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#1639745 - 03/12/11 05:07 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: John v.d.Brook]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11166
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook

No. It was primarily addressed to Liszt.

Then it makes sense. smile

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#1639755 - 03/12/11 05:26 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: John v.d.Brook]
liszt85 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/26/08
Posts: 3159
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
Thank you for a thoughtful and insightful post. Of course, music is our primary product, but the OP brought up the issue of what to do about leaves of absence and early departures. When I am teaching, I am totally focused on the student and their musicianship, not worrying about whether they are going to quit next month.


You're forgetting that its also important that the student should not, when you're teaching him/her, be worrying about their inability to get out of it if they wanted to. You might be at ease, of course. That was never in question. There needs to be some balance. However, since you teach in an affluent area, none of my arguments really hold well for you.. I'm more concerned about the increasing trend here generalizing and making blanket statements like the particular one that I've taken strong exception to in this particular thread "Families that are committed enough and prioritize lessons, make the sacrifices to pay annual tuition upfront (or in installations) after signing the policy agreeing to an early termination fee" implying somehow that people who don't are either not committed or do not prioritize lessons enough. Don't tell me that I'm putting words in your mouth. I'm not. When I say "imply", it means exactly that: you didn't actually say that, but something that you said IMPLIES it and that it follows naturally from your statement. If you didn't mean to imply that, then you can always retract statements, you know?
_________________________
Current:
Beethoven: Sonata Op.31, No.2 ("Tempest")
Debussy: Danseuses de Delphes (Prelude 1, Book 1)
Next in line:
Chopin: Ballade No. 1 in G minor, Op.23
Debussy: Le vent dans la plaine (Prelude 3, Book 1)
Debussy: Les sons et les parfums tournent dans l'air du soir (Prelude 4, Book 1)

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#1639759 - 03/12/11 05:35 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: LimeFriday]
liszt85 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/26/08
Posts: 3159
Originally Posted By: LimeFriday
Originally Posted By: liszt85
Originally Posted By: LimeFriday
[quote=keystring]

But there is also the economic reality in that to have any kind of financial stability - a teacher need to be able to rely on filling a number of hours each week with full paying students.


In addition to teaching music - I also work as a therapist in private practice. The reality is - I care deeply about my clients and about supporting them to do the work they need to do. But I also know that to continue in this work - I need to ensure that I see a certain number of clients per week - and if they fail to show up - then they need to pay for their sessions. Yes... the 'results' conversation would be that regular therapy is much better than dropping in and out... but I also have to talk about economic realities when chatting with other therapists... and that I care about my clients is assumed by those I'm chatting with.



Do you charge a termination fee if your client wants to see somebody else and wants to stop coming to you? If you wanted to use the argument that I've marked in bold at the beginning of your post in your own profession, then you would have to charge a termination fee (if you're defending this policy).

Failing to show up is a different matter altogether. That's a specific time reserved for them and you pay for a reservation, its as simple as that. So lets not confuse matters as people seem to be confused already by throwing about analogies that make no sense whatsoever.


OK... in order to avoid confusing people... let me put it a different way. When I run a group program that runs for 6 months or a year - participants can pay the fee up front - or they can pay monthly. If they decide a few weeks into the program that they are going to drop out (for reasons other than ill health or family emergency) then yes - they pay a termination fee. It's part of what they agree to upfront. This might be because they decide that the program is not for them and they want to go elsewhere... see someone else.

My analogy is more about the number of clients/students being spoken about in economic terms... and putting in place various policies in order to maintain a viable living. No therapy clients wants to know about the economic realities of their therapist... and what seems to be going on here in part is an objection to students and families being exposed to these realities.

We are in total agreement about some things... but I think your arguments against a policy such as a termination fee is a denial of the economic reality that teachers running a business as their only source of income face.


More than the policy itself, I'm opposed to the attitude that accompanies it. "Most of them my clients are not rich, many of them struggle to make ends meet" used to describe clients who make $80K-100K a year, claiming based on a few meaningless numbers that middle class includes people who earn anywhere between $40K and $200K, etc are also instances of not realizing economic realities, would you agree? Somehow the intent expressed here just doesn't sound right for some reason. I do see your point about steady income and all of that. However, the entire discussion about what constitutes poor (esp setting insanely high standards for the "rich" category), about how commitment and prioritizing is what decides if people want to sign on the contract or not, etc just leaves a bad taste.

