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making a living (Read 16862 times)

Offline jeff

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making a living
« on: January 23, 2005, 09:21:10 AM »
i was talking to my dad about what i might do as a career after i finish university, and he said "i don't see how you can make a living from just private piano teaching". so, how do you teachers here make enough money to live comfortably? (do you teach in institutions, have a spouse to help support you, charge huge amounts of money, have mafia connections..?)

Offline rhapsody in orange

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Re: making a living
«Reply #1 on: January 23, 2005, 01:43:23 PM »
My teacher does piano and theory teaching as well as occasional performances as well as accompaniment. Maybe those are things to consider as well =)
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Offline Brian Healey

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Re: making a living
«Reply #2 on: January 23, 2005, 04:03:23 PM »
Well, say you have just 10 weekly students and you charge $50 per hour (which is about average). That's $500 a week, and $26k per year. While it won't get you on "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous," that's a liveable wage. On top of that, like Rhapsody said, most teachers have other income coming from performances and things of that nature.

That was also considering just having ten students. Most full time private instructors have more than ten. My first piano teacher had about twenty students and she charged $60 per hour, which according to my math, comes out to $62,400 a year. Not bad if you ask me.

Peace,
Bri

Offline ChristmasCarol

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Re: making a living
«Reply #3 on: January 23, 2005, 05:49:08 PM »
Sigh,
How many million dads have said to their musician children that you can't make a living as a musician?  You can bet that it is a dad who is not themselves a musician.  So good for you asking the question here.  Of course you can make a darn good living.  Just like any career you have to do the research, get the experience, find a good area where the demand is high.  I can't take all the students that are coming my way.  I like balance, so all my eggs aren't in that basket.  There are teachers in my area who are teaching 55 students and are still turning them away.  There's group lessons, children's classes, higher paying adult lessons, of course playing out, etc.  Would your father be happy with a range of $25-75,000 a year?  Betcha!

Offline Mayla

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Re: making a living
«Reply #4 on: January 23, 2005, 07:42:26 PM »
.
"The greatest thing in this world is not so much where we are, but in what direction we are moving"  ~Oliver Wendell Holmes

Offline pianonut

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Re: making a living
«Reply #5 on: January 24, 2005, 12:56:52 AM »
before you leave the university, check out getting a double major.  it's much cheaper now since you probably have already gotten the requirements out of the way.  musicians can actually be quick at math.  if you don't like this idea, check out computers, art, history, languages, design (landscape/interior).  i know this may sound a bit divided, but i've found over the years that i enjoyed teaching piano for say 8-10 years and then said "i never want to hear the doorbell ring again."  so i took a hiatus and did sewing design work (sewing everything from birdcage covers, computer chair covers, couch covers, you get the idea).  when i combined the two incomes i made the most.  when i only did one or the other i was more sane (having one and then two children - i was staying up until 1:00 in the morning sewing and then teaching piano mostly on sundays instead of during the week).

you know what else i did, is tutoring.  i got a two year tutoring certificate and taught reading.  pianists can do a lot of things to make money, and piano doesn't have to be the only thing, unless you are needing lots of practice time to perform. then, i suppose, it's different.  i'm saving that for my later years  :)
do you know why benches fall apart?  it is because they have lids with little tiny hinges so you can store music inside them.  hint:  buy a bench that does not hinge.  buy it for sturdiness.

Offline pianoannie

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Re: making a living
«Reply #6 on: January 24, 2005, 02:20:37 AM »
Well, say you have just 10 weekly students and you charge $50 per hour (which is about average). That's $500 a week, and $26k per year. While it won't get you on "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous," that's a liveable wage. On top of that, like Rhapsody said, most teachers have other income coming from performances and things of that nature.

That was also considering just having ten students. Most full time private instructors have more than ten. My first piano teacher had about twenty students and she charged $60 per hour, which according to my math, comes out to $62,400 a year. Not bad if you ask me.

Peace,
Bri

Bri, I have to disagree with your optimistic outlook.  Your piano teacher did not "earn" $62,400 per year, even if s/he did take in that much.  Firstly, your number assumes a 52-week year; most teachers I know teach between 40-46 weeks per year.   Secondly, you didn't take any expenses into account.  Examples: business insurance, music books, frequent piano tunings, office supplies, recital expenses, teaching aids, studio rental unless you teach at home, professional organization dues, awards/trophies for students, teaching videos, computer equipment, music software, accountant fees, etc.  Now, a teacher may not incur ALL of these expenses, but certainly many or most.
Then of course taxes eat up a lot of income; here in the US taxes approach 40% for self-employed people (who pay not only federal, state, local, and FICA tax, but also an additional self-employment tax.)  Also consider that most company-employed individuals receive a benefits package that includes at minimum health insurance, and usually dental, vision, life, disability also (these benefits would cost our family about $1500 per month if we paid it ourselves; fortunately my husband's job provides these benefits).  Also consider that most employed individuals have some type of retirement plan through their employer, as well as paid holidays and vacations.
What I'm saying is that a piano teacher bringing in $xx is earning FAR less than a company-employed person who earns the same figure.  It's not apples to apples.  Where I live, piano teachers simply do not earn enough to make much of a living;  they certainly don't get $60/hour.  Where I live, piano lessons run $20 to $40/hour.   So let's calculate $40/hr for 20 students (taking 1-hour lessons) which would be a pretty full-time job, considering prep time.  The math on that would give us:

$800/week, 50 weeks = $40,000
Expenses: conservatively say $3000 (could be MUCH more)
Health insurance: conservatively say $5000 (ours is MUCH more)
Income is now $32,000 gross
Taxes would be several thousand, so you might end up with a net income in the low $20's.  And this was all based on unrealistically optimistic figures.  And this does not provide a retirement plan.  Retirement may not seem important whatsoever to a college student (it certainly didn't to me) but it most definitely is.

I'm sorry to sound so incredibly discouraging; I believe mine is a contrasting yet realistic perspective for you to consider along with the other posts.  Of course I do know that the market for piano teachers varies greatly from area to area; your location may provide piano teachers the ability to earn a better living than my area does. 

Offline pianonut

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Re: making a living
«Reply #7 on: January 24, 2005, 03:14:41 AM »
yes, piano annie has good points about the actual income vs the way it looks.  was just watching a tv show about designer homes and in the netherlands there is a large houseboat designed to be like a real home that might save one on property taxes.  i suppose the house might float around a bit and you may end up somewhere completely different in the morning unless moored.

bartering used to be a good tax break until it became part of the tax code.  i thought that maybe i'd barter piano lessons for whatever profession or services, but now it's out, too.  how does one save these days anyway? does anyone actually have a retirement?  even my dad says he'll probably never retire.  i think one of the best things you can do for your health insurance is to stay fit.  and, obviously for car insurance, drive as safely as you can.  also, i still think buying a house is a good investment.  of course, the best investment, i think, is the faith investment.   
do you know why benches fall apart?  it is because they have lids with little tiny hinges so you can store music inside them.  hint:  buy a bench that does not hinge.  buy it for sturdiness.

Offline Brian Healey

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Re: making a living
«Reply #8 on: January 24, 2005, 02:54:00 PM »
Damn, pianoannie, way to be a buzzkill..........


You certainly have a point about expenses, taxes, etc., but those points are true of any profession, not just piano teaching. Obviously, the "actual income", or net income, will be less than what I stated, but when you're talking about gross income (which I was, though I didn't say so), you're just talking about all money coming in without regard to expenses and taxes.

The point of my post (which you so carefully dismantled  :)) was that you can very much make a living out of teaching an instrument (not just piano). I know plenty of people that do it successfully, and I myself make decent money doing it, although I don't have to rely on it as a main source of income at the moment.

I guess location is another factor to consider.

