Every day, people walk into Neighborhood Music School and ask an assortment of questions about taking music lessons. But the most commonly asked questions is, “How much do music lessons cost?”
The honest answer is – it depends.
Let me explain why it depends, and then I’ll share some of the factors that come into play.
Have you ever gotten a haircut?
I’m sure you’ve had your hair cut and styled by any number of different people. You can have your hair trimmed by a relative who will charge you almost nothing and cuts your hair in her kitchen. Why not, she always cuts your cousin’s hair?
Or, you can go to a salon and pay to have a completely new look and color, perfect for that wedding that’s coming up.
The cut that you get from your relative is basic and will get you by, but if you really want a quality, stylish look that suits you really well, then you’ll decide it’s worth the extra cost to go to the salon.
Similarly, music teachers range from music students to working musicians trying to make some extra money teaching on the side, to experienced and well-trained professional teachers, to the elite teachers whose students are themselves present or future professional musicians.
What Questions Should You Ask About Music Lessons?
If you’re considering music lessons for yourself or your child, be prepared to ask a lot of questions and think about what type of learning experience you want to have. Whether the student has very little experience or they’re starting an instrument after a long hiatus, finding the right teacher takes some research, as there are many different factors to consider.
What Music Education Do They Have?
First, the teacher’s education is very important.
The ideal teacher is someone trained specifically to be a music teacher.
High-quality music teachers will have at least a Bachelor’s in Music from a reputable music program; most will have a Master’s of Music; some will also have a degree in education; most will also have completed a number of professional development training programs in their specific field.
What Music Teaching Experience Do They Have?
Next, consider their experience level. Here are a few questions to consider:
- How many years have they been teaching?
- How flexible are they with the student’s level of ability and musical interests?
- Does your student have any special needs that the teacher should know about?
- How committed are they to teaching music? Is this something he/she is passionate about, or just a way to make some money between gigs?
- Will the teacher be someone who stays current with the latest trends in music and teaching?
At a music school, many teachers gain experience through professional development activities and the mentorship of their colleagues.
What Are You Looking for In a Teacher?
When evaluating which teacher is best for your music lessons, ask questions to learn about their teaching style studio.
Consider the person’s ability to establish a rapport with you or your student: how strong are their “people skills?” Everyone needs to feel safe and comfortable in order to learn well.
Be sure to communicate about any individual needs you might have.
- Is there a particular style of music you absolutely want to learn?
- Can or will the teacher teach you what you want to play?
- Does your child have attention issues? (The teacher will need to know about that.)
- What about making progress?
- How will the teacher let you know how you or your child is progressing?
- Will there be a formal written progress report or a monthly phone call?
- How much practice will be expected?
- Will theory/musicianship be offered?
- What types of performance opportunities be available?
Whether your lessons take place in-home or at a music school, you’ll want to be sure that the teacher is instructing with a healthy technique. This means you will eventually learn what it takes to play your instrument fast, beautifully, and without injuring yourself.
Your teacher also needs to have the skills to teach you to play expressively. This is important for the student’s confidence and development as a musician.
Well established music schools hire their teachers through a rigorous interview process, conduct regular teacher assessments, and provide mentorship to ensure that every student receives a high-quality experience.
The Teaching Facility
Your decision about where to take lessons should take into consideration the type of environment where the lessons take place.
Teaching studios at a music school are made expressly for teaching music. They have a certain amount of soundproofing and are usually climate-controlled. High-quality pianos are regularly tuned and regulated.
Music schools frequently provide resources such as student advisors and department chairs, who can help resolve any questions or concerns that might arise. This ensures that students are taken care of and comfortable every step of the way.
Also at a music school, there are numerous opportunities to play with other students in a small or large ensemble.
People love the chance to become part of a musical community. We are social animals, and a community of peers helps keep students engaged in their learning. Seeing your classmate or friend perform beautifully can give you a sense of what’s possible and inspire you to keep practicing.
At a music school, you can expand your studies, and learn to play a different style of music or study theory/musicianship.
What Do You Really Want Out of Music Lessons?
You may want to think about whether your child (or yourself) can hold still and focus for an entire half hour.
Music lessons are usually offered in increments of 30 minutes 45 minutes or 60 minutes.
How long your lessons are will influence the cost regardless of whether you’re signing up for lessons at a home studio or at a music school.
You may want to have your child in a one-on-one lesson right away- or you might prefer to find an introductory class with several students as a way to get their feet wet. Group classes tend to cost less than one-on-one music lessons.
While you may pay less for in-home music lessons, consider the isolation factor. There may be little to no opportunity to perform as a group.
Students who practice by themselves and then play for a single teacher are missing out on the benefits of playing with other students or performing in front of an audience.
In addition, music schools frequently offer significant discounts on music theory classes, ensembles, dance, and other group activities for students who sign up for one-on-one lessons.
To really do your research correctly, plan on spending some time to meet with the person who places students with teachers at a music school. This should be a more in-depth meeting to sort out the most important information:
- What exactly are you looking for?
- Is this for you or for your child?
- What is your learning style?
- What if my child doesn’t like the teacher?
Or if you’re considering in-home lessons, interview the teacher and find out what he/she is like and what their expectations are.
- What is the teacher’s policy about missing a lesson?
- What if my child doesn’t like the teacher?
- What is the teacher’s area of expertise?
- How does the teacher provide performance opportunities?
- Are the lessons offered every week or every other week?
These are all important factors to extract from an interview.
What should I expect to pay?
A recent college graduate teaching from home might charge anywhere from $25 – $35 for a half-hour lesson.
At a music school, with an experienced teacher, you could be paying anywhere from $35 – $50 for a half-hour lesson.
For a 45-minute lesson or an hour lesson, of course, you’ll pay $50 – $75.
The cost for lessons at a music school may be higher, but you’re likely getting more for your money.
Also, most schools perform a background check on their teachers, so you’re also paying for a certain level of security.
Ways to Pay for Music Lessons
Most music schools charge a one-time annual registration fee and require you to commit to an academic year of lessons.
In most cases, you can pay this tuition through a monthly payment plan, using a credit card, or pay it in full. Cash is always welcome!
There are often great discounts to be found at music schools, for example, like getting a reduced price on dance or music classes if you’re already registered for private lessons. Or Senior Citizen discounts – don’t forget to ask!
And be sure to ask about financial aid at a music school, because you might just be surprised. Scholarships often exist for certain instruments or low income students who wouldn’t be able to take lessons without support. You just don’t know until you apply!
So, now that you know a little bit more about what to expect when researching the
cost of music lessons, make sure that you do your homework.
At Neighborhood Music School in New Haven, we have lots of wonderful things to tell you about why you should take lessons with us, and we welcome your questions about the expenses involved.
Above all, we want to help you figure out what you’re really looking for out of your music study, and make it happen for a reasonable cost.
Visit our FAQ page for more information on our prices and all things NMS , or call us at 203-624-5189 to set up an appointment with a Student Services representative.