How Much Should You Work As A Music Teacher? 

By Jade Bultitude
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When it comes to working as a self-employed music teacher there are many things that you need to consider. One important factor is how much do you actually want to work. We all know that the more hours you work, the more money you will take home, but there has to be a cap so you can achieve ultimate work/life balance. After all, one of the reasons we become self employed teachers is to give us the freedom to dictate what our life will be like! 

Deciding how much you want to work may not seem super important right at the beginning as you grow your initial client base, but it is definitely worth considering what your aim is. Once you have built up your client base and have ended up with a full timetable (and possibly a waiting list!) how do you know when your timetable is full and you shouldn’t take on any more students. 

Scarcity Mindset

After spending time building up your studio, it is very easy to stay in a scarcity mindset, afraid that we could lose a pupil at any moment and staying in that constant struggle to build a timetable! 

Of course, you want to be sure of the work, being self-employed can be scary! But, remember, if you push yourself too much you will offer a poorer service to those clients you already have. It is far better to focus on a better teaching experience for the pupils you have already and trust that pupils will not choose to leave. 

Having good contracts and boundaries in place

Do make sure that you have good contracts in place so you are protected if a pupil does want to leave. A good contract will give you time to get a new pupil to fill your empty space. By specifying an amount of time (usually half a term, sometimes even a term) as notice you protect yourself and give yourself time to find a new pupil if needed. 

It is also important to set yourself strong boundaries so you don’t end up working more hours than you set out to. Music teachers often make the mistake of not considering and implementing their boundaries. You must consider what you want your day to look like. For example, do you want a lunch break? Set the boundary then! Block it off your timetable and respect it. I often see teachers working through their breaks to fit students in, but if you have strong boundaries and good contracts you should 9 out of 10 times be able to respect these. 

What we will discuss in this blog links to how much you want to earn and what you can charge. In order to be a successful music teacher, you need a balance of financial and life rewards. However, if you simply just focus on the financial reward this can be a big problem and can lead to many music teachers experiencing burn out. I myself am guilty of this!

What should you consider in order to achieve the perfect balance?

As a music teacher we can teach in both the day time and the evening, with the evening usually being the most financially rewarding. Evening teaching is often charged at a higher rate because you are working anti-social hours. 

Before going forward, consider whether you want to focus on daytime or evening as this may impact how much you can/want to work. 

Further things to consider:

  • If choosing to work evenings, how late can you work? Of course, there will be pupils available to us until super late if you want but this is not always convenient to everyone. If you have children is it possible for you to work late? Perhaps it isn’t convenient at all in which case you should focus on school teaching. 
  • Do you need full days off to recover? Perhaps you need Saturday and Sunday off to recuperate to be at your best self for the rest of the week. 
  • What hobbies or outside activities do you need factor in? It’s all very well and good saying yes to everyone but if this impacts your lifestyle and time to do other things you enjoy then you may end up resenting your teaching.
  • What length lessons will you be teaching? It can often be much easier to recover from shorter lessons but the admin may be more.

Ultimately, the amount that you want to work is a personal choice. Make sure to take your life into consideration, as I have progressed in my career, my timetables have evolved. Before I had children, I had the capacity to work crazy hours. Now I find that it is vital for me to keep weekends free to spend time with my children and to recover. 

Remember, it is ok to change as you progress in your teaching. Ensure that you have a good rapport with other teachers around you so you can refer and ensure that all clients are happy. By doing this you can give yourself the flexibility you may need. Always ensure that you put yourself first when deciding the hours you want to work as if you don’t you may find you start to resent the job. 

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AUTHOR
Jade is an experienced musician and teacher as well as being the founder of Music Theory Foundations. She has been helping people learn music theory for more than 10 years from pre school children all the way to degree level studies.

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