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Piano teachers Income/make money #936604 12/30/08 09:48 AM
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dfpolitowski Offline OP
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How much money can someone make teaching piano? and Does a teachers earnings need to be maintained constantly. By this I am mean anything that would jeopardize income, such as students quitting, late payment, getting stuck for payments and the like.

Seems like a nice and relatively easy way to earn a living. What about market conditions? Personal skill in teaching piano?

As to myself, I'm still learning to play this thing and Practice at about a grade 6/7. But I figure Its an easy buck to make If I can teach those less skilled than I.

Your comments and suggestions on starting would be appreciated. I would travel to their home since I have no piano to teach them on.

What do you think.


David
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Re: Piano teachers Income/make money #936605 12/30/08 09:57 AM
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David:

Since I am not a piano teacher, I believe my answer will not be "biased" by real world personal experience. That said, I think your answer will be found by reading through various threads in this forum. You will find readily enough that being a piano teacher is a job that involves a lot of work. As to how much you can make, I think you may find SOME references to that, but you can also look around your area to see what piano teachers charge, and then figure out how many students you would need to carry as a teaching load to make a living after expenses.

One other comment I would make - it seems to me that a piano teacher who is not very well versed in piano playing him or herself, can easily cause damage to a student, both physically (i.e. bad and damaging technique) and emotionally (i.e. leading the student to believe or have unrealistic expectations, coupled with the teacher's inability to REALLY understand what that particular student needs and then deliver accordingly - all leaving the student with a really bad experience).

Imagine a "shade tree" mechanic passing himself off as a real mechanic and then doing serious damage to an expensive vehicle because he simply doesn't have the knowledge to understand when he has gotten over his head or the tools to really do the job correctly.

Tony

Re: Piano teachers Income/make money #936606 12/30/08 10:31 AM
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It's all over the map. I know teachers with full studios who treat it as a 60-hour/week job and make over $50,000 a year. There are also a lot of "hobby" teachers who teach 5 students for extra grocery money. Some teachers teach 30 minute lessons for $12. Other teachers teach $150 lessons for 60 minutes.

Market conditions vary widely from place to place.

Personal skill also varies widely. Some teachers, unfortunately, are horrible pianists and have very little understanding of intermediate/advanced technical and musical training. Their students tend to get through the first book or two and quit when they find themselves unprepared for intermediate level literature. Other teachers have a very high level of skill and are very good at training young pianists. Also, those two things don't necessarily go hand-in-hand. Some excellent pianists have no clue how to work with students, and some horrible pianists seem to have a knack for getting students motivated and know enough to correct/avoid bad habits and refer their students to another teacher when the student reaches a certain level.


"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

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Re: Piano teachers Income/make money #936607 12/30/08 11:04 AM
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Knowing how to do something is NOT the same as knowing how to teach something--Kreisler makes that very clear. Just because you know how to play at grade 6/7, what makes you think you can teach others?

I don't mean to sound as rude as that does, but the truth is, teaching is a skill one learns. It cannot just be done on the whim. That's why all states require teachers to go and LEARN how to TEACH what they know.

Your best bet for this would be finding a teacher who specializes in pedagogy so that you can learn how to teach piano. You have to recognize the mistakes people make while playing a piece, how to know when to move them on or keep them where they are, when to introduce certain concepts, as well as how to handle X amount of students at the same time.

Don't let anyone fool you--teaching is NOT an easy job in any way, shape, or form. At least, teaching well is not an easy job.


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Only lowercase. So not even that.
I teach piano and violin.
BM, Violin & Percussion Performance 2009, Piano Pedagogy 2011.
Re: Piano teachers Income/make money #936608 12/30/08 11:19 AM
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It doesn't sound like you have he right motivation.....at least to me.

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Re: Piano teachers Income/make money #936609 12/30/08 12:13 PM
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Easy bucks?

You mean all these 38 years I've been making easy bucks and not a lot of them at that?

I've earned every penny.

Get thyself to a virtuous place before teaching please.

You can't give what you don't have.

"Wanna be piano teachers" are a dime a dozen, and the real thing in a piano teacher is a combination of seriousness of purpose and transfer and delivery of musicianship skills to our serious and promising students dispersed within an adequate piano education program of progress and accomplishment.

The rest is R & R, fun and games, and meets a whole bunch of feeling good needs. Piano playing may be one of them.

My first goal would be to create independance and self-actualization in the piano student for as long as you are "partners". This is not the same thing as "easy money".

Surely you are not serious! Easy money, indeed! Only if you have little to nothing to offer and can get away with it.

Totally a personal response, as I am unable to give any other kind to this topic.

Betty

Re: Piano teachers Income/make money #936610 12/30/08 12:22 PM
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Teaching piano is a very difficult job. It requires the patience of a saint, creativity in understanding different learning styles and applying them, understanding of a good order in which to teach different skills, knowledge of the repertoire at several levels, as well as good general business sense and accounting.

