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#2189760 - 11/28/13 06:28 PM Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you  
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Music teachers, beware. The feds are onto you. Better not try to raise the price of your lessons.

SEE URL:

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303562904579224251626379422

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#2189825 - 11/28/13 08:47 PM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: Michael_99]  
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Thanks for bringing this to everyone's attention. Wake up, people!!! And to those who are currently too afraid to speak out I can only say what I've been saying for the last few years "You think you're afraid now -- wait -- you have not seen anything yet!!!"

#2189827 - 11/28/13 08:56 PM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: Michael_99]  
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Ugh! Thanks, Obama!


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#2189843 - 11/28/13 09:35 PM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: Michael_99]  
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That's not an article, it's from the opinion page. It is biased political commentary and frankly has no place in this forum. I request the topic be locked.


gotta go practice
#2189846 - 11/28/13 09:40 PM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: Michael_99]  
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So did it or did it not happen?


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#2189854 - 11/28/13 10:08 PM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: Michael_99]  
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Read the last paragraph and see if you would trust anything in that op-ed opinion piece without verifying. Your BS detector should have pegged.


gotta go practice
#2189897 - 11/28/13 11:47 PM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: Michael_99]  
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Michael, thanks for bringing this to our attention. While the paper is editorially conservative, it has proven, over the years, to be highly accurate in rooting out government power abuses, which this is obviously one. Members of Guild and MTAC, you should probably be up-channeling this to your organization's leadership.


"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
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#2189909 - 11/29/13 12:31 AM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: Michael_99]  
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John, wouldn't it be better for people to up-channel the info via MTNA rather than such an editorial? I found this, for example:
http://spamta.webs.com/Minutes/SPAMTA%20Business%20Meeting%20September%2011%202013.pdf

It seemed much more factual.

#2189912 - 11/29/13 12:42 AM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: keystring]  
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This issue has also been reported in "The Music Trades". It has occurred and is similar to actions taken many years ago against the Piano Technicians Guild. So like it or not, this is really happening and calling it a "biased opinion" won't make it go away.


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#2189962 - 11/29/13 06:19 AM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: anrpiano]  
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Originally Posted by anrpiano
This issue has also been reported in "The Music Trades". It has occurred and is similar to actions taken many years ago against the Piano Technicians Guild. So like it or not, this is really happening and calling it a "biased opinion" won't make it go away.
Exactly. I had looked at other sources and it verified this, including MTNA's own meeting minutes:

http://www.mtna.org/media/61062/0713_MTNAMinutes.pdf

Whether or not you like the source, this article is accurate.


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#2189986 - 11/29/13 08:09 AM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: keystring]  
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Originally Posted by keystring

John, wouldn't it be better for people to up-channel the info via MTNA rather than such an editorial?

If MTNA informs other music organizations, they might be accused of restraint of trade, so better the members do the informing.

In re the Wisconsin Music Teacher's Association, it seems to me that Strassel's article puts flesh on the WMTA minutes.


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#2189997 - 11/29/13 09:08 AM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: John v.d.Brook]  
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Originally Posted by John v.d.Brook
Originally Posted by keystring

John, wouldn't it be better for people to up-channel the info via MTNA rather than such an editorial?

If MTNA informs other music organizations, they might be accused of restraint of trade, so better the members do the informing.

Ok, then MTNA members. That is a good idea. But using credible information rather than sensationalist journalism. The articles starts with the implication that there is a rule against raising fees. Can you imagine somebody believing this, and then complaining about the wrong thing? They would look foolish.

Quote

In re the Wisconsin Music Teacher's Association, it seems to me that Strassel's article puts flesh on the WMTA minutes.

It twists and confuses - it's more like adding a Hallowe'en costume. It begins with the sentence about rate raising and informs the reader that music teachers charge between $5.00 and $30.00/hour. It stresses that most MTNA members are women making a modest income at home. Why stress women, and what is being implied by that? The wife making a bit of extra money or woman with no marketable skills? Men and women, trained professionals, have studios in their homes, like many skilled entrepreneurs. It's insulting, but meant to garner sympathy.

