After recently adding a Boston Grand to my home (read about it here), I’ve gotten this question several times: “So will you teach from home now?” My answer is, no. The point of this post is not to bash those who do teach from home. Instead, I want to share my perspective on why I don’t desire to teach from my home. Here’s my main reasons:
- I did not grow up going to lessons in someone’s home. I grew up going to a multi-teacher studio with a waiting room, recital hall, front desk, etc. Because this is what I grew up with, this is what seemed normal to me. I never imagined that I would teach from home.
- Until very recently I have never had the set-up needed to teach from home. When I was first married and in grad school we lived in a tiny one-bedroom apartment. After that we rented a small house for nearly 5 years. I had a digital piano for when I absolutely needed to practice at home, but I wouldn’t consider it a quality teaching instrument. Just over a year ago we bought our first house, and just last month we finally bought a piano. Now that I have an established studio elsewhere I don’t have any desire to take students in my home.
- I like the separation of work and home. This doesn’t mean I never do work at home. I often blog at home, answer emails, etc. But I do like that I can leave the office for my time off. I like that if a student shows up at the wrong time, or on the wrong day, they are not knocking on my front door. They arrive at the studio, find the door locked, and realize they got it wrong. I also like that they leave their messes and germs at the studio and not in my home, eek!
- I appreciate having someone else back up the policies and collect tuition. While I like teaching, I hate confrontation. I would be terrible at collecting late tuition, or backing up tough policies. I just wouldn’t enjoy it. By teaching at a multi-teacher studio I don’t have to do these things. Someone else does them for me. My relationship with the student and parent is not affected by their tuition payments.
- Teaching out of a home seems strange to me. I can’t really think of any other professions where it’s normal for someone to have clients come to their house. I earned a master’s degree so that I could teach piano, and I am nationally certified. This is my full time job and my profession. To me teaching from a place of business seems much more professional. I’m not saying that you can’t be a professional if you teach at home. But I think because of my background (see point #1), it just seems strange.
- There are benefits for the students as well. I think it’s good for kids to see other kids taking piano. My students see their friends coming to piano with other teachers. Siblings can be scheduled at the same time with multiple teachers, or friends can carpool after school. Piano is often a solitary activity, especially compared to other team activities. Teaching at a multi-teacher studio creates more of a community feel for students and parents.
I know that teaching for someone else means I don’t personally bring in as much money per lesson taught as I would if I taught for myself. But I also appreciate the benefits of having someone else handle a lot of studio business. This means I can spend more time teaching, writing this blog, volunteering for my state and local MTAs, etc. I also have very few business expenses. I don’t have to maintain my piano, buy music for students, pay for printing costs, pay for the recital venue, etc. The time that is freed up by not having to manage studio business, plus the business expenses that are not my responsibility make it worth it for me.
Do you teach from home or away from home? Why?
Spring Seals, NCTM, teaches 60 piano students ranging from age 3 to 70 in Fort Worth, Texas. She also serves as the Director of Certification for TMTA. She is passionate about helping teachers become more effective in their studios through professional development, new resources, and fresh ideas.
I teach from home. Until very recently, I had never met a piano teacher who taught anywhere BUT from home!
I did look into the option of joining a local studio, but their lesson fees made lessons too expensive for many families to consider, but the amount I would need to pay them made it actually a bit less profitable for me. Keeping my overhead to a minimum allows me more freedom with my rates, like if I want to offer sibling discounts.
Other reasons… When my kids were young I could have a babysitter come to my home while I was teaching, rather than putting them in childcare and having them catching every virus going around. Now my kids are older and can be at home while I am teaching, working on their homeschooling independently or even helping me with younger students’ lessons (one of mine has a beautiful young soprano voice so she really can help with singing). If a student’s lesson is canceled, I can use that time to get something done.
There are obviously downsides as well, and if teaching from home you do need to exercise appropriate caution in screening your students. But for me the pros outweigh the cons.
Hi Karen! Thanks for the comment! I don’t have kids, so I may feel differently when I do, but for now I still like having the separation of work and home. When students cancel, I always have plenty of work I can do in that time, catching up with correspondences, lesson planning, ordering books, etc. So I don’t feel like that time is wasted even if I’m not at home. I know plenty of teachers who teach from home and enjoy it, it just never seemed like quite the right choice for me.