How to Become a Piano Tutor
If you’re a master piano player, you may be pleased to learn that you can leverage your learned skills and talents to start a piano tutoring business. Yes, you can become a piano tutor.
But what does it take?
How do you do it?
Do you need a business license to become a piano tutor?
Do you need to file taxes?
Can you run this business in your home, or do you need a commercial location for it?
These are all excellent questions. And in this complete guide, you’re going to learn everything you need to know about how to start your own piano tutoring business the right way.
Let’s dive into how to become a freelance piano tutor.
1. Prepare To Start Your Business
The first step in starting your own piano tutoring business will involve gathering lesson plans, coming up with a curriculum, and preparing for the process of how you’re going to teach students to play the piano.
It’ll also involve making a list of all the proper gear you’ll need to start your business.
You’ll also need to put together a business plan, set goals, and figure out how you will market your service.
Let’s walk through some of the details.
Choosing Curriculum And Creating Lessons Plans
You’ll need to develop a curriculum and lesson plan that you’ll use to teach your students.
If you already have a background in music education (like a bachelor’s degree or similar certification), then you may already have a leg up on this process.
But if you’re self-taught, you may need to learn a bit about developing your teaching skills before becoming a full-fledged piano instructor.
Here are some steps to help you with this process:
- Find a curriculum.
- Create a detailed lesson plan (different plans for all of the levels you plan to teach. Beginners will probably need a simpler curriculum than more advanced students.)
- Do some research to learn how to become a more effective teacher.
- Brush up on your music theory, and start printing out some sheet music to hand out to your students as homework.
- For best results, take on a few students pro bono at first to get a sense of what it’s like to be a music teacher.
Teaching a few students for free will help you learn how to give incredible piano lessons and will provide you with valuable experience. This experience is crucial in making your music school even better when the time comes to start charging for your piano teaching services.
Making Sure That You Have The Right Equipment
As you embark upon the process of learning how to become a piano teacher, you’ll also need to make sure that your piano studio is set up with the proper equipment to facilitate a structured learning environment.
Some of the most important pieces of equipment will include:
- A piano (acoustic or digital pianos will both work)
- A curriculum book
- Sticky notes to keep your place in the book (and highlight specific sections)
- Some erasable markers and erasable highlighters
- Some music note flashcards
- A pedal extender (if you plan to teach younger students)
- A metronome (for keeping time)
2. Cover The Legal Business Stuff
3. Figure Out A Location
Where you’ll give lessons is another crucial thing to consider.
You have four options:
- Your home
- The student’s home
- A commercial location
- Give lessons online via Zoom or some other online service
Regardless of what you choose, there are upsides and downsides to each of these options. What may work for one teacher may not be the best option for another.
Let’s review some pros and cons of each.
Giving Music Lessons At Home
If you plan to have students coming into your home for lessons, it’ll be a good idea to set up a dedicated lesson area where you can keep things organized. This separation will ensure that your private lessons remain structured and unencumbered by needless clutter.
The downside to this option is that you’ll need to invite strangers into your home to teach them.
The upside to this option is that it makes facilitating in-person lessons pretty convenient and straightforward. You don’t even need to leave home to go to work!
Giving Music Lessons At Your Students’ Homes
Traveling to give music lessons can be a great way to gain teaching experience if you don’t have your own dedicated teaching space. There’s no need to section off part of your home for the lessons, and you won’t need to invite strangers into your space.
However, it will require you to travel around a bit — which will cost more and take up a bit more time. You’ll also be going into other people’s homes, which can be too awkward for some teachers.
Teaching At A Commercial Location
You may be able to rent a room at a local music store or partner up with someone else to gain access to a commercial location.
This professional space can be beneficial if you don’t like the idea of inviting strangers into your own home to teach them piano skills. You will still need to account for the additional travel, though.
Giving Lessons Online Via Zoom
Giving online piano lessons can open up your services to a much broader audience. Using this method, you can teach students from literally anywhere in the world.
The only downside is that this technique lacks the in-person social component. Teaching things like timing, sight-reading, and other essential skills may be a bit tougher over Zoom.
But — it is doable.
And it might make it easier than ever to take your piano tutor hustle to the point where you’re doing it as a part-time job or even full-time as a primary source of income.
Making A Plan For Recitals
Recitals are another vital part of the piano teaching process that you’ll need to consider.
