On raising rates for lessons

So, as many of you know who have been with me for over a year, I have not raised my rates for at least 3 years.  I have put this off for several reasons:  

I want to keep it accessible for kids to take drum and piano lessons

I fear folks leaving because they think it's "too high"

I am lazy and just haven't done it

After realizing that I have been a "heck of a deal" for so long, I decided to just do it.  The result has yet to be tallied.  First off, there is no good way for instructors or any business to raise rates.  Also there are always new students joining and it will seem too much too soon for those who aren't actually checking around on prices.  I have had to stick my plan though.  It has come to my attention from other instructors and the fact that I am having to work twice as hard to make a fair living that I just needed to bring things in line.  I pay for lessons much more than I charge and even with my rate increase, I'm still shy of what others are charging.  

You get what you pay for, especially with professional musicians.  I'm going to toot the horn here:  I've been teaching for over 20 years, I do recitals (something many other drum instructors won't do because they are so time consuming), I am a credentialed teacher, have a degree, and am a currently very active performing and recording musician.  I bring all that to my lessons with my students.  Students learn how to be a whole musician, not just the mechanics of playing the drums or piano.  Only experienced pros can teach how to be a whole musician:  not just a performer, but a professional and how to act accordingly so you get hired back.  There are many music lesson teacher "clearing houses" that offer teachers to come to your house to teach your student.  I don't recognize ANY of those percussionists.  Why?  Because they are usually not credentialed, have no degrees, or simply lack experience.  Many are young and without the finesse to relate to all ages and types of students.  I know, because I was one of them years ago.  Granted, I did have my degree before I started actually accepting money for giving lessons to anyone, I went from home to home, and was NOT prepared for some of the questions, technics, and finesse that teaching requires.  I also didn't get paid very much back then and it was a ton of effort to go around and drive to people's homes.  The companies who set these up make a pretty penny off the teachers/musicians with little or no effort at getting quality serious students.  There are exceptions, but these clearing houses drive rates down and give the public a cheap watered-down version and possibly a bad first introduction to music and playing.  

So you want a good teacher for your child?  Do your home work.  Check out what the top music stores (and I'm NOT talking about the Walmart of music stores, Guitar Center for example).  I'm talking about real music stores run by real musicians who care about your music education LONG TERM and about having a relationship with you, the actual customer.  They will refer to the best teachers in the area.  Then from there, it's just about finding the right fit.  The rates for those teachers are and should be similar.  The more $$, the higher up the food chain of teachers you will go.  Don't bottom feed for lessons, you will most likely be leaving your student with an inexperienced teacher who may not be the right fit.  

On the other hand, how do these inexperienced teachers get experience?  By being so active in the schools and music scene, that they GET on those referral lists at the real music stores, schools, colleges, and word-of-mouth.  

I did agonize about raising my rates.  I know we are still in a recession.  I have a strong intrinsic desire to teach and love it, but as my utilities, my own continuing music education, and everything else goes up, so eventually do my rates.  I'm only sorry it seems shocking to some and it's only because I put it off for too long.  In the end, I know in general that I don't get to "keep" all my students all the time, but I hope that it the value of a good music education can be seen in a broader sense.  I don't just teach the mechanics, I teach the passion and hopefully inspiration of music and all it offers.  

Well, gotta run and go take a music lesson....BTW, I'm playing more for this one than I'm charging at my new rates....and I'm happy to do it.


Love to all who bother reading this.


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