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#2165100 - 10/12/13 12:26 AM Ideal Teaching Setting and Neighborhood?
pianoheart Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/17/13
Posts: 15
Loc: California
Hi everyone,
I'm planning to relocate to a new area and have two general questions about studio setting.
Single houses/flats are rare in this area. Is it better to teach in 1.Apartment/Condo or 2.In-law unit?

I can also live a bit further at a different neighborhood, where the median income is 35-40% lower, but has many new small houses available. Are there any differences in teaching high and low-income neighborhoods?

I don't mind lowering my rates to accommodate a the neighborhood. However one of my piano teacher has warned me (multiple times) that location plays a vital role in teaching piano and I should be deliberate when choosing neighborhoods...


Edited by pianoheart (10/12/13 01:00 AM)

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#2165112 - 10/12/13 12:58 AM Re: Ideal Teaching Setting and Neighborhood? [Re: pianoheart]
Rebecca Piano Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/02/13
Posts: 48
Loc: Sydney, Australia
pianoheart, I live in an area that contains a lot of lower-middle class people. My piano teacher has a postgraduate degree in music and is quite active as a musician both as a soloist and accompanist, because of his qualifications, it would put him in a good position to charge high rates but he really believes that the local demography deserve a decent music education. His fees are on the low end but he is happy to have low rates so that people with lower a SES can afford music lessons.

Having said that, when you do get set up, sometimes charging low rates undervalues what you do, it makes other parents suspicious of why your rates are so low, and it attracts people who do not take music instruction seriously.

Anyway, just a few thoughts - I know it doesnt answer your initial question though!
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#2165120 - 10/12/13 01:50 AM Re: Ideal Teaching Setting and Neighborhood? [Re: Rebecca Piano]
pianoheart Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/17/13
Posts: 15
Loc: California
Hi Rebecca, I was looking for suggestions to either of those questions, and your input definitely helped! I applaud to your piano teacher for giving more people affordable lessons! My main concern is if the students will be persistent with their lessons or not (since piano will be a larger portion of the paycheck), and if the family would be able to afford buy/rent piano rather than keyboards...

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#2165183 - 10/12/13 07:09 AM Re: Ideal Teaching Setting and Neighborhood? [Re: pianoheart]
Rebecca Piano Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/02/13
Posts: 48
Loc: Sydney, Australia
My teacher has a policy of not taking on people who are not willing to purchase a piano. He is accepting of people who buy good digital pianos but there are several options in this day and age - digital pianos and renting to buy. My policies are a bit less strict - I normally encourage students to put some dynamics and expression in during the early stages, when they come back to me frustrated that they have a keyboard that cannot perform these tasks they come to the conclusion that they NEED a piano. Otherwise, some students use the school piano, others practice on other peoples pianos.

In the end, I tend to think things work both ways - if you live in an expensive area - your mortgage or rent will cost a lot, but so will your wage, the same applies for being in a lower end area.
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#2165191 - 10/12/13 07:49 AM Re: Ideal Teaching Setting and Neighborhood? [Re: pianoheart]
Morodiene Online   content
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Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 10749
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
I think it all depends on the sound carrying. If you can find a place that first of all allows you to teach from your home, and secondly has good sound protection from neighbors, then that it the place for you. Also, while acoustic pianos are best, if sound is a concern then having a digital piano to teach on may be best.
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#2165241 - 10/12/13 11:13 AM Re: Ideal Teaching Setting and Neighborhood? [Re: pianoheart]
Peter K. Mose Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/06/12
Posts: 1242
Loc: Toronto, Ontario
If you can avoid teaching in either an apartment or a condo, do so: you are bound to offend a landlord, neighbor, or condo board at some point, and your professional life can quickly become hellish.

I'm not sure what "inlaw unit" means where you live. Is it a small detached house in the backyard of a larger home (like an old-style coach house)? Or do you mean a basement apartment in a detached house? Either scenario could work, if your landlord understands explicitly what you are doing and is ok with it.

If one teaches at home, the best situations for studio music teaching are detached homes in attractive neighborhoods - homes which are often too expensive to support such teaching.

Don't rule out renting commercial space for your studio. Then you can live wherever you wish.

