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Alternate Career Titles:

Studio Teacher, Guitar Teacher, Piano Teacher, Vocal Teacher, Instrument Teacher

Career Overview: Instructs and teaches students how to play a specific instrument in a one-on-one or small group setting.

Career Salary Range:[ $30 to $120/hour

Private Instrument Teacher

Become a Private Instrument Teacher

Career Description

A Private Instrument Teacher teaches students how to play a specific instrument. This is not always easy, as the student is sometimes forced to take lessons by an overbearing parent. Either way though, a good Instrument Teacher can make learning any instrument exciting, and make the whole experience a good one. To learn more about the experience of teaching, check out our blog story “Five Things that Happen When You Start Teaching Music.”

Private Instrument Teachers can teach in a number of different locations, including their own home, the student’s home, a music store, a private studio, and more. When teaching, Teachers can provide instruction to a group of individuals, or to just one student at a time. Lesson length varies from 30 minutes to about an hour and usually takes place once per week. Instructors teach beginner to advanced students; some also teach professional performers.

In terms of skills, Private Instrument Teachers must be reliable and dependable because a Teacher’s reputation can be hurt by frequently canceling lessons or showing up late. Also, the Teacher must relate well to the students and should be easy to get along with. Most Private Instrument Teachers work on their own, in which case they make their own hours and decide their own rates. Others work on staff for a studio or shop, in which case the company’s policies determine schedule and pay.

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As mentioned, there is a difference between those Teachers who are self-employed and those who work for a music store or shop. Salaries also vary depending on the instrument being taught and the expertise of the Teacher. All thing considered, fees usually range from $30 to $120 per hour. However, fees naturally go up for field experts, such as jazz greats and orchestra musicians.


Employment prospects are fair, and once a Teacher obtains a few students who are satisfied, word travels quickly to other potential customers. There are many Private Instrument Teachers who work full-time as Teachers in schools and part-time giving lessons after school to interested students.


Advancement comes in the form of making higher earnings, either through gaining more students or working with more prestigious clients.

Education and Training

The Private Instrument Teacher must have the ability to play an instrument well enough to teach a student the many different techniques of playing. Thus, extensive training and/or study in the specific instrument or group of instruments is necessary to be successful. This may perhaps be professional training from a music school, or training through private lessons.

Experience, Skills, and Personality

It goes without saying, but Private Instrument Teachers must have the ability to play the instrument or instruments he or she is teaching. In addition, one of the most important traits a Teacher can possess is patience, because it takes new students a while to pick up new techniques on an instrument, and some students simply don’t have the determination to learn a new instrument. So, the Teacher must show patience and must be enthusiastic enough to communicate new techniques to the student.

Unions and Associations

Private Music Teachers do not have a union but can belong to the American Federation of Musicians (AFM) if they are performers as well. In addition, Private Music Teachers might belong to the Music Teachers National Association, Inc., the Music Educators National Conference, or the National Association of Schools of Music.

Suggestions for Getting Started

  • Visit music, record, and instrument shops in your area to discuss your credentials and the instrument or instruments you teach.
  • Drop off business cards or flyers in all the music, record, and instrument shops
  • Contact churches, temples, and synagogues in your area for positions.