How to Make 75$ per hour by Playing the Piano?
You don’t have to be a famous musician in order to make some decent money. Bella is a music teacher, who will in continuation reveal great secrets through which she managed to live the life of her dreams.
Do you want to make money by playing the piano? Do you want to enjoy music and grow, but also help the others grow, along the way? If you want to change the world of music, don’t miss the continuation of the text.
I’ve been friends with Bella Payne for a long time, and these days I have finally found some time to make an interview with her. Bella is a person who has huge life experience, and she openly says that she is living her dreams.
She is currently in the process of starting some new projects, and we have talked about the things she does in her everyday life. Bella is a music tehacher,vwho has devotes her life to music, and to the enjoyment that comes with it. She has found her passion and she makes a really good money practicing it.
In this interview she has told me all of the secrets on how to become a musician, how much do the music teachers earn, how to become one of them, etc.
Brilliant advice, and even more brilliant Bella Payne in continuation, just for you.
People think that they don’t have an ear for music, or the ability to learn to play an instrument. None of us was born with the music playing knowledge, but we all had to learn to play an instrument first. How did your beginnings look like? Where did your desire for music came from, and how did you start learning your first beats?
I was a really slow music student and I didn’t have a lot of opportunities in the beginning like a lot of people do. My parents weren’t interested in music lessons and we didn’t have a piano. Their reason was they couldn’t afford one, which was very true, but I think in hindsight they would have found a way if they had realized how serious I was.
I was fortunate enough, though, to have a lot of nice people around me who helped me when they could. There were adults and teens in my community who encouraged me to study music with whatever resources I could grab, so I did.
I practiced on whatever piano was near me as well as on my terrible keyboard (I hated that thing!). I auditioned for the public arts high school and got in as a singing major. That meant I was able to study Music Theory and Piano, which I took full advantage of.
A boyfriend was kind enough to loan me a guitar which I taught myself how to play. I practiced a lot.
I think because I didn’t have a big support system at home or the resources, that’s why I was slow to start. But I had a strong desire, so once those resources became available to me, I took full advantage and never stopped trying. I was performing professionally by the time I was 18.
I can’t say for sure where my first desire to study music came from… I think it stemmed from being very sad with no way to express it. My life at home was hard. My Mom worked 2 jobs and was never home and my Dad was sick all the time. I needed an outlet. Listening to music did that in a big way, so I thought to myself, “What if I could play music myself? What would that do for my heart and my mind?”
Do you remember the moment you earned your first money from playing? Describe it.
I don’t remember very clearly. I just remember being very surprised by it. Like I mentioned before, I was very young. I had played a few open mic nights at this cafe and the owner asked me to do a whole show. I didn’t know I would be paid for it, so when he gave me cash at the end, I was like, “What is this for?” LOL.
I didn’t think much of it really. I think I took my friends out to dinner with it. Just blew it all in one night! But when I got my first steady job as a Soprano in a church choir for something like $50 a session that got me excited about the possibility of being a real working musician. It led to regular paid gigs and a few private students and so by the time I was 23, I was a working musician.
I was hooked and I still can’t imagine living any other way. I’ve tried, believe me. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and I’m a Certified Massage Therapist as well as certified in teaching kid’s yoga. But working in music is what I love to do more than anything.
For you, music is not about money, it is the realization of your dream life. It is clear that well-known musicians earn thousands of dollars, but in what way, and how much do you earn as a piano teacher? Can you live of teaching others?
It’s true that music is not about money for me in many ways. I would still play music even if I had a different career. I like teaching a lot because I feel like I contribute to society in a big way. I feel very strongly about the importance of music education, so being a teacher makes me feel like I’m doing something important. At the same time, private teachers are paid relatively well. Our hourly fees can be quite high in a big city. In Los Angeles, we are paid between $45-75 an hour. Obviously, there are much higher paying careers out there, but for a musician, that’s an exciting way to make your living and not be broke all the time!
I always feel like I found a loophole, because I hate playing in bars and I don’t really like the performance lifestyle anymore. I still do private parties and studio work, but I really can’t stand playing in clubs and bars anymore.
Teaching allows me to finish work before 8 or 9pm, and I have time in the day to work on other projects if I want to. You can absolutely make a nice living as a private teacher, but it takes a lot of hard work and creativity, which is true of any freelance type of career.
