How Much Should You Charge for Music Lessons in Your City?
When you want to teach private lessons, you need to decide how much to charge. However, it is not a hard and fast rule where everyone charges $25 for a half-hour lesson and nothing ever changes. This is just not the case. You need to adjust your rates based on a few factors, and you will notice a difference in pricing based on each item. Do not get discouraged, but set firm prices (that you can flex situationally.)
Where Do You Live?
Where you live matters. This might sound like a no-brainer, but some people need to hear it. The cost of living is different in every city in America and abroad. For example, everything is a little bit cheaper in Fort Wayne, Indiana than it is in, say, Atlanta. HOWEVER, the cost of living in New York, Los Angeles, or Chicago is much higher than it is in Atlanta. When looking internationally, Americans may be shocked by the price of piano lessons in London or Paris – but those rates are to be expected.
Take a look at what people are charging in your city, and adjust your prices accordingly. Let’s say you moved from Duluth, Minnesota to Oak Park, Illinois (just outside Chicago.) Oak Park is a far more expensive place to live than Duluth, and that is why your prices should be a bit higher. You are not shocking people. They know very well that things are a little more expensive around there.
Which Part of Town Are You In?
Let’s take this a step further. You live in—for example, Atlanta—but you do not live IN the city. You live out in Marietta where a lot of upper middle class families are (and there are several MASSIVE, extraordinarily successful band and orchestra programs in the area.) The prices will not drop too much because the cost of living is still high in that area. If you, however, live in a place like Fayetteville (south of the city, out where the buffalo roam,) things are not quite as expensive. Therefore, a $25 half-hour lesson in Fayetteville is comparable to a $35 or $40 half-hour lesson in Marietta.
You can translate this information to any city in which you live, but you must get to know the area first.
Also, if you offer in-home piano lessons in Austin, TX, for instance, you should be charging premium rates plus a travel fee – not having to leave home is huge luxury.
How Much Is YOUR Service Worth?
You need to be realistic about how much your service is worth. When you are teaching beginners, you cannot overcharge. You can only do so much. You are not wearing yourself out just to teach those lessons. However, someone who teaches advanced high schoolers can charge more. Someone who has orchestral experience can charge even more, and the top dogs of all this are the cats in the major symphonies in your area. (Yes, symphony cats are a thing.)
So yes, someone is charging $150 to $200 an hour, but they have an orchestral gig that backs up their prices.
You can also offer a slight discount if the student goes to full-hour lessons. Let’s say you charge $40 for a half-hour in Marietta (or the affluent suburb near you.) You can give that kid an hour for, let’s say $65. You are making money, their parents are getting a deal, and you will engender some loyalty. Just doubling the price usually doesn’t work. Why?
Go to the grocery store—the largest item in the store is ALWAYS a better value than the smaller item.
Which Type of Student Are You Teaching?
You should also price your lessons based on the types of students you are teaching. For example, you might teach only beginners, and you will charge a little less. If you are teaching kids with learning disabilities or difficulties, you can adjust your prices accordingly. You might do this to help the parents, or you might extend their time at a good value so that they can learn.
Teaching advanced high schoolers who need brush-up lessons for college piano auditions might pay a little bit more. One-time lessons might cost a bit more, or adult students might cost more because they are adults and they can afford to pay you. You might also charge more if you need to meet in the student’s home, travel to a special location, or host lessons in unique places.
For example, you might need to host lessons in a church because there is a piano and an accompanist there for the lesson. You can charge a little more for that. If someone calls you for an emergency lesson, you can charge more because you took the appointment on short notice.
In short, be reasonable, but value your time.
Be Sure to Charge the Right Price
You can charge the right price for your lessons using these tips, but you need to measure everything against where you live, the neighborhood you serve, and the sorts of lessons you are teaching. Each and every one of these options helps you come to the perfect price for all lessons. You need to advertise a base price, and you also need to make sure that you are flexible (when you know you need to give a little.)