Step by step setting up a teaching practice

Many active artists teach next to their professional practice. Others would like to set up a teaching practice or school from which they generate their income. Setting up a teaching practice it's important to know exactly what you want to do before you go into practical arrangements.

1. Describe your teaching facility

Think of what aspects of your profession you are really good at, what are your major skills and experience and what you love to do. Consider how much time you want to invest in your school and what you would like to earn. This influences the fees and your offer of classes: teaching groups means more preparation time.

  1. Are you going to work alone or with others?
    You can set up a practice by yourself or with a person who is specialized in another field. That way you create a wider series of lessons.
  2. Consider what kind of lessons
    What kind of lessons do you offer and in which genre? Will that be private lessons or in groups?
  3. Choose target groups
    Decide which specific groups you will target: children, adolescents, adults, seniors, advanced or novices, or a combination?
  4. Determine when and how often you want to teach
    When will you teach: which part of the day, weekdays or weekends. Also determine the duration of the lessons. Do you teach weekly or fortnightly, extensive courses one-off workshops?
  5. Extra activities
    What more do you want to offer? Do you organise jam sessions, performances or exhibitions for example? Or do you act as a band coach?

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2. Organise your enterprise

  1. Decide which type of enterprise you want to set up
    Think about how you would like to shape your business. Are you going to be a sole operator or are you teaming up with others and do you start a business or an institution? Either way you have to register yourself at the Chamber of commerce (Kamer van Koophandel).
  2. Set up an excellent administration
    In any case you need to set up sound administration and accounting. Make sure you know who to charge VAT and who are exempt.

3. Look for teaching space

Research what kind of space suits your lessons. If it is not at home, or at your pupil’s homes, you’ll have to rent or buy elsewhere. It is important that the teaching space can be reached easily and safely, also in the evenings and in the winter. Consider the criteria the space needs to conform to in the areas of sound insulation, size and lighting. Carefully assess the noise pollution to surrounding neighbours. Also organize a separate change- or waiting room.

4. Research the local area

Research for potential students. Judge how large the region is where your students would come from. See if there are any schools or neighbourhood centres in the vicinity; also check if there are already other teachers or music schools offering similar courses. Who knows whether there is a target group which has very little offered to them? Or do you have a program which compliments what is currently on offer?

5. Determine your fees

Your starting point is that you make money from teaching. When you calculate your fees remember that you also spend time preparing, studying, perhaps doing sample lessons and interacting with parents. Teaching means spending. To begin with, make a clear budget of all your expected costs. Take into account the costs of materials, classroom rent, gas and electricity, insurances: Medical, Public Liability for business or professionals, perhaps Loss of Income insurance. Think of depreciation of: instruments, equipment and furniture like tables and painting easels.

Model to calculate hourly rate
With a course of 20 hours a week, you want to clear € 300 net.
Net hourly wage: € 300: 20 = € 15. Assume that this is € 20 gross.
Add the following costs:

  • Rent, depreciation, gas, electricity, per month: € 500 = € 120 a week (€ 6 Per hour);
  • Insurances monthly: € 500 = € 120 a week (€ 6 Per hour);
  • Preparation time, accounting per week; 5 hours at € 20 = € 100 (€ 5 per hour).

The gross hourly rate (excluding VAT) comes to € 20 + € 6 +€ 6 + € 5 = € 37. For a one-hour lesson to two pupils, or a half hour lesson to one student, the fees per student are around €18.50; in a group lesson to four students € 9.25. You can also offer yearly contracts, ten sessions’ vouchers or other special deals.

6. Make a rules and regulations form

Make a rules and regulations form in which all your terms and agreements are plainly stated. Be clear about the lesson fees and what it includes. Specify how you organize holidays and what happens in case of illness or impediment. Also mention the terms of giving notice. Be prepared how you handle complaints and injuries and how to avoid or reduce liability.

Music teachers can ask for standard rates and teaching agreements from KNTV and the NTB.

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7. Acquisition

Where to find your potential students depends on your target group. Definitely use your own network: friends, relatives and acquaintances. Don’t be afraid to walk into a place or make a phone call. Personal contact is important and effective and you make an assertive and motivated impression. Tell people around you what you do and that you are looking for students.

Use social media and the internet: always refer to your organized and up to date website. An announcement in a local paper, neighbourhood newspaper or student periodical is usually affordable and can generate students. An advertisement in a daily newspaper is often expensive and doesn’t produce many students. Hanging an advertisement or folders at the local supermarket, in (music) shops, homes for the elderly, libraries, community centres or at schools is effective as well. Schools and organizations for after school care are also interested in your offer.

You may want to offer special (free) introductory lessons; this way your students have the opportunity to get a taste of the atmosphere before they commit themselves. The best (and cheapest) advertisement is always word of mouth advertising. That network grows automatically when you do your job well.