If I teach someday, I might have to have some of these policies in place too but I'll make sure none of it is a blanket policy. I might normalize it based on family income or whatever.. I don't know. I wouldn't assume that anybody who earns ANYWHERE between $40K - $200K would be equally happy to sign on the same contract. Like you say, economic realities. They exist on both sides. It might be "just a termination policy" according to you, but lets respect the same economic realities that you use for arguing for the service provider's policy for the consumer too.
_________________________
Current:
Beethoven: Sonata Op.31, No.2 ("Tempest")
Debussy: Danseuses de Delphes (Prelude 1, Book 1)
Next in line:
Chopin: Ballade No. 1 in G minor, Op.23
Debussy: Le vent dans la plaine (Prelude 3, Book 1)
Debussy: Les sons et les parfums tournent dans l'air du soir (Prelude 4, Book 1)

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#1639776 - 03/12/11 06:15 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: keystring]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7200
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
keystring, I'm actually quite happy you "bring us back to reality" from time to time. It reminds me that it's important to emphasize to all that private piano teaching is more than just piano teaching. Teachers must be competent in three areas, unlike their public school or university counterparts, we are a stool with three legs - proficiency in our instrument, proficiency in teaching, and proficiency in running a sole proprietorship.

Where as the public school has a captive audience, even so, it hires both teachers and administrators, and the university has the ability to hire even more specialists, advertisers to recruit students, businessmen/women to administer the school, and professors to teach subject matter, the private studio teacher must wear these many hats and switch back and forth among them. The private studio teacher must be able to perform all these functions with some degree of expertise, or fail. And when they fail, they fail both potential students and themselves.

Thank you.

_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

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#1639823 - 03/12/11 07:52 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Ann in Kentucky Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2643
Loc: Kentucky
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook


It may be tough at first, but I strongly urge you to transition to some form of tuition plan, where students pay by the month, term, semester, year, or what ever. I have annual tuition, but students can opt to pay in monthly installments. They have X scheduled lessons through the year, at lesson times which are theirs alone. They can either take the lesson or skip the lesson. Monthly payments are ironed out to be flat rate through the year, although some months have 5 lessons, most have 4, and a few, like December, will have 3.

If students have a reason to quit prior to the end of the year, such as a family move, then they owe an early termination fee, which absolves them of paying the entire tuition.

I also have an annual enrollment fee, which covers a number of odds and ends, helps with the recital, tuning the studio instruments, etc, etc.

If they need to take a month off, all they need do is continue paying their tuition, and their lesson slot is held (obviously), but if they quit, pay the early termination fee, then come back two months later with a change of heart, I will work to fit them in, but under no circumstances can I make any guaranty that a particular lesson time will be available. And of course, they would be required to pay a new enrollment fee.

We've had many discussions on this, and you would enjoy/profit by going back through the archives and reading the many teachers' inputs.


Even though we've had these discussions before, it is helpful to consider it all again. Thanks John for all these details.

I have had 2 kids drop lessons the beginning of this month. And in both cases I think the parent got tired of lessons. I am beginning to see the value of an annual tuition. Eventually I may go to an annual enrollment.

Also next year I might take off more than my usual one week in summer. Or go hog wild and take off 2 weeks this summer! laugh We learn how to take care of ourselves as we go along...creating policies that parents see as fair and also respect our own needs.
_________________________
piano teacher

"She played upon her music box
a fancy air by chance,
And straightaway all her polka dots
began a lively dance."
-- Peter Newell

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#1640101 - 03/13/11 11:44 AM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: sonataplayer]
sonataplayer Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/09/11
Posts: 50
Loc: New Hampshire
Wow! My original post certainly generated a lively discussion!

Thanks to everyone who provided suggestions for solving my problem. I don't think I'm going to do anything right away, but I will definitely make some changes in my policies next year, based on your feedback.

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#1640112 - 03/13/11 12:08 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: sonataplayer]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7200
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
It happens every time the issue comes up. This is not necessarily a bad thing, because there are always new forum members present, and issues do need to be aired for their benefit and as reminders to others.

If you haven't already done so, you might want to pick up a copy of Practical Pedagogy by Dr. Martha Baker-Jordan and there are several others now out which provide studio operating guidelines based on sensible business practices.
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

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#1640346 - 03/13/11 08:14 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: sonataplayer]
trillingadventurer Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/28/08
Posts: 304
Loc: San Diego
I have found the more laid back I am, the more sort of laid back student I attract...

I know now for sure the best way is to lay down the law and enforce it. If you have a student who is taking liberties here and there, it will in the long run cost YOU.

I am passionate about this because this last year I decided to try and attract new students by offering family discounts, cash payment discounts and the option of taking the summer off.

