As a beginning private teacher, I used to feel uncomfortable concerning lesson payment. Coming from academic situations where music education superceded all, I hated ending a lesson asking for money, or reminding my student about next month’s invoice due. What needed to change, however, was my view of what I do, its value, and how I convey its value to my students.
What I do is educate, and in any academic situation, education is paid for by tuition. This tuition is not merely an hourly fee for services rendered. Each student is paying not only for music instruction, but also for a guaranteed place in your studio and preparatory planning for each lesson. This includes hunting for repertoire for a particular student, organizing recitals, researching summer music camps, and even writing recommendations. The commitment to your students’ musical advancement is a full-time effort, and goes above and beyond an hourly fee.
Influential Factors of your Fee:
- Anyone with a bachelor’s degree in music should be charging at least $15-20/half-hour.
- If you have advanced degrees, or extensive performance experience, charging more is certainly acceptable. Prospective students also place more importance on degrees because it is easy to evaluate.
- Research what your colleagues with similar credentials charge in your area, and set your fee accordingly.
- Take a look at your local economy. What does a month of ballet lessons or karate lessons cost? This is a good indication of what parents are willing to pay for extra curricular activities.
- Increase your fee around 5% per year.
- If you are worth more, charge more. If you are charging too much, you’ll know it because you won’t be able to attract students at that rate.
Rules to Charge By:
- Charge everyone the same fee. If not, word will get around that you charge some students less, and the results will not be pleasant. If you have students at differing fees, bring everyone up to the same level.
- Don’t offer a family plan. Is your time and expertise worth less to one person in the family than to another? It is much harder to teach family members than people who are unrelated. No matter how hard you try to make sure the less-advanced student feels good about her progress and ability, there will be rivalries and feelings of jealousy and discontent.
- Don’t give discounts if students pay in cash. It doesn’t matter whether you are paid in cash or check- you report all your income.
- Don’t negotiate or justify your fee. If a prospective student complains, “That’s too much!” or “So-and-so charges less,” your response should be: “I understand, but that is my fee.”
Raise your fee if:
- Your roster is full
- You haven’t raised your fee in 2 years
- You are below the prevailing local rate for teachers of your qualifications and experience
Good teaching deserves good compensation. If your studio is full, your students are happy.