My junior year of college, I attended the yearly MTNA pedagogy conference. They had a session geared for new teachers that presented different teaching careers. One of the presenters began by telling horror stories about travel teaching. She stressed over and over again, "DON"T travel teach! It's a nightmare." After I graduated and was starting to build my own studio, I struggled with what to do- I didn't have the space to open up a studio in my apartment, but I was wary of traveling. I took a chance on travel teaching, and five years later, and I'm so glad I did! From my experience, here are some of the pros and cons of travel teaching...
1. Niche Advantage
Travel teaching allowed me to fill my studio quickly in a competitive market. I live in saturated area for piano teachers, but am one of two teachers who travel to their students' homes. Parents value the convenience of lessons in their home.
2. Personal Privacy
My personal living space and my students never intersect. My students will never know that I like funky furniture colors or that my cat ninja attacks ankles at the most inopportune moments. All business is done in their space, allowing me to choose what I share with them. It is wonderful to have that distance between work and home life.
3. Tax Deductions
Mileage and gas deductions add up quickly! At 56 cents back per mile, recording my mileage has significantly reduced my taxes for the last two years. There are also other deductions you can take regarding your car, gas and car maintenance, depending on your situation
4. Home Court Advantage
My students know their instruments very well and are able to show me what they have been practicing on their own instrument. I can also assess the quality of their instrument which is helpful in understanding different technique issues. It's also easier to fix posture and bench height issues.
5. Controlled Attendance
I control when the lesson begins and ends- I can show up three minutes before the lesson, and leave right on time without having to wait for students to arrive, or hurry them out the door.
It is harder to forget your lesson when the teacher shows up at your door!
1. Limited Teaching Hours
Although traveling helped me fill my studio quickly, I'm not able to maintain as many students. Even though I organize my students by location, travel time still eats a considerable amount of my prime teaching time.
2. Unpredictable Environment
Your teaching environment will always be a bit unpredictable. There will be enthusiastic pets, ringing doorbells, extra family members and noisy siblings galore! You will get to know your studio families on much more personal level when you are at their house. The good news is that your student is normally used to practicing through these distractions!
3. Extra Expenses
Traveling teaching has a lot of up front expenses- gas, car maintenance, extra travel time, etc. Be sure to factor those considerations into your rates!
4. Home Court Disadvantage
Sometimes you will be limited by the student's instrument. There have been many times I wish I could have shown my student the insides of my acoustic when they asked how the pedal worked, or scrambled to explain chord quality on an abysmally tuned piano.
5. Weather and Traffic Delays
Some days you will battle traffic and weather all day, throwing your carefully calculated travel time out of sync. All you can do is laugh, contact your studio parents, and adjust your schedule!
Over the last five years, I've grown to love travel teaching. Although it has it's own set of challenges, it also can be a great way to find a niche in a competitive environment or make the best of restrictive living circumstances.