Wynton Marsalis Discussion Forum

   

I have a silly question

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Joined 2005-06-26

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Maybe there are some music teachers out there who can help me. Is it possible to make a living doing private instruction? It seems like all the music teachers I know supplement their income with work in learning institutions. Is this the only way? How reasonable is it to open a studio and expect in the near future to be able to support myself? (I know its a silly question. I think I knew the answer before I asked it, but I’m asking anyway)

     
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Thanks Soultrump. That’s inspiring. Do you know roughly what he charged his students? Was it all private tutalege or were there some group lessons, too? ...he bought a HOUSE just from private teaching??!! Man, that is inspiring.

     
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Joined 2006-09-25

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Depends on a lot of things - where you live, what instrument you teach and how many other established folks in the area are teaching the same instrument, the health of the band programs or orchestra programs in the area in terms of enrollment, the quality of the programs in the area schools in terms of if they’re inspiring kids to want to take private lessons to improve/excel, the professional respect you can command as a player/teacher and the relationships you can develop with the directors of those programs to recommend you to their students, and most importantly - can you both play and teach at a level that inspires kids to want to set their world on fire with their horns. If you can do that, and your students show the results in their attitudes and playing, that’s the most effective “advertising”. Also, consider your overhead - do you have a place you can teach? Will it cost you to rent, or will you have to split proceeds with a music store? If you’re going to them, how wide a geographic area and what would the gas costs be? If teaching at home, do you need to up your homeowners insurance coverage for running a business, or get any special city or township permits? If teaching at your house and you live alone, be VERY wary in this day and age - simple things like adjusting posture with hand pressure to reposition can be misconstrued by beginning folks not familiar with this kind of thing. Be sure a parent stays for the lessons.

     
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Thanks, Bandlady. I know I’ve still got a lot of research to do!

     
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Be sure to have a lawyer draw up a contract for your private studio, and check on zoning laws etc. in the area you wish to teach.  Charge per semester, not per lesson, and charge for the PROGRAM of music instruction.  Most teachers do not teach 30-minute lessons anymore, and most professional independent music teachers absolutely do not teach make-up lessons.  You may opt to offer a trading schedule for all your students, so they can broker trades in weeks when they can’t attend a lesson.  And, you may offer “extra lessons” a time or two per semester at no charge to offset any displeasure about your no make-ups policy.

I have been an indepedent music teacher for 30 years.  I charge about $700 per semester of about 16 weeks. 

 

Also, be sure you give yourself the option of sick leave and emergency leave in your contract ..you don’t have to take it, but you need to have it.  A typical contract might name the tuition per semester (interest added if not paid in full up front) for “14 - 16 lessons.  The instructor has the option of 2 missed lessons as sick/emergency leave.”

 

Remember to add late fees, returned check charges etc. in your contract as well.

     
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Joined 2006-09-01

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Beside the seasoned tips that you got here, I remember some piano teachers association having some basic and detailed books on how to go about developing a successful private studio. All the information is out there, so you will not be alone. I will try to find those in the music library that I frequent.       

With all the information, you should be able not to overlook important details that may not be apparent to you now.

Good luck and do your homework.

     
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Thank you! I appreciate the information. And Carrie, you put a light bulb on in my head re: charging per semester instead of per lesson. (Duh! Why didn’t I think of that?) And zoning laws, etc are things that may get some folks in trouble for not thinking about when planning. It’s great to have the perspective coming from someone who’s been teaching for thrity years. And Frederique, I’ll definetely keep a sharp eye out for literary material on the subject. You’re right: all the material is out there. It’s up to me to take advantage of resources.

     
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Joined 2006-07-09

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Hey Mboya,

I have a good many friends who supplement their playing income with private teaching, a good buddy of mine teaches approx 40 students a week at $50 per hour….do the math, he teaches primarily from his home has thme pay up front per semester, and has a waiting list…..now don’t get me wrong, he wants to kill himself sometimes from teaching some of them : 0…. but he does fairly well and plays quite abit as well…good luck.

     
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Joined 2006-09-25

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At risk of bringing up the part nobody really wants to ever talk about, remember that - particularly if you’re charging per semester - you need to have some pretty good bookkeeping skills, otherwise tax time is going to be a nightmare.

     
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Good point.  Self-employed music teachers pay quarterly taxes, so that usually takes care of the “nightmare” part.  Keeping receipts for everything associated with teaching is the real nightmare, I think.

     
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Although I looked very hard I could not find the book that I saw on a successful private music studio Mboya, and all I could come up with are music teachers associations here and in Canada, that could lead you to sources of information to accomplish your goal. menc, mtna, national guild of piano teachers and musiceducationonline.org (from Canada), should be able to answer a lot of your questions and point you in the right direction. I will keep on asking though. Best to you and let us know how you are doing in that department.

     
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Frederique, thank you for helping. I think I might know what book you’re talking about. There is a book I found out about called “Making Money Teaching Music”. It is not in print at the moment. I’m going to see if I can find it used.And I’ll check that website and those resources you mentioned.

     
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I’m sure everything will turn out well Mboya just make sure and do your homework, which I know you’ll do.

Do you think once you get your business started you’ll still have time to play and tour?  I sure hope the answer is yes.

     
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Where was that? Was it on his web site? Can you describe a little bit what he was talking about?

     
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Thanks for the confidence, Edna. I’m sure it’ll work out. I’m dealing with the decision of where to set up my private studio. The most important thing is location.  There is one region of the city where more teachers are located, so I’m looking at how much rent of studio space would be.

     
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Firstly, I don’t think that is a silly question. For me this is a practical question. It is possible, the profit you get can help you pay the bills. Be a free lance music teacher, teaching instruments. Just make sure you have certificate to show that you had proper music education.