The other day a friend of mine had asked on Facebook if anyone knew of a piano teacher that was not super expensive. She had messaged me for my rates as well, which I shared and also mentioned that I did not have any openings at this time. After I saw her question on Facebook there were a couple replies. I thought they were, well… interesting.
The first reply was from someone who had a son taking lessons. She shared that she thinks the going rate is $50.00 a month in our area. Yikes! If that’s the case (more on that later), then I’m almost triple the going rate!
The second reply was from someone who offered to teach her kids for only $10.00 a lesson and $8.00 for siblings.
In the early 1980′s my Mom was paying $40.00 a month for lessons. I was curious what the cost of living increase for 2012 would be so I checked using a cost of living calculator online and it came to $110.03.
So… there are teachers in my area charging 1980 rates. Am I surprised? Sadly no, I hear of this often and it makes me sad that there are teachers that still don’t treat piano lessons seriously.
Now I do have to say these teachers are not my competition. Matter of fact, I have a very long waiting list and even charge almost triple what they do. They don’t have a waiting list but also don’t typically treat their “business” as seriously as I do. They are what I call “hobby” teachers. They are doing it for a little extra income but they aren’t serious or even interested in making it a business (even though it really is because they are being paid for a weekly service) and they aren’t interested in bettering themselves or getting involved in any professional organizations. They use the excuse that they are just doing it for “fun”. Honestly they make it harder for the professional piano teachers out there that are trying to make a living and many times doing it on their own as sole income. They are teaching the community that piano teachers aren’t worth paying what they are worth. They make it very confusing to the community.
I had a phone inquiry the other day asking for my rates. I gave it to him and he was a little surprised. I told him that I had a waiting list so I would be happy to refer him to other teachers and he asked if my rates were what he should expect from other teachers. I told him that it will vary but it is average among professional piano teachers. I also explained that I do include music in my tuition so that accounts for a little higher rate in addition I offer many many opportunities and if he looks at other teachers he will see the difference. I encouraged him to look and meet with several teachers to see what is out there and figure out what will fit his wants/needs the most.
A little over six years ago I lived in Utah for 9 years. If you ever lived in Utah, then you know Utah people in general are notorious for being cheap. Finding students is typically not a problem because families want their children to learn but they don’t want to pay a lot of money. They see the value in lessons, but aren’t always willing to pay for it. I was one of the highest paid teachers in my small community and always had a full teaching schedule, but I always felt that I wasn’t being paid what I was worth. When I moved back to Arizona, I decided that I had the opportunity to change that and after a little research I decided I was going to charge what I was worth and immediately more then doubled my rates. My husband was very nervous about me doing this, because we needed the income badly. Within a month of advertising I was full and have been since. I can’t tell you how much more satisfying it is to know that I am being paid what I think I am worth. It is truly a good feeling.
So when I hear of the “hobby” teachers charging $10 a lesson, I feel sad for them, for the community, but not for me. I am glad I am not one of them. I work hard for my students, I put in a lot of hours for them and in my studio and I earn every penny that I make.