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Re: Tuition rates [Re: jdw] #2744193
06/13/18 04:46 PM
06/13/18 04:46 PM
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mostlystrings Offline
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In a capitalist economy, where profit is the goal, it could be said that an ideal hourly rate is what the market will bear and so what if one student is willing to pay more than another. In reality, my relationship with students/families is not strictly a business transaction, and it's more complicated.

Originally Posted by keystring
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 agree that this is Not True. But back to the capitalism example, it could happen if a family erroneously believes that they should pay less for beginner lessons vs. more for advanced lessons and a teacher, unwilling or unable to enforce a higher overall rate, accepts a beginner for less, thereby perpetuating the cycle.

A colleague and I were talking about her wanting to raise the rate for students who request advanced repertoire that requires a lot of extra preparation on her part - akin to a "fingering fee". If she did that, she would appear to be charge advanced students more even though it could be view not as a "lesson fee" as fee for other services performed. On the other hand, if a "frustration fee" is in order (beginners who are slacking off?), then instead of tacking on fees, you may as well raise rates in general! There are certain students that I do "extra work" for but as keystring said, it's because they are putting in the effort (and that's why they are advanced).

Originally Posted by jdw
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.

I have done this but still gradually moved them up so they lag the current rate by a year or two (only a few who are more than 4 years long so it's manageable). It was (is) definitely out of rewarding loyalty because the commitment of those early students made it possible for me to get where I am now. The last few years, I give everyone a rate notice each summer/before fall so even though I don't raise fees every year, they are not supposed to be surprised when the price of lessons goes up like the price of anything else.

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Re: Tuition rates [Re: mrsuitcase] #2744219
06/13/18 06:52 PM
06/13/18 06:52 PM
Joined: Jan 2012
Posts: 2,181
Toronto, Ontario
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Peter K. Mose Offline OP
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Peter K. Mose  Offline OP
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Joined: Jan 2012
Posts: 2,181
Toronto, Ontario
Originally Posted by mrsuitcase
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.



Valise, welcome to the board. You'll have to explain this to me, since I don't grasp the theory. Is it as simple as that people prefer knowing that they are paying less than someone else for seemingly the same thing? I.e., everyone loves a bargain?

Re: Tuition rates [Re: Peter K. Mose] #2744310
06/14/18 04:35 AM
06/14/18 04:35 AM
Joined: Aug 2007
Posts: 7,705
Orange County, CA
AZNpiano Offline
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Originally Posted by Peter K. Mose
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.

I don't share your sense of equality and justice, whatever that means.

Several of my clients are extremely wealthy, but they leave their kids with nannies and/or grandparents for the bulk of the day. I provide a brief moment of expensive babysitting. Even if kiddos don't learn a thing about piano, at least they get to interact with an intelligent adult who speaks to them in academic language and--hopefully--they can mentally absorb a thing or two through osmosis.

It's a valuable service. I'm worth every penny.


Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member
Re: Tuition rates [Re: mrsuitcase] #2744330
06/14/18 07:48 AM
06/14/18 07:48 AM
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Posts: 4,088
Virginia, USA
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TimR Offline
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Originally Posted by mrsuitcase


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.


In this thread there has been some talk about beginners needing just as much teacher expertise and effort as advanced students.

I think that neglects the idea that there might be two distinct categories of beginner: those who are there for "enrichment" and/or to check the block on college applications, versus those who are serious and will go on to become advanced students.


gotta go practice
Re: Tuition rates [Re: TimR] #2744372
06/14/18 11:22 AM
06/14/18 11:22 AM
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bennevis Offline
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Originally Posted by TimR


In this thread there has been some talk about beginners needing just as much teacher expertise and effort as advanced students.

I think that neglects the idea that there might be two distinct categories of beginner: those who are there for "enrichment" and/or to check the block on college applications, versus those who are serious and will go on to become advanced students.

And then there are those beginners who're there because of their parents' wish to keep up with the Joneses, and go on to become advanced students because their teachers got them to see the light by inspired teaching.

Incidentally, that is not dependent on the teacher's fees.

Just on the teacher's ability to impart her enthusiasm for music, and inspire her student......