Peace,
Bri

Offline ChristmasCarol

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Re: making a living
«Reply #9 on: January 24, 2005, 03:08:21 PM »
You want to know how to be successful, ask a successful person.  I encourage you to take a good look at the lives of the people who are giving you advice.  Do you want the same things they have?  I still hold staunchly that doing what you love is the greatest investment you can possibly make.  I have worked in finance, worked in corporate retail, nightclub pianist/singer for ten years, managed a volunteer symphony, raised three kids, etc., etc.  Now I am teaching and making good money, don't want no stinking health insurance - it's the worst deal in history as far as I'm concerned (and before anybody says I'm lucky I don't need it, I have invested a lifetime of knowledge and natural healthcare remedies in my own body and my children's, and that is why we don't need it.)  All the expenses you mentioned are not taxed.  Then there's the time available to you for walks, playing the piano, being with friends, taking a vacation any darn time you want to, lack of stress on your body from resentment and pressure, the satisfaction of watching others begin to express their musicality, etc., sleeping late, learning from your students, and on and on.  It's a great gig really.  And you don't have to retire from a job that you like.  Retirement is not all it's cracked up to be.  Personally I plan to be a busy old fart, don't want to sit around with no goals, no productivity.

Offline allchopin

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Re: making a living
«Reply #10 on: January 24, 2005, 05:15:10 PM »
Annie:
Behold the power of compunding interest on investments... retirement saving is made easy on the figures you created.  Let's say you are making a hearty $32,000 a year.  Assuming you start at the ripe age of 25, you invest $200 a month at 8% interest annually (this comes to a total of $2400/year).  Before you can say 'geriatrics' at age 65 you've saved over $530,000.  This is 550% return on your money, of course excluding market turns and inflation (and of course that you can crop up $200 a month).
If youre still paranoid, stop by the Kwik-e-mart daily and pick up a lotto ticket  ;).
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Offline pianoannie

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Re: making a living
«Reply #11 on: January 24, 2005, 06:19:17 PM »
***, pianoannie, way to be a buzzkill..........


You certainly have a point about expenses, taxes, etc., but those points are true of any profession, not just piano teaching.

Yes, the taxes are true of any profession (which is why I said "not only federal, state, local, and FICA, but also self-employment tax."  Sorry if that wasn't clear.  But major expenses aren't a part of most professions.  My husband goes into work, and everything he needs is provided--office equipment, computer, office supplies, professional journals and reference books.  When he needs to go out of town, all expenses are paid.

I didn't mean to be a "buzzkill." (that's a new term to me!  I guess it's what we here would call a "kill joy.")  ;)  Jeff was asking for opinions; he got several.  I do wish I'd had a  more realistic perspective on financial matters when I was making my own career plans.  Don't get me wrong--I love teaching piano.  But I can't imagine supporting myself and my three children without my husband's income and benefits.

And to whoever said health insurance is not necessary---I am happy that you are healthy and feel secure in your healthful lifestyle.  But illness, serious health conditions, and eventually death will find us all.  My husband lived an active and healthy lifestyle, so when he nearly died of a massive heart attack at age 35 everyone who knew him was in absolute shock.  He was not expected to survive; if he did somehow survive, the doctors said he would likely remain in a vegetative state.  His medical bills ran into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.  You better believe I was wondering how in the world I was going to have enough income to support our family, with 3 children age 7 and under at that time.

All our jogging, weight training, healthful eating, vitamins, growing our own organic vegetables----didn't mean we didn't need health insurance! (and life insurance and permanent disability insurance).

BTW---my husband beat all the odds and today is healthy, both physically and neurologically, and employed fulltime.  But my experience has certainly given me a perspective that I didn't have back in college.
(and you thought my previous post was a buzzkill!!)  ;D

Offline pianonut

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Re: making a living
«Reply #12 on: January 24, 2005, 07:02:46 PM »
i wonder if it sort of adds up to what risks you want to take at what ages.  piano annie is right about unforseen events.  that is quite scary, having a husband have a heart attack at 35.  this world is very stressful on both men and women.

we spent fortunes on health insurance and coverages that (in looking back) if i was willing to take risks in my 20-30 year range, i would have been better to invest or save that money. 

But, it is a RISK.  i don't advise it so much as you get older and have children.  there are many risks to childbirth, toddler accidents, definately need a dental plan, etc.  BUT to SAVE UP and get things rolling...you need some money to start saving.

My husband broke his shoulder and had to have shoulder replacement surgery in his 50's.  That was more expensive than i imagined, and yes, piano annie is right about being covered on unforseen events.  I guess it's a fine balance.  if you are employed by a company, it is much easier on your stress level than balancing all o f this yourself.  We've done it both ways, husband being self employed vs. working at a company.  Thankfully, we're both very flexible, and sort of roll with the punches.  Taxtime is fairly exhausting when you work for yourself.
do you know why benches fall apart?  it is because they have lids with little tiny hinges so you can store music inside them.  hint:  buy a bench that does not hinge.  buy it for sturdiness.

Offline Brian Healey

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Re: making a living
«Reply #13 on: January 24, 2005, 08:56:00 PM »
Quote
But I can't imagine supporting myself and my three children without my husband's income and benefits.

Well, therein lies the rub, so to speak. I wasn't thinking in terms of a "supportive" income, but mainly as personal income. I completely agree that it would be very hard to support a whole family on piano teaching income. When you're at that point in life, that's where your spouse comes in, with a second income (unless of course you are a single mother or father).

The point of my original post was based around supporting oneself. For example, I'm pretty confident that if I quit grad school today and decided to focus on teaching as a full-time job, I could support myself comfortably (not extravagently by any means, but comfortably). The keyword here being "myself." I only say that because the fact that I'm still in grad school and having to turn students away (because of school-related time constraints) while charging $50 per hour indicates to me that the demand is there in my area (Louisville, KY). I guess I should have acknowledged my assumption that I was talking about making one's "own" living. When you start talking about supporting a family, things obviously can get hairy if you're relying on piano teaching as the sole income.

Let me return to the example I gave earlier about my first piano teacher. She is a single woman (at least she was at that time), with no kids, and was making approximately 62k per year, by my calculation (more or less). Even when you take taxes and expenses into account, that's a more than comfortable income for one person! However, if she had a husband and family, I'm sure they would be relying on both incomes to make it work.

Peace,
Bri

Offline pianoannie

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Re: making a living
«Reply #14 on: January 25, 2005, 12:25:19 AM »
I only say that because the fact that I'm still in grad school and having to turn students away (because of school-related time constraints) while charging $50 per hour indicates to me that the demand is there in my area (Louisville, KY). I guess I should have acknowledged my assumption that I was talking about making one's "own" living. Peace,
Bri

Wow Bri---I'm amazed that you're able to charge $50 an hour while you're still in college!  That floors me.  My own teacher has a masters degree and 20 years experience, and charges $40/hr, which is the highest paid teacher around here that I know. (interestingly, I live only 2-3 hours away from you!)  I am willing to pay $40 for an advanced teacher, because obviously being a piano teacher myself, I highly value the instruction and consider it part of my ongoing education (and let's not forget it's tax deductible!)  ;D  But most parents here would choke at paying that much for piano lessons for a child.  Some choke at my fee, and it's quite a bit less than $40!  I do feel like I've pretty much maxed out my fee for what parents will pay for beginner/intermediate lessons.
I'm glad you're able to do better in your area.

So Jeff, what are your thoughts now that you've had a variety of opinions?


Offline jeff

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Re: making a living
«Reply #15 on: January 25, 2005, 06:26:41 AM »
thank for the replies guys, keep going if you have anything else to add

So Jeff, what are your thoughts now that you've had a variety of opinions?

hm.. i think i'm going to work on figuring out a bunch of things i could do in addition to teaching that would bring in more money. i'd like to do more than just one main thing in my career-life anyway (as many different things as possible really).

