Music tuition fees failing to keep up with the cost of living

Results of ISM’s annual survey of teaching rates ‘paint a concerning pictureof a profession under pressure.’

The Incorporated Society of Musicians’ (ISM) annual survey of teaching and accompanying rates has revealed that music tuition fees are not increasing in line with the cost of living.

61.2% of self-employed visiting music teachers in schools have not seen a pay increase since September 2015 – and those that did at most received an increase of only £0.50-£2.00 per hour. Only 43.7% expect an increase in the next 12 months.

Only 30.5% of private music teachers who responded to the survey reported that they increased their rates (an average of £2) since September 2015. A further 43.6% are expecting to raise their rates, but have not yet done so.

The survey also reported a significant difference between fees paid in independent schools, in state-funded schools and by music services and hubs. Fees in Inner London and Greater London remain significantly higher than those charged elsewhere in the UK.

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

‘The results of our annual teacher’ fees survey paint a concerning picture of a workforce under pressure.

Music teachers must be properly remunerated. The profession has a vital role in society for all ages, be it preparing children for the world of tomorrow or playing an important part in the lives of older people, for whom cultural participation is a key factor in their wellbeing.

The current situation revealed by these results needs to change.’


‘The leading factors in being happy were cultural participation, physical activities, cognition, mental wellbeing, education, no diagnosed health conditions, an open personality, no limiting long-standing illnesses, and social participation.’ – Nicola Woolcock, The Times, 6 February 2017

About the survey

The ISM’s teachers’ fees survey results and recommended rates along with the new accompanists’ fees survey results are now available to view. For the first time this year, the results are available in a free, downloadable format, which is available at

The survey, conducted by independent statisticians at the University of Reading, is the largest of its kind in the UK with almost 1,100 music teachers taking part in October and November 2016.

These survey results are not recommendations. Competition law prevents us – and other trade associations and organisations - from recommending rates for musicians’ freelance work.

About the ISM 

The Incorporated Society of Musicians is the UK’s professional body for musicians and a nationally recognised subject association for music, set up in 1882 to promote the art of music and support musicians. We are a wholly independent organisation supporting our 8,000 members with a line-up unrivalled services and expert advice.