Why are Piano Lessons so expensive?

My opinions on the matter…

As a piano teacher, I wonder sometimes how people can afford lessons. But when I see the cost of cell phone plans, cable tv, eating out, I wonder how people can afford those things too. I think it is a matter of priority. If the cost of lessons is such that you really, really can’t afford them, then ask what is more important, cable tv or piano lessons; eating out or piano lessons, etc.? Maybe you can make some adjustments so you can afford lessons.

Unless your piano teacher is someone — a housewife, teenager or college student are the most obvious examples – who is teaching just to make some extra income, then the piano teacher is probably making the bulk of, if not all of their income from teaching lessons. This means, in most cases, that they are self-employed. Unlike a typical 40-hour a week employee, a piano teacher has to pay 100% of their social security/medicare taxes, has no benefits (like health care). They will also be spending time away from lessons on administrative tasks (like tracking attendance, keeping track of payments, scheduling, etc.) that they deserve to be paid for too.

Although I have known a few teachers who had around 60 students each week (1/2 hour lessons) most teachers do not have that many. Even with that many students, that is only 30 hours a week, not full-time. So, unlike a typical employee, they are working fewer hours which means in order to make a full-time income, they have to charge more. From a teaching perspective, I would not want to teach 80 students a week. It is too hard to keep track of who is doing what and how well. Plus, how many students could I expect to get between 9:00 and 5:00p on a weekday? It is doubtful anyone could get enough students for full-time work. Even if they started later and ran later, working that type of shift is not ideal and not good for any sort of personal life (eg. families).

Playing the piano is not a skill that everyone has. To have the experience and ability to teach is a skill that even fewer people have. In addition to paying for a teacher’s time, you are also paying for their skills and experience. The more a teacher has been playing and the more they have been teaching, in theory the better a teacher they should be, at
least as far as all the ‘tricks’ of the trade go. So, the uniqueness of a teacher’s skill raises the price.

All of this to say that teaching piano is a business. I suspect that if enough students wanted to take lessons from a live teacher (as opposed to the very questionable online or video lessons that are available), then the cost would go down. Certainly if I had 50 students I could afford to keep the rate lower than the market rate for a bit longer before raising the rate.

Please avoid the temptation to shop around for the cheapest teacher, you probably will get what you pay for.

I teach lessons in Gainesville and Micanopy (close to Gainesville, Williston and Ocala, Florida). I’ve been teaching here for over 10 years and have been playing the piano since I was 8 (a long time ago). I currently have openings in Micanopy. (July 2011).

5 thoughts on “Why are Piano Lessons so expensive?”

  1. Good information. Lucky me I recently found your blog by chance
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  2. Awesome! Its actually awesome article, I have got much clear idea regarding
    from this post.

  3. Спрос рождает предложение, сейчас игра на фортепиано это для многих роскошь. Но это всего метод выживания учителей фортепиано, потому как основная их работа приносит копейки, свободного времени мало, поэтому много дополнительных учеников взять невозможно.
    Отдавайте своих детей в детстве в музыкальные школы и вопрос сам собой решится.
    [A rough translation via google:
    Demand creates supply, currently playing the piano is a luxury for many. But this is a method of survival for piano teachers, because most of them make a pennies, a little free time, so a large number of students is not possible.
    Give your child a child in music schools and the issue resolved itself.]

    1. Music in schools is definitely needed, even if school districts in the USA are cutting back music and not making learning piano in school an option. Even if a school still teaches music, group piano and group music instruction is never as good as individual instruction. Also, if everyone only learns piano in schools, then there are less piano students available for teachers to teach. So, taking piano lessons in schools hardly resolves the issue.
      [An automated translation from Google:
      Музыка в школе, безусловно, необходимы, даже если школьных округов в США сокращают музыку, а не сделать обучение фортепиано в школе вариант. Даже если в школе до сих пор преподает музыку, группа фортепиано и обучение музыкальной группы никогда не бывает так хорошо, как индивидуальные занятия. Кроме того, если все только учится фортепиано в школе, то есть менее фортепиано студентов для учителей преподавать. Таким образом, принимая уроки игры на фортепиано в школе вряд ли решит проблему.]

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