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Wooo...been a long long time since I was last on here. Probably about 2 and a half years since I logged in regularly, but I may have incidentally signed in once or twice since then.

Anyway, my question is self-explanatory, but I'll elaborate nevertheless:

Based on your experiences/connections/research, what are the best places to teach piano privately? Consider everything from quality of life and (quality of) musical opportunities, to more obvious factors like student to teacher ratios, typical lesson fees vs cost of living, etc.

Let's start with places in North America, but we can expand more internationally if you'd like. While this is for my own curiosity, it could certainly prove to be useful information eventually.

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El Paso was good. I moved there not knowing a single person and within 2 months had eight students. It's a great city to live in, and if they'd had a teaching hospital with a neurology program, my wife and I would still be there.


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Maximus, are you getting ready to retire or relocate? Seems to me like you're already in a pretty darn decent place!


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Bay Area of California

Anywhere between San Francisco and San Jose


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Thanks for your responses!

Kreisler - Hmm, El Paso sounds intriguing. Particularly because I know so little about it. Is arts and culture readily available in that area? How's Iowa City?

John - haha, no no. I'm actually still pretty much at the beginning of my path to a musical career. This isn't necessarily for me, I'm more curious than anything, but what I learn could certainly influence some decisions I make in the future. So you say Gainesville, FL is a pretty good place? How come? That was where I was two years ago, though, been in Chicago/Evanston since then.

AZN - How so? I understand the demand, but wouldnt there be a saturation of qualified teachers in the area too?

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I've done extensive searching for a piano teacher in Santa Barbara, CA (Bay area of California) and have come up with:

1) Too little teachers
2) Those that are there have weird scheduling requirements (45 minutes only?)
3) WAY too expensive ($75 for 30 minutes? No, not for a beginner at all...)

I think the main competition would be the UCSB students who are music majors and looking for some money.


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Quote
Originally posted by Maximus:
AZN - How so? I understand the demand, but wouldnt there be a saturation of qualified teachers in the area too?
Two things:

1) You can charge a bundle, and still find plenty of students. The demand is overwhelming. Or that's what the teachers tell me at the convention.

2) Like many places, your competition will come mostly from "unqualified" teachers who undercharge and dubious music schools.


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II and AZN - So SoCal is a good place I guess! Good to know. All I know about Santa Barbara is Music Academy of the West and Psych. Those guys are hilarious. :p

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Maximus - first, the Gators just whupped up 'Bama laugh

Secondly, it's a nice University town - just the right mix between the two. Not really dependent upon retirees. There's enough of an arts community to provide a steady stream of students.

Thirdly, the climate's pretty decent. And it's inland far enough that hurricanes aren't a major problem.

Oh, I could probably think of others. 'Though my my personal preference would probably be Austin.


"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
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NH is a nice place to teach. The scenery is lovely and if you like the country there is plenty of that. There are lots of students to go around. I've never had to advertise. Only problem is that this is the 'live free or die' state and no one wants to pay big prices for private students. $50.00 per hour is considered very high level unless you teach through a music school. Our winters are nasty...you have to like snow, sleet and cold. Hope this helps.


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Quote
Originally posted by ll:
I've done extensive searching for a piano teacher in Santa Barbara, CA (Bay area of California) and have come up with:

1) Too little teachers
2) Those that are there have weird scheduling requirements (45 minutes only?)
3) WAY too expensive ($75 for 30 minutes? No, not for a beginner at all...)

I think the main competition would be the UCSB students who are music majors and looking for some money.
Sorry, but I'm completely stunned at the $75 fee for 30 minutes!....and that's American dollars?! Sheesh...someone, somewhere, there, is getting very rich teaching piano. What are their credentials?! Is Gershwin still alive and I don't know about it? lol ha

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lotuscrystal - please define rich.

$75 per lesson is not take home pay, and even if it were, it's hardly rich! It's roughly on par with tenured professors, and while their income is comfortable, it's far from being rich.


"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
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I can't say I've had many complaints about teaching in Wausau, WI. I've never really been hurting for students, and I'm still getting a few inquiries every month for new students even with the economic downturn. I can't say I charge anywhere near $75/half hour! (I charge $19/half hour), but the cost of living is much less here than more metropolitan areas. The arts are highly supported in the area, with a lot of talent and the schools generally recognize the importance of a strong music program. There was even a bill being proposed in WI state senate to give students school credit for taking private lessons. I haven't heard if it passed or not yet, but I think people around here understand how music can help everyone. People are friendly, and you get accustomed to the winters here (there's a ski hill in town if you're into that too). I've been quite happy teaching here.

