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Opening a Music Academy Episode 1

Subheading: Know Your Motivation

When you begin exchanging money for services you are entering into a business contract, whether that be an officially verified and legally binding agreement or a simple verbal contract to agree to provide something in exchange for another item.

This is the start of your business.

It is beneficial to know why you are choosing to teach piano, what you require from the business and what is your role in this venture. A business plan details your steps to a successful service. The items within this plan will include your advertising goals and accessibility to your prospective clients, a website design concept and platforms to utilise online. Money is changing hands which means there are accounting requirements to be considered and proof of supply.

An ‘in person’ service holds risks that are mitigated by policies and protocols, this includes planning, reporting and assessment criteria. Policies and procedures keep operations from devolving into complete chaos. (Gasior, 2018). Quantifiable data will be required to be produced by the educator, so that should they be challenged it is clear who is responsible for proving that the service has been planned, charged and executed.

The service content will need clarifying. It would be pointless going to a butcher for fish, likewise attending a classical piano teacher for video game music could well be frustrating and unhelpful.

Not every pianist can teach. The old adage of ‘those who can, do, and those who cannot, teach’ (Free, 2016) is often quoted but I hope by now that this is incorrect. To teach is a skill that many pianists do not possess but being a pianist is a skill a piano teacher is required to have. Piano teachers require other strengths and skills, and to be aware of their limitations.

A few of those considerations could include;

Communication. The definition of communication in teaching incorporates the concept of effective and clear comprehension, which is essential to a learners continued progression.

Demonstrative Ability. To demonstrate the ability to play the piece, even slowly, is essential to familiarise the learner with the piece by ear rather than by eye. This takes time and practise which needs to be allocated pre lesson in preparation.

Patience. The educator must understand that the learner may take more time than they consider is required to gain a skill, lose it and find it again. Evidence of frustration on the educators behalf is detrimental not only to the learners continued attendance but also to the interpersonal relationship between educator and learner.

Organisation. The educator must exhibit the ability to coordinate skills, lessons, parents, requirements, practise, music supply and exam entry dates while maintaining a professional and approachable manner.

They must also be aware of the time and effort required to gain, retain and maintain their teaching practice and what effect it will have on their personal life, time and relationships.

The cost of music lessons by the hour must reflect the socio-economic capability of the communities around the educator, must be comparable to other similarly qualified educators and considered to be a worthy cause for the learner and the sponsor to achieve their goals.

Current fee guides, at the time of writing can be found on the Incorporated Society of Musicians website. (ISM, n.d.)

The number of hours that you can spend teaching has to be part of the equation. The ‘would-be’ educator must consider that although the hourly rate for an experienced and qualified piano educator is considered to be good due to the amount of free time that the educator potentially gains and of course, the financial benefits. Accurate assessment of the amount of time a responsible educator must take to ensure that sufficient preparation is achieved for each lesson should require serious consideration of your motivating factors.


  1. Looking at your communication skills. How do you think they will benefit your teaching practise?

  2. Record the pieces by grade that you can demonstrate from the current syllabi and see where you can improve them. This will help gauge where you can teach up to.

  3. Know your triggers, patience is needed in teaching but understand your limitations and when to take a step back. Write it down and look at areas to develop.


  1. How will you record your students attendance and progress?

  2. How will you maintain your accounts? Will it be online or in person?

  3. How will you plan and record your students progress?

For more questions and planning there is a workbook available at


Free, L. (2016). “Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.” [online] Liz Free , Independent Education Today. Available at: [Accessed 15 Feb. 2021]

Gasior, M. (2018). PowerDMS. [online] PowerDMS. Available at: [Accessed 16 Feb. 2021].

ISM. (n.d.). Private music tuition fees: our survey results 2018. [online] Available at: [Accessed 15 Feb. 2021]. he UK’s professional body for musicians and subject association for music.


Chris Caton-Greasley LLCM(TD) MA (Mus)(Open)

Ethnographic Musicologist, Teacher, Researcher

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