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#2244534 - 03/11/14 12:37 AM Inquiring about rates  
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Arghhh Offline
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I will be moving soon and want to find out what the going rates are in the area for teaching and accompanying.

How do people find out about how much others get paid? Is it acceptable to contact strangers using their contact info online to ask them? Or pretend I'm looking for an accompanist?

For teaching, I can find online what private teachers charge, but what about for those teaching in music schools where the school pays the teacher? And for accompanying, one option I was looking at was playing for a ballet company or for RCM exams.

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#2244545 - 03/11/14 02:17 AM Re: Inquiring about rates [Re: Arghhh]  
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For accompanying, ask the local instrumentalists or vocalists what they're used to paying their accompanists.

As for teaching in schools - why not just ask the school themselves? No harm in asking what a job's pay is before you apply. As a general rule, these schools tend to take about 65% of the cut, at least from what I've seen.

Maybe if you say where you're moving you'll get more specific advice from people on here.

#2244558 - 03/11/14 03:12 AM Re: Inquiring about rates [Re: Arghhh]  
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You can try just asking strangers, but they might not be pleased to share with you. If you use a pretense, this might come back to you later in a bad way.

But the real answer to your questions is: "There's quite a range." You'll need to move first, and get a feel. Self-employed piano teaching and accompanying are marginal ways to make a living, especially when one is starting out in a new locale.


#2245022 - 03/11/14 10:53 PM Re: Inquiring about rates [Re: Arghhh]  
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If it helps, I'll be moving to Calgary.

One of the courses I'm taking this semester is called "Your Music Business", and we're supposed to come up with a business plan and goals, etc. It makes sense to try to do some advanced planning instead of just waiting to see what happens...I wanted to take a look at the numbers and get a ballpark estimate on what it would take to make a living, whether it's really worth it to me to teach at one of those music schools, and also plan for what kinds of other jobs to do on the side while I gain exposure in the area.

Last edited by Arghhh; 03/11/14 10:56 PM.
#2245098 - 03/12/14 12:49 AM Re: Inquiring about rates [Re: Arghhh]  
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We have a lot of Canadian members here, I'm sure some could help you out.

For what it's worth, 100% of my current private teaching studio came from (directly or indirectly), working for one of "those music schools." The ones I worked for (unusually so), did not make me sign any contract or anything, so I was free to recruit students after I left, or they just choose to follow me. I'd recommend working for one at least part time, you'll get lots of work relatively fast, even if the pay is not so great.

#2245710 - 03/13/14 12:59 AM Re: Inquiring about rates [Re: Arghhh]  
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Figure out how much money you need to earn to live as you prefer in Calgary, and then accept the fact that you cannot earn this simply by teaching piano and accompanying.
Certainly not in the first couple of years after your relocation.

You need another source of income. A well-paid other part-time job. A partner with a secure salary. Etc.



#2245790 - 03/13/14 08:34 AM Re: Inquiring about rates [Re: Peter K. Mose]  
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Originally Posted by Peter K. Mose
Figure out how much money you need to earn to live as you prefer in Calgary, and then accept the fact that you cannot earn this simply by teaching piano and accompanying.
Certainly not in the first couple of years after your relocation.

You need another source of income. A well-paid other part-time job. A partner with a secure salary. Etc.




This may actually be true. I relocated to southern FL 2-1/2 years ago and I'm still working on building up my studio here. It really takes a few years to get established and get the word of mouth to help you out. What you may want to do to get a feel for what you should charge is perhaps call some of these schools and see if there are openings and what you would get paid with your experience. I did that and one owner told me that she couldn't pay me what I should be making in this area and let me know what that amount should be. It was very helpful.


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#2246218 - 03/13/14 09:46 PM Re: Inquiring about rates [Re: Peter K. Mose]  
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Originally Posted by Peter K. Mose
Figure out how much money you need to earn to live as you prefer in Calgary, and then accept the fact that you cannot earn this simply by teaching piano and accompanying.


