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New teacher - help please!


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#1 DString

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Posted 04 November 2019 - 21:51

Hi All -

It’s been a long time since I posted on here (probably around a decade!)

I have finally taken the leap and I have bought my own house and have recently started thinking about teaching violin and piano from home (will only be a couple of evenings a week, maximum).

Sorry for the simple question but what kind of things do I need to start thinking about? I’ve thought about putting a card in some shop windows to gain interest and was thinking along the lines of £20 per hour. I know what standards I’m able to teach and I do have a DBS certificate but was wondering if there was anything I might have overlooked?

Very sorry if there are similar threads to this but I haven’t spotted any yet...

Many thanks in advance,

DString
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#2 Latin pianist

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Posted 04 November 2019 - 22:29

Before you have people approach you for lessons, you need to decide on terms and conditions eg if you will charge if people miss lessons or whether you will have a cancellation policy. I found a postcard in a shop window worked for me, and then it was word of mouth, but I know a lot of teachers now have a website. Also, is £20 an hour a suitable price for your area? Do you know what other local teachers charge? Good luck with your new venture.
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#3 ma non troppo

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Posted 04 November 2019 - 22:55

You also need to look into public liability insurance, registering as self employed with the IR, considering if your new home is suitable for students to visit - I.e parking, neighbours, noise etc. Also you will have to declare you are teaching from home or your home insurance may be invalid. The fees you are considering charging sound rather cheap to me - but may be all right in the area you are in. It is best to charge the going rate for your area. Plus there will be other expenses - do make sure you charge enough!

Best of luck!
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#4 Piano Jan

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Posted 05 November 2019 - 07:29

When I started teaching piano at home (about 15 years ago) I struggled to find any information about how to go about it. Years later - and having worked out a lot of it myself - I decided to help new teachers in the same situation and set up a blog site - http://teachpianoathome.com/. Some of the info may be a little out of date by now - and I'm now too busy teaching myself to add to it. However, other new teachers who post on this website have said they found it useful. The info (very similar with just a couple of additions) is also in e-book form (If I Can Teach Piano, So Can You! - available at https://www.amazon.co.uk/Can-Teach-Piano-You-piano-teaching-ebook/dp/B00LI15Q2M

 

I agree that your rate sounds a little on the cheap side (maybe £12 per half hour instead?) - but you need to compare with others in your area. 

 

If you have any questions along the way, there are always plenty of people on this forum, willing and able to help.

- Jan


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#5 Dorcas

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Posted 05 November 2019 - 10:44

Consider joining EPTA, even as an associate member.  I agree with the recommendations that you need to think about the impact teaching will have on your neighbours, your own household, and insurance.  You will need to find an insurer who will accept you work from home, even just a few hours a week.  Not telling them will invalidate your own building and contents insurance, so it is just not worth it.

 

Personally, think about buying some second hand tutor books on Ebay.  Study them, and think which areas they are useful, and where they are lacking.  How would you overcome this?  Write some lesson plans for complete beginners, those returning to instrumental lessons, as well as intermediate and advanced students.  Also, draw up a list of easy to purchase repertoire.  Musicroom is a good resource online.

 

Without a shadow of a doubt, terms and conditions are essential, as well as simple policies, which is why I recommended EPTA, they provide suitable forms and stationery.  Also practise, in your head, inforcing your terms and conditions, as sure as eggs are eggs, people always try and rewrite them or interpret them to suit themselves, and they only work if you make them work.

 

Get a basic listing on Yell, as it is free, and look at other online listings.  From my own experience, most people seem to do online searches for instrumental teachers now.

 

Good luck.


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#6 ma non troppo

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Posted 05 November 2019 - 10:52

You can easily get a free website too - WordPress is easy to set up.
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#7 thara96

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Posted 05 November 2019 - 10:57

Before you start lessons, you need to decide how much you expect for teaching, hours of work and so on. I also advise a cancellation policy in case. What is your area's going rate for music lessons? Also, which instruments will you teach? Another thing to consider is whether or not you wish to use ABRSM or Trinity syllabuses for instruments? That is important and must be decided early on to avoid confusion by the end of the first ever lesson. 

