How Much Does A Guitar Lesson Cost?
One of the first questions new guitar players ask is: How much do guitar lessons cost? On the face, this is a simple question, but there are some complicating factors. In this blog post I will try my best to explain guitar lesson pricing and options, both at NYC Guitar School and around New York City.
There are many different considerations in getting a guitar lesson, like:
How experienced is the teacher? Have they ever taught before? Do they have a track record of success?
How trained is the teacher? Do they have a degree in music? Have they received training in teaching or are they simply a musician who wants to teach?
Level of confidence in the safety of the teacher: Have they had a background check?
Affiliation: Independent or with a school? If with a school, what is the reputation and what are the policies of the school?
Facilities: Your home or the teachers studio? If the student travels to the teacher, is the lesson in the teacher’s private apartment, or in a studio, or in a school? Are guitars provided?
Curriculum: Does the teacher follow a plan or plans? Is there a pathway for student success? Are books and curriculum included or does the student need to purchase them separately?
Policy: Are there clear refund, credit and cancellation policies?
Performance or recital opportunities: Will students have the opportunity to perform? If so, under what conditions?
Specialized knowledge: Is the student learning something for which there is a very limited number of trained or knowledgable teachers, such as Suzuki guitar.
Is the lesson a “one-off” single lesson, or is it booked as part of a set of lessons.
Is the lesson private (one-on-one) or in a group?
With so many different factors influencing price, it is no wonder that the price of guitar lessons vary widely. A lesson which takes place in a teacher’s apartment, when the teacher has little teacher experience, and the lesson is booked directly through Craigslist (for example), may cost $30. A lesson in a studio school environment, with a trained teacher, guitars and books provided may cost twice that. And a single Suzuki lesson or other specialized lesson with a trained instructor commands a market rate of almost $100 per lesson.
A guitar lesson is an experience. The student doesn’t walk out with a physical possession. Why then, do so many people invest in higher priced lessons? The answer is that most people understand the importance of having confidence that they will achieve the results they desire, so as to avoid the regret of wasting time and money. Most students want to make sure that they really can learn to play guitar–or learn to play better–and want to be sure that their teacher will provide them with a sure, step by step path toward their goals.
Working with an competent teacher is essential to an effective learning environment, where progress takes place with maximum efficiency and minimum frustration–with the right balance of joy and skill-building, positive and effective feedback and a clear path to success. Whether you are a beginning guitar player, or an experienced guitar player who is looking to break out of ruts and expand your capabilities, you need a proven teacher who will help you achieve your goals.
Unfortunately, some people just focus on the initial price of a guitar lesson, with the goal of getting the cheapest teacher possible. That’s too bad, because they often sacrifice qualities like confidence, clarity, curriculum and a proven process, and usually end up failing to play successfully and feeling regret about wasted time and money. Of course, they can’t go back in time and do it differently–they have to begin again.
Commodity Or Service?
It always amazes me when people treat something like a guitar lesson like a commodity. A commodity is something that is the same no matter where you get it, like:
- Barrels Of Crude Oil
- Tons Of Iron Ore
- Bushels of Wheat
Often, when a prospective student calls, the very first question they ask is “how much are guitar lessons?” While I understand why they ask this question, guitar lessons are not a commodity, they are a specialized service. Think back to your own experiences learning anything–were all your teachers or coaches equally effective? Were all the classes you took identical?
Guitar lessons aren’t the same, so they aren’t priced the same. When someone asks how much our guitar lessons are, the specifics of the lesson type are key to giving an accurate answer. In other words, we offer multiple packages to our students. These multiple plans allow students to make a plan to learn with the combination of flexibility and savings that is best for them.
The lesson types are below, including the price range for each.