Thanks, this is good to know. I guess I'll keep my eye out for part-time software work then...there is no spouse to provide the extra income for me. Having a job like that is probably the only way I'd be able to get a decent mortgage for a house too.

How do pianists in expensive housing markets manage without having a house to put an acoustic piano in? I know the stuff I'm playing now would not be possible with a digital piano, and it's kind of sad I'll have to lose what I've gained in the past bit of studying I've been doing.

#2246221 - 03/13/14 09:54 PM Re: Inquiring about rates [Re: Morodiene]  
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Originally Posted by Morodiene
I relocated to southern FL 2-1/2 years ago and I'm still working on building up my studio here. It really takes a few years to get established and get the word of mouth to help you out.


I'm kind of surprised it takes long since the posts I've seen you make around here make me think you are an excellent teacher. And I've read your posts where you talked about all that you did to find students.

I will call some of the music schools in the area, as you suggested.

#2246337 - 03/14/14 04:09 AM Re: Inquiring about rates [Re: Arghhh]  
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Originally Posted by Arghhh
Originally Posted by Peter K. Mose
Figure out how much money you need to earn to live as you prefer in Calgary, and then accept the fact that you cannot earn this simply by teaching piano and accompanying.


Thanks, this is good to know. I guess I'll keep my eye out for part-time software work then...there is no spouse to provide the extra income for me. Having a job like that is probably the only way I'd be able to get a decent mortgage for a house too.

How do pianists in expensive housing markets manage without having a house to put an acoustic piano in? I know the stuff I'm playing now would not be possible with a digital piano, and it's kind of sad I'll have to lose what I've gained in the past bit of studying I've been doing.


Originally Posted by Arghhh

How do pianists in expensive housing markets manage without having a house to put an acoustic piano in? I know the stuff I'm playing now would not be possible with a digital piano, and it's kind of sad I'll have to lose what I've gained in the past bit of studying I've been doing.


Don't underestimate digitals. I used to think exactly as you did, but recently circumstances in my life have changed so that I've had to do a lot more practicing on digitals, and I've found that I can basically get the same quality of work done on them.

I'd say with a VERY GOOD digital (or better yet, a silent piano), up to 95% of results you achieve will be the same as with an acoustic. If it makes you feel better about the situation, Stephen Hough only practices on digitals when he's at home in NYC, as do a handful of Juilliard and MSM students living in NY apts.

That being said, it's important to find access to a quality acoustic at least some of the time, to retain the inspiration and feeling of touch. If you don't own one, there are usually creative ways to find access to one;( ex. I used to teach at a piano store for a slightly lower rate than I was worth, but in return I had keys and 24/7 access to the store and their private studio). Church jobs and accompanying positions might give you similar perks.

I don't know what it's like in Calgary, but here in L.A it's possible to find small "Bungalow" style houses to rent for pretty much the same rates as apartments - so you can have a little one or two bedroom freestanding cottage with nobody living on either side of you.

Last edited by Opus_Maximus; 03/14/14 04:10 AM.
#2246413 - 03/14/14 09:13 AM Re: Inquiring about rates [Re: Arghhh]  
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Originally Posted by Arghhh
Originally Posted by Morodiene
I relocated to southern FL 2-1/2 years ago and I'm still working on building up my studio here. It really takes a few years to get established and get the word of mouth to help you out.


I'm kind of surprised it takes long since the posts I've seen you make around here make me think you are an excellent teacher. And I've read your posts where you talked about all that you did to find students.

I will call some of the music schools in the area, as you suggested.


Well, thank you. But being good at something doesn't necessarily guarantee success, especially in the music world. It does require tenacity, though, and I haven't given up yet wink

With regards to the piano situation, if you cannot manage to have an acoustic piano, I highly recommend taking a look at Kawai CA65/95, VPC1, or the MP11 pianos. I played the latter two and was blown away by the feel and sound (the VPC1 you need software piano sounds, which are generally better than anything you can get onboard these days). Might be worth looking into if you have to.


