Our guide to becoming a private piano tutor in the UK.
If you are a competent pianist and would love to turn your passion into a business, then becoming a private piano tutor could be the ideal job for you. With few entry barriers, teaching piano to students from the comfort of your own home can be an extremely rewarding job. This is our guide on how to become a private piano teacher.
The Marketplace for Piano Teaching
According to the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music’s (ABRSM) 2014 Making Music report, 23% of 5 – 14 year olds play the piano and 83% of those children take piano lessons to supplement their learning. So if ever there was a time to become a piano tutor, now would certainly be it.
What Qualifications do you need to Become a Piano Tutor?
Contrary to what you might think, in order to work as a self-employed private piano tutor you don’t need to have any special qualifications. As long as you are a competent pianist and can read music, then you already have all the skills you need to teach piano as a business. However, in saying that, it does help your reputation if you have relevant music qualifications and parents will certainly be keen to quiz you on this point.
According to a survey of 2,000 musicians carried out by the Musician’s Union, 60% of music teachers have a degree and 40% don’t. Most have at least five years’ playing experience and two thirds have four years or more of formal training.
Equipment and Resources
Most piano tutors teach from their own homes. They normally have a room that they use specifically for teaching students, where there piano is based. Unlike guitar tutors and other music teachers, you only really need one piano in order to teach students. Your piano should be well-tuned and well-maintained to ensure that it creates the best sound possible and encourages students to want to improve their playing.
In terms of resources, it’s important that you have a selection of books and materials that you can make reference to during lessons. Ideally, you should also have sheet music available so you can explain aspects of musical notation. If you’re teaching an older student who wants to learn for pleasure, it can be a good idea to follow a prescribed programme in order to give them a target to work towards and give them an indication of their skill level.
If you’re teaching students at primary and high school level, then you should also be aware of what’s required for specific levels within the National Curriculum. You should also ask your students what they’re learning in their piano lessons at school, so that you can tailor a programme that complements what they’re learning in school.
How to Obtain a DBS Check as a Piano Tutor
In order to tutor students under the age of 18, it’s strongly advised that you obtain a DBS certificate, which is essentially a criminal record background check. Although it’s not a legal requirement, as a piano tutor, parents will likely expect you to be able to provide this documentation.
Currently, in the UK, an individual can’t apply for a DBS check on themselves. In order to obtain one, you need to have someone apply on your behalf, typically an employer, a tutoring agency, music academy or an associated umbrella body.
Similarly, if you plan to teach piano in your own home, then you might want to consider public liability and private indemnity insurance in the event of legal matters arising from your lessons.
How to Market Yourself as a Piano Tutor?
One of the most difficult aspects of starting a private tutoring business is marketing. Finding new students to tutor when you’re first starting out can be challenging but as you start to build up a local and online presence, you’ll hopefully find that your marketing takes care of itself.
Until you reach that point however, there are a number of things you can do to market your business. First of all, there’s word of mouth marketing. Simply by telling people that you’re offering piano lessons in your local area can be an effective way of gaining new students. You should also consider placing adverts in local shops and having business cards made up so you can give them out to anyone who might be interested in your services.
Marketing your tutoring business online is worthy of a blog post all of its own but there are a few tried and tested methods that are worth mentioning here. First of all, registering with music directory websites like The Tutor Website can really help improve your online presence and encourage and parents contact you directly.
Likewise, social media websites like Twitter and Facebook can also help spread the word about your business. Although the following list isn’t exhaustive, it may help get you started in marketing yourself as a piano tutor:
- Tell your existing piano students that you’re looking for new business
- Make contact with other music tutors in your area and set up a student referral system
- Place adverts in shop windows and have business cards made up to distribute
- Build your own website and implement an SEO strategy to improve your rankings
- Become active on music teacher forums where students may be looking for tutors
- Consider advertising in music directory websites like The Tutor Website
- Promote your piano tutoring business on social media websites
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If you have any other questions about how to become a piano tutor, please post them below. Perhaps you’re a piano tutor yourself? What advice would you give to anyone considering pursuing a career in piano teaching? We’d be keen to hear about your experiences.