Finances

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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Tax day is coming soon!

Does that sentence fill you with dread?

Or are you lucky enough to be one of those music teachers who has all of your receipts in perfectly organized envelopes, a well-filled-out mileage tracking notebook in the glovebox of your car, and a tax accountant on hand to answer any tricky tax questions?

If, indeed, you are one of these blessed souls, can I come watch how you work? Can I adopt your systems? Because here is how tax season works at my house. [···]

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