Tips to Get Started as a Piano Teacher
Today's "I Want to Be" series features Monica Rudy, owner of Monica Rudy’s Music Studio. She is wife to John and homeschooling mom of Clara (9) and Nicholas (6). When she’s not teaching, she enjoys crafting, baking and gardening. As musician, Monica performed as a member of the Pappas Family Recorder Quartet and the Early Interval. Find out how to connect with Monica at the end of this article.
How long have you had your business?
I started teaching piano lessons from my home studio about fifteen years ago.
What led you to pursue it?
Music has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. Early in our marriage, I needed a way to supplement our income. Teaching piano lessons just seemed like a good fit. I would be able to set my own schedule, do something I love, and be my own boss ;).
Are you full time or part time? If part-time, do you anticipate switching to full time?
I currently teach very part time. As a homeschool mom with kids involved in many extracurricular activities, I became overwhelmed with the amount of piano students I was instructing. So, for this past school year I cut back on my teaching and as a result had much more fun working with my students. I love the flexibility to increase and decrease my student load to fit our family life. There will be a time again, I’m sure, when the kids are more independent and I can devote more time to my studio.
How do you market your business?
I’ve tried many different ways to recruit students as I describe in my How to Open a Piano Studio in Your Home blog post. It is probably best to try many different things and see what works best in your community. What’s been most effective for me has been sending an introductory letter to all the school music teachers in the district. In the letter, I let them know a little bit about myself and include several business cards. I send this letter at the beginning of each school year just to let teachers know that I’m still around. Once you have a few students, word of mouth is a very effective marketing tool.
What is your favorite part of the business?
This may be an obvious answer, but my favorite part of teaching piano lessons is interacting with my students. As teacher and coach I am constantly looking for ways to bring out the best in their playing. It’s gratifying to see them evolve as musicians, help them reach their goals and see the smiles of satisfaction on their faces after a successful performance. I also enjoy just getting to know them, learning about their hobbies, dreams for the future, their likes and dislikes. This past week one of my former students (a boy who started lessons around first grade) stopped by to say hi while on his college summer break. It doesn’t get better than that.
What advice do you have for others who want to get into a similar opportunity?
Be professional. Unfortunately, some music teachers have given the profession a bad name by being unreliable and disorganized. This, however, can be avoided by thinking through some of the following questions before you get started:
- Where will I set up the studio?
- Where will parents wait?
- How much should I charge?
- What is my studio policy?
You can find my thoughts on these and many more questions here. Then it’s just a matter of being true to your word, being punctual and providing excellent instruction. Joining professional organizations such as the Music Teachers National Association can help you stay current in the music world and connect with fellow teachers.
What is the first step?
Be prepared. Take time to set up your studio space. Make sure your well tuned piano is located in an area where lessons won’t be interrupted by others in the home. Think through what teaching method(s) you would like to use. Decide how much you should charge and how you’re going to collect payments. Write up a studio policy. A good studio policy will make your life so much easier. Parents and students will know exactly what the expectations are.
Once these preparations are done it’s time to recruit students. And when everyone sees how well organized you are, it won’t be long until your teaching schedule fills up.
What websites or books do you recommend for tips?
Here are several organizations you might consider joining:
Here is a list of books I have found helpful in running my studio:
- The Music Teacher’s Manual: Making Money Teaching Music by Steve Stockmal
- The Independent Piano Teacher’s Studio Handbook by Beth Gigante Klingenstein