I have had a crazy, complicated year because of that...can't wait to start fresh next school year!
_________________________
M. Katchur

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#1640775 - 03/14/11 02:13 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: John v.d.Brook]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11166
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
keystring, I'm actually quite happy you "bring us back to reality" from time to time. It reminds me that it's important to emphasize to all that private piano teaching is more than just piano teaching. Teachers must be competent in three areas, unlike their public school or university counterparts, we are a stool with three legs - proficiency in our instrument, proficiency in teaching, and proficiency in running a sole proprietorship.

smile
I think you can add a fourth leg to that stool: public relationship to the public at large. This is a tricky one, and I think most of us are ill equipped for it. People write forum posts hastily and make lots of assumptions. Posts that are local and personal come across as being global statements. Between the two we have a colossal mess. Do we decide to give others the benefit of the doubt, or are we naive fools ready to be taken for a ride? That fourth leg is a wobbly one. A statement about what constitutes low finances becomes a global statement about the world at large - which would be absurd. A position taken locally in your own area is seen as intransigent, hard headed and hard hearted, and applicable to everyone everywhere. What is meant, what is said, and how it is understood are three separate things.

In any case, I'm familiar with the scenario you describe as any freelancer is. We must be expert in our field, as well as needing to deal with the administrative financial side. As teachers you have it harder, because you have a relationship of trust and close interpersonal interaction in teaching, and then you also have to be the hard nosed financier. Usually a secretary or accountant takes care of that part.

It is also difficult to be good at a second occupation, which financing and administration are. I know that this is a weak area that you are trying to address. Doing so publicly can be pretty tricky business, fraught with misunderstanding, and maybe misapplication.

If I may say so, in regards to arguments about what colleges and other institutions do: I would think that looking at other freelance professionals might be closer to the mark. Private teachers are not massive institutions, and the job is individualized and flexible rather than an unwieldy mass program such as courses of studies for 30 to 300 students. I don't think that people can relate the two. Teaching has its own merits and its own priorities. In any argument about a year of tuition, I would think that the craft itself needs that amount of time. Can you really give a student enough if instruction is sporadic and only half a year? If not, then stating that a year is needed in order to get results is something that I think the non-teacher would find reasonable. Even if some stability and predictability are needed, that is probably what students would relate to

In regards to policies, I imagine that they are there in order to not be taken for a ride, and have something to reach for. I would hope (imagine) that if someone falls into dire straits and is not being frivolous, flexibility would appear. You are not institutions that are stuck by the laws they create.

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#1640870 - 03/14/11 04:04 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: keystring]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7200
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Originally Posted By: keystring
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
keystring, I'm actually quite happy you "bring us back to reality" from time to time. It reminds me that it's important to emphasize to all that private piano teaching is more than just piano teaching. Teachers must be competent in three areas, unlike their public school or university counterparts, we are a stool with three legs - proficiency in our instrument, proficiency in teaching, and proficiency in running a sole proprietorship.

smile
I think you can add a fourth leg to that stool: public relationship to the public at large. This is a tricky one, and I think most of us are ill equipped for it. People write forum posts hastily and make lots of assumptions. Posts that are local and personal come across as being global statements. Between the two we have a colossal mess. Do we decide to give others the benefit of the doubt, or are we naive fools ready to be taken for a ride? That fourth leg is a wobbly one. A statement about what constitutes low finances becomes a global statement about the world at large - which would be absurd. A position taken locally in your own area is seen as intransigent, hard headed and hard hearted, and applicable to everyone everywhere. What is meant, what is said, and how it is understood are three separate things.

In any case, I'm familiar with the scenario you describe as any freelancer is. We must be expert in our field, as well as needing to deal with the administrative financial side. As teachers you have it harder, because you have a relationship of trust and close interpersonal interaction in teaching, and then you also have to be the hard nosed financier. Usually a secretary or accountant takes care of that part.

It is also difficult to be good at a second occupation, which financing and administration are. I know that this is a weak area that you are trying to address. Doing so publicly can be pretty tricky business, fraught with misunderstanding, and maybe misapplication.

If I may say so, in regards to arguments about what colleges and other institutions do: I would think that looking at other freelance professionals might be closer to the mark. Private teachers are not massive institutions, and the job is individualized and flexible rather than an unwieldy mass program such as courses of studies for 30 to 300 students. I don't think that people can relate the two. Teaching has its own merits and its own priorities. In any argument about a year of tuition, I would think that the craft itself needs that amount of time. Can you really give a student enough if instruction is sporadic and only half a year? If not, then stating that a year is needed in order to get results is something that I think the non-teacher would find reasonable. Even if some stability and predictability are needed, that is probably what students would relate to

In regards to policies, I imagine that they are there in order to not be taken for a ride, and have something to reach for. I would hope (imagine) that if someone falls into dire straits and is not being frivolous, flexibility would appear. You are not institutions that are stuck by the laws they create.


Some very excellent points here.

I particularly like what you said here:
Quote:
Private teachers are not massive institutions, and the job is individualized and flexible rather than an unwieldy mass program such as courses of studies for 30 to 300 students.

