This one is tricky because “expensive” means different things to different people. To a millionaire a $10,000 couch is no biggie, but to a regular person…well let’s just say that couch better grow gold. One thing that you can rely on is that cheap teachers will be a lot less experienced than the more expensive teachers, usually. But how cheap is too cheap? What is normal? Let’s have a look at some price ranges and what you will find behind them. Keep in mind that the prices below are per hour, so if price is a problem, you can always take 30 or 45-minute lessons.
• TIER 1 – $15/hr: These will usually be high school students trying to make some extra change. Depending on your skill level this might suit your needs. Usually, it’s not enough and I highly advise against it, primarily to avoid building bad habits.
• TIER 2 – $20-$25/hr: College freshman and sophomores charge this much depending on their experience. Some really, really good high schoolers might charge this much too. This could be a good starting point for middle schoolers who can’t afford much more but still want to start taking lessons. If you’re really serious I suggest going to tier 3.
• TIER 3 – $30-$45/hr: Here, depending on the area you live in, you will start to find good teachers with experience. For example, $40/hr in Columbia, South Carolina will get you a Master’s student, but in New York City it might get you a college freshman. To be clear, that’s 5-6 years difference of experience. This is a good price range for affordability and a decent teacher.
• TIER 4 – $50-$65/hr: This is your price range for a very good teacher. This is the teacher that will get you places if you are willing to work. Some college professors charge in this range, people with Master’s and Doctoral degrees in music or people with a ton of playing and teaching experience do too. The low end works for small cities and the higher range for slightly bigger places. This is my personal recommendation for a really good teacher that will set you on the right path.
• TIER 5 – $65-$85/hr: Here we are talking nationally known teacher, player or both. These people usually, but not always, either teach in a university or hold a position in a very good symphony orchestra. The top end of this price range will be for bigger cities like Dallas or Chicago.
• TIER 6 – $90/hr and up: This is “famous” status. I once paid $150 for a lesson with Terry Everson (super awesome player in Boston, look him up) and it was a great lesson, but it hurt a little bit to pay that much. So, this level of lesson is what I consider a treat or special occasion. Use it wisely. Unless of course you’ve got it like that, then by all means, splurge and send some donations to THQ!
So there you have it. Remember that some of these can be greatly affected by where you live, experience the teacher has and the demand of teachers. In a very small city or rural town you might find a fantastic teacher for the “tier 3” price. I hope this break down helps you and/or your parents figure out how much is fair, and maybe it will also help you establish how much to charge for your own studio!