How much to charge for lessons?

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I am struggling to know how much to charge for piano lessons. What is the standard rate these days. If i plan to teach someone for 45 minutes, is 10 ok? I will appreciate any responses. Thanks. Sandra.

-- Sandra Neary (costadelnewby@yahoo.co.uk), February 26, 2005

Answers

Sandra, I am a great believer in offering a good competitive fee. Too many out there teach only for money and not for the real love of music and/or passing the wonderful skill of learning an instrument. Money comes second. I always remember it and have plenty students who have referred me to their friends. I charge 10 lessons at a time and keep a diary to know how may lessons the students uses. I am a clarinet teacher and accept adults and children alike, at present I charge 85 for 10 lessons; lesson lasts no more than 35 minutes. Again, you need to evaluate the level of instructions you are giving to your students: If they are all children and beginners 30 minutes is enough and certainly if your 10 are competitive to other local teachers near you, go for it; if you have a mother who cannot afford 40 a month for her/his child ask yourself if you are prepared to drop the price to 8.50 per lesson, gauge it to suite the needs of students who really want to learn and not waste your time. I have learned a lot as an adult piano learner. My first tutor worked only for money... after 5 years I now have anothe tutor, more expensive and he is 80 years old, former professor at the local university and still going strong. The moral of the story is: he loves teching the piano...of course money comes with it but that is not important. I heard a piano teacher near me who charges 27 per hour. Ask yourself : how honest is that? It will be ok for an assesment for an already establishe piano student who wants may be few consultation, but not for a beginner who wants to learn the piano from scratch, if I was that beginner I will go to you, especially if you are kind and trasmit the qualities I mentioned above. Never forget the love for music... Sal

-- sal (s.tomasino@gwc.org.uk), February 28, 2005.

Thanks Sal for that info, very useful! Yes, a love for teaching definitely comes first, earning money is secondary. I think i'm only fearful i'll charge too much. As you said, 35 minutes is probably long enough for beginners... Looks like i'd better get started and see how i go.

Sandra.

-- Sandra Neary (costadelnewby@yahoo.co.uk), February 28, 2005.


The other thing you can always look at is barter--maybe you hate to do yardwork, or housework, or balance a checkbook, or need a babysitter. A child whose parents can't afford the cost of lessons might well be motivated to work out such an arrangement in exchange. Maybe you can even get computer tech support this way, lol.

-- GT (nospam@nospam.com), February 28, 2005.

OK, I'm going to be the voice for the opposing viewpoint! :) Yes, we should love what we do, but why should we not be entitled to earn a decent living? One-on-one lessons for most activities are quite expensive. Tennis, golf, skiing--those instructors often charge $100/hour or more (sorry, I don't know how that exchanges into your currency). Unfortunately, piano teachers may never earn as much as instructors of sports, but there is no reason we should act like martyrs and say that money is secondary. That doesn't even sound professional to me. Or are we just little hobbyists, doing something so unimportant that we don't deserve to earn a reasonable income? Many of us have spent 10-20 years in piano lessons developing our own skills, and 4, 6, or perhaps more years in college. And for every hour I teach, I spend at least another hour in lesson prep/continuing education/shopping for music books/planning recitals/etc. I work long and hard, and I love it. And I'm sorry to say piano teachers have a hard time earning what we are worth.

-- annie (no_name_poster@yahoo.com), March 01, 2005.

Well, in the end, it *really* is about what people feel is the value of what you do in the free market. I wouldn't pay for golf lessons, because I think golf is silly, but others do. Same for paying hundreds of dollars to go to some sporting event when you can watch it free on TV. As to sports lessons, you might pay that much for a "pro" (and here you really have to define "pro" by what, how many real money tournaments they've won?), but there are also much cheaper ways to learn, like at your local park and recreation group classes.

(People pay for skiing lessons in your area? Gee, most places throw in some lessons as part of a package deal with the lift tickets at most places--I've never gone skiing, I'd rather do the big innertubes, myself ;-)

I think what anyone has to do, regardless of the type of business they're in is to differentiate themselves from the competition. To most people who don't know any better, one piano teacher is the same as another. Give people a valid reason to pay you more, or to pay you rather than someone else. Here's an example:

One real advantage of the "canned" piano courses (I venture to say that these are invariably chord methods--I've never heard of any classical methods on video or DVD from beginning to end, though there might well be some), is that you have it permanently to refer back to, as many times as you like.

With a conventional teacher, unless you allow yourself to be videotaped, the student is paying for a one-time lesson. You can't take notes and play at the same time. That I think is a distinct disadvantage. Like a phone call that is quickly forgotten, as opposed to a letter that you can unfold, read, and re-read.

So, should a piano teacher develop a video course? Maybe, because it would certainly set you apart from most of the other teachers out there. You can always charge higher rates for traditional private lessons, but this would also give you another income stream, mainly because in person, you can only teach so many students. With a video course, you can teach many, many, more.

-- GT (nospam@nospam.com), March 01, 2005.



