Meri’s Musical Musings

So you want a teacher of a certain instrument to come to your home? Some tips from a teacher who does travel

Posted on: October 29, 2011

Sometimes people look for a teacher of a specific instrument to come to your home, usually piano or violin. As a teacher who sometimes teaches in student’s homes, I wish to offer some tips on helping it make it a good experience for the teacher.

One thing that is an absolute MUST if you want a teacher to come to your home is to pay them decently for their time. At least the typical going rate for an in-studio teacher (where I am, most in-studio teachers charge $40-$60/h), and preferably 20-50% more. Many people posting for a teacher to come to their home offer compensation somewhat to significantly less than the going rate; I have seen families offer as little as $10 for a half hour lesson if someone to come to their home, though typically they offer $25-$30/h. If looking for a teacher for an advanced student (Level 8 in most exam systems), the average going rate is higher, usually $60-$80/h, again, offer at least the going rate, and more if you can. The rule is, the less you offer, the less likely you’ll get a good, and especially an excellent teacher!

Another absolute MUST is that you have a piano that is well-maintained and in tune. Especially if you are requesting for a vocal, string, or brass teacher, to give an accurate pitch reference. But for students of all instruments, having a good, well-maintained piano is a huge aid in ear training and makes it easy to play solo repertoire with someone who plays the piano well enough to play the piano parts successfully.

A third MUST, if the teacher does not drive and  if you live beyond walking distance from a transit stop, is to pick up and drop off the teacher at or close to the transit stop. Or at least compensate them for cab fare.

Fourth, put the area of instruction on the main floor of your home. This not only allows you to hear and see what’s going on (you may even learn a few things!), but is helpful if the teacher has a situation such as a sprained ankle. (which happened to me a few months ago and to one of my colleagues a few weeks before that)

Fifth, keep the space as quiet as possible, at least during the time the lessons are happening. No younger siblings of the student running around your home please!

Sixth, keep highly scented plants and other items well away from the teaching area while the teacher is there. I’ve had sneezing fits from Easter lilys! And avoid preparing foods with strong odours the teacher is probably not used to, especially ethnic foods.

Seventh, keep your dogs and cats well away from the teacher before they arrive. Better yet, inform them that you have dogs or cats before they are about to start teaching. Some teachers are allergic to cats, though for me the bigger problem is student’s dogs who jump on the teacher, especially after the first few visits.

Eighth, be there for the lesson! A number of teachers who have done travel teaching have had a number of no-shows at lessons.

Ninth, have all the lesson materials currently used ready for the lesson 10-15 minutes before the lesson every lesson.

Tenth, refer a few people in your immediate neighbourhood to take lessons with the same teacher within the first 3-6 months. This makes it more worthwhile for the teacher to come to your neighbourhood, and may provide opportunities for group lessons, ensembles, and, in the case of piano students, opportunities to play a variety of pianos.

Eleventh, carefully consider whether you would travel to a teacher’s home studio if and when a teacher’s numbers make it unfeasible for them to travel, especially if the students really like the teacher and the teacher is a good one.

At least 1, and preferably 2, music stands that are sturdy. A necessity if teaching a student a non-keyboard instrument, to promote good playing position, and helpful for pianists, especially if the teacher chooses to do ensemble pieces with students of other instruments. (and I’ve transcribed the melody line of a couple of piano method book pieces for me or a clarinet-playing friend of a piano student, one late beginner, the other early intermediate piano.)

Finally, have at least a drink available for the teacher, and preferably a small snack like crackers or popcorn as well. Occasionally, especially if the teacher teaches around lunch time or the dinner hour, offer them a meal. (two of my favourite families I travelled to regularly offered me lunch or dinner!)

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  • None
  • V V: Wish I had read this before I fell for their scheme ! Oh well - have posted my experience on Yelp and N49 and hoping others can avoid the pain of fal
  • clariniano: Thanks for the additional information. It was actually Yelp that deleted my reviews, because of so-called bias. I too have seen the horrible technique
  • No Thanks: Former Teacher at the Ontario Conservatory of Music I took lessons at the Ontario Conservatory and when I left for private lessons from another tea
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