You can make a substantial living teaching your passion while continuing to work on your musical projects.
However, creating a reliable income depends on how much you charge and how you market yourself as a teacher.
Whether you teach piano, voice, guitar, or any other instrument, your pricing decisions can mean financial success or struggle and discouragement.
In this article, we’ll give you 10 factors to consider when determining your rate as a teacher.
Here’s What to Charge for Music Lessons
1) How Much Do You NEED to Charge?
Calculate your bills and other expenses and figure out how much you need to survive financially, at least. Nothing kills enjoyment and motivation faster than devoting your time and energy to something while contemplating how to meet your next car payment by the end of the month.
However, as a side-hustle for some extra spending money, your attitude about pricing might be more open and negotiable.
Figure out how many hours you can devote to teaching each week and do the math. You’ll end up with a target amount.
Music instruction can cost as low as $15 and get as high as $150 per lesson, although the average rate is between $30 to $60 an hour. What determines this wide range of pricing?
2) Do You Have an Education in Music?
Having a degree in music carries weight in the minds of potential students. It demonstrates that you have the necessary knowledge and are qualified to teach. A teaching credential is also an added plus to put on your resume. Charging $60 to $80 an hour or $30 to $40 for half an hour is standard.
Did you earn a master’s degree or Ph.D.? In this category, rates can range from $80 to $150 an hour. Often, teachers in this bracket only teach intermediate to advanced students and conduct longer lessons.
3) Are You An Accomplished Musician?
Though this doesn’t always mean you know how to teach others well, most people have more confidence in a teacher that can play the instrument they’re providing instruction for very well. Playing professionally in a band or orchestra also gives you the self-assurance to charge more. Most people admire performers. Your success and accomplishments help to encourage their goals and dreams.
Understanding the music business and what it requires, as well as what it feels like to get up in front of an audience, gives you more compassion, empathy and wisdom when preparing your students for a recital, concert, or audition.
4) How Much Teaching Experience Do You Have?
In some ways, the answer to this question is as valuable as having the professional artist title under your belt. The truth is, some very talented musicians make terrible teachers. Have you been teaching students of all ages for several years?
Teaching takes patience, encouragement, the ability to explain and demonstrate concepts that resonate with the student and help them understand and grow. Students are unique and have different learning styles. A good teacher tailors lessons specifically to each person and makes learning enjoyable and effective.
Teaching experience and the testimonials to go with it make a winning combo that deserves a higher rate.
5) Do You Have a Special Niche Rare to Find?
Do you play the flugelhorn and tuba or dulcimer and harp? You won’t have to worry about much competition. Most people may not want to learn these instruments, but some do. They’ll pay a higher price for a teacher with a hard-to-find skill set.
Playing several mainstream instruments is rare, too, and also advantageous. You have a larger spectrum of students you can teach, and it’s impressive to prospective clients—another way to stand out and demonstrate your musical knowledge!
Other Factors Affect Lesson Pricing Beyond Your Education, Experience and Skill
When making a business decision about how much to charge for your music instruction, it’s essential to consider these details, as well.
6) How Much Are Music Teachers Charging in Your Area?
Where you live has a significant effect on how much you charge. For example, students living in rural areas may have less income than potential clients living in a big city.
Surprisingly, online teaching doesn’t offset this fact too much. It’s a lot harder to get a long-distance student who may live in New York City when you live hours away.
However, with online-teaching, you do have the opportunity to create an effective marketing strategy to attract clients in several metropolitan areas if you want.
Google music instructors to see what they charge where you plan to teach. Sometimes you have to act as a prospective student to get an answer. You can also call music stores or schools in the area to get their rates. Look at their credentials and experience and compare them to your own.
Also, explore costs for other extracurricular activities parents are willing to pay for, such as art classes, ice-skating lessons, or batting practice sessions. You’ll get a good idea of what seems like a reasonable price and what doesn’t.
- When comparing yourself to your fellow instructors, figure out what you can offer that they may not. Maybe you teach voice but give lessons in guitar or piano to help singing students accompany themselves.
- If you have more teaching experience or education, display it proudly and confidently on your website and other marketing venues.
- Evaluate your competition. Are you in a location filled with college students majoring in music and offering piano lessons at a bargain? Not all is lost if you have selling points that make your higher price worth it.
- Maybe you live in a town filled with professional musicians who have a solid reputation in the community. Emphasizing your excellent teaching skills and warmth might work in your favor.
With the information you gather, you can determine whether it’s possible to support yourself teaching music. You can also gauge the appropriate price range for the best results.
On a positive note, if you live in an area where music lessons are less expensive, rents or mortgages and other bills may likely be less costly for you, as well.
7) At What Location Do You Teach Your Students?
Do you go to the homes of your students to give lessons? If so, you are providing a fantastic convenience for them or their parents. You’ve prevented waiting in a small, stuffy lobby at a music store and saved them time by avoiding traffic in the late afternoon. Parents can finish tasks at home while you teach their children.
