The Cost Of Piano Lessons

Piano Teacher and Students

The average cost of piano lessons in 2019 varies from $30 to $60 dollars per hour in the U.S., 45CAD to 70CAD per hour in Canada,  £35 to £65 in the UK, 25AUD to 70AUD in Australia, and 40€ to 60€ in France.

Take these prices with a grain of salt as your specific circumstances will vary.  For instance, maybe your brother-in-law is an excellent piano teacher and will teach you for free.  Or, you may live in New York city where the cost of living is high.  That would make your area’s piano lesson hourly rates well above average.

High cost of living areas will have above average hourly piano lesson rates, whereas low cost of living areas will usually be below the “average” hourly lesson rate.

Factors that affect piano teacher hourly rates

1. Teacher’s Reputation And Experience

A piano teacher’s reputation can greatly affect the amount they can charge no matter where they are located. 

An excellent performer who is also known to be an excellent teacher can be extremely expensive, charging over $100 per hour.  However, don’t assume that a good performer is also a good teacher.

On the other hand, your aunt Hilda may not charge a high hourly rate, but may be a very good piano teacher. 

You would think that a graduate from a distinguished music school would surely be the best teacher and they do command higher rates.  Unfortunately, due to the ingrained “issues” with traditional piano pedagogy, in many cases you will be throwing your money away due to lack of progress, and assume the problem is with you, not your “accredited” teacher.

2. Location

Geographic Location

The cost of living in your area will be a big factor in determining the average cost of piano lessons.  In general, rural areas with small populations will be less expensive than large cities.  However, that depends on the individual characteristics of the rural area or city.

The Philippines has a low cost of living as compared New York City.  So a $100 piano lesson in New York may only cost PhP5,00 (Less than $10) in the Philippines.  However, thanks to the internet and services like Skype, Zoom and GoToMeeting, locations with fast enough WiFi can level the playing field for the tech savvy student.

Piano Lesson Location

Where your teacher actually is during your lesson may also affect the cost of piano lessons.  If your lesson is at your teacher’s studio and costs $50 for an hour, an online Skype, Zoom, or GoToMeeting lesson will probably be the same price as in person.

However, if the piano teacher is willing to come to your house, that same lesson will probably be $60 to $70 dollars to cover the teacher’s travel expenses.

3. Lesson Length

Obviously, duration of the lesson will change the price.  Here is the price difference for 60 minute, 45 minute, and 30 minute lessons from the Piano Lessons New York City website – https://www.pianolessonsnyc.net in February 2019 (which also includes the lesson location difference):

Cost versus piano lesson length

How To Save Money On Piano Lessons

Don’t make price the most important factor when choosing a piano teacher.  If you go for the lowest cost teacher, thinking that you can “upgrade” to a better one later, think again.

It is very important to start with the best teacher you can afford from the very beginning.  This is due to the nature of habit development in learning motor skills.  When you start out on the wrong foot, it will be an arduous task to un-learn bad practice habits.  

Beginner piano students need the eagle eye of a good instructor to nip any problems in the bud right from the start.

Some studios/teachers do give a discount for committing to lessons over a longer period of time.  If there is a choice, you can choose to purchase lessons in advance which in most cases can reduce the piano lesson’s hourly rate.  Here are a couple of examples:

Piano Lessons New York City currently charges

  • $85 for a one-time 1 hour lesson,
    $80 for a 1 hour monthly lesson, and
    $75
    per hour for their 15 week semester based lessons.

University of Southern California School of Music charges 

  • $489 for a 14 week semester of 45 minute lessons.  That’s $489 / 14 = ($34.92 per lesson) and $130 for three 45 minute lessons.  $130 / 3 = ($43.33 per lesson).

It could be that the most expensive lessons are the best way to save you money.  No matter how much or little you spend on lessons if there is no progress, then you are wasting all of your money.  If the most expensive teacher delivers results, and the others do not, then the most expensive would be the least expensive.

Hidden Costs Of Piano Lessons To Consider

Piano Investment

You’ll want to have access to a piano with a weighted keyboard (if digital) or an acoustic piano with a properly regulated action.  

The average price for a decent quality acoustic upright piano is $4,500 to $8,500. A baby grand piano is around $6,000 to $12,000.  A grand piano’s average cost in 2019 is around $22,000.

If you are a raw beginner you may want to purchase an inexpensive keyboard to start.  Make sure it is at the very least “touch sensitive” with semi-weighted keys.  

Here’s an example of a temporary beginner keyboard:

Alesis Recital 88-Key Beginner Digital Piano

Beginner digital piano with semi-weighted keys

If you own an acoustic piano, or you just inherited one for free, you’ll need to get it tuned. In the US, that will cost between $120 to $140 on average.  

