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Tuition rates #2743758
06/11/18 09:49 PM
06/11/18 09:49 PM
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Toronto, Ontario
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Peter K. Mose Offline OP
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Every so often I see a piano teacher charging different hourly rates depending on the ability level of the student. I don't mean, for example, that she charges $30 for a half hour beginner lesson, $45 for a 45-minute intermediate lesson, and $60 for an hour advanced lesson. Rather, I mean she might charge an hourly rate of (for example) $50 for beginners and intermediates, and $75 for more advanced students.

I don't understand the logic, and wonder if any of you do, or if any of you adhere to such a rate structure or have colleagues who do. The implication, I gather, is that it requires more skill or is more challenging to teach an advanced piano student than an early-level student.

I always figured a teacher's time was worth x per hour, not a figure that fluctuates depending on the student. Any thoughts?

Last edited by Peter K. Mose; 06/11/18 09:51 PM.
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Re: Tuition rates [Re: Peter K. Mose] #2743761
06/11/18 10:06 PM
06/11/18 10:06 PM
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I am not a teacher. But my teacher charges $80 per hour lesson. I am currently working on getting ABRSM grade 8 exam. Not sure if it is because I am more advanced. I believe in general she charges $80 an hour to every student who takes one hour lesson.


In Progress:
1.Debussy Arabasque1
2. Czerny 740 no 3
3. Mozart Sonata K330 1st Movement
4. Bach Prelude and Fugue in C Major
Re: Tuition rates [Re: Peter K. Mose] #2743763
06/11/18 10:15 PM
06/11/18 10:15 PM
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Posts: 68
Canada
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Interesting. I don't find that advanced students are necessarily more work. While I may have to practice advanced repertoire well enough to demonstrate in the lesson or listen to recordings to hear different interpretations, I may also spend equal time planning how to teach fundamentals to beginners or looking for game-like activities for younger kids.
Perhaps a higher rate makes the student feel as though they are getting top-notch instruction?


Private piano teacher
B. Mus., M.Mus. (piano performance & pedagogy).
Re: Tuition rates [Re: Peter K. Mose] #2743771
06/11/18 10:45 PM
06/11/18 10:45 PM
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Florida
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My teacher charges the same rank, regardless of the level of the student


"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
Re: Tuition rates [Re: Peter K. Mose] #2743783
06/12/18 12:42 AM
06/12/18 12:42 AM
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I've heard of this before as well. I think the logic behind it is that the student is paying for that many more years of instruction that the teacher had. For instance - it's theoretically possible to teach beginners with the knowledge one accrues by the time they are a senior in high school. Note-reading, rhythm, and basic theory are usually all learned by the time most of us 16.

However, the knowledge that a teacher acquired during her master's degree at a fancy (and expensive) conservatory is, in a way, only of benefit to the advanced student. Beginners and intermediate students will not necessarily benefit from the fact that you have experience playing chamber music, studying the Liszt Sonata, or preparing for international competitions - but an advanced student likely will - so he/she's gotta pay for it. It's a bit like why medical specialists (Neurologists, cardiologists, surgeons), make more than your average GP. But in this case, the same teacher is offering a service option of both.

That said - I would never do it, and cannot imagine what goes on in the head of somebody who would insist on such trivial, pedantic policy.

Last edited by Opus_Maximus; 06/12/18 12:51 AM.
Re: Tuition rates [Re: Peter K. Mose] #2743784
06/12/18 12:43 AM
06/12/18 12:43 AM
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Orange County, CA
AZNpiano Offline
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I don't see a problem at all. A teacher can charge however he/she wants.

Whenever I raise rates, I always phrase it in a way that suggests I'm charging higher because the student has advanced to a higher level. It's not always the truth.


Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member
Re: Tuition rates [Re: dogperson] #2743828
06/12/18 07:13 AM
06/12/18 07:13 AM
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In the Ozarks of Missouri
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Originally Posted by dogperson
My teacher charges the same rank, regardless of the level of the student



Mine does as well.

Re: Tuition rates [Re: Peter K. Mose] #2743836
06/12/18 07:49 AM
06/12/18 07:49 AM
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I have known teachers - some quite accomplished - who charge more for advanced students.

I would never do it - and believe it is based on flawed logic.

Truth is, I work no less hard with a talented, engaged six-year-old than I do with a talented, engaged advanced student of university age/level (or beyond).

