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#2694364 - 12/05/17 01:53 AM End of year etiquette for piano teachers (in USA)  
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I read in another thread that someone mentioned that he/she generously tips the Piano teacher at the end of the year.

This is the first year I have had Piano classes. I wonder what is the etiquette for 'end of the year holiday season' gifts/tips for Piano teachers - especially in USA? Is there a 'norm'?

Thanks,
Osho

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#2694421 - 12/05/17 09:06 AM Re: End of year etiquette for piano teachers (in USA) [Re: Osho]  
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Originally Posted by Osho
I read in another thread that someone mentioned that he/she generously tips the Piano teacher at the end of the year.

This is the first year I have had Piano classes. I wonder what is the etiquette for 'end of the year holiday season' gifts/tips for Piano teachers - especially in USA? Is there a 'norm'?

Thanks,
Osho

There's no norm, but I personally love to get gift cards for restaurants or Starbucks along with a little note of thanks from the student. In fact, a note from the student means much more to me than money or a gift.


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#2694430 - 12/05/17 09:22 AM Re: End of year etiquette for piano teachers (in USA) [Re: Osho]  
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I will give a gift card, card and a box of chocolates. I will not tip because I don’t tip professionals, I just pay them their rate and any other extra depends on the relationship we establish and maintain, if any.

#2694436 - 12/05/17 09:32 AM Re: End of year etiquette for piano teachers (in USA) [Re: Osho]  
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I do not tip my teacher at the end of the year, but I buy a small present Or a gift card with a personal note. I did think about tipping, but I try to put myself in my teacher’s shoes: I would not expect or even want a tip at the end of the year

I get a very small present from her as well, which I do not expect. This year it was a Christmas cactus, which was quite thoughtful, Last year a handmade gingerbread man with my name on it


"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow" - F. Chopin
" I never dreamt with my own two hands I could touch the sky" - Sappho
#2694502 - 12/05/17 12:52 PM Re: End of year etiquette for piano teachers (in USA) [Re: Osho]  
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I do not usually give my teacher a gift, although I have done so a couple of times when I had something I thought he would like (e.g., a special recording). I don't think there is any expectation, but it may depend on the teacher. I do not think a tip would be appropriate, as PerAspera said--but again, it may depend on the teacher. I do always make a donation to the Golandsky Institute, where my teacher is on the faculty--but that's because I support their mission.

I come from a family where the adults stopped giving each other gifts and found it eased everyone's holiday stress. Others have more holiday gift-giving spirit, I know.


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#2694595 - 12/05/17 08:34 PM Re: End of year etiquette for piano teachers (in USA) [Re: Osho]  
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I think the holliday teacher gift tradition is becoming less common. Maybe 25% of students in my area (and my studio, but I hear the same from other teachers) will give a gift or card. The cards can be really nice, and that's the direction I'd encourage.

I've never had a student just hand over cash as a tip. It seems to me tips are generally given to lower wage workers, but I could be wrong.


Pianist and Piano Teacher
#2694601 - 12/05/17 09:10 PM Re: End of year etiquette for piano teachers (in USA) [Re: Osho]  
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Thank you all for the input. It seems a thank you note, a gift card and some holiday chocolates might be most appropriate.

regards,
Osho

Last edited by Osho; 12/05/17 09:10 PM.
#2694636 - 12/06/17 01:18 AM Re: End of year etiquette for piano teachers (in USA) [Re: musicpassion]  
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Originally Posted by musicpassion
I think the holliday teacher gift tradition is becoming less common.

It depends on where you live. I used to teach at one of those run-down districts, and teachers there don't expect any gifts for Christmas from their students. Zero.

Wealthy clients tend to give gifts.


Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member
#2694699 - 12/06/17 08:22 AM Re: End of year etiquette for piano teachers (in USA) [Re: Osho]  
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Hypothetical: You are assigned a teacher through a music school. You and the teacher hit it off -- a good musical relationship that you value. You later learn that your teacher and others at the school have separate private studios, but are contractually forbidden from taking into their private studios students first assigned to them by the school. Your teacher (and the others) receive from the school much less per lesson than what you pay the school and what they receive from private studio students.