If there are any “issues” such as keys that don’t work, broken strings, unevenly keyboard action, you’ll need to decide if it is worth repairing.  Make sure to get an estimate by a qualified technician before moving a “free” piano.

Purchase Sheet Music

If you are not technically savvy, or prefer printed music instead of online materials, you will spend anywhere from $20 to $100 or more per year acquiring printed music.

Most students are comfortable with technology nowadays.  There are a number of ways to acquire new music on the internet.  Here are two subscription based sheet music sites:

https://www.pianostreet.com/ – $10.75 per month (if you pay the $129 annual fee)

https://www.scribd.com/ – $8.99 per month

Here is the most popular site for piano sheet music in the public domain:

IMSLP (imslp.org) – FREE CLASSICAL SHEET MUSIC

IMSLP stands for the International Music Score Library Project and was started in 2006. The logo on the main page is a capital letter A. It was taken from the beginning of the very first printed book of music, the Harmonice Musices Odhecaton. It was published in Venice in 1501 by Ottaviano Petrucci, the library’s namesake.

Registration & Administration Fees

Some piano teaching studios and private teachers charge an extra “fee” to cover administrative costs.  Here are a few examples:

  • Piano Pathways in Baton Rouge, Louisiana:An annual enrollment fee of $70 per child ($100 for a family of two or more children enrolled) is added to the May invoice or time of enrollment for new students. If a student begins lessons other than the summer or fall session, a registration fee of $25 is applied.  Festival and competition fees are not included in the semester tuition. The adult private student fee is $30.
  • Piano Central Studios in Greenville, South Carolina:Registration Fees are charged at the time of enrollment for new students and thereafter in September of each year for returning students. Registration fees are non-refundable.  The registration fee is an all-inclusive, once-annual fee that covers various recital and performance events fees, as well as registration processing.  No registration fee for Kindermusik students, $45 for PreK-12 students, and $15 for adult students.
  • Marie Harris in Sandy, Utah:A Non-Refundable Studio Materials Fee per student is required for each academic year of $35.00. This fee enables me to provide students with incentives, awards, miscellaneous, handouts, CD’s, loaner music, recital hall fees, online theory and sight reading subscriptions, etc. New Students: Pay one time $25 Binder Fee. Includes all documents needed for student

Travel Expenses

If you have to travel to your piano teacher’s studio don’t forget to factor in paying for gas, parking and any other means of travel expenses such as bus or train fare.

Standard payment plans for piano lessons

Don’t be surprised if your teacher asks for payment in advance on a monthly basis.  This is standard practice.  Here are a few examples:

Marie Harris in Sandy, Utah:

  • Tuition is a monthly flat rate due whether your child attends his/her lesson or not. Tuition remains the same each month and is based on a 12 month period, that is divided into monthly payment installments that can be paid with different payment options. (see below)Tuition is due the first week of every month but no later than the 10th of the month.  Add a late fee of $15 if payment is made after the 10th.Your monthly tuition reserves you the lesson day and time for your son/daughterMethods of payment:There are several methods of payment:
    Cash – Please put cash in an envelope with student’s name on the outside
    Online bill pay through your bank
    Personal checks made payable to Marie’s Piano Studio
    Paypal only using the family and friends option
    Credit Card – Stripe on MMS (My Music Staff)
    Venmo – free App

Sarah Terrell in Arlington, Virginia:

  • My studio runs 48 weeks out of the year (one week off at Thanksgiving, one week off at Christmas, and 2 weeks off to be used at my discretion). Tuition is as follows:30 minute lesson:  $180 per month
    45 minute lesson:  $260 per month
    60 minute lesson:  $320 per monthTuition calculation: lesson rate x 48 weeks ÷ 12 months

Paying for a certain number of lessons at once in advance is common practice also.

Jeff Scott (Delaware Piano Studio) in Bridgeville, Delaware:

  • Tuition – cost per quarter$280 for 30 min. lessons
    $380 for 45 min. lessons
    Payment is due the week before the semester starts.
    Make checks payable to Jeff Scott.
    Rescheduling requires a 24 hour notice.  There is no registration fee.ScheduleQuarters are 10 weeks in length. Students are expected to commit to all 4 quarters.
    Lessons will be available in July & August, if desired.
    2 weeks off over Christmas and New Years (12/21-1/6).

Some private teachers still charge per lesson, but the more common practice seems to be monthly.


