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#1571430 - 12/06/10 04:20 PM Sibling Discounts?  
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Hi all,

How many of you offer tuition discounts for 2 or more students per family?

I'm trying to decide whether to offer a discount to siblings upfront, offer it only if they ask, how much of a discount, etc. Right now I don't have do discounts for siblings, but am considering it.

Thanks for your input.

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#1571456 - 12/06/10 05:10 PM Re: Sibling Discounts? [Re: Kawai_Teacher]  
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yes, I do family discounts, mainly because it's less paper work for me. I usually do about $10 off per month for families with 2 or more students. I realize it's the same amount of time for preparation, etc. but payments and paperwork and communicating with parents are all made easier when there are multiple kids in the same family. The parents have really appreciated this too.


Independent Piano Teacher, NCTM
Member of MTNA and ISMTA
#1571529 - 12/06/10 06:29 PM Re: Sibling Discounts? [Re: Kawai_Teacher]  
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At the studio I work at we do discounts, not only for siblings but for also kids that do more than one method (I have students who do piano, singing and guitar!). Its a loyalty thing, I think its like a 5% discount, or for each sibling/method its a special price discount. When I was teaching privately at home, I gave discounts to the family who I had two kids with, and then their cousin. It was great for me because they all came on the same afternoon and I had them all one after the other! smile (it was a matter of a few dollars for each as they were young and had short lessons, but they appreciated it)


Rebecca.
Private Piano Teacher, Conservatorium Recorder teacher, Primary School Band Method Teacher
#1571570 - 12/06/10 08:20 PM Re: Sibling Discounts? [Re: Kawai_Teacher]  
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I don't, because I don't work any less or spend less time with siblings than any other two children.

That said, my siblings do get other benefits. They get a longer lab time because they stay back-to-back, and they work on duets more often.


~Stanny~

Independent Music Teacher
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#1571584 - 12/06/10 08:46 PM Re: Sibling Discounts? [Re: Kawai_Teacher]  
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I think its fair to offer a sibling discount. Piano lessons are a big expense for most families and a little discount for the 2nd student in the same house is a nice gesture. Moreover, if you are traveling to your students house you are "saving" the commute(time & money).
As for how much, I think that 20% off the 2nd lesson is a fair discount. I specified "for the 2nd lesson..." and I suggest that you'll do the same because if you are teaching 2 students and normally charging 50$ a lesson, in this case the 2nd lesson would be discounted to 40$ which means you get paid 90$ total. Now, If one of the students is sick or have to skip a lesson for some reason you want to make sure that you'll get paid for the one lesson that you gave a full one-lesson-rate--50$ and not...90$/2 which means 45$.

Make sense ?


Dror Perl. Pianist, Composer, Teacher.

http://www.sheerpiano.com/

Sheer Piano: The First Full Color Piano Music Books




#1571589 - 12/06/10 08:51 PM Re: Sibling Discounts? [Re: Kawai_Teacher]  
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Originally Posted by Kawai_Teacher
Hi all,

How many of you offer tuition discounts for 2 or more students per family?

I'm trying to decide whether to offer a discount to siblings upfront, offer it only if they ask, how much of a discount, etc. Right now I don't have do discounts for siblings, but am considering it.

Thanks for your input.


I Kawai Teacher,

I do not offer a discount to siblings. But just wanted to say that if you do offer a discount, I think it should be part of your policy that everyone can see. (Not just giving a discount to those who ask.)

What would be the purpose of offering a discount? Is it that you think it is really a financial burden for parents to pay for more than one child's lessons? If so, it puts you in the position of guessing someone's finances. (Not so easy to judge IMO...and I'd prefer to stay out of it.)

#1571633 - 12/06/10 10:50 PM Re: Sibling Discounts? [Re: Kawai_Teacher]  
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Originally Posted by Kawai_Teacher
Hi all,

How many of you offer tuition discounts for 2 or more students per family?

I'm trying to decide whether to offer a discount to siblings upfront, offer it only if they ask, how much of a discount, etc. Right now I don't have do discounts for siblings, but am considering it.

