If you have a talent for playing an instrument, teaching music lessons might be the perfect way for you to make money.
You get to share your gift and follow your passion. You’re rewarded both financially and by the joy of seeing a student’s eyes light up with every accomplishment.
Table of Contents
- How to Determine How Much to Charge for Music Lessons
- Lesson Location
- The Going Rate Where You Live
- The Amount and Level of Competition in Your Area
- How Much Should I Charge for Online Music Lessons?
- Lesson Materials and Other Upsells
- Your Expertise
- Your Teaching Experience
- Skill Level and Interest Level of Your Students
- Lesson Duration
- The Instrument You Teach
- How Much to Charge for Group Music Lessons
- Charging for Music Lessons
How to Determine How Much to Charge for Music Lessons
You have the skill. Now you have to figure out how much to charge for music lessons. Rates vary widely, but here are several factors to consider:
If you’re giving music lessons in person, there are a lot of things to consider when setting your rates.
Where are your lessons taking place? Will you be giving lessons in your home or will you be travelling to meet your students in their homes? Will you be renting a room from a music store or other location to use for lessons?
Many parents prefer that you teach their kids in their home for comfort and safety reasons. If you have to travel, drive time, gas, and wear and tear on your car should affect your lesson pricing. Whether or not it’s worth it to travel to give a half-hour lesson depends on your rate.
You can charge a bit more when you have to travel, like $5 or $10 per lesson, whether you’re driving yourself or using public transportation. Charge slightly less for students who come to your home or live close.
The Going Rate Where You Live
Find out what music lessons in your area cost. Run some Google searches and find your fellow music teachers online. Call local music stores and respond to ads offering lessons.
You don’t want to price yourself out of a job by posting rates that are too high. You don’t want to severely undercut the market and limit your earnings either.
Where you live plays into the rate too. If you live in a crowded urban area with a high cost of living, everything costs more, including music lessons.
When you’re doing your research, make sure you’re comparing apples to apples. You’re liable to find significant price differences between lessons in New York or Los Angeles versus lessons in smaller, less populated areas. So make sure you limit your research to your area.
The Amount and Level of Competition in Your Area
Another way your location influences lesson pricing is the amount of competition where you live.
For example, I lived in Boston for several years. There are over 40 colleges in the metro area including Berklee College of Music and the New England Conservatory, two of the most prestigious music schools in the country. Broke students looking to make money giving music lessons are easy to find.
These student music teachers are not necessarily trying to maximize their income or treating it like a business either. Some just want to have a little money in their pocket for Friday night. It creates an environment where a lot of very talented musicians are charging very low rates for music lessons.
In cities like Nashville, Tennessee, or New Orleans, Louisiana, which are well known for music and musicians, you might find a similar situation. Heavy competition might force you to lower your prices find another way to set yourself apart from the pack.
How Much Should I Charge for Online Music Lessons?
For online music lessons, charge $30 to $40 per hour. That works out to about 20% less than your hourly in-person lesson rate.
Scope out platforms like Lessonface and TakeLessons. See what other instructors teaching the same instrument with your level of experience are charging.
You also might want to sign up and give lessons through these sites. For a percentage of your fees, they can connect you with their large pool of students and handle a lot of the technical details for you.
With online platforms, once you build up a solid base and earn excellent reviews, you can raise your rates. You can also offer package deals and other services like reviewing videos of students playing.
You don’t have to limit yourself to online teaching platforms that take a cut of your earnings. If you want to teach music online, video conferencing tools like Zoom and Skype make it possible to arrange and deliver lessons on your own. You’ll have to market yourself and be well versed in the technical aspects, however.
Starting a blog or building a small website promoting your teaching, covering your background, and displaying your rates can lead to a steady flow of new students. You can post sample lessons or videos of you playing. Testimonials from satisfied students posted on your website are great sales tools.
Be aware that both the online teaching and learning experience are different. It is more convenient for both teacher and student, but things like lag and poor audio quality can lead to frustration and unhappy customers. Make sure you have everything nailed down before you accept any online only students.
Lesson Materials and Other Upsells
A good approach to teaching new students who have never played an instrument before is to provide them with a music book aimed at beginners. Choose one you like, then buy copies for yourself and a few extra for students.
You and your student can work through the instruction book together. They can also work through it on their own time, then bring you questions or sticking points for help.
Charge for any books, sheet music, or workbooks you provide. It’s up to you whether to offer materials at cost or add a little markup for the convenience. As long as you’re clear on what you’re charging, students can decide to take you up on your offer or not.
