Finding a Space
The first step is to decide where you’re going to teach. There are a lot of variables to consider once you’ve made the decision to hang your teaching shingle. Here are four common options along with some of their attendant advantages and disavantages:
Teach from your home
The most obvious advantage to teaching out of your home is the commute…or lack thereof. It can be quite convenient to have your students come to you. The amount of money you’ll save on fuel, car maintanence, etc. can be quite significant. You will also-presumably- feel quite comfortable in your own space. Comfort is an importatnt consideration, especially if you’re teaching for long periods at a time.
One disadvantage of teaching out of your home is liability. You’ll want to make sure your insurance coverage protects you against any possible injury to visitors in your home and on your property. You’ll also want to make sure that operating a teaching business out of your home is legal in your city/state. If you rent, you’ll probably want to clear the idea with your landlord, as well.
If all of this sounds like too many hoops to jump through, you may want to consider one of the other suggestions in this article. If you are determined to teach at home and want to make sure you’re properly insured and licensed, talk to a lawyer!
In St. Louis there is a free legal consultation service for artists called Volunteer Lawyers and Acountants for the Arts. There are many such organizations around the United States. Make sure to check around on the internet and elsewhere to see if there is a similiar service in your area.
Teach in your students’ homes
A big advantage to this approach is that you don’t have to worry about the costs and liabilities of maintaining a teaching space. Students also tend to appreciate the convenience of an instructor coming to them.
A disadvantage to this house call approach is the time and money spent getting from lesson to lesson. Some teachers I know will tack on an extra service charge to these lessons in order to help offset the inconvenience of the commute and the costs of fuel and vehicle upkeep.
Teach at a music store
The biggest selling point for teaching in a retail music store is the walk in traffic. When you’re out on your own, you’ve got to hustle and advertise in order to build your client base. If your teaching for a music store, on the other hand, you can just kick back and wait for the students to come to you.
Music stores also tend to take care of all the administrative duties as well; answering the phone, registering the students, handling the paperwork. The only thing that is usually required of a teacher at a music store is to show up and teach!
These perks come at a price, of course. A music store will generally charge the student at a rate of about $40 hr and then take a cut for themselves. This is justified considering all of the service the store provides for the teacher (studio space, advertising, administration) but you’ll likely only see about 25 or 26 of the original 40 dollars when all is said and done.
I used to teach at a copule of stores with this basic model and eventually moved on to my own private practice. In my eyes, the extra work required to strike out on my own was well worth the significant increase in my earnings.
Rent your own studio space
This is a good option if you don’t want to involve anyone’s home or business in your teaching endeavors. Renting your own space has the advantage of providing a neutral location. You also get to exercise complete control of your lesson rates and policies.
An ideal teaching space is well-lit, well-ventialated, and free from distracting noise and activity. Schools, churches, and community organizations often have space available during their off hours. These are a good places to start looking for available rental space in which to teach.
Often times, arts organizations and neighborhood revitalization groups own space that they rent to artists and entrepeneurs at a discounted rate. Talk to people in your local arts community to get leads on possible studio space in your community.
The main disadvantage associated with renting a space is the cost. It may be hard to find a studio that fits your budget and is also located in an area convenient to your students.
If you do pay a monthly rental fee, you may consider subletting your space to other teachers during your off hours. This will help insure that you cover your rental costs and make some money for yourself in the process.
Carefully consider all of these factors when deciding where to teach. Once you’ve decided on the best location strategy for your needs…procure a space.
Then move on to Step 2 Getting the Word Out