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Are piano teachers paid enough? #2855932
06/06/19 02:08 AM
06/06/19 02:08 AM
Joined: May 2019
Posts: 44
Australia
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Mariner Offline OP
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Researching lists of piano teachers in my city, it's pretty surprising how similar the charges are despite the vast difference in qualifications and experience.

The minimal cost for a half hour lesson with a teacher without tertiary qualifications and minimal experience is $25 here. Meanwhile a teacher with a Master's Degree, additional Diplomas, years of experience teaching with an amazing track record and helping students reach Level 8 costs $40 per half hour.

I'm a lawyer, and this is a bit like comparing the cost of a junior lawyer to a Partner of a firm. A junior lawyer might charge around $250 an hour whilst a Partner with higher qualifications, experience and intimate knowledge of the system would charge around $600 an hour. It's a huge difference.

When I told someone whose child is taking $30 lessons that I found highest qualified teacher with amazing track record for $40, she exclaimed "that's so expensive!" Yet that person will easily spends $15 at a cafe on a mid-morning coffee with a muffin before going out to a restaurant for probably $40 for a main course with a dessert.

I'm a frugal person but sometimes I'm willing to pay extra for quality. I realise that over a year the difference is $750, which becomes $7,500 extra over a decade. But you can lose more money than that on a strangest things during that time, like cracked plumbing or an unexpected health problem.

I'm a bit surprised at how low some people expect piano and music teachers to charge despite the many years of dedication they bring with them.

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Re: Are piano teachers paid enough? [Re: Mariner] #2855946
06/06/19 03:58 AM
06/06/19 03:58 AM
Joined: Jan 2016
Posts: 293
Germany
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Thank you so much for these observations and comparisions! I am a piano teacher in Germany and can confirm this from my end... I am not envious of other people's salaries but I do sometimes think that for the amount of effort I put into my qualification I really should get a little more out of it.

Re: Are piano teachers paid enough? [Re: Mariner] #2855976
06/06/19 07:37 AM
06/06/19 07:37 AM
Joined: Jan 2009
Posts: 303
Virginia
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My parents paid $50/hr. way back in the mid-1980s for our lessons (for my sister and me... so $100/week) for a top teacher in the Washington, D.C. area, so she had a pretty decent income. My brother went to a different teacher who charged less. My mother told me our piano lessons cost as much as the monthly mortgage payment, so they had to make some sacrifices to afford this. However, we always had a roof over our heads, food to eat, and cars (old ones) to drive. What we did not have was fancy clothes, dinners out, or yearly family vacations. I guess it is a matter of priorities, as well as one's regard for the teaching profession in general. The attitude of many people seems to be... who needs expertise? After all, if you passed 3rd grade, you should easily be able to teach 2nd grade, right? Anyone is qualified to teach as long as they've learned most of the material themselves. (I am looking for an <eyeroll> emoji but I don't see one.)

($600 an hour? Shoot, I knew I should have gone to law school...) laugh wink grin


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Re: Are piano teachers paid enough? [Re: Mariner] #2855989
06/06/19 08:36 AM
06/06/19 08:36 AM
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I think it has to do with how the majority of people view piano lessons, which is an extracurricular activity for children, and if they are more practical, as a “fall-back career”. Kind of like, hey, if I don’t get into med school, I could always teach piano! That’s certainly how our community viewed it. And I do have several friends who teach piano now. Sure there were some who thought themselves or their kids to be good enough to be concert pianists, but those were not that common. That was back in my time, maybe not so much anymore?

For many people, piano lessons are “for fun” and not essential, so priorities are set and piano teachers can’t command too high a price or the parents and students might decide to learn something else. And as regular families go, not many can afford $80/lesson 4x a month. And if they have 2 or 3 kids? And other priorities? It really comes down to the practicalities of it all. Supply and demand.

