How to start a music teaching business

Posted on 20th May 2021
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She wakes up at 7.40am to be online for 8am. Work is long, her eyes are tired and 5pm can’t come soon enough. Working from home isn’t all pyjamas and snacks. After work she scrolls Netflix – there’s nothing left to binge. Her gaze drifts across the room to the guitar she bought at the beginning of lockdown 1, maybe she could practice. But what to learn? 

His mum feels for him. Since school stopped, his bass lessons halted and because of lockdown his band can’t rehearse in the garage anymore. If only there was a way she could keep up his enthusiasm for bass. 

You, the competent musician, could be our unlikely hero.  

Teaching is a phenomenal skill and rewarding profession. Taking a student from their first three chord song, to navigating the changes to Giant Steps can be a satisfying and profitable endeavour. Since lockdown, how we interact with students has been forced to change. No longer can we interact face to face with clients or flex our up-to-date CRB checks. In this article, we’ll briefly touch on how to get into private teaching, online or otherwise, and share some useful links to teaching resources. So get a coffee and your glasses, time to start your practice. Your teaching practice. 

A dedicated music social media page 

Try uploading that video of you shredding blues over a backing track or a part of your practice regime, it’s content that sells you. Setting up a page on Facebook or Instagram, selling yourself as a self-employed ‘Swiss Army knife’ of musical talent, can be a great way to show off your skills. If you can play an instrument, you can do basic setups? Teach basic theory? Most of these areas go hand in hand and only add to what you can offer. Post that band video where you took a solo in those glorious gigging days, post those smouldering promo shots. When a prospective student, or parent of a student, checks your Gumtree ad this is what they’ll want to see when conducting the background check. When designing this profile, an effective bio is the most important part; list relevant qualifications and experience, sell yourself but don’t come across as arrogant. Keep it clear, well–written and concise, without too much musical language or too many guitar puns. Timmy’s Dad isn’t going to understand “expert in sweeping away arpeggio confusion”. 

Post adverts 

Without advertising yourself, no student will ever hear about all the relevant, valuable knowledge you have. In terms of the less popular physical realm, there are business cards. These have a limited use but can be used to pin on notice boards or leave on foyer tables, and most rehearsal rooms, universities or music shops have a space for such selective littering.  

Advertising virtually, through websites like Gumtree, is an easy way to secure parents, just be mindful that this platform doesn’t work for everyone and that the messaging notifications aren’t amazing, so regular checking is advised. Another route is to create a profile on a specialist teaching platform, like Tutorful or Music Tutors, these websites help promote you and act as a directory of talented music educators for the public to peruse. The only downsides of such websites, is that they will expect a cut, so take this into consideration when planning your pricing. Services like this also exist for physical teaching (for when lockdown is over of course), companies like SAM, based in Brighton, have local equivalents across the country and help to get teachers working in schools and even sometimes on owned sites. 

Turning it into a business 

A step further from mere advertisement could be website creation. This may sound like a daunting and costly process, but it’s cheaper than you think and with the money it can generate it’s worth looking into. A great, but not the only, place to start is with a website creation template or tool, like Square Space or Wix. Although not always free, both offer great services which simplify the process of web design and make creating a great looking, easy to navigate website easy. From here it is worth considering Search Engine Optimisation, SEO. When you do SEO, in effect you’re honing your site to show up more frequently in search engines by adding or removing elements. The easiest way to start SEO is with key words, increasing the frequency with which key phrases are mentioned and incorporating links to other relevant websites. Don’t be afraid to discuss competitors – mentions of other relevant searches help boost your own SEO.  

Off-site methods of SEO include getting other websites to link to yours, this can take time and requires you to put out some great content that people want to share. Although important, never pay for this. You can do it for free and paid for promotion actually damages your results. A final and important type of SEO, especially for a music tutor, is a local SEO. Creating a Google My Business Profile and linking it to your website can help your business skyrocket, as when people search “music tutors near me” your business will appear like any other local shop as close by.   

Finishing touches 

So finally, once you’ve put yourself out there and had a few recipients, what next? It can be worth offering a free initial consultation or even a free/discounted lesson to see where your student wants to go, what they want to achieve and if you can help each other. This links back to your bio, it’s important to be honest about your ability and experience to make sure you attract appropriate students. Other considerations are what are you going to teach, music grades? Like ARSM or trinity? Music theory? Also what could help improve your practice? Getting a music qualification like the courses offered at WaterBear or an ARSM CME certificate can help you push your teaching and make you more appealing to students. 

Useful Links 

Find Information on Water Bear’s courses Here 

The ARSM CME, can be found Here  

A link to Tutorful 

A link to Music Tutors  

Twentieth Century Harmony serves as a great book for more advanced students to learn from. 

A useful link for teaching trinity low graders Here  

To find out more, check out our courses here.

by Will Francis
Performing initially around central Essex in quiet, rain-soaked jazz dives, Will now resides in the windy-indie city of Brighton, finding his place in the growing RnB and Soul scene. Having played guitar, bass and synth for numerous acts over the years, in numerous venues and at a variety of festivals, he is an experienced session player, composer and guitar/theory educator.
View all posts by Will Francis

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