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#2165244 - 10/12/13 11:27 AM Re: Ideal Teaching Setting and Neighborhood? [Re: pianoheart]
Peter K. Mose Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/06/12
Posts: 1242
Loc: Toronto, Ontario
Your question about the demographics of a neighborhood is an interesting one. I don't think there is a clear answer on this. Perhaps your piano teacher wants you to situate yourself in a posh neighborhood, figuring that more homes will have pianos, and more people will want lessons.

But the issue of student persistence - I don't think this has much to do with income or neighborhood.

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#2165254 - 10/12/13 12:09 PM Re: Ideal Teaching Setting and Neighborhood? [Re: pianoheart]
FarmGirl Offline

Silver Supporter until Jan 02 2013


Registered: 09/14/10
Posts: 1795
Loc: Scottsdale, AZ
I have two close friends / piano teachers with DMA. One was my first piano teacher when I was in college. She was pursuing her degrees there. Then she got married and moved to very nice & expensive community in CA. She handed her students (including me) to her friend when she moved. That's how I knew both of them. Even though I could not get back to piano for years due to marriage, job traing and another degree etc., we remained friends.

The latter is teaching at a low - middle income family area in Arizona. She has many students that even full up her weekend. Her younger students (up to 20 years old) are very poor. The family could not afford lessons and they start lessons on their own as soon as they start earning money in burger joints or whatever. They are determined and very talented. Most of them go to conservatories / piano performance in Universities with full scholarship. She charges them low. She also have well to do adult students like me who drives 40 miles (a lot for Arizona) to get to her house from a little bit more wealthy area. She never asked us but we pay her $20 more for hour out of respect for her.

Interestingly, the one in the high income area is not doing well. There aren't so many families with multiple children. The professionals around her move all the time. Also she does not enjoy teaching the little she has. They were goal minded people and interested in getting certificate of grade to show for college entrance or something. Only 10 students. She supplement her income with a teaching job at Chinese music school.
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#2165488 - 10/13/13 12:15 AM Re: Ideal Teaching Setting and Neighborhood? [Re: pianoheart]
Beth_Frances Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/14/12
Posts: 170
Loc: Brisbane, Australia
I teach in a very wealthy area where there are lots of people with stupid amounts of money who are happy to pay for 2 piano lessons per week even if their children do no practice in between. I chose this area to live in because there are lots of families and lots of $$$s.

I've never taught in a lower socio economic area so I don't know what it would be like, but I imagine the bonuses would be:

- cheaper standard of living - rent, groceries etc are all inflated in my area. Enormously. If the house I live in were situated even 15 minutes from where I am now the rent would be almost half what it is.

- if the parents have to scrimp and save to be able to pull together lesson money they are more likely to be involved in their children's musical education and take it seriously.

- less likely to have students who do gymnastics, tennis, dance, circus, cricket, basketball, painting class, etc and literally have no free day in the week to practice.

I wouldn't like to teach in a unit - I foresee lots of dramas with neighbours!
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#2165885 - 10/14/13 02:57 AM Re: Ideal Teaching Setting and Neighborhood? [Re: pianoheart]
Rebecca Piano Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/02/13
Posts: 48
Loc: Sydney, Australia
pianoheart, I spoke a bit more to my teacher, his experience teaching in a wealthy middle upper class area is sort of similar to Beth Frances' one.

He finds that people in lower middle class areas pay on time, they care more about their children's music education and are generally more involved because they want to get value for their money. Having said that, I worked in an upper middle class area where the rates were rather high. I worked there feeling like it was unfair to the parents because I have not yet attained my formal qualifications and they were paying the same rates that PhD, university level teachers were charging. I was also being paid very badly, so that prompted me to leave - that's a whole different story altogether but I do want to say that it's a mixed bag when it comes to SES, class and the culture that comes with it. It's hard to make any generalizations.

