Teaching piano, violin or voice lessons doesn’t have to be a risky career path – making a steady income as a piano teacher CAN be done. I’ll show you how in this article.
⬆️ Listen to the podcast above or keep on reading, whichever fits your style. ↙️
If you’ve been stressed out by a yoyo-ing income (who wouldn’t be!) or you’re just trying to plan ahead so you can start saving for rainy days, I’m here to help. We’ll start with some foundational elements and then dive into the rock-steady logistics.
Steady Income Foundations
Before you steady your income as a piano teacher, you’ll need to put some business sub-structure in place. There is simply no way to steady a ship built from pudding, so I highly recommend you consider each of these 3 income foundations.
Income Foundation 1: No Weekly Payments
If you’re still taking payments for each lesson at each lesson – please stop.
No high horses here, trust me, I get it. This is how I started too.
But if you’re doing this right now you need to know the impact it is having on your business.
When parents pay you at each lesson, it sends the message that they are paying you just for those 30 minutes of your time.
They’re not, actually.
They’re really also paying you for the admin time you spend outside of lessons, the planning you do to make that lesson great and the professional development time you spend reading blogs (like right now!), watching webinars and listening to podcasts.
Again, no judgment here. Many of us go into music teaching as a little hobby. When you’re ready to see yourself as a professional, you need to charge for lessons by the month, term or semester.
Income Foundation 2: Allow for Sick Leave and Holidays
We recently wrote a detailed explanation about how to allow for sick leave and/or holidays. If you’d like another perspective, Wendy Stevens has also written about the topic.
Go with whichever system makes a good deal of sense to you…but have a system!
We can be jealous all we want of those who have jobs with paid holidays and sick leave. 💚
But the truth is that the cost has been allowed for in their paychecks and taxes. The only part we should be envious of is the fact that someone else organised it for them.
All we need to do to stop that envy is put on our grownup trousers and get it sorted. Do it now. 😬
Income Foundation 3: Ditch the Makeup Lessons
Ah, my favourite soapbox. I’m not getting off until we all disembark from the make-up train. (Sorry, not sorry.)
Just like charging by the week, make-up lessons tell parents and students that your transaction is simply time for money. And that’s just not the truth.
On top of that, if make-up lessons become a regular thing for you, you literally cannot make a steady income as a music teacher. Like, by definition you cannot.
Get. Off. That. Train. 🚂
You can find help with these and even more business basics on my Studio Business page, which is regularly updated with the latest and greatest resources.
Steady Music Teacher Income Systems
If you’re someone who doesn’t mind making different amounts some months and is good at general money-management, you can stop here.
But if you want to create a truly rock-solid steady income system for your music teaching business, keep reading.
Find Two Hats
As a solo music teacher, you are wearing two different hats.
You are the owner of your music teaching school – even if you only have 2 students right now. But you’re also the main (or only) music teacher in that school.
Let’s picture your 2 personas: one with a top hat and one with a mortarboard.
The top-hatted business owner needs to pay the mortice-boarded teacher. You need to pay you.
Make it Automatic
The process for setting up your steady income is simple:
- Open up a separate business bank account if you don’t already have one.
- Set up a direct debit from your business to your personal account to go out each month or fortnight. The last Friday of the month is standard for many but, if you have trouble budgeting, go with every 2 weeks instead.
- Don’t spend money from your business account on your personal life.
- Don’t spend money from your personal account on business expenses.
The bigger challenge here is the mental shift you need to make: Your business’s money is not your money. They are not the same.
If you’ve been treating your business like a hobby and mixing it all up in a big melting pot, this will be a hard habit to break. But it’s worth it for the clarity and control you will gain.
Just remember to take one step at a time and be kind to yourself as you go. ❤️
Do you make a steady income as a Piano teacher?
I’d love to hear your thoughts on managing money and budgeting in the comments below.