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Re: Setting Fees/Sliding Scales [Re: keystring] #2933822 01/14/20 04:40 PM
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Originally Posted by keystring
Is this what you are fighting? Seriously?

You are warping my words completely. I am fighting hypocrisy.

Go back and re-read Peter's posts. They are drenched in indignation and name-calling. Just because he dislikes how some people conduct business, he gets call label them however he wants? I think words like "greedy" and "elitist" are quite insulting.


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Re: Setting Fees/Sliding Scales [Re: AZNpiano] #2933840 01/14/20 05:21 PM
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I am still waiting for a logical response to this question.

Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by Peter K. Mose
If the former, one customarily has a fixed professional rate for lessons.

I am equally perplexed by your assumptions. If you advocate for a "fixed" professional rate, then how do you justify charging certain families less when they have financial difficulties? You can label it a "scholarship" or a "discount," you are still charging a different fee.

Hello?


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Re: Setting Fees/Sliding Scales [Re: mostlystrings] #2934125 01/15/20 08:57 AM
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Peter K. Mose Offline OP
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Originally Posted by mostlystrings


I don't care to manage different rates based on a subjective value judgment or unnecessary disclosure/request of personal situation.

But I hear that price discrimination happens in certain tourist locations where basically the local vendors charge the foreigners more, figuring they are willing to pay. If a teacher's business model is based on price discrimination and the market bears it, well, that's what comes of a free market.


Strings has put it well. One can charge as one wishes as a private music teacher, with a spectrum of differing rates for differing students, and maybe try to make more money off some students to offset the lower fees paid by others. I've never heard of it being done, and I have never heard of it being advocated. But it seems to be commonplace among younger piano teachers in NYC. Maybe it works. If you don't broadcast it. If your students don't know one another. If you are willing to haggle. To me the whole thing sounds like a game of trade.

Re: Setting Fees/Sliding Scales [Re: Peter K. Mose] #2934130 01/15/20 09:06 AM
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Originally Posted by Peter K. Mose
[quote=Piano*Dad]
There is a general market for the service. If you charge people who can afford "full price" a premium above the market price for your particular skill set you will starve. Your business will flee for other teachers who are equally as good as you but who charge the lower going rate.

[/quote

You're the most knowledgeable among us given that you profess economics by day, David, but in piano teaching I don't see that things work like you say. A competent, likeable studio piano teacher who charges substantially more than her colleagues does not starve. Far from it. She simply attracts a different type of family, more affluent, keep-up-with-the-Joneses people, via word of mouth. Some people are proud of paying what you and I might call "too much" for piano lessons. I won't do it in my teaching practice, because I don't like excluding people from music lessons. But some teachers do this, and happily. They are greedy, or elitist, or both. Or maybe they are simply better businesspeople than I am.

Piano teaching is so personal, that it is harder to quantify a fair price for a 45-minute lesson than it is for purchasing a glazed donut down the street. At least that's how the world looks to me. But maybe it even works with donuts: if a fair price for a donut is $1.50, and some bakery wants to sell a similar donut for $10, I'm not sure the place will close down. It might flourish. At least for awhile. Until another place charges $15, and the crowds move over to the new place. I don't get it, but that's how fashion and trends work in our consumer, artless society.


This isn't one-size-fits-all. Of course there is no single "going rate." There is a range, so perhaps I should have said "going range." That range will depend on many things, including how much competition a teacher faces within certain geographical/driving limits.

Perhaps there is a group of people that think of lessons as just a Veblen good, like Rolex watches, where higher prices makes people happier because only the few can get it. I seriously doubt that piano lessons in general are that sort of good. Quite the opposite. I observed the teaching market in Virginia when my young one was seriously studying. The information about top-tier teachers was well known. Students would travel long distances (well over 100 miles) for weekly lessons. And the prices that top tier teachers charged, though higher, were not stratospheric. If a normal lesson from a very good teacher was $75 per hour in those days, the ones whose studios spanned a huge radius maybe charged $100 or $120, well within the willingness to pay of upper income families with talented kids. People went to these teachers because they had a track record, not because they were expensive. Mediocre teachers with a pleasant smile couldn't charge that rate as long as there were five other competent teachers in town who charged $40.

Re: Setting Fees/Sliding Scales [Re: Peter K. Mose] #2934218 01/15/20 11:35 AM
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Got it, David. Makes much sense, the idea of a going range for lessons. And Monkeys brought up something obvious that I forgot, namely one's studio and its location. If I were teaching in a basement apartment in Toronto, on a beater of an old upright piano, I couldn't charge the rate I do - even if my teaching itself were exactly the same quality.

As it is, there are some potential students who cannot afford my rates, and I regret that. Conversely, I'm sure I have some present students who could readily pay me much more than my rate. But my rates are fixed.

I don't offer scholarships or discounts - apologies if I suggested otherwise.

Re: Setting Fees/Sliding Scales [Re: The Monkeys] #2934227 01/15/20 12:09 PM
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NYC is a different beast, I feel. Major metropolitan area, wide range of demographics, plentiful supply of working musicians, the "going range" is huge. It doesn't surprise me that there would be teachers targeting a market that is willing to accept something that you or I consider unusual (we are not potential buyers in that market). I used to teach at a place that charged students a certain rate and in a different neighborhood a few miles away at another place that charged half that. The difference is the image/package that is being sold to the customer.

Someone said teachers might use price to filter for the type of client they want to teach. Not everyone is after "as many students as possible, quickly".

Originally Posted by The Monkeys
When a donut is sold for $10, donut itself is no longer the focus. It is about the location, the plate to hold the donut, the table cloth, the decoration, the smile of the server, and possibly a story behind it spread with selfies via Instagram. It is the experiences, not just the food.

Replace "donut" with "coffee" and you have Starbucks!

Re: Setting Fees/Sliding Scales [Re: Peter K. Mose] #2934269 01/15/20 01:37 PM
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On the subject of location, it seems there is a considerable market in NYC for teachers traveling to students' homes, both for convenience of the student and necessity of the teacher (for example, can't or won't have a home studio in a small apartment). Perhaps it works out well for many, but I think it promotes viewing the teacher as a hired hand, and I don't like to spend the travel time/energy either. Some of my colleagues at the school liked the higher pay of home lessons though.

Quick background tangent for another point: I read somewhere about the parking meter system in a city (forgot which) that used sensors to monitor occupied and empty spots, keep track of which spots were more or less popular and when, and adjust the pricing so as to generally keep 1-3 spaces available within a certain radius. This was supposed to reduce the time and fuel drivers spend circling because if a spot is definitely open, it's a matter of if you're willing to pay that price for that spot at that time (or maybe you park at a farther spot or you go to a parking garage with a fixed rate or you change your behavior to not drive).

This translates to charging more or less based on popularity of lesson time. As you might guess, I wouldn't actually do that. Teaching music is not in the same category as parking meter transaction.

Re: Setting Fees/Sliding Scales [Re: Piano*Dad] #2934289 01/15/20 02:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Piano*Dad
Mediocre teachers with a pleasant smile couldn't charge that rate as long as there were five other competent teachers in town who charged $40.

And now you multiply the number of competent teachers by 30, you get the situation I am in, not that I would label myself as "mediocre," but the picture is apt. There are many piano students where I live, but just as many piano teachers with stunning resumes.

Sometimes it all boils down to supply and demand. And location, location, location.


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