Last edited by WeakLeftHand; 06/06/19 08:40 AM.
Re: Are piano teachers paid enough? [Re: WeakLeftHand] #2855994
06/06/19 08:59 AM
06/06/19 08:59 AM
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Chicago
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Originally Posted by WeakLeftHand
... hey, if I don’t get into med school, I could always teach piano!


I recall the teacher I had some 40 years ago had a "day job" which involved commuting downtown by train. I was her first student of the afternoon after school, and once in awhile I'd get to her house before she did, because her train was late!

Re: Are piano teachers paid enough? [Re: Mariner] #2855996
06/06/19 09:03 AM
06/06/19 09:03 AM
Joined: May 2015
Posts: 4,268
Florida
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I don’t think you will find anyone here who would think piano teachers are paid enough..,but this is a crowd that recognizes the skill and patience required. I would not be at all disturbed if my teacher raised her rates. (Something for teachers to consider). 😊


"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow" - F. Chopin
" I never dreamt with my own two hands I could touch the sky" - Sappho

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Re: Are piano teachers paid enough? [Re: WeakLeftHand] #2856012
06/06/19 09:29 AM
06/06/19 09:29 AM
Joined: Dec 2010
Posts: 2,267
Midwest USA
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Originally Posted by Mariner
Researching lists of piano teachers in my city, it's pretty surprising how similar the charges are despite the vast difference in qualifications and experience.

The minimal cost for a half hour lesson with a teacher without tertiary qualifications and minimal experience is $25 here. Meanwhile a teacher with a Master's Degree, additional Diplomas, years of experience teaching with an amazing track record and helping students reach Level 8 costs $40 per half hour.

I'm a lawyer, and this is a bit like comparing the cost of a junior lawyer to a Partner of a firm. A junior lawyer might charge around $250 an hour whilst a Partner with higher qualifications, experience and intimate knowledge of the system would charge around $600 an hour. It's a huge difference.

When I told someone whose child is taking $30 lessons that I found highest qualified teacher with amazing track record for $40, she exclaimed "that's so expensive!" Yet that person will easily spends $15 at a cafe on a mid-morning coffee with a muffin before going out to a restaurant for probably $40 for a main course with a dessert.

I'm a frugal person but sometimes I'm willing to pay extra for quality. I realise that over a year the difference is $750, which becomes $7,500 extra over a decade. But you can lose more money than that on a strangest things during that time, like cracked plumbing or an unexpected health problem.

I'm a bit surprised at how low some people expect piano and music teachers to charge despite the many years of dedication they bring with them.
Very, very few people incur the lawyer's $250 or $600 hourly fee, on a weekly basis, for one or two family members. Piano lessons are weekly, on the other hand, and it's not uncommon for more than one family member to be having lessons. I wonder if that pay differential between junior and senior lawyers would be sustainable if they had the same business model as piano teachers.

Are piano teachers paid enough? They are, if you assume in a free market that they would do something else if the money was inadequate. Should they be paid more? Some of them, yes, others, no. My guess is that few people would agree upon who the shoulds and shouldn'ts are. smile

Do qualifications matter? They should, but they don't guarantee better instruction (imo, they are necessary but not sufficient).

Why do piano teachers make (relatively) so little compared to others? I think WeakLeftHand answered it:
Originally Posted by WeakLeftHand
....For many people, piano lessons are “for fun” and not essential, so priorities are set and piano teachers can’t command too high a price or the parents and students might decide to learn something else. And as regular families go, not many can afford $80/lesson 4x a month. And if they have 2 or 3 kids? And other priorities? It really comes down to the practicalities of it all. Supply and demand.


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Re: Are piano teachers paid enough? [Re: Mariner] #2856015
06/06/19 09:42 AM
06/06/19 09:42 AM
Joined: Mar 2018
Posts: 300
Texas
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Another factor is location. Several years ago, my wife and I moved from Huntsville, AL to Austin, TX. To my pleasant surprise, the average hourly rate for music lessons in Austin was four times what it was in Huntsville!

In Huntsville, teaching music was just a hobby. At best, it earned me a little pocket money. But in Austin, where music and music teachers are highly regarded, it's serious business.