Most teachers are not in it for the money, because while it seems as though you can make a lot "having fun", the point is that in the summer months you will earn much less. There will be cancellations, students dropping, snow days, holidays, and many other unexpected things that can cause the overall cashflow to slow down.

Most people consider 30-40 students to be full-time. If they take half hour lessons, that is 15-20 hours per week. However, you will have to allow yourself breaks, because teaching back to back for an extended period of time is very tiring. There is also time in preparing for lessons: figuring out what pieces students will work on next, particular exercises they need to work on, learning the repertoire yourself so you can perform it for the student, etc. This is in addition to the time needed to do billing, and sometimes, collections.

You would also need an appropriate space to teach in. If you have family members living with you, privacy for them and your students is going to be very important. Students will need access to a bathroom, a waiting area for those who come early, those waiting for their ride to show up, or parents that remain during the lesson. You will also need a good instrument on which to teach. If it is acoustic, it will need to be tuned several times per year. I also recommend not taking phone calls during lessons. You will need to make everyone in your household aware that while you teach, you are not to be disturbed at all. This may mean getting a babysitter if you have young ones that cannot be unattended.

Having said all that, it does sound a bit like you're looking for an easy job, rather than loving to share music with others with your comments about making an "easy buck". Nothing worthwhile is easy, and if that's what your looking for, perhaps Ed McMahon has a winning ticket for you.


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Re: Piano teachers Income/make money #936611 12/30/08 12:23 PM
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Well, I'm in the begining stages of all this. I think teaching comes more natural to me than playing piano or music for that matter. Of course, I would try myself out as a teacher. If I didn't work well enough with my students. I'd have to conclude I should keep music to myself. I can not imagine "doing damage" to a student, what ever that is. I was thinking about charging accordingly, maybe 15 a half hour at first 20 if I drove a few miles. I would market myself as a blue collar/walmart kind of teacher. I'd be up front with those who could only afford my low prices. Telling them I have a limited knowledge on all this and I'll see what I can do for you/your child etc... I think I can get a new student off the ground in his playing.


David
Re: Piano teachers Income/make money #936612 12/30/08 12:38 PM
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dfpolitowski Offline OP
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Kreistler,

"some horrible pianists seem to have a knack for getting students motivated and know enough to correct/avoid bad habits and refer their students to another teacher when the student reaches a certain level."

This might be me.


David
Re: Piano teachers Income/make money #936613 12/30/08 12:58 PM
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Quote
Originally posted by dfpolitowski:
Well, I'm in the begining stages of all this. I think teaching comes more natural to me than playing piano or music for that matter. Of course, I would try myself out as a teacher. If I didn't work well enough with my students. I'd have to conclude I should keep music to myself. I can not imagine "doing damage" to a student, what ever that is. I was thinking about charging accordingly, maybe 15 a half hour at first 20 if I drove a few miles. I would market myself as a blue collar/walmart kind of teacher. I'd be up front with those who could only afford my low prices. Telling them I have a limited knowledge on all this and I'll see what I can do for you/your child etc... I think I can get a new student off the ground in his playing.
There is really only one way of knowing if teaching is right for you in the end. And that is by doing. I recommend that you pick up some books on teaching, as well as Hal Leonard and Faber & Faber method books. The method books will help you understand how to teach beginners, and as you become better and better at teaching, you can begin to add things that you think the student should know to them. Good books on teaching are:

-The Well-Tempered Keyboard Teacher by Marienne Uszler, Stewart Gordon, and Scott McBride-Smith
-Teaching Piano : A Comprehensive Guide and Reference Book for the Instructor (2 Vol's). by Denes Agay
-How to Teach Piano Successfully (Third ed #GP40) by James W. Bastien
-Making Money Teaching Music by David R. Newsam and Barbara Sprague Newsam (a good book for the business part of teaching)

If you can, get all of these books (they are a tax write-off). Keep good records of everything that you buy. You may also want to look at this website to help you organize:
web page

As for your comment on how you don't think you could mess up anyone, please *please* take your job seriously. I have had many transfer students from previous teachers who didn't know how to count beats or play with a steady beat, how to read notes, played with collapsed fingers or all flat fingers, never practice, etc. Some of them adjusted and learned, but some do not and give up because they have to relearn something they supposedly already should have known how to do. This means taking a step back and playing simpler music for a while, which is a huge obstacle to overcome.


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Re: Piano teachers Income/make money #936614 12/30/08 01:02 PM
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Even piano teachers who charge modest fees - in the range that you're suggesting - have music and/or music education degrees as well as performance experience. You're in a tough market and piano-teaching is very difficult.


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Re: Piano teachers Income/make money #936615 12/30/08 01:14 PM
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You can make an average wage teaching piano full time. Be warned though, it's not as easy as you might think. When you are running a busy studio you can spend a good hour on admin and preparation for every hour you actually teach. So if you are teaching 20 hours expect to be working more like 40 hours. Also you are selling your time rather than a product. Since there are only so many hours in a day you will never be rich unless you intend to burn yourself out very quickly (some teachers do!).

