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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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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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Re: Setting Fees/Sliding Scales [Re: Peter K. Mose] #2940173 01/29/20 10:24 AM
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I cringe at the question,
"Oh, what do you charge to teach piano?"

For man-on-the-street questions, my response is, "that is like asking a car salesman what they charge for a car. Yes, I can get you around, all the basics are there, but how do you want to have the experience?"

At the private school where I teach, all music lessons are a set rate, no matter the instrument, level, age, teacher experience, interest, etc...

I just had a transfer student from another teacher at the same school with a masters in voice performance and years of elementary music classroom teaching, that also teaches piano. The student, age 11, and one semester of lessons, could NOT identify the keys. Did not know note values. Could not name treble or bass clef, let alone name any notes on the staff. He had simply learned his Christmas recital piece by rote. He had 3 different curriculum books, with an assignment notebook of "play red book page 10. play blue book page 24. play green book 32." I could not glean anything from her notes.

That teacher is paid the same as me. Does that mean we are giving the same? NO.


The mom of the 11 year old boy was SO proud of her son when he played his recital piece for me.
He really does want to learn.

I kept peeling back layers - asking him about his recital piece, with his showing me the music he had "memorized" and not able to tell me about it, to sight reading fails, not knowing note names, not knowing note values, to not naming keys, (did not know there are 7 letters in the music alphabet) revealing how much he did not know.

Should I charge more or less to begin from scratch? School charges the same.


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Re: Setting Fees/Sliding Scales [Re: missbelle] #2940249 01/29/20 12:36 PM
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Originally Posted by missbelle
that is like asking a car salesman what they charge for a car

I like this analogy and am going to keep it on hand. Thanks!

I'm sorry if I'm misreading because it can be hard to tell tone on an internet forum: I assume you're not actually asking whether to charge more or less because the school already mandates the fee (unless this family is leaving the school to go to you privately, which is another story). Here comes my unsolicited answering of a different question:

This student and family is coming in with no(?) reading ability and one(?) example of how piano can be taught. Like a brand new beginner, they are "from scratch" in what you teach. But think of what they do have: positive performance experience and motivation to continue, which is already a step up from someone who might be just "trying it out for a few lessons" and have no prior musical/emotional accomplishment to carry them. I carry such students forward by pointing out the good things they've done, then saying, there are certain things that you teach your students and now you will be working on those because [insert reason about gaining skills and experience that make one a musician - note that your colleague contributed to that too, only though different skills and experience]. You honor without disparaging their previous lessons and set the new expectations. I also acknowledge as we move along that I know it's difficult but necessary and worth it (takes at least a year before a transfer feels like "my" student). If they don't want to trust your approach, I guess they could ask the school to reassign them.

If I read your question in another way: you perceive that it's more difficult to teach this transfer student than a brand new beginner, and should a teacher charge more or less for a more or less advanced, or more or less challenging, student, which is another story.

Re: Setting Fees/Sliding Scales [Re: Peter K. Mose] #2946785 02/14/20 11:31 AM
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I know I'd feel really duped if I found out my kid's teachers charged me higher fees based on a "sliding" scale because I was considered "wealthy". I would understand a piano teacher giving a break for an exceptional circumstance or maybe for lessons the teacher offered during non-peak times for seniors/preschoolers (for example kids from 9 am -2 pm) during work week though.



Last edited by pianoMom2006; 02/14/20 11:32 AM.

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Re: Setting Fees/Sliding Scales [Re: pianoMom2006] #2946833 02/14/20 01:02 PM
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Originally Posted by pianoMom2006
I know I'd feel really duped if I found out my kid's teachers charged me higher fees based on a "sliding" scale because I was considered "wealthy". I would understand a piano teacher giving a break for an exceptional circumstance or maybe for lessons the teacher offered during non-peak times for seniors/preschoolers (for example kids from 9 am -2 pm) during work week though.

Off course if a teacher were to give discounts to everyone except the more affluent, this would amount to the same thing as charging the wealthy more.


