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UK Music Teacher Survey Results – 2019

In July 2019, we surveyed over 500 music teachers to learn about the state of private music tuition in the UK today. Here are the results.

We’ve summarised some of the most interesting results below, but for a more in-depth analysis, you can download the full report for free: Download Encore Music Teachers Survey 2019.

What’s the reason behind the survey?

For the last 4 years at Encore, our mission has been to build a platform for booking musicians that supports them in building a sustainable career in live musical performance. This year, at the request of our members, we decided to take this one step further and trial a new feature enabling musicians to get teaching work on Encore. 

This survey was primarily designed to guide our work on the new teacher feature, but we hope that by making the results public other teachers, music platforms or policymakers will also find it useful in their work. 

We’re very grateful to the 519 musicians who took the time to complete the survey!

Contents

Demographics

  • The majority of respondents to the survey were young professionals, under the age of 34.
    • 50% were male
    • 45% female
    • 5% transgender or other
  • Unsurprisingly, the most common instruments taught were:

 

graph of Survey respondents by instrument type

Survey respondents by instrument type

Price

We asked teachers how much they’d charge for a 60-minute lesson excluding travel expenses.

How much do music lessons cost?

Note: pricing for instruments with under 10 respondents may not be fully representative, so should be treated with caution.

Instrument type Average lesson price (60mins) Number of respondents
French horn £40.20 5
Harp £36.91 11
Organ £36.17 6
Cello £34.44 18
Piano £33.38 92
Saxophone £33.28 18
Double bass £33.13 8
Trumpet £32.65 20
Voice £32.48 71
Clarinet £32.47 15
Oboe £32.38 8
Flute £32.00 21
Violin £31.49 63
Drums £31.35 34
Guitar £29.75 67
Bagpipes £28.00 5
Bass Guitar £24.89 9
Brass (all) £24.44 9

graph of Average fee charged for a music lesson by instrument type

Average fee charged for a music lesson by instrument type

Price by teaching experience

  • Inexperienced teachers (under 2 years experience) tend to charge around 15% less than other teachers. However, after 10 years of teaching experience, teachers tend not to increase their rates.Graph of Average fee charged for a music lesson by number of years teaching

Average fee charged for a music lesson by number of years teaching

Price by gender

  • Female teachers tend to charge more than male teachers.Graph of Average fee charged for a music lesson by gender

Average fee charged for a music lesson by gender

  • Women rely on teaching for income much more than men: 54% of women said that teaching made up over half of their annual income, compared to just 37% of men. 

Charts of % of annual income from teaching segment by gender

% of annual income from teaching segment by gender

 

Lesson Location

  • 50% of teachers teach in schools.
  • Most teachers teach by travelling to their pupil’s home as well as teaching at their own home. However, teachers are more likely to teach in their own home than travel.
  • However, 1 in 4 teachers are now offering real-time video lessons on Skype or similar providers.   

Chart of Types of lesson taught

Types of lesson taught

Managing pupils

Pupils per teacher

  • On average, teachers had 24 active pupils.
  • Teachers with over 20 years experience were the most heavily subscribed, with an average of 36 pupils, while teachers with under 2 years experience teaching professionally had only 8 pupils on average.

Graph of avg. # pupils vs years of professional teaching

Finding good pupils

  • 1 in 3 music teachers has encountered problems getting payment from their pupils. The most common problems were delayed payment, pupil or parent forgetting to pay/bring cash, pupils/parents not paying for last-minute cancelled lessons. Problems were most acute in schools where teachers didn’t have face-to-face contact with the parents. 
  • By far the biggest expense for teachers is travel to and from lessons, followed by sheet music and instrument maintenance. Chart of Count of answers to "what are your biggest expenses as a music teacher"

Count of answers to “what are your biggest expenses as a music teacher”

  • The biggest concern for teachers when taking on a new pupil is the pupil’s commitment to practising and turning up, followed by reliability of payment and parental support. Chart of Count of answers to "what are your biggest concerns when taking on a new pupil"

Count of answers to “what are your biggest concerns when taking on a new pupil”

  • Similarly, the characteristic which teachers most commonly look for in pupils is enthusiasm and willingness to practice. Interestingly, creativity and musicality did not rank as highly. 

Chart of Count of answers to "what are the characteristics you look for in a good pupil"

Count of answers to “what are the characteristics you look for in a good pupil”

  • 50% of teachers use apps or websites to find new pupils. 

Free trial lessons

  • 35% of teachers offer free trial lessons. 
    • Most cited the need to have an unpaid conversation with the pupil to check if they are a good match before beginning paid lessons.  
  • 65% of teachers don’t offer free trial lessons. 
    • Many mentioned that they offer alternative discounts, others stated that they disagreed with the principle of offering their time for free or simply didn’t feel the need for free trials. 

chart of response to Do you offer free trial lessons?

Do you offer free trial lessons?

Concerns for the future

  • Respondents to the survey said that the biggest challenges facing music teaching in the UK over the next 5 years were:
    • Music not taken seriously by the government (cuts to music in schools, government ministers not talking in favour of music).
    • Lessons becoming less affordable (Brexit and austerity).
    • New technology and online teaching (YouTube, apps, teachers not adapting quickly enough, less need for 1-to-1 teaching, lower commitment, shorter attention span of young people).
    • Saturation of the market with lower-skilled teachers (as performing work dries up, more working musicians turn to teaching to make money; lower-quality teaching).

Chart of Count of answers to "what are the biggest challenges facing music teaching in the next 5 years"

Count of answers to “what are the biggest challenges facing music teaching in the next 5 years”

Final comments

We hope that you’ve found the results of this survey as fascinating as we did! For more in-depth analysis can download the full report for free here.

Please feel free to share this around any teaching communities you know of.

For any questions email [email protected]

Jonny Venvell

Jonny is Encore's Head of Artist Relations.

He's responsible for supporting and helping musicians on the platform and writes most of the musician-facing articles on the blog. He can usually be found singing in choirs, drumming in bands, or nodding meaningfully to particularly good chords in London's jazz bars.

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