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: making a living
«Reply #16 on: January 25, 2005, 11:07:57 AM »
I think we're missing the point, making a living on music isnt about money. Musicians should not care about money. Any musician who takes on music as a profession and aims to make money is going to have the most nightmarish life ahead of them. Music is one thing you cannot force, you either make it or not, you have to make the audience, or students like you, if you cant do that you will go no where. And they will naturally like you if you express a natural and sincere love for your music.

If you want to be a professional musician then consider yourself taking a job with very very little pay.  It is not a rich job, and it isn't easy to grow and expand. You would do it because you MUST do it, it is on your mind all the time. This is hard for parents to accept i guess. My father wanted to make sure i would make enough money to live with, so i was very much encouraged to do concerts which do often pull up to 7-8 thousand in pocket a night.

There is a lot of money to be made if you are a peformer and you can sell tickets to your concerts. A great deal. But there is a lot of planning and smart advertising and exposure you have to work out. I find i cant really do more than 1 concert every 2 weeks, because of the planning required. I set up all my cocnert by myself, ring the halls, go to them and book a date.

You have to do it yourself, there is no business out there which will help you set up concerts and sell you tickets, well there is if you want to get a manager, but i dont think it is a good idea to get a manager until you know how to manage it all yourself!

If you are a very sucessful piano tutor and can train people effectively and well, you can build an entire career just on that. I do know piano teachers in my city who teach 40+ students a week at around 50$ an hour each and earn a killing just from their own living room. But that is a lot of dedication. I teach personally 15 a week which is, for me, a pretty big load ontop of my own concert preparation/study, but that keeps consistient income to deal with bills here and there.

I would stay definatly start sharpening your teaching skills, because that is what all musicians have to fall back on to make a living. Like ive said many times, living off concert peformances is a very very very very very hectic and fast life. Very tough as well, because balancing accounts (money spent on setting up concert/ money made on ticket sales) has always pressure on you. A big concert hall can set u back 2000 before you even sell your first ticket. so, makeing a living off concerts is a risk in itself, it doesnt matter if you can play you need to sell tickets and you need to make people want to come see you again. yeah...
"The biggest risk in life is to take no risk at all."
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Offline ChristmasCarol

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Re: making a living
«Reply #17 on: January 25, 2005, 07:54:15 PM »
It was I who said health insurance is bogus.  You see,  your quote "But illness, serious health conditions, and eventually death will find us all. " is the premise of all insurance.  Insurance is a bet against a negative outcome.  Excuse me for noticing but insurance companies are making a killing on all the people who pay them and don't need it.  I am sorry to hear that your husband had a tough time.  I just don't agree with the logic that says because some people get very ill sometimes then we will all be secure if we have health insurance.  For me, and I'm just saying for me, security comes with knowledge and awareness.  And you didn't even begin to touch on the resources I rely upon.  In my humble opinion serious joy, good health and life find us all too.  I'm just weary of the same ole statements being made over and over.  The number one cause of death is treatment in hospitals...  Modern medicine is in serious need of an overhaul.    You want good health, start studying for yourself.  Listen, really listen, to everyone around you with what they have learned.    There are some doctors who are angels on earth, but they are so incredibly few.   I had a very good friend have a valve replacement that has been a miracle for her.  I am not opposed to good medicine, just the idea that "they" are all doing a good job and will take care of us all until death... it ain't happening.  Okay, I'll get off my bandwagon now.


Offline pianonut

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Re: making a living
«Reply #18 on: January 25, 2005, 08:15:12 PM »
dear lostinidlewonder,

thank you for the professional guidance in how much it takes to be a concert artist.  for me it's the dream vs. reality.  i don't think i'll make it to your caliber, but i would like to join up with other pianists who have similar pianistic skills to mine and do a combined concert (possibly duets as well) and share the money.  maybe sometime i'll be confident enough to go alone, and i hope it happens, but you make me realize the work involved (not counting practice time).  i see what you mean.  ps.  how do you find concert halls?  are churches more available to the average pianist like me?  how much do they generally cost?  do you always need tickets, or can you make out pretty well on donations at the door? where are good places to advertise a piano concert?  can you just put an ad in a local paper?  where would you locate it?  how good do you have to be, and who determines it, when you seek to advertise at a better concert hall?  what happens when you play a piano concerto?  do you have to pay a portion of the 2-3 thousand dollars back to the orchestra or the hall?  how much is the most you have made on a piano concerto performance? i know this sounds very personal and is probably not appropriate to my level YET, but when i am in my late fourties and early fifties i am hoping to be good enough to play a concerto every six months...to start.  do you think this is feasible?  would you stick with the same conductor/orchestra, or try to vary where you play?  how does this affect the comraderie of the whole thing? 

about insurance, i agree with both piano annie AND christmas carol.  maybe it's just a matter of keeping up with as best an insurance plan as you can, and not worrying.  worry does cause health difficulties, and i agree about being joyful (sometimes despite circumstances).  i've found that whenever my life gets about the worst i think it can get, if i don't lose patience, it soon remedies.  someone once told me (when i completely lost it, went outside of church and just stood looking at the trees) this is only "one moment in time."  ever since, i say OK. maybe it's one moment, one day, one step...but don't give up.  and, especially for music.  like idle wonder says, if you MUST be a musician, and music is on your mind all the time, you may as well put up with the stuff that goes along with it.
do you know why benches fall apart?  it is because they have lids with little tiny hinges so you can store music inside them.  hint:  buy a bench that does not hinge.  buy it for sturdiness.

Offline pianoannie

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Re: making a living
«Reply #19 on: January 26, 2005, 12:16:24 AM »
It was I who said health insurance is bogus.  You see,  your quote "But illness, serious health conditions, and eventually death will find us all. " is the premise of all insurance.  Insurance is a bet against a negative outcome.  Excuse me for noticing but insurance companies are making a killing on all the people who pay them and don't need it.  I am sorry to hear that your husband had a tough time.  I just don't agree with the logic that says because some people get very ill sometimes then we will all be secure if we have health insurance.  For me, and I'm just saying for me, security comes with knowledge and awareness.  And you didn't even begin to touch on the resources I rely upon.  In my humble opinion serious joy, good health and life find us all too.  I'm just weary of the same ole statements being made over and over.  The number one cause of death is treatment in hospitals...  Modern medicine is in serious need of an overhaul.    You want good health, start studying for yourself.  Listen, really listen, to everyone around you with what they have learned.    There are some doctors who are angels on earth, but they are so incredibly few.   I had a very good friend have a valve replacement that has been a miracle for her.  I am not opposed to good medicine, just the idea that "they" are all doing a good job and will take care of us all until death... it ain't happening.  Okay, I'll get off my bandwagon now.



Oh Carol, I can agree with some of what you're saying.  Surely you understood that I was not being a doom and gloom person when I talked about everyone eventually becoming ill.  I was merely refuting your implication that eating right etc is a sure defense against any and all health problems--maybe that's not even what you meant, but it sounded that way.  And of course life has joy and good health too.  ;D  I never said or implied it doesn't.

 :) :D ;D (this is pianoannie being happy)  :) ;D ;)

   But as Jeff was seeking opinions on the ability to make a living from piano, I believe (and so would most) that having one's self and one's family covered by health insurance should be taken into account.  I don't think it's good advice to tell Jeff "hey don't worry about having no benefits as a piano teacher--insurance is just a rip off anyway."
   What happens (in the US at least) is when people don't have insurance, and then they have major medical bills, it's the rest of us who pay, through our own insurance premiums and taxes.   ::)  I'm curious what you would do if you or one of your children (if you have any) were diagnosed with cancer, or needed an organ transplant, or fell off a roof and broke your spine, or some such event, and your medical bills approached a million dollars? (I'm not being mean or accusatory, I am truly curious).  Would you forego treatment if you couldn't personally pay for it? (actually I don't think you could choose that option for a child, so the result would be that taxpayers covered the bill).
   I'm not saying that every doctor everywhere is totally ethical and competant, but I could type all night discussing diseases that used to be a sure death sentence, that now are very treatable, due to medications, surgeries, and other medical procedures.  If you believe that medical advances have not improved health, longevity, and quality of life, I would vehemently disagree.

