Annual teachers’ fees survey shows rates are not rising with the cost of living for fourth year in a row

  • Only 33% of private teachers and 40% of peripatetic teachers and visiting music teachers raised fees in 2019, while fee rates declined in teachers employed by schools
  • Respondents reported being unable to raise fees due to affordability of lessons for many families
  • The 2019 survey has several new category additions including holiday pay, examining and children taught

The ISM’s annual survey of teaching and accompanying rates has revealed a profession under pressure against a backdrop of budget cuts, the marginalisation of music and Brexit, as rates fail to increase in line with the cost of living for the fourth year in a row.

Within the survey results, teachers reported being unable to raise their rates due to financial pressures on families as the cost of living continues to rise. Others reported carrying out unpaid work as music education hubs and schools struggle with shrinking budgets.

Comments from respondents included:

‘Pay levels and increases offered by music hubs seem to be operating at an absolutely minimal level probably due to the marginalisation of music in schools.’

‘I continue to keep my fees low as generally people can't afford much where I live.’

‘Parents struggling to pay £30 per hour or £7.50 for a joint half hour lesson in schools - no chance of increase in fees.’

‘Need to raise fees but know families can’t afford it as housing costs so much. Taught 60-hour weeks before 2008 recession but do well to get 10 hours now as families need more money for rent / high house prices.’

‘I have to do quite a lot of unpaid work as school cannot afford to pay me for all the work I do. This is usually accompanying choirs/concerts/exam but also some teaching.’

‘Since Brexit pupil numbers have changed - a number of my pupils have returned to Europe.’

‘Pupil numbers seem to be going down especially when parents have to pay. I put this down to anxiety over the effects of Brexit.’

Deborah Annetts, Chief Executive of the Incorporated Society of Musicians said:

‘Respondents to the ISM’s annual fees survey have not only told us their fees have scarcely risen – as little as 27p in some cases – but also the workforce continues to be under significant pressure against a backdrop of budget cuts and the marginalisation of music.

We know from the significant wealth of research available – including the ISM’s The Future of Music Education report and the APPG for Music Education’s State of the Nation report which the ISM co-authored – that the position of music teachers within schools, especially those who are self-employed VMTs, is becoming increasingly difficult. Music provision continues to fall for a variety of policy reasons. This is making access to music education increasingly problematic.’

The Government is currently consulting on the future of music education, including the future refresh of the National Plan for Music Education, with a call for evidence. They are seeking views from musicians, classroom teachers, young people and parents. We urge everyone who cares about music education to respond to this call for evidence before it closes on 13 March 2020. See the call for evidence at

It is essential that music teachers, like every other profession, have access to fair employment conditions and are properly remunerated for the time, skill and hard work that goes into doing what they do.’

These latest survey results include several new category additions including holiday pay, examining rates, group tuition and children taught.

About the ISM

The Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) is the UK's professional body for musicians and a nationally recognised subject association for music. Since 1882, we have been dedicated to promoting the importance of music and protecting the rights of those working in the music profession. We support approximately 10,000 musicians across the UK and Ireland with our unrivalled legal advice and representation, comprehensive insurance and specialist services. Our members come from all areas of the music profession and from a wide variety of genres and musical backgrounds. We campaign tirelessly in support of musicians’ rights, music education and the profession as a whole. We are a financially independent not-for-profit organisation with no political affiliation. This independence allows us the freedom to campaign on any issue affecting musicians.

For more information, please contact [email protected].

Download the results