The Savvy Clarinetist: 3 Ways to Earn Income From Music While in School – Part I


by Eric Salazar, Kristy Nichols and Spencer Prewitt

When you are in music school, you have a very full schedule between classes, studying, and (most importantly) practicing. Many music students live their lives on a limited budget. To make money, other musicians tell us “play more gigs!” and non-musician friends and family members say “get a day job!” While we would all love to play more gigs (and we all should), the reality might be that someone else is already getting those gigs or we may even not be ready yet for the gigging lifestyle. A day job is a great way to earn cash, but with such a full schedule, we might not have time to dedicate the amount of hours an employer needs. Music Majors have an especially sporadic schedule thanks to the added element of giving performances – a schedule that some employers can find hard to work with. With all of these factors, how are music students supposed to make money?

Never fear, BuzzReed is here to help! We have come up with 3 outside-of-the-box methods to begin earning income from music while in school. We are going to cover one method today, another one in the next article, and a final method in a third article.

Today: Method One – Teach Lessons

Ok, so this one isn’t really outside-of-the-box thinking, but it’s included because teaching a private studio, group lessons, and/or running sectionals are all important ways to develop experience, contribute to the community, AND earn money. Plus, when you graduate you are going to end up teaching in some capacity so you might as well get a jump start on things by beginning your teaching career right now!

Here are a couple important things to decide:

  • Do you have a way of getting around (car, bike, etc.)?
  • How far are you willing to travel to make money?
  • Once you have decided how far you you can travel, it’s time to research!
  • Search online for any school, music shop, or community centers (that offer music) and contact them.
  • Shorter emails are generally better.
  • When you contact people explain who you are, what you are trying to do, what experience you have, and why you want to teach.
  • If you cannot travel, don’t admit defeat! Still contact all of the above places – just see if they have students who are willing to travel to you.

How much would you charge?

It is important to have your rate in your head BEFORE you start the conversation of being hired to teach. The best way to decide your rate is to research what other people are charging in the area. Respectfully contacting other music teachers and asking them what the going rate is in your area and comparing that to your level of experience will usually tell you what you can charge.

What can your schedule handle?

It is VERY important to come to the table with options for what times of day you can actually teach. Know your schedule, and know what is actually possible. For example, if your class ends at 10:50 on campus you would not be able to drive to a location that is 15 minutes away and teach by 11:00am. You would be late every single time – which is bad for your reputation.

Figuring out how to earn money teaching is a process. You will likely go through some trial and error. When in doubt, ask someone who has gone through it before – a mentor, older student, or professional. You can also contact BuzzReed if you ever have any questions on this!

That’s all for today, we will see you next time! Our next article will bring a very creative way to earn income while still in school.


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