the business aspects of teaching…

Rebekah said: Jun 1, 2008
Rebekah Hanson
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Suzuki Early Childhood Education, Viola
9 posts

I am currently a grad student teaching music lessons on the side; however, once I graduate I would like to grow my studio and teach full-time. Does anyone have any info or advice concerning starting a business, or issues with insurance or anything related that you think might help? Thank you so much for your time and help!

Connie Sunday said: Jun 2, 2008
Connie SundayViolin, Piano, Viola
667 posts

I have some information on the Violin/Viola FAQ which may be of help:

How can I develop a private teaching studio?

Developing a Studio Policy is one of the primary things you need. See:

What areas might be covered in a private teacher’s studio policy?

..which has links leading back to my policy.

I’ve been working on this a long, long time. In fact, one of the main reasons I started my pages online is so that other teachers would have some information, and they could avoid some of the mistakes and pitfalls I encountered.


Free Handouts for Music Teachers & Students:

Jennifer said: Jun 5, 2008
Jennifer Moberg
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
Dehbori Kabul, Afghanistan
71 posts

i agree with mishibuku!!

ALWAYS make your policies HARD AND FAST. no matter where you teach, no matter what the demographic or income level of your clients…. you have to set good policies about price, payment, makeups, absences, everything, and stick to them. otherwise, people will (willfully or not) walk all over you.

don’t compromise anything— if you want to be true suzuki, do it. if you want to require your parents to learn the instrument, make sure they get instruments before they start. make sure you start with a group class requirement, because if you don’t, when you do add groups people will think they can get out of it and it will be difficult for you to make them come.

there are a lot of threads concerning policies and start up— browse through the forums and you’ll find lots of stuff! if you want some personal experience you can pm me if you like…

“Music exists for the purpose of growing an admirable heart.”

Connie Sunday said: Jun 5, 2008
Connie SundayViolin, Piano, Viola
667 posts

I should add an addendum to the remarks on my webpage; some of the things I would like to add cannot really be put out there for the general public; they sound sort of negative and mean-spirited on my part. But a couple of the things that have, in the past, kept me from making a good living at teaching, and thus promoting my own professional growth. I think it has something to do with the distinction between having a viable business versus only being concerned with doing community service work:

  1. Thinking that when I moved into an area, the teachers there would welcome me with open arms, and help me. Sometimes they do but mostly they don’t. Why should they, really; I’m cutting into their income. Even the ones I gig with and see often won’t really help;

  2. Thinking that just because I think that I’m a wonderful teacher, that students will beat a path to my door, finding me by “word of mouth.” No. You have to advertise, in various ways, build a reputation, and work very, very hard to continue to develop yourself and your students;

  3. Thinking that if you acquire some good university credentials and lots of work with eminent teachers, plus a solid history as a player, that this will make people admire you all the more. No. It’s best to be and remain humble, let people discover your assets from other sources than yourself, and don’t tempt the gods with a lot of braggadocio. Not only will it not help, but people will dislike you. Some will resent you, anyway, even if you’re as kind and humble as a mouse, just based on what they know about your training.

A fourth point has to do with the lesson policy; no matter how close you think you are to a family or the students in that family, it is only normal for people to primarily be focused on their own interests and concerns, not yours. You cannot get by without having a solid lesson policy (to refer to, if there are any “misunderstandings”), though no matter how hard you try, someone will come up with something new to throw a monkey wrench into your plans, I swear. As my policy currently stands, I think I have most bases covered, but still, I need to add things like, lesson fees are due on or before the sixth of every month—even if your first lesson of the month is on the seventh. Even long term students will take advantage of that extra week—because they can. Such is human nature, alas.

These negatives of course do not apply to all people, and there are lovely people all along the way, who make up for the rest, but it pays to be worldly wise, just a little bit.

This is the best advice I could give to a new teacher. Remain calm, professional, kindly and soft-spoken, never speaking ill of anyone, but do not be surprised that other people do not follow the same path. It is guaranteed that many will not.

I certainly wish you well.

[Have your parents sign a separate sheet, stating that they have read and agreed to abide by, your policies. So if they don’t do what they’re supposed to do, you can refer to this.]

Free Handouts for Music Teachers & Students:

Connie Sunday said: Jun 5, 2008
Connie SundayViolin, Piano, Viola
667 posts


Does anyone have any info or advice concerning starting a business, or issues with insurance or anything related

Regarding insurance, you might want to look at what the AFM Local has to offer. Others issues are tax, security, privacy and investment. You don’t have to go back to school and get an MBA; a lot of books which teach all this are available on Amazon, and specifically through the Kindle:

in this way you don’t have to carry 500 lbs. of books around with you when you travel.

Free Handouts for Music Teachers & Students:

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