 

How will you advertise for pupils? This is another important thing to think about. Find out how much other good local music teachers ask for, use that as a guide to help you decide about fees for lessons etc. So many music teachers nowadays either advertise online on specific websites for teachers or on Facebook. Will you expect your students to do exams? I also strongly recommend finding out at the first lesson what the specific learning style of the student is. Payment method also must be taken into account here. 

 

Then you can tailor the content of the lessons plus teaching methods accordingly. Additionally a mini first assessment to engage the pupil and motivate them is a good idea so you can get a idea of what you need to work on with them during lessons in the future. You can use that information to your advantage when you are trying to think of goals. Which leads me to the length of the lesson, it is up to you. But I do not recommend more than 30 minutes for a very young pupil of about three or four years old. I think the best thing is to be flexible for the sake of the pupil who you are going to teach. 


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#8 maggiemay

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Posted 05 November 2019 - 12:22

Quote. ‘ Another thing to consider is whether or not you wish to use ABRSM or Trinity syllabuses for instruments? That is important and must be decided early on to avoid confusion by the end of the first ever lesson

 

Why ? Exams and exam boards are some of the things furthest from my mind in the first lesson with a new pupil. 

 

I generally operate a ‘trial period of about a month with a new pupil - especially a very young one. You can find out a lot during that time, including whether a child is ready for one-to-one lessons or not!  Half an hour is certainly plenty, with a new beginner, although I will sometimes start with 20 minutes and build up. 

 

Some good advice about deciding how you will work, particularly in LP’s post, number 2 in this thread. Good luck! 


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#9 HelenVJ

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Posted 05 November 2019 - 12:54

Another vote for joining ESTA and EPTA, and possibly doing the EPTA Teachers' course ( whatever it's called now - check the website)  - or at least dropping in to some of their Open Days. You will get plenty of useful advice on all the practicalities.

I agree with maggie may that there is absolutely no need to start thinking about possible exam routes when you are taking on new beginners! You won't need to do that for some time. I prefer to make it clear to prospective parents that my teaching is not exam-based and that we won't be mentioning the subject. But you could think about what performance opportunities you'd like to provide for your students.
I'm not sure it's possible - or even advisable - to find out much about the student's learning style in the first few lessons ( and hasn't that theory been debunked by now?!). But you will find out about their work ethic, and how practice will fit into their schedules. Important to be clear with parents how much support they will need to give to the younger beginners. My requirement is that a parent sits in on the lesson for at least the first term in the case of aged 5-7-year-olds, and then gives some help with supervising practice - some children need/prefer more than others.

Might be a good idea to decide how much you are going to rely on a method book, and how much time you want to spend on other supplementary activities such playing by ear, rote work, and improvisation. Also whether your lesson fee will include theory as a separate topic as your students progress.

While you are thinking about setting up a website, you could organise a free Facebook page for your locality, and also a Google ad


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#10 Piano Jan

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Posted 06 November 2019 - 07:42

I would also definitely recommend having your own website. I don't go into this on my blog website which I mentioned previously (i.e. the one giving advice, rather than a site aimed at attracting more business). However, around two years ago I seemed to be losing students for one reason or another (moving away from the area, too busy with GCSEs etc etc.) so my husband put together a website for me (I'm not great with technology). Most of my new business now comes in this way - and particularly adult learners, which is a welcome change. (I still enjoy teaching children as well - but the mix makes the job more interesting).

 

As for deciding on an exam board - as the previous contributor says - you don't have to do this at this stage - especially if you're focusing on beginners. However, it's something I am glad I did for various reasons. One is that some children/parents are happier if there's a goal. If I am able to show them a grade 1 ABRSM exam book (which I only ever do on request) - it gives them an idea of what they may (or may not) choose to aim for. Choosing to enter students for exams doesn't mean that is the only way you teach - but I have found many learners (including the adults) find it the most rewarding.

 

Also - assuming you are willing to take on students who have come from another teacher - you need to decide if you are happy to deal with several exam boards. I made the decision to stick with ABRSM and would not accept students who insisted on taking exams through one of the other boards. This is not because I have anything against the other exam boards … just that I didn't want more of my time taken up familiarising myself with different syllabuses, scale requirements, exam timetables etc. You'll find there is plenty of this already! As it happens, I have never had to turn away a single student … but I'm glad I've made that decision and haven't ended up getting myself into a situation where one new person was significantly adding to the admin. burden.


