Advice for Teachers Seeking to Professionalize their Studios

This week, I received an friendly email from a piano teacher in Texas who is looking for ways to professionalize her studio.  I already sent her a reply via email but I was thinking that you readers may have some suggestions and advice for her too — so here are some of her questions!

  • Do I need a business license?
  • Should I maintain a webpage and how do I do that?
  • Is what I have (20 students) enough to call it a studio?
  • How do I know if I am charging enough?
  • How do I find a place for a recital that doesn’t cost much?

So please – share!  What advice do you have for this teacher?

Photo credit: th0mi | CC 2.0

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8 thoughts on “Advice for Teachers Seeking to Professionalize their Studios”

  1. * Do I need a business license?

    No, but you definitely need an accountant.

    * Should I maintain a webpage and how do I do that?

    It’s not necessary. Some teachers find it useful, some don’t. If you want to have a website, there are a number of options requiring varying levels of expertise. My advice would be to find some piano teacher websites you like and contact them – ask who designed it, what service they use, etc… This is also a common topic at MTNA conventions and something that members of your local MTA would probably be happy to help with.

    * Is what I have (20 students) enough to call it a studio?


    * How do I know if I am charging enough?

    This is a tough one. Some teachers and schools put their tuition online. If you can find one in a community similar to yours, it can give you some idea.

    * How do I find a place for a recital that doesn’t cost much?

    Call around. Check with music stores, churches, local theaters, and colleges/universities.

  2. You shouldn’t need a business license. However, if you plan to give your studio a name that does not include your own name, you will have to go to your courthouse and apply for a DBA. For example, as “Mrs. Brown’s Piano Studio”, I did not need a DBA. But when I expanded and became “Mountain Valley Studios”, I did.

    The previous person said “you will need an accountant. If you are sole proprieter, and don’t do anything fancy besides simply teaching lessons, it’s pretty easy to keep track of your income/expenses on your own. Then, just give that info to an accountant at taxt time. If you are teaching from home, you may want to sit down with an accountant to figure out what all household expenses you can legally deduct from your taxes, though. If you have a room 100% dedicated to your studio, you can deduct that percentage of your electric bill, water bill, cleaning services, etc.

    You can call it a “studio” even if you have only one student.

    The website….. If you are looking to grow your studio, I definitely recommend a website. I use Weebly. com. It’s super user-friendly! You can look at mine to see what all I have been able to do without the help of a computer geek. My website is set up on the “pro” level, so I do pay an annual fee for some of the features you will see on mine. But you can still do a lot on the free level. I stuck with the free level until I expanded, and changed from offering only piano lessons to bringing in other teachers to provide lessons on every instrument.

    How do you know if you’re charging enough? When I started teaching in the area I’m in now, I actually called all of the area teachers and asked for their rates and qualifications without divulging that I was also a teacher. I didn’t want to over-charge the market too much. At the same time, since then, I’ve raised my rates quite a bit so that I can limit myself to students who are going to actually stick with it and take it seriously.

    Recitals…. Shop around a LOT. Don’t just go by price. You want to have a good setup for your recital, even if it means charging the students a small recital fee. Churches usually have the lowest fees…. I’ve paid anywhere from free to $150 at churches. The one I’ll go back to year after year, though, is the $150 one….. good location, good arrangement of the auditorium, good accoustics, decent lighting, availability of a room for a cookie reception, etc.

      1. Wow, your website looks great, Rebecca! It is well organized and there is a lot of great information. I noticed the workshops and summer classes you offer – what a great idea! Thanks for sharing the link.

  3. Thanks! The summer classes have become very popular….to the point where the local band directors are going to require it of incoming percussionists for beginner band next year, if they haven’t already had at leaast a year of piano. I am one of the few piano teachers who actually earns/works MORE in the summer than any other time of the year.

    1. Hi Rebecca, I’ve recently moved and am in the planning stages of developing a new studio, having learned a lot from my previous set up. I was just looking through your website for some inspiration, as if there wasn’t enough on Joy’s site.

      I noticed that you have group piano lessons both for children and adults at your studio. This is an idea I’ve been toying with in my head for some time. I was just wondering if you use a particular method/series or if you use in-house materials. Are there any materials you could recommend I look at or avoid?

      Any help would be great, I can see a lot of advantages to offering group piano lessons as well as individual private ones but it’s hard to know where to start.

  4. Joy, your blog has helped ME make my studio more professional! I found your blog when I was looking for ideas for my first studio recital (which turned out to be a huge success this spring) and your advertising ideas gave me the push I needed to finally publish a website.

    I used iWeb to build my site and it was very simple. I also started a studio Facebook page; that I expect will be a hit with my students, if not their parents. As for charging an appropriate price for lessons, once a month a group of clarinet teachers and I get together to candidly talk shop, gossip and eat lunch. The community of support has been so helpful to me as I get this studio going. Reach out to your fellow teachers. 🙂

    Thanks for your blog, Joy!

    1. Thanks so much for your comment, Laura! Your studio website looks wonderful! And I’m so glad to hear you’ve managed to find a group of fellow teachers with which to establish a community. It’s so beneficial for everyone! 😀

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