Thanks for your input.

Why? Why would you even consider it? Does your dentist give you a family discount? How about your MD or your family lawyer? Maybe the auto garage gives you a discount on maintenance because you service all your cars there? No? Then why should piano teachers? Are we serfs?

Parents are purchasing your time, skills and knowledge. That doesn't change based on the number of students you have, whether from one family or multiple families. Furthermore, discounts announce to the world that you're not worth what you're charging, whomever is paying the regular freight are schlemiels, and everyone should negotiate the lower rate. As Ann mentioned, you don't know parents finances and it's highly presumptuous to guess. I've had families falling in the $30k income range pay full freight without complaint, and a family earning $300k grouse and whine continually about my rates. Just set your rates and stick with them.

About billing - as the computer does the work, the only savings I get for family billing is one 1st class stamp and one envelope.



"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA
#1571663 - 12/06/10 11:46 PM Re: Sibling Discounts? [Re: John v.d.Brook]  
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Originally Posted by John v.d.Brook

Why? Why would you even consider it? Does your dentist give you a family discount? How about your MD or your family lawyer? Maybe the auto garage gives you a discount on maintenance because you service all your cars there? No? Then why should piano teachers? Are we serfs?



The reason why I am thinking about it is because a particular family mentioned a while ago that they're financially in a difficult place. They did NOT ask for a discount nor were they trying to drop a hint; it is something I thought of myself. Their older daughter is currently my student, and their younger daughter is interested in starting lessons.




#1571700 - 12/07/10 01:01 AM Re: Sibling Discounts? [Re: John v.d.Brook]  
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Originally Posted by John v.d.Brook
Are we serfs?

[Linked Image]
Don't we all feel like that, at least once or twice a month??


Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member
#1571722 - 12/07/10 02:09 AM Re: Sibling Discounts? [Re: Kawai_Teacher]  
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John v.d. Brook...I feel you as I'm sure every other teaching/performing musician here does. I know where its coming from and I completely sympathies. However, thank god we don't have to visit (not to mention to pay) a dentist or a lawyer or the garage every single week of the year. I think that if you went to the garage every week of the year and then started taking your scooter in addition to the car...you'd appreciate a little gesture of good will...a little discount, no ?

Its only fair, you're giving them more work, they're giving you a little break...

Back to our world...I do agree, whatever route you choose it should be a policy and shouldn't be sporadic.

I think you should trust your instincts, if you feel that siblings discount is right for you and your clients that's great and that's what you should do...and otherwise.




Dror Perl. Pianist, Composer, Teacher.

http://www.sheerpiano.com/

Sheer Piano: The First Full Color Piano Music Books




#1571842 - 12/07/10 08:23 AM Re: Sibling Discounts? [Re: Dror Perl]  
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Originally Posted by Dror Perl


Its only fair, you're giving them more work, they're giving you a little break...



Looking at who is "giving" more work opens a can of worms. Then you would have to look at who referred a new student to you. And then what if the new student knows more than one family in your studio...and they both mentioned your name etc.

I think what is "fair" is to charge the same for everyone. Although I agree with an exception some have mentioned in other threads for adults who schedule during school hours.

#1571864 - 12/07/10 09:05 AM Re: Sibling Discounts? [Re: Kawai_Teacher]  
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I don't give discounts. I've been asked for them for many different things - sibling discounts, referral fees, missed lessons, hard times, etc. I learned the hard way that discounts soon start to feel like entitlements.

Folks forget that they were being given a discount. A sibling quits, and suddenly the other sibling's tuition increases and parents are surprised. I used to give a discount to folks who paid on time up front. But then paying a week late, with the full price, felt like a penalty to them and they would usually hand me a check with the discount built in, and I would have to ask for the difference. Very uncomfortable.

I started out with a "loyalty rate" - not raising tuition for 3 years if lessons continue uninterrupted. I am phasing that out. Parents have forgotten why they haven't had a tuition increase, and are dismayed by the increase, rather than being grateful for its delay.

