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Thinking about starting a career as a piano teacher (Read 424 times)

Offline elenabremn47

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Thinking about starting a career as a piano teacher
« on: February 13, 2021, 06:54:03 PM »
I'm a music student and pianist who is graduating in a year and deciding on a career. Today I was thinking about how in high school I was able to earn $60/hr teaching piano to children in a wealthy neighborhood.

That inspired me to do some quick math and I figure that by working 25 hrs a week * 45 wks/year * $60/hr that I could potentially be making $70,000 a year doing just 25 hrs/wk of doing what I love. I would never have to get a real job! I could be my own boss, for life.

I could also let this business grow and hopefully one day hire other teachers Does this plan sound good or am I just an idiot who's missing something?

Offline j_tour

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Re: Thinking about starting a career as a piano teacher
«Reply #1 on: February 13, 2021, 09:27:05 PM »
That inspired me to do some quick math and I figure that by working 25 hrs a week * 45 wks/year * $60/hr that I could potentially be making $70,000 a year doing just 25 hrs/wk of doing what I love. I would never have to get a real job! I could be my own boss, for life.

I could also let this business grow and hopefully one day hire other teachers Does this plan sound good or am I just an idiot who's missing something?

I wouldn't exactly call it a business.  More like being a freelancer, or you could structure a company as a sole proprietorship.

Do you know a lot about running a business, dealing with tax complications, beyond arithmetic?  (Edit:  I can only speak about taxation and self-employment in the US.  dogperson has the right idea, though:  in the US, you're supposed to pay taxes quarterly as a self-employed freelancer, essentially, but there are a number of professional expenses you can [and absolutely should] deduct, including equipment, studio "space" if working out of one's home, etc.  And health insurance, obviously, is another problem.  You don't necessarily need an accountant, but expect to see some hair loss and premature aging when dealing with all this...and you can probably expect to be audited at some point if you're pulling down 70G gross per annum, so you should have complete records just in case).

I think you should think about being hired as a contractor for an established teaching firm, while continuing to freelance.  In that way you'd have ample opportunity to learn about accountants, lawyers, etc. who specialize in your field, while building a figurative rolodex of contacts, while gaining even more experience.
My name is Nellie, and I take pride in helping protect the children of my community through active leadership roles in my local church and in the Boy Scouts of America.  Bad word make me sad.

Offline dogperson

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Re: Thinking about starting a career as a piano teacher
«Reply #2 on: February 13, 2021, 09:55:33 PM »
I am not an accountant, but I was self/employed for a few years  and know there is a ‘self-employment tax’  for $$  normally covered by an employer.  Check it out as your take home pay  will be less than you expect.  There are online calculators.  Also factor in the cost of insurance without employer match.

I’m not suggesting to give up the plan but you may need to work significantly more than your calculations

Offline keypeg

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Re: Thinking about starting a career as a piano teacher
«Reply #3 on: February 15, 2021, 10:03:59 PM »
This is weird.  I'm sure I saw a post under dogperson's, warning us that this was a recycled reddit post - and somebody else saying something like - it's still an interesting topic.  I don't see either post now. Did I dream it?

In any case, it is a recycled reddit post.

https://www.reddit.com/r/musictheory/comments/g9fjyu/thinking_about_starting_a_career_as_a_piano/

Offline keypeg

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Re: Thinking about starting a career as a piano teacher
«Reply #4 on: February 15, 2021, 11:08:13 PM »
Ignoring for a moment that the OP is a recycled reddit post for whatever reason.

- self-employment - depends what country you're in.  I'm self-employed as a professional in Canada.  The one negative thing is that you pay for contributions twice: once as yourself, once as your own employer.  That's a hefty chunk of money.

In regard to "$60/hour" - if you're really teaching properly, you'll be spending time preparing for lessons, improving the material you have on hand, as well as the administrative side of answering calls, probably rescheduling and more.  Paperwork.  Upkeep of your equipment (the piano(s) for a piano teacher) etc.   I don't think those $60 are $60 anymore at the end of the day.  Maybe some piano teachers can weigh in on that one.

Offline ranjit

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Re: Thinking about starting a career as a piano teacher
«Reply #5 on: February 15, 2021, 11:17:19 PM »
This is weird.  I'm sure I saw a post under dogperson's, warning us that this was a recycled reddit post - and somebody else saying something like - it's still an interesting topic.  I don't see either post now. Did I dream it?

In any case, it is a recycled reddit post.

https://www.reddit.com/r/musictheory/comments/g9fjyu/thinking_about_starting_a_career_as_a_piano/
I know that I commented that once, and Nils replied by banning the user and deleting my post. However I don't exactly remember if it was this post or another one.

Offline j_tour

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Re: Thinking about starting a career as a piano teacher
«Reply #6 on: February 16, 2021, 02:25:49 AM »
I don't see either post now. Did I dream it?

No, you didn't imagine it.  Just a little housekeeping, I suppose.  It was this thread, though.

About the $60/hr (gross, minus self-employment taxes, expenses, lack of employer-matched retirement funds, subsidized group health insurance [well, in the US, there still are technically musician union "locals," but last I checked, they don't really do anything substantial for their members...could be wrong]):  I wonder who's familiar with the slang term "Karen"?  Not very nice to people with that name, but it sums up what I'd expect from people willing to shell out for their preciouses' lessons.