But we're really not address quality of instruction, nor quantity of instruction, rather a principle of who has to carry the financial burden when a student prematurely withdraws from instruction.

Both our local ballet school and gymnastics school, which have 2 and 4 instructors respectively, have "Pay up front, no refunds" for their respective terms of instruction. So then, where is the point when the burden shifts to the teacher from the client? Two or more instructors?

You mentioned freelance professionals as a possible model. From my experience, the successful ones have very hard-nosed policies, with payment schedules, cancellation fees, etc.

Never the less, your point about public relations is extremely important, and teachers should craft their policy statements to not only protect themselves from miscreant clients (who are hopefully few and far between) while focusing on what the client gains and benefits from on-going vs intermittent, music study.
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

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#1641181 - 03/15/11 12:44 AM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: sonataplayer]
Candywoman Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/14/03
Posts: 823
I've read most of this thread. I think it's reasonable to expect a student to pay one more month's lessons if they want to quit during the year. So, if they have finished out March, and want to quit then, they would pay for April and be gone. I think an additional termination fee is excessive. I wouldn't sign for such a deal. But having said that, I think John v.d. Brook has every freedom to implement that fee in a capitalist society. As a consequence, he may be losing some really great students such as lizst and me, who are financially prudent.

Lizst's main contention is that such fees make it so that only rich people can study with John. He says, "Its unfortunate that some of the best teachers are only accessible to the rich."

Regardless of one's definition of rich, or what constitutes a great teacher, I think it's important to realize that rich people are always at an advantage. It starts when they're born and never stops. As a private piano teacher, you can't fight this. You can capitalize on it, or you can cater to less-than-rich people.

But there is a silver lining. Not all rich students who are given opportunities use them. Some "poor" students rise to the top because of sheer determination, despite less than stellar teaching. There's not much to worry about either way.

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#1641373 - 03/15/11 10:25 AM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: Candywoman]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7200
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Reading through a topic with as many posts as this, with comments being made to or in response to different posters, is certainly challenging and as Keystring noted, because of the nature of a forum, abbreviated posts often lead to misconceptions.

Originally Posted By: Candywoman
So, if they have finished out March, and want to quit then, they would pay for April and be gone. I think an additional termination fee is excessive.

That's not only my policy, it is what I suggested to the OP as a prudent business practice. Calling it a termination fee rather than an additional month's tuition, is semantics.

I want to stress this point: parents allowing students to quit before they've finished the school year usually are not doing so for economic/financial reasons. In most cases, the parents wanted to try piano for a child, but didn't realize what they were getting into. Rather than sign up for a series of trial lessons, they signed up for the whole school year. When May comes around, and junior hasn't been practicing for two months, mom is running out of nagging energy, they want to quit. Fine. But don't leave the teacher holding the bag for your error in judgment.

Originally Posted By: Candywoman
Lizst's main contention is that such fees make it so that only rich people can study with John.

This presents a false dichotomy. The only time a parent would pay an early termination fee is when they withdraw their student from lessons before the school year was finished. It really has nothing to do with the income status of the family, and everything to do with whether they are taking their piano study seriously or not. They are quitting lessons for non-economic reasons, so their income levels or accumulated wealth is totally irrelevant.

Just to make the topic a bit muddier, families who are facing financial difficulties frequently ask if they can make partial payments for a couple of months. I cannot speak for other teachers, but I allow families to do so without adding a finance charge/late payment fee. Try that with one of your big institutions!
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

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#1641383 - 03/15/11 10:45 AM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: John v.d.Brook]
liszt85 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/26/08
Posts: 3159
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook

Originally Posted By: Candywoman
Lizst's main contention is that such fees make it so that only rich people can study with John.

This presents a false dichotomy. The only time a parent would pay an early termination fee is when they withdraw their student from lessons before the school year was finished. It really has nothing to do with the income status of the family, and everything to do with whether they are taking their piano study seriously or not. They are quitting lessons for non-economic reasons, so their income levels or accumulated wealth is totally irrelevant.


It might seem like a false dichotomy to you John, because like somebody else here pointed out, you probably haven't heard a different opinion all your life because you probably have clients who come from affluent areas (and your studio is very likely situated in an affluent area).