It is an enjoyable and rewarding job if you like teaching and helping others. Being able to play is not enough. I know a few good pianist who find teaching very frustrating. I sometimes get frustrated when several students in a row have not practiced enough. Finding solutions can be mentally exhausting. There might not be much physical work involved in teaching piano but believe me it is tiring because your mind doesn't stop.

You should think carefully before setting up as a cut price teacher with 'limited knowledge'. If you don't do a good job you could end up with a very poor reputation. The only students you will get will be time wasters and transfer students that no other teacher will touch. Is that really what you want? Trust me, it won't be easy money. Why not wait until you have acquired the knowledge and skills and done some training? This way you can charge the going rate and feel pride in the fact that you will be giving a good service.


Pianist and piano teacher.
Re: Piano teachers Income/make money #936616 12/30/08 01:52 PM
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I've read all your post and thank everyone for writing, I actually agree with everyone here.

Morodiene, thank you for the information. Betty your incite and comments are welcomed and respected.

Actually, my real calling is that of a preacher, but I tend to love music equally. I have a pastor friend of mine who has three jobs first, youth pastor, public school substitute teacher, and a piano teacher. All of them part time. He makes a living this way, however, he,s single.
Now, I'm thinking I can somehow subsidize my ministry with such part time profession.

Someone wrote above about learning how to teach. That reminded me. There's a class in school here entitled "piano pedagogy" which i believe is a course on how to teach the instrument. It's probably only 1 credit or 2 at the most. I'll look into taking it this semester or next.


David
Re: Piano teachers Income/make money #936617 12/30/08 05:06 PM
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Piano teaching is also a calling, to those who take it seriously.

By the way, you CAN really damage a student. Imagine if you taught regular school, and you had twelve year old students who couldn't even read. When are they supposed to catch up? Answer: They usually don't. If they do, it will be at the expense of what they should have been learning in the next grade.

Re: Piano teachers Income/make money #936618 12/30/08 05:55 PM
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It always annoys me a bit when my friends say they think piano teaching (and drum teaching) is easy money. They don't seem to like that I work for a good deal more money than they don't when we're all still at school.
You have to work hard to get your playing and understanding of your instrument to a high enough standard to teach, and you have to keep working hard to maintain it and better it.
You also have work to do when pupils aren't there, ordering music and checking music's suitable for the to play. It's fun if you have a love of it.
I don't think it's easy money.

Re: Piano teachers Income/make money #936619 12/30/08 06:03 PM
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Although I am not a teacher, I'll throw in my 2 cents, b/c my son is. You also have to take into consideration WHEN you teach - my son & daughter-in-law are both piano teachers, and basically work a second shift type schedule - because most of the piano students are school age, and the adult ones work.


Just beginning but lovin' every minute of it!
Re: Piano teachers Income/make money #936620 12/30/08 06:12 PM
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Quote
Originally posted by Morodiene:
I have had many transfer students from previous teachers who didn't know how to count beats or play with a steady beat, how to read notes, played with collapsed fingers or all flat fingers, never practice, etc. Some of them adjusted and learned, but some do not and give up because they have to relearn something they supposedly already should have known how to do. This means taking a step back and playing simpler music for a while, which is a huge obstacle to overcome.
This is very true. And it usually takes a lot longer to fix a bad habit and re-learn the piano correctly.


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Re: Piano teachers Income/make money #936621 12/31/08 12:25 AM
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Quote
Originally posted by AZNpiano:
Quote
Originally posted by Morodiene:
[b] I have had many transfer students from previous teachers who didn't know how to count beats or play with a steady beat, how to read notes, played with collapsed fingers or all flat fingers, never practice, etc. Some of them adjusted and learned, but some do not and give up because they have to relearn something they supposedly already should have known how to do. This means taking a step back and playing simpler music for a while, which is a huge obstacle to overcome.
This is very true. And it usually takes a lot longer to fix a bad habit and re-learn the piano correctly. [/b]
And this is why many teachers (I am one) prefer not to deal with transfer students. To be honest, I am sick to death of working my butt off to fix things that are the result of incompetent teachers.

Re: Piano teachers Income/make money #936622 12/31/08 09:06 AM
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It is very frustrating, isn't it? And it's not the student's fault, of course, but they are the ones who ultimately pay for it. It is better to not have any lessons at all then to take lessons from a bad teacher.


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Re: Piano teachers Income/make money #936623 12/31/08 09:31 AM
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I would strongly suggest having a second source of income in addition to teaching privately. In my case, I play the pipe organ and piano at 3 area churches, as well as teaching 25 piano & voice students. This insures that my income continues regardless of students' illnesses, vacations, forgetting to bring a check, etc. I am definitely in a better mood during the holiday season knowing that I will be paid enough for extra church services to make up for canceling students! And, my own keyboard skills are maintained as I perform on the piano & organ.


Private piano & voice teacher for over 20 years; currently also working as a pipe organist for 3 area churches; sing in a Chicago-area acappella chamber choir
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