Do I need a licence to teach piano?

As a piano teacher, you may have wondered if you need a license to teach piano. While this requirement varies by location, there are some things to consider before you start your piano-teaching business.

In the United States, by law, one should have a business license to teach piano lessons privately out of the home. It has nothing to do with your qualifications in the music industry; it is more about profit, tax, and some zoning laws.

In this article, we will discuss several possible requirements for starting a piano teaching business from home.

  • Business License
  • Opening a Business Bank Account
  • Piano Teacher Certification

Business License

If you plan on starting a business, it’s best to do your due-diligence in regards to necessary licenses and permits. By doing this you can avoid costly fines and/or penalties.

Start by looking into each level of government in your jurisdiction: Local, State, and Federal.

Your local municipality may require to provide additional parking spots, or purchase liability insurance for the business since household insurance does not normally cover incidents incurred at a place of business.

Here is a great resource to determine if you need a business license and how you can obtain it.

Open A Business Bank Account

Always separate your personal assets from your business’s assets. It’s always a good idea to separate your personal and business funds.

When your personal and business accounts are mixed, and if your teaching business isn’t registered, in case of a lawsuit, you can lose your business and your personal assets like home and car. So, opening a business account separately and acquiring your piano teaching business license protects your business and you in more ways than you can imagine.

You can easily keep track of income and expenditures, make tax deductible purchases for the business (where applicable), etc.

A separate business account and its license builds your piano teaching business’s credit history, which is very important if you want to grow your business and raise money later on.

Music Teacher Certification

A ‘Music Teacher Certification’ guarantees that the teacher has all the skills and knowledge to teach music. It’s not required to teach piano, but it helps provide validation to future students that you are qualified to teach. However, to have this certificate, completing an undergraduate program in music or a related field is necessary. 

It qualifies you for the certification and teaches you the basic principles of music education.

In the undergraduate program, you need to have a solid understanding of four major components.

  • Music History: Why do we have to know about music history if we know how to play the piano? Understanding its history helps us see through the eyes of composers. How music was written, how it has evolved, and how today’s music relies so much on the building blocks of past music.
  • Composition: Can you pick out the melodies and different notes just by listening to the music? This is immensely important to become a certified piano teacher. You have to understand and analyze the music and its whole composition by ear. When it comes to teaching piano, if you aren’t an expert in putting together different notes to make a musical composition, you won’t be considered an expert. In fact, it would be tough to get music teacher certification, because melody, harmony, and rhythms are the basics of composition which you teach to the students.
  • Performance: Before receiving the certification, teachers have to prove that they know the interpretation of the notation and expressive elements. This is probably the first thing piano teachers teach their students and tell them how to interpret music symbols. Other than interpreting music symbols, there are many other factors that play an important role in performance, like articulation, tempo markings, and different patterns. We know most of the things that come in performance aren’t included in the piano lessons, but as a professional piano teacher, you need to know them to get a certificate.
  • Pedagogy: Pedagogy is the method of teaching music, especially as an academic subject. For certification standards, demonstrating knowledge in teaching musical instruments and their keynotes is required.


Obtaining a license to teach piano can be very beneficial. While it’s not normally required to become a certified piano teacher in order to teach private lessons, it will separate you from the competition as a qualified teacher.

You may also want to consider getting a business license if required by law in your jurisdiction. Please consult a business attorney for further direction.

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