So You Want To Teach As A Private Music Tutor?
An Introduction for Musicians
For many of today’s musicians, working as a private music tutor has many benefits over working within an educational establishment. Firstly, you are a lot freer to choose where, when, and depending on how well you teach, WHO your students are. This will also let you continue whatever employment or other commitments you already have. Building up your student base slowly allows you to commit time to each of them to find out their learning style and prepare for their lessons without feeling overwhelemed suddenly with 30 new students starting next week.
Starting out, the idea of being an “expert” can feel rather daunting… especially for those of us who learned by gigging, and may not be the best sight-readers. Others among us have studied music and/or education to higher levels. But no matter where you stand between these two, those first few steps into teaching music as an income is terrifying.
Two main advantages I have seen in my time working as a private music tutor are
1. You have a lot more potential to work the hours you choose, and where you choose. Allowing your other commitments time where they need it.
2. If you teach children, generally, they are far more likely to behave and be responsive to teaching when either on their own as there is no one to show off to. School music lessons – especially in junior high school can be pretty hard to control.
3. You can vary the genres and methods you use as you see fit, not as a strict school curriculum requires.
4. You can focus all your attention on one student who WANTS to learn… if they don’t, why are you teaching them – your morale will take a huge blow, and your time would be better invested in working with an interested student.
Monetary benefits will come into the equation somewhere… let’s face it; they have to in this world. However, if all you can see are pound signs and have no real interest to teach, work with others, or enjoy music… perhaps private tuition is not for you.
In my personal opinion, private teachers can make a very comfortable living, and with some commitment and effort can easily make £40 upwards per hour.
It is not unheard of for tutors to have a waiting list of students who want them as their tutor. Once you find yourself in this position, although it isn’t time to relax, it is most definitely time to congratulate yourself. You can now (within reason) charge what you REALLY feel you are worth per lesson/hour, as you have people desperately waiting for your time.
If you didn’t increase your price at this stage it would be foolish. You have developed a product (your tuition service) that is in such a need the demand out numbers the supply – the number of lessons you have available per week.
Building your “studio” into this size is an achievable target, but one not as many as could reach it actually do. Those who do are employing valuable marketing techniques whether they realise it or not.
One of these marketing techniques is so subtle, many don’t even realise they are doing it when they are advertising in their local newspaper or shop window. This is a basic example, but stick with me; this idea can be applied at any time in your teaching career. By advertising in a local newspaper, you are already targeting the first most likely people to use your tuition services… your local community. Unless you are famous for being an incredible musician, people will neither just ask if you would teach them, or travel to find you in the hope you teach music. This one simple ad is telling the local community “I live in this area, and I have spaces available to teach music lessons.” I would save the expense and time on that website until further down the line if you live in a small town, the paper would provide a far higher return on income when you are starting off.
To develop this further, think what your ads say about you? Do they say professional, or do they say “I can play a few tunes on the piano, let me teach you cos I really need the money”
Here are my top 5 mostly marketing techniques for musicians aspiring to earn a decent income from private tuition.
1. Choose a name for your “studio” this can be anything from “Maria’s Singing Tuition” to “Bass riff School”. Choose one and use it in ALL your advertising
2. Make sure you include contact details on everything – advertising is an obvious one, but what about your pupils’ notebooks in case they ever need to cancel a lesson?
3. Make at least two copies of your teaching schedule. One that stays with you (especially if you are as forgetful as me), and one that everyone else in your household can see. This allows them to know when not to disturb you, or when you’ll be home.
(A third copy is ideal to keep with your musical instrument as a reference.)
4. Make sure that the two copies in point 3 have contact names and numbers for all your students. Should you ever have an emergency, this allows all your pupils to be contacted by another person in your family should you not be able to attend.
5. Don’t be afraid to tell people that you teach music – especially if you have spaces available. Word of mouth is the best form of advertising, and when you combine this with the power of NETWORKING, you can only succeed.