My rates are pretty much average for this area, but I know teachers who charge considerably more (retired department chair of piano performance from the Prokofiev Conservatory) and those who charge considerably less (a fellow who can't read music but still purports to teach piano).


Austin Rogers, PhD
Music Teacher in Austin, TX
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Re: Are piano teachers paid enough? [Re: Mariner] #2856088
06/06/19 12:52 PM
06/06/19 12:52 PM
Joined: Feb 2019
Posts: 579
Sheffield, UK
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Sheffield, UK
I do feel that for the skill required, piano teachers are underpaid, if you view it from the value you get from their expertise and not what the market values.

I certainly would not quibble if my teacher increased her rates by 20%.


Mendelssohn Song without Words Op19,2 and 19,6, Jensen Sehnsucht Op8,5. Chopin Nocturne C# Minor. Schumann Hasche Mann from Kinderszenen Op15,3. https://soundcloud.com/sheffieldkevin
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Re: Are piano teachers paid enough? [Re: Mariner] #2856105
06/06/19 01:54 PM
06/06/19 01:54 PM
Joined: Feb 2018
Posts: 86
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mostlystrings Offline
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Simple answer, teachers (and lawyers) should charge what the market can bear. Find the equilibrium price on the supply and demand curve, and if it's not enough, go into a different line of work. Reality, not so simple!

Defining the market is another story. There is a community music school around here that charges nearly twice as much as a retail music store. I've taught at both places - presumably the same quality of instruction, with such a differential, what gives? It must be the market/demographic that the different places target, the way they position their offering, etc. My private studio is somewhere in between.

Anyone here who thinks their teacher needs to be paid more, would you speak up? Would you just do it on your own, would it offend/disturb your teacher to receive more than initially agreed upon? If your teacher refused to accept it, would you then resort to giving a cash amount as a holiday gift?

Re: Are piano teachers paid enough? [Re: Mariner] #2856128
06/06/19 03:32 PM
06/06/19 03:32 PM
Joined: Dec 2007
Posts: 17,089
Canada
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A bit of a reality check.
Originally Posted by Mariner
Yet that person will easily spends $15 at a cafe on a mid-morning coffee with a muffin before going out to a restaurant for probably $40 for a main course with a dessert.

If I want to splurge, then on a super busy day when I can't cook and want to treat myself, I might dash down the street and grab a Subway sandwich which is maybe $5.00, or one of those ice cream cones with the nuts on top which I think is $3.00. The idea of $15 for a coffee? - and another $40 on the same day - as a routine type of thing? Oh my! Different worlds.

I have two degrees, postgraduate training, certificates in two similar fields, decades of experience in the present one and I'm pretty good at what I do. If my fee works out to $60/hour then I count myself lucky. In fact, there are colleagues who don't dare charge what they are worth. I'm the sole wage earner.

Some realities. When an actual professional does professional work, their working hours don't just include the actual time spent with a client, or visibly billed time. There are uncounted hours doing uncounted things that support the work. But in both fields you have folks entering the profession who don't know much. You'll also have those who do know something, but don't do more than show up, listen to the student play, say "This part should sound like this - listen to me." and "What do you want to play next?" Or the performer who wants to make a bit of money on the side between engagements or gigs, cancels lessons left right and center; or the professor who has tons of head knowledge but has no idea to teach - especially a beginner. .......... I'd say the teacher who knows how to teach, and commits himself or herself to the task, is worth $1,000/hour - if only we had that kind of money. wink

Re: Are piano teachers paid enough? [Re: Mariner] #2856131
06/06/19 03:47 PM
06/06/19 03:47 PM
Joined: Aug 2007
Posts: 8,169
Orange County, CA
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When I was teaching in the school district, my "hourly" pay came out to something like $35/hour. However, that only accounted for the hours that I spent teaching inside the classroom. All the time I spent outside the classroom (planning lessons, buying materials, chasing down the purchase orders that the district never paid, practicing piano, grading tests, arguing with administrators, and calling parents) were not included. We were supposed to suck it up because we were "salaried" professionals.