There is something that happened. But it does not involved restrictions to raising fees. I am suggesting that people get informed at the source, and not base themselves on a meandering journalistic piece. You want to be properly informed when addressing something like this. smile

#2190001 - 11/29/13 09:27 AM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: keystring]  
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Quote
The articles starts with the implication that there is a rule against raising fees.

Headlines are written by headline writers, not the article writer. Your inference was different than mine. I felt it was nothing more than an eye-catcher and took it as tongue in cheek.

BTW, the Wall Street Journal has been doing an occasional series of articles on government using massive power against individuals and small businesses.

Quote
It begins with the sentence about rate raising and informs the reader that music teachers charge between $5.00 and $30.00/hour. It stresses that most MTNA members are women making a modest income at home. What is being implied by that?

What is meant by that is that most music teachers charge between $5 and $30/hr, and that most MTNA members are women making a modest income at home. Both are factual statements; perhaps we shouldn't read more into the statement than what is said.


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#2190007 - 11/29/13 09:55 AM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: Michael_99]  
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Glad to see that there is at least one "red line" Washington WILL bravely enforce: the predatory and rapacious behavior of robber baron piano teachers.

We can all sleep more soundly now. And we do.


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#2190011 - 11/29/13 10:07 AM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: anrpiano]  
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Originally Posted by anrpiano
This issue has also been reported in "The Music Trades". It has occurred and is similar to actions taken many years ago against the Piano Technicians Guild. So like it or not, this is really happening and calling it a "biased opinion" won't make it go away.


Tying it in the last paragraph to other unrelated "offenses" that are associated fairly or not with the current administration was dishonest and biased.

The first paragraph says "making the world safe from rapacious piano teachers." And if true, that would indeed seem a liberal action. But in fact it's not only untrue, it's exactly the opposite. The FTC action is intended to free piano teachers from association regulation that prevents them from charging anything they want, and poaching any student they want - in other words to encourage any free market rapaciousness they desire.

Now, take a moment for critical thinking - is that a liberal position, or a conservative one?

The piano tech guild case, if it's the one I'm thinking of, was under the Reagan administration, not exactly known for a liberal agenda.

The IRS targeting conservatives? Is that related in some way? Is it even true? The IRS is tasked with enforcing 501.c3 regulations. These regulations say organizations can operate tax free in secret, as long as they are social and not political. The IRS did target a number of organizations whose name indicated they were political in nature, some conservative and some liberal. Was that a bad thing? Is that a liberal or conservative approach?

I don't know the story behind Gibson Guitar or the EPA mine investigation. I do know if somebody were interested in exposing an injustice, they would work on the facts of one case. If their only interest is a political smear campaign, they throw in as much garbage as they can and hope some sticks.


gotta go practice
#2190019 - 11/29/13 10:30 AM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: John v.d.Brook]  
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Originally Posted by John v.d.Brook
Quote
The articles starts with the implication that there is a rule against raising fees.

Headlines are written by headline writers, not the article writer. Your inference was different than mine. I felt it was nothing more than an eye-catcher and took it as tongue in cheek.

But there are people who would not take it tongue in cheek, and it is also common for people to not read carefully. A quick scan of the article will leave negative impressions and emotion. That is how this type of journalism (including televised news) is done. It does not stay with the headline - it continues into the article.

What I am saying is that the best resource for information on serious things in your own profession is not journalism.

- The issue is not that of raising fees
- afaik, music lesson rates do not fall between $5.00 to $30.00 an hour in the United States

These are two things presented in that journalistic article, and if someone were to base himself on them, he would look a fool. It is always best to inform yourself with reliable resources, and preferably more than one, before launching into anything. You might start with the article, but then find out more. I'm sure you don't disagree with that. smile




#2190022 - 11/29/13 10:35 AM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: keystring]  
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Well, I'm still waiting for the NYTimes, USAToday, Washington Post, and some of our other bastions of the free press, to report on the issue. In the mean time, I'll try to focus on the crux of what's reported, and try not to shoot the messenger who may or may not meet my journalistic standards.