Income levels are relevant here for a simple reason: the rich get to sign on your policy without worrying about the $200 (or whatever) early termination fee clause since its peanuts for them. So they get more opportunities to explore activities for their kids. How about the less financially stable ones? They simply cannot take the risk of running an early termination fee bill in the event that their kid quits because that money would be better spent on utilities and other stuff that they already struggle paying for. I know its not easy for somebody who hasn't experienced this or who doesn't know many people who experience this to understand. So the point is, it still is unequal opportunities for the rich and the poor simply because such policies restrict poor kids from trying out activities because they simply cannot afford to pay termination fees whereas the rich kids get to try out different stuff. Is this so counter-intuitive that it needs to be classified a false dichotomy?
_________________________
Current:
Beethoven: Sonata Op.31, No.2 ("Tempest")
Debussy: Danseuses de Delphes (Prelude 1, Book 1)
Next in line:
Chopin: Ballade No. 1 in G minor, Op.23
Debussy: Le vent dans la plaine (Prelude 3, Book 1)
Debussy: Les sons et les parfums tournent dans l'air du soir (Prelude 4, Book 1)

Top
#1641389 - 03/15/11 10:57 AM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: liszt85]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7200
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Originally Posted By: Liszt85
They simply cannot take the risk of running an early termination fee bill in the event that their kid quits because that money would be better spent on utilities and other stuff that they already struggle paying for.

This is the false dichotomy in a nutshell. I will state it again: the reason students quite, at least 99% of the time, is because they lose interest and the parents do not want to expend the energy to work with the child to apply themselves and fulfill their commitment. Almost all of the regular teachers on this forum have stated, at one time or another, that they will work with parents having financial difficulties.

And don't kid yourself about parents wanting to do an exploratory program. Many teachers here, myself included, do offer exploratory programs.

This is not an issue of rich vs poor.
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

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#1641396 - 03/15/11 11:13 AM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 10742
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
Originally Posted By: Liszt85
They simply cannot take the risk of running an early termination fee bill in the event that their kid quits because that money would be better spent on utilities and other stuff that they already struggle paying for.

This is the false dichotomy in a nutshell. I will state it again: the reason students quite, at least 99% of the time, is because they lose interest and the parents do not want to expend the energy to work with the child to apply themselves and fulfill their commitment. Almost all of the regular teachers on this forum have stated, at one time or another, that they will work with parents having financial difficulties.

And don't kid yourself about parents wanting to do an exploratory program. Many teachers here, myself included, do offer exploratory programs.

This is not an issue of rich vs poor.


I agree with John here. Most student who have stopped lessons over the years have done so because of a loss of interest or adding too many activities and piano loses out. It is rare that someone drops for economic reasons, and if they talk to me about struggles, I will usually work out some other arrangements to make lessons affordable, including a 50% reduction in lesson costs.

You are arguing people would quit early for economic reason, but before you were saying that his rates were too high and only catered to the rich and therefore those with lower incomes wouldn't sign up for lessons in the first place. If they wouldn't sign up, then there wouldn't be a termination fee or penalty for quitting lessons or 30 day cancellation notice (however you want to phrase it, they are all the same).

What it amounts to is that the lessons they had already paid for (as most teacher do take payment in advance for at least the coming month) would continue for 30 days after giving notice to the teacher. So, it's money they already spent. It is their option to take those lessons they've paid for or not. It's not costing them anything more.

If you are not comfortable with this, then you are lucky that in a capitalist economy one can take their business elsewhere to find a teacher whose policy better suits their needs. And I assure you, there are quality teachers with all sorts of policies out there. The best teacher I ever had had no policy at all and wanted cash payment at the time of the lesson, but that is not how I wish to conduct my business.
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#1641416 - 03/15/11 11:30 AM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: John v.d.Brook]
rocket88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 3158
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
I will state it again: the reason students quite, at least 99% of the time, is because they lose interest and the parents do not want to expend the energy to work with the child to apply themselves and fulfill their commitment. Almost all of the regular teachers on this forum have stated, at one time or another, that they will work with parents having financial difficulties.


This is exactly my experience also.
_________________________
Music teacher and piano player.

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#1641428 - 03/15/11 11:37 AM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: sonataplayer]
liszt85 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/26/08
Posts: 3159
I never argued that people quit early for economic reasons alone. That is a possibility though and a very real one for those people. So yes, that's just one aspect. However, what I've described in my latest post seems to be a bigger concern. With early termination clauses, you discourage a poor man from trying out piano lessons for his kids when he doesn't know for sure that his kids will stay interested over the entire school year. That is too much of a gamble for him to take. He might be able to make monthly payments with some difficulty but the early termination fee of $200 might be too much money gone down the drain as far as the poor man's concerned. I'm quite perplexed that none of you see this.

Also Morodiene, I never said that his rates were too high and that was keeping people away because if a good teacher sets a rate of $70 an hour or a $3000 annual tuition, I would have absolutely no qualms paying that amount though I'm poor. I pay $70 per hour myself. Could you please quote a post of mine where I said that his rates were too high? If I did, I've forgotten and I think it was wrong but I don't think I did.

