So ... you've decided to start teaching private music lessons. One of the next decisions you need to make is:
Where should you teach?
I started teaching in 1996 the summer before my senior year in college. Each week, I drove around to student's homes -- 8 students' homes, actually -- and taught 30 minute private piano lessons.
It was the perfect fit for me at the time. I didn't need a facility, made my own hours, and worked fewer hours than when waitressing because I had doubled my hourly income.
A year later I was offered a position at a music academy founded by a local Methodist church. So, for my second year of teaching I continued to drive to students’ homes while also working as an independent contractor at the Old Towne Academy (OTA).
The benefits of working at OTA were many. I gained a support structure from the OTA Board members. I taught in one location on a fantastic piano and spent less time sitting in my car if there was an absence! I was able to draw students from the church membership without having to advertise. I could still create my own schedule and was independent in all aspects of teaching. Also, I was allowed to integrate my private students with the Academy students for recitals using the church Sanctuary.
(You’re probably wondering why I didn’t teach all of my students at OTA, right? Well, the parents got spoiled with having me go to their homes and nobody wanted to come to the academy, even though it was only 15 minutes away! And I didn’t know about travel fees at the time. C’est la vie!)
Drive to students’ homes? Teach at home? Work for a music academy?
How do you decide which option will be the best fit for you?
Most private music teachers I know have multiple sources of income. Let’s sort through the many options available to you when deciding where to teach as a private music teacher.
To help you decide where to teach, look back at your answers to the Looking Within questions and ask yourself:
1. Who do you want to work for — yourself or someone else? (Of course, you can do both at the same time!)
2. Which locations work well with your strengths and career desires?
3. Which locations will give support to your weaknesses?
Work for yourself
Working for yourself is a great option for those that are self-motivated, self-disciplined, creative entrepreneur types.
Being self-employed or owning your own business allows you complete control. You decide who to teach, what to teach, where to teach, when to teach, and how to teach.
On the other hand, you are completely responsible for building your business, having facilities, attracting students, and promoting yourself. You must be willing to network, advertise, and try new things.
You can do this at:
• Students’ homes
• Your home
• Rented studio location
• Church, School or other facility
Work for someone else
As a contracted teacher or an employee, you still have many freedoms. Generally, you can teach when and what you choose, depending on where you work. You also have the benefit of being part of an organization that has facilities for you to use and will often provide you with students.
Working for someone else is a great option if you want the support of an administration and the camaraderie of other teachers.
You will likely be able to draw students from the organization you work for. However, you may need to abide by the organization’s policies, procedures, and schedules, which gives you slightly less control and freedom (not necessarily a bad option, just something to be aware of).
You can do this at:
• Students’ homes
• Conservatory/Academy/Music School
• Private Studio
Often your circumstances will dictate where you teach. But with so many options available, you can even mix and match.
How did you decide where to teach? Would you like to teach somewhere else or are you in the perfect setup? I'd love to hear in the comments below!