This week I am writing about what really goes into the cost of private lessons. Some people are a bit surprised when they learn how much private lessons can cost, but there are a lot of things that must be considered when determining a rate.
First off, we look at what other teachers are charging in the same area; the price for lessons varies all across the metroplex. Rates are usually higher in affluent neighborhoods and if there is a lack of teachers in the area. If several teachers are offering the same services in one place, rates may be a bit lower to give a competitive edge.
Besides the expertise and guidance a teacher offers in the actual lesson, there is a lot of prep work that occurs before, especially when it comes to choosing repertoire. On average, I’d say it takes me anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour to find two or three pieces for a student and and then play through them to see if it is a good fit. Now, multiply that time by how many students you teach (usually around 20-25 students). That’s a lot of time spent just finding pieces! Planning recitals and attending festivals that our students participate in is also extra time that is usually unpaid.
We have to tack on any administrative work that is required to keep the studio running (checking in with our families, purchasing and picking up new music and materials, billing, and marketing). Keeping up with social media accounts and blogs also takes time, but again, we think it’s important to send our families the latest research, events, and insight and to build a sense of community within the studio.
Another factor that increases a lesson rate is if the teacher travels to your home for the lesson. Obviously, this is extremely convenient for families as it is one less activity to drive to. Most traveling teachers expect their travel time to be incorporated into their rate since that time is taken out of their teaching schedule. If you are unable to take lessons at the teacher’s home/studio space or prefer to have lessons at your home, expect to pay a bit more.
Lastly, I have to mention every self-employed person’s favorite topic: taxes. Outside of paying ourselves, we also have to budget for quarterly payments. Self-employment can be a beautiful thing, but let’s face it, those taxes can take a real hit financially.
So, why be a teacher when there is all of this extra unpaid work outside of lesson time? This may sound cliche, but watching a student progress, achieve new goals, and grow as a person through music is priceless. Our goal is to provide something wonderful for the community, but also to be able to make a living, so please remember everything that happens outside of lesson time that we must account for in our rates. We feel that our prices reflect the high quality of our teaching, but we still remain accessible to families in our area.