How to start a music tutoring business?

Starting up

24 November 2023

If you love to get lost in music and think you might enjoy sharing that passion of playing an instrument with others, then becoming a music teacher might be for you! There’s plenty of people that take up music tutoring as a side hustle to supplement their regular income or who teach music full time.

Find out how you can become self-employed music tutor:

What do music teachers do? 

As a music teacher, you might expect to plan lesson plans, assess student musical abilities, grade students on their musical performance, prepare students for musical exams and more.  Depending on your skillset, you could teach a range of instruments of focus on and specialise in just one. You can teach at various locations and to a wide variety of ages. If you’re working with kids, you’ll need to get a PVG/DBS certificate (criminal record check) and be up to date on any child safeguarding best practice.

If you work in a school, there may also be requirements to organise school concerts or musicals as well as making assignments and GSCE or A-Level work.

If you’re a private tutor, you may need to arrange your schedule, collect fees, and for performance opportunities for students.

Whether you work for a school or employ yourself, there will be ongoing professional development that comes as part of being a music tutor. Whether that’s learning about the music your pupils listen to, learning another instrument or even getting familiar with music technology and software tools, there will be a continuous need to keep growing and learning.

Where do music teachers work?

Some of the typical places that a music teacher might work for include schools, local authorities, arts or drama organisations, music centres and with private students. Realistically, you’d end up working for a combination of these in order to keep your schedule full and you’ll have a mix of group and one to one lessons.

In the summers, maybe there’s a camp that will need your tutelage to keep kid’s skills sharp when school is off and, in the winter, you may be needed to assist with holiday productions. No matter the season, there will be places looking for a talented music teacher to hire.

Do I need a degree to become a music teacher? 

While there’s no official qualifications needed to become a music teacher, it can be helpful to have a relevant degree, certificate or some sort of background education.

Here’s a few options for how to get into music teaching if you think that’s the right path for you:

Getting a degree

Whether it’s college, university or a conservatoire, getting a degree from a higher education institution can be one of the most common ways to get into music teaching. You might study music itself and get a teaching qualification later or you may focus on the teaching aspect and simply have a specialism in music. If you decide to study music, you should be prepared to audition in order to get onto your course.

Practical experience

Qualifications aren’t a requirement, so if you have ample performance experience, you may be able to get into music teaching based on that alone. While having a qualification of some sort can help potential pupil have confidence in your ability, a showreel or CV that proves your talent an experience may be enough to get you started.

Consider joining local music groups such as orchestras, bands and choirs to get more performance experience under your belt before starting your music tutoring business.

Certification

There are accredited professional bodies that offer certificates or diplomas specifically for music education. For those that want to teach music to children and need a little extra qualification to help them feel comfortable teach or help give them more credibility as a music teacher, this may be a perfect route for you to take.

How much do music teachers get paid? 

This is going to vary widely depending on where you teach, what you teach and how much experience you have, but at the lower end of the scale, the Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM)'s 2021 survey showed that the average hourly rate was just over £36 while the Musicians' Union suggests a minimum rate of £40.50 per hour for lessons.

How much does it cost to become a music teacher? 

There can be fees associated with starting up a business and with music teaching, the startup costs will depend on whether or not you’re renting studio space or teaching in schools or student’s homes. Here’s a few costs you may want to prepare for:

  • Qualification: Whether it’s college or university, the training needed to become a musician and to teach will be one cost you can’t avoid.
  • Professional development: Keeping up to date with industry changes and continually honing your skills may requires some investment in classes or training on a regular basis.
  • Equipment: Whether you’ll need any of this will depend on your teaching set up, but you’ll likely need some instruments, a music stand, some music books and maybe other tools like a metronome to help with teaching students.
  • Marketing costs: You might want to have a logo, some business cards, a website, social media accounts and perhaps a digital ad or two ready to go when you’re starting out. While marketing can be an extra initial cost, making sure people know about your business can ensure you start strong. 

Setting up your music teaching business 

Whether you’re a one-man band or have employees lending a helping hand, businesses large and small need the right legal structure to help them operate effectively. 

But given that the legal structure you choose can impact everything from the tax you’ll pay to your take-home wage, working out what option is best for your business is important. 

Sole-trader/self-employed 

A person who’s the only owner of their business. There’s no legal separation between you as the business owner and the business itself. 

Limited company 

A business which is a distinct legal entity from the business owner, formed whether you’re a one-person operation or have a few staff. 

Which is right for me?

Get a deep dive into what this could mean for your business with AXA’s guide to different company structures: Sole trader or limited company

Professional bodies for music teachers to join? 

When you’re just starting out it can feel lonely, but luckily there’s quite a few professional bodies that you can join. Professional groups can help with networking, professional development, mentorship, and give your business more credibility.

Here are three groups that may interest you as you begin your journey as a music tutor:

You may also want to look for online groups that support business owners in general or ones dedicated specifically to teaching music.

Protecting your music teaching business 

Business insurance keeps your safe as well as your students and you can be covered online in not time - meaning you can get back to work without missing a beat. Getting the right insurance cover will help you keep your business running for years to come.

  • Public liability insurance: Keep your business safe in case of accidental third-party injury or damage with public liability insurance – for example, if a client takes a fall on your premises, resulting in injury and a claim. 
  • Employers’ liability insurance: If you have a number of tutors who work for you, either on a temporary or part-time basis, then you will need employers’ liability insurance. It’s legally required under the Employer’s Liability act. 
  • Business equipment cover: As a musician, you rely on your instruments to be able to do your job. So, if something should happen to them you stand to lose a lot more than just the cost of those instruments. If you can’t afford to get them replaced right away, you won’t be able to do your job, which is more money lost. This is an added cover that offers you protection for your instruments and any essential equipment you might need to carry out your work.

All links are checked and valid at time of publishing, 24 November 2023. 

Work hard, insure easy

Running a business is hard work. That’s why we’re doing all we can to make your insurance a bit easier. From helping you tailor your policy to your unique business needs, to taking the guesswork out of finding business insurance, find out what we’re doing to help small businesses.