I have two families who scrimp and scrape to pay for lessons. With one of those families, I was able to help by enrolling the student in Premier Piano's free books program (don't think it's available for new students any more). I am careful about buying new music for these two families - they are more likely to get books from my lending library, or freebies from the Internet. I also tend to have a bit more patience if they are late with a check.

Ironically, because they value what they are paying for, they are two of my best students.

I teach 4 sets of family members. In each case, they have back to back lessons. The "discount" the parent gets is that they only have to drive here once for two kids. They get an hour off, rather than 30 minutes, as the sibling hangs out here. The students play more duets, share resources, and are allowed to practice on my other piano during their sibling's lesson.


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#1571880 - 12/07/10 09:33 AM Re: Sibling Discounts? [Re: Kawai_Teacher]  
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I think from a purely business point of view it doesn't make much sense. The parents aren't going to shop around for a 2nd teacher if a sibling starts piano. So you don't generate any business from your discount, you just make less money for the same work.

However, I do think that if you teach at their house, a discount for back-to-back lessons makes a lot of sense. You probably prefer only driving once even if you get $5 less and it's good for the environment too!


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#1571882 - 12/07/10 09:34 AM Re: Sibling Discounts? [Re: Kawai_Teacher]  
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I agree - no discounts. Actually, for me, offering a family discount would cost me way too much; since I teach several families - it certainly wouldn't be fair to offer it to some and not others - the net result of any discount worth talking about would be the equivalent of my losing at least a couple of students.

As regards to those teachers who travel to the students' homes - a discount makes sense here, as it is not just the expense of traveling which is saved, but the time taken as well, BUT... I would be charging a premium for the visit in the first place - it would be this premium I would waive for the second student.

Last edited by Ben Crosland; 12/07/10 09:37 AM.
#1571894 - 12/07/10 09:59 AM Re: Sibling Discounts? [Re: Kawai_Teacher]  
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Originally Posted by Kawai_Teacher
Originally Posted by John v.d.Brook

Why? Why would you even consider it? Does your dentist give you a family discount? How about your MD or your family lawyer? Maybe the auto garage gives you a discount on maintenance because you service all your cars there? No? Then why should piano teachers? Are we serfs?



The reason why I am thinking about it is because a particular family mentioned a while ago that they're financially in a difficult place. They did NOT ask for a discount nor were they trying to drop a hint; it is something I thought of myself. Their older daughter is currently my student, and their younger daughter is interested in starting lessons.





I second John here. I would not give a discount for a student from the same family. I used to, but then realized that each student is getting the same product form me, individualized attention, and that I could fill that discounted student with a non-family member at my regular rate.

If a family is going through a hard time, then consider doing trade out of some kind. Perhaps they live on a farm and can give you fresh eggs. I have one student whose father comes to clean my studio twice a month for a discount. Another gives me firewood for my fireplace. In each of these instances, the families fell on hard times and the students were very talented and hard-working and had been with me for many years.

Last edited by Morodiene; 12/07/10 10:05 AM.

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#1571899 - 12/07/10 10:05 AM Re: Sibling Discounts? [Re: Dror Perl]  
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Dror, there's a way around this without offering discounts, and that's to offer incentives. Incentives are one-time specials, not on-going income reduction. For example, child x has a sibling who is not studying with you. Offer the parent an incentive of $250 off the year's tuition if child y begins lessons now. This way, you've increased your student load, without a long term commitment at reducing your income.


"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA
#1571925 - 12/07/10 10:37 AM Re: Sibling Discounts? [Re: Kawai_Teacher]  
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[/quote]

The reason why I am thinking about it is because a particular family mentioned a while ago that they're financially in a difficult place. They did NOT ask for a discount nor were they trying to drop a hint; it is something I thought of myself. Their older daughter is currently my student, and their younger daughter is interested in starting lessons.



[/quote]

When we see someone with financial difficulties we can think "How can I help this poor soul?" We can respond by giving financially (or free lessons). The benefit we receive is that we feel like we've been a good person.