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#2190030 - 11/29/13 10:52 AM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: Michael_99]  
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John, the messenger doesn't interest me - only the message. If anyone wants to act on issues affecting their profession, then they have to have correct information, or they will lose credence. So I am only suggesting to get at reliable information, which is usually done by getting as close to the source as possible.

The press has to sell and remain popular.

Are you against finding things out from MTNA members and similar? Or just want to read newspapers additionally? I really couldn't see the former as being true.

#2190032 - 11/29/13 10:56 AM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: keystring]  
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Originally Posted by keystring
Are you against finding things out from MTNA members and similar? Or just want to read newspapers additionally? I really couldn't see the former as being true.

What?????? I suspect that once again, we've been talking two separate issues here. Further, I'm not understanding what you're saying here. Unfortunately, we're off to the airport, so won't be able to check back until this evening. Have a great Friday, everyone.


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#2190035 - 11/29/13 11:07 AM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: John v.d.Brook]  
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Originally Posted by John v.d.Brook

What?????? I suspect that once again, we've been talking two separate issues here.

I think we, are, John. I have been stressing that people who want to get involved go as close to the source for information. You seemed to be arguing against that, and I think that was a misunderstanding. I think we're actually on the same page.

#2190036 - 11/29/13 11:07 AM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: Michael_99]  
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When you to play the piano, if you are doing it right, each piece/exercise teaches some new necessary skill -- so each piece does not stand alone but rather leads the student along to the development of a skill-set that results in the ability to play more difficult pieces. We can rate progress based on the sum total of all our musical experiences.

The same principles apply to other things in life, including how we evaluate stories in the news. Too many people take each story as a stand alone event -- unique in itself. Others will begin to link stories together if they seem to belong together and see if there is a pattern evolving. Our brains are capable of that if we let them operate.

#2190131 - 11/29/13 03:08 PM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: ClsscLib]  
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Originally Posted by ClsscLib
Glad to see that there is at least one "red line" Washington WILL bravely enforce: the predatory and rapacious behavior of robber baron piano teachers.

We can all sleep more soundly now. And we do.


I tried to post a link to the article this morning in the ABF under the tongue-in-cheek title I bolded above. It was removed in a matter of minutes by an early rising (overzealous,IMO) mod, who deemed it was political. I actually think his/her moderating was the political act, but that is another thread.

I object to my tax dollars being squandered on this kind of nonsense, no matter who is in power, and find it laughable that anyone could seriously defend anyone taking anti-trust action against piano teachers....perhaps the most powerless professional group on the planet.

Last edited by JimF; 11/29/13 03:10 PM.

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#2190186 - 11/29/13 05:49 PM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: Michael_99]  
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It would seem reasonable to discuss what level of regulation is legal for associations to assert over their members. (and it seems to be missed repeatedly here that this FTC action, whatever it is, is directed towards the associations control of the teachers, not towards the poor terrorized teachers themselves)

It would also seem reasonable to discuss what level of regulation is ethical for associations to exert over their members. We might differ on whether that should be more or less than what the law allows.

But basing the discussion on a piece of Tea Party Trash is morally repugnant, in my view. There is not much that editorial got correct, and the writer clearly does not care. The article is purely political and I believe the moderator's actions were correct.


gotta go practice
#2190214 - 11/29/13 06:26 PM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: Michael_99]  
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Strassel has nothing to do with the Tea Party.

"Trash" is wildly assigning inaccurate pejorative connotations to anyone with whom one might disagree.

Last edited by ClsscLib; 11/29/13 06:27 PM.

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#2190289 - 11/29/13 09:49 PM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: Michael_99]  
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So Here's An Idea:

1- Contact your representatives in Congress.

2- As a matter of fact, blanket ALL representatives in congress, and...

3- Send them this article.

4-Also, write to the head of the FTC, and tell them how
foolish they look.

5- You might also send this on to your local newspaper editor, and any other news media organ you can think of. Piano teachers are such a socially and politically insignificant lot, nobody will heave heard about this I promise.

6- Send copies to the president of the organization.

It will take you about 20 minutes a day to write an email to every member of congress over about 10 days.

I'm going to start tomorrow. And, btw, these are the only people who can do something about this ridiculousness. Which is exactly how they will see it.

