Music Production and Promotion Tips

Teaching Instruments: An Income for Musicians

Posted on | May 9, 2012 | No Comments

As you probably know, the world of music can be up and down, and for musicians, it can be a real roller-coaster ride, one day you’re making a months wages in a few hours at a gig and the next day you’re eating bread straight out of the bag. The point is that the money isn’t very consistent, and lots of musicians need to look to alternatives to make a steady stream of money, selling stock music is an option, as is busking, but what I’m focusing on in this article is the potential to produce an income teaching your instrument/s of choice.

Of course, it’s important that you’re a strong instrumentalist to do this! If you picked up a guitar for the first time a month ago you’re probably not ready to teach yet, but if you’ve been playing for years and years you can probably teach a beginner. In an ideal world, a music qualification such as ‘grades’ will make you an ideal candidate to teach somebody, but it’s not essential, and there are much more important skills, listed here:

  • Strong and confident communication. You need to be able to make your points clear to anyone you’re teaching, and to be able to put things in layman’s terms for them.
  • Patience. You’re not going to turn somebody into Jimi Hendrix straight away, and you’ll need patience just as much as they do.
  • Skills with your instrument. Of course, you’re going to have to be able to play well in the first place to translate your skills.
  • Knowledge of the correct terms and music theory. Don’t do a Phoebe and teach them the ‘claw’ or ‘crab’ as chords, teach your students by the book, without the quirks you’ve picked up.
  • Planning. You can’t just turn up and get going, you need lesson plans and a strategy for each student you have on your books.

If you tick all of those boxes, you’re well on your way, which leaves two questions; “How much will I make?” and “How do I promote my services?”.

As the old saying goes, something is only worth what people will pay for it. Through different towns, counties, cities and even countries, you’ll find a huge amount of variation when it comes to prices of lessons, and of course, the instrument has an impact (a more specialist instrument will probably cost more to learn, whereas guitar tutors are more common, leading to more competition). Look around local directories and run a google search to see what the competition is charging. I’d say, as a rule, you can probably earn around 2.5-3 times a minimum wage hourly rate teaching a common instrument such as guitar, and up to 5 times minimum wage teaching a specialist instrument. Of course, if you can teach ten hours a week at three times minimum wage, it can end up giving a steady income, and keeping you going when times get hard.

In terms of promoting your services, I’m going to put that in a whole new blog post, which will be coming very soon! Stay tuned, and leave me a comment letting me know how much you earn teaching an instrument, or if you’re going to start out soon.


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