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#1369554 - 02/09/10 02:52 PM Re: Cost of Lessons [Re: Elissa Milne]
slowpogo Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/14/06
Posts: 116
Loc: Midwest, US
Originally Posted By: Elissa Milne

A good rule of thumb is that, whatever the gross hourly rate, the teacher is ACTUALLY making at best 45% of that figure (when expressed as an hourly rate). Here in Australia piano teachers rarely *gross* even the average wage, and I wouldn't think even the very most expensive teachers would net the average wage.


Well, going by your math..let's say the person in my example is "actually" making about $30/hr, working 32 hours per week. Still a pretty nice gig in my book, about 3x what I made at my last "real job" (which was terrible).

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#1369652 - 02/09/10 05:32 PM Re: Cost of Lessons [Re: slowpogo]
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17778
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
You still need to factor in the unpaid hours spent in lesson preparation and studio planning/administration. Add on top of that the irregular hours (you've got to cram most of them in the afternoon/evening) and irregular income (unless you're well-established and have a long wait list, you're at the mercy of people signing up or leaving unexpectedly), and suddenly the picture is not so rosy.

I doubt there are many piano teachers getting rich. It seems clear to me that the people who have piano teaching as a career do it because they are committed to music education and find it personally rewarding, not because it is an easy way to earn a lot of money.
_________________________
Mason & Hamlin A -- 91997
My YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/pianomonica

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#1369654 - 02/09/10 05:37 PM Re: Cost of Lessons [Re: Monica K.]
-Frycek Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/06/05
Posts: 5921
Loc: SC Mountains
Even Chopin continually complained about his overhead and well heeled students who absconded without paying.
_________________________
Slow down and do it right.

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#1369676 - 02/09/10 06:20 PM Re: Cost of Lessons [Re: slowpogo]
Loves Pugs Too Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/03/09
Posts: 105
Loc: VA
That would be $11,520 a year, 3x's less a year is $3840 - correct?
And no vacations for he or she.
I hope my teacher makes more than that.
RDW


Edited by barricwiley77 (02/09/10 06:22 PM)
_________________________
Old Wulitzer

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#1369938 - 02/10/10 02:38 AM Re: Cost of Lessons [Re: Monica K.]
slowpogo Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/14/06
Posts: 116
Loc: Midwest, US
Originally Posted By: Monica K.
You still need to factor in the unpaid hours spent in lesson preparation and studio planning/administration. Add on top of that the irregular hours (you've got to cram most of them in the afternoon/evening) and irregular income (unless you're well-established and have a long wait list, you're at the mercy of people signing up or leaving unexpectedly), and suddenly the picture is not so rosy.


That's why I changed it from 16 hours a week (4 hours of teaching per day) to 32. The extra hours are for the administrative/prep time.

I understand the concept perfectly - I've been starting up as a freelance web developer the last several months. I'm well aware of the pitfalls of self-employment, and the fact that it takes time to establish a base no matter what line of work you're doing. Until that happens you'll need to work a wage-based job, and it could be years before you don't need that job anymore.

Yes, yes, yes...I'm familiar with all these considerations and the ones you mentioned, and was factoring them into my opinion. But for people who persist, these things can work out beautifully. My friend does web development - for several years it was merely "supplemental income." But at some point he made some great connections, business went up...and now he can go anywhere he wants anytime, as long as he brings his laptop, finds some free wi-fi and does a few hours' work per day. And he makes good money doing it. He went to Thailand for three weeks recently.

On that topic - piano teachers can take vacations. Why couldn't they? My teacher in high school did. My teacher now just went back to her native Taiwan over the new year. I had plenty of advance notice. Did I mind? Not at all, I appreciated a few weeks off from lessons.

So sometimes these things work out. Not always - I'm just saying, I bet there are some piano teachers out there who are thinking they've got it pretty good (the fact that they enjoy it and find it intrinsically rewarding regardless of pay are a given).


