This article about raising your music lesson rates was written by Joanna Shiel. Joanna has been teaching for the past 12 years and currently runs an online piano school. She loves exploring nature spots, settling down with a good book and drinking hot cups of tea when it’s too cold outside. Her favourite dessert of the month is birthday cake.
Would you like to earn more money in your music teaching studio? In the piano teaching community, we’re often told “Raise your rates!” And, to be honest, you probably should.
However, raising your rates by itself isn’t necessarily going to be a quick fix. Before we dive in, let’s take a step back to see if your rates are underpinned by your studio’s value.
What you offer and what you charge are not the same thing. Ultimately, if you don’t come across as valuable to your piano families, then raising or lowering your lesson rates won’t change a thing.
If your studio isn’t seen as valuable, you could have the lowest rates in town and still have families asking you for a discount, giving you the runaround or not choosing you as a studio.
Think about something which you really value. It could be:
- A service you use
- Something you treat yourself to
- A class you take
- Something you do for yourself
- Some time you take for yourself
Now think about how much these things cost. Is there a correlation?
Here’s my list:
- I’m currently getting training in marketing for my business = $320 per month
- I’ve bought some nice loose leaf tea I love to unwind with in the evening = $10 for 500g
- I love to take hikes in nature every day = $0
Each one of these things is incredibly valuable to me. You could change the price of each one, and as long as each one remains valuable to me (and I could afford it,) I would happily continue investing the time and money.
The same is true in your music studio. If your piano families truly value your studio, then they won’t bat an eyelash if you’re raising your music lesson rates.
If you want to increase your rates and make more money, here’s a step-by-step guide to understanding your current business value, its perceived value, and what steps you can take before raising your music lesson rates.
Step 1: Your Music Teaching Studio’s Value
Before we start adding value, it’s important to assess where we are currently so we can shape where we want to go. There are 2 questions we need to ask here:
- What do we see as our value?
- What do others see as our value?
Your Value, According to You
In order to evaluate your own value, you need to have a good idea about the vision you have for your studio and who your ideal student is. Don’t worry! If you haven’t gotten that far yet, you might want to take a minute to check out this article about crafting your music teacher vision statement or this blog post about targeting the right kind of students for your studio.
Once you know what you want to treat as valuable, it’s time to start summarising where you currently offer value.
- Extra curricular clubs
- Repertoire selection
- Any apps or technology you use
- Performance and recital opportunities
- Exam preparation
- Newsletters or extra information you provide to parents
- Charitable events your studio participates in
- The fabulous games and interactive resources you provide
- Participating in professional development
- Any special training, qualifications or experiences you have
Can you think of any more? Let me know in the comments below ⬇️
Your Value, According to Everyone Else
Just because you consider something valuable doesn’t mean your studio families do, and vice versa – there might be something you see as ho-hum which they think is the bee’s knees. 🐝
Create a survey and send it out to your piano studio families. Turn this into a system and make sure this gets sent out regularly. I like to send it out after performances, recitals, and special events. You might even want to make these questions required on your yearly registration form.
This doesn’t have to be long – the shorter the better. Some great questions to ask:
- What do you like most about our piano studio?
- What made you choose our piano studio over another?
- Describe our piano studio in 3 words.
- What do you/does your child like most about our piano studio?
- What is your favourite activity in our piano studio?
- Could we be doing something better?
- What are we doing really well?
Can you think of any more questions? Leave them in the comments below ⬇️
Arrange regular face-to-face student reports with your studio families. This is a great opportunity to ask the above questions where you can really dig deep into their answers and find out what they really like and value about your studio.
Asking for reviews throughout the year can really be eye-opening. Again, asking for reviews at key points in the year – such as after a well-received performance or a fun workshop event – can be really revealing as well as beneficial to your studio marketing.
Reading Between the Lines
What are your studio families NOT saying? A lack of retention, poor practice habits from students and parents who don’t communicate with you can reveal a lot about whether or not you’re providing value in your studio.
Step 2: Boost Your Value
A good question to ask yourself: Does what I currently offer line up with who I want to attract and what my studio’s mission is?
If not, it’s time to decide on a few areas of improvement and a plan of action for adding value to your music teaching studio (and getting rid of what’s not adding value.)
Idea 1: Join the Vibrant Music Teaching Community
If you’re reading this, and not yet a member of Vibrant Music Teaching, then what are you waiting for? VMT adds great value to piano lessons with:
- Over 300 games (with new ones added every month!)
