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Christmas Gifts/Bonus - Your thoughts #2926432 12/24/19 01:04 PM
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Peter K. Mose Offline OP
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In all my years of studio teaching, I have of course received the occasional small gift from a student or the parents of a student - generally either at Christmas or at the end of a teaching season in June. Not from all my students, not even from most. But occasionally. A plant, some food item, something for the home, etc. It's always a nice and unexpected gesture, and clearly comes from the heart.

But this year, for the first time in my life, I received money at Christmas. A large cheque. From the parents of 2 young kids I like very much, who began with me just this past October. Not a tuition payment, but an unexpected cheque coupled with a sincere message of thanks inside a Xmas card.

And I felt weird about it. Maybe I am once again just out of step with the times, but I can't imagine giving a teacher (or therapist, or coach, or lawyer, or physician, for example) money as a gift. To me it seems demeaning, but I'm not sure how or why. Is it too focused on money? Do these people think my rates are too low? Someone suggested that maybe harried parents found this easier than shopping for a real gift, and figured money is always welcome.

I don't know why I was so bothered, but I was. All I could think of replying to thank the parents was that I would apply this money to a scholarship fund I maintain for students in occasional need of some short-term tuition assistance. Paying it forward, so to say.

Any thoughts on this issue?

Thanks,
Peter

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Re: Christmas Gifts/Bonus - Your thoughts [Re: Peter K. Mose] #2926462 12/24/19 02:51 PM
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I would try to let it go. Perhaps it is cultural or perhaps it was expedient. Be gracious and say thank you. Using the money for students is a lovely idea, but does not need to be conveyed to the giver.


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Re: Christmas Gifts/Bonus - Your thoughts [Re: Peter K. Mose] #2926469 12/24/19 03:09 PM
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It was certainly not meant to be insulting. I would give money to my piano teacher and not my physician as a present as the relationship with a teacher is more frequent and more personal. It was just more expedient than a gift.... And something they could afford to do. I hope you will feel comfortable with doing something special for yourself with this money. You really should not feel that you need to do something for your students instead out of any sense of embarrassment of having received it. Just understand that it was meant as a sign of appreciation and enjoy!


"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

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Re: Christmas Gifts/Bonus - Your thoughts [Re: Peter K. Mose] #2926482 12/24/19 03:43 PM
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It can be cultural if the family is Asian (Chinese).

At Chinese New Year, gifts are always given in the form of cash, inside red paper packets.


"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: Christmas Gifts/Bonus - Your thoughts [Re: Peter K. Mose] #2926486 12/24/19 03:58 PM
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Peter K. Mose Offline OP
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Thanks for each of your perspectives. I'll try to loosen up. Out of curiosity, would anyone know if a present-day public school teacher is even allowed to accept a cash gift? Aren't there strict rules about this?

I once brought a dozen roses to a Toronto city clerk who was so helpful with a long-simmering neighborhood parking issue, and her boss made her give them away.

Last edited by Peter K. Mose; 12/24/19 04:01 PM.
Re: Christmas Gifts/Bonus - Your thoughts [Re: Peter K. Mose] #2926502 12/24/19 04:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Peter K. Mose
Out of curiosity, would anyone know if a present-day public school teacher is even allowed to accept a cash gift? Aren't there strict rules about this?


One of my friends who has been teaching in the public school for his whole life told me that he received gift cards before winter break all the time, usually in a small amount like $25, occasionally $50, no one had ever said anything about it.

I give teachers gift cards every year, no one ever rejected it.

I agree it is cultural. A very good friend of mine, Chinese, has a child in a boarding school in the US. The child told him the dorm parents (a couple) were very nice to him, and he wanted to express his gratitude. He asked me if (expensive) wine would be an appropriate Christmas gift. I said, yes, many people bring wine when they visit. Then he asked me, shall he bring them a case. He was very sincere.


Re: Christmas Gifts/Bonus - Your thoughts [Re: Peter K. Mose] #2926519 12/24/19 05:38 PM
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My state has a limit of $50 on gifts for all public employees.


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Re: Christmas Gifts/Bonus - Your thoughts [Re: Peter K. Mose] #2926523 12/24/19 06:03 PM
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I agree with the cultural aspect. Cash gifts in Chinese culture are very acceptable, and nothing to feel weird about. Even cash wedding gifts in Chinese culture is the norm, and at new baby celebrations, birthdays, etc. I’m not sure if your students were Chinese?

I gave my teacher a gift card for Christmas because I wanted her to buy something she wanted, not something I thought she wanted. Of course, my view is obviously tainted by my culture.

You really should spend the money on yourself, because that’s what was intended.

Gifts to public servants are a different thing altogether. With those serving the public, there needs to be no real or perceived benefits (think bribes, corruption, etc). When I worked in public service I think we couldn’t accept gifts over $10 (or some other ridiculously small amount). Basically, we were discouraged from accepting any gifts at all, even free meals, etc.

Piano teachers are not in public service; they are in private commercial relationships with their students.


Last edited by WeakLeftHand; 12/24/19 06:07 PM.

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Re: Christmas Gifts/Bonus - Your thoughts [Re: Peter K. Mose] #2926566 12/24/19 08:45 PM
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Just enjoy and use it as that is what the parents wanted.



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Re: Christmas Gifts/Bonus - Your thoughts [Re: WeakLeftHand] #2926597 12/25/19 01:39 AM
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Peter K. Mose Offline OP
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Originally Posted by WeakLeftHand
I’m not sure if your students were Chinese?


