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How Much Do Piano Teachers Make

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Making money as a performing pianist can be difficult at times. This is why many pianists take wedding gigs, church accompanying jobs, and teaching positions to supplement their income. Have you ever wondered how much a piano teacher makes? If so read on!

So, how much do piano teachers make? Piano teachers make an average of $53,232 per year. The average pay is around $35 per hour lesson. Teachers with master and doctoral degrees can command upwards of $100 per hour. 

Teachers have the ability to charge what they believe their worth is. While the income is above average for the profession, building a solid clientele is crucial to a piano teachers success. Next, I’ll dive into some of the benefits and disadvantages of piano teaching.

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How Much Do Piano Teachers Make

Benefits Of Teaching Piano Lessons

Teaching piano lessons can be extremely beneficial. Especially if you’re a performer, having the ability to supplement your income while maintaining a concert schedule is important.

The average piano teacher charges around $30 – $50 per piano lesson. These are usually half hour lessons. Even with a moderately sized piano studio of just 20 students, a piano teacher can expect to make at least $30,000 per year.

That’s just with 10 hours of actual teaching being done which is fantastic. Of course, there are some other things to factor in such as lesson planning and advertising your business.

A well-run piano studio with a clear policy, supplemental teaching plans, and the business plan will almost always do well.

Below are a couple of key benefits of teaching piano lessons.

Teaching Piano Lessons Offers Unique Exposure

An often overlooked way to receive exposure as a pianist is to teach lessons. Not only does teaching connect you with the community, but it presents some unique opportunities to collaborate with other music organizations and leaders in the field of music.

From a networking perspective as a performing artist, teaching really adds to your credibility as an artist. People will take you even more seriously if they see you can demonstrate your craft through the art of teaching; especially if your students succeed.

For example, when it comes to student recitals, the number of families and members from the community that comes to the event will have a chance to see you and your students in action.

A successful group of students playing looks very good to others, and even helps with the recruitment of future students.

It’s not uncommon for piano teachers to sign more students up for lessons or get offered concert engagements, gigs, and other work from those attending the program. Any public performance is an opportunity to establish your brand.

This is definitely the case as students in the program start finding success in competitions and public performances. Many of those accomplishments can be added to your resume or website which makes you a much better candidate for unique jobs.

It’s also a good idea to get involved in the community as a piano teacher as well. Businesses are more than willing to pay for advertisements if you are hosting an event. If you’ve got a storefront location, then even more businesses will want to participate.

In general, teaching piano lessons offers another platform for attracting the attention of those in the community and globally. Teachers are widely sought after for their reputation and expertise in the craft.

Even if you decide to work for a business, academy, school and not your own private studio, there are always opportunities there a brand.

Teaching Lessons Can Be Lucrative

From a financial standpoint, teaching piano lessons can be lucrative if done the right way. Here are a couple of reasons why private piano studios can make significant money.

Location and demographics

One of the biggest factors in any business is where it’s located and the demographics of that area. Piano teachers have to consider the same factors if they want their private studio to be a success.

A piano teacher who operates their business within a rich population is more likely to draw the kind of clients who will pay more for lessons. On the other hand, a teacher who teaches in an area that has a low population of children and resources may not have the same luck.

On the other hand, competition within the area is also something to concern yourself with. If there are too many piano studios in one area it will be hard to compete against more established businesses.

It’s a good idea to research in and around your residence to see whether a piano teaching business makes sense there.

Teacher Credentials

Your credentials as a pianist can go a long way in what prices you can command from prospective students. A teacher with a Master’s or doctorate degree has the knowledge and experience to ask for more than someone who doesn’t.

I’ve seen teachers charge anywhere from $60 – $100 per hour regardless of their location. This is because they had a huge teaching background and have nothing to prove to the public about their ability to teach.

Typically you’ll see teachers without degrees charge a significantly lower price for their lessons. This does not mean they do not have the ability to teach, but rather they don’t have the paperwork to back up higher prices than their competitor.

If you’re thinking about teaching piano lessons but don’t have the degree it’s still possible to charge top dollar. This will require getting some good notes on your resume.

One method is to simply start teaching more and more, building up your reputation in the community. The other thing you could do is enter some of your more talented students into competitions and playing exams.

The most helpful thing you could do however is to join a local music organization. MTNA offers a membership that is really beneficial with helping teachers network with other teachers and students.

Also consider attending various music-related seminars, piano symposiums, and masterclasses. The more you can build your reputation as an expert, the easier it will be to increase the value of your lessons.