Also, I don't understand what you say later in your post. If they don't sign the contract, they just take lessons by paying for the month in advance and they can quit when they want to?? I don't think they have the option of not signing the contract in John's studio. That's not what John's policy says. If you want to quit before the end of the school year, you shoulder an early termination fee (regardless if you've attend the lessons that you've already paid for or not). That is what I understand. I'm pretty sure that is right. John is welcome to correct me. What you describe is a non-issue.
_________________________
Current:
Beethoven: Sonata Op.31, No.2 ("Tempest")
Debussy: Danseuses de Delphes (Prelude 1, Book 1)
Next in line:
Chopin: Ballade No. 1 in G minor, Op.23
Debussy: Le vent dans la plaine (Prelude 3, Book 1)
Debussy: Les sons et les parfums tournent dans l'air du soir (Prelude 4, Book 1)

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#1641438 - 03/15/11 11:48 AM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: John v.d.Brook]
liszt85 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/26/08
Posts: 3159
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
Originally Posted By: Liszt85
They simply cannot take the risk of running an early termination fee bill in the event that their kid quits because that money would be better spent on utilities and other stuff that they already struggle paying for.

This is the false dichotomy in a nutshell. I will state it again: the reason students quite, at least 99% of the time, is because they lose interest and the parents do not want to expend the energy to work with the child to apply themselves and fulfill their commitment. Almost all of the regular teachers on this forum have stated, at one time or another, that they will work with parents having financial difficulties.

And don't kid yourself about parents wanting to do an exploratory program. Many teachers here, myself included, do offer exploratory programs.

This is not an issue of rich vs poor.


The part that you quoted is definitely not a false dichotomy. Like I said, you probably lack the experience to comprehend that part. However, I'm beginning to see the justification behind your early termination clause if most teachers here say that in their experience 99% of the students stop because they add other activities (and can afford them obviously) and then have no time left for piano lessons. So if its impossible to find replacements (students) easily in your experience, the early termination fee is probably justified. Losing interest is a different matter. My point still holds about the poor man's kid losing interest. That kid, by virtue of being a human being, is likely to lose interest too. Early termination clauses can deter poor people from enrolling their kids. Exploratory 3 month programs definitely help but what happens after those 3 months? Say a child still expresses interest at the end of the exploratory period. We all know that just because a kid goes to 10 lessons over 3 months does not necessarily mean that the kid will go to 40 lessons over a year with the same kind of interest. So in a way, exploratory programs don't address that problem completely. I'm not saying that it is entirely your responsibility but some teachers might opt to not have such clauses just to do their bit in promoting equality of opportunities.

We can go on and on about this and reach no consensus because it is not an easy matter to come out with a clear black/white picture of. Also, the teachers in this forum have an obvious side that they will take, from the nature of the posts I've seen here. That is in a way social predispositions that you guys need in order to be successful in navigating the social system, so its only natural that you take a certain side. We are all programmed to do that (either genetically or via social evolution).
_________________________
Current:
Beethoven: Sonata Op.31, No.2 ("Tempest")
Debussy: Danseuses de Delphes (Prelude 1, Book 1)
Next in line:
Chopin: Ballade No. 1 in G minor, Op.23
Debussy: Le vent dans la plaine (Prelude 3, Book 1)
Debussy: Les sons et les parfums tournent dans l'air du soir (Prelude 4, Book 1)

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#1641444 - 03/15/11 11:57 AM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: liszt85]
rocket88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 3158
Originally Posted By: liszt85
However, I'm beginning to see the justification behind your early termination clause if most teachers here say that in their experience 99% of the students stop because they add other activities (and can afford them obviously) and then have no time left for piano lessons.


Wrong assumption. The primary reason students leave is because they lose interest, not because they have other activities added by their allegedly rich parents.

With most of my students piano is either the only activity, or one of only two other activities, the other usually a sport, which is seasonal. But then, I do not live in an affluent area, or an affluent state.

Quote:
Losing interest is a different matter.


Once again, students losing interest is the always the overwhelming main thing.
_________________________
Music teacher and piano player.

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#1641446 - 03/15/11 12:01 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: rocket88]
liszt85 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/26/08
Posts: 3159
Originally Posted By: rocket88
Originally Posted By: liszt85
However, I'm beginning to see the justification behind your early termination clause if most teachers here say that in their experience 99% of the students stop because they add other activities (and can afford them obviously) and then have no time left for piano lessons.


Wrong. The primary reason students leave because they lose interest, not because they have other activities added by their allegedly rich parents.

With most of my students piano is either the only activity, or one of only two other activities, the other being a sport, which is seasonal.

Losing interest is a different matter.

Students losing interest is the overwhelming main thing.