Is a monetary gift (a check enclosed in a nice card with a personalized thank-you note) in recognition of those circumstances inappropriate?


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#2694736 - 12/06/17 10:17 AM Re: End of year etiquette for piano teachers (in USA) [Re: Osho]  
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To me there is something demeaning about giving money to a piano teacher beyond tuition, as some sort of holiday cheer. Doesn't matter whether this involves a music school or a private studio.

#2694778 - 12/06/17 12:21 PM Re: End of year etiquette for piano teachers (in USA) [Re: Osho]  
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I still think it’s inappropriate. If the teacher is unhappy with the arrangement he has with the school he is free to terminate the contract and focus on his private studio. If he is with the school then he should be happy with the pay and not expect “gifts”. There is a fine line between a gift and a “bribe”, and in this case I would consider it a bribe so the teacher would have to give the “gifter” some special attention and better quality lessons. Would you write a personal check to a great dr from a hospital owned clinic because the doc was so good and he would make so much more money if he had his own practice?

#2694791 - 12/06/17 01:06 PM Re: End of year etiquette for piano teachers (in USA) [Re: Osho]  
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Speaking as both a student of piano and a teacher (of English) - cash, in my opinion, is inappropriate. I would be really taken aback if anyone gave me cash.


A gift card for something the teacher might like could work - (even better if you are certain they would like it).

A little gift is always appreciated but not expected.

A hand written card would always be a winner, again, in my opinion.


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#2694808 - 12/06/17 03:04 PM Re: End of year etiquette for piano teachers (in USA) [Re: Osho]  
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I've received everything from monetary gifts to cookies to potted plants. I welcome it all smile


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#2694883 - 12/06/17 06:41 PM Re: End of year etiquette for piano teachers (in USA) [Re: hreichgott]  
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Originally Posted by hreichgott
I've received everything from monetary gifts to cookies to potted plants. I welcome it all smile


Yes. Its all good!

My students come from many different cultures, countries, traditions, income levels, age groups, etc.

If they want to give me something at Christmas, it is a gift, and I am thankful.


Piano teacher and Blues and Boogie-Woogie pianist.
#2694915 - 12/06/17 09:19 PM Re: End of year etiquette for piano teachers (in USA) [Re: Osho]  
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PerAspera, I respectfully disagree with you on several areas. One that the teacher would expect a gift and would have to give special attention and better quality lessons to the person who tipped them. I am the person who wrote in another forum I tip generously at the end of the year and put cash in a card with a thank-you note. I truly do that out of respect to my teachers efforts. To suggest that a teacher would give "better quality lessons" to a person who tipped than those who did not, is really degrading to the profession. I believe (for most) professionals are committed to their profession and take pride in their craft and would provide quality lessons to all students irregardless if they are tipped. Realizing that, some students are more vested than others and may take full advantage of what that teacher can offer.

Professional is defined as a person who has an area of study and is skilled. I consider licensed hairdressers professionals, how many of you tip hairdressers? I have also never worried about the amount of the tip I give impacting my haircut. Chances are if the hairdresser does poor work he/she will not have many customers.

Regarding doctors or health care professionals, there are organizational regulations/policies regarding the ethics of health care professionals accepting gifts from patients. In the health care facility I work, vendors cannot even bring any type of food or trinkets when conducting presentations. Health care professionals are very well paid and generally have no difficulty with securing full-time employment with overtime opportunities and benefit packages.

I imagine music teachers who work for studios are mostly contract employees which generally means a higher tax rate, no vacation, sick leave, or retirement plan. They probably are paid based on how many students they teach. If the studio closes for Christmas or any other time the teacher is probably not receiving a paycheck.


Deb
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#2695033 - 12/07/17 08:28 AM Re: End of year etiquette for piano teachers (in USA) [Re: Osho]  
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I often hear three things on these boards: First, that musicians and music teachers are underpaid and underappreciated. Second, that goverment (i.e., unwilling taxpayer donors) should subsidize music and underpaid musicians and music teachers. Third, that willing students should not directly express their gratitude to a teacher with a voluntary financial gratuity.

I suffer at the moment from a minor case of cognitive dissonance.


