Setting Up Your Teaching Schedule & Studio Tuition: The Basics

by Samantha Steitz


I just sat down to figure out my 2019 schedule and studio tuition, which I typically do over the winter holiday in late December. To my surprise, the entire process took less than 30 minutes. So, I thought I’d write a quick blog article covering how I make this daunting process very, very simple.

Teaching Schedule

As I’ve explained to my uber-freelance family members multiple times who wonder why I cannot just ‘jump on a plane and meet them for a weekend in Guatemala’ - you cannot and should not change your teaching schedule once it’s set. Therefore, make sure you’re carving out ALL the time you will need over the next year. Here’s my method for doing so:

  1. Print out an annual calendar

  2. Mark all of the weeks you will not be teaching (holidays, Easter, summer break, fall break, your partner’s 40th birthday week trip; I take 16 weeks off total)

  3. Count the weeks you are teaching (I teach 36 weeks, with 35 of those being group class weeks)

Simple Tuition Calculation

  1. Determine your annual rate (if you are a qualified teacher, charge at the top end of what local teachers charge. If you are not a qualified teacher, please do not teach at all)

  2. Calculate:

    1. Rate per lesson x number of lessons in the year = Teaching Total

      (calculate this for all different lesson time amounts: 45 minutes, 1 hr, 1.25 hrs for siblings, etc.)

    2. If applicable: Rate per group class x number of group classes in the year = group class total

    3. If applicable, add lesson planning time, materials fee, recital fee, studio fee, organization/admin fee

    4. Divide the total of the previous three steps by 12 to figure out the monthly tuition amount per student, eliminating special summer rates, changes in your monthly income, and unnecessary complications.

    5. If you would like an option for families to pay annually, charge your total upfront. Then, add 2.5% for quarterly payments and 5% for monthly payments. This way, you are “financing” lessons. (Personally, I’ve kept things simple with my new studio and only allow for monthly payments, which I do not finance or charge extra for. However, I did things differently in California with a very big studio to incentivize some families to pay annually or quarterly, which worked very well too.)

While there are many ways to calculate tuition and structure a studio’s schedule, I’ve found this method to be the fastest and happiest. I knew a teacher in LA who teaches 7 days a week for most of the year. As you might suspect, she was not a very happy person. We need time off not only to recharge, but to remain inspired, work on other projects, and, most importantly, be with our families. By dividing our entirely annual tuition into 12 even payments, we eliminate the hassle of a summer rate and also can also plan our finances accordingly. It’s also easier for the families, who often set up recurring, automatic payments from their bank (also the easiest payment method, in my opinion).

I hope sharing my system for schedule creation and tuition calculation are helpful for other teachers still figuring out the best method for their studio.

Musikally Yours, Sam