We are not debating reasons for why people quit. However, if losing interest is the main reason and not addition of activities, then my point remains about the poor vs rich. Poor kids are kids too and they are as likely to lose interest as rich kids. If these so called exploratory programs worked, the rich kids would be opting for those as well and wouldn't quit once they've decided that they want to continue on. Apparently, that does not happen as you still get a huge number of quitters. So why do you expect the poor kids of make use of the exploratory programs to avoid incurring the early termination fees later on?

I was trying to look for a plausible justification for the termination fees but with your latest post, it looks like I'll fail in my endeavor.
_________________________
Current:
Beethoven: Sonata Op.31, No.2 ("Tempest")
Debussy: Danseuses de Delphes (Prelude 1, Book 1)
Next in line:
Chopin: Ballade No. 1 in G minor, Op.23
Debussy: Le vent dans la plaine (Prelude 3, Book 1)
Debussy: Les sons et les parfums tournent dans l'air du soir (Prelude 4, Book 1)

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#1641456 - 03/15/11 12:12 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: liszt85]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7200
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Originally Posted By: liszt85
I was trying to look for a plausible justification for the termination fees but with your latest post, it looks like I'll fail in my endeavor.

Well, you should go back through the thread and reread the posts; it was carefully explained to you, by several teachers, many times.


Edited by John v.d.Brook (03/15/11 12:23 PM)
Edit Reason: correct a typo
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

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#1641461 - 03/15/11 12:24 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: John v.d.Brook]
liszt85 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/26/08
Posts: 3159
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
Originally Posted By: liszt85
I was trying to look for a plausible justification for the termination fees but with your latest post, it looks like I'll fail in my endeavor.

Well, you should go back through the reread the posts in this thread; it was carefully explained to you, by several teachers, many times.


That's the problem. Several teachers. You are often blind to other opinions and points of view and I also told you why it was natural for you to behave like that. Its how people work in the current society. However, please don't assume you are right in an absolute sense just because several people belonging to your profession think there is a strong justification for charging that fee.
_________________________
Current:
Beethoven: Sonata Op.31, No.2 ("Tempest")
Debussy: Danseuses de Delphes (Prelude 1, Book 1)
Next in line:
Chopin: Ballade No. 1 in G minor, Op.23
Debussy: Le vent dans la plaine (Prelude 3, Book 1)
Debussy: Les sons et les parfums tournent dans l'air du soir (Prelude 4, Book 1)

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#1641465 - 03/15/11 12:28 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: sonataplayer]
rocket88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 3158
Liszt, you obviously are a compassionate and caring person who is upset about economic injustices. And you are a good player who has something musical to offer.

I have a suggestion: Take your skills and passion and focus it on teaching poor kids how to play the piano.

Charge them a nominal fee, such as $5.00, because studies have shown that people do not value very highly what they get for free. If they have no money at all, have them wash your car, take out the trash, something in exchange...(and no termination clauses!!!)

You certainly have enough time to teach a child or two, in that you have over a thousand posts here on PW...use some of your forum time to teach a kid or two who has little or no money for lessons.

I am not being sarcastic...its just a constructive thought.


Edited by rocket88 (03/15/11 12:50 PM)
_________________________
Music teacher and piano player.

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#1641479 - 03/15/11 12:42 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: liszt85]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7200
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Originally Posted By: liszt85
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
Originally Posted By: liszt85
I was trying to look for a plausible justification for the termination fees but with your latest post, it looks like I'll fail in my endeavor.

Well, you should go back through the reread the posts in this thread; it was carefully explained to you, by several teachers, many times.


That's the problem. Several teachers. You are often blind to other opinions and points of view and I also told you why it was natural for you to behave like that. Its how people work in the current society. However, please don't assume you are right in an absolute sense just because several people belonging to your profession think there is a strong justification for charging that fee.

Although I really like rocket88's suggestion above, I'd like to add one of my own, and that is, you change your moniker to shifty85. Debating with you is impossible, because when you raise an issue, and we address it, you answer with another issue. Your post, quoted above, addressed justification for a termination fee, your answer, also quoted above, shifts the focus to another aspect of the topic, in this case to whether we're blind to the view points of others. For the record, I get it - you don't want to pay a termination fee if you abrogate a contract. I also understand why you don't want to pay the fee - (dare I say it?) - because as a poor person, you feel the world should bend to your needs and sensibilities, rather than follow procedures which guaranty balance for both parties. So my question to you is: do you get why teachers who are income dependent on students fulfilling their contracts, have cancellation fees?
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

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#1641481 - 03/15/11 12:46 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: rocket88]
liszt85 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/26/08
Posts: 3159
Originally Posted By: rocket88
Liszt, you obviously are a compassionate and caring person who is upset about economic injustices. And you are a good player who has something musical to offer.

I have a suggestion: Take your skills and passion and focus it on teaching poor kids how to play the piano.

