The effect of COVID-19 over the last six months has been dramatic, causing disruption and anxiety throughout society. Its impact has been profound on many levels, and the piano teaching profession has felt this seismic change along with everyone else. From the initial results of the COVID-19 piano teaching survey, it is now clear just how deep that impact has been.
- Overall, the profession has seen a drop of 35% in student numbers.
- Eighty-one per cent of all the piano teachers (242; n=299), reported a decrease in the size of their teaching studio.
- The average number of students per teacher fell from 29 to 19.
- The largest drop in student numbers was in adult students and children up to the age of 7.
The COVID-19 Piano Teaching survey aimed to gather some firm evidence about the impact of the pandemic on piano teachers and their teaching studios. The survey was live for a month from the end of May
Just over two-thirds of all respondents lived in the UK (64%/174), while 18% (48) were from the USA. Other countries had only a handful of respondents (figure 1). Given the UK location of The Curious Piano Teachers, this predominance is unsurprising. Two hundred and sixty-four people replied to this question.
Teachers were asked where they taught the piano. Knowing that some have several teaching venues multiple responses to this question were possible. A total of 264 teachers responded.
Exactly 50% (228) gave lessons given at their piano teaching studio, based at the teacher’s home. A further 6% (27) had studios away from their home. Nearly a quarter of lessons were delivered in a school setting (22%/99) while an additional 14% (62) were in the homes of students. Music schools and conservatoires accounted for the remaining 8% (38%).
STUDENT NUMBERS – JANUARY 2020
Question 2 asked:
‘what was the total number of students you were teaching at the start of January 2020?’
This period will be referred to as Pre-COVID.
Two hundred and ninety-five teachers answered the question, and between them, there was a total of 8680 pupils Pre-COVID. The average number of students per teacher was 29. The mean (or middle) number of students per teacher was 25. Most of these were having lessons on a one-to-one basis; however, there were a handful of teachers who gave larger, group classes. In total, ten teachers had between 80-125 students and one teacher who had 200.
In a subsequent question, teachers were also asked to provide a breakdown of their students by age (question 3). The age ranges were:
- Primary up to 7 years old
- Primary aged 8-11 years old
- Secondary aged 12-16 years old
- Secondary aged 17-18 years old
The total figure given for this question (breakdown according to age) is 8281, three hundred and ninety-nine students less than the previous question. This disparity is not unusual as some teachers are less likely to go into detail. Two hundred and ninety-five responses were given once again (figure 3).
Pre-COVID 41% percent of all students (3432) were in the primary 8-11-year-old category, while secondary students aged 12-16 years old accounted for a further 26%. Primary students aged up to 7 were the third-largest group (15%/1238) while adults represented 13% (1067) and secondary pupils aged 17-18 just 4% (352).
STUDENT NUMBERS MAY/JUNE 2020
The same two questions were asked again about student numbers in May/June 2020 when the full impact of the COVID-19 worldwide pandemic had been felt. These weeks were the period when responses to the survey were being invited and will be referred to as Post-COVID.
Two hundred and ninety-six teachers gave the total number of students being taught post-COVID as 5653. This is a drop of 3027. So between January 2020 and June 2020 there was a drop in pupil numbers of 35% overall.
The average number of students per teacher dropped to 19. The mean number of students was 16.5. At this point, only three teachers reported having more than 100 students with the maximum number 120. There are ten teachers, however, who reported having no students post-COVID. In part, this might account for the increased drop in responses (278) when giving a break down of student numbers.
In the second question, the total number of students receiving lessons according to the breakdown by age was 5351. Student numbers dropped in all the age groups, although there were some small changes to the percentages (figure 4).
Primary aged 8-11 still accounted for the largest share with a small increase to 44% (2342). There was also a small 1% increase in secondary students aged 12-16 (27%/1461) and 17-18 years old (5%/250). These increases came at the expense of adult student numbers which dropped by 2% (574) and younger children aged up to 7 whose numbers decreased by 1% (145/724).
A COMPARISON OF PUPIL NUMBERS
A side-by-side comparison of student numbers, as shown in Figure 5 below, reveals the full impact. The biggest drop came with adult students which went from 1067 down to 574. This is a decrease of 46%. Almost as large was the reduction in primary pupils up to the age of seven. This went from 1238 to 724, a decrease of 41%. All the other categories also saw decreases as follows:
- Primary aged 8-11: 32% decrease (3432/2342)
- Secondary aged 12-16: 33% decrease (2192/1461)
- Secondary aged 17-18: 29% decrease (352/250)
The survey asked respondents to give the reasons they thought were behind the drop in their student numbers. These will be discussed after the next stage of the analysis process, the results of which will be published in August 2020.
The Curious Piano Teachers wish to extend their thanks to all the teachers who took part in the survey.
The COVID-19 Piano Teaching Survey and this blog post was written and compiled by Dr Sally Cathcart, co-founder and Director of The Curious Piano Teachers.