That probably ends up to about $20/hr net, after honestly accounting for time (probably minimum 1/2 hr to 1 hour preparation per student:  very minimal estimation, which you could possibly justify as contributing to your own skills as a pianist) and all expenses, even doggedly itemizing and documenting every last tax exemption and deduction.  I don't know for sure, just a conservative estimate.

Maybe a bit more.  And with the bonus of a bunch of entitled suburban yuppie moms screeching at you.

I don't know if that's worth it.  But, you'd certainly become a master of the dreaded spreadsheets in a hurry as well, although not complicated for this task.

My name is Nellie, and I take pride in helping protect the children of my community through active leadership roles in my local church and in the Boy Scouts of America.  Bad word make me sad.

Offline dogperson

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Re: Thinking about starting a career as a piano teacher
«Reply #7 on: February 16, 2021, 10:01:39 AM »
Ignoring for a moment that the OP is a recycled reddit post for whatever reason.

- self-employment - depends what country you're in.  I'm self-employed as a professional in Canada.  The one negative thing is that you pay for contributions twice: once as yourself, once as your own employer.  That's a hefty chunk of money.

In regard to "$60/hour" - if you're really teaching properly, you'll be spending time preparing for lessons, improving the material you have on hand, as well as the administrative side of answering calls, probably rescheduling and more.  Paperwork.  Upkeep of your equipment (the piano(s) for a piano teacher) etc.   I don't think those $60 are $60 anymore at the end of the day.  Maybe some piano teachers can weigh in on that one.


I don’t think any piano teacher will want to disclose how much of a $60/hr rate would actually be net payment.  Suffice it to say, it will not be $60.

Online lelle

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Re: Thinking about starting a career as a piano teacher
«Reply #8 on: February 16, 2021, 04:16:57 PM »


I don’t think any piano teacher will want to disclose how much of a $60/hr rate would actually be net payment.  Suffice it to say, it will not be $60.

Why not disclose it? Where I live, if you have your own business getting paid $60/hr would after taxes etc be ca $30/hr income. Then multiply that with number of hours taught each month, and subtract the monthly cost for hiring a place where you can teach, instrument maintenance, buying books, and other monthly expenses in your teaching business. What's left is your wage, which will be taxed as well.


Offline dogperson

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Re: Thinking about starting a career as a piano teacher
«Reply #9 on: February 16, 2021, 05:18:30 PM »
Why not disclose it? Where I live, if you have your own business getting paid $60/hr would after taxes etc be ca $30/hr income. Then multiply that with number of hours taught each month, and subtract the monthly cost for hiring a place where you can teach, instrument maintenance, buying books, and other monthly expenses in your teaching business. What's left is your wage, which will be taxed as well.


I know how to do the calculation, and Im sure the teachers here do as well,  I just would not expect them to post that personal information publicly.  We’ll  see if they do.

Offline keypeg

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Re: Thinking about starting a career as a piano teacher
«Reply #10 on: February 17, 2021, 02:44:30 PM »
This seems to involve a response to my asking of piano teachers would like to "weigh in" on what I wrote.  I did not ask anyone to disclose their salary.  I was discussing what actually entails per hour earnings in private music teaching: namely that you must factor in the time you spent in unpaid work, as well as actual expenses.  I was asking teachers whether they agree with this general idea.

Anyone coming into this - or any other field - seeing earnings of $n/hour has to realize that it isn't really $n/hour.    To get a real figure you'd have to average out:

X teaching hours in a month at $n/hour =  $NN (total) for the month
- add up the hours of unpaid related work (hours2)
- figure in work-related expenses.

You now divide your total earnings of $NN by total hours spent (If you you taught 30 students four four weeks, that's 120 hours) - you won't be dividing by 120, but by those 120 hours + say 40 hours non-paid-work so by 160.
You then subtract, from that total, your expenses.

If there are professional memberships (does one pay for MTNA?), special insurance, that is also divided by 12 and part of the expenses.  The professional membership in my profession is close to $450 per annum.  Liability insurance is recommended.

Offline keypeg

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Re: Thinking about starting a career as a piano teacher
«Reply #11 on: February 17, 2021, 02:48:38 PM »
So taking that reddit post:

That inspired me to do some quick math and I figure that by working 25 hrs a week * 45 wks/year * $60/hr that I could potentially be making $70,000 a year doing just 25 hrs/wk of doing what I love. I would never have to get a real job! I could be my own boss, for life.
 

It would not be 25 hours - because of the additional hours involved doing unpaid work - and with unpaid related work, it would no longer be $60/hour.

The "real job" part has got to grate on every decent teacher out here who work darn hard, and it is a real job.  Unfortunately too many hobbyists jump in, do something they deem "teaching", and either ruin students, or do massive damage that the next teacher has to try to undo.

Offline anacrusis

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Re: Thinking about starting a career as a piano teacher
«Reply #12 on: February 18, 2021, 09:12:56 PM »
If anything, I would say if you feel drawn towards trying out teaching, go for it. Either you'll find it fulfilling and then it'll add value to your life regardless of the pay, or you won't, and then you can quit and go do something else!

Taking risks and diving into things has provided me some of the most valuable lessons and experiences I have had in life.