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#2246449 - 03/14/14 10:22 AM Re: Inquiring about rates [Re: Arghhh]  
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Originally Posted by Arghhh


I guess I'll keep my eye out for part-time software work then...


This is absolutely what you should do. Consider yourself lucky that you have such a needed skill. Piano playing and teaching are not frills in our PianoWorld view of life, but they seldom pay enough to live on.

#2246453 - 03/14/14 10:33 AM Re: Inquiring about rates [Re: Arghhh]  
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Originally Posted by Arghhh


How do pianists in expensive housing markets manage without having a house to put an acoustic piano in?


It's a good question. There are good digital pianos; there is soundproofing one can do to rooms; there are noise bylaws that generally allow noise by day; sometimes there are even neighbors who appreciate musicians.

But a related question is equally important: How do pianists in expensive housing markets afford their home teaching space? It's a great problem - rarely discussed by the piano pedagogy community.

Last edited by Peter K. Mose; 03/14/14 10:34 AM.
#2246455 - 03/14/14 10:45 AM Re: Inquiring about rates [Re: Arghhh]  
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Both of my past piano teachers taught in apartments. The first was a sub 6 foot grand in a 2 story condo complex. Neighbors on both sides and underneath. She had a pretty strict 7:00 o'clock cut-off and her biggest issue was that she was running a business out of the condo which was against the by-laws. The other was an Acrosonic (not very loud) in a single level duplex. She went as late as 8 or 9 in the evening but I remember that the two units were front to back and the piano room didn't' share any walls with the neighboring unit.



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#2246469 - 03/14/14 11:28 AM Re: Inquiring about rates [Re: KurtZ]  
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Originally Posted by KurtZ
She had a pretty strict 7:00 o'clock cut-off and her biggest issue was that she was running a business out of the condo which was against the by-laws.


Thanks for mentioning this, it's yet another obstacle. Even when zoning laws might be lenient, condo bylaws often collide with what we do. North American subdivisions often have similar rules.
We music teachers both make noise and have a steady stream of visitors, so it's tricky to fly under the radar.

#2246756 - 03/14/14 10:09 PM Re: Inquiring about rates [Re: Arghhh]  
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Originally Posted by Arghhh
How do pianists in expensive housing markets manage without having a house to put an acoustic piano in?

We stay away from expensive housing markets!

(Or, we have a small apartment entirely filled by a piano.)


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#2246807 - 03/15/14 01:07 AM Re: Inquiring about rates [Re: Peter K. Mose]  
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Originally Posted by Peter K. Mose
Originally Posted by KurtZ
She had a pretty strict 7:00 o'clock cut-off and her biggest issue was that she was running a business out of the condo which was against the by-laws.


Thanks for mentioning this, it's yet another obstacle. Even when zoning laws might be lenient, condo bylaws often collide with what we do. North American subdivisions often have similar rules.
We music teachers both make noise and have a steady stream of visitors, so it's tricky to fly under the radar.


And Calgary, since 2011, has a law that a teacher cannot have more than 15 students coming for lessons in one week.

#2246890 - 03/15/14 09:16 AM Re: Inquiring about rates [Re: hreichgott]  
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Originally Posted by hreichgott
Originally Posted by Arghhh
How do pianists in expensive housing markets manage without having a house to put an acoustic piano in?

We stay away from expensive housing markets!

(Or, we have a small apartment entirely filled by a piano.)


thumb

Who needs furniture, anyways? It's highly overrated.


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#2246897 - 03/15/14 09:29 AM Re: Inquiring about rates [Re: Morodiene]  
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Originally Posted by Morodiene
Originally Posted by hreichgott
Originally Posted by Arghhh
How do pianists in expensive housing markets manage without having a house to put an acoustic piano in?

We stay away from expensive housing markets!

(Or, we have a small apartment entirely filled by a piano.)


thumb

Who needs furniture, anyways? It's highly overrated.

One of my pianos is serving as a very nice table. And I store boxes of stuff underneath it to absorb the sound.