Offline ChristmasCarol

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Re: making a living
«Reply #20 on: January 26, 2005, 02:09:32 PM »


Oh Carol, I can agree with some of what you're saying.  Surely you understood that I was not being a doom and gloom person when I talked about everyone eventually becoming ill.  I was merely refuting your implication that eating right etc is a sure defense against any and all health problems--maybe that's not even what you meant, but it sounded that way.  And of course life has joy and good health too.  ;D  I never said or implied it doesn't.

 :) :D ;D (this is pianoannie being happy)  :) ;D ;)

   But as Jeff was seeking opinions on the ability to make a living from piano, I believe (and so would most) that having one's self and one's family covered by health insurance should be taken into account.  I don't think it's good advice to tell Jeff "hey don't worry about having no benefits as a piano teacher--insurance is just a rip off anyway."
   What happens (in the US at least) is when people don't have insurance, and then they have major medical bills, it's the rest of us who pay, through our own insurance premiums and taxes.   ::)  I'm curious what you would do if you or one of your children (if you have any)
I have three children - two boys and a girl. were diagnosed with cancer - Cancer is the absolute number one thing I would NOT go to an allopathic physician for.,  The rate of succcess with Cancer treatments is mostly in the asset column of the finances of your local Oncologist.  I'm not sure this forum is the place to describe all the things I would do... you're welcome to look at my website www.intuitiveworld.net and see what some of the things I would do are.  or needed an organ transplant - Organs don't shut down without lots and lots of warnings, if one is aware of warnings before disease happens, or fell off a roof and broke your spine - would definatley go to an orthopaedic surgeon - and pay for it myself.   or some such event, and your medical bills approached a million dollars? (I'm not being mean or accusatory, I am truly curious).  I raised three children to adulthood without health insurance most of the time.  The oldest is now a chiropractor.  When one of my sons broke his arm, the doctor's first question (an internist) was how much does he weigh?  I said - no drugs, his body is in shock and he is not experiencing pain.  When the orthopaedic doctor showed up he agreed.  The arm was set and we went home with a kid who didn't have to deal with some junk in his body on top of the bone break.  Would you forego treatment if you couldn't personally pay for it?   Of course not.   My point is that I have educated myself and been on top of my own and my family's bodies and know what to do when they are out of balance.  Now that's health insurance!
(actually I don't think you could choose that option for a child, so the result would be that taxpayers covered the bill).  In truth most of insurance monies goes to the elderly.  This nation has been trained to expect a sickly old age.  The majority of money is spent on the elderly that goes into health insurance. 
   I'm not saying that every doctor everywhere is totally ethical and competant, but I could type all night discussing diseases that used to be a sure death sentence, that now are very treatable, due to medications, surgeries, and other medical procedures.  If you believe that medical advances have not improved health, longevity, and quality of life, I would vehemently disagree.
Well it's been reall, but I'm thinking that this ia a piano forum and we digress.  Email me if you want and I'll discuss this til the cows come home.


Offline pianoannie

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Re: making a living
«Reply #21 on: January 26, 2005, 02:46:03 PM »
Carol, yes maybe we've digressed a bit from the direct subject of piano, but I think it's been a worthwhile discussion, for those involved currently as well as others who may stumble upon it in the future.
You are obviously a well educated person regarding health and nutrition, and I thank you for sharing your perspective.  I feel we have both given Jeff and others some worthwhile points to consider.  :)

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: making a living
«Reply #22 on: January 29, 2005, 09:27:54 AM »
i don't think i'll make it to your caliber....

My caliber? yeah well... yeah its this big, really it is. it is almost as big as that really huge fish i caught. this big it was, huge! :) I would be an unemployed bum i reckon without my music so it is just more of a necessity for me. If I can make a living off it, that is more fortunate than anything else i guess but there is an aspect of hard work just like in any other profession. U just need to work hard and on a right path and then you can get anywhere you want, you dont need a magical gift or anything. 

how do you find concert halls?  are churches more available to the average pianist like me?  how much do they generally cost?  do you always need tickets, or can you make out pretty well on donations at the door? where are good places to advertise a piano concert?  can you just put an ad in a local paper?  where would you locate it?  how good do you have to be, and who determines it, when you seek to advertise at a better concert hall?  what happens when you play a piano concerto?  do you have to pay a portion of the 2-3 thousand dollars back to the orchestra or the hall?  how much is the most you have made on a piano concerto performance? i know this sounds very personal and is probably not appropriate to my level YET, but when i am in my late fourties and early fifties i am hoping to be good enough to play a concerto every six months...to start.  do you think this is feasible?  would you stick with the same conductor/orchestra, or try to vary where you play?  how does this affect the comraderie of the whole thing? 

Finding the concert halls isnt hard. You have to take the initiative to go actually there and get information on booking fees (for the venue and ticket sales, often they will take a portion of your ticket sale, if you sell them yourself privately you should be able to neglect the fee or reduce it at least.), hiring staff like lighting techs, front of house, ticket sales etc. Best to choose a place where they do have these people at your service, they do cost money, usually around 20-100 an hour per technician, it all varies. But it is a nightmare to find and then hire private technicians to work for you, i would avoid that.

There is a lot of money to be made, but my experience is from solo peformances. With an orchestra or group you are then splitting money around the place i dont like that. I think i can make more money by myself so i just do solo peformances, they are easier to control and organise as well. Big scale concerts I have recieved 8kAUD, playing as an act in a variety concert I have made up to $300 per piece (5mins or so). But to make money up in the 8k+ you are looking at 800+ seat halls. I make a rough estimate of about 10$ made from every ticket, so 100 seats =1K so on. But i have had expensive tickets for 28$ sell as well, in that case you make about 25$ per ticket sold, but you have to have good reason and a good selling point if you are going to make people spend more than 20 for a ticket.

The ticket pricing is an artform in itself it is very hard to say how much money a concert will make you, you have to consider what other shows are happening near your own, if there are big events people wont want to come to yours because they pay money for other events. Also you dont know how many people will ring up the box office and order tickets. Dont ever rely on that to sell tickets, you will almost always fail. That only works if you have fame on your side, and not all of us are blessed or cursed with it, however you want to see it.

I dont do them all the time mostly for a few reason, one because they are much less intimate, smaller concerts to me are much more enjoyable, but mostly because they are expensive. You are very much out of pocket to start out with. Recently a 820 seat hall cost me around 2k, but that was after negotiation. Without negotiation i would have to pay extra for this and that, the grand piano on stage, tuning etc, and ticket booking fees which is very important to discuss. Usually they should not take more than 3$ Australian out of every ticket sold, otherwise that is just greedy robbery. Usually its around 2$.

There is more to it than just having ur music ready to play. In the end you have to sell enough to break even, then you want to leave with money in pocket. How you plan on doing that has nothing to do with how well you can play a piece. It is about how well you can sell yourself. You have to go to senior citizen centres and play for them, sell cheaper tickets to them. I went to a Yoga Club, with a group of about 100 mostly older people. I played popular relaxation music for them, Claire De Lune, Moonlight sonata etc, i should have got some water running in the background and played with no expression and i could have made a relaxtion CD you see in the 2$ shops :). But in the end, there and then, 30,40, tickets sold. Thats easy money now. Getting up, playing a few peices for free then getting all these people ordering tickets from you. it is a good feeling. So lots of free exposure peformances are important, the more the better. You just have to ring these places, talk to them, tell them you are doing a concert in the area and you want to give them a free taste, if they want tickets then you can give them a big discount. I haven't really got any no's from people when i ask, do you want free music demonstation and a discount on a concert event. It costs them nothing, they are obliged to nothing and you get warm up practice for the big event playing for a smaller public audience, that in itself is worth a great deal.