1. Private Studio Lessons
These lessons include the use of guitars in any of our four NYC studio locations and any needed books or curriculum materials. The lessons are forty-five minutes of one-on-one time with a trained and experienced instructor, who has gone thru our extensive hiring and training process, including background checks and continuing professional development. Students spend $68.50 per lesson for studio lessons when they book at least five lessons in advance at the package rate. (Kids can also take shorter, thirty minute lessons which work out to $49 per lesson.) Private students at NYC Guitar School have the option of participating in student showcases and recitals and receive discounts to School events, workshops and classes.
Students sometimes feel a little nervous about signing up for a series of lessons before knowing the teacher and school better–so we encourage students to try a single “trial” lesson at a discounted rate ($50 for 45 minutes or $40 for 30 minutes) first–these can be booked instantly online HERE.
2. Lessons In Your Home
Many students prefer the convenience of having a teacher come to their own New York City home. The instructor is still trained and experienced, and has gone thru an extensive hiring and training process, background checks and continuing professional development. Because the teacher is paid more to compensate for travel time, these lessons are more expensive–about $73 each at the package rate. Again, kids can take a shorter lesson, which breaks out to about $58 each. Private students at NYC Guitar School have the option of participating in student showcases and recitals and receive discounts to School events, workshops and classes. Just like with studio lessons, most home lesson students prefer to begin with a no-obligation trial lesson–those can be set up online HERE.
3. Group Guitar Classes
There are two big reasons students elect to take group classes at NYC Guitar School. The first is that they enjoy a group environment–they find the camaraderie of a small group class motivating, social and stimulating. The other reason is that group classes are more economical–each one hour class represents an investment of $37.50. (Returning students get a 10% discount on subsequent classes.) The classes take place in NYC Guitar School’s four studio locations and include books or other learning materials at no additional charge, and all guitars, capos, etc. are supplied so the student does not need to bring their own. A full array of dozens of NYCGS classes at all locations can be viewed and booked online HERE.
4. Specialty Lessons
Some students wish to study specialized material. The two main examples of this at NYC Guitar School are Suzuki guitar and vocal lessons. Suzuki guitar lessons use a special approach for teaching children as young as 2 years old about music and how to play guitar. The method is extremely effective. Teachers are required to have an extremely high level of training and proficiency, including having Masters degrees in Classical guitar and taking extensive teacher training in working with very young children. Suzuki lessons from a trained teachers in NYC Guitar School break out to $71 per week for a private thirty minute lesson plus a weekly group class. Suzuki lessons begin with a free consultation for the parent, which can be booked online HERE.
Our private vocal lessons are priced similarly. To book a trial vocal lesson, use our regular online booking tool, but just look for the word “vocal” in the teacher title HERE.
5. Specialty Programs (Camps, Custom Bands, Onsite, Custom Classes Etc.)
One advantage of working with an established school is the vast number of additional programs available for students. These are also priced variously depending on duration, equipment required, teacher background, etc. These range from in school guitar programs and music programs at elementary schools, middle schools and high schools and summer camps and school break camps for kids, to rock band classes for adults, workshops, events, concerts, etc. The prices of these vary–if you’re interested in one of them, we recommend checking out each individual program at NYC Guitar School and comparing it to other programs available in New York City.
6. Self Learning
Some students prefer to learn on their own. We offer two options for self-learning. One is through printed books. These include books like our Amazon best-seller, Guitar for Absolute Beginners and follow ups Guitar for Near Beginners, Fingerstyle Guitar for Beginners and more, including a private lesson handbook called The Ultimate Guitar Workbook. These books typically cost between $14 and $19 per copy and are available on Amazon. The other option is through our online learning platform. For example, the Guitar for Absolute Beginners program is available as a series of almost 200 short video lessons, along with accompanying PDFS of lessons and exercises. A ten week class which would cost $375 in New York City typically costs $69 for unlimited lifetime access online, but there are also free lessons, videos and PDFs available. To explore our online program, click HERE.