Edited by slowpogo (02/10/10 02:59 AM)

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#1369942 - 02/10/10 02:59 AM Re: Cost of Lessons [Re: slowpogo]
Canonie Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/04/09
Posts: 1941
Loc: Australia
Originally Posted By: slowpogo
Of course it might not always work out that way. But one of the things that got me to start web development is that I have a friend who does it - he is free to go anywhere at any time, he just needs to bring his laptop, find somewhere with wi-fi and do a few hours work per day. And he makes great money doing this. So, these things do work out pretty well sometimes, and teaching piano is no different.

No different at all. I wander off to the cafe anytime I please with my laptop. If a student finds me there I order them a coffee... it's unfortunate there are no pianos at the cafe wink

Seriously though, most of my work can't be done with laptop only, I find I need my instruments, music collection, phone (I would not enjoy making work calls at a cafe). and paper files on students. I use paper as I like to take a few quick notes during lessons and find writing less distracting.

Web design sounds like the way to go if you want to make money and have flexibility doing it. I wouldn't recommend teaching at all if these are your goals.

Edited to add: Yes the holidays are great, and the work is very interesting and rewarding, I love teaching and love all my students. But I simply could not imagine teaching enough to make as much as I would as a "clerk". I would burn out and have to quit anyway. For me it takes an enormous amount of emotional and mental energy.

The best way to make extra money from teaching would be to have a really good website! or sell a lot of books on teaching, or write music (that sells) for the early years of learning music.
_________________________

Composers manufacture a product that is universally deemed superfluous—at least until their music enters public consciousness, at which point people begin to say that they could not live without it.
Alex Ross.

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#1369975 - 02/10/10 05:45 AM Re: Cost of Lessons [Re: Canonie]
Elissa Milne Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/11/10
Posts: 1337
Loc: Sydney, NSW, Australia
Slowpogo: the hourly rate is for each hour you TEACH not for each hour you spend working. The overheads account for a certain (larger than you would think) percentage, if you work in a country with a consumption tax that accounts for a percentage, and then you need to account for all the things an employer would cover that you need to since you are self-employed. This gets us to the AT BEST 45% figure for each hour that you teach. You get paid $0 for the other hours. So a 20 hour teaching week at the $30 per hour figure you quoted comes out at $600 a week. Not a great wage for a job which requires such an exceptional level of study and specialisation.
_________________________
Teacher, Composer, Writer, Speaker
Working with Hal Leonard, Alfred, Faber, and Australian Music Examination Board
Music in syllabuses by ABRSM, AMEB, Trinity Guildhall, ANZCA, NZMEB, and more
www.elissamilne.wordpress.com

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#1369977 - 02/10/10 05:48 AM Re: Cost of Lessons [Re: slowpogo]
Elissa Milne Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/11/10
Posts: 1337
Loc: Sydney, NSW, Australia
Originally Posted By: slowpogo
I'm just saying, I bet there are some piano teachers out there who are thinking they've got it pretty good (the fact that they enjoy it and find it intrinsically rewarding regardless of pay are a given).


If there are some piano teachers out there thinking they've got it pretty good they are probably not doing the accounts right.
_________________________
Teacher, Composer, Writer, Speaker
Working with Hal Leonard, Alfred, Faber, and Australian Music Examination Board
Music in syllabuses by ABRSM, AMEB, Trinity Guildhall, ANZCA, NZMEB, and more
www.elissamilne.wordpress.com

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#1369982 - 02/10/10 06:21 AM Re: Cost of Lessons [Re: Canonie]
slowpogo Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/14/06
Posts: 116
Loc: Midwest, US
Originally Posted By: Canonie

No different at all. I wander off to the cafe anytime I please with my laptop. If a student finds me there I order them a coffee... it's unfortunate there are no pianos at the cafe wink

Seriously though, most of my work can't be done with laptop only, I find I need my instruments, music collection, phone (I would not enjoy making work calls at a cafe). and paper files on students. I use paper as I like to take a few quick notes during lessons and find writing less distracting.

Web design sounds like the way to go if you want to make money and have flexibility doing it. I wouldn't recommend teaching at all if these are your goals.