OTOH, we can allow the person the dignity of solving their own financial problems. We can still have confidence that "I am a good person". The person with financial trouble then gains dignity by solving his own problems. It may be that he needs to learn to live within his means.

I have a sister who called me years ago saying she had a friend asking for a few hundred dollars so he could pay his mortgage (my sister only rented). She felt it would be a heavy burden to come up with money for him, but she was undecided what to do. She asked my advice. I suggested she allow him the dignity of solving his own financial problems. And I think it helped her to feel OK about saying "No".

#1571943 - 12/07/10 11:00 AM Re: Sibling Discounts? [Re: Overexposed]  
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Quote


The reason why I am thinking about it is because a particular family mentioned a while ago that they're financially in a difficult place. They did NOT ask for a discount nor were they trying to drop a hint; it is something I thought of myself. Their older daughter is currently my student, and their younger daughter is interested in starting lessons.





Originally Posted by Ann in Kentucky
When we see someone with financial difficulties we can think "How can I help this poor soul?" We can respond by giving financially (or free lessons). The benefit we receive is that we feel like we've been a good person.

OTOH, we can allow the person the dignity of solving their own financial problems. We can still have confidence that "I am a good person". The person with financial trouble then gains dignity by solving his own problems. It may be that he needs to learn to live within his means.

I have a sister who called me years ago saying she had a friend asking for a few hundred dollars so he could pay his mortgage (my sister only rented). She felt it would be a heavy burden to come up with money for him, but she was undecided what to do. She asked my advice. I suggested she allow him the dignity of solving his own financial problems. And I think it helped her to feel OK about saying "No".


Good point, Ann. Also, the student in question is only thinking about starting lessons. This means that she may or may not want to continue. I would never start out with a discount for a new student, even within the same family. Letting them solve their own financial problems is usually the best advice. If it really means a lot to the younger sibling to start, the parents will ind a way to make it happen. If not, then perhaps it's for the best that she doens't begin.

Last edited by Morodiene; 12/07/10 11:01 AM.

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#1572025 - 12/07/10 01:08 PM Re: Sibling Discounts? [Re: Kawai_Teacher]  
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There's definitely a lot of good suggestions & input up here.

To summarize on my part (I hope smile ):

A. I Think that giving a discount doesn't have anything to do with the quality of your work. The way I see it its a simple good will gesture. I'm sure that every teacher knows the quality of their work, and every client knows as well (obviously since we are talking about a house where you already teach one student).

B. reading everything above...

I really think that you should ask yourself why are you giving the discount. If its coming from a business perspective...its probably not going to "get" you anything, so there's no reason for the discount. however, if its coming from a genuine place, a gesture of good will for all the obvious reasons (You know your local customers the best)you should trust your instinct and go for it. As simple as...that


Dror Perl. Pianist, Composer, Teacher.

http://www.sheerpiano.com/

Sheer Piano: The First Full Color Piano Music Books




#1572297 - 12/07/10 09:06 PM Re: Sibling Discounts? [Re: Kawai_Teacher]  
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Why yes, I do get a family discount from my dentist. I didn't ask for it. They have way plenty of business and I have a feeling that the rates went up but since our family has been going there for over 40 years, we have been exempted and kept at the same rate which shows up as a discount on the bill.

I sort of get a family discount from our piano teacher. My son was already a student when I started and I get an hour for the 45 minute rate (it helps that I go during school hours). Again I didn't ask for it; it was just offered. I appreciate the gesture and try to be a trouble-free client family.

Kurt


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#1572300 - 12/07/10 09:13 PM Re: Sibling Discounts? [Re: Kawai_Teacher]  
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So it's really a loyalty/longevity discount, not a family discount. Singles who have been with the dentist for years probably also receive it as well. Of course, if I could charge the hourly rate your dentist charges, I think I might be inclined to show the same courtesy to my students who have been with me for over 40 years.