The newest project you’re working on, erases the boundaries of the local teaching, and it is intended for people all around the world, who want to learn to play the piano. Can you please describe what’s it all about?
I’m about to launch the first of many to come online courses for new piano students. I’m starting at the beginning of the levels and will work my way up to more intermediate and then advanced courses. I want my online students to be able to grow with me in the same way you would with a private teacher.
The goal is for students who are just too busy for private lessons to be able to buy a course, finish it, and then move on to the next one. Eventually I want to have a membership site with access to all of the courses as well as accessibility to me.
Hollywood is a very competitive town and I think the popularity of my teaching method here tells me that I have something good. People of all ages are able to start with me and stay with me. I think I can explain things in an easy to understand way because I had such a slow, late start to learning myself. I can relate to beginners because I still remember what it was like. It’s incredibly frustrating and a lot of people quit after a very short try. My students all stay with me for years and years. I really want to translate that to an online platform, because I really want everyone (who wants to) to play piano. Frustration shouldn’t get in your way.
The first course will focus on Pop Rock style chords, because that seems to be my most popular teaching genre. I also love playing Pop style piano. It’s easy to start and it’s satisfying for beginners to play right from the get go.
You have transmitted your musical abilities to many other people. I believe that you are very proud of your students, after they start playing the piano successfully. I wonder have you ever had a student who has achieved great success at the local or global level? Are you seeing your former students and are they grateful for the knowledge provided?
I am extremely proud of my students. It especially brings me joy when an adult starts from scratch and is able to play music she or he loves as a way to relax. In a way, I think that’s what we all want when we begin to learn an instrument. It can feel like a long time to get there, so when I witness that in one of my students, I feel incredibly proud.
I have taught a lot of people as a way to benefit their performance careers. Some of those students have been actors who needed to play music on screen and so I taught them just enough to be convincing. I have a couple rising pop stars who I teach and they are doing extremely well in their careers. One of them just starred in a movie that will be released some time next year. I seem to attract a lot of singers who want to be able to feel more competent at the piano as well as use piano to improve their songwriting capabilities.
We know that age doesn’t matter, and that all of us can learn anything we want, be it at the age of 5 or 95. When learning the piano, the perseverance and the practice are very important; but I would like you to tell me the 5 most important factors that affect the speed and the quality of learning the piano. I would like you to explain each of the factors.
1. Play as often as possible. You have to put the time into learning anything, especially piano. If you play every day, you’re going to be pretty amazing in just 1 year.
2. Love it. You have to love piano if you want to succeed. I played guitar for 10 years before I admitted to myself how much I hated it. No wonder I never improved past a certain point!
3. Play songs you love. Be honest with yourself about the kind of music you want to play. If you don’t like Classical music, but believe it’s the only valid style to play, you are going to fail. I personally believe every genre is valid, so start with your favorite.
4. Always pick something just a little too hard to play. Whether you are reading music or not, try to push yourself just a little bit every time you choose a new song. You want to learn something new with each piece you play. Don’t go crazy though. If you pick something way too advanced for you, you’ll get frustrated and want to quit. Go just a tiny bit too difficult each time.
5. Be sure to include technical exercises. A lot of DIY musicians focus only on playing songs. Technical exercises are great for developing strength, flexibility and speed as well as tone. In the early stages, develop good habits with curved fingers, sitting up tall, steady wrists. If you start early, you’ll play more efficiently and comfortably for the rest of your life.
Do you believe in the ‘10,000 hours’ rule? It has beed proven that the violinists who have invested more than 10,000 hours in training music, have become professionals, while those with less invested hours have become average musicians. What’s your opinion of that rule, due to your vast experience? Is it credible and why?
I do believe in this rule. The term “professional” typically means one who is paid for their work and doesn’t really have anything to do with their skill set. But I have found that the musicians who have played for several years consistently can reach a level that we all desire to get to.
I figured I reached my 10,000 hours a few years ago, and while I am always going to need improving, I think something “clicked” at that point. It’s like all these lessons I had spent years and years practicing… it all just settled into me and it’s there permanently now. I think that’s what the 10,000 hours rule is about… it’s not about being a master of music. It’s more about having all of this information inside of you that you are capable of grabbing at any moment. Music in general becomes easier to learn and create. I may not be the best musician in the world, but I now feel I can learn anything because the foundation is there and it’s set.