That’s worth at least an extra five dollars per lesson. Consider your travel expenses in gas mileage and the wear and tear on your car, too, when determining a fair rate.
Teaching online is convenient for both students and teachers once the technical issues get worked out. High-quality microphones, earphones, video cameras and conferencing tools create a positive learning experience.
Therefore, charging 20% less may not be necessary if you can sell your qualifications and unique gifts as a teacher.
If you choose to teach with an online platform, they often take a cut of the money. It may be worth it to you not to have to market yourself to acquire students. Knowing your target income helps you decide.
Some teachers suggest that when a student travels to you, you should charge less. However, prices should reflect the service you are providing, wherever the location. Just require more money when traveling to them.
8) What Payment Policies Do You Have in Place?
Not protecting yourself against last-minute cancellations can seriously affect your income. Require at least 24-hour notice or charge students for the lesson anyway. They stole that time from you. You could have scheduled a makeup lesson or met with a prospective student.
Teachers often feel uncomfortable asking for money or asking for any payment at all! Usually, music people pride themselves on not being business savvy. However, to enjoy the advantages of working for yourself, having a flexible schedule, sharing your joy of music, and having the time to pursue your dreams makes developing good business acumen worth it.
Some teachers ask for monthly commitments in advance and promise to make up a lesson rather than return money for missed sessions. You would be surprised how conscientious students or parents become about making their appointments.
9) What Age and Level Are Your Students?
Lessons with toddlers and small children are shorter and therefore less expensive. It’s not unusual to give 15 or 20-minute sessions.
Intermediate to advanced students usually need longer lessons and are probably more serious about their studying, so they’re prepared to pay more.
10) Have You Ever Considered Group Lessons?
Teachers charge less for students who sign up to learn in a group class. Students appreciate a lower price, especially when just starting out and not knowing how much they’ll like learning the instrument.
Charge 50% to 65% of your regular price. For example, if your private lessons are $40, you might ask for $20 to $26 per student in your class. If you teach ten pupils, you now make $200 to $240 more in one hour. Even if you expand the session to two hours, you’re still way ahead.
Teaching in groups comes with its own set of challenges and preparation, so don’t hesitate to ask for a reasonable price when considering this option.
Additional Tips to Help You Find The Ideal Pricing
1) Package pricing to encourage longer lessons.
Often teachers go over the allotted time of a lesson anyway. Why not get paid for it? If you charge $32 for half an hour, offer $40 for 45 minutes or $50 for an hour. The client sees the savings opportunity and faster growth potential. You end up making $32 to $72 more a month from just one student with only minutes of additional time teaching each week.
2) Stop teaching students who constantly cancel.
It’s hard to turn down money, but with excessive cancelations, you’re losing it anyway and preventing yourself from getting a more committed student. An understanding heart is good, but you know when it starts crossing the line into disrespect of your time. They’re paying for their slot in your schedule as well as for your instruction.
3) Increase your fees by at least five percent each year.
The cost of living goes up continuously, and your compensation should, as well.
4) Try not to give family discounts.
Of course, you can do so from the goodness of your heart, but speaking from experience, it can cost you hundreds of dollars a month. When you teach two siblings and take five dollars off at least one of them to give your client savings for their budget, it’s $20 less a month for you.
Word gets around, and before you know it, you’re teaching ten sets of siblings and making $200 less a month. It gets worse if you take five dollars off each student’s price. Now you’re losing $400. At that point, you would rather have 20 separate students that don’t reside in the same household.
Instead, divide one lesson in half for each sibling or have each child share the time slot having two sessions a month along with a commitment of regular practice. Then everybody wins.
Other Ways to Increase Your Income as a Teacher
- Start a blog and create a website with music tips, videos of sample lessons and plenty of testimonials to help attract new students.
- Sell needed music items, such as reeds, music, amps and other electrical equipment, used instruments, lesson plans for other teachers, workshops for audition preparation, or other online classes.
You can make a significant income by teaching private music lessons. You enrich the lives of your students by giving them a gift they can enjoy throughout their lifetime.
Studying music also helps students do well in other subjects and perform higher on SATs. Did you know that 66% of music majors get accepted into medical school, the highest percentage of any major, and students who participate in at least one music college course are 4.5 times more likely to stay in college?
These are great selling points that prospective clients will remember you telling them.
With music education, skill and a love for teaching, you have a valuable commodity to share. Don’t sell yourself short!
Eduardo Perez is a multi-instrumentalist with over 20 years of experience playing instruments such as piano, guitar, ukulele, and bass. Having arranged songs and produced music in a recording studio, he has a wealth of knowledge to share about analyzing songs, composing, and producing. Currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Interdisciplinary Musical Studies at Berklee College School of Music. Featured on Entrepreneur.com. Subscribe to his YouTube channel, or follow him on Instagram.