Meri’s Musical Musings

I want to put this out there for all the music teachers and music lesson clients…

Posted on: August 4, 2013

I just want to put this out there as I want everyone to know it. I’ve been seeing lots of bargain-basement music lesson rates advertised across various sources for music lessons, such as kijiji and craigslist, and it is really unfair to both the service providers (music teachers) themselves and the clients, even though the clients may see that as an awesome cheap deal at first.

Running a business requires expenditures, transaction fees, home insurance, health insurance, professional teaching instruments and materials, maitenance and replacement of materials and instruments, commuting costs, the costs of running a website, and various office supplies that you may not think are connected to teaching music lessons, but actually are. So if you only charge $10-$20 an hour (and it’s still pretty bad even if that is just a half hour rate), you’re basically doing volunteer work. You’re doing it virtually FOR FREE. It’s OK if it’s for the VERY occasional non-profit for charity function here and there, but in this case, it’s not. I’ve found that in many cases that you also attract lower-quality clients when you set your rates too low.

Music teaching entails pretty darned BIG, MATURE responsibilities. Maturity comes with life experience. People trust you to give the student and their families much musical and personal growth. Teaching the student not only the concepts to be able to play the music, but to play it with efficient technique and minimize or avoid injury. That’s a huge responsibility. So please do yourselves (and other professionals) by charging respectable rates. While you may currently be using the money to pay for extras such as a a shopping spree at the local mall, some if not many of your colleagues may be the sole income earner, to pay their rent, food, business expenses, and have a little for saving or even feeding a family with a child or two. As well, music teachers are constantly educating themselves by spending time in research for how to teach better, taking lessons themselves, attending seminars and conferences, which many cost a significant amount of money. Not only that, but most students generally want lessons during a very limited set of times on weekdays, rarely earlier than 3:30 pm, and most don’t want a lesson to start after 7 pm, few students and some teachers are not available on weekends, and there are occasional and sometimes frequent cancellations by students, reducing our income significantly. Sometimes, too, clients terminate lessons with no notice, which is an unexpected drop in income.

After all, if you see yourselves as 5-star music teachers (especially if you have tangible proof of it), start acting like 5-star folks yourselves and start treating music teaching as a 5-star business with rates that reflect that image. Your clients and their families after some time will thank you, especially if they go on to study with other teachers and be less likely to experience “sticker shock” when it comes to lessons, especially instruments other than piano, guitar, and sometimes violin which tend to be somewhat to significantly higher priced than those three instruments.

I’ve had several clients who say my rates are too low for the quality of lessons I provide, and some have paid me as much as 50% extra on top of what they were already paying, sometimes for lessons for 3 students! (some of those families had children who later graduated from music programs in college or continued to earn high marks on exams and win competitions) They found that people were more motivated to do a good job when the teacher was well paid—and the teacher finds more reason to get up and do the job than if the job was barely more than minimum wage. I’ve never had bargain-basement rates either; in the very late 1990s I was charging well over $20 for a 30 min lesson, and my rates for 30 min lessons now are over 50% higher than that in 2013. (more than $1 a min) But I’ve continued the track record and also include much lesson enhancement with computer technology aiding in instruction of theory, ear training, music reading, keyboard geography, audio recording, and video recording.

Hope all of you 5-star music teachers and music lesson clients digest all this food for thought. Thanks! Wishing you success to all of you!

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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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