Go to schools and promote the event. Play at their assembly and offer the school a discounted price on the tickets. Give away a great deal of your tickets, fill the seats, you dont want it empty.

Give free tickets with a nice invitation to improtant people (people in the local coucil for instance, music teachers - other piano teachers, where you can give them a few tickets to bring their favorite students or family with, offer them cheaper tickets if other of their piano students or friends want to come see.) and very essential invite the newspapers, local and major.

Aim to get them to do a story on your peformance. The local papers should be very happy to do so because they are always hungry for a story and if they are even invited to the even it is something special, the bigger papers however may or may not be interested, but there is no loss sending them 2 free tickets and an invitation to your concert.

Go to local radio stations and talk on there, often they have local concert event news or something, they might let you talk a little bit about whats happening. That is scatter gun advertising i know, but i have had people come up to me post concert and said they heard me on the radio that is why they are here. If it gets one person at least thats worth it.

Posters are very important. Spend a day just covering the town or city with it. You have to go to a printing place to get copies done. I usually can get a rate of 300$ for 1000 copies. 1000 is excessive yes, but you can reuse them for future concert projects. I simply made stickers that i could put over the posters that had the info. Extra posters might be good to take to schools or places you are promoting yourself. I took 100 with me to a primary school once and they where all taken in seconds! And then they all ran up to me asking for signature, what a mistake to start signing them! But the point was, they would take those back home and the parents would see it and whoever else. Its the exposure, letting people know its happening.

After all this exhausting work, wait till next year and go do it again. You will find as you keep repeating the same thing every year it gets easier and easier, and the number of people actually calling the bOx office to order tickets increase. your name becomes better nkown, and people anticipate your return (that is if your playing was good and you where entertaing in what you said to them during the concert). Again, if the people dont like you, you have no hope. If they love you and love what you are sharing and peforming, then you are on the right path.

I get a headache just thinking about all this now. i think ill go sleep.
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Offline pianonut

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Re: making a living
«Reply #23 on: January 29, 2005, 10:38:11 PM »
dear lostinidlewonder,

thank you for the lengthy and informative reply!! as soon as my son gets clip-mate up, i will print it out.  it will certainly be an enormous help to my "risky business."  that's why my pseudonym is pianonut.  i am a "p-nut" in the big fish world, but i may make a little splash and at least make my teachers glad that they spent so much time and effort during lessons to teach me the really neat tricks that they use to get good fingerings, good sound, good movement (or less movement), and feelings.

i am stuck on the last one, feelings.  i have been mulling over this as not just a word with one meaning.  i am looking for between the lines, under the lines, over the lines, and telling myself this is a defining moment in my p-nut career.  it will either break my shell (i won't care what i do from now on - feelings, or no feelings)  or i will have so much feeling that people will say "she could paint a picture with her music" (like they say about words) and flock to my concerts (even if i play the same repertoire several nights in a row).

congratulations on the poster signings and the ease with which you are now levelling into 36-40,000 ft.  (like a 310 airbus) cruising.  i don't envy because you are making me realize how MUCH work it is.  exhausting really.  and i admire the persistence.  must be a LOT of discipline, too, to tell oneself what to do next.

i just don't want to be watching my whole life.  i want to play, too.  i am not getting any younger, so i say, (and friends do too) take more risks.  not dangerous ones, just push more to achieve what you sit and dream about.  and, yes, i don't think that someday you'll get it by dreaming.  i do think that certain things have been miraculous in my life, tho.  like finding certain teachers.

 
do you know why benches fall apart?  it is because they have lids with little tiny hinges so you can store music inside them.  hint:  buy a bench that does not hinge.  buy it for sturdiness.

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: making a living
«Reply #24 on: January 30, 2005, 03:36:28 AM »
Heheh , making a little spash :) That is what i prefer, small scale intimate concerts, where you can have 100 or so sitting around your piano and ask you question and requests. This is what music is all about i reckon. I see old paintings of Chopin hosting a concert and you see everyone sitting on seats around him, not in the dark on a stage, these intimate engagements are better than playing on TV to 10 million people i reckon.

One thing that i kept to heart when i do my concert is the memory of the composers and their lives. What a magical world it is, the drama, the love, the source for inspiration for their God given music.

When you read about the composers lives, and what happened during their lives when they composed a particular piece you play, it is like you are playing a part of history. The notes are like a legacy left behind from the composer, and the "feeling" and emotion the peice insipres is like a recording of the composers own inner self, their human observation of the magical or horrifying world we live in.

No one can train themselves to appreciate these things, it is just a natural free gift of sound. It is given to those who play and listen to music. The thing about the playing side is that we get so caught up in the physical that we neglect this mystical part of the music. If you can delve in this part of music then i think concert peformance is for you no matter what level of play.

To be a concert peformer you dont have to be able to play incredibly hard music. Those type of concerts play wild music is like going to a big Destruction Derby, you know where cars smash and destroy things. It is very big, fast exciting, the emotion insipred is exhillerating, fearsome sometimes. But on the other hand you can also do a concert full of pretty, calm, soothing music. This is where the art of choosing what pieces to play, what pieces gel together nicely through sound and story comes in and it in itself a life long training. I still attend concerts of famous and nonfamous pianists alike and the music they choose is very bias sometmies to the musical educated, not the general public. I mean imagine playing all of the debussy Preludes for a concert? Yeah sure many of them are nice, but a lot of them are much an aquired taste.

I did do a concert full of singular pieces from composers. Not entire movements or anything like that. I did get ripped apart by some critics who wanted much more of a structured concert, but i got lots of thanks from people who didnt know much about music. It gave them an overall taste of what music was about, which was my aim. I know the general audience, like 90% dont know much about classical music, in Australia at least. 90% are happy, 10 are not, it is better than being academically right, satisfying 10% and making the general public shrug their shoulders at the music and clap loudly when you finish so they can go home. Although nowadays i do play at least one full work in the program, just to keep people happy.

You will find feeling for music is intensified by your use of speech to your audience. Someone who can speak very well and clearly and be entertaining will highlight the effect of their music wonderfully. For instance when i played the Gaspard de la Nuit Ondine, i did tell them about how the water spirit ondine and the man she is in love with dive into the water and reach the underwater castle, i played that section before i started the piece. Then i told them about how when Ondine is denied the love of the human she cries, i then demonstrated the single note playing sadly. After 3 mins or so of talking about the Ondine story i start playing. Even people who have never heard the peice will have some parts to anticipate and then nod and say, oh yes that makes sense i can hear that.  If i said nothing and played, they probably would say, wow that is nice but what does that mean to me? It is your responsibility to help your audience make that emotional connection to the music, that is what they need from you probably more if not as much as the music you actually play.
I have discuessed this argument with many people, and i have had thrown in my face that MUSIC STANDS ALONE. The enjoyment of music doesn't need someones own opinions and ideas on what it means. I just disagree with it, i love music a great deal, it is my whole life, but if i go to a concert where the musicians say nothing, i really think maybe i should have stayed home and listened to this on CD. It is just as dead as that! That is what i think anyway. I think i relied on my prepared speech as well as ad lib and quick thinking to hold my concert together more than my playing. I remeber i was talking about the poverty some composers lived in, and then as a joke how musicians are all poor and need money. I got money thrown on stage at me, and i said, well if you want me to take my top off you need to throw more than that. So they did lol.
Concerts should be about fun, some are really entertaining even for the peformer.
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Offline pianonut

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Re: making a living
«Reply #25 on: January 30, 2005, 04:59:00 AM »
dear lostinidlewonder,

you remind me, in the way you speak, and your understanding, a lot of my current piano professor.  he's young, concertizes a lot, and always looks rested.  can you explain that?  he played a concert after staying up all night the previous night, and it went very well.  (i could not do this, i would lose all concentration)

ok here's my late summer recital (before i take the world by storm, or simply fall off the earth pianowise -self destructing after a little concert)

scarlatti's sonata k.119
mozart's c minor fantasy k.475
brahm's A major intermezzo (2nd)  why does it sound minor?
barber's nocturne (dedicated to john field)

this is a rather simple program.  i also have learned bach's english suite #4 and a beethoven sonata, but where to put?  does my program look ok. the way it is.  what would you speak about from what is there?

i must learn more about barber because i am in barber territory.  his house is not far from west chester university.  everyone knows everything about him (imagine). do you know something unusual that they might not?  or about john field and their relationship?  sorry to ask so many questions.  nevermind about all of them.  i know i need to do some research at the library (i rely on the internet too much).  i think i should visit barber's house and learn a bit from the locals.  who knows, maybe a barber still lives here?
do you know why benches fall apart?  it is because they have lids with little tiny hinges so you can store music inside them.  hint:  buy a bench that does not hinge.  buy it for sturdiness.

