Learn-at-Home program, Lesson fees
Found in: Fees Rates & Cost
Lynn S., Illinois
One of my prospective families (a home schooling family) decided to purchase the learn-at-home materials. Their son – who seems to have a bit of an attention problem, loves the materials. They are reluctant to pay for any lessons since they already have Neil Moore teaching through the videos. (And their son is very happy with this arrangement.)
After they are done, if they wanted to take lessons, how would I start with them? It seems like I’d need to give this boy a private lesson or do something to assess his knowledge. Yet, without having any personal lessons, he would also not have learned any other arrangements of songs or improvisation.
Any suggestions? (They may not enroll for awhile, but I don’t know how to potentially work with them.)
Also, is there such a thing as an “average” lesson fee? I realize many teachers are able to offer extremely reasonable rates, but between paying for gas and community rental fees and the Simply Music fees, I find it necessary to charge at least $28 or $30/lesson. I wonder if I’m charging too much…. but I don’t feel I can manage at the lowest rates.
Shanta H., Minnesota
The home materials do contain a lot more than the videos – There are audio files, diagrams, playlist/notes books, and the sheet music. Also a student gains so much more from learning with a teacher. Aside from weekly accountability, they are getting access to composition and improvisation programs, Accompaniment, arrangements, and all the myriad benefits that come from access to a group lesson. Also they can progress past level 3, which they cannot with the learn-at-home program.
As far as fees, I would give you a few pieces of advice, one of which Neil gave me 3 years ago. You need to set fees that you can live with, in every sense of the word. One pretty good system is to figure out the standard rate in your area and charge a premium on it. Another is to figure out how many hours you want to work a week and how many students that might amount to, and how much you need to make, and calculate how much you need to charge. Or there may be something else going on in your area that makes you make a different decision and choose a number somewhere in the middle of all of these.
When I started, I knew that I needed to be making at least twice as much an hour as I was working full time (I was making about $32/hour at the time). I also knew that the standard in my area for a private teacher is about $25 per lesson. I also knew that I had to figure in the 36% that I’d pay in taxes, and still be able to live with what I got to keep. I also knew that the Macphail Center for Music (the big 800-lbs Gorilla in my area for music lessons) was charging about $34 for a private lesson. I also knew that a thing’s perceived value is closely tied to its price. We all know the high quality of the Simply Music program, and in my opinion it’s important for that to be reflected in the price. If you charge equivalent or less than your traditional counterparts, your lessons and teaching will be perceived as worth less.
When I started, I charged $35 per shared lesson ($140/month) and $45 per private lesson ($180/month). I have since raised my per-lesson shared rates but not my monthly rates by taking more time off. I have also raised my private rates as my time is more at a premium. I now charge about $37.5 per shared and $50 per private lesson ($200/month now). I know I am charging quite a bit higher than average. Part of it is just because of where I live – Minneapolis. But a big part is also my taking the risk to truly charge a premium for a premium program, and believing that I, and the program, are worth it. I started with 6 students in 2010 and since Feb 2012 I have maintained over 30 students.
I do not think you are charging too much, but I don’t know the situation where you live. You need to set your fees in such a way that you can live with them in EVERY SENSE OF THE WORD. Can you pay your bills? Are you benchmarked where you want to be among traditional options in your area? Do you feel like your time is being adequately compensated?