by Brad Stabler
The teacher in Private Music often has to teach small groups or one on one lessons at low fees, sometimes, fixed by the school or association they teach within.
In a private studio or in a school, the monetary arrangements for this kind of music lesson involve the parent paying the teacher “per lesson” and it is these kinds of teachers that this article hopes to help increase their income.
In this article are four strategies for increasing income as a private music teacher – some of them may not be suitable for every teacher, but hopefully they will give you some insights on how private music teachers can improve their income.
Strategy #1 – Never refund or credit a lesson because it’s in the clients best interest
Students miss lessons. It’s a fact. People get sick, there are special sporting events that happen, there are times when for whatever reason students are going to miss their music lesson. The fact is that this is unavoidable. What you can do as a music teacher is have a policy that says that “lessons are always made-up, they are never refunded or credited to your account”, however the important thing that is often missed in this is the WHY of that statement… it should be because it is necessary for the student’s progress on their instrument.
If you use this philosophy you won’t ever have to argue with parents over it – because it’s in the student’s interest, not yours! If you start the arrangement with this agreement in place you’ll find it much easier to enforce it – the parents will make the effort to make up the lesson rather than you having to insist on it. If you have outcomes for the student (such as an assessment or exam) in place it makes it even easier to make sure that it happens.
You will need to make time to make the lessons up – it might be necessary to allow one or two days in the holidays or during non-contact time to do it, but you’ll find that the ability to do this will be worth it in extra income. Very often the parents will not bother making it up and you’ll not have to credit or refund any money!
Strategy #2 – Find your Niche and make yourself exclusive in that Niche
if you have something special about your teaching you’ll find that you’ll attract more and better quality students, and you’ll be able to charge more.
For example, let’s say you teach the guitar.
If you teach anyone who comes you’ll probably end up with some young children, some high school children, and maybe one or two adults and you’ll have to teach a variety of styles depending on the type of music that the students like.
If however….. You start a niche business, specializing in only one area you’ll eventually find that people will seek you out because you are a specialist, and you’ll be able to charge more for your services and you’ll be able to only take on the students you want.
Examples of a niche business for guitar might be: – A business that specializes in guitar for young children – A business that helps adults fulfill their dreams of playing guitar in a band – A business that specializes in heavy metal guitar
These are just examples – there are literally thousands of possibilities, but the niche must be something that customers actually want, it cant be something that you think might be good!
Strategy #3 – Increase your retention rate and don’t take on every student
Increasing your retention rate is vital for all businesses – but particularly for music teachers – where your income is determined by the number of students you are teaching multiplied by the dollars that you charge.
If you can cut down on the number of students you lose, while you simultaneously increase the quality of those students you’ll have a better income and a more satisfying teaching career as well.
There is no way you should accept every student that you get offered. Not every student is going to be right for you – they often are looking to learn different things to what you offer, and they might not be as reliable in terms of paying their fees and attending lessons as your regular students, so you should always meet and interview prospective students before you agree to teach them.
By avoiding “problem” students in the first place you’ll be able to spend your time with more productive activities and better quality students. And this will increase your income in the longer term.
Most of the problems with retention can be traced back to one thing – the students lack motivation because they don’t practice enough. We have various strategies for increasing retention rate by encouraging practice at the Fun Music company teacher’s blog, which you’ll find a link to at the end of this article.
Strategy #4 – Add passive income streams to your business
Teaching income is active income – if you stop teaching the income stops. That is ok. Because it is like any earned income. What you should be looking to do is also add passive income to your business.
Do you write any teaching materials which can be used in music classes or lessons?
If so you are in the perfect position to add passive income to your income mix. All you have to do is find a way to publish your materials so that your students and others can access them. It can be as simple as getting the materials printed and bound at a copy shop just for your students only.
Do you purchase books and music for your students and pass them on to them?
If so you may be able to negotiate bulk discounts from suppliers and then add the full retail cost of the books to the students account. Parents will appreciate the convenience of not having to go into a shop to purchase the books if you put it through your business.
Can you sell leads to other teachers or businesses?
For example students all need to purchase instruments. Sometimes possible is an arrangement where you can get a monetary commission from a music store if you refer your students to purchase their instruments there. This is certainly possible on the internet, via the use of affiliate programs.
I hope this article has given you some ideas of ways that you can improve your income as a private music teacher. I was a private music teacher for over ten years, and I’ve used all of these strategies during that time. Private music teaching should be fun and rewarding, and it gives you freedom to practice what you love, which is sharing the joy of music with others.
Kevin Tuck has worked as a private music teacher, and now runs The Fun Music Company, an internet publishing company helping music teachers and authors publish music and educational materials on the internet. You can find out more about the Fun Music Company and download heaps of useful music teaching and business building ideas at the Fun Music Company teachers blog: http://www.musicteachersblog.com