Most people look at teaching music as a great way to earn extra money. However, most of them don’t pay attention to the details and, generally, don’t bother with things outside of lessons too much. There is nothing wrong with this but if you want to use all the potentials of this job, it would be great to consider some of the tips that you’ll find as you read on regarding how to start a music lessons business.
This article consists of some of the most important tips for this business and you’ll certainly find some of them quite useful.
Qualifications for Holding Music Lessons
If you just started considering opening a music lessons business, this is probably one of the questions that are bothering you. The great thing about this job is that you don’t actually need any kind of formal education. Of course, it is always better if you have a Master's degree in music or some kind of certificate but in most cases, that’s not a necessary condition. The key requirement is to know how to play at least one instrument, if not more, and to have a lot of enthusiasm in sharing your knowledge with students.
Making a Detailed Business Plan
Before you start to act, it is very important to create a music teaching business plan.
What does this actually mean? Well, it means a lot of things. The first thing you should do is to make some kind of a study, to find out if there is enough demand for music lessons in your location. Also, make sure to do a lot of research about initial costs, as well as about any legal issues that may be involved in starting a music lesson business.
After you’re done with that, you can focus on more practical issues that come when starting your music teaching business, such as promotion, payment methods, studio building, group lessons, teaching at students' homes, etc.
Know the Demand for Music Lessons in Your Area
When someone wants to start a music lessons business, the first thing he needs to do is to conduct a market study, to see if there is any interest in his services. The same thing is with music lessons. Of course, guitar and piano teachers will always have a lot of students, but that won’t be the case if your plan is to give lessons on the harp, for example.
Besides considering if there is enough demand for lessons on your instrument(s), there are a couple of other things to consider. For example, do people in your location have money to pay for music lessons and how much they are willing to pay for lessons. Also, if your plan is to give lessons on some of the more popular instruments, you will have to count on some tough competition.
The Initial Costs for a Music Teaching Business
It is hard to tell the exact numbers when it comes to initial costs, but you probably won’t need to spend your life savings to be able to start teaching private music lessons. If you know someone who started a private business, you’ve probably heard that finding a lender isn’t as simple as it used to be. A good thing is that you probably won’t need to go to a bank at all.
Practically, the biggest investment would be an instrument. Still, if you are a passionate musician, you probably already own a great-quality instrument. If that’s not the case, please don’t skimp. This is your working tool, so you need an instrument that is reliable and durable. Of course, it should sound nice as well.
If we presume that you already own a decent musical instrument, you can redirect your resources and invest the money in other things that are also useful for the business. For example, a couple of music stands would be useful, sound systems, and more. Essentially, this is all you need to give music lessons, but you should definitely consider making some kind of a studio.
Starting Your Own Teaching Studio
This may seem like a huge investment, but you don’t actually need to spend thousands of dollars and make a top-notch studio. Practically, all you need is a quiet room, where other household members and neighbors won’t interrupt you during lessons or be disturbed by your lessons. Of course, it would be great if you can get some of the additional equipment. As I’ve already mentioned instruments and stands are some of the essentials, but consider adding some kind of a desk, where you can place your laptop, keep sheet music, and other essential items. A fast internet connection and a good sound system are also required.
Also, keep in mind the visual aspect of the room. You want your studio to look nice, like something that will leave the right impression on your students and make you look like a real professional. Therefore, consider a few pieces of additional furniture. Get some nice desk and chairs, as well as a bookcase. Still, don’t clutter up with unnecessary things.
Breaking Even - Hard or Easy
Definitely not. This is one of the best things about giving lessons. Once you’re done with the initial investments, the costs are pretty low. Practically, the only costs are music instruments maintenance, repair, and purchasing new copies of music. Other than that, you can occasionally spend some money on promotional materials, but generally, costs are pretty low.
On the other side, music lessons usually cost between $20 and $60 per hour, depending on the instrument, location, etc. Of course, you can make your lessons more profitable if you organize group lessons. These kinds of lessons are great for both sides. Students will pay less and you will earn more – a real win-win situation.
Teaching In Student’s Home – Yes or No?
This is a tricky question. On one side, this way of teaching is not just more convenient for a student, but also very reliable. This is a very popular method among children, as parents usually don’t have time to drive and wait for their children to finish the lesson. Also, children usually feel more comfortable when they take lessons in their home.
However, there is a big downside as well – time and cost. First of all, you will waste a lot of time on transportation, especially if you have a couple of these lessons in a day, as you have to go from one place to another. Also, keep in mind fuel or public transportation costs, car maintenance, repairs, and more.
Teaching Online - Should You Consider It?
In today’s modern world, teaching online should certainly be considered an option for starting your music lesson business. Not only can you gain more students in the local area but also globally. In addition to earning a higher income, you’re also exposing yourself to other cultures allowing you to have a learning experience alongside your students.
Teaching online is also a great solution if a student is sick or not able to make their lesson. Instead of rescheduling lessons, you can just hold the lesson online and move forward as planned - no hassle! Plus what you and the student need to think about is are their instruments at home, good Internet connection, and a device that can be used for the lesson. Other than that, no travel is necessary! Although it might not be for everyone, it’s certainly an option and a plausible one too!
Payment Method and Terms
There are many ways of charging for lessons, one way is going on a lesson-by-lesson basis. This is the most common method and usually the most convenient for students. However, it can cause some trouble in the long run. For example, it’s not a rare thing to work with unreliable students who suddenly call to tell you that they won’t come just a couple of hours before the lesson starts.
To avoid potential situations like this, you can offer students to pay in advance for 10 or 20 lessons at a time. Of course, it’s best to offer some sort of discount in this case, but it is still far better than missing paychecks. Also, it’s suggested you create some kind of “cancellation policy”, in order to secure your paychecks from sudden cancellations, but also to ensure refundment for students who notify you in a timely manner.
All these aforementioned things won’t worth too much if you can’t gather enough students to make your job payable. Therefore, good promotion is critical. Practically, there are two main methods of promotion. The first one is more traditional and includes ads, flyers, and posters. The other one is an online advertisement.
When it comes to more traditional ways, sharing flyers on the street could help. Also, place ads on places where musicians are frequent. That would include places like an instrument and music shop, schools, bars, etc.
However, being online is far more important these days. Create Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube accounts. Advertise yourself, upload all kinds of media that are instantly viewable by thousands of people and you’ll increase your chances of getting new students significantly.
When starting a music lesson business, another very important thing you should consider is legal issues. You will probably have to get certain licenses, which can vary from state to state, town to town, and country to country. So, the best way to find out what exactly you need would be to go to the city or town office, though you could probably gather necessary information on the internet as well, and find out all the information that is required.
Another recommendation would be to open a business bank account. This way, you will make your tax filing much easier. It’s also a good thing to do because you will separate your personal assets from the company’s assets, which is highly beneficial in terms of personal asset protection.
Consider Related Business Partnership
If you plan to rent some space for your business, a great way to cut expenses would be to find a partner. For example, you can find someone who would teach another instrument, or you can find a related business partner. For example, musical instruments service and repair seems like a good idea. Also, consider expanding your business. You can invest in a recording studio, it seems like a perfect combination.
Those would be some of the key tips for establishing a music lesson business. Of course, you will find some of them more or less important, depending on your teaching ambitions. Still, keep in mind that all these things may be good for the business, but nothing replaces the quality. Commitment is the key and once people realize that you are a great teacher, they will talk about you more and more, and the word of mouth is still by far the best way to expand your business.