"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA
#1572325 - 12/07/10 09:58 PM Re: Sibling Discounts? [Re: John v.d.Brook]  
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Originally Posted by John v.d.Brook
So it's really a loyalty/longevity discount, not a family discount. Singles who have been with the dentist for years probably also receive it as well. Of course, if I could charge the hourly rate your dentist charges, I think I might be inclined to show the same courtesy to my students who have been with me for over 40 years.

Well John, you should put your rates up!! wink grin


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#1572373 - 12/07/10 11:47 PM Re: Sibling Discounts? [Re: Canonie]  
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way up !!! smile (and i'm only talking...about fillings...nothing complicated)


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Sheer Piano: The First Full Color Piano Music Books




#1572378 - 12/07/10 11:48 PM Re: Sibling Discounts? [Re: Canonie]  
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Originally Posted by Canonie
Originally Posted by John v.d.Brook
So it's really a loyalty/longevity discount, not a family discount. Singles who have been with the dentist for years probably also receive it as well. Of course, if I could charge the hourly rate your dentist charges, I think I might be inclined to show the same courtesy to my students who have been with me for over 40 years.

Well John, you should put your rates up!! wink grin

You think my rates are low? They are just about what the market will carry.


"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA
#1572380 - 12/07/10 11:49 PM Re: Sibling Discounts? [Re: Dror Perl]  
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How about for a "bridge?"


"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA
#1572404 - 12/08/10 12:37 AM Re: Sibling Discounts? [Re: Kawai_Teacher]  
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I didn't used to but my business has finally been hit by the bad economy. I lost both of my school gigs this year and had 4 families (each with 2 kids) not return in the fall due to their financial situation. Plus my own family is currently totally dependent on my income due to my husbands business fading to almost nothing.

So...uh...yeah...in addition to family discounts...I am also offering a referral bonus for new students, and a slight discount if they pay me in cash every month. I recently also took on a student who is taking lessons every other week on a little keyboard......horrors! smile

I used to be so strict with my "policy" and my "rules"....and even turn away students if certain criteria weren't met, etc. But there has been a shift for myself and my family. I've had to open my mind and ultimately my heart.

It's been very humbling and I was pretty angry at first...but once I accepted it, my life began to feel really exciting...like I'm back-packing on the cheap! Here are some positive aspects of having less than what we're used to:

1. We are so much more resourceful with cooking on the cheap. And so much less wasteful than before. For example, I used to buy 3 different kinds of chips every week and end up throwing a third of them away every week. (Also drinking less alcohol...probably healthier...but when this gets better I'm getting my Spaten Optimators back!)
2. We are down to one car....good for us and good for the earth. Lots of walking and cycling now.
3. We are working less so we have more free time to spend with our daughter and each other. I have started writing a book which I thought would never happen.
4. The teaching every other week thing is working for that little kid and his mom is going to get a digital piano in the new year. I'm so glad I didn't turn him away!
5. When we do get to eat out- which used to be at least once a week- it feels really special.
6. I'm getting better at accepting help...



M. Katchur
#1572427 - 12/08/10 02:07 AM Re: Sibling Discounts? [Re: Lollipop]  
Joined: Aug 2007
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AZNpiano Offline
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AZNpiano  Offline
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Orange County, CA
Originally Posted by Lollipop
A sibling quits, and suddenly the other sibling's tuition increases and parents are surprised.

Usually when one sibling quits, the other(s) quit, too, either simultaneously, or within a few months. I think I started a thread on this topic several months ago. I was content with the older sibling, but the younger one is becoming a drag. I was contemplating keeping one and sending the other to a more patient teacher. As things turned out, they both quit piano for good.

A long time ago, I used to hand out sibling discounts, until I found out the dangers of teaching siblings. Sometimes I'm suddenly left with a 2-hour hole in my schedule.


Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member
#1572537 - 12/08/10 08:45 AM Re: Sibling Discounts? [Re: trillingadventurer]  
Joined: Apr 2007
Posts: 16,214
Morodiene Offline
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Morodiene  Offline
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Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted by trillingadventurer
I didn't used to but my business has finally been hit by the bad economy. I lost both of my school gigs this year and had 4 families (each with 2 kids) not return in the fall due to their financial situation. Plus my own family is currently totally dependent on my income due to my husbands business fading to almost nothing.

