I see many inquiries into the price of private piano lessons as well as many piano teachers discussing their rates within private groups on social media and this always seems to be a topic for confusion. Rates can vary widely due to a number of factors such as geography, length of the lesson, size of the locale, the teacher’s credentials, their target students, style of music being taught, and the focus of the lessons. In this post, we’ll explore the impact that these factors can have on the cost of private piano lessons.
The Impact of Geography on the Cost of Private Piano Lessons
One of the biggest factors affecting the cost of private piano lessons is geography. The size of your locale will have a tremendous impact on the costs of lessons. When I was teaching piano in a small suburb of Philadelphia, I was charging significantly less than I was charging once I moved to New York City. Even though my credentials hadn’t changed much as I was still a music student in university when I first began teaching piano in NYC, I found that even by charging an extremely conservative rate, my rates in NYC were about two to three times what I could charge in the Philadelphia suburbs.
Rates in Philadelphia can run around $60 to $75 per hour depending upon the teacher’s experience and credentials. However, rates for private piano lessons in NYC usually start around $75 to $85 per hour, and can exceed $200 per hour or more depending upon the instructor. Granted, the piano teachers on the higher end of the spectrum tend to be experienced performing artists with advanced degrees, but this can give you a rough idea of how much one’s locale can affect the price of private piano lessons.
How the Style of Music and Lesson Focus Affect the Price
This may sounds strange, but the style of music being taught and the focus of the lesson can have a significant impact on the cost of private piano lessons. I’ve seen jazz and pop piano teachers charging slightly different rates than classical piano teachers, though again, it depends upon the teacher’s experience and credentials.
Shortly after I graduated from university, I decided to take some additional jazz piano lessons with my teacher from school. As he was a world renowned jazz pianist and composer with major performing and recording credits, let’s just say that the lessons weren’t exactly cheap (though they were worth every penny!). However, I’ve heard of many other significantly less credentialed jazz piano teachers charging significantly less. I’ve found that it’s not unusual for highly recognized classical piano teachers in major metropolitan areas charging hourly rates which could compete with those of some less expensive attorneys. One important point is that lessons with teachers on this level don’t usually follow a strict time format. A one hour lessons can easily turn into a two or three hour lesson. These teachers are usually teaching for the love of passing along their craft to the next generation and aren’t easily motivated by money, except to be able to offset time taken away from other pursuits such as recording sessions and composing projects.
Some teachers will also focus on things such as specific composers or styles of music, and that can impact the cost. I used to train with a teacher in NYC who provided excellent guidance in conducting, music theory, composition, and performance. This breadth of insight and knowledge came at a premium, but was well worth it. I always left these lessons with a much deeper insight and feeling extremely motivated and inspired.
In short, it’s not so clear cut as to how much private piano lessons should cost. You can expect to spend as little as $30 to $40 per hour in a small town in the United States all the up to $75 to $85 per hour on average in a major metropolitan city, and even over $200 per hour if that teacher is a world renowned pianist. Expect to pay a slight premium if the teacher comes to your home.
I’d caution a potential piano student from allowing sticker shock to set in upon learning rates for private lessons. Do remember that most private piano teachers have extensive training in piano performance and pedagogy, and often that training and experience goes back many years. It’s quite common to find piano teachers who have invested more time in their training than many doctors currently practicing in the medical profession.
Piano lessons can have a profound impact on a child’s development, and can greatly enhance one’s quality of life. For older students, learning piano is a strategy for helping to prevent dementia, so the choice of a piano teacher is not to be taken lightly. Choosing a teaching who is a good fit for your or your child’s needs is more important than trying to save a few dollars. If a slightly more expensive teacher appears to be the right fit, don’t be concerned about those few extra dollars (if that’s a possibility for your and your budget) as it will benefit you and/or your child tremendously by instilling a love of music, learning valuable skills (problem solving, coordination, confidence, and much more), and expanding the mind.