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About MU Teaching Rates

Teaching rates help musicians who work in music education set and negotiate fair rates of pay. Find out how the rates are set, what work they apply to and how to use them.

Last updated: 08 June 2023

The MU publishes teaching rates to help our members who work in music education set and negotiate fair rates of pay. Our rates are also referred to by schools, music hubs, other engagers and funders who are committed to paying musicians fairly for their work.

View teaching rates

What teaching work do the rates cover

Our teaching rates cover the self-employed music teaching and education work for:

  • one-to-one and small group lessons
  • workshop leading (one-off larger group sessions)

For performing in school concerts please see the MU’s agreement with Making Music.

For rates relating to accompanying exams please see the MU Live Accompanist rates.

MU teaching rates apply to self-employed work in music education only

We do not provide recommended rates for employed teaching work. We advise members to refer to employed pay frameworks published by the National Education Union and the Education Institute of Scotland for this.

Members can contact the MU for further advice if they are offered employed work and are unsure whether the rate is reasonable.

How often do the rates get updated

We publish our teaching rates every year in early summer, ahead of the start of the new academic year. This is to allow members to give sufficient notice of any rate increases, and to allow funded projects to plan their costs in a timely manner.

How are the MU teaching rates set

Our teaching rates are based on recommendations made by our Education Section Committee and Executive Committee. These committees consist of elected members who use their professional experience and knowledge of existing rates to judge what fair minimums should look like for the next academic year.

These discussions are balanced against inflation levels and market conditions to arrive at our final promulgated figures.

Factors that affect the rates

Because our rates are for self-employed work, they factor in the financial obligations of being self-employed, such as:

  • Holiday pay
  • Sick pay
  • Pension contributions
  • Parental leave
  • Tax

Self-employed rates should be higher than employed rates for comparable work to allow for separate contributions to the items listed above, which are not usually included in self-employment.

How to use these rates

Our teaching rates are recommended minimums and should be used as a starting point for negotiating where work involves additional travel, increased preparation time or greater responsibility. You should also consider your experience level when negotiating rates.

Our rates apply across the UK and do not reflect regional cost-of-living differences, which should also be negotiated on top. Additional guidance on factors to bear in mind when negotiating can be found on the rates page itself.

I charge more or less than these rates – what does this mean for me?

Work in music education is characterised by a wide range of pay, and our rates are minimum benchmarks only. We would expect experienced professionals undertaking high-level work to be charging significantly more than these rates.

While the MU works to ensure fair rates across music education, we understand that some members may work for rates that are under our recommended minimums for a range of reasons. Members should use their discretion and contact the MU if they are concerned that rates being offered are low or exploitative.

Getting additional financial and legal help

The MU offers a range of services to help members to get paid what they deserve and to resolve any issues around payment and contracts, including:

MU officials are on hand to discuss rates and to support members with these issues and others. Contact your regional MU office in the first instance.

Help with tax and finance matters

Rates are only one aspect of running a sustainable teaching business. The MU also offers help on a range of financial matters, such as:

Understand more about employment status

Understanding employment status is a key part of knowing what questions to ask, challenging questionable practices, and deciding if you want to walk away from an offer that exploits your professionalism and skill. Many of these relate to questions of fair pay, and what you want to consider when negotiating rates.

There is a freely accessible MU guide for members and non-members called Employment Status for Instrumental and Vocal Teachers which covers the key topics to understanding employment status, your rights and responsibilities.

Related resources

Member services for teaching musicians