So...uh...yeah...in addition to family discounts...I am also offering a referral bonus for new students, and a slight discount if they pay me in cash every month. I recently also took on a student who is taking lessons every other week on a little keyboard......horrors! smile

I used to be so strict with my "policy" and my "rules"....and even turn away students if certain criteria weren't met, etc. But there has been a shift for myself and my family. I've had to open my mind and ultimately my heart.

It's been very humbling and I was pretty angry at first...but once I accepted it, my life began to feel really exciting...like I'm back-packing on the cheap! Here are some positive aspects of having less than what we're used to:

1. We are so much more resourceful with cooking on the cheap. And so much less wasteful than before. For example, I used to buy 3 different kinds of chips every week and end up throwing a third of them away every week. (Also drinking less alcohol...probably healthier...but when this gets better I'm getting my Spaten Optimators back!)
2. We are down to one car....good for us and good for the earth. Lots of walking and cycling now.
3. We are working less so we have more free time to spend with our daughter and each other. I have started writing a book which I thought would never happen.
4. The teaching every other week thing is working for that little kid and his mom is going to get a digital piano in the new year. I'm so glad I didn't turn him away!
5. When we do get to eat out- which used to be at least once a week- it feels really special.
6. I'm getting better at accepting help...


This brings up an excellent point. It all depends on how "hungry" you are as a teacher. If your studio is not full or you need to make more money, then you certainly should give whatever incentives you can to get students. This is one reason why I do appreciate when new teachers decide to start teaching. They can take on students that perhaps someone with an established studio or someone who is full and will therefore only add another student if they are particularly talented would not be willing to teach. I've been at my maximum for a while, but since my husband is going through a change in his business I'm taking on students that I might not normally take, even ones that just want a "few voice lessons" so they can sing karaoke.

So it all depends on where you are at in your studio. Are you full and have to turn people away? Or are you trying to get more students? Offering a sibling discount, while in theory doesn't make sense (you don't do less work for the 2nd child), can be a good incentive for a family who is on the fence with starting lessons.


private piano/voice teacher FT

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#1572579 - 12/08/10 10:07 AM Re: Sibling Discounts? [Re: Kawai_Teacher]  
Joined: Mar 2006
Posts: 7,639
John v.d.Brook Offline
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John v.d.Brook  Offline
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Olympia, Washington, USA
The "hungry" factor certainly plays a role, but it is always fraught with dangers. When you begin discounting, you're going to get a reputation as a teacher who can be had at a lower rate if you negotiate hard enough. And after the recession, what will be your explanation for discontinuing your discounts? There are clever ways to work around "discounting" and maintain your reputation.

One possibility is to present to the parent the idea of a shorter lesson at the lower price, as it is surely better than no lesson at all, but teach them the longer time anyway. That is, charge them full price for a 30 min lesson, but teach the student for 40 minutes. Another way, especially with siblings, is to teach the students shorter lessons, back to back. As the students are listening to the other student's lesson, they are actually learning and gaining from the experience.


"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA
#1572617 - 12/08/10 11:10 AM Re: Sibling Discounts? [Re: John v.d.Brook]  
Joined: Apr 2007
Posts: 16,214
Morodiene Offline
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Morodiene  Offline
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Joined: Apr 2007
Posts: 16,214
Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted by John v.d.Brook
The "hungry" factor certainly plays a role, but it is always fraught with dangers. When you begin discounting, you're going to get a reputation as a teacher who can be had at a lower rate if you negotiate hard enough. And after the recession, what will be your explanation for discontinuing your discounts?
I agree. I think the best way to end this is to phase it out, and simply not offer it as an option to new students. As the students who were grandfathered in need increase in lesson times, you just let the parents know what the new cost would be, without having a discount. If they ask, you can explain to them the reasons that have been listed above for not giving discounts, but generally they don't ask.


private piano/voice teacher FT

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