And also btw, if you are not willing to email your congresspeople, then you are essentially saying it's OK for this to continue.


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#2190290 - 11/29/13 09:52 PM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: John v.d.Brook]  
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Originally Posted by John v.d.Brook
Well, I'm still waiting for the NYTimes, USAToday, Washington Post, and some of our other bastions of the free press, to report on the issue. In the mean time, I'll try to focus on the crux of what's reported, and try not to shoot the messenger who may or may not meet my journalistic standards.


John, has anybody bothered to contact the reporter and ask them if this is legit?


Laguna Greg

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#2190476 - 11/30/13 10:10 AM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: John v.d.Brook]  
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Originally Posted by John v.d.Brook
Well, I'm still waiting for the NYTimes, USAToday, Washington Post, and some of our other bastions of the free press, to report on the issue. In the mean time, I'll try to focus on the crux of what's reported, and try not to shoot the messenger who may or may not meet my journalistic standards.
Exactly. The fact that we heard about it at all means this article did it's job, sensationalistic or not. And really, it's hard to find non-sensationalistic journalism anywhere these days. We ALL have to sift through this and check the sources to make sure what is said is even true, even from reliable sources.

Having said all that, can we return to the brunt of the article? MTNA is a long-standing organization that does not "enforce" rates on their members. It i informing everyone of what professional ethics is. I see nothing wrong with this, and while it's clearly up to the individual to decide if they are acting in an ethical manner, I don't think such a huge financial and clerical burden should be placed on such an organization for informing their members of what they stand for.

*That* is the real issue here. Surely our tax dollars could be better spent going after for-profit companies whose practices are intended to drive out competition in a non-constitutional manner and not choose something like this to hang its hat on.


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#2190477 - 11/30/13 10:12 AM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: TimR]  
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Originally Posted by TimR
It would seem reasonable to discuss what level of regulation is legal for associations to assert over their members. (and it seems to be missed repeatedly here that this FTC action, whatever it is, is directed towards the associations control of the teachers, not towards the poor terrorized teachers themselves)

It would also seem reasonable to discuss what level of regulation is ethical for associations to exert over their members. We might differ on whether that should be more or less than what the law allows.

But basing the discussion on a piece of Tea Party Trash is morally repugnant, in my view. There is not much that editorial got correct, and the writer clearly does not care. The article is purely political and I believe the moderator's actions were correct.
And what level do they exert to enforce this code of ethics? None according to MTNA. They stated that it is merely a suggestion, and that they have no right to enforce, nor have they attempted to enforce it. So what's the big deal?


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#2190559 - 11/30/13 01:21 PM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: Morodiene]  
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Originally Posted by Morodiene
It would seem reasonable to discuss what level of regulation is legal for associations to assert over their members. (and it seems to be missed repeatedly here that this FTC action, whatever it is, is directed towards the associations control of the teachers, not towards the poor terrorized teachers themselves)

It would also seem reasonable to discuss what level of regulation is ethical for associations to exert over their members. We might differ on whether that should be more or less than what the law allows.



That is very simple:

1- The MTNA is a 501(c)3. the FTC doesn't have jurisdiction over such an entity.

2- The MTNA is a purely voluntary organization who does not have any power to control the profession. Now, a group like the State Bar Association, another 501(c)3, does. They are directly responsible for licensing lawyers to practice. Lawyers who break their ethics provisions get disbarred. And membership is not voluntary to practice. You must join it and pass its exams, or you can't practice law. Is the FTC going after them? The MTNA has no such authority.

3- Voluntary, privately funded non-profit associations can exert any regulations they like on their members. The Boys Scouts do. All amateur sports associations do. Remember what happened during the Sanduksy scandal at Penn State? Remember how much money they had to pay in fines to their sports association, and how many years they are going to be barred and sanctioned from competing? Those fines and sanctions have not been overturned in court because the sports association is free to impose whatever regulations it likes on its members, as it is a private and strictly voluntary organization. Its members are free to leave the association and play football elsewhere, just like the members of the MTNA. Is the FTC going after them?

Has anybody called the FTC yet? Or their senator(s)? This is just really making me angry.

