"Music for Everyone, All Ages "
(412) 322-0520                                             info@KikuchiMusic.com
                                                                     Founder: Lee W. Kikuchi


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When compared to the universities, our rates are about 50%. Universities traditionally charge very high rates because they have substantial overhead: buildings, faculty salaries, administrative costs, etc. They are able to demand that rate by assuring the high credentials of their faculty and because of the reputation of their name. However, often the high credentials they claim are not necessarily the most useful to beginning students. Such credentials as Masters Degrees, Doctorates, Prestigious Performing Career, member of the Pittsburgh Symphony and faculty of a university are important for advanced students, but do not really guarantee quality of beginning music education. Afterall, would Albert Einstein really be a good teacher for 2nd grade arithmetic?

When compared to other small music schools our rates are just below the median. Unlike other small music schools, we operate out of the director's home which sharply reduces the cost of overhead. Other small music schools are public building facilities with high cost overhead. They must charge higher rates to cover those costs.

Our rates are the most similar to other private piano teachers, where we are at the median level. There are private piano teachers all over the region, and their rates vary widely. Yes, you will find some who charge a lot less, and some who charge a lot more. However, be sure to verify their credentials and take into consideration where they live. Piano teacher rates are influenced by both of those factors. Rates are naturally higher in neighborhoods with higher property values and teachers naturally charge more if they have more years of experience or degrees. We carefully place our tuition near the median for the entire region, based on research conducted by area professional organizations, in order to assure our families that we are always affordable and competitive. We raise our rates only to meet cost of living changes. We are NOT interested in raising rates just because we are in high demand, so our long-time students who have been with us for years can rest assured that their loyalty to us is carefully reflected in our fair tuition.

We are well below the median compared to other private non-piano teachers, because their smaller student population requires that they charge higher rates (usually upwards of $60/hour) in order to make a living. Many of our faculty who teach in the Core Curriculum are qualified to teach several instruments which allows parents to provide their children beginning instrument lessons at an affordable rate. KMI faculty who are highly qualified in at least one instrument will also teach in the Appreciation and Young Artist programs which have a higher tuition rate in order to pay these qualified professionals. Universities often have a tier structure like this which is based on faculty credentials, not level of student. At KMI we make the tuition structure based on the level of student, and our faculty are appointed to whichever programs they are qualified to teach.

How It Used to Be....

Traditionally, private teachers used to charge a flat fee payable in cash at each weekly lesson. Over the past 30 years this practice has been gradually replaced by a variety of other payment plans which include monthly payments and full-term payments. The reason is due to the need for stricter policies regarding cancellations and no-shows.

In the 70’s when the fee per lesson practice was far more common, most decent private music teachers charged from $5 to $10 per 30 min. lesson. The better teachers charged from $20 to $30 per 30 min. lesson. If adjusted for inflation to today’s economy that $5 lesson would now be $40 and that $20 lesson would now be $160!

If private teachers charged upward of $100 per 30 min. lesson today, they could easily handle the income fluctuations caused by cancellations and no-shows. However, it seems a reasonable assessment that such a high fee would simply price most of their students out of the studio so much so that the teachers would still not have adequate income. Since the market cannot bear for teachers to increase their rates so sharply (although the universities have done so without hesitation), private teachers have had to find other ways to ensure that their income did not drop below acceptable levels.

Likewise, under the old system essentially the good students who are timely are actually making up for the bad ones who often cancel. After all, at whatever rate, the student who attends and pays for 48 weekly lessons in the year is clearly paying more than the one who misses many lessons, and in the end pays for only 30 or so. In the final analysis, the non-compliant student is depriving the teacher of potential income by not attending regularly and the good students are essentially being punished by paying higher rates.

All the professional societies advise their members to charge a reasonable fee and to enforce strict policies that ensure their income is not devastated by non-compliant students. The philosophy is that the student is paying for a class which meets at a certain time, and failure to attend – regardless of the reason – does not make tuition refundable. By comparison, if a student misses a class at any private school or college, there is no refund. Furthermore, the student is required to make up for the lost instruction on his/her own – and when it comes time for the test, the student is still responsible any and all material missed due to absence otherwise the final grade will be diminished.

Comparing KMI Tuition to Hourly Rates*
(assuming 15 lessons per term)
Hourly Rate
30 min.
45 min.
60 min.
75 min.
90 min.
105 min.
120 min.

* IN FACT: such a tuition-to-rate comparison is not fair considering several valuable benefits KMI students receive in addition to 15 weekly lessons:

1) FREE lessons for good attendence.
2) Merit Scholarships for high performance.
3) TWO annual recitals.
4) Access to important public recitals and competitions.
5) Discounts on concert tickets.


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Last Modified: 01/04/2008