I hear these complaints from private music teachers all the time:
“Music lessons are such a low priority in the family budget, I’m the first extra-curricular to get dropped.”
“Parents today just don’t see the value in music education – I constantly lose students to sports seasons. Why do the baseball teams get to dictate practice times, but I don’t get to dictate lesson times?!”
“Some enquiries are obviously price-shopping for lessons. They don’t even care if I’m a good teacher!”
Are you ready for me on a soap box?
When you charge a premium rate for your music lessons, you can solve all three of these complaints. How?
Music Lessons Are Not A Priority In The Family Budget
When lessons cost $140+ a month (or whatever the appropriate scale in your area), you will instantly weed out ANY prospective students who don’t really value music education. Worried about families who legitimately can’t afford it? In my opinion, It’s much better to have a high base rate for your lessons and give scholarships to committed families in need. In fact, if you are charging enough for your lessons, you will be able to take a financial hit on one or two deserving families and feel good about it.
Families Don’t See the Value in Music Education.
Guess what? The value people see in your lessons is directly related to how much you charge for them. (See this article I wrote for Musicianwages.com). If a family has paid a premium for your awesome lessons, they may be willing to let Johnny skip a hockey practice or two.
Where I live, Community Ed sports have really crummy scheduling practices. They don’t let families know the schedule until a few weeks or days before hand. Sometimes they cancel or reschedule practices and families have to scramble at the last minute. Honestly, I marvel that anyone signs up!
But remember – if Community Ed sports cost a heck of a lot less than your lessons, families will be less willing to miss the expensive lessons they’ve paid for!
Oh price shoppers. In reality, the pityable price shoppers don’t know what they are looking for in a music teacher, so they latch on to price and can’t let go. When you have one of these misled souls on the phone, you have a unique opportunity: You can propose the shocking idea that curriculum, personality fit, and quality of teaching might be more important considerations than price (gently and sweetly, of course). And if what you have to offer in that department resonates with them, they will want to know more about you. If you can craft a short speech to show the value that you offer for your price, you will hook some of them. And the ones you don’t hook? Trust me, you don’t want to teach anyone who is going to quibble over your lesson rates.
<Steps down from soapbox.>
If you’re struggling to answer the question, “What should I charge?” consider signing up for my online class The Happy Studio when it launches this spring. One of the sections is designed to help you figure out the right answer for you!