I live in a unit, the unit contains a piano ... and I do practice on it quite regularly, I also sing with regularity. I happen to live with a horrible lady downstairs who seems to take great pleasure in complaining about things that don't work, bins that aren't aligned properly, problems with strata, problems with people who park in non-residential parking spots... complaining seems to be her favorite thing to do but she hasn't yet complained about my music playing (and it is very audible!)
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Independent Piano and Music Teacher
University Undergraduate Majoring in Music
Total Foodie
http://www.pianolessonswithrebecca.com/

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#2165903 - 10/14/13 04:04 AM Re: Ideal Teaching Setting and Neighborhood? [Re: pianoheart]
Beth_Frances Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/14/12
Posts: 170
Loc: Brisbane, Australia
True Rebecca, that's one more thing I forgot - lower middle class families almost always pay on time, whereas rich people will pay months late with no apologies. I have no idea why this is but has definitely been true for me.
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#2166989 - 10/16/13 03:59 AM Re: Ideal Teaching Setting and Neighborhood? [Re: Rebecca Piano]
pianoheart Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/17/13
Posts: 15
Loc: California
I really like how you lead the students into a real piano Rebecca! Sounds like a great idea!
And you seem to be both lucky/unlucky with your neighbor downstairs. I have friends who play in apartments without any problems from neighbors, and that's why I'm tempted to find a good soundproofed apartment to teach as well, since there are so few houses in the neighborhood.

Speaking of neighborhood, your input definitely made me thinking. My teacher has always been teaching at higher-income level neighborhoods. And because of her qualifications, she's always packed with students. Perhaps this made her assume a correlation between neighborhoods and teaching satisfaction.

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#2166993 - 10/16/13 04:37 AM Re: Ideal Teaching Setting and Neighborhood? [Re: Peter K. Mose]
pianoheart Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/17/13
Posts: 15
Loc: California
Hi Peter,
Wow, I didn't expect apartments to be such a hard setting! I would think in-law settings are less sound proofed because of proximity. I have inquired a few possibilities and it seem to be more lenient about the piano than in-law households. Are they just trying to get me sign the lease for the apts?

I have always thought of getting a commercial place, but have this idea that the prices will be much higher (total cost will be twice as much), the need of license, difficulty to find spaces that allow instruments...etc...would you recommend leasing a commercial space over teaching at home?

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#2167049 - 10/16/13 08:05 AM Re: Ideal Teaching Setting and Neighborhood? [Re: pianoheart]
Morodiene Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 10749
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
I have taught outside the home for the past several years and I love it. In one situation, we purchased a building in the downtown area (small midwest town) and fixed it up, rented the upstairs apartment and I "rented" the downstairs storefront to my studio. Now in FL we rent a space in a strip mall that has a large enough room for recitals and two studios and a waiting area.

There are two of us teaching there so the cost of renting is shared making it more doable (I wouldn't be able to rent this kind of space alone). We may soon be adding a strings teacher which makes it even more affordable. I really love not teaching from home.

We did have some issues finding a place that wasn't worried about sound issues, but it wasn't impossible to find this place. With the help of a realtor and perhaps a teacher of another instrument that may be a good option - depending on the price of renting in your area.
_________________________
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#2167128 - 10/16/13 11:02 AM Re: Ideal Teaching Setting and Neighborhood? [Re: pianoheart]
Peter K. Mose Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/06/12
Posts: 1242
Loc: Toronto, Ontario
I was using the phrase "commercial space" in its loosest sense, simply to mean not at home. You can rent a room from a struggling church for probably $200-300 a month and teach there. You can rent a room from a neighborhood music school for maybe a bit more. Or you could just join the faculty of a neighborhood music school, in return for them taking a hefty portion of your earnings (maybe 40%-50%) and handling many of the business headaches of piano teaching.

There are many options, but teaching at home in any sort of attached dwelling is inviting noise/neighbor problems. I know firsthand about all of it. You might be lucky and come out unscathed.


Edited by Peter K. Mose (10/16/13 12:36 PM)

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#2167181 - 10/16/13 12:42 PM Re: Ideal Teaching Setting and Neighborhood? [Re: pianoheart]
Peter K. Mose Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/06/12
Posts: 1242
Loc: Toronto, Ontario
I still don't understand the California terminology of "in-law unit." Is that another phrase for basement apartment, with your landlord upstairs (while your students are mangling the scale of E major)?