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#2246900 - 03/15/14 09:37 AM Re: Inquiring about rates [Re: Arghhh]  
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Originally Posted by Arghhh

And Calgary, since 2011, has a law that a teacher cannot have more than 15 students coming for lessons in one week.


This is very interesting. And unfortunate. It would be hard to enforce, but it does suggest that Calgary piano teachers are poorly organized as a group. Does anyone know the back story to this recent bylaw?

In an area with mostly detached homes - like Calgary - the studio teacher's dramas with neighbors usually relate more to cars and parking than to musical noise.

#2246929 - 03/15/14 10:57 AM Re: Inquiring about rates [Re: Peter K. Mose]  
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Originally Posted by Peter K. Mose
Originally Posted by Arghhh

And Calgary, since 2011, has a law that a teacher cannot have more than 15 students coming for lessons in one week.


This is very interesting. And unfortunate. It would be hard to enforce, but it does suggest that Calgary piano teachers are poorly organized as a group. Does anyone know the back story to this recent bylaw?

In an area with mostly detached homes - like Calgary - the studio teacher's dramas with neighbors usually relate more to cars and parking than to musical noise.


Who passed this law? It is unfortunate!! Surviving as a piano teacher is hardly enough and now they have a new law that says piano teacher cannot have more than 15 students? Sad.


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#2246944 - 03/15/14 11:20 AM Re: Inquiring about rates [Re: bzpiano]  
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Originally Posted by ezpiano.org
Originally Posted by Peter K. Mose
Originally Posted by Arghhh

And Calgary, since 2011, has a law that a teacher cannot have more than 15 students coming for lessons in one week.


This is very interesting. And unfortunate. It would be hard to enforce, but it does suggest that Calgary piano teachers are poorly organized as a group. Does anyone know the back story to this recent bylaw?

In an area with mostly detached homes - like Calgary - the studio teacher's dramas with neighbors usually relate more to cars and parking than to musical noise.


Who passed this law? It is unfortunate!! Surviving as a piano teacher is hardly enough and now they have a new law that says piano teacher cannot have more than 15 students? Sad.


It seems the bylaw is specific to running a business out of your home in a residential neighborhood as opposed to a commercial operation.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/bylaw-forces-calgary-piano-teacher-to-shut-down-1.1126657


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#2246967 - 03/15/14 11:56 AM Re: Inquiring about rates [Re: Arghhh]  
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Ah, found the Home Business rules.

They seem a bit on the restrictive side.

http://www.calgary.ca/PDA/DBA/Documents/brochures/home_occupation.pdf?noredirect=1



gotta go practice
#2247051 - 03/15/14 03:01 PM Re: Inquiring about rates [Re: Arghhh]  
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Nice finds, Tim. If we read the bylaw's fine print, it's clear that the main issue of the Calgary bureaucrats is indeed cars and parking. In fact, the limit is 15 cars per week, not 15 students per week: that's quite interesting. If the students all walked or rode their bikes to their lessons, it appears a Calgary teacher could legitimately teach more than 15 students per week in her home, and even be licensed to do so.

But here is the rest of the story about piano teacher Colleen Lindenbach, which we don't learn from the CBC story. Turns out she was teaching little kids in groups in her home, and had a flourishing Music for Young Children franchise of more than 100 kids per week - each one accompanied by a parent or nanny. That's 200 visitors to her house each week, and 100 parked cars out front: no wonder some neighbor must have complained to the zoning commission about her teaching operation!

So let's have a look at Lindenbach's current operation: over 600 students per week, multiple teachers, and a big commercial space in a Calgary mall!
http://musicandplay.ca/
She's no longer a folksy group piano teacher down the street. Instead she has become the arts administrator of a sizeable institution.

#2247059 - 03/15/14 03:20 PM Re: Inquiring about rates [Re: Arghhh]  
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Good sleuthing, Peter. smile

#2247260 - 03/16/14 12:12 AM Re: Inquiring about rates [Re: Arghhh]  
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I wondered how she was able to teach 100 students in a week!