And if the student is slow or lazy (at any age) - I certainly don't want to be compensated at a lower rate for my time - in a way it's _more_ work!
-Paul


Piano teacher, journalist, AMEB examiner.
Re: Tuition rates [Re: Peter K. Mose] #2743838
06/12/18 08:04 AM
06/12/18 08:04 AM
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Florida
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Hi Paul
It’s too bad that teachers can’t have a sliding scale for lessons based on the laziness of the student: ‘if you consistently don’t practice, and come to lessons unprepared, your rate will be the standard rate plus X dollars’........ Just an evil thought from the student gallery. It would reduce frustration 😊


"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
Re: Tuition rates [Re: Peter K. Mose] #2743841
06/12/18 08:12 AM
06/12/18 08:12 AM
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Canada
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Peter, I have some strong opinions about this, and have a hunch you will probably agree.
Originally Posted by Peter K. Mose
Every so often I see a piano teacher charging different hourly rates depending on the ability level of the student...... Rather, I mean she might charge an hourly rate of (for example) $50 for beginners and intermediates, and $75 for more advanced students.

I don't understand the logic, and wonder if any of you do,.....

I suspect that there is an underlying attitude to this, that the teaching of beginners is less important and requires less attention and expertise, than teaching intermediate students, and then than advanced students - in that order. We see the worst of this attitude when a novice wanting to break into teaching, and is told to get a bunch of beginners and experiment with them.

I've written this before. With the beginner you establish and build everything. You create the foundations on everything that student will do later on, the things the advanced teacher relies on and maybe takes for granted. This includes the rudiments of physical playing (technique) which expands later, the ability to read music, a basic sense of theory to build on, and how to approach practising and a piece of music. But what the lesser teacher (or "teacher") sees is this: easy notes - What's so hard about "Are You Sleeping"? They miss the point, to the detriment of the student.

I was too young to understand this attitude in general when I was in teacher's college, but I sensed that something was amiss. Those who were in the stream of becoming high school teachers seemed to have an air of privilege, and took more liberties. I also noted that they were given "preparation time" during school hours to plan lessons, while primary school teachers taught the entire time, plus had "yard duty" and "detention room duty". You prepared lessons after hours, or got to school long before it started, and prepared on week-ends and in holidays.

In regular school the expertise shifts: from expertise in learning itself, to expertise in the subject matter later. But even there, later on, I found myself tutoring kids who got lost on grade 9 math. because they didn't have the fundamentals or know how to approach things, and it seemed their teachers were staying at the level of the formulas in the textbook. (This is probably unfair. wink ) When you get at the fundamentals of a subject, it may seem "simple", but it also has depth . It's a lot harder to bring across concepts and skills to a novice. That is also the case for music.

I have my own past experience as a student with music lessons.

Due to all this - charging more according to "higher levels" does not make sense to me.

Re: Tuition rates [Re: Peter K. Mose] #2743854
06/12/18 08:59 AM
06/12/18 08:59 AM
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I haven't charged different rates but I would like to. I just let go an advanced student, mostly because I had to keep up with her with very difficult music, but she only wanted forty-five minute lessons. I do believe a teacher needs to know how to play the higher level pieces before teaching them. You need to offer fingerings for the difficult sections. So I could make that money with much less work from an intermediate or beginner student.

I never do any research for younger children, unlike you Peter. I also never practice the easier material that I've taught for years.

Re: Tuition rates [Re: Peter K. Mose] #2743856
06/12/18 09:23 AM
06/12/18 09:23 AM
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Toronto, Ontario
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Peter K. Mose Offline OP
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Thanks for these initial responses. There are many ways of looking at this issue, and I'm not sure it is a right vs wrong matter. I just find it interesting.

Taking up from Slowdown and Keystring, I might even argue that it is *more* demanding of my skills to teach a beginner than to teach an advanced student, and so perhaps I should charge more for the early levels. That's amusing, but it could make sense. Just as I might argue (per Maximus) that the GP physician should earn more than the medical specialist.

Re: Tuition rates [Re: Peter K. Mose] #2743857
06/12/18 09:26 AM
06/12/18 09:26 AM
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Toronto, Ontario
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Peter K. Mose Offline OP
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P.S. Just seeing Candy's post now, and she does have a point from the opposite direction! Sometimes we scramble when dealing with student players at our level or above, in a way we don't scramble with the early-level player's music.

Re: Tuition rates [Re: Peter K. Mose] #2743878
06/12/18 10:54 AM
06/12/18 10:54 AM
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USA
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It looks like I'm in the minority here. I offer small but ever-increasing discounts the longer lesson length one chooses. Why do I do this?

1. It gives a small incentive to families to increase the lesson length, because the hourly rate in effect declines.

(For example, I find a 45-minute lesson to be superior to a 30-minute lesson for most beginners, so reducing the rate of a 45-minute lesson encouraged some people to take that option when I started offering more than 30-minute lessons. There are so many things I like to do in a lesson that help build a good foundation, but I feel quite a bit gets sacrificed with only 30-minute lessons, making progress more slow. Offering discounts as you go up sometimes helps make a longer lesson length more palatable to a family who might otherwise get "stuck" on one lesson length and not want to upgrade when it's in their best interests to do so.)