You totally, utterly, missed the point...I was not making a direct 1:1 comparison between these two professions. I was simply illustrating that self-employment sometimes rises to some pretty cool heights, in spite of the obstacles (which are fairly similar for every small business).


Edited by slowpogo (02/10/10 06:41 AM)

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#1369984 - 02/10/10 06:34 AM Re: Cost of Lessons [Re: Elissa Milne]
slowpogo Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/14/06
Posts: 116
Loc: Midwest, US
Originally Posted By: Elissa Milne
Slowpogo: the hourly rate is for each hour you TEACH not for each hour you spend working.


Yes....if you teach 20 hours and make $60 for each of those hours, but you actually work twice that much, then you could say, the amount you earn is distributed over twice as many hours, halving your hourly wage to $30. I'm not sure what you're saying. If you earn $1200 a week, whether you worked 5 or 400 hours, you earned $1200 in that week. How is it that you're actually earning only $600? What extra costs are you assuming MUST be paid out of earnings? Are you including the cost of piano payments or something?

You've got a home, with a piano in it. Students come, you teach them, they give you $60. You do what you need to do administratively and to prepare for teaching. And at the end of the week you've got your $1200, which you can use for insurance, car payment, mortgage or rent, food...your life. Minus some tax of course. What am I missing?

Even if I don't fully understand what you're saying, over $30,000 per year is nothing to sneeze at. Most people teaching music in public schools don't make that much, at least not in the first several years.

I'm also not convinced there is as much extra time as you say. I taught trombone lessons during college - just for extra money. I certainly put some thought into my students and my plans for them, sometimes ordered music for them, kept a spreadsheet of what I earned for tax purposes, occasionally needed to practice something from their music so I could demonstrate it confidently. It didn't add very much time to what I was already doing. Maybe an hour or two per week.

Even if prep time was 50% of actual teaching time - that's 30 hours per week, for $30,000 per year. Still quite good. And not having a boss or workplace politics hanging over your head is always priceless. I'd take it!

I know you're trying hard to convince me that teaching piano is not a very good job...it's just not working, to be honest.


Edited by slowpogo (02/10/10 06:48 AM)

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#1369997 - 02/10/10 07:41 AM Re: Cost of Lessons [Re: slowpogo]
Elissa Milne Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/11/10
Posts: 1337
Loc: Sydney, NSW, Australia
Hey slowpogo, I'm not going to argue with you. Talk to an accountant about how small business expenses work and it will make sense in terms of a net wage when you are self-employed.

In Australia the average wage is now approaching $60,000, which would mean a piano teacher would need a minimum weekly earn during school weeks of $1700 simply to gross that amount (after the goods and services tax is deducted). And I don't know any teacher at all who grosses that kind of money. And that's the average wage, nothing at all outrageous.
_________________________
Teacher, Composer, Writer, Speaker
Working with Hal Leonard, Alfred, Faber, and Australian Music Examination Board
Music in syllabuses by ABRSM, AMEB, Trinity Guildhall, ANZCA, NZMEB, and more
www.elissamilne.wordpress.com

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#1370018 - 02/10/10 08:36 AM Re: Cost of Lessons [Re: Elissa Milne]
slowpogo Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/14/06
Posts: 116
Loc: Midwest, US
That's fine... I understand what overhead is, but it seems you wouldn't really have any as a piano teacher, in the traditional sense. Simply through your normal course of living, as someone with a piano and a dwelling, you already spend all the necessary $ to pursue your enterprise. And you would be spending that money even with a different job. What else do you need to pay for, some Post-its and a few pens? That's why it seemed pretty much any money you make will be discretionary in that context.

In theory, I could start teaching lessons out of my home right now. And I really can't think of any money I would need to spend to do that, beyond what I already do. They come, I lead them to the piano, I teach, they give me $. It would simply be money in my pocket (minus the taxes). There's nowhere for 55% of it to go, other than wherever I want.

I'm not familiar with the exchange rate for Australia/US dollars, but in the US, the average personal income is about $32,000. I guess it speaks more to my own meager circumstances ;), but making that much $, as my own boss, working less than full time, seems almost like a dream. I never said a piano teacher would be rich, it just seemed they could make a pretty decent living, working fewer hours than most people to make that same amount, and without the hassles of being a wage-slave. And there probably are some very successful ones out there who make more than that $32k.

