Music is a competitive industry, and it can be impossible to make a living from performing alone. Many performers also need to teach music, and some musicians want to teach. If you want to be a musician, you should consider learning to teach music lessons.
Teaching music allows you to pursue the industry more, and you don’t have to worry about getting a ton of small performing gigs. Being able to teach music lessons can help you create a successful music career. There’s no reason not to at least consider it.
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Should You Teach Music Lessons?
As a musician, it can be hard to land enough jobs to form a successful career. Because of this, a lot of musicians teach music lessons. Teaching lessons can help you diversify your income, and it can help you use your skills in different ways.
However, not all musicians should teach music lessons. If you don’t like working with kids, you’ll be miserable. After all, most private music students are kids. Of course, you can specialize in teaching adults, but that can be difficult to get into.
One of the biggest advantages of teaching music is that you can share your passion with others. Whether you teach kids or adults, you can impart your knowledge to your students.
On the other hand, most music lessons occur in the evening and on weekends. If you want to have a relatively normal schedule, you might not be able to find many students. Most people want to take lessons after work or school.
However, if you want to teach music lessons enough that the schedule won’t stop you, you’re in for an amazing ride. Now you need to determine how to teach music lessons.
Where to Teach Music Lessons
One of the most important things to consider is where you plan to teach music. In some cases, you can find teaching jobs at schools themselves. However, you may have to get creative and find other places to set up your studio.
When considering where you will start teaching music lessons, you should consider what will work best for you. There are pros and cons to each place you can teach. Even if you know someone who loves teaching one way, that method may not work for you.
As of now, my favorite place to teach music lessons is through a community school or studio. The school takes care of much of the admin tasks, like marketing, scheduling, and payment processing.
All I have to do is show up to teach the lessons that they add to my schedule. I can still set my own hours of availability, so the school won’t schedule lessons outside of those hours. However, I don’t have to worry about finding students or collecting payment for lessons.
While I don’t get paid the full amount the student or family pays, I get a set rate. And if the student doesn’t show up, I can still get paid by completing a video lesson that the school sends out.
Your studio or home
If you want to have complete control over your teaching studio, consider teaching out of your own studio or home. Of course, you need to make sure you can run a business out of your house or apartment. At least for me, bringing students to my home isn’t allowed in my lease.
However, if you don’t have to worry about that, teaching from home can be a great option. You determine what to charge and which students to take on. But you have to worry about marketing your studio, scheduling students, and ensuring you get paid.
If you teach for yourself and a student cancels, you won’t get paid. While you can set payment policies, you can’t force students to pay for lessons they know they won’t be at well ahead of time.
A good middle-ground for running your own studio but not out of your own place is to teach in your students’ homes. You don’t have to worry about breaking a lease or keeping your living room clean.
However, you also don’t have to follow the policies and procedures of a community music school. You can teach when you want, and you can take on the students that you want.
Still, teaching this way could involve a lot of driving around town. Not only will that cost you gas money, but it can also cost you time. Luckily, you can charge these students more since they don’t have to go anywhere.
Another great option for anyone looking to teach music lessons is to teach online. You can use Skype or another video chat service to provide lessons over the computer. This can open you up to students worldwide, and you can teach from anywhere.
You don’t have to worry about having students in your home. However, you also don’t have to travel to them or another studio. If you teach online, you also aren’t limited to students in your area.
Teaching online does have a few issues though, like the chance of technical problems. You also may not be able to charge as much per lesson since you aren’t in the same room as the student.
How to Teach Music Lessons
Now that you know where you can teach music lessons, it’s time to get started. Depending on how you plan to teach music lessons, you can start now or you may need to apply for a teaching position.
Assuming you have a way to get students, though, you can take a few steps to start your teaching career on the right foot. That way, you can help yourself land more students and have a fulfilling teaching schedule.
Choose instruments wisely
At first, it may be tempting to say you teach any instrument that you can get a sound on. However, you should choose instruments that you can play to some degree. You want to be comfortable teaching your students, and you shouldn’t be at the point where you’re learning with them.
For example, I teach flute (along with piccolo and alto flute) to all levels. I also teach beginning piano, but I don’t teach advanced piano students. Even though I played saxophone for years, I don’t own one anymore and haven’t played for a long time.
It wouldn’t make sense for me to teach that instrument, even though I do know the basics. The same is true of clarinet and oboe since I played those but it’s been years.
Use method books
As you first start teaching, you may not know what to do. Method books are a great way for you to learn how to teach. Not only do they help your students learn, but they put things in a logical order so that you know what to teach and when.
Of course, you can use the method books that you learned from when you started your instrument. However, you can also explore other options for your instrument. Rubank is a super popular option, but you can also check out Flute 101 if you teach flute.
Piano teachers can use the popular Piano Adventures series. The more students you have, the more likely at least one of them will have an individual style.
It’s your job as the teacher to accommodate those students. You need to choose methods that work with your students so that they can learn well.
As a teacher, you should know as much as you can about your instrument. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t continue to learn more. Whether that involves exploring different method books or new repertoire, you need to open yourself up to learning.
The more you learn about playing and teaching your instrument, the easier it will get. You’ll know what problems to anticipate for your students, so you can attack those earlier.
If you learn enough about another instrument, you can add that to your list of instruments you teach. That can keep things interesting for you, and it can make you more marketable as a teacher.
Do you want to teach music lessons as part of your music career? What else do you want to know about teaching? Share your thoughts in the comments!
Do you want more guidance on teaching music lessons? Download the Where to Teach Workbook!