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#2695664 - 12/09/17 05:40 PM Re: End of year etiquette for piano teachers (in USA) [Re: Osho]  
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A coincidence, I suppose, but my piano tuner was here just yesterday. If he gave lessons, I would feel it was quite worthwhile to take them from him; I have learned many things during the hours in his company, and he plays--- well, he was taking his major in college in Performance. He communicates with music in such a vivid fashion that you could forget that the piano was the intermediary. He let it go, and started taking lessons privately. The life of a performing artist, he told me; so much travel, so much stress and tension, at best. "I have an eight-year-old son, and a new wife, whom I love very much.... This kind of life is better for me."

He offers me a rate which I understand is at a sizeable discount from his listed service fees, saying that he does this for customers like myself, who are long-time regulars, who are flexible as to the schedule, and who allow him to take the care of their pianos that he wants to give them (no one besides him has ever touched my piano, since the very first service call when it was brand new). We visit when he is here; I am careful not to distract him. I dropped something in the piano between visits--- first time ever--- which jammed the keys, and he came right over and set it right, refusing payment.

So. Christmas is almost here. I found that it was not much trouble to stop at the ATM and get cash to pay him. It seemed to me that he should at least get his full rate. And, I remembered the gratis service call. All put together, it was a nice folding size for twenties, generous if not excessive. He did not seem at all offended, and I do not see that a piano teacher should be, either, if thanks were given at the same time, in an attitude of respect and gratitude. A card or a little present--- why not, if you like. You could model the behavior for the benefit of your students. Giving is a practice which has the paradoxical effect of opening the giver up to receive. When we give, our own attitude of neediness or selfishness just slides off, and we naturally attain an open posture, in our mind and in our heart. When we give, we're thinking of what will help, delight, or uplift someone else.

The old Russian proverb says, "If you want money, buy a new purse." In other words, if you want something, make a place for it in your life. And if you can't accompany your gift with an attitude of respect and thankfulness, don't bother.

"Here's ten bucks, thanks for everything you did for my kid this year. It should be more, but... well... we're going out for dim sum, and if you don't really tip there, they call the police. (shrug), Merry Christmas."

"Oh, thanks so much for thinking of me, but I really couldn't. I hate to take the mink off a lady's back--- it's against our studio policy. Such a beautiful fur--- watch out for that duck sauce! But don't worry about me; I'm raising little Junior's fees, starting in January. So, Merry Christmas to you, too. And Happy New Year."


Clef

#2695708 - 12/10/17 01:02 AM Re: End of year etiquette for piano teachers (in USA) [Re: Osho]  
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I see no problem if someone wants to give a cash tip and some teachers will take anything so why not. I think one session fee or one month tuition should be a good tip, and another tip for the end of school year. Birthdays are also a good occasion for tips and there is a teachers day too.

#2698890 - 12/22/17 01:09 AM Re: End of year etiquette for piano teachers (in USA) [Re: Osho]  
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From my experience, I'd say there is no "norm" for tipping teachers, but like others, I can relay my personal experience as a private teacher. When I was younger, and worked both as a house call teacher and in a music/piano store, I was tipped heavily at Christmas/Hannukkah by nearly all my wealthy clients, and given at least a small gesture from clients who maybe didn't have as much to give away. I was always happy and grateful to receive anything at all. Really, a genuine display of gratitude from the child was what filled my heart. I didn't expect money. I wasn't offended by it either. The cash and checks felt like motherly (or maybe big-sisterly) help from more established women to a younger, less established woman.
As years went by and my own means increased and I developed a thriving private studio, the dynamic changed. I'm older, more established, clearly not "in need" of things. But I still receive gifts, usually hand made things from the kids, which I cherish, and really nice cards, which I display with pride. Gift cards are common, but usually more along the lines of very nice chocolates, small tokens (pretty mugs, candles, scarves, music-related items, the sorts of things they see me use at the studio), but there is one group that consistently tips me HARD. It's specifically the Chinese-American mothers; they give me hundreds and hundreds of dollars every Christmas. From my perspective, it feels like they see it as a cultural obligation, because it's so consistent and always the same amount. I don't question it, but I also don't give their kids favors, show favoritism, or act differently in any way. I show gratitude and that's it. I don't feel like I'm being bribed. I have good relationships with these women and the gifts feel like a showing of respect.