I have watched a lecture in which a man explained how you can play all the songs of the world with less than 10 chords. Is playing an instrument really that easy?
I’m not familiar with that video. I’ve seen a video where a band takes only 4 chords and plays dozens of pop songs that use the same exact progression, though. I wouldn’t say playing an instrument is easy. What you’re describing is Music Theory, which is the Mathematical Science behind music. Basic harmony is pretty easy to grasp, which is what chords are. But there are several ways to play the same chord, so even if a song only has 4 chords in it, there may be some really creative ways to play those chords.
Harmony becomes a lot more interesting when you add more chords to the mix or add extra notes to the basic chords. And learning that can be tricky and takes time to absorb. So even though a piece of music will contain 10 chords (which is actually a lot of chords) the order you play the notes, the rhythm, the combination of them all at once… that will determine the difficulty level.
One example before I move on: “Let It Be” by The Beatles is a song I often teach to beginners because it’s built on only 4 chords which can all be played with white keys only. So it’s a good “easy” song. We can play the whole song by playing just the basic, root position chords (easy) and singing along. But when Paul McCartney plays it, he uses inversions which are rearranged versions of the basic chords and he has his own rhythmic style he puts into it. Once you get to a certain level, this song may still be considered easy, but to the beginner, it’s going to take time to develop the skill set of Paul McCartney.
I play the piano myself (not nearly as good as you though) and I must admit that the music calms me down when I’m nervous, it makes me happy when I’m sad, it cheers me up when I’m in a bad mood. Please, tell me a few reasons why people should start playing the piano or any other instrument.
I’m so happy to hear that you play! And I especially love to hear that it calms you down and changes your mood. There is a lot of evidence that this is a universal experience for everyone. The vibrations of certain harmonies sync up with your brain and influence the way you feel. It’s really powerful and if you want to know more, you can read an excellent book called “This Is Your Brain on Music” by Daniel Levitin.
Your personal testament is honestly my number one reason for wanting people to play. It’s very calming to the mind. When you read sheet music especially, you are incorporating every singly part of your brain, and this creates a calming effect.
There are so many other valid reasons for playing an instrument. It’s the best workout for your brain, so it makes you sharper. It helps you with Math (honestly). But really, the best reason to play is because you love music. If you love listening to music, if you dance when you hear it, if you can’t go a day without listening to it… you should really try playing an instrument. There’s just nothing like it. It’s like if you watch sports every day but never exercise. Watching athletes play may be exciting, but what if you did it yourself?
There are going to be people who genuinely love music and want to create it themselves, but have a hard time learning. To those people, I would suggest you search for a method or a teacher that suites your personality. Be honest with yourself. There are teachers of all types out there, so look for someone who resonates with you. Buy a keyboard and try following some tutorials on YouTube. I have a few videos on my blog GoPlayPiano.com that are good for anyone who’s just starting out.
Thanks to your job as a piano teacher, you are already living the life of your dreams. After your new project turns out to be successful, you will be able to travel, and you have told me that this is will make you happy, and whole as a person . Why do you think so few people decide to achieve their dreams? What is your advice to them, when it comes to realizing a dream life?
There are 2 very good reasons why people don’t follow their dreams.
1: It takes a lot of work.
A lot of people don’t want to work that hard. It’s harsh, but true! It’s also very relatable. I always joke around that I would rather be on the sofa watching movies all day then working on my business, LOL. But really, I’m one of those type A personalities that thrive on hard work. Not everyone is like that, so the idea of spending 4-8 hours (or more) a day of unpaid time to work on something isn’t very appealing to many people. But the reality is that you have to work hard in order to achieve a goal.
2: It’s risky and scary.
The fear of failure is very real. My biggest worry has always been: What if all this time I’ve spent working toward this dream turns out to be a waste? What if I fail? But I think that’s where the hard work comes in. I have no idea what I’m doing in terms of starting an online business. I’ve spent the last year learning how to start one and it’s probably going to take a while before I feel like I truly “get it.” But I really believe in what I’m doing, so I’m going to make mistakes and learn from them and keep practicing until I get it right. It’s really a lot like learning an instrument.