Refund Policy For Piano Lesson Advance Payments

Make sure you know in advance what your piano teacher’s policy for missing your piano lesson.   When unforeseen circumstances cause you to miss a lesson, you don’t want the unexpected to cause friction between you and your teacher.  Here are the refund policies of a few teachers:

Snider School Of Music in Toronto, Ontario (Canada)

  • LESSON CANCELLATION POLICYCancellation of a lesson must be made AT LEAST 24 hours prior to the scheduled lesson time in order to receive a make-up lesson (for definition of a make-up lesson, please see below).  This includes leaving messages on the answering machine or eMail.No shows or failure to notify the school/teacher within 24 hours is considered a forfeited lesson.No more than 2 cancellations per set of 5 lessons.If you know of dates ahead of time where you/your child cannot make a lesson, please notify the school when booking/paying for your lessons.There are NO refunds on unused or cancelled lessons.Should you choose to take a break, unused lessons can be banked for you for a period of 3 months.  Unused lessons after that time will be considered forfeited.Credits CANNOT be transferred from teacher to teacherShould you decide to stop taking lessons altogether, please give your teacher 2 lessons notice.

Sarah’s Music Studio in West Middlesex, Pennsylvania:

  • Students who are ill SHOULD NOT attend lessons. If you are too sick to attend school, you are too sick to attend your lesson. Please notify the teacher by 12pm if you cannot attend. Students who are mildly ill can schedule a FaceTime, Skype, or Google Hangout lesson during their regular time.Students are allowed to reschedule ONE lesson per semester in the event of illness, family emergency or school events. Please provide 48 hour notice if possible. Reschedules are not for students who miss lessons due to play dates, games, non-emergency appointments or family vacations.Reschedules may occur in the form of group lessons if individual times are not available.“No-Show” Lessons are Forfeit: Repeat “no shows” will result in removal from the schedule without tuition reimbursement. (3 Strike Rule!)Exceptions to the Rules: The more notice given, the more flexibility YOU have to reschedule. Look at your schedule in advance! Life can be crazy sometimes – talk to me – open communication is key!

Kathleen’s Piano Studio in Sardis (Chilliwack), British Columbia

  • Cancellation Fee: For students withdrawing from private lessons, a cancellation fee that is equivalent to 4 lessons will be charged unless 4 full weeks’ notice is given (28 days).Missed Lesson Policy:  Kathleen’s Piano Studio is under no obligation to provide refunds or make-up missed lessons unless the lesson is cancelled by the teacher.  Lessons missed by the teacher will be re-scheduled or a refund will be offered.  If 12 hours’ notice is provided by the parent/student that a lesson will be missed due to sickness Kathleen’s Piano Studio will place your name on a list and will inform you of any available lesson times that open up in the next 5 weeks.  A make-up lesson however is not guaranteed and you will still be charged the full amount for the missed lesson.


How To Know You Are Getting Your Money’s Worth

Piano lesson costs can add up over the years.  However, it’s really easy to judge whether you are getting your money’s worth from your piano teacher in each lesson.  Simply ask yourself these two questions:

  1. Did you learn something new with every single lesson?
  2. After implementing what you have learned in your last lesson, did it improve your ability to play well?

This is the only true “are you getting your money’s worth” teacher test possible.  No amount of technical prowess, or years of schooling at an elite music school will give an individual the ability to help another human being learn how to play the piano.

A competent piano teacher will teach you something new every lesson and you will know if your lesson was an expense, or an investment by the level of progress you have made.


Conclusion

Average cost of piano lessons are from $30 to $60 per hour in 2019.  A teacher’s reputation, experience, lesson location and length of lesson will determine the hourly charge for piano lessons.  

You may think you are saving on beginner lessons by starting out with the least expensive piano teacher in your area.  However, that would be a very bad idea because of the need to learn excellent practice habits from a competent teacher right from the start.

You can sometimes save money by committing to a larger number of lessons at a time.  However, saving money is the last thing you should focus on when choosing a piano teacher. 

Remember you will need to purchase a piano good enough to develop fine motor skills.  This means a weighted (or semi-weighted) digital piano/keyboard.  If you have an older piano that is in need of tuning or other repairs, make sure to factor that into the cost of lessons.

You’ll need to buy sheet music and whatever other materials your teacher requires.  Online subscriptions to quality websites that offer piano sheet music will work for the tech savvy student.  Some teachers/studios have registration/administration sign-up fees that add to your piano lesson costs.  Another added expense may be travel costs such as gas, parking, bus-fare or train-fare if you have to leave your home for lessons.

Your teacher may have a strict lesson refund policy, which may be no refunds, so make sure to know exactly what it is in advance, so that you are not taken by surprise in the event that you cannot make it to your piano lesson.

Always ask yourself if you have learned something new with each lesson, and after implementing it during your piano practice, did it improve your playing?  This will guarantee that you are getting your money’s worth each lesson.

You should now have a good idea of the cost of piano lessons.

Happy Learning!

Bill Deputy (pianodragon.com)