Besides books, you can sell:
- Used instruments
- Violin or guitar strings
- Saxophone or clarinet reeds
- Sheet music
- Other equipment (amps, cases, cables, etc.)
Some of these things are necessary for lessons and practice. Others are nice to have.
Students might ask for your advice and recommendations for gear. If you can provide equipment and accessories, it could be a source of extra income.
To be successful teaching music, you need to play the instrument you’re teaching very well. You don’t need to be in a band or make your living as a musician, but you have to be technically sound and play at an advanced level.
Potential students or their parents will ask you about your musical background and credentials. They’ll expect your fees to be inline with others with a similar background and experience.
A teacher with a music degree and experience as a working musician can easily charge $60 to $100 per hour. Those with fewer credentials and less experience typically charge $40 or less an hour.
Your Teaching Experience
Those with more experience teaching or an established reputation as a stellar teacher charge more. Students will pay more for experienced instructors.
You might have a lot of experience studying and playing music, but not much music teaching experience. You need to be able to teach the basics with ease and confidence. If you’re new to teaching, your first students will help you develop your teaching skills.
Sometimes experts forget what it’s like to be a beginner. What feels natural and obvious to you might be beyond comprehension for your students. You’ll have to explain and demonstrate slowly several times for some learners.
Experienced music instructors have developed the patience necessary to work with students of all levels and abilities. Once you establish yourself and hone your teaching skills, you can charge more.
Skill Level and Interest Level of Your Students
Many teachers offer free or discounted lessons to beginners. This helps the student and teacher decide if you’re a good fit for each other.
Besides skill level, you also have to consider their interest level. Not everyone who picks up an instrument wants to commit their life to music. Some won’t even practice.
You might find that some of your students have no desire to learn how to read music or study music theory. They just want to play their favorite songs or style of music.
Tailor your lessons and your pricing to the level of your students and their desires. If someone wants to learn how to play songs like “Jingle Bells” and “Happy Birthday” on the piano, you probably won’t charge them as much as you would an aspiring musician who needs help to prepare for an audition.
Most music teachers charge fixed hourly rates. They base fees on the hourly rate whether the lesson is a full hour or a fraction of an hour.
Work out the best lesson duration with your students, but your base rate determines how much to charge.
For beginners and younger students, 30 minute lessons are usually ideal. Intermediate or advanced students might want a 45 minute or 1 hour lesson.
The Instrument You Teach
Some instruments require more instruction than others. The more there is to learn, the more teachers charge.
For example, electric guitar lessons often cost slightly more than acoustic guitar lessons. With electric guitars, there’s more than chords and techniques to learn. Students also have to learn about amps and other controls.
The same is true for rare instruments. There’s less competition for students, and quality instruction is harder to find. People are OK with paying above average lesson prices when the instrument is not very common.
How Much to Charge for Group Music Lessons
As a general rule, fees for group lessons fall somewhere between 60% and 75% of your private lesson rates.
You can’t charge the same amount you would when a student has your undivided attention. But you don’t want to sell yourself short because giving group lessons can be more demanding.
Having 5 students in a group is not at all like teaching 5 one-on-one lessons. Some of the challenges you’ll face include multiple students needing attention, some students progressing faster than others, and finding a lesson pace that works for you and your students.
That said, if you have the space, the experience, and the interest from students, adding group lessons to your music teaching business might significantly increase your income.
How Much Should I Charge for Music Lessons?
Charge between $15 and $30 per 30 minute lesson if you’re teaching beginners. You can charge $30 to $75 per lesson for intermediate and advanced students. For online lessons, charge about 20% less than your in-person rate. For group lessons, charge between 60% and 75% of your private lesson rates.
Teaching someone how to play their favorite instrument is extremely rewarding. If you play an instrument well, it’s possible to make money giving music lessons.
Your instrument and talent make for a low-cost side hustle you can start today. With a steady stream of students, that side hustle could eventually turn into a full-time income.
Several things go into setting your hourly rate. When determining how much to charge for music lessons, for starters, consider your skill level and experience, what kind of students you’ll teach, and where you’re located. Other factors like travel, lesson duration, the instrument you’re teaching, and how you deliver lessons make up your pricing strategy as well.
If you just want a ballpark figure, charge between $30 and $60 per hour. Make any necessary adjustments for group lessons or special circumstances based on your hourly rate.
Jerry is a personal finance enthusiast, side hustler, and freelance web developer who began his career in financial services. He co-founded KindaFrugal.com, a personal finance and frugal living blog. His insights have appeared on MSN, Newsweek.com, HerCampus.com, Mashed.com, and many others.