How Our Costs Compare To Other Options
There are multiple options for studying guitar at organized music schools in New York City. Most of these school options in New York are general music schools or continuing education programs, where guitar is one of many options–the 92nd Street Y, located just a few blocks away from our Upper East Side location, is a good example, and is a quality organization. Depending on the school, they may have good teachers on staff and offer multiple class options, and prices at these schools tend to be similar to our prices. However, general music schools are unlikely to offer dozens of different electives and paths, such as rock band classes, and the guitar community aspect may not be as developed as at a school like ours with a couple thousand guitar students.
There are also a few guitar focused options in schools. Most of these schools are slightly less expensive than our school–not surprisingly since many of them set their rates based on ours, and we typically pay our teachers more than most other programs. Of course, cost alone isn’t quite enough information to make an accurate comparison. One consideration during your comparison is to calculate the cost per hour of instruction. This allows you to compare a ten week class and eight week class, for example. Also, ask what their make-up policy is for missed classes. Do they have multiple makeup options for missed lessons or classes like NYC Guitar School does? Is a book included for free, like at NYC Guitar School, or are materials extra? Does their school offer credit or refunds for unused lessons, the way that NYC Guitar School does? Do they have online resources to help you with practice? How are their teachers hired? Do their teachers receive ongoing training?
You can even check social media to get a feel for the personality and mission of the school. As you can see, there are many factors that come into play when comparing schools, even though they may seem similar from the outside. We feel strongly that even though students may pay a bit more per lesson at our school than others, we often deliver many times the value.
There are hundreds of independent teachers in New York, with every imaginable level of experience and training, ranging from none at all to extensive. Independent teachers often advertise through online posting services, like Craigslist, with flyers on bulletin boards, through word of mouth, and through aggregate online marketplaces like TakeLessons.com. Often you can view ratings on particular teachers. Prices vary as widely as the teachers, easily ranging from $25 per half hour to $60 or more.
Disadvantages of booking with individual teachers include lack of training, lack of background checks, lack of opportunity to play in recitals or shows, lack of community or opportunity to connect with other students–in short, there can be a lack of infrastructure and limited support in learning.
Learning Online / Remote Learning
There are many online apps which can help you learn to play guitar with direct instruction like Yousician and FenderPlay, and indirect instruction, for example song charts and music on Ultimate Guitar. There are also many lessons and tutorials posted to YouTube (including hundreds on our channel, TheNYCGuitarSchool). These options can range in price from free (YouTube tutorials) to $9-$29/month subscription models, to stand alone online courses ranging from $30-$500. Our online program typically costs $69 for unlimited lifetime access online for hundreds of videos, PDFs, charts, etc.
Apps and self directed video courses can be a good choice for someone who is very disciplined and self-motivated and who can sustain long term attention. They can also be a great way to get exposed to a new instrument. In fact, we’ve experienced a huge surge in new students who learned the basics of guitar online or through an app, and reached a point where they wanted the feedback and structure provided by a skilled teacher in the context of an organized learning path–not to mention the connections and motivation that come from being part of a school community. This has shown us that learning online versus in person is not an either / or choice, and we encourage our students to supplement their lessons with online resources–so we also encourage our students use some apps, like Guitar Tuna, Ultimate Guitar and Songsterr as practice resources, as well as our own online platform. Of course, our platform happens to exactly coincide with our in person guitar curriculum!
The problem with online learning in isolation, in our experience, is that we’ve met too many people who attempted to learn online and were not successful. In fact, the statistics from app and online video lesson companies show that almost 90% of new students drop out after just a few of months and ultimately fail to learn. If you are one of these people who tried to learn online and get discouraged–don’t give up. You can continue to build on any of the skills you’ve acquired whether online or in person.
The Bottom Line
A prospective guitar student has literally hundreds of options to choose from. Although we believe the value of studying with us is unmatched, we also tend to be a little more expensive than other options, especially for our private lessons. We think our track record, reviews on Yelp and Google, flexible scheduling policies, well designed and proven curriculum, warm community and trained and vetted teachers make us a great choice.