2. The more a student advances, the more I enjoy the teaching. I do take beginners, but they feel more like "work" to me than does an intermediate or advanced student. In terms of time, the more advanced students *do* take more of my time in preparing for their lessons, but it's time that slips by so quickly, because I LOVE practicing the intermediate and advanced music I teach.

3. I feel like offering reduced-rate longer lessons is a "thank you" to loyal families who continue through the years. It's my way of giving back for all they've invested in my business. (And, yes, sometimes I get transfer students, so they, of course, haven't been with me for sometimes lots of years before that. But it's still neat that they've stayed with it--or decided to return to piano--so the lower rates at higher levels may also encourage these families to jump into a good lesson-length option, rather than a mediocre one.)

That said, regarding the OP's example, I guess I could see it that way, too--having higher rates for more advanced students, due to more time invested in preparing to teach at that level.

But then, too, the easiest might just be to have an across-the-board rate that doesn't fluctuate based on student level or age or anything else.

I guess I'd sum it all up as a "to-each-his-own" deal. smile

Re: Tuition rates [Re: Candywoman] #2743885
06/12/18 11:35 AM
06/12/18 11:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Candywoman
IYou need to offer fingerings for the difficult sections.




There is a well-known teacher in the USA who actually charges a "fingering fee" in addition to his flat tuition rate. He works on fingering all his studnets' music before thier lesson, so as not to waste lesson time doing it.

Re: Tuition rates [Re: Opus_Maximus] #2743888
06/12/18 11:54 AM
06/12/18 11:54 AM
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Posts: 3,750
Florida
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Originally Posted by Opus_Maximus
Originally Posted by Candywoman
IYou need to offer fingerings for the difficult sections.




There is a well-known teacher in the USA who actually charges a "fingering fee" in addition to his flat tuition rate. He works on fingering all his studnets' music before thier lesson, so as not to waste lesson time doing it.
.

I am just a student , but I do not understand why a teacher would pre-finger for several reasons: first, hand shape and distances between Fingers vary from person-to-person. Therefore fingering that may be right for my teacher, would not necessarily be right for me. Secondly, if my teacher did all of my fingering, how would I ever learn to do it myself? She has me do all of my own, but of course she is available for questions or recommended changes.

I take occasional lessons from a pianist who has written a book on fingering: He makes recommendations, but more importantly he goes through the thought process of how he came up with the recommendation. Even so, his suggestions will also often be’ try this or this’

By doing my own fingering but getting support, I need support less and less


"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
Re: Tuition rates [Re: Peter K. Mose] #2743898
06/12/18 12:31 PM
06/12/18 12:31 PM
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If the fingering doesn’t work for me do I get a refund? smirk

dogperson, can you tell me the title of the book?

Last edited by John305; 06/12/18 12:32 PM.

It’s never too late to be what you might have been. -George Eliot
Re: Tuition rates [Re: Peter K. Mose] #2743905
06/12/18 01:26 PM
06/12/18 01:26 PM
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As a speech-language pathologist, I have sometimes taken on private clients. I have on occasion adjusted my fees based on how hard I have to work. My private clients have always been a side hustle for me, because I have always had other full time employment, so...you know...it has to be worth the trouble.


I've been trying to change my signature quote for weeks.

Re: Tuition rates [Re: John305] #2743916
06/12/18 02:23 PM
06/12/18 02:23 PM
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Florida
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Originally Posted by John305
If the fingering doesn’t work for me do I get a refund? smirk

dogperson, can you tell me the title of the book?
.

The art of piano fingering (. Highly recommended)

https://www.amazon.com/Art-Piano-Fingering-Traditional-Innovative/dp/1479285277


"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
Re: Tuition rates [Re: dogperson] #2743925
06/12/18 02:51 PM
06/12/18 02:51 PM
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AZNpiano Offline
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Originally Posted by dogperson
It’s too bad that teachers can’t have a sliding scale for lessons based on the laziness of the student 😊

Who, me??


Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member
Re: Tuition rates [Re: Opus_Maximus] #2743926
06/12/18 02:52 PM
06/12/18 02:52 PM
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Orange County, CA
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Originally Posted by Opus_Maximus
There is a well-known teacher in the USA who actually charges a "fingering fee" in addition to his flat tuition rate. He works on fingering all his studnets' music before thier lesson, so as not to waste lesson time doing it.

What an excellent idea. Let me add that to my arsenal of excuses to raise rates.


Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member
Re: Tuition rates [Re: AZNpiano] #2743934
06/12/18 03:10 PM
06/12/18 03:10 PM
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by dogperson
It’s too bad that teachers can’t have a sliding scale for lessons based on the laziness of the student 😊

Who, me??
.

