studying musician. But to be honest, I wanted students to practice more and not miss the occasional lesson because they were unsure of the schedule for the month(even though the entire schedule is in Evernote.)
My requirements for an application were simple: quick to use and excellent design. I toyed with the idea of creating a pdf in Microsoft Word and then attaching it the email, but I figured there'd be a better chance of parents/students actually reading the newsletter if it just popped up in the email body. I wasn't able to make this happen with the Microsoft Outlook web client so on a whim decided to check out MailChimp. A friend used it for concert promotions and it looked pretty slick.
MailChimp is a free, web based application that allows you to create marketing emails, send them to lists of people, and track the results. Not unlike a free, hipper version of Constant Contact, Mailchimp allows you to easily create sharply designed newsletters. It's quick to use, has many support videos and gives you the ability to embed content like video, pictures, links, and audio. MailChimp even has a guide for musicians! Here are some examples of email campaigns created by other people.
Here's an example of one of my newsletters. This one lists the dates for lessons for the month, some percussion concerts that are happening around town and some tips about practicing.
Other newsletters have been briefer, maybe just a reminder to register now to avoid the late fee, or a reminder about parking restrictions.
MailChimp has many features including telling you how many(and who!) has read your email.
But I'll continue using MailChimp because I can crank out the newsletter in 15 minutes and not have to cut and paste every email address every time. You simply make lists of readers, design the email and then send it out.