I will say that I tip my piano tech at every single time visit. And I get favors in return. Significant favors. So....there is that.

#2698931 - 12/22/17 09:44 AM Re: End of year etiquette for piano teachers (in USA) [Re: Osho]  
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Take whatever you are given, run away when you are beaten. A good rule for survival, no question about that. Gift giving definitely depends on the culture. I got curious so here’s an interesting article about gift giving tradition in China http://www.businessinsider.com/teachers-in-china-get-lavish-gifts-2012-9 .

It’s interesting to me that everyone brings an argument of tipping a hairdresser, a tuner etc. I tip them too, as well as a mover, a cleaner, a delivery guy, mail man etc. I would give a tip to my teacher if he played at my event. Tipping my mentor, hovever, is the same to me as tipping a friend of mine for being a good friend this year. This discussion gives me a really fascinating insight into different cultural traditions!

#2699019 - 12/22/17 04:32 PM Re: End of year etiquette for piano teachers (in USA) [Re: Morodiene]  
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Originally Posted by Morodiene
Originally Posted by Osho
I read in another thread that someone mentioned that he/she generously tips the Piano teacher at the end of the year.

This is the first year I have had Piano classes. I wonder what is the etiquette for 'end of the year holiday season' gifts/tips for Piano teachers - especially in USA? Is there a 'norm'?

Thanks,
Osho

There's no norm, but I personally love to get gift cards for restaurants or Starbucks along with a little note of thanks from the student. In fact, a note from the student means much more to me than money or a gift.

NO NO NO NO!!!! laugh

Money is the best. Then I can buy whatever I want, or need, and I don't have to worry about gift cards expiring.

But cards written with something are wonderful.

I know that I should appreciate anything, but I always get a few things that I frankly don't even know what to do with.


Piano Teacher
#2699030 - 12/22/17 05:13 PM Re: End of year etiquette for piano teachers (in USA) [Re: Osho]  
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In my job, I frequently get cards and presents at this time of the year, from grateful 'customers/clients'. It is unethical for us to accept money.

But I do wish I'm given something I can actually use, instead of alcohol, as I don't drink. So far, I've been given two bottles of (expensive) champagne, a few bottles of (equally expensive) red wine and a bottle of Johnny Walker's 'blended Scotch whisky' (which looks expensive).

I've already given the champagne and whisky away to colleagues, but am hanging on to the wine, in case another grateful 'client' thoughtfully gives me a basic cookbook that shows me how I can use it in cooking...... wink


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
#2699052 - 12/22/17 07:21 PM Re: End of year etiquette for piano teachers (in USA) [Re: Osho]  
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I prefer money. Some years, I've gotten about $125. This year none. It is nice to have the wealthier clients. This year, only one family gave me a Christmas card. And I gave a few people free music and they usually don't even thank me for it.

But what I would most like to be thanked for is photocopies. Sometimes I arrange a piece and give a photocopy, and do not receive any thanks. If I had kids, I'd tell them to thank their teacher for photocopies. Time goes into organizing all that.

I'm actually thinking I should get the parents to buy more piano books themselves. There are pros and cons to both methods, but certainly they would appreciate my used piano books more if they knew the new prices.

#2699059 - 12/22/17 08:20 PM Re: End of year etiquette for piano teachers (in USA) [Re: PerAspera]  
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Ah, nice insight in that article you linked, PerAspera. Thank you. If these parents are looking at it as a way of getting their kid an upper edge, well, I'm not picking up on it. There's not much leverage you can get out of me! There are no grades and I don't do competitions. Maybe...they worry I'll ask their child to leave the studio (I am demanding when it comes to practicing and performance standards and I let students go who can't keep up) but...no, I'm just not feeling it as a bribe! I really and truly think it's comes from a place of respect. I realize I only answered the original question as it specifically relates to PARENTS giving gifts. My adult students don't tip me or give any kind of monetary bonus. Just wine and such. I am more than happy to quaff that wine! Also, I have my own teacher, a mentor is a suitable term I suppose, and yeah, I would feel weird giving him extra cash.
I tip my piano tech because, at least in the beginning, I thought it was socially required. That was 15 years ago and if I stopped tipping her now, she might think I'm unhappy with her. So, I've created a situation all of my own doing but I don't mind. I'd rather keep the peace, and giving a little extra doesn't hurt my bottom line. And I get those favors. smile