Anyway, I don't want to argue either, let's leave it at that. Cheers!


Edited by slowpogo (02/10/10 09:16 AM)

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#1370323 - 02/10/10 03:42 PM Re: Cost of Lessons [Re: joyoussong]
GracieCat Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/01/09
Posts: 340
Loc: USA
Of course the cost of living varies widely in the US, but it's still fun to discuss.

I just started lessons and it's $30 for a 45 minute lesson. (Central North Carolina)
_________________________
Started piano Dec 2009
----------------------
Working on:
-Anything composed by D. Nevue

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#1370338 - 02/10/10 03:58 PM Re: Cost of Lessons [Re: slowpogo]
GracieCat Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/01/09
Posts: 340
Loc: USA
I have a business I run out of my home, and I can think of a few expenses a piano teacher teaching in her own home would have.

-Business permit
-Business property taxes (on pianos/equipment)
-Liability insurance (Homeowners insurance doesn't cover people that are coming to your home for home businesses.)
-I would assume more upkeep on the piano
-Advertising
-Printing for rates/policies/applications etc
-Accountant to do their taxes
-Health insurance (very expensive for someone self employed)
-No employer contributing to a retirement fund
-No paid vacation or sick days

Not to mention the fact that just having people coming in and out of their home is a inconvenience. You have to make a point to keep things picked up and clean and it's not an area that can be used by the household while they are working.

For me personally, when I bought my home, I had to buy something that had extra space to fit my business. Sure, some may just work in their livingroom, but others may have bought a house with an extra room to house the music stuff. Know what I mean?

For my business (nothing to do with music), I pay about 35% of my GROSS in just income taxes. That doesn't include property tax.


Originally Posted By: slowpogo
That's fine... I understand what overhead is, but it seems you wouldn't really have any as a piano teacher, in the traditional sense. Simply through your normal course of living, as someone with a piano and a dwelling, you already spend all the necessary $ to pursue your enterprise. And you would be spending that money even with a different job. What else do you need to pay for, some Post-its and a few pens? That's why it seemed pretty much any money you make will be discretionary in that context.

In theory, I could start teaching lessons out of my home right now. And I really can't think of any money I would need to spend to do that, beyond what I already do. They come, I lead them to the piano, I teach, they give me $. It would simply be money in my pocket (minus the taxes). There's nowhere for 55% of it to go, other than wherever I want.

I'm not familiar with the exchange rate for Australia/US dollars, but in the US, the average personal income is about $32,000. I guess it speaks more to my own meager circumstances ;), but making that much $, as my own boss, working less than full time, seems almost like a dream. I never said a piano teacher would be rich, it just seemed they could make a pretty decent living, working fewer hours than most people to make that same amount, and without the hassles of being a wage-slave. And there probably are some very successful ones out there who make more than that $32k.

Anyway, I don't want to argue either, let's leave it at that. Cheers!
_________________________
Started piano Dec 2009
----------------------
Working on:
-Anything composed by D. Nevue

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#1370373 - 02/10/10 04:35 PM Re: Cost of Lessons [Re: GracieCat]
slowpogo Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/14/06
Posts: 116
Loc: Midwest, US
Originally Posted By: GracieCat
I have a business I run out of my home, and I can think of a few expenses a piano teacher teaching in her own home would have.

-Business permit
-Business property taxes (on pianos/equipment)
-Liability insurance (Homeowners insurance doesn't cover people that are coming to your home for home businesses.)
-I would assume more upkeep on the piano
-Advertising
-Printing for rates/policies/applications etc
-Accountant to do their taxes
-Health insurance (very expensive for someone self employed)
-No employer contributing to a retirement fund
-No paid vacation or sick days


Well, the last three are things I've never had through a job (health insurance has been available but it was like 40% of my paycheck, so no-go) so I naturally do not expect them. Accountants are optional, most people I know do their advertising for free (fliers at music stores/campuses, craigslist etc) and most of their students come from word-of-mouth anyway...some printouts from the computer or copies are an expense I guess, but pretty negligible. I don't know, still doesn't seem too bad to me, apart from business permits/taxes which I'm not familiar with and could change my opinion somewhat.

