Estimating your income from private music lessons

Estimating your income from private music lessons - image violinist on

When you start building your private studio it can be hard to estimate how many students you will need in order to provide enough income. 

At the beginning stages recruiting more and more students is the main goal. At some point, you might find that you are working too much and do not enjoy teaching anymore. How many students should be enough to provide finances for a comfortable living? I have met teachers who teach from 20 – 60+ students.

I would like to discuss what kind of income you can expect from your private students. Here is an analysis of my studio income based on my experience with my students. I used my income data from the months of September, October, and November 2019.

Your actual income will vary somewhat depending on your studio policies. I have fairly liberal studio policies. I do not charge students for last-minute cancelations due to sickness. I do not want sick students taking lessons and getting me sick as well. You will be losing lessons every month due to numerous holidays (Labor Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, etc). My schedule is very busy and I almost never do make up lessons. My studio is well established and most of my students have been taking lessons with me for multiple years. The vast majority of my students are committed to piano lessons and try their best not to miss lessons unnecessary.

I calculated my projected income based on every student taking 4 lessons a month. My actual income came in around 87% of the projected number. This real-world calculation accounted for students canceling due to being sick or having other commitments. I also canceled a few lessons because of various reasons – two concerts, a couple of sick days, and holidays. 

You can see in the chart below the difference between projected and actual income based on my experience running a studio. The chart does not account for other expenses – such as gas, mileage, instrument maintenance, insurance, taxes, rent, etc. 

projected income/ student monthly

actual income/ student monthly  
$25 $100/month $87/month  
$30 $120/month $104/month  
$35 $140/month $121/month  
$40 $160/month $139/month  

I hope that you find this information helpful. I am also attaching a spreadsheet where you can track your income and mileage.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Rudolf Ozolins

Rudolf Ozolins

Rudolf Ozolins holds a DMA in piano performance from Michigan State University. He has a well-established piano studio in Detroit Metro Area. Rudolf works as an accompanist at Oakland University with Flute studios of Sharon Sparrow, Jeff Zook, and Amanda Blaikie. He actively concertizes as a chamber musician.