How to be a private music teacher

Written by lauren vork
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Music education is an enjoyable and rewarding career, but for those who would rather teach instruments than head an entire state school music department, a good option is private teaching. Private instrument instruction is a great way to be steadily self-employed as a musician. It should go without saying that in order to teach music, one must already be accomplished upon a musical instrument, but for private teaching, educational credentials don't matter. You don't need a degree in music education, or anything else for that matter, as long as you know what you're doing on the instrument you play. You will also need to have a knack for teaching and dealing with people, but chances are, if you love teaching, this already describes you.

Skill level:


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    Find a space in which to teach. Your own home may be an excellent choice, but there are several things to bear in mind: you will need liability insurance in order to run a small business and have customers in your residence, so if you live in a rental property, you will need to go through your landlord. Also, if you live in an apartment, your neighbours may be bothered by the sounds of lessons.
    If using your own home doesn't work out, consider travelling to your students' homes and teaching there. You will have to take into account your travel time and decide if it's worth it. You can rent space from local music studios and stores. Most cities and towns will have a couple of these, and don't discount studio space just because it doesn't match the instrument you teach. Some studios charge a flat monthly rental, while others will take a percentage of a teacher's lesson fees, so make the decision about which of these to use based on how many students you will have. Another option for a teaching venue if your church, if you have one. If you happen to be a music minister at an Evangelical Lutheran Church, it is part of ELCA policy to allow you to use the church facilities for teaching lessons. If not, see if your denomination might have similar policies or be open to letting someone teach in their church, perhaps in exchange for special music offerings and volunteer work for the music ministry.

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    Determine what you will charge and how you will collect. Instrument lessons usually last a half hour at a time unless you have a particularly serious student. Base your fee on what is average in your area (ask around). It will most likely be somewhere in the £13/lesson range.
    The question of how you will collect is important so as to make sure you don't end up working for free. Always make sure to be paid in advance of a lesson, and it's perfectly acceptable to expect a month's worth of lesson fees up front. You will also need to have a policy regarding missed or skipped lessons. Here, a reasonable policy is to offer refunds for lessons if you should miss them, but not offer them for lessons that a student misses.

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    Find students. Depending on your instrument, this can be the tricky part since some instruments (piano, guitar, violin) are more popular for private lessons than others. Advertise for free on websites like Craigslist, or any local artists' websites. Post flyers on community notice boards, particularly those in local music stores and at music performance venues. Get in touch with local state school music teachers and give them your contact information, or go as far as to offer to do a master class for students. Set up a website or social networking profile with your information and samples of your playing so that you can send people to it in order to hear you. Inform everyone you know that you're looking for students in order to generate word-of-mouth.

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