The Business of Teaching Music

“Sandi made a huge difference in my life. At a time when I needed guidance and craved confidence, she was instrumental in giving me both. I feel I was extraordinarily lucky to have her as a teacher, and more importantly, a life-long friend. Enjoy the revised version of her book, folks. You’re in good hands.”
Michael Bublé, Recording Artist, Singer

photo of Michael Buble

The Business of Teaching Music: A Guide for the Independent Music Teacher
Second Edition


“Studio Makeover – Proven Strategies – Resounding Results”

In The Business of Teaching Music, Sandi Siemens draws upon her vast experience and a profound understanding of the business of teaching music as it pertains to the independent music teacher. Success is determined by how well prepared you are going into the business of teaching and, in this book, the reader will discover the secrets to operating a studio you only dreamed of. The novice teacher will no longer fear stepping into the incredible world of the private music teacher. No longer will you, the independent music teacher, need to struggle with dealing with the frustrations of missed lessons, late cancellations, late payment of fees, or the upset when a parent/student attempts to control the teacher’s music teaching business. No longer will you question the what’s and how’s when wanting to showcase your students, be it in a recital, masterclass, or show/concert setting. And last but not least, no longer will you fear the possibility of an unstable income.

The Business of Teaching Music has been revised to include:
New chapters:

  • The Novice Music Teacher
  • Making an Impression at Auditions
  • Showcasing Our Students
  • The Internet
    • The Music Teacher’s Website
    • Online Music Lessons
  • Final Thoughts
New/Expanded Topics:
  • The Collaborative Artist/Pianist
  • Working with the Professional Musician/s
  • Income Tax Time
  • The Code of Ethics and Its Importance
  • The Issue of Copyright
  • Fees
  • And much more

Includes an Index, 23 sample forms plus a companion website.

The Business of Teaching Music - Book

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ BOOK REVIEW ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

National Association of Teachers of Singing Journal Nov/Dec 2022
Bookshelf Debra Greschner

Siemens, Sandi. The Business of Teaching Music: A Guide for the Independent Music Teacher, 2nd edition. San Diego: Plural Publishing, 2023. Paper, xxii, 150 pp., $59.99. ISBN 978-1-63550- 400-2; e-Book $59.99.

In 2010, voice pedagogue Sandi Siemens offered guidance on the creation and maintenance of a successful studio to independent music teach- ers in a book entitled The Business of Teaching Music (reviewed in JOS 69, no. 5 [May/June 2013]). The second edition of the volume, presented by Plural Publishing, updates and refines the advice. Siemens, who has main- tained a successful private studio for fifty years, offers practical advice for beginning music teachers.

The intent of the guide remains intact. The volume is addressed to teachers of voice and other instruments who instruct students at any level. Siemens provides resources for independent studio teachers, from finding students to filing taxes. The content of the book, however, has been expanded. Four chapters have been added to the second edition; unsurprisingly, in the wake of a pandemic, one focuses on online lessons. This section also offers information about creating a website and maintaining a professional online presence. Another new chapter ad- dresses auditions, including how to prepare for different types (college, professional groups, and musical theatre) and how to make a favourable impression. Advice for planning studio performances is expanded and presented in the chapter “Showcasing Our Students.”

An added feature to the second edition is the companion website that offers a downloadable version of the studio form presented in the text. The documents range from music studio agreements to donation requests, as well as spreadsheets for annual teaching income, registration forms, student assessments, and templates for studio communication.

This volume is an invaluable tool for teachers because it offers cogent and concise advice in a format that is accessible and affordable. Siemens provides knowledge gleaned from her extensive teaching career. Beginning music teachers will greatly benefit from the guidance provided in this text.

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Plural Publishing - promo for The Business of Teaching Music, second edition


Seven Secrets for the Private Music Teacher

  1. Finding students can be easy. While it may seem a daunting process to build a private teaching business, The Business of Teaching Music provides the reader with proven strategies for finding students.
  2. Teaching as a business. Just like any successful business, teaching music privately requires detailed record-keeping and a manageable business plan. First and foremost, however, you must view yourself as a “working professional.” With the plan found within this book, attention to detail and the right attitude, the “business” of teaching music can be exciting and rewarding.
  3. Staying on track is critical. As a professional, you need to understand and maintain control of your teaching business. To do this, you’ll need workable policies to address issues such as the timely payment of fees, the loaning out of books (and getting them back) and dealing with missed lessons. The Business of Teaching Music addresses these issues, and many others, clearly and concisely.
  4. Achieving financial stability. Many musicians find it difficult to put the mechanisms in place to run a studio efficiently and be able to earn a living that can be counted on. Sandi’s principle regarding fees differs dramatically from that of other private music teachers - but is the reason she has been able to create a stable, reliable income for 30 years.
  5. Solving the typical problems and frustrations. These everyday challenges can be a significant cause of aggravation and dissatisfaction for the private studio teacher. For example, because the lessons are taught out of a private home, many students and parents view the teacher’s business differently than they do a commercial business. The book includes tips for day-to-day operations as well as solutions to the common problems and frustrations that plague studio teachers.
  6. Organization of Studio Performance Events. Studio performances can be time-consuming and costly for the private teacher. The author presents a detailed road map on all aspects of holding a recital, master class and concert. The reader is guided, step-by-step, from conception to completion of each event. The last chapter provides practical cost-saving advice.
  7. The right tools. Forms are helpful in keeping records and communicating with parents and students, but they can be time-consuming to set up. The Business of Teaching Music appendix contains a generous volume of helpful forms that can be adapted or used as is. The spiral binding was especially chosen to assist with photocopying these forms.

“Hooray for Sandi, she has taken her years of experience and created a manual for others to follow. This is a must “How To” read for anyone who wants to get into the private music business.”

Dennis Goin Dennis Goin, Ed.D.
Senior Engagement Leader
John Kotter’s 8 Step Leading Change Model
Dennis’ full testimonial

“This book is a must for anyone setting up a private music studio for the first time. It provides professional solutions to common problems inherent in the “business” of teaching music. The appendix alone is a gift and will save many hours of organization.”

Arlene McIntyre Arlene McIntyre, B. Mus.
NATS emeritus

Teacher of Singing

“What makes this book a standout is that on every page, Sandi clearly defines the boundaries that determine the efficient and rewarding operation of a professional music studio.”

Elizabeth Brodovitch Elizabeth Brodovitch,
B.A. Honors, M.A., ARCT

Elizabeth’s full testimonial

“This book is a perfect tool and step by step plan to organize a studio, and take a professional approach to teaching. A great addition to my Music Teacher's library.”

Elaine Lindbjerg Elaine Lindbjerg
Voice Teacher
Elaine’s full testimonial

“I truly LOVED THIS BOOK. This is an invaluable tool for new music teachers, but also for ones that have been teaching for years. You brought up some great points that I myself will start implementing. Your book is clear, concise and full of information, that I believe every teacher should have in their library. I enjoyed reading every page! I had many ‘aha’ moments! Thank you Sandi!”

Lambroula Maria Pappas Lambroula Maria Pappas