Offline Mayla

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Re: making a living
«Reply #26 on: January 30, 2005, 05:42:58 AM »
.
"The greatest thing in this world is not so much where we are, but in what direction we are moving"  ~Oliver Wendell Holmes

Offline pianonut

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Re: making a living
«Reply #27 on: January 30, 2005, 05:50:55 PM »
dear mayla fox,

thank you thank you for the response.  you know, i think i still have time to learn it, if i put my head to it.  and, it would be appropriate as you say.  they are both dedicated to her (his landlord's wife) and i'm not sure if the relationship was ok or if mozart was referring to their busybodying by the implication of a door being unlocked, someone peeking in (and possibly stealing manuscripts) (the beginning of the fantasy is, to me, a paranoia that mozart is starting to have about his privacy, about his music and copyrighting/stealing, and making a living without the door opening and shutting so much (and people knocking) disturbing his creating/composing.

you  know, in the sonata, i really hear the forming of beethoven's mind.  the freeness of composition that mozart was getting into.  i'm so happy to have met your aquaintance and also idlewonder.  the experience and source materials that you know about are superb.  i will print your message,too. 
do you know why benches fall apart?  it is because they have lids with little tiny hinges so you can store music inside them.  hint:  buy a bench that does not hinge.  buy it for sturdiness.

Offline Mayla

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Re: making a living
«Reply #28 on: January 30, 2005, 06:22:36 PM »
.
"The greatest thing in this world is not so much where we are, but in what direction we are moving"  ~Oliver Wendell Holmes

Offline ChristmasCarol

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Re: making a living
«Reply #29 on: January 30, 2005, 06:45:38 PM »
I had to scroll up and remember what the heck the subject was.  Oh yeah, making a living.   ::)  Ah ya gotta love musicians... such a creative bunch.

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: making a living
«Reply #30 on: January 31, 2005, 03:48:49 AM »
dear lostinidlewonder,

you remind me, in the way you speak, and your understanding, a lot of my current piano professor. he's young, concertizes a lot, and always looks rested. can you explain that? he played a concert after staying up all night the previous night, and it went very well. (i could not do this, i would lose all concentration)

I reckon if you live in your music,  life is rather "rested". If sad things happen it gives you the energy to fuel sad music in your repetiore, likewise if good things happen it fuels the music of happy nature. Seeing this in connection with God furthermore adds to the carefreeness of some musicians because meaning of life circulates through God and music and people. Since your relationship with God and Music can be done just by yourself, this sets up a retreat from this hectic world for many of us.

As for staying up all night before peformance, yeah thats wild eheh. Unless he is on some good gear lol, or just psyched up for the event. I usually have a nanny nap before concerts, settles my nerves. ;)


ok here's my late summer recital (before i take the world by storm, or simply fall off the earth pianowise -self destructing after a little concert)

scarlatti's sonata k.119

mozart's c minor fantasy k.475
brahm's A major intermezzo (2nd) why does it sound minor?
barber's nocturne (dedicated to john field)


Scarlatti, mozart, is hard to play and be remembered for. These are can be played horribly boringly or not. You really have to have some good ideas to offer if you want to make it "interesting" to listen to. Would be great to hear a recording of your playing because you can play these at a fantastic level.

I dunno if the audience could stand listening to the Sonata in C minor as well. It is a little Mozart over kill. I think most of the people will be ready to sleep, mozart has that effect on your state of relaxation, it puts the brain in an Alpha state, of heighened awareness or something like that, read it somewhere lol.

I feel you need definatly a piece to wake them up. It seems too much on the yin, you need yang. Some brute force, something to wake them up. The mozart has its moment, so does the brahm's, but overall the general feel to all the pieces is very relaxing. I don't know if this will make people leave the concert feeling like they have seen something impressive. It is a little empty to say this, but people do sort of go to concerts expecting to see something special done at the piano, seeing some virtuosic, exciting pieces. It doesn't have to be over the top hard, just something with a more overall energetic feel to it. I think that would be a good balance.

Choosing overly noisy/impressive repetiore, constantly crazy keyboard acrobatics actually annoys people after a while and definatly looses its appeal and wow effect. You have to be stingy, but not too stingy that they only hear soft delicate stuff all the time. You cant blast them away with loud wild stuff too, they must be given windows of brilliant playing, so that they anticipate it. So you really have to find a good balance, what pieces though, up to you to choose, but i really think replace scarlatti or mozart with something more energetic. Thats just what i think, in piano solo concerts you need to have a "wow" piece.

What to speak about your pieces and composer is utterly personal. I personally feel that your research should effect how you play a composers peice, so the emotional attachment you make on the stories of their lives are very important. You have to just research and pick out what you find is interesting and worthwile and what will highlight what you play in your music. What i usually do is get a tonn of notes from the internet and library/uni resources and then read through them for a few weeks jotting down interesting anecdotes of composers lives and their music. It's really simple, just get ur ass into gear ;) Barber is definatly good to play since hes a local, so what you can say about him can relate to changes that where happening in America at the time, that can paint a sentimental picture for your audience to relate to.
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Offline pianonut

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Re: making a living
«Reply #31 on: January 31, 2005, 08:52:11 PM »
thank you both for your replies.  it is truly like cooking.  some days everything is ready at the same time, and other times one or two items just don't complete cooking.  i am scared to take on anything more than the scarlatti and mozart (substituting something else) because they are "in my fingers."  but, i think i will take a chance and see what i can learn of the sonata (and see how the audience is feeling after the fantasy).  i might even stand up and ask "would you like to hear the rest of the story?"  if they are all asleep, i will take that as a "no."

the barber is killing me.  i am still at the sightreading level.  HELP!  I hope that once it is learned, then everything else won't be forgotten.  this is my level, really.  a very basic peanut level.  and, yet, i must go on.  i must play piano concertos soon (before all hope is lost - of my dream)  and i must play them in southern california with a small symphony that i really like.  i heard some of amy beach's works on the radio and liked it.  and, i really want to play leroy anderson's piano concerto, too.  now, i have to make a tape.  i'll make one for you, too, idlewonder, of my program (say in march).  if there is a place on the internet to put it.  maybe my son will help me set up a site (like one i saw for another pianist) and store all my repertoire on it and let people listen.

if you have any ideas of who to ask to get a site set up...let me know.  i can't afford a lot, so i don't want a fancy site where i'm playing (video) but just for people to listen, basically. 
do you know why benches fall apart?  it is because they have lids with little tiny hinges so you can store music inside them.  hint:  buy a bench that does not hinge.  buy it for sturdiness.

Offline Brian Healey

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Re: making a living
«Reply #32 on: January 31, 2005, 10:38:19 PM »
Try using Soundclick.com. I have some music on there, and it's great. It's completely free, and you can store as much music as you want. What I have is a free Geocities website (which is easy to make yourself), then for all my music I just have a link from my page to my Soundclick page. Free website accounts like Geocities have very small bandwidth limits, and so hosting your music on soundclick is a great (and free) way to get arond that problem. Or you could just have someone design you a site, but that costs $ for the designer as well as to a hosting company to secure your web address. I like the free way personally.


