I’m Kyle. I’m 26 years old, and I make a living teaching piano independently. I’m not rich, and I’m certainly not famous, but I love my life and consider myself the luckiest man alive.
I have a wonderful wife, amazing friends, and a line of work that both stretches me and excites me. Everyday is a new adventure.
I’ve loved music my entire life. In my early years, I loved to play piano and sing. I performed with friends and family, at church and at school. After high school, I decided to study Piano Pedagogy at Utah State University.
One day when I was in college, my roommate approached me and asked, “what is the difference between a music major and a pizza?” I didn’t know, so he told me: “A pizza can feed a family of four.” I felt lost for a bit after this, and, unfortunately, it wasn’t the first time. Whenever asked what I was going to do with my major, I almost always said, “I’m going to become rich and famous!” But on the inside, I had no clue… In fact, as graduation approached I really doubted that I would continue into a music career. The many options I had researched seemed to have more cons than pros (for me personally).
One day, mostly out of frustration, I boldly (and half jokingly) told my wife I was going to teach piano for a living. Not at a college (too little freedom), not for a music school (too little pay), just teach piano… independently. I always loved teaching, especially kids, and particularly enjoyed the freedom of teaching music in my own way. However, I didn’t know a single person who made a living solely on teaching music. Could it really be done?
What began as a joke slowly etched itself into my brain. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Okay, it didn’t seem like a sure path to my goal of “rich and famous,” but I certainly enjoyed the independent teaching that I had done. Everyone I talked to seemed surprised that I was going to do it, but was even more interested to know HOW I was going to do it. After running some numbers (okay, lots of numbers), talking with mentors and my family, and coming up with an emergency back-up plan for my “worst-case scenario,” I finally decided to take the leap. In 2015 I opened the Kyle McKenna Piano Studio and began the adventure… and I’m never going back.
I created this website to share my life adventure and help other Independent Music Teachers (IMTs) find more joy and fulfillment out of teaching and out of their everyday lives. In essence this website is about helping IMTs become free.
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So… what is a “Free IMT?”
I’m sure you’ve already picked up (if you didn’t know before) that IMT is an Independent Music Teacher: you teach music at a location you own or rent, using a curriculum you created or picked, and you determine your own financial situation. You may have another job or only teach part-time, but as an IMT you proudly wear many hats: musician, artist, teacher, business owner, boss, entrepreneur, accountant, bookkeeper, event planner, and the list goes on. (We may not always be good at those things, but we are them nonetheless.) So what do I mean by “free?”
By my definition, a Free IMT is a person who teaches music in order to create the type of life they want. A Free IMT teaches music because they love interacting with students, they love music, and they believe in its ability to improve others’ lives. But further, a Free IMT is a staunch defender of their personal time, not because they don’t help others, but because they organize their schedule and they recognize their responsibility to their family, friends, and themselves.
Be sure to read this very carefully. Teaching music is not easy and it requires sacrifice. Most likely, you won’t get rich teaching music. However, if you’re looking to impact people’s lives, use your creative mind in both your business and your art, and earn a decent living all while controlling your most precious asset – your time – then I invite you join me. Welcome to the world of The Free IMT!