As far as the other factors, my teachers have always had a dedicated music room, but I think even if they stopped teaching they would keep it that way, it's just important to them. I would enjoy the added life of people in my house, and I try to keep things neat anyway so no problem there..

Not to ruffle any feathers but, here and elsewhere in my life, it seems many people with a small business make a big point of saying how difficult it is and barely worth it...makes me wonder why many of those people do it! I know others who think it's A-OK and would never go back to a wage job. I think there is a wider range of experience out there than posts on this forum would indicate. As long as your income expectations were not grand and you knew what you were getting into (and presumably were up for the challenges and ready to tolerate some possible minor inconveniences), it still has nice potential. And if you have added income from playing gigs (the majority of teachers probably do), so much the better.


Edited by slowpogo (02/10/10 05:09 PM)

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#1370412 - 02/10/10 05:15 PM Re: Cost of Lessons [Re: slowpogo]
Stonecutter Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/24/10
Posts: 4
Howard Co, MD
Flute teacher at our house $45 / hour session.
Piano teacher at our house $90 / hour session. I kind of thought this was too much, but DW really likes the teacher, so we'll give her an opportunity to prove herself for four lessons.

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#1370459 - 02/10/10 06:06 PM Re: Cost of Lessons [Re: GracieCat]
Elissa Milne Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/11/10
Posts: 1337
Loc: Sydney, NSW, Australia
This needs to be a different thread: Home Business 101.
_________________________
Teacher, Composer, Writer, Speaker
Working with Hal Leonard, Alfred, Faber, and Australian Music Examination Board
Music in syllabuses by ABRSM, AMEB, Trinity Guildhall, ANZCA, NZMEB, and more
www.elissamilne.wordpress.com

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#1370470 - 02/10/10 06:25 PM Re: Cost of Lessons [Re: Elissa Milne]
Elissa Milne Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/11/10
Posts: 1337
Loc: Sydney, NSW, Australia
Or even just Small Business 101.

Slowpogo, the conversation you are having is about discounting the things that need to be accounted for when being a responsible business person. You are saying that piano teachers shouldn't use professional accounting services, that they shouldn't spend any money in professional development in either courses, memberships or subscriptions, that they don't need to purchase music, that they don't have instrument maintenance costs, that they shouldn't factor in the cost of an extra room (in their house) or renting a room (If there is not adequate space in their home for a teaching room), that the infrastructure they pay for (phones, insurances, office equipment, chairs for people to sit on while waiting, desks, and so forth) is expense that would have been incurred in the course of living any other kind of life, let alone the expense of a second piano or digital pianos, or other technology (depending on the kind of pedagogical approach used by the teacher).

That might be your world view! But it's not good business, or good accounting. To run a business well you need to understand your costs in order to be able to calculate whether you are running at a profit or a loss. Doesn't matter which business you are in.

But once you understand how your income and costs relate to one another you can then make an informed decision about the benefits of waged or self employment.
_________________________
Teacher, Composer, Writer, Speaker
Working with Hal Leonard, Alfred, Faber, and Australian Music Examination Board
Music in syllabuses by ABRSM, AMEB, Trinity Guildhall, ANZCA, NZMEB, and more
www.elissamilne.wordpress.com

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#1370486 - 02/10/10 06:49 PM Re: Cost of Lessons [Re: Elissa Milne]
slowpogo Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/14/06
Posts: 116
Loc: Midwest, US
Edit: deleted, I think we are at an impasse and should leave this alone now. But thanks, I will think about what you've written. Peace!


Edited by slowpogo (02/10/10 07:23 PM)

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#1383005 - 02/25/10 08:57 PM Re: Cost of Lessons [Re: slowpogo]
Ellen S Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/28/10
Posts: 19
Loc: Ontario
Is there anyone from Ontario, Canada that can give me an idea on the price of lessons?

Thanks.

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