There another option, and that's to purchase one or two high-end digital pianos and do all your teaching using headphones. Not for me, though it could work.

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#2167192 - 10/16/13 12:56 PM Re: Ideal Teaching Setting and Neighborhood? [Re: Peter K. Mose]
malkin Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/09
Posts: 2202
Loc: *sigh* Salt Lake City
Originally Posted By: Peter K. Mose
I still don't understand the California terminology of "in-law unit." Is that another phrase for basement apartment, with your landlord upstairs (while your students are mangling the scale of E major)?


To my mind (which was largely formed in California) a mother-in-law unit is a structure detached from a single family home, far enough away to provide privacy to the homeowner and to the mother-in-law or unrelated tenant. It would be equipped with kitchen and bath and sleeping and living space and of course have a separate entrance.

Like every description in real estate, the term can be applied very loosely.
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A good student is one who makes the teacher feel like a good teacher.

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#2170801 - 10/23/13 06:40 PM Re: Ideal Teaching Setting and Neighborhood? [Re: Beth_Frances]
jazzyclassical Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/26/07
Posts: 154
Loc: California
Originally Posted By: Beth_Frances
True Rebecca, that's one more thing I forgot - lower middle class families almost always pay on time, whereas rich people will pay months late with no apologies. I have no idea why this is but has definitely been true for me.

+1
And I think the best neighborhoods are middle income family type established suburbs. IMO
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#2170825 - 10/23/13 07:56 PM Re: Ideal Teaching Setting and Neighborhood? [Re: jazzyclassical]
ezpiano.org Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/10/11
Posts: 958
Loc: Irvine, CA
Originally Posted By: jazzyclassical
Originally Posted By: Beth_Frances
True Rebecca, that's one more thing I forgot - lower middle class families almost always pay on time, whereas rich people will pay months late with no apologies. I have no idea why this is but has definitely been true for me.

+1
And I think the best neighborhoods are middle income family type established suburbs. IMO


Not the same in my studio. I figure that on time or late payment has nothing to do with how rich or poor a family is, but about if the parent is organize or airhead.
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#2170844 - 10/23/13 08:35 PM Re: Ideal Teaching Setting and Neighborhood? [Re: pianoheart]
malkin Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/09
Posts: 2202
Loc: *sigh* Salt Lake City
I wish my teacher taught within walking distance of my house!

There is in fact a piano teacher on my street, but online research seemed to indicate that we might not be a good fit.
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#2170850 - 10/23/13 08:52 PM Re: Ideal Teaching Setting and Neighborhood? [Re: Beth_Frances]
Polyphonist Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 6352
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: Beth_Frances
I teach in a very wealthy area where there are lots of people with stupid amounts of money who are happy to pay for 2 piano lessons per week even if their children do no practice in between.

Piano lessons are not even money to them. They're pocket change. They will hire the best teachers in the county to teach their kids where middle C is, because shelling out the $500 a week barely makes a dent in their seven-figure income. You give the lessons, they'll pay the money. You could say you charge a thousand bucks an hour and they'd just pull the cash out of their pocket and hand it to you.
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#2182593 - 11/15/13 12:52 AM Re: Ideal Teaching Setting and Neighborhood? [Re: pianoheart]
cosyhome Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/13/13
Posts: 1
Originally Posted By: pianoheart
Hi everyone,
I'm planning to relocate to a new area and have two general questions about studio setting.
Single houses/flats are rare in this area. Is it better to teach in 1.Apartment/Condo or 2.In-law unit?

I can also live a bit further at a different neighborhood, where the median income is 35-40% lower, but has many new small houses available. Are there any differences in teaching high and low-income neighborhoods?

I don't mind lowering my rates to accommodate a the neighborhood. However one of my piano teacher has warned me (multiple times) that location plays a vital role in teaching piano and I should be deliberate when choosing neighborhoods...


I think apartment will be better for you. Talking about the location, your piano teacher is right, location plays a vital role in teaching piano. And you really should think it over to choose an appropriate location and neighborhood. Try to look here http://chicago.localmart.com/apartments-for-rent/ choose the city and the price you are able to pay, maybe you’ll find better variants. It helped me a lot, so good luck to you!

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