#2699063 - 12/22/17 09:08 PM Re: End of year etiquette for piano teachers (in USA) [Re: SchroedersCat]  
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Originally Posted by SchroedersCat

I tip my piano tech because, at least in the beginning, I thought it was socially required. That was 15 years ago and if I stopped tipping her now, she might think I'm unhappy with her. So, I've created a situation all of my own doing but I don't mind. I'd rather keep the peace, and giving a little extra doesn't hurt my bottom line. And I get those favors. smile


Do you pay her by cheque for her work, and receive an invoice? If so, do you present her with extra tip extra money in cash, or do you just add extra to the cheque? I'm fascinated here.

#2699075 - 12/22/17 10:38 PM Re: End of year etiquette for piano teachers (in USA) [Re: Peter K. Mose]  
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I'm happy to oblige your fascination. I am always presented with an invoice. If I'm only tuning one piano (one goes out more than the other when we have strange weather), I typically have enough cash on hand to pay for that service and include tip. Honestly, with cash, the tip is effortless. She would have to make change otherwise. If I'm tuning both, I typically need to pay by check and thus include the gratuity on that document. I tip a certain amount for one piano, a little more for two, and a little more if it's December. Everyone in the music business is frazzled in December, so I think it's appropriate.

She arrives, we chat for a time, I let her know if there's a specific issue that needs attention, then I ask for the invoice. She places it on the table, I leave the check or cash on top of the invoice, bid her a good day, and leave for errands. She lets herself out. To memory, I have never once seen her LOOK at the money I've given her. We've never spoken about it. Those favors just happen, it's a never a sense of tit for tat. At this point, it's all trust.

#2699207 - 12/23/17 08:12 PM Re: End of year etiquette for piano teachers (in USA) [Re: Osho]  
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I gave my teacher some pastrami (homemade) today.
I hope he likes it!

I have also used him as a regift outlet for some of the too much candy that I am gifted at work. He can pass it out to his students. Another student gifted him cookies and I got a lovely ginger one at the end of my lesson today.


Having power is not nearly as important as what you choose to do with it.
– Roald Dahl

#2699231 - 12/23/17 10:57 PM Re: End of year etiquette for piano teachers (in USA) [Re: Candywoman]  
Joined: Apr 2013
Posts: 311
JazzyMac Offline
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JazzyMac  Offline
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Posts: 311
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Originally Posted by Candywoman
I prefer money. Some years, I've gotten about $125. This year none. It is nice to have the wealthier clients. This year, only one family gave me a Christmas card. And I gave a few people free music and they usually don't even thank me for it.

But what I would most like to be thanked for is photocopies. Sometimes I arrange a piece and give a photocopy, and do not receive any thanks. If I had kids, I'd tell them to thank their teacher for photocopies. Time goes into organizing all that.


Families probably don't give, nor provide thanks to teachers if or when they feel there is an obligation...or they are feeling "forced". Perhaps that could be it?

#2699232 - 12/23/17 11:04 PM Re: End of year etiquette for piano teachers (in USA) [Re: Osho]  
Joined: Apr 2013
Posts: 311
JazzyMac Offline
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JazzyMac  Offline
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World Traveler
I'm a gift giver, and a card giver, so I usually give freely around the holidays. I gave a gift to my teacher this year. Very small, but useful.

I wish I could give a tip, "Stop having adult recitals!" *chuckle*

#2699243 - 12/24/17 12:40 AM Re: End of year etiquette for piano teachers (in USA) [Re: JazzyMac]  
Joined: Apr 2009
Posts: 4,516
malkin Offline
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malkin  Offline
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Joined: Apr 2009
Posts: 4,516
*sigh* Salt Lake City
Originally Posted by JazzyMac
I... I gave a gift to my teacher this year. Very small, but useful.


So what was this useful gift? Cash? Gift card? Flashlight? Pastrami?


Having power is not nearly as important as what you choose to do with it.
– Roald Dahl

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