Hello Dear Operapreneurs,
If you are sojourning into the world of private teaching, make sure you are prepared to treat it like a legitimate business.
Negotiations may happen, people may try to get you to offer them a "deal" - but make sure you are looking at your local market rates for offering music lessons. Look at what a house costs in your area. Some of you are not charging enough to cover your costs plus being able to put food on the table, take a vacation once in a while, or further your education!
I know it's tempting to try and recruit more students at a lower price point, but can you sustain the number of students it will take to meet the needs for your cost of living? Please see my financial considerations chart and think about what you will need to do to pay for your healthcare, student loan debt, retirement, emergency savings!
Teaching music is a business for many, not a hobby. If you want to attract the students who will take your work seriously, you need to at least come close to market value and make sure those studying with you know you are a serious teacher. Know your worth.
If you need some resources to help you figure out what to charge, I encourage you to check out the books:
And for deeper dives - check out the Speakeasy Cooperative's "How to Run Your Voice Studio Without Hating Your Boss" program (faithculturekiss.com), and articles from The Middle Class Artist Blog (middleclassartist.com).
I offer you information for FREE because I know it's a struggle when you first get started. This is my hobby, my fun project and giving back to the singer community, but you need to make a living doing something that is special and unique! Don't underestimate your worth.
I'm not here to take money from you. I am here because I know that my website visibility honestly helped me establish my career. It is more important than ever to network online and to have content available for potential customers - whether that's directors looking to hire you for a vocal project, or a mom looking for voice lessons for her 6 year old.
At the end of the day, what matters is your content and whether it actually works the way it's supposed to. If you pay $100 per month for professional web hosting, but your designer drops the ball and information is 6 months old, then what good is that? With learning to use simple, free sitebuilders like Weebly, Wix, and others, you can at bare minimum have some contact info and a basic list of your accomplishments available to anyone. The annual cost of a domain is cheap, but if you are just starting out, maybe you're not sure what you want to have as a domain. That's okay. Get your feet wet and learn how to use the social platforms and website tools before you link to anyone else. Having something available is better than nothing, and you can always upgrade later.
Having your own website, whether it's a free sitebuilder page or a massive, professionally designed website, is really important. You can't simply rely on FaceBook and Instagram, you need to have a place for your customers to land. "Build it and they will come" -- but yes, you do have to put a little work into it.
If you're not sure, just start. The best thing about starting with a FREE web builder is that if you hate it, you don't have to ever use it again (and you won't have lost any money)!
I just want to reach out to anyone struggling right now: tons of companies and individual singers have been posting every aria, virtual concerts, collaborations. I haven't. I've been busy trying to rebuild a virtual life, trying to take care of my family, making sure my students are all safe & holding it together.
Before the shut downs from this virus, I was set to perform a solo recital of all new art songs by a composer friend, assistant direct two concerts for my renaissance chamber chorus, assistant conduct for a massive charity concert, begin my contract at San Francisco Opera for their chorus, learn & perform Frasquita in Carmen with another company... then everything just STOPPED. I feel like I went into such a state of shock I had no idea what to do.
My schedule has always been jam packed with rehearsals, gigs, lessons, coachings, teaching... all of a sudden I was reduced to the bare minimum. I went from 36 students in January down to 10 in March (on purpose, because I knew I would be performing much more, so I gave up my piano studio). Now, ironically, with no performances on the near horizon (potentially September, but who knows if it will be safe?) I find myself completely lacking motivation to work on any new music or prepare anything. During the first few weeks, I felt obligated to start preparing summer performances, additional music - but as the weeks drag on I'm feeling over-Zoomed and cutting back to doing the basics for my small studio and church job. And with that, I'm beginning to find equilibrium (Please understand that this is part of the reason the airwaves have been quiet from me. I'll start recording again soon).
At this point, we're all transitioned to the digital life - we are learning to adapt, we are used to wearing our masks. I'm going from learning the new technology to upgrading more of my equipment. Since my semester is ending, I'm going to offer a group class & will take a few continuing education courses online, since my pre-paid CCM Institute course was refunded (I was SO looking forward to the hands-on voice lab... I'm a big voice science geek).
I just want to let you all know that you can give yourself time to feel inspired again. We are going through a grieving process, we are taking in new and scary information from our news sources daily, we are hearing about tragedy & we Americans are getting mixed messages from our leaders about our safety. It's okay if you don't want to start learning full roles just yet. It's okay if you didn't join any virtual choirs, it's okay if your heart isn't happy enough to sing right now. Sometimes singing, no matter what it is, just makes you ache. It is heartbreaking to take a step back and look at this "new reality" and be able to make music.
I applaud those who have been able to sing and create, those who have used it to cope with loss. I wish I could hug those who aren't feeling the drive to make music, those who are grieving for a life lost. I am with you. I am learning that it's important to continue to build the sense of community we have as performers online with one another, but I also appreciate that we are not going to be doing our top vocal work. We are not going to be heard in the same way we would in a live concert hall or a church. You don't have to feel pressure. Take care of yourself, your body, your heart & soul in whatever way you need right now. The music isn't going anywhere. We're all in this together.