Peace,
Bri

Offline Nordlys

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Re: making a living
«Reply #33 on: February 01, 2005, 07:24:33 PM »

Very interesting posts from lostinidlewonder about arranging piano concerts. I am planning a concert now, and will take into account your advice. (but why is this in the teaching section?)

But I admit I want to plan the program in a way I myself find interesting, and not to think to much about "pleasing the crowd", if I am correct that was your view.  I definitely dont want to play only pieces that most people can recognice.

I have even thought that once I would like to play all the 24 preludes of Debussy in a concert, but...

I mean imagine playing all of the debussy Preludes for a concert? Yeah sure many of them are nice, but a lot of them are much an aquired taste.

I would myself love to hear all of them in one evening. They are so different in atmosphere, and I think because of the titles and the fact that they are rather short, they should be not hard to listen to for the general public.


Offline pianonut

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Re: making a living
«Reply #34 on: February 01, 2005, 08:11:27 PM »
thank you, brian healey, for the advice about geocities/soundclick.com.  i like free stuff, too!

this site, i think, has been pretty much on target because making a living is really a lot of hard work.  i admire anyone that can play a whole set of something (ie 24 preludes of debussy) but i'm afraid i would be one that would fall asleep because i would be one of those alpha-state listeners.

but, if i were in an intimate setting of 10-20-or30 people around a piano (as in chopin's day) and being closer to the instrument and performer, it might be a different story.  i suppose the audience you are playing to makes a difference, too.  i wonder if any concert artists do play all 24 (say at carnegie hall)

i'm going to hear andre watts play in reading, pa.  they are getting a new piano!! i don't know if it is before he plays or not.  i think it is a bosendorfer (extra notes and all).  i'm wondering what he's playing.  it is an all solo piano concert this weekend.
do you know why benches fall apart?  it is because they have lids with little tiny hinges so you can store music inside them.  hint:  buy a bench that does not hinge.  buy it for sturdiness.

Offline bernhard

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Re: making a living
«Reply #35 on: July 23, 2005, 09:51:30 AM »
Some excellent posts above (especially by lost etc.) :D

This seems to me more like a statement about your dad’s lack of vision than about the financial prospects of piano teaching.

However, if we are going to answer this question at all, we must examine from several obscure angles.

1.   What does it mean to “make a living”? What kind of life do you see yourself living? And how much will it cost? Unless you can answer this question in quite precise terms, you will not be able to decide anything.

Consider this. You are a “tree-hugger”. Someone deeply involved in environmental questions who would like to purchase some land, build your own ecological house with eco-friendly materials, plant your own organic food and hold musico-ecological-spiritual retreats in your property. Sounds good? Then you need the finances to support all that. However, since this is the life style you are happiest in you will not be resentful to divert hard earned money towards purchasing compost toilets, housing and feeding guests to your retreats, buying materials for planting your organic vegetables, etc.

Now consider this alternative scenario: You really want a yuppie lifestyle, a nice penthouse in a great urban centre, you want to go to concerts and operas, a Steinway in the living room and the most fashionable clothes. If so, you can easily become a hotshot lawyer, say, and you will not resent having to disburse the money for an Armani suit that will be required attire in your work, because this is what you like anyway. But our tree-hugger friend above will be very unhappy indeed.

In both cases you will probably not have too much – if any – time for practising or even playing. Soon your lifestyle will take over your life and you will live to support it.

The point I am making is that money is never free. It always has hidden costs, and eventually to make money always costs more than the money you actually make. It is just a new (and hidden) form of slavery.

Your dad should consider this: No one gets even remotely close to rich by studying in the best universities and get good jobs. To get rich, you need total lack of scrupples and complete ruthlessness. Think Atila the Hun and you will not be far off. Or have a good look at the career of some celebrated entrepreneurs like Bill Gates, drug dealers, arms dealers and so on. These are the guys making big money. Just observe how they are doing it.

2.   So how much will you make as a piano teacher? If you first made sure that you are happy with a piano teacher lifestyle, then you will be limited by two factors: how much do you charge and how many students you can cope with. How much you charge will ultimately depend not on how wonderful you are, but on how much people are prepared to pay. The price of a product has nothing to do with the cost of the product, but with how much the market is willing to disburse towards it. Take the example of CDs. Do you really believe that the price of a CD truly reflects its cost? You can easily divide it by ten, and producers would still make a profit. So why do they ask so much? Greed and the fact that people are prepared to pay the price. Piracy is the obvious result. It is easy to stop piracy. Half the price of a CD (you still will be making a huge profit). And now with all the downloading going on, the industry has started to catch up. Have you noticed how bargain CDs suddenly appeared in great masses?

So how much are the people in your area prepared to pay for a piano lesson? Ask below that price and people will not think you are good enough. Ask too much beyond it and you will write yourself off the market. So, you must investigate this issue. Let us say for the sake of argument that US$50/hour is reasonable and people are prepared to pay for it. If manage to teach 12 hours a day, that would mean US$ 600/day and around US$ 3600 per week (Saturdays included). That gives you US$ 187200 per year. Is that enough? Because, you see, this is arguably the maximum you will ever make. And even that maximum is not realistic. So you want to spend twelve hours a day six days a week teaching the piano? On the other hand, in certain jobs you are required to do just that (if not more) for less pay. (Science projects come to mind). But of course such workaholics just love what they do, and they would do it even without pay.

Realistically, if you are a conscientious teacher, you will spend 3 hours (practising and preparing lessons) for every hour you actually teach. So, you will not be able to teach 12 hours a day, but rather 4/5 hours a day. This brings your yearly income down  to $ 62400 - 78000/ year.  Now this assumes that you will indeed find enough students to fill your 4/5 hours a day. It assumes they will never miss any lessons and continue to come during holidays. And is money before taxes.

The point here is very simple. If you are going to decide on a career in terms of money, make sure you do this sort of long term financial analysis in order to be abel to make meaningful comparisons.

Best wishes,
Bernhard.
The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side. (Hunter Thompson)

Offline jeremyjchilds

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Re: making a living
«Reply #36 on: July 23, 2005, 04:26:44 PM »
I make okay money through teaching, the kind of money to budget around,

But in the mornings, I tune pianos, and that is way better money...

Teaching is steady, and i am glad I have a full roster cause tuning is feast or famine...
"He who answers without listening...that is his folly and his shame"    (A very wise person)

Offline maryruth

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Re: making a living
«Reply #37 on: July 23, 2005, 08:50:23 PM »
I teach 13 students plus I'm the pianist at a Catholic Church--I'm not catholic, but the pays pretty good.  I just started teaching this year, so until I can get a few more students I also work a few hours with my family's business doing some bookkeeping (I have a good math mind like a lot of us musicians!)

Offline Astyron

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Re: making a living
«Reply #38 on: July 24, 2005, 01:03:25 AM »
One person said $50/hour was average.  That REALLY depends on where you live.  Where I live $32-$38/hour is average.  Average hourly rate is determined by the cost of living and what the market will sustain in your area.  The only way to know what is "average" is to call as many music teachers in your area and ask what their hourly rate is.

