If you’re a teen who plays piano, you may have considered taking up a career teaching piano lessons. After all, there are limited jobs out there for kids that aren’t fast food jobs.
Teens can most definitely teach piano. It’s a great way to learn about responsibility and entrepreneurship. Before you decide to start recruiting students, you’ll need to make sure you have a plan so you can be prepared for common mistakes new piano teachers make.
My first job growing up was teaching the piano at the age of 15. I had about 10 years experience learning piano by that time, so I felt confident enough to teach the most basic piano to children.
Luckily my older sister had been teaching piano so I had some help getting the business off the ground. Within two years I had over 15 students, which included the mother of one of the kids I was teaching. That made me a nervous wreck, but it ended up being a great experience.
Preparing to be a piano teacher
Teaching piano does require some preparation in order to have productive lessons for the kids.
Here are four essential things to do before you start recruiting students
1. Go to local music store
Spend your time looking through the different beginner books and finding one that you would enjoy playing out of if you started lessons over again.
I highly recommend asking for help from one of the employees and to get their suggestions on the best books to buy.
What I have found is best is getting two books that the students can use to learn songs and one theory book with worksheets. Only buy one set of books right now so you can read through them and know what you’re teaching before you get students. You’ll also want to buy some flashcards to practice with your students. You won’t need to get one for every student, rather just have them at your house so you can practice with them during the lesson.
When you do get your first student, go buy their books and either you can pay for it for you can have the student pay for it. It’s really your call, but I always would have them pay for it.
2. Create lesson plans
Run to your nearest office supplier and grab some folders and 3-hole punch paper. This is what you’ll use to write down what you want the students to practice at home.
Another great idea for motivating your students is buying a couple of packs of stickers so they can put on their songbook when they pass it off. Kids love stickers.
I also would include a month calendar in the folder and have their parents initial the days that they practiced. If they had a perfect month of practicing I would go buy them their favorite candy bar.
You can adjust these goals based on the student. Some may need easier goals to reach. Either way, it’s one of the best ways to get your students to practice, which can be one of the bigger challenges as a teacher.
3. Find where to teach
My first student lived a few blocks from my house. It would have been easy for me to go there and teach at their house but ultimately I decided to keep lessons at my house.
There are a few reasons for that.
- I could stack lessons for multiple students one right after the other without having to worry about traveling from one house to the next
- If I got students further away I would have to have one of my parents drive me since I didn’t have a driver’s license when I started
- Some of my students only had a electronic keyboard to practice, and when learning the piano, a real piano is best to practice on, so at least they could do that during piano lessons
If you do teach at your house make sure you have a good environment to teach.
- Please have a clean house. It doesn’t seem like a big thing but it makes a difference. I had a teacher when I was young who had a minimum of 6 cats living in her house and it made it difficult to practice with cat hair everywhere
- Make sure the place is quiet. Ideally you want the room you’re teaching in to be empty during the lesson. If you can’t have a quiet room during the lesson, you may want to consider teaching at the child’s house.
- You need enough space. If you stack lessons like I did, there may be some overlap between students. I had two students who were siblings. Their grandma brought them to my house and stayed for the duration of the lesson each week. Luckily we had two couches in the room and it was easy to accommodate the extra people.
4. What to charge
I taught piano in the early 2000’s. With about 10 years piano experience I started charging $30 / month. Now that I look back, I can see that was a good bargain.
In fact, now that I look online, I can see that not only is that a bargain, but it’s almost a steal for the parents. Lessons by experienced teachers can cost $30-$60 per LESSON (not per month like I charged).
Now, we know you’re not an experienced teacher, so you’ll need to remember you need to stand out by undercutting the competition. Parent’s will know you’re a child and don’t have a lot, if any, of experience.
But when they see you charge 1/4th that most teachers do, you’ll find there is a huge market and you’ll start getting lots of students.
I’m not saying you need to charge $30 / month, but take a look at what other teachers in the area are charging so you can come up with a better deal.
As a note, lessons should last 30 minutes. Anything longer and you’re going to be fighting for the kids attention.
So if you’re doing the math right, if you charge $30 / month and do four thirty-minute lessons per month, you are making $15 / hour as a teenager! You can’t do that at Mcdonalds. Now, add multiple students to that and you’ll have a busy after school schedule.
The best part is you are in charge on how busy you want to be. I ended up having more than 15 students, and had to split up lessons at different times/days so I could still have time for homework and hanging out with my friends. Look at that, we’re making $15/hour and we get to choose our own schedule!
Finding students to teach
As a teen, you will have to go above and beyond to gain the trust of your student’s parents.
Parent’s want the best for their kids and if they see you as immature or unprofessional they won’t hesitate to find someone else to teach their kids piano.
Here’s the best place to find kids to teach
- Family – If you have family that lives close by that has kids, they’re probably be a good option. One thing to note is it’s a lot harder teaching someone close. As a dad, I have tried and tried to teach my son piano, and I ended up having to have a neighbor teach him.
- Neighborhood – This is the ideal place to look. Make some flyers and go knock on some doors around your neighborhood. If no one answers, leave the flyer with your number on it.
- Consider advertising on your local facebook groups for your municipality. This didn’t exist when I taught, so this method has been untested by me, but I imagine you’d get a lot of great feedback
All you need is one student. It’s a numbers game. The more you do of the steps above the more changes you will get at one student. When I started teaching, I had to get about three of my students. The other 12 came from referrals from the students I was teaching.
If you do a good job, the student’s parents will notice and will gladly recommend you to their friends and family. You might want to consider asking them directly if they know anyone who might also want to take lessons.
Teaching piano as a teen can be a great experience. You learn how to run a business, manage a schedule, communication skills, and make money while you’re at it.
If you prepare well enough, you can become a successful piano teacher. You may experience “Imposter Syndrome” which is that you feel like you aren’t qualified to teach. DO NOT LISTEN TO THOSE FEELINGS. If you feel confident playing the piano, you should feel confident teaching.
I wish you good luck as you begin your new journey as a piano teacher!