"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."
Re: Tuition rates [Re: TimR] #2744415
06/14/18 01:38 PM
06/14/18 01:38 PM
Joined: Dec 2007
Posts: 16,124
Canada
keystring Offline
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Originally Posted by TimR
In this thread there has been some talk about beginners needing just as much teacher expertise and effort as advanced students.

I think that neglects the idea that there might be two distinct categories of beginner: those who are there for "enrichment" and/or to check the block on college applications, versus those who are serious and will go on to become advanced students.

My opinion. Regardless of the ultimate goal, the same foundations are needed, and as solidly, for everyone. The value of these foundations, as well as their nature, is often not appreciated - and I mean by those who believe they teach. Think of it this way: In the 3 R's, students learn what shape the letter S has, what kinds of sounds it represents, that we read from left to right (in most languages), and other fundamental things. Imagine if one decided to do this with some of the students:
- Give them books with lots of pictures, so they don't need to sound out that c-a-t spells "cat" because there's a picture of a cat. Make sure the words are easy to memorize, maybe with rhymes, along with the pictures. Have these students hear the story being read out to them over and over again while they flip through the pages, maybe parroting what they heard. They'll sound fluid. Did they learn to read? Did they learn any of the skills that go into reading? Can they recognize S? Is it justifiable to "teach" anybody in this manner, because their perceived goals are low?

I think that some approaches to teaching beginner music things is similar to the above "reading program". Our parroting child above can fluently recite his memorized story while flipping through the pages using pictures as cues. It looks and sounds good, if the goal is "fluently say the words in the book" --- but not if the goal is "learn the skills of reading". We are not fooled that way for the 3Rs but I think we are fooled this way in music. The notes of Are You Sleeping are boringly simple, and so are dismissed. The concepts - the approaches - which a beginner should acquire - these are tricky to teach, and not at all easy. And I believe that this gets missed. And beginner teachers are not recognized for the important work they do --- it is not taken seriously by many who teach, which is too bad.

Re: Tuition rates [Re: Peter K. Mose] #2744429
06/14/18 02:44 PM
06/14/18 02:44 PM
Joined: May 2015
Posts: 3,614
Florida
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Hi Keystring
I totally agree with you about teaching beginners, and I’m very saddened when I see an intermediate pianist thinking they can teach beginners just because they are more advanced than their potential students.


"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] #2744480
06/14/18 05:40 PM
06/14/18 05:40 PM
Joined: Jun 2018
Posts: 6
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mrsuitcase Offline
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Posts: 6
Originally Posted by Peter K. Mose
Originally Posted by mrsuitcase
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.



Valise, welcome to the board. You'll have to explain this to me, since I don't grasp the theory. Is it as simple as that people prefer knowing that they are paying less than someone else for seemingly the same thing? I.e., everyone loves a bargain?


No problem. If you have two teachers (Teacher A and Teacher B) with unlimited teaching time and equal teaching abilities / location advantages, advertising, etc, and Teacher A charges $35 for a session, while Teacher B charges $65 for a session. In a world with perfect information available to the prospective students, you could fully expect all students to maximize their utility and select the less expensive teacher - Teacher A.

Now, for the next step, if the two teachers evaluate every student equally, and Teacher A charges $35 for beginners, and $65 for advanced. While Teacher B does the exact opposite ($35 for advanced, $65 for beginners), what will happen?

Beginners will maximize their utility and will all select the teacher with the lowest cost. So, Teacher A will end up with all the students evaluated as beginner, while Teacher B will end up with all students evaluated as advanced.

Naturally, all those assumptions about teaching ability/location, perfect information available to the student, unlimited hours available to teacher don't apply in the real world - which is why some great teachers might struggle to find students due to factors like poor location, or available hours, while some mediocre teachers might have many students because of advantages in those areas.

But what this gets at is that if a teacher charges a higher rate for advanced students, they will start attracting beginners instead, because those lower rates are are more competitive. And the opposite holds true.

Of course, if a teacher truly prefers one type of student over the other, rather than using pricing, they could just say "no".

Re: Tuition rates [Re: mrsuitcase] #2744592
06/15/18 01:16 AM
06/15/18 01:16 AM
Joined: Jan 2012
Posts: 2,181
Toronto, Ontario
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Peter K. Mose Offline OP
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Peter K. Mose  Offline OP
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Joined: Jan 2012
Posts: 2,181
Toronto, Ontario
Most helpful explanation, Valise - thank you!

