One of the first questions I get asked is, “How much do the lessons cost?” Prospective students tend to shop lessons by cost. Realistically, this isn’t a good way to try and find the best teacher. There are several factors that go into how much a teacher charges for lessons.
1. What is the teacher’s level of education and experience? If the teacher has at least a Bachelors of Music then the lessons are going to cost more than the teacher with just experience. If you are lucky enough to find a teacher with Masters of Music or a Doctorate, be prepared to pay for these qualifications. Usually it isn’t a huge difference, possibly $5 per month.
2. Does the teacher offer students opportunities outside of lessons? Recitals, competitions and festivals are all popular events for students to participate in. While you pay a fee to participate, your teacher usually has to volunteer or pay an annual membership fee. As an example, NMTA, NMCTA and CMTA cost a total of $107 this year for me to be a member. That is just for one festival for students to participate in. As teachers we try to take our expenses into account so that we can offer the best opportunities to our students.
3. Advertising. Where did you hear about your teacher? If it was on a website, in a newspaper or on a school flyer, then your teacher probably paid for that space. While this is just a cost of business it does factor into the total cost of lessons.
4. Is it a deterrent? Now this one is a little strange but I’ve found that it does hold true and it works. Is the cost of lessons high enough to make the student think twice about having excessive absences? Students should value their lesson time just as they would a visit to a doctor or a commitment to a team. If a teacher is undervaluing their time, they don’t get taken as seriously by their students.
So after a little research, I have found that the average rate for a piano teacher in the greater Charlotte, NC area is around $24 per lesson or $96 a month. When breaking this down further the teachers in the outer areas of the city are charging significantly less. Balancing this out are the teachers will a BM or MM in the city of Charlotte proper. These teachers are charging on average $25-27 dollars a lesson or $100-$110 per month. Schools of music tend to give a more mixed picture. Most charge a flat fee for lessons whether the teacher is degreed or not. This can be a great deal or a not so great deal depending on who you select or are assigned for an instructor.
So do some research about your potential teachers and what they have to offer you before crossing someone off the list because of a $5 cost difference.