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#11 stringfellow

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Posted 06 November 2019 - 08:03

Lots of great suggestions, can I add to this?

Have they got a piano at home or even a keyboard?

I quite like a parent to sit in for the first few lessons and then I like to teach one to one.

I also keep to school term dates as this only causes confusion otherwise.

Make sure the parents and pupil realise that 10 minutes a day practice is preferable to 20 minutes the day before a lesson.

 

Be very strict about a cancellation policy it is so annoying to get a text 5 minutes before a lesson only to find it is being cancelled.

Also, if they arrive late (whatever the excuse) finish on time and that usually sorts that issue out pretty quickly.

 

Your rate sounds quite low but it differs around the country.  I think you gain more respect if you charge the going rate.  You could offer the first lesson as a free one to attract pupils.

 

Best of luck


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#12 Latin pianist

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Posted 06 November 2019 - 08:07

I do mainly use abrsm but there are students for whom Trinity or LCM seem a better option. It's very easy to download their syllabuses so I wouldn't rule out other boards.I've actually enjoyed exploring the other boards repertoire. Also, it sounds as if you are not wanting a vast number of students so I would try the postcard line first before launching into setting up a website.
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#13 Iulia

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Posted 09 November 2019 - 15:18

Start a FB page - cheap and easy, and if you start posting content now you won't seem like a 'new' teacher when people search for you. And you can run ads also cheaply in your local area from a FB page.

 

£20 an hour seems very cheap to me also, so do check the going rate in your area. I think the MU suggested rate is £37 an hour? If you can't get that where you are its one thing, but don't start cheaply thinking you will raise the rates when you get established ...


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#14 thara96

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Posted 15 November 2019 - 09:00

Try to be consistent. I think a website is a good idea, that way you can provide info on prices, times etc. But if you do not have much time you can use a online tutor directory instead. There are plenty of those as well. 


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#15 Dorcas

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Posted 15 November 2019 - 22:01

The only remark I would make about setting up a website, is unless you are IT literate, it can be like lighting a candle, then putting an upturned bucket on top.   Do find as many free listings as possible, and do a search for tutor pages I agree with setting up a Facebook page.  It might be an idea not to allow comments to be posted directly to the page, to avoid having to moderate it.  That can be time consuming.  Look for local business and community groups, and post a link to your business page.  Do follow each FB group's guidelines on posting.  Some have strict polices on which days adverts can be placed.  It could be embarrassing if you are admonished publicly.

 

Be careful about listing your precise address online, as that can be a security issue, as I have found. Sometimes people can just turn up at your door.  Stick with a strict appointments only policy.  What I found,  working from home, is people assume you are available at any time of the day, and have no valid reason not to accommodate changes of your teaching schedule, as, well, you can always drop whatever else it is you have been doing.  It also cuts down on junk mail.  I would also set up a seperate email address for your pupils, as sometimes an enquiry can be missed in your inbox.  If you can set up folders, that can work, but if your personal email address indicates something cute or is jokey, it can look unbusiness like.  

 

Wherever you do teach, make sure it has a dual purpose in the house, or you will be liable for business council tax.  A separate studio is fantastic, but make sure there is a domestic use for it as well.  

 

Do consider how you are going to maintain confidentiality, both yours and the students.  Make sure your personal documents, including bank statements are not easily visible.  I had issues with people wanting to see my diary to check when I was free.  All perfectly innocent, but you are inadvertently disclosing your other students' names.  Also, it can mean that you are asked to teach at hours which are not convenient for you.

 

Do think about your own personal safety.  Some parents, and some adult students can have unrealistic expectations about progress and ability.  Imagining how you could defuse then bring to an end a difficult conversation, can be a useful tool. Don't write a script, but having a couple of scenarios which you can adapt has worked for me.  Better than having a steaming row!   Parents can be very defensive of their children, it's natural, so if things seem a little tense, try and work out why, and aim for calm clarity.  

 

Sorry for long post.  Some of the posts above dredged up a few experiences.  :rofl:


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