Scheduling in your music studio

Do you want to know how to schedule your teaching times to make money?


Are you using Music Teacher’s Helper yet?

One of the most difficult aspects of running a private music studio – at least for me, anyway – is scheduling. My life is very full and while I really do like it that way, I am busy. That just means that I have to be very scheduled and very organized with my appointments and my music lessons. When I listen to my students and their families, I know that their lives are pretty much the same: in a word, busy. So I start working on my fall schedule during the summer so that I have it mostly under control by the time the school season starts. Here’s what I do.

Figure out how much I need/want to make for the year. Are you looking for a part time or full time income? For me, a part time income from teaching is perfect since teaching is only part of my career. I also play, write, and do a few other things. Once you know how much you need to make, the rest is easy! Divide your yearly salary by 12 months (I charge by the month- I call it the budget plan). Then divide that number by the amount you charge per lesson. For example (using round numbers to make the math easy), if I want to make $40,000 a year, I divide that by 40 weeks (the number of weeks I want to teach per year) to get $1000 per week. Divide that by the amount you charge per lesson, $1000/$50 per lesson to get 20 lessons per week. Are your lessons 30 minutes? Or are they 45 or 60 minutes? That’s how you’ll know how many hours you’ll need to work with students. Then, I take that $50 per lesson, multiply by 40 weeks and divide it by 12 to get the students monthly tuition. This way, I get a stable income year round. That comes to $166.67 per student per month. That’s sort of a funky number, so I’ll probably round it down a bit to $165.

Schedule when to teach. First and foremost, I roughly plan out my teaching year. I personally teach about 45 weeks out of the 52. I also incorporate 3 weeks for any makeup lessons, although some studios don’t do makeups at all. The choice is yours. Choose which weeks you’ll teach and which weeks you’ll take off because vacation time is important, too. I like to make up a calendar for the year so the students know well in advance. I also choose ahead of time when I’m going to schedule recitals and piano parties. Music Teacher’s Helper is a great way to do that!
After I know which weeks I’m teaching, I figure out what hours I’m going to teach. Let’s say I want to teach Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4:00 PM to 9:00 PM and I teach in half hour increments. (Many students prefer to have their lessons on Friday nights or Saturday mornings, but that doesn’t work for me.)  If I don’t take any breaks in there, that’s 10 hours per week, or 20 students. Lucky for me, I can log in to Music Teacher’s Helper, set up a series of lessons, and have my students go online and register for a timeslot. Or I can go to the website and set it up for them. I typically don’t schedule breaks for myself because with that many students, there is bound to be a cancellation or two.

Schedule planning time. Whether you teach a full studio or not, you’re going to need to have a little bit of planning time. I usually use the time for about an hour before my students arrive. I print worksheets, plan games, etc, because by then I typically know who is going to show up and who is going to be absent. I often use the same worksheets with several students who are around the same level of experience and ability. It saves time and is easier to keep track of. You can schedule your planning time in Music Teacher’s Helper, too.

Schedule when to take breaks. As I mentioned before, make sure you plan your vacation ahead of time. Don’t forget to schedule breaks in between students if you need them. You can black out time on the Music Teacher’s Helper calendar.
Schedule time to learn. You need time to practice. You need time to learn something new, and maybe even to take lessons or classes for yourself. Constantly striving to improve helps us become better and more empathetic teachers. Put it in your calendar so you don’t skimp on yourself.

Schedule time for fun. You need to have fun so you don’t burn out as a teacher. Make sure you plan some time to enjoy music- whether it you are attending a concert, listening to new music on iTunes, or shopping for new sheet music for yourself. Don’t ever lose your love for music because it will show in your teaching. Keep your love of music and your teaching will be infectious.


About the Author

Amanda Furbeck
Amanda has been teaching private piano lessons for 15 years. She plays piano, keyboard, and organ, and has worked in church music for 17 years. Amanda received a B.A. in music from Eastern University. She has written and recorded music that is available on iTunes and, and writes CD reviews for Worship Leader Magazine. She is the author of "Clef Hangers," a book of devotions for wors... [Read more]