Monetizing your love for playing the piano by setting up your own music studio can be very exciting and gratifying. If you are an effective keyboard or piano teacher, you'll soon start receiving positive feedback from your clients, be they parents or students.
New piano teachers may under how to teach piano, but there's often one awkward question that hangs in the air - how much should you charge for your piano lessons?
Many inexperienced piano teachers will start by offering lessons for free to friends or family members who might be learning to play the piano, to see if they are suited to piano instruction. And newer teachers will often offer their first trial lesson for free, a tactic that helps build up a roster of new students.
If you're new to piano teaching, we'll cover some important things to consider when setting your rates. On the other hand, if you're already teaching piano, and want to increase your monthly income and maybe even live off piano teaching, this article is also for you!
We cover the commercial side to piano instruction; you are offering private piano lessons within a marketplace, and we'll help you set the right rate and maybe even increase your cut by making your advertisement pop.
Before you consider your rate, make sure your advertisements for your piano lessons are attractive and specific to your skills. This could mean:
- listing everything you offer alongside the piano instruction, such as music theory, ear training, sight-reading, AMEB exams, recital preparation, masterclasses on technique, improvisation, songwriting and composition
- listing the genres of music you are experienced in and love to teach, such as jazz, classical, rock, or pop
- listing your method or educational approach (you may have developed your own, or you may follow the Kodaly or Kawaii method)
- if you are targeting a certain group of learners, make that clear: ie. you may be a specialist in helping adult beginners fall in love with the piano, or have a proven track record of helping Year 12 students ace their university piano auditions
Being very specific in your ad ensures the right students will gravitate to you. Listing your achievements and specific skills will also help you set a higher rate, as students will be more likely to pay more for someone who they know will suit their needs and help them succeed.
Once you've drafted an attractive and specific advertisement, read on for ideas on how to set your piano teaching rates.
Become a piano teacher: research the piano teaching market
The first thing to do when setting your rates as a piano teacher is to look at how other teachers near you are pricing their lessons.
If you don't research your competitors, you risk pricing yourself too low, or out of the market altogether.
In Australia, private piano lessons cost somewhere between $40 and $60 per hour.
However, be sure to check out your local market, as location has a huge effect on the kind of rate you can expect. If you live in a wealthy area of Sydney, you can command higher rates than a piano teacher in a small rural town.
Whilst the rates for in-home lessons are not standardized, it's best to look around and align your rates with your competition if you're trying to find your first students. Take note of the teacher commanding the highest rates for in-home piano lessons - they are probably offered by a decorated pianist with decades of performing and teaching experience who has studied piano pedagogy in depth. Now take a look at the lower end of the market - this is usually dominated by university students looking for their very first piano students.
Now you need to place yourself somewhere within these rates, taking into consideration your playing level, your previous teaching experience and your target group - do you plan to teach beginners or more advanced students?
Your skill level and experience in teaching piano
When you become a piano teacher, you need to consider two variables: your skill level as a player and your experience as a teacher.
If you've played the piano for a decade, have mastered a variety of techniques, and feel comfortable giving lessons on music and chord theory, scales, sight-reading, exam preparation, mastering performance anxiety and piano technique, and can teach flexibly across many different genres, you should be able to command a higher rate.
However, without the teaching experience, you may need to set your rates a little lower until you have proven testimonials and a strong track record as a teacher.
To set a fair price for your piano lessons, you must first accurately assess your own skill and teaching level.
Price equals quality, and quality comes from playing and teaching experience. If you've only played the piano for five years, you won't merit the same rates as a private teacher with thirty years of teaching experience. However, you can invest your income from piano teaching back into further training for yourself to eventually command higher rates.
You may also think about offering a flexible pricing system for lower-income families, or an instalment plan across the term.
If you are just starting, you might consider offering your first lesson for free.
These things can help you attract your first students and get a foot in the door, and you can always raise your prices later when you have more experience.
Looking for advice on how to plan your first piano lessons?
What kind of students will you teach piano?
Generally, lesson prices are higher for teaching more advanced students than for beginner piano lessons.
If you are taking on more advanced students, they may also wish to sit exams or be aiming for university auditions. This will also raise your rates, especially if you have a proven track record of helping past students achieve success in these areas.
Lastly, if you plan to travel to your students' houses for home piano lessons, you need to include your travel costs in your hourly rate.
Factoring in the level of instruction
Depending on the kind of piano lessons you are offering, you may have a range of different rates. Generally speaking, the more advanced the student, the more you earn.
You may consider a three-tier system, with a beginner, intermediate and advanced rate calculated from the students' age, years of piano experience, and any AMEB exams they may have passed.
Alternatively, you may add a fee to your base rate for each exam or audition they enrol in whilst learning with you. This is because exam preparation and guiding students to succeed in auditions often require extra paperwork and more demanding lessons on your part.
Any pianist who has been playing for a few years can give a first piano lesson to a young child. Many new piano teachers see lessons with small children or toddlers as "easier", and therefore charge less for piano lessons aimed at kids. However, this age group requires an entirely different set of skills and repertoire, so don't price yourself too low!
Factoring in travel costs
If you are a travelling music teacher, you will carry the cost of travel to your students' homes.
This means factoring in your travel time - you'll charge less for someone who is a ten-minute walk away than students who are an hour's drive away! If you drive, you'll also need to factor in petrol, car insurance and perhaps even toll roads, and if you're travelling by train or bus, you should include your ticket price.
Travelling comes with its upsides and downsides. Unfortunately, it means you'll spend less time overall teaching and more time commuting. If you have a lot of students to see each week, this can be a drain on your precious time and a logistical hassle. On the other hand, piano teachers who are willing to travel to students' home are in hot demand, as busy parents appreciate the convenience of not having to ferry their children around during the after-school rush.
Factoring how you meet your students into your piano teaching rates
The last important factor in setting your rate for piano teaching - considering where you've found your students.
As a freelance, independent piano teacher, there are plenty of ways to reach out to new students. This includes through your personal network, online, or acquiring references from music schools. When you are determining your piano teaching rate, keep in mind how you found your students.
For example, you are likely to charge "mates rates" to a friend who is hiring you to teach their six-year-old daughter. You may not be earning your ideal rate, but giving lessons within your friendship circle at a reduced price is a great way to start building a roster of students, and your friend's recommendation will help get the word out that you're teaching piano.
If you are teaching private lessons referred through a music school, high school or conservatorium, you should align your rates with the other teachers working within that school.
If you're connecting with students through platforms like Superprof, your rate should be competitive with other piano teachers to avoid pricing yourself out of the market.
Ultimately, it's up to you to set a fair price for your piano lessons and communicate these clearly to your students
Now you have a better idea of how to set your piano teaching rates, why not take a peek at our master guide on how to become a piano teacher?