GT, I like to think that most piano teachers have higher expectations, more long-term goals, and more training and expertise than do the people who work in local recreation centers to teach kids how to play a sport. Those programs are fine, but aren't likely to produce highly skilled athletes. Yes of course people take ski lessons--how do you think some people become so good at skiing? And yes, you can get a quickie ski lesson with a beginner package, but you're never going to become much a ski-er from that kind of lesson. I have always assumed that since this site is sponsored by the music department of a college, the teachers here take their careers seriously, and hope to develop fine skills in their students. Certainly most of my students don't go on to pursue music as their career, but I do teach with the expectation that my students will become excellent pianists, with the knowledge and skills to enjoy piano for a lifetime. Most of my students are with me for many years, and I think the parents expect more from piano lessons than what a group class at a park would provide. Again, there is nothing wrong with programs such as that, but to imply that piano teachers don't deserve to earn a decent living, because kids could go to a cheap class at a park, doesn't make any sense to me. And I don't see much value in videotapes. Piano, like so many other things, requires interaction with a teacher, correction for subtle problems, help in refining technique, a listening ear for bringing all the details together. I do write down all the important points of each lesson, specific practice instructions, exactly what to change in the arm, wrist, etc to eliminate undesirable tone in each piece, on and on. I don't expect a student to remember everything I say, which is why I make their lesson notes so thorough. I'm curious GT, do you teach for a living, or just a few students?

-- annie (no_name_poster@yahoo.com), March 01, 2005.

Annie, I think you misunderstand what I'm trying to say.

I in no way said that piano teachers do not deserve to make money. I'm just saying that people need to think more like businesspeople if they really want to make a living at teaching or whatever they choose to do. It means looking at your local market, if you want to teach in person, or looking globally, if you want to teach by video. If everyone else in the local area is charging $10 per hour in person and you want to charge $30, people need to know why you're (general you here) worth it. It means that you have to educate the public as to why you're better than the others out there. Same as any other artist trying to make a living, even if they're trying to do it via grants from nonprofits. Conversely, if you want to charge less than the going rate, at least until you get established, why not, especially if you have another source of income?

I like to think outside the box, whenever possible. You were raising the question of a "decent living." To me, a decent living does not necessarily mean cash changing hands. If, for example, you would normally pay for someone to clean your house because you have no time, hate to do it or are physically unable to do so, why not exchange lessons for cleaning, as long as you can come to a fair agreement with that person as to price? How much is it worth to you to pay to have the house cleaned? To some people, it is worth a lot! And there are a lot of college grads cleaning houses because they like the money and the hours. And that goes for anything--how do piano lessons stack up against an excellent car mechanic for example? People have only so much money, and they have to choose their priorities.

Imagine you wanted to make $100,000 a year teaching (I'm not that great in math, so I'll use simple numbers for my sake, lol). Let's assume that you are only teaching x number of hours in the year, regardless of the price of lessons. You could theoretically teach one student who pays you that much, 10 students who pay you $10,000 each, or 100 students who pay you $1000 each. Or, you could put on a piano seminar somewhere 3-4 times a year showcasing your video program that you sell online (offering free support by email) and make the same amount of money. What would be less wear and tear on you and your family? Which would you rather do? That answer of course would be different for each person.

As to private lessons, well, not everything in music needs to be taught privately from beginning to end. Some basics (like note reading) can be taught in a group setting, or using a good DVD/video (I did say "good", not bad--you can have good and bad teachers too), or even reading a book. People may start with group lessons, then go to private lessons later, you never know.

As I say, I like to think outside of the box.

-- GT (nospam@nospam.com), March 02, 2005.


Whoooaa!

I would like say that, after 28 years of teaching in a variety of settings, such as class, private, and other work as a pianist, there is absolutely no reason on earth that musicians (including teachers) should short-change themselves. It reminds me of the joke: What do you call a musician without a significant other? Homeless. I completely resent the insulting suggestion that I am less of a teacher because I have rent to pay, health insurance to buy, high taxes, the overhead of a studio, and, did I mention eat? Being unconcerned with matters of business or an even MODERATE level of subsistance is a choice made by those who don't care to or need to be concerned about these things. Please, get a perspective! I love music and consider teaching a calling not for the faint of heart; however, if you want to live as a normal human-being and not a martyr, learn now that music is an industry and teaching is a profession. It is just bad advice to tell someone that you should lower your rate to prove what a great teacher you are. I don't buy it. Generosity can be shown in many forms, and I am a generous person, but as any person with common sense does, I have a budget, and a financial plan. Students should be proud to be a part of a relationship that allows them the integrity to treat teachers with dignity. It does not make me feel good as a consumer to think that I am contributing to the martydom expected in this field.

Further, if you calculate the amount of income earned by the average person for your country ($40,000) here in the US, at $20.00 per half hour, I will need to teach at least 60 students a week, year-round, to a low to average income. For part-timers, maybe it is acceptable to neglect finances, but not if you dedicate yourself to teaching as a full-time profession. Face it, there is only so much money a person can make teaching. I think it's obvious that none of us are business magnates making obscene amounts of money. Give me a break! We are not any where near that league, so why begrudge people who may require more of an income to live decently.

The answer to the question of how much to charge is that you must first calculate (yes, on a calculator) what you require to maintain your life. Then, get a feel for what others are charging in the region. Adjust your fee accordingly. It's your business! I fail to see where any of this has anything at all to do with the love of teaching or music. Do not judge those who wish to be (even marginally) sucessful. I love my teaching, I love my students ,and, they love me.

Sorry for the tirade, however, I feel it is necessary to be sober about setting a proper rate of payment.

-- Lea Johnson (clearfuture@erols.com), March 03, 2005.


GT, I'm curious where in the world did you study music?

-- anon. (nonameposter@yahoo.com), March 06, 2005.

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