It's hard to make enough money just teaching lessons.  Your father was correct in assuming that.  He shouldn't discourage you though.  If you get an education major that allows you to teach band/orchestra/choir/general music in a school you can do that for a base salary then supplement with private lessons if you have the time/energy.  Here's the breakdown for my studio:

34 students @ $16.00/30 min. =   +$544.00 per week
33 weeks per school year =          +$17,952.00
7 weeks summer (average) =        +$3808.00  (I don't require lessons every week during summer)
Gross Income =                           +$21760.00
------------------------------------
Yearly business insurance =         -$350.00 (covers your music books, and if you're sued, etc.)
Office supply expenses/year=      -$300.00 (paper, ink, etc.)
Professional Memberships=          -$100.00 (such as ASTA or MENC, etc)
Income Taxes=                          -$2500.00 (I report 100% of lesson income)
------------------------------------
Net Income =                                +$18, 510.00


This is all ballpark from what I remember.  Everyone says it's nobody's business, and impolite to talk about money, but you ought to know what you're getting into.  I supplement by playing in a string quartet at weddings and parties.  I only make another $4500/year or so from that.  I also play in the community orchestra and make roughly $1500/year from that.  So with my supplemental music activities that brings me up to
$24,510.   One very important thing to factor in is HEALTH INSURANCE.  I'm married and that's the ONLY reason I switched from classroom teaching to teaching on my own -- We can use my husband's health insurance.  If you were to pay for your own health and dental insurance each year (in America), you could expect to deduct many thousands off your income.

The business insurance would also differ from area to area.  The best way to find out what that would be is to call an insurance agent and give him some hypothetical specs and ask him to come up with a number.  You may have to go in and meet with him to do this, but if your dad has home owners insurance, I'm sure the insurance agent would meet with you to help you plan for the future like that.

If my husband and I agreed that I needed to bring in more money than I do, I could easily work a part time job in the mornings since I teach mostly from 3:00 PM on.  I would probably go through a temp agency that staffed highly skilled college graduates who have computer skills and such.  Those jobs usually pay $10-$14/hour or better.  That's a nice supplement if needed. 

Offline orlandopiano

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Re: making a living
«Reply #39 on: July 24, 2005, 05:59:46 AM »
If you know what you're doing, and you have patience as you begin building up your teaching load, you can easily make over $40,000 as a private piano teacher.  I grossed $49,800 in 2004, and for a single guy like me with no real financial obligations other than a mortgage and car payments, that's good money in this part of the country (Florida).

Offline Astyron

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Re: making a living
«Reply #40 on: July 24, 2005, 06:15:57 AM »
Again, it really depends on what you can charge in your area.  I'd never make that much myself.  I can't charge what it takes to make that, nor can I teach as many hours as I would prefer in a day.  Students can only come after 3:30 pm for the most part.

Offline orlandopiano

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Re: making a living
«Reply #41 on: July 24, 2005, 06:19:53 AM »
Again, it really depends on what you can charge in your area.  I'd never make that much myself.  I can't charge what it takes to make that, nor can I teach as many hours as I would prefer in a day.  Students can only come after 3:30 pm for the most part.

I teach many of my adult students before 3:00pm (many are wives of rich men so they don't work) or after 7:00pm.  So most days I start as early as 1:00 in the afternoon and get a full day's work in.

Offline Astyron

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Re: making a living
«Reply #42 on: July 24, 2005, 06:24:46 AM »
I do about the same.. start at noon and teach until 7:30pm.  I have only been able to find about six or seven daytime students.  Again, I guess it's all about the local economy. :)  There aren't many rich woman who don't work where I live.  That's pretty fabulous income though for you!  Gratz!

Offline Bob

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Re: making a living
«Reply #43 on: July 24, 2005, 03:47:41 PM »
From the searching that I've done, I realized....

It takes awhile to develop a teaching studio, maybe a few years.

You do more of the teaching in the afternoon and evenings.

It depends on the area as to how many students are available and how much you can charge.

You have to pay all your expenses -- insurance, health care, etc.  All that adds up.


Many of the independent piano teachers I've run into have a spouse that is earning income, or this kind of teacher supports themself with something other than teaching.

It is possible.  It takes awhile to get established and one area isn't going to be able to support a lot of these teachers.  The ones that are doing it tend to have waiting lists of students.

These teachers are also very busy since they are trying to make ends meet.

Favorite new teacher quote -- "You found the only possible wrong answer."

Offline heyneshocking

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Re: making a living
«Reply #44 on: August 24, 2006, 01:33:46 PM »
the piano teacher i had before the one i moved to uni only did private teaching as an income and didn't have a wife. he didn't live very luxuriously but he taught what he loved and had quite reasonable hours.

laurie

Offline blu217

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Re: making a living
«Reply #45 on: August 24, 2006, 06:58:40 PM »
I'm going to begin teaching piano again soon and plan to amp up my studio in a few years after going back to school to get my master's in piano. I have spent the last decade developing a professional career in corporate environs. I make excellent money. I despise the work. But I now have lots of experience and advanced skills that afford me a high wage. I hope to keep myself near my present earnings when I'm teaching, and my plan--capitalizing on every single skill I have--is pretty simple:

Freelance as a writer and Web/graphic designer – the work I’m doing full-time now.
Possibly work a part-time contract position doing the same
Teach piano
Play guitar/singing/band gigs
Play piano gigs
Write and publish a novel, then live off the royalties (har!)
I’m also planning to purchase an investment property while I’ve still got my full-time funds and add that income to my bottom line as well.

None of it guarantees steady income, but I should be able to stagger beautifully when things slow down in any area. I expect to be very busy, but these are things I love doing, ideally the variety will keep me stimulated and hopefully I might finally also be happy.

The key is definitely planning wisely, being very creative and ALWAYS having some sort of Plan B. My Plan B has afforded me a lucrative living these past 10 years since I switched careers from music. Now it’s providing me some excellent additional income options as I prepare to start teaching again.

Offline dnephi

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Re: making a living
«Reply #46 on: August 24, 2006, 07:08:44 PM »
Da Mafia is good cash.  I hear they like bach fugues as background music for their meetings.

Daniel :p
For us musicians, the music of Beethoven is the pillar of fire and cloud of mist which guided the Israelites through the desert.  (Roughly quoted, Franz Liszt.)

Offline cora

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Re: making a living
«Reply #47 on: August 25, 2006, 05:11:36 AM »
I really liked this thread. It sounded so intimate, because everybody thinks about this
stuff all the time but has nobody to say it to. It's nice to see.

I charge a fairly good amount but can only handle 25-30 students. And most people
don't want summer lessons. Summers are a challenge financially.


Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: making a living
«Reply #48 on: September 04, 2006, 11:39:54 AM »
I charge a fairly good amount but can only handle 25-30 students. And most people
don't want summer lessons. Summers are a challenge financially.
I agree, summers are difficult to keep your lesson timetable full, so many people take off for holidays etc. That is why at least 2 months before summer vacations I advertise for holiday piano lessons, either through newspaper, newsletters from various clubs,schools, churches, social clubs etc, also word of mouth through my students network (since I have students who also teach). You will be surprised there are those students who can only take up piano during summer holidays because any other time is way too busy for them.

Usually I plan to have less lessons during the summer break however. In those 2-3 months I really put my foot down with my own personal study, concert preparations etc which are never ending. You still make money studying your music if you are a concert performer. I estimated that one concert piece which lasts say 5 minutes takes up 1/18th of my entire concert. Usually in one concert you can pull around 5K, so that is about $280 for 5 mins for one piece. To master that one peice to might take say 100 hours of practice. So 100 hours for $280 looks like a pretty bad rate! But that is if you play that one piece only once in your entire life, which doesn't happen. I'll porbably play it say, 200 times in my entire life for concerts, so now the 100 hours equates to $56,000. But these figures are just estimates, but it gives a concert performer some confidence to spend time practicing rather than spending it teaching or earning money at another job.
"The biggest risk in life is to take no risk at all."
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Offline violinist

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Re: making a living
«Reply #49 on: September 25, 2006, 08:30:11 AM »
I like the double major comment made earlier.

I was friends with a few folks that became professional musicians.  Later on after a few years as professional musicians (and living out of my house), some of them decided to go back to get graduate degrees. 

One of my friends is now in Harvard Law school. 

But she will always be a musician.

Nothing wrong with doing more than one thing/having one major if this is what you want.  But there's also nothing wrong with going forward with the one thing you love and being the very best you can be.

Good luck.
Practice!