Financial Business

Are you starting up a private music teaching studio? You probably have questions. Beginning teachers often ask the same questions. Usually the first is “How did you get started teaching?”

Let me answer that one before digging into others. I grew up in a family of professional musicians. My sister and I sang and played—and got paid for it—from the time I was five years old. Relatives composed songs and choir cantatas, wrote musicals and played in dance bands. My mother coached countless kids performing vocally and instrumentally, both individually and in groups. I was in on it most of the time, and began to coach others during middle and high school.  By the time I started college, I had sung/played for over three hundred weddings. Yet it never occurred to me to earn a living at it until I discovered how unsuited I was for waiting tables!

So in my hometown, I let it be known I was going to teach beginning piano. I told people at church and put up a couple of small posters, hand-made. I started in the basement of my parents’ home on a 100-year-old piano with three students. I used the books I’d grown up with. I went straight through the books without variance. Somehow those three students stuck with it, thrived, and by word of mouth my studio grew. I was passionate about helping others make music. I added other instruments. And I got bored with the books. That made me take every opportunity, whether at the university or beyond, to educate myself pedagogically and grow as a skilled—and fun—teacher.

There are five questions I am most often asked. However… I will start with

One question no one asks, but should!

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contract

My top tip to any new private teacher would be to get a policy drawn up with your students. Everyone will be much happier for it! Pupils and parents need to know how you run things and your business will benefit from establishing some ground rules.

A feature I love about Music Teacher’s Helper is the “studio policy” web page that is part of the included music teacher website package. This gives us an opportunity to explain to prospective students, who might want to register for lessons, how we run our teaching businesses.

When I first started giving private music lessons I had no contract with my students. Things were casual. Some weeks pupils would turn up and pay for that lesson, other weeks they didn’t. It became very frustrating as I waited to see whether they would attend and pay and as a consequence, my earnings were extremely erratic. I began to quickly realise that I needed a solution otherwise I would simply run out of steam. Enter the contract!

I remember the night before I was planning to present my newly drawn-up contract to my students I was feeling rather anxious. What if they didn’t like the idea of a formal agreement? Would I lose pupils? A couple of parents grumbled but most, to my surprise, were very understanding and agreed that it was a good idea to get things into writing. The improvement was immediate! People were now paying for  [···]

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music teaching business

A lot of teachers of music, especially private ones, just fell into this line of work. Someone asked them to show them a few chords and one thing led to another. This is fine. But if at some point you find yourself really beginning to love teaching others, you need to start thinking of it as your career and your business. And teaching music is a business.

Systematization

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