Re: Tuition rates [Re: keystring] #2744593
06/15/18 01:21 AM
06/15/18 01:21 AM
Joined: Jan 2012
Posts: 2,181
Toronto, Ontario
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Peter K. Mose Offline OP
2000 Post Club Member
Peter K. Mose  Offline OP
2000 Post Club Member
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Joined: Jan 2012
Posts: 2,181
Toronto, Ontario
Originally Posted by keystring

Regardless of the ultimate goal, the same foundations are needed, and as solidly, for everyone.


Bravo, keystring!

Re: Tuition rates [Re: TimR] #2744599
06/15/18 01:57 AM
06/15/18 01:57 AM
Joined: Aug 2007
Posts: 7,705
Orange County, CA
AZNpiano Offline
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Orange County, CA
Originally Posted by TimR
I think that neglects the idea that there might be two distinct categories of beginner: those who are there for "enrichment" and/or to check the block on college applications, versus those who are serious and will go on to become advanced students.

There are many more categories than just two. You forgot the expensive babysitting "lessons" in which the student does not necessarily get enriched in any way, shape, or form.

I have been giving a series of trial lessons lately to potential transfer students. It is indeed very interesting to find out how few kids are remotely adequate at piano.


Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member
Re: Tuition rates [Re: Peter K. Mose] #2745003
06/16/18 11:45 PM
06/16/18 11:45 PM
Joined: Jul 2017
Posts: 273
Virginia
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DFSRN Offline
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As a piano student for the past 4 years, taking lessons 4 hours a week at the same studio, two 2 hr lessons per week, if rates were raised because I became advanced (I am not advanced) I would feel penalized for my progression. If the teacher is having difficulty keeping up with the student, then refer them to another teacher who has that skill level. When my theory teacher, who received his masters from Oberlin and played for a symphony, left after 2 and a half years, the studio owner informed me she could not find someone to resume those theory lessons. She offered jazz theory with a masters prepared pianist who specializes in jazz. She did not raise my rates because I advanced. Actually she has not raised my rate in 4 years. However, if I have to miss a lesson (due to the length of my lesson time) I pay for it and do not ask to make it up. The jazz pianist also is a drummer and plays for a nursing home once a month. We work on several pieces and when I have 3-4 prepared, I play the piano and he accompanies me on the drums. Now I am have become more comfortable in front of an audience and my confidence is building, so I think I am playing better. When your students advance or you draw advanced students to your business it serves to positively promote your studio and teachers.

I coordinate a paid externship program, the selection process is competitive. Those senior college students selected are extremely sharp and keep me on top of my game, I like the challenge.


Deb
"A goal properly set is halfway reached." Zig Ziglar
Re: Tuition rates [Re: Peter K. Mose] #2749872
07/06/18 10:16 PM
07/06/18 10:16 PM
Joined: May 2018
Posts: 257
Quebec city, QC
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Quebec city, QC
There is really an element in this discussion that bugged me - so I wanted to react - and it was that economic explanation.

This certainly holds true for many people, but we are forgetting a factor : many people will think they are paying for something better if they are paying more.
I've seen a post on a piano forum once (in French) from a beginner who said he looked around for available teachers in his city and took the most expansive one, because he thinks that would be the best teacher.
So a student might think that if he is paying more for more advanced lessons, it is because the teacher puts in more work and that the lesson will be more valuable for him.

Economic behaviors are trickier than we can think at first glance.


That being said, I'm not at all in that category (and I've never seen that, a teacher charging more for advanced students. Like DFSRN, my thinking would be that if a student is too advanced for a teacher to teach confortably, you should simply refer him to another teacher. And I would be perfectly confortable with the opposite too : a teacher not confortable to teach the basics that would refer too beginner students to another teacher - or refuse them at first. Teaching to beginners is something different than teacher to advanced students. Both needs preparation, but of different kind, and teachers can be more confortable with one type of student or the other).


My piano journey from day 1
Started piano on February 2016.
Pieces I'm working on :
- Rameau, Les Sauvages
- Beethoven, sonata op. 49, no. 1, 1st mov
- Chopin, nocturne op. posth. in C# minor
- Debussy, Golliwog's cakewalk
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