- A whole library of professional development
- Ready out-of-the-box curricula with step-by-step lesson plans
- Support and feedback from the global music teaching community
- And so much more!
Idea 2: A Little Pinch of This and a Little Pinch of That
Nothing is ever created in a vacuum. Lean into your piano teaching communities, social media, and your network for value-boosting ideas.
Is there anyone in your community you admire? What are they doing to add value? This doesn’t have to be limited to piano and music teaching studios; some great ideas can be found from other businesses.
Start following other music studios and schools on social media. Are they doing anything which would be a great idea for your studio?
Music teaching blogs are a goldmine!
Here are some great blogs to get you started:
- Colourful Keys by Nicola Cantan (you’re currently here!)
- The Unfinished Lesson by our very own guest blogger Rosemary Penner
- Compose Create by Wendy Stevens
- Top Music by Tim Topham
- Piano Pantry by Amy Chaplin
- Color in My Piano by Joy Morin
- Music Educator Resources by Jennifer Fox
Step 3: Toot Your Own Horn
By now, you should be really clear on:
- Your mission
- Your ideal students
- What your studio families value about you
- The value you already offer
- What you can add to create extra value in the right areas
Now (as we like to say when we turn our students to a particularly tricky piece of the music) comes the interesting part: We may have a lot of value, but do our current and potential piano parents know about it?
If people don’t actually see the value you provide, then raising your music lesson rates probably won’t be well received. It’s time to put some avenues in place where you can tout all the magical goodness of your studio.
Newsletters to your current families are great places to show:
- Your professional development
- Student achievements
- Upcoming workshops, events, and performances
- Share music and videos
You could send these as frequently as once a month, or as infrequently as a one-a-year roundup.
Is your music teaching studio on at least one social media platform? To start, I would recommend at least Facebook and a Google My Business page. Here you can display your value by:
- Posting student photos, videos or performances
- Running live events
- Interacting with your families by sharing news
Are you talking up students to their parents at the end of each lesson?
Sharing one positive comment on their progress to families by text, email or face-to-face is a great opportunity to share all the great things students are learning in lessons.
This is also a great opportunity to give them a game or book to take home.
If you have a music teaching studio, you need to have a website. Your website is a great place to put:
- A portal to your studio calendar (like My Music Staff)
- Videos of your performances or events
- Videos of your teaching
- Testimonials and reviews
A regularly updated website will sell your studio for you.
If you know your studio’s value but need help marketing it, there are loads of resources on Nicola’s ‘Studio Business’ hub page.
A Marketing and Check-in Plan
As you can see, showing your value is very much about being good at marketing your studio to both current and potential families.
- Create systems and processes in your piano studio to get regular feedback about your music teaching studio value.
- Set aside time to make sure your studio values are inline with what you offer.
- Plan how you’re going to market the value in your studio test to see whether your families are noticing this value.
Step 4: Raise your Rates
Now that you’ve assessed your current music teaching studio value, created some ideas and made a marketing plan-of-action, you can think about how you’ll know when it’s time to raise your music lesson rates.
Here are some signs which mean you’re probably in a really good place to make a rate raise.
Your Studio Is Too Big
You have too many students and you don’t want to expand to add other teachers.
Perhaps you’re teaching too many students who aren’t exactly the right fit for you studio, and you want to make space to attract your ideal students. It’s ok to raise your rates in order to earn more and have more time outside of teaching.
You’re Too Busy
Similar to the point above. If you find you just don’t have enough time in the day to plan for and teach all your students, then raising your music lesson rates could create more space for yourself and your current students.
You Provide a Lot of Value and Want Fees to Represent That
After this exercise you probably have a tonne of ideas you want to add to your studio. This can also mean that you’re working more. It’s important that your fees reflect the work you put into your professional development, lesson planning, and any additional extras like workshops.
You Have a Waiting List
Maybe you have too many students, and your waiting list is overflowing. This probably means that you’re high in demand, you’re a good quality teacher, and that you have lots of value to offer which your community knows about. Good job, raise your rates!
You Want to Give Back to your Community
Money is a great resource. The more we have, the more we can reinvest back into our communities. And music is such a worthy cause to invest in.
If you raise your rates by just 3%, how much could you then give as a bursary to a disadvantaged student?
Here’s another idea: If you have a lot of value in your studio, could you use that to secure funding for less fortunate students in your music teaching studio?
How will you add value for your students?
In the comments below, tell me one way you’re going to add value to your music teaching studio this year.