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Music For Kids By Kids
Chapter 1.5: Practical considerations: costs, frequency and length of lessons

Lesson prices for private music instruction can vary widely, depending on the teacher and locale. By asking around, you can get a feel for the average rates in your area. Expect to pay more to teachers with advanced degrees and college/university affiliations. Expect to pay significantly more for lessons where the teacher comes to your home. (In addition to the lesson time, you are paying for travel time plus travel expenses - mileage and vehicle wear and tear).

Keep in mind that musicians spend 10-15 more years learning their craft than most other professionals. When evaluating hourly rates, consider what you are paying for other professional services (medical, legal, accounting, business consulting, therapeutic, etc.) and and decide accordingly. Also remember that 15-20 hours of private teaching per week is considered full-time. Out of that, teachers, who are normally self-employed, cover their own medical, retirement, travel, administrative, accounting, studio maintenance, and other expenses. In addition to actual teaching hours, a private teacher usually spends many additional hours each week interacting with parents, doing scheduling, accounting, and other administrative tasks required to run ones own business. A responsible teacher is also mentally tracking each students progress and needs, so time is spent looking for and providing appropriate materials for each student at the right time.

Schedule at least one lesson per week of at least 45 minutes in length. Two or even three one hour lessons per week is desirable if time, money and attention span allow. Music is a complex skill learned over the long term. Like reading, writing and math, learning to play a musical instrument takes years of time and study if one is to become even modestly accomplished. (Berlioz had two lessons a day when he was studying the flute as a teenager. In India and Bali, it is common for music students to study with their teacher daily in groups or privately). In an ideal world, children would study their instrument daily with their teacher, just as they are taught math, reading and writing daily in school.

Parents need to also schedule their own time so that they are available to encourage and assist the child during the week. Imagine a child learning to read, write or do math in one 45-minute lesson with no other support during the week. It will not happen. If the parents' only participation during the week is nagging the child to practice, a musician will not be created. Where the parents have had some musical training and have a good working relationship with the child, sitting at the piano with the beginning student four or fives times a week is desirable. (see chapter 1.10 "Daily music-making"). Though there is a wide continuum among kids regarding their independence, ability to concentrate, self-confidence, motivation, approach to challenges, etc, they all need regular support of some kind.

Additional costs involved in pursuing piano lessons include piano tuning at least twice per year, transportation expenses to and from lessons and musical events, and musical materials - repertoire books, workbooks, etc.

Guidebook for Parents and Teachers