Last edited by laguna_greg; 11/30/13 01:30 PM.

Laguna Greg

1919 Mason & Hamlin AA
http://www.linkedin.com/pub/greg-dempster/34/325/6b9/ (my day job)
#2190579 - 11/30/13 02:00 PM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: laguna_greg]  
Joined: Mar 2006
Posts: 7,639
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member
John v.d.Brook  Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Joined: Mar 2006
Posts: 7,639
Olympia, Washington, USA
Originally Posted by laguna_greg
Originally Posted by John v.d.Brook
Well, I'm still waiting for the NYTimes, USAToday, Washington Post, and some of our other bastions of the free press, to report on the issue. In the mean time, I'll try to focus on the crux of what's reported, and try not to shoot the messenger who may or may not meet my journalistic standards.


John, has anybody bothered to contact the reporter and ask them if this is legit?

Greg, to answer your question, let me back-track to the beginning of this discussion.

The article appeared in yesterday's WSJ. My wife picked up a copy as we transited the Salt Lake City airport (she the fabled stock picker in our family). It is clearly in the opinion section, as the article falls directly under the heading "opinion" and the sub-headline does not appear as such in the article, but as a pop-up midway through the article. It is clearly designed to catch the attention of readers who might otherwise glaze over.

As for the accuracy of the facts Ms. Strassel presents, they appear to be quite accurate.

Fact #1: The FTC did indeed investigate and penalize MTNA.

Fact #2: MTNA is a 501C3 organization with roughly 22,000 members.

Fact #3: Most members are piano teachers. Whether it's 90% exactly or 89% or 91% is difficult to determine, because many teachers teach more than one instrument.

Fact #4: The statement that membership "includes many women who earn a modest living giving lessons in their homes" is not only factually correct, but constitutes an understatement in that "modest living" is probably an exaggeration.

Fact #5: The statement that "the group promotes music study and competitions and helps train teachers" is also factually correct. It's the raison d'Ítre of the organization.

Fact #6: "The average lesson runs around $30/hr" is factually correct based on a membership wide survey done a few years back. This means that many teachers earn more, and many earn less, as this is the average. Again, this is rounded, not to the exact penny. The survey results were published in the American Music Teacher. There were teachers who reported still charging only $5/hr. Unbelievable but none-the-less, true. Perhaps that's all their teaching is worth. But based on the survey, it's correct.

I could go on and on, but it appears that Ms. Strassel did her homework and reports honestly and correctly.

Now, please bear in mind that this article is not to report on the FTC vs MTNA, but to document continued arbitrary and abusive power under the Obama administration. That this behavior may or may not occur under other administrations, such as the Bush or Clinton, is not relevant to the purpose of Ms. Strassel's opinion piece. She's after the current administration.

Greg, the take away for me is that one megalomaniac in the Federal Trade Commission has ruined a decade's worth of work on my part. Worse, he or she has destroyed some wonderful opportunities for students. I spent the better part of the last ten years building trust among teachers, assuring teachers that they could bring their students in and have them perform in a joint teacher recital, without fear of "poaching." In our profession, the loss of just one student can have a significant impact on one's living standards and the ability to make ends meet. I fear that as word spreads of this, the programs will die.

Again, I want to stress that my focus is on the MTNA ethics aspect of the case, not the political axe Ms. Strassel is grinding. BTW, her comment on Gibson Guitar is also correct. Gibson, whose owner is a Republican supporter, almost went out of business over manifestly false allegations by the Federal Government. If your politics lean to the left, you probably will poo-poo this, but for those under the hammer of the Feds, it's all too real.

What is some of the other fall out? Even though we're not engaged in "Interstate" commerce, we are seemingly being forced to comply with Federal rules. Strange. And interestingly, if I own a minimart, I can drive around town and comparison shop prices all day long, but if I'm a music teacher, it's off to jail if I ask a colleague what they charge for lessons, or if MTNA reports an average lesson fee. Sounds fair and balanced, don't you think? And on the political fall out front, I suspect that private teachers voted somewhat more for GOP over Dems, perhaps 55-45? But now, I'd guess that figure is going to change significantly.


"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
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