Piano Tuition Question

Updated on November 29, 2012
T.N. asks from Gilbert, AZ
13 answers

My son is in private piano lessons, and we're happy with his teacher, but I wondered if it is normal to pay the full tuition price when there is no lesson. For instance, lessons started halfway through August but we were charged a full month tuition. The week of Thanksgiving was off, and two weeks in December for Christmas and New Years are off, but both months we are charged a full month tuition. This is my first experience with private lessons, and I'm just genuinely curious if this is the norm. If it is, I'll just deal with it. But I feel like some months I'm paying $17.50/lesson and some months I'm paying $35/lesson, depending on how many lessons he has. This week the teacher cancelled due to illness and prorated the amount back to me for next month, so I can see that she's trying to be fair. Thanks for your input!

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So What Happened?

A long time ago (like a year ago) when I first called to inquire about lessons for this year she had quoted me a price per lesson, but said you pay monthly, and when I did the math it came out to $70/month. Where I live in Arizona I think that is slightly higher than average (a lot of my friends pay $10/lesson or $40/month, but they use teachers who are younger, like college students. I was willing to pay a little more for a more experienced teacher because she lives extremely close to me and came highly recommended by a friend ). So when we went to the first lesson and I asked her how much to write the check for she said $70. She is the one who wanted to start lessons halfway through the month because that's when school starts. I didn't like that I was paying full price for half a month, and probably should have spoken up, but I didn't want to start off on the wrong foot and come across as a penny pincher or like I was scrutinizing her. So far September is the only month where we have actually had a full month of lessons (she has us take October break, Thanksgiving break, and Christmas break all off). We have not cancelled, except one time when we went out of town. We let her know well in advance and she did let us come a different day, which I really appreciated. My kids are in dance class and we also have the seasonal breaks off from that, but since it's not a private lesson it doesn't bother me as bad. I guess this evens out throughout the year like dance does, so I should just view it like that.

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answers from Sacramento on

Most places will pro rate at least the first month if it was not a full month. My kids have taken or are taking voice, piano, and guitar at some point from two different music schools. For both places it was a pro rated fee for the first month so they can get started right away, then a flat rate for 4 lessons per month. So if there are 5 weeks in the month, they tell you ahead of time which is off, usually the week of a holiday. Never had TWO weeks off in one month. That seems excessive. On the other hand, you are getting a good deal on lessons--sounds like about $70 a month. We have paid from $100 a month to $150. Then again everything in CA is more expensive!

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answers from San Francisco on

I would think that since those weeks are off, you shouldn't have to pay for those. Its different if you cancel--then they should get the $ for your canceling early. But it doesn't seem right to have both of those charged. I would bring it up and ask. Do you have a contract???



answers from Miami on

Well, I will tell you that you should expect to pay for the lesson if you cancel. You should NOT expect to pay for the lesson if she cancels it. For months that have an extra week, are you paying the same as if it were a 4 week month? It could be that for a year, she's figuring it as all coming out in the wash.

I do NOT agree that you should have had to pay for a full month when you started in the middle of the month. I would have told her that I would only pay a half month at the onset.

The reason you should pay for lessons you don't have (unless she cancels) is because she has reserved the time for you and doesn't have another student to take your place.

Hope this helps,



answers from Denver on

We pay $90 monthly. If we cancel for illness or she cancels, she allows a make up lesson. She does take two weeks off for Christmas and a week at Thanksgiving and we still pay which I'm fine with. As others mentioned, she doesn't charge extra for a month with 5 weeks in it.

The only thing I don't like about your situation is that you were charged a full month for August when you didn't start until halfway through. That isn't right at all.



answers from Seattle on

Many places charge a flat tuition, but instead of asking for the (quarter, half year, year) up front... they divide by the number of months (3, 6, 12).

AKA, say you've paid $100 for 10 lessons over 3 months.
(Okay, piano really means it should be a lot more expensive, but for the sake of keeping things simple)

3 lessons in month 1.
4 lessons in month 2,
3 lessons in month 3.

You pay $33.33 per month. = $100 for 10 lessons
Month 1 the 3 lessons were $11
Month 2 the 4 lessons were $8
Month 3 the 3 lessons were $11

Nope. Each lesson was $10.
10 lessons for $100 = $10 per lesson
It all balances out to the same amount of money.


I do this when I teach privately. I teach 12 classes over 3 months. There are more than 12 weeks in 3 months ( we have weeks off). REGARDLESS of how many weeks are in the month, there are 12 classes. Instead of asking for the whole amount up front, I just divide by 3. Total 12 week class cost: $300 = $100 per month. (Or I'm more than happy to take a $300 check). It's just me being nice to parents who want to space out the payments monthly, instead of up front. It's still the same 12 classes, and same $300.



answers from Philadelphia on

I pay $51 per lesson so the amount I pay varies by month but I know many teacher that just have a monthly fee regardless of the number of lessons. I would not complain if I were you. That is a bargain assuming your teacher is good.



answers from Columbus on

We do private math tutoring -- we only pay when we have a lesson.



answers from Fargo on

We also take private piano lessons and pay per lesson, not monthly tuition.


answers from Jacksonville on

What is the basis for the lessons? i.e., Were you quoted a monthly rate, or a rate per lesson? If you were quoted a rate per lesson, then it would stand to reason that you would only pay for the number of lessons you have (unless you cancelled for some reason). If you were quoted a per month rate, then the number of lessons has probably already been averaged out, like what Riley was saying.
Personally, I would have asked from the get go about the first month, having started mid-month.
Did you sign a contract or is it just a verbal understanding that your child is taking lessons at some rate? If a contract, then refer to your contract. If no contract, then what was the rate quoted (monthly vs. per lesson vs. 3 months, etc)?



answers from Detroit on

Mine is in private piano lessons and it's only $185 for an entire 12 weeks! We pay that set amount, and we are allowed to re-schedule once if needed.


answers from Chicago on

My daughter takes piano lessons from the music teacher at school. I've noticed that if it's a month where there is a holiday, or the teacher has to cancel the lesson, she will not charge for those weeks. If it's a lesson that I've had to cancel due to a conflict, she will still charge... I think that's the fair way to do it. You should ask the teacher about the holidays.



answers from Philadelphia on

We pay by the lesson, but pay the entire month up front at the first lesson of the month. Our lessons are on Thursdays, so in November, we paid for 4 lessons (instead of 5) because of Thanksgiving. If we know ahead of time that we need to miss a lesson, we don't pay for it. We get one make-up lesson if we cancel last minute - any more than that and we lose the lesson. And we pay $38 for a 45 minute lesson (and that's the cheap grand-fathered in rate because we've been taking lessons for so long, I believe the new rate is closer to $45 for a 45 minute lesson).

I guess your teacher simply charges a monthly fee. Take it, multiply it by the number of months and divide that by the number of lessons your child will take through the year. THAT's your rate per lesson. Then multiply that rate by the number of lessons your child would have each month. You'll see that some months you'd be paying less, but some months you'd be paying more. A flat monthly fee is simpler all around, and over the course of the year, evens out to what would be paid anyway.


answers from Dallas on

My daughter's teacher only charges when she comes. We pay $20/half an hour.

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