9 Ways to Save Money on Music Lessons For Kids & Adults

piano music lessonsWhile many people may not agree on musical tastes and favorite instruments, I think it’s safe to say that most still have a strong affinity for music, in some capacity – even if it’s just browsing free music listening and sharing websites.

It’s human nature to enjoy sounds coming together harmoniously, and further, music is actually good for you. Learning to express yourself musically can increase brain development, improve memorization, develop fine motor skills, and enhance problem solving skills. Music benefits the young and old alike.

However, music lessons can be extremely expensive, especially if you’re eyeing private lessons at an established school.  Learning how to play an instrument doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. And to prove it, I’ve come up with 9 ways to save money on music lessons.

1. Barter Services with Musicians
I have a friend who is an electrician who has been able to score sweet deals by bartering his electrical skills for something in exchange. He recently got a week at a condo at the beach for about 8 hours worth of electrical work.

If you have a marketable skill, such as sewing, lawn care, or computer work, try to find a music teacher who would be willing to exchange lessons for your services. This type of arrangement works for the benefit of both parties.

2. Take A Group Lesson
You can save a ton of money by taking a group class instead of a private one-on-one lesson. Many community colleges offer basic music classes as leisure courses, which are available to anyone and does not count towards college credit. I have taken both guitar lessons and golf lessons using this method, and not only did I learn something, I also had a lot of fun. These courses can range from $30 to $60 for about 6 sessions.

3. Take Lessons Every Other Week
I took piano lessons once a week for years. Back in the day, my parents paid $12.50 per 30 minute lesson. That amounted to $650 per year. Had I taken lessons every other week, the cost would have been $325. Piano lessons now are more expensive than they were 20 years ago, so the savings on this would be even greater. Even though getting in practice every week is ideal for learning a new instrument, you can always use the off weeks to practice memorizing scales or individual pieces of music.

4. Utilize Your Library
Materials for lessons are an additional expense to the lessons themselves. Work with your instructor to see if she will let you choose your own materials. Check online and at your local library to see if you can get free materials. Another great resource is Internet Archive, which is one of the largest online libraries. You can also find a lot of used sheet music on eBay.

5. Buy Used Instruments
If you or your child are beginners, there is no need to buy brand new instruments before knowing whether or not you even enjoy playing. Used instruments can be just as good, if they were well cared for by previous owners. Utilize eBay, Craigslist, and Amazon to see if you can find a good, used instrument for a discount. Also, keep in mind that if musicians are selling their instruments, there is a chance they will sell you their materials and sheet music as well!

6. Hire A Young Person
Chances are, the older the instructor, the more experienced he is and the more he is able to charge. Try to hire a younger instructor, perhaps a college student. Make sure that he has experience teaching, in addition to musical abilities. Just because someone is able to play an instrument well doesn’t mean he also has the ability to teach it well.

7. Negotiate The Price
Music lesson prices are not set in stone. Shop around and see if you can get instructors to come down on price by negotiating a better deal. The worst that can happen is that they will say no, so go ahead and ask.

8. Self-Teach
If you or your child is self-disciplined, perhaps you want to try self-teaching. There are many resources available for those who want to learn to sing or play a musical instrument. Many of these resources can be found on the web and even on YouTube. Although for most people this is a difficult route, there are others who learn best by self-teaching.

9. Practice, Practice, Practice!
This is absolutely the best way to save money on music lessons. If you do not practice what you learn in your lessons, you will not advance in your abilities. The more you practice, and the better you get, the more valuable your lessons become. It’s not just about getting inexpensive lessons, it’s also about getting the most value for your money.

Final Word

While some of these methods may not work for all, there are always ways to cut costs when pursuing something that you really love.  Whether it’s bartering for someone else’s services, taking a group lesson, or enlisting the help of a university student, there are tons of options for getting music lessons on the cheap.

Have you gotten discounted music lessons before? What are some of the best ways in which you learned a musical instrument?

  • http://cootiehog.com Jaynee

    I grew up taking piano lessons and we own a piano that rarely gets played (I’ll play once a month, tops). I’ve been waiting and waiting for my children to be old enough to take lessons. They are now 6 and 7, and just recently began taking piano lessons. The young woman (she’s in her mid-20s) giving them is a friend of ours who has been playing piano since she was a young child. Not only that, but she plays in a band that performs in shows just about every weekend in our region – she’s a good pianist. Lastly, she’s employed as a nanny during the week, she loves kids and has a natural rapport with them.

    Since she is just starting out her piano lesson business, she offered the first four lessons for free, which gave us some savings. She also offered really cheap intro rates to the first five people that signed up. We were #s 3 and 4 – so I’m only paying $25 a week for BOTH kids to get 30 minute lessons. What a bargain!

    My kids are having a blast even though they only started in January. One thing I’ve noticed is that she’ll spend 25 minutes doing the lessons with them, and allow them to just mess around and plink on the keys for the last five minutes. Last night my son played a nursery rhyme song that he figured out by himself during those five minutes – he was very proud. So was I. She’s doing a great job thus far.

    • Casey Slide

      Wow! What a great deal, and it sounds like such a great teacher! Thanks for sharing your story!

  • http://change-is-possible.net Heather

    As a musician and music teacher myself, I know a lot of people who are looking for students. If you ask the band, orchestra, choir teachers at the local schools — whether you have a child there or not — they likely either give lessons themselves or know someone who does.

    • Casey Slide

      That is a great tip, Heather! Thanks!