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Re: Setting Fees/Sliding Scales [Re: Peter K. Mose] #2950791 02/24/20 12:43 AM
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I'm late to this thread, but yes Peter, I'm a member of that Facebook group as well and saw that original post. My feelings are similar to yours in that I was shocked that those members spoke so cavalierly of "Charging whatever you can get" from rich people. Further more, I went to school in New York conservatories and was a part of the NYC piano scene a decade ago, and this was certainly not so common then, nor encouraged in the pedagogy classes we took there. I think morally and professionally what works best is having one rate, and possibly making a few exceptions on a needed basis for those who are struggling.

That said, when you hear things, it is easy to be tempted: I had two new siblings referred to me by an old friend who was teaching them in another country. When she told me her regular fee was $175 per hour, there was no way I could just tell them my current rate (Which is less than half that).

Re: Setting Fees/Sliding Scales [Re: Opus_Maximus] #2950845 02/24/20 05:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Opus_Maximus
That said, when you hear things, it is easy to be tempted: I had two new siblings referred to me by an old friend who was teaching them in another country. When she told me her regular fee was $175 per hour, there was no way I could just tell them my current rate (Which is less than half that).

With a 'standard' rate of $175/hr, unless she was a busy conservatory professor or concert artist, it sounds like your old friend might have been in the discount-for-everyone-except-those-who-are-affluent school. Is she in Singapore or Dubai? I've heard of this sort of thing in Singapore and Dubai for other things - not music lessons.


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across the stone, deathless piano performances

"Discipline is more reliable than motivation." -by a contributor on Reddit r/piano
"Success is 10% inspiration, and 90% perspiration." -by some other wise person
"Pianoteq manages to keep it all together yet simultaneously also go in all directions; like a quantum particle entangled with an unknown and spooky parallel universe simply waiting to be discovered." -by Pete14
Re: Setting Fees/Sliding Scales [Re: Tyrone Slothrop] #2951007 02/24/20 12:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
Originally Posted by Opus_Maximus
That said, when you hear things, it is easy to be tempted: I had two new siblings referred to me by an old friend who was teaching them in another country. When she told me her regular fee was $175 per hour, there was no way I could just tell them my current rate (Which is less than half that).

With a 'standard' rate of $175/hr, unless she was a busy conservatory professor or concert artist, it sounds like your old friend might have been in the discount-for-everyone-except-those-who-are-affluent school. Is she in Singapore or Dubai? I've heard of this sort of thing in Singapore and Dubai for other things - not music lessons.


No, she was in Shanghai and $175 was what she charged everybody, no exceptions.

Re: Setting Fees/Sliding Scales [Re: Opus_Maximus] #2951037 02/24/20 02:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Opus_Maximus
Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
Originally Posted by Opus_Maximus
That said, when you hear things, it is easy to be tempted: I had two new siblings referred to me by an old friend who was teaching them in another country. When she told me her regular fee was $175 per hour, there was no way I could just tell them my current rate (Which is less than half that).

With a 'standard' rate of $175/hr, unless she was a busy conservatory professor or concert artist, it sounds like your old friend might have been in the discount-for-everyone-except-those-who-are-affluent school. Is she in Singapore or Dubai? I've heard of this sort of thing in Singapore and Dubai for other things - not music lessons.


No, she was in Shanghai and $175 was what she charged everybody, no exceptions.

Ah! Shanghai! I understand. My wife and I had a flat in Shanghai until 2011. Yes, this is a believable rate for Shanghai if you tap into the the affluent families there. I can definitely see that the Xintiandi district alone could probably keep a few $175/hr teachers booked.


[Linked Image]
across the stone, deathless piano performances

"Discipline is more reliable than motivation." -by a contributor on Reddit r/piano
"Success is 10% inspiration, and 90% perspiration." -by some other wise person
"Pianoteq manages to keep it all together yet simultaneously also go in all directions; like a quantum particle entangled with an unknown and spooky parallel universe simply waiting to be discovered." -by Pete14
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