How much should I charge for music lessons (All Teachers)
Today I was asked by a teacher what is the national picture in terms of prices for music lessons & what can we learn from this.
I will try and answer it as best I can, first locationally, so as you can imagine nationally there is a difference in the average prices of lessons in the south-east, especially London, comparatively to an area like the north-east.
There are several factors for that, the obvious one is on account of economic prosperity of the different regions and regional variations of living costs. However, there is a second factor that is often overlooked when examining teacher prices – that not all teachers try to attract the same type of student. Specifically, when you look at a city like London you will find some teachers broadly in line with the “typical national prices” which are £20 to £35 per hour, those towards the lower end are often starting out and trying to attract high numbers of enquiries with low prices, while £28 to £35 is a more “normal” price for a typical teacher. These typical prices tend to attract the “typical student” – i.e. a guitar student who is learning as a hobby at a non-professional level.
However, it is also easy to find teachers who charge £65 – £125+ per hour. These teachers tend to be more frequent in cities like London and skew the data on lesson prices, but the truth is that they are appealing to a very different “student” – the professional musician student. For example, vocal coaches in London often work with west-end performers to help them maintain their voices through long show runs, equally session musicians keen to continue improving will seek lessons with “master teachers” who are naturally more expensive due to their status.
When I research lesson prices, as I do frequently, I am keen to actually split these two group up – since broadly the teachers I work with provide lessons for “typical students” rather than for “professional musician students”. I also try to examine different types of teachers – for example, a teacher who is interested in teaching three extra students a week after their full-time job as an additional income can charge £35 per hour knowing it is great if a student takes them up on the offer, while another teacher who is a full-time tutor might not risk going over the £30 mark to ensure they get the volume of enquiries through to generate enough overall income for it to be viable.
Once all of this is built into the model then the national picture is much clearer to understand, broadly typical lessons, taught by “typical teachers” in Scotland range from £20 to £30 per hour, North-East & North-West £20 to £28, Midlands £25 – £35, South-East & South-West £25 to £40. However, this needs refining when looking at each city, so Bath and Exeter are relatively quite affluent cities both half the size of Portsmouth. Nevertheless, their economic situations as cities means that Bath & Exeter can charge higher prices than Portsmouth and still generate more enquiries, while teachers in Portsmouth, even with a larger population, find that pricing is a far more sensitive factor in terms of enquiry generation.
So, in the end, the national picture, regional picture and indeed the piano teacher a few streets away can only inform so much about the right price for lessons due to the multitude of different factors. However, I can say that depending on a city prices of £22 to £30 per hour are entirely reasonable, even £32 to £35 if you think the market might be able to handle it – though as the price increases over £30 per hour it is likely that there will be an effect on enquiry numbers due to a % of the market not being able to pay for higher fees. If it were me I would charge between £28 and £30 per hour to try and generate a high number of students at a price point that I felt was right for the city.
Overall, our aim as teachers is to be 100% fully booked up and the highest price per hour we could be. This might mean that lessons at 10am in the morning might be 25% less than the peak time prices of weekday evenings – because actually getting a student at all at this time is great economically as demand is low & also gives an opportunity for individuals who might not be able to afford the higher peak time prices to come at other times at a price point that works for them. So I always encourage teachers to think about how they can be 100% fully booked up at the highest price point, which might mean a flexible approach to pricing taking into consideration market demands and behaviours.
My broad advice to teachers is to charge what they feel comfortable with, which would normally be somewhere between £25 and £35 nationally, then when they are almost at full capacity increasing the price of their lessons since the supply and demand have changed. By the same token, I recommend that all teachers have a flexible approach to pricing over time, so teachers reduce prices when they need a high influx of new students (for example in the early summer period) and then increase them when they are full. As long as a teacher stays focused on aiming to be 100% fully booked up and the highest price point per hour for the services, flexible enough to learn and adapt their pricing policy then they are on the right track – in essence, the actual price point itself is a moving target, but the philosophy behind it is constant.
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