  • http://www.facebook.com/vtori1 Victoria L. Baxter-Caballero

    We are about to start home school, and I’ve recently realized the musicians in our church, and those in the area, have musicians who give lessons. Just wanted to add that thought: check at your church.

  • Meri

    As a teacher who has been teaching for over 15 years, there are at least 3 ideas which are really not very good ones. Self teaching typically leads to lack of focus, and often many bad habits, which can be difficult to break if the student is stubborn. I know, because after 7 years of school music and despite getting into top bands and orchestras in high school, I had several bad playing faults. As for every other week lessons, in all but one case this does not work very well for student progress, especially if the student is a beginner, and that student was an EXTREMELY disciplined intermediate student who liked playing and played well, but had no intention of becoming a music major. Third, negotiating the price is considered bad taste by many teachers, there’s a lot more to teaching than just the lesson itself, we have equipment and instruments to maintain in top playing condition (especially pianos), studio upgrades (like a camcorder to record your student’s playing, and in some cases be necessary for scholarship applications for students applying to music programs after high school, picking out new music, travel time to the music store, time creating learning materials for students. As for bartering services, it depends, but is limited to a very few things for me, like house cleaning and vet services.

  • Nancee

    I’ve had difficulty posting here, so I hope this one works.

    I have a teaching background of 20+ years. Sure, like everyone else, I do LOVE a bargain! (Heck, I love those $5 buffets and cheap chic shopping at local thrift stores!) But in this particular case, NEVER sacrifice quality for convenience and price. This applies to ALL professional services, not just music teaching.

    There is a reason quality music instruction costs more. There is more
    overhead—costs of obtaining and maintaining instruments and equipments (computers, etc.) and music library, continuing education, self-employment taxes and benefits (health insurance, retirement, Social Security, etc.), to name a few.

    In addition, teachers wear many hats when running their studio. They also function as bookkeepers, secretaries, marketers, customer service representatives, etc.

    Professional teachers are regularly involved in continuing education (conferences and even lessons to improve their skills). This brings their studios to the next
    level, and their students directly benefit from it.

    Quality professional teachers generally don’t offer discounts. (Yes, as mentioned by another teacher on an earlier post, it is considered bad form.) Unlike physical products that can be mass-produced on an assembly line (therefore it’s easier to discount massive quantities), teachers can’t replicate themselves to provide
    one-on-one, personalized, customized service.

    Beginners, especially younger ones, require the most work to teach. They are
    learning new habits and new concepts, which take time to absorb and implement.
    Younger beginners require plenty of handholding and reinforcement for basic concepts. That said, it is necessary for them to have at least a weekly lesson, 30 minutes in length (considering their attention span, while it is optimal for
    older students to aim for 45 minutes to one-hour lessons per week). Over many years of teaching (and having been a student myself), I’ve found that students
    taking biweekly 30-minute lessons have a considerably harder time retaining what they’ve learned over a long break between sessions, slowing down progress by having to rehash certain concepts. They’ve also missed out on more encouragement and support from the teacher that normally would come from more frequent contact.

    There is a HUGE difference between PRICE and VALUE. When you’re paying double the price but getting double the results in half the time, you’re actually getting the most bang for the buck. Let’s say Teacher A, the cheaper teacher, charges only $30/hour for a weekly lesson while Teacher B, a more expensive but a qualified, professional one, charges $60/hour. You’re experiencing faster progress within a month with Teacher B while it normally takes Teacher A three months to produce similar results. Let’s say each month has 4 weeks.

    So here’s the breakdown:

    Teacher A: 30 x 12 (12 weeks in 3 months) = $360
    Teacher B: 60 x 4 (4 weeks in a month) = $240

    You save $120/month on Teacher B’s lessons! You’re actually getting MORE value
    from the more expensive teacher. You end up spending more $$$ (and wasting
    more time!) on the cheaper teacher! Remember, time is money too! :) You can always recover lost money, but once time is gone, you can’t get it back. This is called sunk cost in economics. Everyone, rich or poor, only has 24 hours in a day.

    Look before you leap. Don’t let price and convenience be the sole reasons for
    choosing a teacher. Do some research before you sign up with a teacher and
    arrange for a meet-and-greet. (I personally don’t really like the term interview because it’s stiffer, colder, and more intimidating.) From there both parties can determine if they’re the right match. Make sure the teacher is compatible with your personality and musical goals and interests. (If you’re just into playing pop music for fun, then a conservatory-trained teacher who requires classical recitals, exams, and competitions wouldn’t be exactly a fit, unless that same teacher also has a genuine passion for recreational pop music, the ability to play it, and the flexibility to offer recreational music to students!)

    Bartering works only for certain (professional) services. For a short period of time,
    I did have a wonderful, fair bartering arrangement with a stylist based on full
    costs of services. We were very happy with the quality of services we exchanged.

    • cesy

      I agree with you, but if like in my case money is the difference between something and nothing we have to search for options, poor people also have a right to try

      • Nancee

        I totally hear you, having been in a similar situation. But there needs to be an even, fair exchange of energy. (Money is merely a form of exchange of energy between two people.) One of the alternatives is working out a barter arrangement with the teacher. The teacher may need extra help to run the studio. You can help with admin tasks, marketing, or various responsibilities (cleaning, sorting, organizing the office, etc.). Some teachers offer full scholarships (and just like college scholarships, there are prerequisites, and that’s actually fair enough). Another option is to take a group class, which gives you pretty significant savings. Contrary to popular belief, group classes aren’t inferior to private ones. Music is a social activity. It’s meant to be shared with others as a way to connect or bond. Music often involves bands or ensembles, so it makes perfect sense to teach and learn music in a group setting.