Charge them a nominal fee, such as $5.00, because studies have shown that people do not value very highly what they get for free. If they have no money at all, have them wash your car, take out the trash, something in exchange...(and no termination clauses!!!)

You certainly have enough time to teach a child or two, in that you have over a thousand posts here on PW...use some of your forum time to teach a kid or two who has little or no money for lessons.

I am not being sarcastic...its just a thought.


Of course, you weren't being sarcastic.

Your post is an excellent example of the prevalent attitude amongst the teachers on this forum (at least most of the ones who've posted in this thread). The insensitivity displayed by you in this post of yours is appalling. I think it speaks volumes about the kind of person you are. How about that for just a thought?

P.S: I've taught people for $10 (for 8 lessons a month, 2 hour sessions each). They've all been serious and advanced well. There are other methods than charging insane misc fees to encourage people to be serious, I'm sure you don't know about any of those techniques. I will consider your idea of having them take out my trash when I teach in the future. Thanks for that very thoughtful idea.
_________________________
Current:
Beethoven: Sonata Op.31, No.2 ("Tempest")
Debussy: Danseuses de Delphes (Prelude 1, Book 1)
Next in line:
Chopin: Ballade No. 1 in G minor, Op.23
Debussy: Le vent dans la plaine (Prelude 3, Book 1)
Debussy: Les sons et les parfums tournent dans l'air du soir (Prelude 4, Book 1)

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#1641482 - 03/15/11 12:46 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: rocket88]
AZNpiano Online   sleepy
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5271
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: rocket88
I am not being sarcastic...its just a thought.
Really?
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#1641484 - 03/15/11 12:47 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: John v.d.Brook]
liszt85 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/26/08
Posts: 3159
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook

Although I really like rocket88's suggestion above,


Of course John, I knew you would like his suggestion for me to teach poor kids in return for taking out my trash. So classy of you. Why am I not surprised?
_________________________
Current:
Beethoven: Sonata Op.31, No.2 ("Tempest")
Debussy: Danseuses de Delphes (Prelude 1, Book 1)
Next in line:
Chopin: Ballade No. 1 in G minor, Op.23
Debussy: Le vent dans la plaine (Prelude 3, Book 1)
Debussy: Les sons et les parfums tournent dans l'air du soir (Prelude 4, Book 1)

Top
#1641488 - 03/15/11 12:51 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: sonataplayer]
liszt85 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/26/08
Posts: 3159
I was at least gracious enough to acknowledge that differences in views arise out of social predispositions and that it was natural for you and me to have our respective opinions. We now have two people belong to the teaching community hurl insults at me (and claiming not to be sarcastic) just because I happen to have some arguments for the opposing view. My, are you guys so insecure about the moral issues surrounding your policies? If not, you wouldn't feel the need to make the kind of posts that you've made in the previous 2 posts (one by rocket88 and the last one by John where he seems to like rocket88's "suggestions"). I also did tell you that we could go on arguing about this without ever agreeing on anything and I even gave you a researched reason (from the sociological literature), which you've ignored completely, so that you can keep fooling yourselves that all of this has an absolute stamp of correct on it.
_________________________
Current:
Beethoven: Sonata Op.31, No.2 ("Tempest")
Debussy: Danseuses de Delphes (Prelude 1, Book 1)
Next in line:
Chopin: Ballade No. 1 in G minor, Op.23
Debussy: Le vent dans la plaine (Prelude 3, Book 1)
Debussy: Les sons et les parfums tournent dans l'air du soir (Prelude 4, Book 1)

Top
#1641489 - 03/15/11 12:52 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: liszt85]
AZNpiano Online   sleepy
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5271
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: liszt85
I've taught people for $10 (for 8 lessons a month, 2 hour sessions each).


Is that $10 per hour or $10 per 16 hours??

Either way, you are directly affecting other piano teachers in your area by grossly undercutting their worth.

Of course, there are some wealthy piano teachers who can afford to audition their students and pick the brightest ones to teach for free. That's rare enough, though, as to not pose a problem.
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#1641490 - 03/15/11 12:52 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: rocket88]
liszt85 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/26/08
Posts: 3159
Originally Posted By: rocket88


You certainly have enough time to teach a child or two, in that you have over a thousand posts here on PW...use some of your forum time to teach a kid or two who has little or no money for lessons.


John has over 5000 posts here. Your advice would suit him better, don't you think? wink
_________________________
Current:
Beethoven: Sonata Op.31, No.2 ("Tempest")
Debussy: Danseuses de Delphes (Prelude 1, Book 1)
Next in line:
Chopin: Ballade No. 1 in G minor, Op.23
Debussy: Le vent dans la plaine (Prelude 3, Book 1)
Debussy: Les sons et les parfums tournent dans l'air du soir (Prelude 4, Book 1)

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