Word Of Mouth

If your studio is a success, chances are the word will get around in the community. A business like piano teaching does it’s best when that sort of thing happens.

This is why I recommend hosting as many studio recitals, group classes, seminars and coaching sessions as possible. Reaching out to local schools, churches, and even giving free lessons periodically can help you reach just the right amount of people.

It only takes one person to spread the good news about your piano teaching for the growth to be exponential.

The Ability To Hire More Teachers

One thing that holds back a lot of piano teaching studios from growing is not hiring more teachers.

I cannot stress how many times I’ve seen piano studios with 40 students turn away countless numbers of eager piano students. A lot of private studios especially have huge wait lists of students because the teacher running it is afraid to branch out.

Sure, this means hiring employees to teach your students, however, the amount of overall financial growth for the studio is worth it. Even taking a small percentage of the lesson fees will add a substantial amount of money to the teaching business.

Expanding your piano studio will only increase its exposure. This leads to more opportunities to network and grow even more.

It’s a good idea to train your fellow teachers in your style and approach to piano lessons. If you’re worried about losing students to them in the future, you can also have them sign a non-compete clause as part of their contract.

The Ability To Set Your Own Schedule

One of the perks of running your own piano studio is setting your own schedule. Piano teachers in business for themselves can teach as much or as little as they want.

Hiring more teachers allows for even more flexibility in scheduling, leaving time for performing recitals, travel, and taking care of key business items.

In general, because the pay for piano teachers is well above average, they can work fewer hours overall. This leaves more time for planning, taking care of business duties, vacations, and even traveling to perform concerts.

If a teacher finds that they need more money, they can simply schedule more lessons by adding students in from their waitlist.

Private piano teachers can make cancellations, reschedule lessons, offers additional lessons and extend or reduce teaching hours. If you’re working for an academy or music store, this may not necessarily be applicable to you.

However, these organizations are quite flexible with cancellations and rescheduling as long as lessons are covered by another teacher.

Some businesses contract their teachers out on a per lesson basis, which allows you to set the number of hours you want to come in and teach for the week.

Disadvantages Of Teaching Piano Lessons

While there are plenty of awesome benefits to piano teaching, there are some clear disadvantages as well.

Lack Of Time To Practice

There is a lot that goes into teaching a piano student. Beyond the lesson, there is the planning of those lessons so that the student has a firm grip on the concepts and repertoire.

Because of that, there is almost double the work happening for a piano teacher. Any time spent teaching is less time being made available to practice yourself.

As a piano teacher, you have to really schedule in your practice time, especially if you have aspirations to perform and keep a regular schedule on that front. I typically practice very early in the mornings when my mind is fresh.

Make sure to leave enough time between your practice, planning, and teaching. With each task, you need to have a fresh mind so that you can give each task your very best.

Business And Accounting Duties

If you’re running a private teaching studio, then the business aspects of it can get a little overwhelming. Having to juggle the database of students you have, set up scheduling software, send emails and all that comes with the profession.

As a piano studio grows, it’ll be wise to hire an accountant and secretary to handle some of those tasks for you. Doing so allows you to focus more on the day to day operations, and most importantly the teaching.

Undisciplined Students

Not every student is going to be well behaved. Some students have musical talent and should be taking lessons, but their behavior can get in the way of that sometimes.

As a teacher who works for someone else, it may not always be easy to avoid having to teach those students. You have to find creative ways to get work done and set the tone early from the very first lesson.

If not, you can expect lessons to be rough until your foot is put down. A wise idea if you’re going to open your own piano studio is to set up an interview process. This is a chance for the teacher and student to have a conversation about what is expected in those lessons, and to establish a set of rules from the beginning.

In this case, this gives the teacher more control before a single note is even played at the piano. In some cases, a student who refuses to behave will simply have to leave the piano studio.

While this may be a financial hit, it’s more desirable than forcing a student to take those lessons. Always have a plan in place to replace any students who are leaving your studio.

Building Your Piano Studio

Growing a piano studio is tough work. It involves a lot of dedication, money, and a lot of research. Even if you already have an established studio or work for someone else, building up the clientele always takes a bit of extra work.

Here are a couple of extra tasks involved in building a piano studio.

  • Advertising
  • Community Outreach
  • Attending Concerts
  • Making Phonecalls

On the surface, those tasks may not seem particularly bad, but over the course of time, those tasks can become overwhelming. It’s always a wise idea to pace yourself in this profession. Remember that making a career as a piano teacher is a marathon, not a race.

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