Nope. Lovely Caucasian couple, who care about the arts and education. Maybe this is a generational divide. I would never give such a monetary gift; to me it would be like tipping your family physician.

Re: Christmas Gifts/Bonus - Your thoughts [Re: malkin] #2926603 12/25/19 02:31 AM
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Originally Posted by malkin
My state has a limit of $50 on gifts for all public employees.

Your state must have the weakest unions.


Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member
Re: Christmas Gifts/Bonus - Your thoughts [Re: Peter K. Mose] #2926615 12/25/19 04:05 AM
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The old New York City joke is that if you don’t tip your super, the guy who watches over your apartment building and cares for it, at Christmas they’ll find you dead in the alley. I guess I’ll live another year. smile

Last edited by LarryK; 12/25/19 04:07 AM.

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Re: Christmas Gifts/Bonus - Your thoughts [Re: Peter K. Mose] #2926900 12/26/19 01:23 AM
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I'm thrilled when I receive money and gift cards. In fact, when I started reading your post, I was thinking you would write that fewer people are giving any Christmas gifts, which is my observation. I was surprised to learn about your feelings associated with money. The only gift I really want is money.

They may have recognized you're in a dodgy field with students coming and going. They may have had a look at your shoes. I find many people wear shoes and clothes past their prime when they are in any music field. Or they looked at their bank balance and found it swelling, so they thought of you. I never ask questions; in the bank goes the money before they change their mind.

Re: Christmas Gifts/Bonus - Your thoughts [Re: Candywoman] #2926964 12/26/19 10:20 AM
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Originally Posted by Candywoman
...They may have had a look at your shoes. I find many people wear shoes and clothes past their prime when they are in any music field...


Does this mean that if someone gives soap that they have noticed some deficiency in your personal hygiene?


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Re: Christmas Gifts/Bonus - Your thoughts [Re: malkin] #2927013 12/26/19 01:42 PM
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Originally Posted by malkin
Originally Posted by Candywoman
...They may have had a look at your shoes. I find many people wear shoes and clothes past their prime when they are in any music field...


Does this mean that if someone gives soap that they have noticed some deficiency in your personal hygiene?


If this is true, then a restaurant gift certificate implies malnourishment? Or a handmade scarf means the room is kept too cold? Or a musical notepad means the teacher does not pay attention?

Bah 🙀🙀 to any inferences including old shoes. I can wear a great suit to a business meeting but with an old pair of clunker shoes. Why? Because clunker shoes are comfortable.

Re: Christmas Gifts/Bonus - Your thoughts [Re: Peter K. Mose] #2927063 12/26/19 05:47 PM
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I generally think restaurant gift certs imply that the giver is affiliated with the restaurant owner, unless it is Starbucks, in which case I think it means that the giver has noticed me yawning or dosing off in meetings.


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Re: Christmas Gifts/Bonus - Your thoughts [Re: Peter K. Mose] #2927071 12/26/19 06:11 PM
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Like I said, check your shoes.

Re: Christmas Gifts/Bonus - Your thoughts [Re: Peter K. Mose] #2927094 12/26/19 07:58 PM
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Receiving cash was a little weird for me at first because I didn't think of myself as being in a "holiday tipping" type of profession such as housekeeper, doorman, hair/salon, lawn services (also garbage collector, package deliverer). A teacher/student relationship is more personal in nature, unlike the typical interactions in the other professions.

I happened to see this article recently and thought of this thread:
https://www.pbs.org/newshour/econom...ending-the-dead-weight-loss-of-christmas

Students might give cash knowing that it's definitely useful. Some gift cards are more useful than others. Occasionally, someone gives an item that I'll actually use, but most items (including an abundant supply of chocolates) end up being regifted. Other than food allergies, I would probably not outright refuse a gift because that would be saying my desire to not receive anything is more important than your desire to give something.

Re: Christmas Gifts/Bonus - Your thoughts [Re: mostlystrings] #2927117 12/26/19 09:24 PM
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Originally Posted by mostlystrings
Other than food allergies, I would probably not outright refuse a gift because that would be saying my desire to not receive anything is more important than your desire to give something.

I do believe that when people give gifts at Christmas (or indeed at any time), they don't expect it to be refused, or be informed that it would be given away to someone else, or to some charitable cause. (After all, what if it's a cause they're indifferent to?)

Most people in my profession get given lots of Christmas gifts, often in the form of alcohol. I don't (and can't) drink alcohol, but I would never refuse a gift of it, because it would disappoint the giver and make him/her feel that he/she had committed a faux pas by giving me something I didn't want or cannot use. Some of them know I don't drink (usually by asking one of the receptionists), and therefore give me something else, like expensive chocolates (which I appreciate grin).

With the bottles of wine, champagne, whiskey etc that I'm given, I eventually give away to the staff who work with me, but I do tell them they're gifts from so-and-so rather than from me.


"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: Christmas Gifts/Bonus - Your thoughts [Re: bennevis] #2927123 12/26/19 09:51 PM
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Originally Posted by bennevis
I do believe that when people give gifts at Christmas (or indeed at any time), they don't expect it to be refused, or be informed that it would be given away to someone else, or to some charitable cause. (After all, what if it's a cause they're indifferent to?)

Exactly, I just thank them and what I do with it is my business later. My point is that people may choose to give cash because they know non cash gifts might not be useful (even when nothing is said). I don't actually have any known allergies so that's hypothetical (and is why I said "probably"; it didn't happen). But for example, if I give a gift of peanut something or gluten something and didn't know that the receiver can't have it, I would rather know so that next time I make sure to give something else.

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