The pay has improved significantly since I left, but it is still nowhere near the amount I am charging per hour.

School teachers are the ones who are truly underpaid.


Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member
Re: Are piano teachers paid enough? [Re: AZNpiano] #2856305
06/07/19 08:46 AM
06/07/19 08:46 AM
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Posts: 5,384
*sigh* Salt Lake City
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano

School teachers are the ones who are truly underpaid.


It's not a zero sum game. School teachers and piano teachers are both underpaid.
In many districts, there is a step and ladder chart where a teacher's compensation is increased based on years of teaching and on additional units of study. I agree that the difference between the fees of unqualified piano teachers and experienced highly qualified piano teachers is shockingly small.


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Re: Are piano teachers paid enough? [Re: malkin] #2856332
06/07/19 10:45 AM
06/07/19 10:45 AM
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Originally Posted by malkin


It's not a zero sum game. School teachers and piano teachers are both underpaid.


Almost everybody is underpaid.
Except of lawyers. wink

Joking aside.
I am not familiar with the situation in America. But here in Austria it is exactly the same.
Piano Teachers working at music schools, are rather underpaid and many of them have to earn money additionally, to make a good living.
In contrast, the only self-employed teacher I know earns almost a furtone.
Or let's just say, she lives off pretty well.

Re: Are piano teachers paid enough? [Re: Mariner] #2856360
06/07/19 11:46 AM
06/07/19 11:46 AM
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Northern VA, U.S.
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They are underpaid, especially the good ones.

The problem, as alluded to above, is that a teacher who wants to have a full studio has to set an hourly charge at a level that most students (or their parents) will pay. And lots of parents can't or won't pay at a level that truly considers the value of the teacher's contribution.

I'm fortunate to be able to pay more than the hourly rates that have been charged by my music teachers, and I have insisted on finding ways to make that happen. Initially it has sometimes caused some discomfort for the teachers, but they quickly realized that I have a sincere belief that they deserve more than their standard hourly rates, and that it doesn't hurt me to pay it.


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Re: Are piano teachers paid enough? [Re: Mariner] #2856412
06/07/19 02:31 PM
06/07/19 02:31 PM
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Florida
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Hadn’t thought about insistently paying more..,., think I will do that. At the end of year one, I bought my teacher a very good piano lamp but that gesture is never as good as $$$


"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow" - F. Chopin
" I never dreamt with my own two hands I could touch the sky" - Sappho

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Re: Are piano teachers paid enough? [Re: Mariner] #2856459
06/07/19 04:48 PM
06/07/19 04:48 PM
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Are lawyers paid too much? wink
I think the work of musicians and all artists is constantly undervalued and it begins very early. My seven-year-old student was surprised that I would charge money to play piano somewhere since "it's just for fun." Other students can't believe teaching piano constitutes a job.

The internet has made it so anybody can find the closest piano teachers in their area and learn what they charge before even having a conversation.

Students are difficult to come by, so it makes sense not to charge them too much. The parent cannot tell that they have a good piano teacher when they do. In fact, rather than spend money on learning more, it is much smarter for a piano teacher to invest in a good wardrobe to look more professional. She will mostly be judged on how nice she looks and acts.

Even one of the responses above assumed that a piano teacher who commands a top fee per hour necessarily earns a lot. But that depends on how many students she has and what the expectations of the parents are for make up lessons.

Last edited by Candywoman; 06/07/19 04:49 PM.
Re: Are piano teachers paid enough? [Re: Candywoman] #2856610
06/08/19 09:13 AM
06/08/19 09:13 AM
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Posts: 362
USA
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Originally Posted by Candywoman
The internet has made it so anybody can find the closest piano teachers in their area and learn what they charge before even having a conversation.


This is a salient point that has inspired me to start a new thread. smile See HERE.


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