Eight Tips On Setting Up A Piano Teaching Business

Eight Tips On Setting Up A Piano Teaching Business

Piano Teaching Business

This is a guest post by Martyn Croston which originally appeared on his website www.musicteacherinfo.com

Starting any business takes a lot of perseverance and patience.

Some people compare it to bringing up a child or having a relationship – more often than not it’s a total rollercoaster!

But if you strongly believe and enjoy what you’re doing, it can be the most rewarding job in the world. Music teaching, like any profession, requires the right approach and strategy in order to succeed.

Here are eight factors you need to bear in mind when setting up a successful piano teaching business.

 start music teaching

1) Make sure you create a business plan

Before you plunge into the deep end and spend all your life savings on creating a top notch music studio, you need to bear in mind several factors which can have an enormous impact on your business.

How much competition is there in your town?

Do people have money for music lessons in your location?

Is there enough demand for lessons on your instrument?

Questions, questions, questions…

But very important ones.

While I believe you can make a success of almost any music teaching business providing you have the right marketing strategy, you should create a business plan to cover all the important issues.

2) Set up your studio correctly

Make sure you have a neat and tidy workplace for every student who comes through your front door. It creates the right impression and ensures you appear more professional and serious about your teaching.

Ideally, you should teach in a quiet room, where other household members won’t interrupt or distract your lesson. This will make it easier for you and your student to focus.

Enjoying this article and after more great content? Why not check out Tim’s heartfelt open letter to parents of piano students?

3) Make sure you have the right equipment

This also creates the right impression with your students.

Ensure you have a good computer, or tablet, with fast internet access so you can stream videos on YouTube. You’ll also need a good sound system for playing music, some music stands, and equipment specific to your instrument. Decide if you’d like your students to buy sheet music, or whether you’ll do it and invoice them for the bill.

4) Create your payment terms

Don’t be a soft touch!

This is my golden rule with getting paid. If you start being too flexible with payment terms, you’ll make things more difficult in the long run. I suggest asking your students to pay in blocks of 5,10 or 20 lessons in advance, rather than on a lesson by lesson basis. You could even offer a small discount to encourage your students to pay for a group of lessons. Make it clear that prices are subject to review on an annual basis.

Related: How monthly billing changed my studio forever

5) Create a cancellation policy

A well-constructed cancellation policy can save a lot of problems down the line if a student becomes unreliable and you start missing out on income.

Write a policy and give it to your student during or before your first lesson. If a student has paid for a block of lessons in advance it’ll make things easier as you won’t have to chase them for payment for missed lessons. Here’s an example….

Lessons are billed in blocks of 10 and the fee is due in advance (by cheque or money transfer). If you are absent, you will still be charged unless you give me 48 hours notice. This is to give me time to rearrange my timetable and give notice to other students. If you provide sufficient notice, I will make up the lesson at a different time. If I am unable to teach a lesson for any reason, I will make up the lesson (if not I will issue a refund).

This policy shows there is some compromise between you and the student. You are showing you’ll make up lessons if you are absent and they should give you sufficient notice if they are away. Failure to make this clear in the beginning can make people take advantage of you and this will hurt your income.

I know some music teachers who are very relaxed about their payment terms, but I also know others who almost never do refunds.

Just choose a policy which you are comfortable with, but make sure you are protected for any cancelled lessons at short notice.

Interested in how Tim Topham structures his own studio policies? Tim’s full policy is available to all members of his community for free. Save time and use it as a template for your own studio. Find out how to get access here.

6) Promote your business

So everything is in place. Your studio looks great, you have awell-writtenn payment and cancellation policy, and you have all the equipment you need.

Time to find those students!

Music teaching business

This is the hardest part and often where many music teachers struggle. It takes a big effort to get the ball rolling and find those first few pupils, as you need to get your name out there so people know about you and your business.

So do you sit next to the phone and wait for it to ring?

No way!

You need a solid marketing plan, one which you can work on each day. Consistency and persistence are the key elements here, as it can take time to establish yourself as the go to guy for music lessons.

Recommended: A guide to business and marketing for piano teachers

7) Avoid teaching in a student’s home (if possible)

I learnt this the hard way.

Years ago, I taught a few piano students each week while I was studying at university. I would finish my lectures and then drive across town to teach in their homes. And full of enthusiasm to start earning some money, I accepted every student who approached me for piano lessons.

On the positive side, my students were enthusiastic, reliable and eager to improve their piano skills.

However, I spent so much time driving to their homes and being stuck in traffic, that suddenly my rate per hour didn’t seem quite as good.

So frustrating!

Not to mention the lost money due to petrol and wear and tear on the car. Ok, so I was still a student, living at home with mum and dad. And it wasn’t as though I had a wife and two kids to support. But this experience taught me a valuable lesson.

Time is money.

If you spend 2 hours in total to teach a 1 hour lesson, it means you could teach 2 lessons in the same time if you did it in your own studio. It’s something you should think about very carefully as the amount of income you could be missing out on soon mounts up.

Of course, sometimes it can’t be avoided.

If you’re teaching a child, some parents want you to teach in their home so their son/daughter feels more comfortable. That’s understandable, but I would certainly increase your lesson fee if you have to teach in a student’s home, to offset the cost of gas and travel time.

8) Book lessons back to back

Another tip to show your professionalism is to always book lessons back to back, even if you only have a few students. Showing your students you are busy and in demand creates the impression you are a well respected and sought after teacher. This can help increase the chances you’ll gain referrals from your existing pupils.


What tips do you have for those looking to start a music business? Leave your thoughts below.

Martyn Croston

Martyn Croston helps private music teachers build successful businesses.

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Piano Teaching Business
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  1. Hi, I’ve purchased several things from your website in the past. I currently am trying to find out an average or ‘going rate’ for piano lessons in Qld. I’ve been searching your website for clues but can’t find any general information coming up to suggest you discuss such things on here? Many thanks.

    • Hi Clare. Great question. Are you a member of MTAQ? They have recommended hourly rates on their website. I’m also speaking at their AGM at the end of February if you’re interested in coming along. Hope this helps 🙂

  2. Hello ,
    I would like to know how I can create a business plan. I took a business class at school but I can’t remember any of it and not sure how a business plan is set up.
    Please let me know maybe in few words or if I have to pay to learn this somehow ket me know your price.
    kind regards
    Ms Nare Darpinian

  3. I went over this site and I conceive you have a lot of wonderful information, saved to
    bookmarks (:.

  4. I have got the link to this article in your email campaign. The site referenced in the text and bio of the author though tried to install malware to my machine. Tim, I hope you monitor these comments and will contact Martyn to avoid any further damage to your reputation as “musicteacherinfo dot com” was either hacked or purposefully turned into a scam magnet. Thanks…

  5. I appreciate, cause I discovered exactly what I used to be having a look for.
    You have ended my four day long hunt! God Bless you man. Have a nice day.

  6. This 8 tips looks interesting i did’t find any technical issue and it is very helpful for piano player. I appreciate it much.

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