You may be able to rent a stage at your local high school for this. Or, you can schedule an online recital and invite people to watch via Zoom. Whatever works best.
4. Figure Out Your Pricing
Finances can sometimes be one of the more challenging parts of starting your own piano tutoring business.
How much should you charge as a piano teacher?
As a general rule, the average cost of a piano lesson tends to fall somewhere between $15 and $40 for a 30-minute class.
But these rates may be higher if you need to travel, if you’re offering up your own home as a lesson space, or if you’re teaching more advanced techniques.
5. Will You Need Insurance?
If you plan to give piano lessons in your own home, in students’ homes, or even at a commercial location, the odds are good that you’ll want to have both general liability insurance and professional liability insurance.
You may also need self-employed business insurance.
But some insurance companies provide dedicated music teacher coverage packages for this kind of thing.
Thimble offers a packaged product called Music Teacher Insurance that pretty much gives you everything you need to protect yourself from liability if something goes wrong, someone gets injured, etc.
What About Benefits for You?
As a piano tutor, you’ll most likely be embarking on your business path as a freelancer. Therefore, you’ll miss out on many of the benefits that employers would otherwise offer you as an employee.
There’s a ‘benefits gap’ for freelancers that can make it especially difficult to find healthcare options, dental insurance, affordable eye care assistance, etc.
Well, this is exactly what we do here at Gigly.
With an Alliance of Gig Workers membership, you can gain access to healthcare services, support for your small business, finance and legal resources, and even discounts that you can use to enjoy your time off (i.e., vacation time stuff).
You can learn more about how Gigly helps gig workers and freelancers with awesome benefits here.
6. Start Marketing Your Services
Learning how to market your piano tutoring business is going to be a challenge all its own! Let’s talk about a few things you may want to do to help you figure this out.
Create A Marking Strategy
There are many different methods that you can use to market your piano tutoring business.
For example, you can become a content marketing strategist and use content marketing (i.e., social media, blogs, podcasts, YouTube videos, etc.) for advertising your services and giving helpful tips to your audience.
Then, you can funnel potential leads to your website to sign people up for lessons.
Need some more helpful tips on how to grow your freelance business? Check out this post.
You can advertise your services locally by designing and printing out flyers, business cards, ads in the local paper, announcements on community boards, etc.
Use personal networking and word-of-mouth to help raise awareness for your services and sign more people up for your classes.
You can find local networking events on the Meetup app. You can even host meetups to help bring value to your local community and increase your business’s visibility.
7. Doing Taxes
If your piano tutoring business is a sole proprietorship, then you’ll need to file self-employment taxes.
If you decide to form an LLC, your tax situation will be slightly different.
It may take you a tax season or two to get used to doing taxes as a self-employed piano tutor.
But this is to be expected. It’s a different ballgame from filing taxes as an employee.
If you find that you’re struggling to figure it out, you can always hire a tax professional to double-check your work.
This can also help you to save money, as a certified tax professional may be able to help you find tax breaks that you would never have been aware of beforehand.
Check out this post to learn some of the tax advantages of forming a single-member LLC.
8. Stay Motivated and Build Your Business
It takes time, dedication, hard work, and a plan to make a business work.
But you can do it!
Building a loyal client base will require consistency. It’ll also require you to build the know, like, and trust factor with your clientele.
If you set your mind to it and stick with it, you’re bound to make progress. And once you start making measurable progress, you’ll know that you’re on your way to success.
The gig worker climate is on the rise right now. More and more people are breaking away from the ‘normal 9-5 job template’ to strike out on their own and become self-employed.
In fact, according to market statistics, freelancing is poised to represent the U.S. majority workforce by 2027!
Sure — at first, it may feel overwhelming. It isn’t always easy to start your own business.
But with time and experience, you’ll learn to grow accustomed to not only the challenges associated with being a freelancer but also the many advantages that this path has to offer.
So stick with it, chase your passion, and don’t give up. You’ve got what it takes.
In the ever eternal words of George Herbert:
“To him that will, ways are not wanting.”
Of course, nowadays, the phrase is usually reworded, albeit slightly:
There you have it.
The basics of how to become a piano tutor, pursue your music-teacher goals and knock it out of the park.
All that’s left now is to hit the ground running.
So take a moment, take a deep breath, summon up the courage to start—and make it happen.
It’s time to change your life and create your destiny.
Remember, you can join Gigly today to enjoy benefits designed for self-employed workers that support you and your business. Sign up today!