#2247282 - 03/16/14 02:28 AM Re: Inquiring about rates [Re: Arghhh]  
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Group lessons


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#2247284 - 03/16/14 02:36 AM Re: Inquiring about rates [Re: bzpiano]  
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Originally Posted by ezpiano.org
Group lessons

Apparently, some teachers use this method to lure more potential customers into the door. When one student shows promise, the teacher starts to brainwash the parents into thinking how "talented" little Jimmy is, and starts to nudge Jimmy toward 1-hour private lessons.

It's a good business tactic. It gets more customers. But I'm not sure I want to go down that route.


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#2250645 - 03/22/14 07:05 PM Re: Inquiring about rates [Re: Arghhh]  
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City of Calgary's website does seem to have some clarifications:

http://www.calgary.ca/PDA/DBA/Pages...on-class-2/Home-Occupation--Class-2.aspx

What I found interesting was the line:
"The business cannot generate traffic to and from the home that is not characteristic of the neighbourhood."

Considering many of the neighbourhoods have become multi-family (whether legally so or not), a moderate piano teacher would likely generate less traffic than many local residences. If, for instance, you are teaching from a detached home with a two-car driveway and you keep your personal vehicle in the garage, you have more parking space than the bulk of your neighbours. Encouraging teenage and young adult students to use alternate transport could also help.

For instance, I live in the Saddleridge area of Calgary, and we have at least 5 multi-family households in our cul-de-sac. Our next-door neighbours are continuously trying to park their 6 vehicles as close to their house as possible, to the point of encroaching on their neighbours (and parking on their own lawn during this year's particularly icy season). They would park in our driveway if they didn't know we would have them towed. Unless you are generating a ton of traffic, I doubt that it would cause a blip in comparison. To be honest, your neighbours in more affordable areas of town would be less likely to report your moderate amount of students -- they would be nervous that you would, in turn, report their illegally suited home.

#2250768 - 03/23/14 12:33 AM Re: Inquiring about rates [Re: Arghhh]  
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Welcome to the board, Yzorah! And an interesting first post. Could you explain what a multi-family household in Calgary is? Does you mean an extended family - with grandparents, parents, kids, and maybe some cousins - or actually unrelated families living under one roof?

I agree that generally zoning bylaw officers have better things to do than to hassle home piano teachers. But we are usually not running the sort of operation that Ms. Lindenbach was, with her classes and her 100 students a week.

#2250922 - 03/23/14 12:10 PM Re: Inquiring about rates [Re: Peter K. Mose]  
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Originally Posted by Peter K. Mose
Welcome to the board, Yzorah! And an interesting first post. Could you explain what a multi-family household in Calgary is


Hi Peter! I've been lurking for awhile, and since I live in the area mentioned, I figured I'd say something smile

A multi-family household is just that...multiple families living in one house. Generally sections of the house (just a normal, everyday, single-family house) are sectioned up into suites or apartments. It isn't unusual to find a 3-bedroom house that has been split into basement/main suites, or even further into a 3-floor arrangement. Often each will be given a rudimentary kitchen. It started as "nanny suites" or "Granny suites" so that a grandparent who needed family assistance could move back in, or a college student who needed housing could have their own place.

It really took off in the newer sections of town where we have a higher population of new Canadians. Suiting a house makes the mortgage more affordable and gives reasonable rent to more people (some of which may be family). Some of these homes are being built intentionally large to accommodate multiple suites. Unfortunately, the drawback is that it's often not done to any sort of code and can pose a danger to the tenant. Also, it puts strain on traffic in neighbourhood as there is no bylaw stating that a landlord needs to provide at least one parking space per tenant (this would limit the amount of families per household).

Our mayor has tried to address this issue a couple of times. It will likely be an ongoing battle.

Most definitely, general traffic to a piano teacher's house should put little to no added stress. If you plan on a sweeping, large-scale business like the lady referenced, you're better off finding appropriate office space smile

It's a common-sense situation, but common sense is getting rarer these days!

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