You and my teacher plus the other thousands of frustrated teachers in the world... I think I’m going to suggest to mine to add a “frustration surcharge”


"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
Re: Tuition rates [Re: Peter K. Mose] #2743992
06/12/18 07:48 PM
06/12/18 07:48 PM
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I think charging more for advanced students does not make sense. I personally think that teaching beginners or advanced students has its own challenges. For example, for beginners, teachers need to make sure that students are always engaged with simple exercises in order for them to play more advanced pieces. In order for them to build good techniques and basics, we cannot avoid the step. For advanced students, they have their own habits and a lot of times they think it is good for them. Often I have hard time to convince them to try out new stuffs...


"Men can do all things if they will" ...Kenji...
Re: Tuition rates [Re: Peter K. Mose] #2744040
06/13/18 01:52 AM
06/13/18 01:52 AM
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The fingering fee is interesting. I work out fingerings myself, but don't always give them to the student unless there is a need. Yet, if there is a need, it's much better to have them ready. And there can be more than one fingering solution. Students are very impatient and have high expectations of me to solve their problems. I wish this were not so. But they would otherwise wonder why they're paying me.

Once you set the bar at a certain level, they expect you to remain that good. Many higher level students don't practice enough, so what else can I do with them during the lesson but practice through sections and work out solutions and technique? I'd like to be helping more with interpretation but rarely do they get to the point of having something either learnt by themselves, or even practiced to a standard that is reasonable. They need help with practice techniques despite hours showing them (separating voices, practicing "backwards") the same thing in other pieces. In short, they are not self-starters. They are more like baby birds that need to be fed all the time. I'm constantly surprised by how I have to power everything with my motivation.

Re: Tuition rates [Re: dogperson] #2744055
06/13/18 03:37 AM
06/13/18 03:37 AM
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Originally Posted by dogperson
You and my teacher plus the other thousands of frustrated teachers in the world... I think I’m going to suggest to mine to add a “frustration surcharge”

I meant to say, "I do that already!"

Now that I actually have the luxury of dumping students I don't want, I'll simply start by raising their rates. If they want to stay with me, fine, pay more!

Or, putting it another way, I've yet to raise the fees for my favorite students.


Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member
Re: Tuition rates [Re: Peter K. Mose] #2744098
06/13/18 08:37 AM
06/13/18 08:37 AM
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Toronto, Ontario
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Peter K. Mose Offline OP
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Differing tuition rates for different students is the even broader question. Obviously this collides with our sense of equality and justice, but I'm sure it happens plenty often in piano studios - quietly. Not something to advertise, and tricky to defend, but I get it.

Re: Tuition rates [Re: Peter K. Mose] #2744102
06/13/18 09:01 AM
06/13/18 09:01 AM
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I once had a voice teacher who grandfathered in her current students when she raised rates. The result was differential pricing for a different reason. It doesn't seem like a good longterm strategy to me--kind of penalizes the teacher for continuity. Also it could get awfully complicated if one had a large studio. But I guess she felt she was rewarding loyalty and not changing the terms once lessons started.


1989 Baldwin R
Currently working on:
Chopin, Waltz in E minor (op. posth.)
Schubert, Op. 90 no. 2
Mendelssohn, Op. 19 no. 2
Re: Tuition rates [Re: Peter K. Mose] #2744111
06/13/18 09:30 AM
06/13/18 09:30 AM
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The fairest thing is that a fee matches the service. But when you have a student (or customer) who consistently puts out extra effort, then you will also put out extra effort in kind, without charging extra for that extra effort. Well, in lessons, a student's penny also goes further when the student who puts out the effort, working with the teacher and instructions (assuming a decent teacher with plausible instructions) which makes it win-win and all-round rewarding.

Re: Tuition rates [Re: dogperson] #2744147
06/13/18 12:35 PM
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Originally Posted by dogperson
Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by dogperson
It’s too bad that teachers can’t have a sliding scale for lessons based on the laziness of the student 😊

Who, me??
.

You and my teacher plus the other thousands of frustrated teachers in the world... I think I’m going to suggest to mine to add a “frustration surcharge”


My point was that my fee is based on a PITA factor.


I've been trying to change my signature quote for weeks.

Re: Tuition rates [Re: Peter K. Mose] #2744191
06/13/18 03:41 PM
06/13/18 03:41 PM
Joined: Jun 2018
Posts: 6
M
mrsuitcase Offline
Junior Member
mrsuitcase  Offline
Junior Member
M

Joined: Jun 2018
Posts: 6
I am not a teacher. I'm just browsing. But I do know a bit about economics.

If you charge a higher rate to more advanced students, your pricing will ultimately encourage more beginners to sign up with you. The opposite holds true, where higher rates for beginners will encourage more advanced students to sign up with you.

So, if a teacher prefers one type of student over another, they can influence the number of students they get in each category via their pricing.

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