Work That Works For You: Teaching Music Lessons

Work that Works for You teaching


I began taking piano lessons in kindergarten. I moved to a new state and started over in second grade. Somewhere around 7th grade, I began to enjoy playing. I have never been an excellent pianist, but the love of music has carried me through many joyful and sad times of my life. I am glad to have a means to express music through the instrument of the piano.

Here are a few things to remember if you want to make money teaching music lessons from home:

1. Have confidence in what you can do.

When my piano teacher approached me in my junior year of high school and suggested I start teaching children music lessons, I was surprised. I always thought teaching music was for people with a lot of letters after their names.

However, I realized that the love of music was the most important thing that I had received from my years of lessons. That much I could pass on. So, I started with two third grade boys who I was convinced were prodigies. Now, almost seventeen years later, I’m still teaching children to love music.

If you know how to play an instrument, you know more than someone. There are many people who can benefit from what you know, even if you don’t consider it much.

I know that I can comfortably teach through the six beginner books of my favorite piano method. That is what I tell prospective students. When they are through those books, if they want to go on, I find them a teacher who can help them go farther.

Most of the time, though, before students get to that point, they have learned one of two things:

1. Music is not a particular interest of mine. I would rather be involved in sports, drama, etc. 


2. I love music, so I am going to find a more unique way to express it. I’ll join the marching band or find another instrument that I love even more. 

2. Decide what you are trying to accomplish.

As I already mentioned, my goal in teaching music lessons is not to turn out another Mozart or Beethoven. While I try to give them a good educational foundation and use quality teaching methods, I am mostly concerned with instilling in them the love of music. Many famous musicians had that alone and taught themselves to play and compose.

I have had the privilege of attending a few recitals and performances of students that have gone beyond me and use their love of music in creative ways. However, if my students simply play or sing for the love of it within their own homes, I will have accomplished my goal.

3. Determine what you are going to charge.

I have always kept my fees for music lessons on the lower end of the going rate. I teach on a very part time basis, and most of my students have been with me for years. I find that this approach toward payment mirrors my philosophy of teaching.

However, you may need to make this a higher-income job or you may have different goals for your teaching business. Do your research by checking with piano teachers in your area that also teach from home. Consider your training and what you are actually worth. Neither underestimate or overestimate your worth.

4. Advertise wisely.

Most of my students have come to me through a mom at soccer practice mentioning that her child is taking piano lessons from me. Or from the grandma from my church who recommends me to her grandchildren as a teacher. If I do a good job teaching children to be comfortable with music and to love it, they will tell other people and advertising won’t be necessary. You may also consider offering your students a free lesson for each new  student they refer.

The few times I have advertised, I have used only free advertising. Put up a business card or advertisement in area music stores–with their permission, of course. Use the free advertising site for teaching many kinds of lessons at Betterfly.

5. Draw up a simple policy.

While a 3-page policy will likely overwhelm your students, you do need to have a few guidelines in place so everyone will know what to expect. Decide when you will accept payment, how you will make up missed lessons and under what circumstances you will allow cancellations. I usually give a copy of my policy to new students and send it home with students once a year as a reminder.

If you love your instrument, your enthusiasm will spill over to your students. Gone are the days of piano teachers rapping knuckles with a ruler (I hope!). Make it a fun experience for you and for your student.  Own your business and make it unique to you and your style. The only boundaries are the limits of your own creativity.