Maximus: I would think teaching in your area would be a great opportunity. You are in a rather affluent community, and can also draw people from surrounding towns. What's it like there?


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$75/lesson for 30 students would be:

$2250/week

If you teach 40 weeks during the year, that's $90,000.

That'd be fantastic here in Iowa City, where you can get a very nice house for around $200k. But I have a sister who lives in California. She's an elementary principal who makes less than $90k, and before she got married, she had to live in an apartment with 2 roommates in order to live within a 10 minute commute to her school.

$90k in Santa Barbara is nothing, especially after Uncle Sam takes his share and leaves you with more like $55k.


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I've not had much expeirence teaching anywhere else, but here in Manhattan, without even having a bachelor's degree yet, I was the undercharging, laughing stock of my colleagues when I told them my rates were 55 dollars an hour!!

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As important as income might be, there is another factor that I would look at carefully.

Does traffic and transportation allow you to draw from a large area say 20-30 minutes away? Or is everyone bottled necked with commuter traffic?

Can people easily zip to your teaching location from many elementary school, the jr high/middle schools, and the high schools? And hopefully, parking is not an issue.

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It's true that $75 added up may not seem like much during the entire year, but it is still a lot of the average joe. This is probably the main problem with music education--the cost that prevents it from being an easy-to-learn skill. Regardless of what people on this forum say, at one point, you will need a teacher (just as with anything else). But if you can't afford that teacher... or any teacher...

In any case, $75/half hour is INSANELY expensive in my experience, where $25 is something of the norm.

We personally pay a little more each month, some four dollars per half hour, which I don't mind. But there is no way my brother would be enrolled if $220/4 hours per month jumped to $600/4 hours per month. That's just insane. I understand that they want to make a living, but so do us "normies."


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I've got to say, $75 for half-an-hour seems like quite a lot. Kreisler, your calculations are correct, but not sure if you realized II was talking about half an hour. I'd take 90K in a costly area if it meant only teaching 15 hours a week. smile Realistically, $150 an hour is on par with many of the biggest pedagogues in the country (not all, but many).

John: Yes, Go Gators!! I'm very familiar with Gainesville and did think it would be a nice area for a private teacher, but since I have very little experience this subject in most parts of the country, I didn't know how Gainesville stacked up.

Blue: New Hampshire sounds like a nice place. $50 an hour is fine if the cost of living is low enough. For me though, at least at this point in time, the city life is more of a draw.

Opus: Wow...$55 for an undergrad! Then again, it is NYC you're talkin about.

Betty: Yeah, I really wanted to hear people's opinions with regard to all of the different factors that might affect the livelihood of a piano teacher.

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I'll just throw this out there...if anyone has insight on Portland, please share. This whole topic came to mind a week ago when I was having a chat with my friend here at Northwestern. I won't go into detail, but he is under the impression that there are many under-qualified and/or under-performing teachers in the Portland area who make pretty good money (like 80 grand a year). So he thinks it should be easy to go there and be successful.

Thoughts?

Morodiene - sorry I didnt catch your question the first time around. Yes, Evanston seems like it has potential. I don't teach anyone from the city at-large, just a couple of the college students at Northwestern who want lessons. But I have a number of friends (masters students) who teach in the general area (northern suburbs, not just Evanston). I think in general, the ones that travel to homes charge $60 an hour. Another issue to consider is that we have some good music schools here in town that are quite successful: Northwestern's pre-college academy as well as the Music Institute of Chicago (located in Evanston) which is quite prestigious.

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Apparently we private teachers are out of touch with reality. In the USA, $90,000 is a solid middle class income. $150,000 - $200,000 is upper end middle class. Most of us teach at near poverty level. We rationalize our low income with artsy-fartsy, self-delusional statements such as, "I'm not in it for the money" as if that some how justifies working for a stable-hand's wage.

Our local school teacher's actual salaries are available on line, and my counterpart, same degree and experience, who teaches strings in MS, earns $67,000/yr. His wife, a teacher, pulls in $64,000. They live comfortably, but not extravagant in any way. Their son, who recently graduated from U of Washington, started out with a computer company at $125,000.

Just thought I'd get this pent up rant off my chest. laugh


"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
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Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA
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