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#1641491 - 03/15/11 12:53 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: AZNpiano]
rocket88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 3175
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
Originally Posted By: rocket88
I am not being sarcastic...its just a thought.
Really?


Yes really...its called pro bono. I really was not being sarcastic.
_________________________
Music teacher and piano player.

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#1641493 - 03/15/11 12:56 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: AZNpiano]
liszt85 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/26/08
Posts: 3159
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
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.


You shouldn't take that seriously actually. That's in a country where $1 = 50. The average prices of lessons there from a good teacher (a rare breed) would be around $5-10 per lesson. I charged $10 for 8 lessons (16 hours, yes). I was the best teacher they could get in a 200 mile radius (yes, that's how rare piano teachers and pianists are in that country). So I wasn't really undercutting anybody's worth. I was the only one available there and I was a student myself and was teaching other students, so I knew that they couldn't afford much more than that. None of them quit on me (maybe one did). I had only 5 students though (couldn't make time for more, for obvious reasons, and frankly, there wasn't more demand than that).

EDIT: Let me put that into perspective for you. $10 there would buy me grocery for a week. So I'd say that its equivalent to $100 here in the US. So I probably charged an equivalent of $100 for 8 2 hour sessions a month.


Edited by liszt85 (03/15/11 01:07 PM)
_________________________
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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#1641494 - 03/15/11 12:59 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: AZNpiano
Originally Posted By: rocket88
I am not being sarcastic...its just a thought.
Really?


Yes really...its called pro bono. I really was not being sarcastic.


Oh yea? The comment about the number of posts I've made here on PW is a dead giveaway. You must think you're really smart.
_________________________
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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#1641501 - 03/15/11 01:04 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: liszt85]
rocket88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 3175
Originally Posted By: liszt85
Originally Posted By: rocket88
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
Originally Posted By: rocket88
I am not being sarcastic...its just a thought.
Really?


Yes really...its called pro bono. I really was not being sarcastic.


Oh yea? The comment about the number of posts I've made here on PW is a dead giveaway. You must think you're really smart.


The # of posts was to illustrate that you have some spare time. Nothing more. I know you won't believe me, but that is what I meant...pro bono work, and you have the time.

Why are you so angry?
_________________________
Music teacher and piano player.

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#1641509 - 03/15/11 01:18 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: liszt85]
saerra Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/28/07
Posts: 842
Loc: Atlanta, GA
Originally Posted By: liszt85
...Also, the teachers in this forum have an obvious side that they will take, from the nature of the posts I've seen here...


I am not a teacher, in any capacity, and I really am having trouble with your point and arguments.

John provides a trial period. His contract is upfront (this isn't a surprise fee). He's not forcing them to sign up with him. And there are plenty of alternate teachers (and activities).

Clearly, if people don't like the terms under which John offers his service, they can choose another teacher, or another activity.

Piano teachers are running a business. They can set the terms of their service in any way they want (as long as they're not breaking any laws.)

Do you get upset that you can't order pizza at McDonalds?
Or (to come back to the issue of wealth), that there are some restaurants that don't have a "value menu"?

No. You simply choose another restaurant that meets your needs. Or, if you don't have the money, you stay home, use coupons, and cook. This doesn't mean those restaurants are doing anything *wrong*. No one business can be all things to all people.

Further (and I know everyone is going to hate me saying this, but...) piano lessons aren't a necessity. We're not talking about food, water, electricity, shelter here.

I'd argue that it's actually *irresponsible* to sign up for lessons, especially under a contract, if you're not sure you'll be able to pay for them. If I were in a position where I wasn't sure if I could pay my rent or electric bill from month to month, it would be *irresponsible* of me to spend money on piano lessons (or chocolate, scuba lessons, trips to Disney, etc.) No matter how much I might want them, or how talented I think I might be. Part of being an adult is managing our money appropriately, and not buying things we can't afford - even if we (or our kids) "really really really" want them.

When I bought my piano - I really wanted a gorgeous grand that was $44,000. I didn't buy it, because I couldn't afford to spend $44,000 on a piano. Does that mean that particular manufacturer is terrible, and is doing something wrong?

Now - all that said - I *think* what you're saying is, "it's unfair that these kids who come from families without as much money don't have the same opportunities". And, I'd say, yes, it's unfair. But, life is unfair. In pretty much every way. And, to me, having to pay an early termination fee to break a contract that you knowingly agreed to is such a tiny part of that unfairness, that it just doesn't rank.

And, for the record, I did not grow up wealthy. My dad was in the military, and then decided to quit... we qualified for free lunches at school, and both my parents worked. So not being able to afford things is not a concept that I'm completely unfamiliar with. Oh, and I definitely did not have piano lessons growing up!

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#1641525 - 03/15/11 01:42 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: sonataplayer]
liszt85 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/26/08
Posts: 3159
I think many of the analogies given above are misplaced and I have arguments against them. However, since all my arguments here have fallen on deaf ears and since John has categorically stated that he and his fellow teacher friends have "addressed all the issues" that I raised, I guess I have nothing more to gain out of this discussion. However, I leave unconvinced as I'm sure all of you are. I however go, knowing very well that there are valid points on either side. My only trouble is with people making vast general statements here, especially in posts that give "advice" to new teachers. I really think these new teachers should be making many of these choices on their own, based on their sensibilities. Experience might teach them a thing or two, and what experience teaches them need not necessarily be a need for a cancellation fee, who knows? Maybe that is what your experience, teaching in an affluent area (for example. Now don't start an argument about this) taught you. What you present as "truth" is simply not good enough, is the point that I've been trying to raise all this while. Clearly, this is the wrong forum. That just won't happen. So I'll stop now.
_________________________
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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#1641528 - 03/15/11 01:46 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: saerra]
bitWrangler Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/07
Posts: 1789
Loc: Central TX
Originally Posted By: saerra
Do you get upset that you can't order pizza at McDonalds?


Actually you can order a pizza at a few McDonalds (e.g. Orlando, FL) so I think that should pretty much put this entire thread to rest wink

While I agree that any teacher can have whatever rates/fees they feel like, I would also agree that I personally become more wary once we start getting into the realm of paying for non delivered service (obviously various factors play into this).

I think liszt85 just needs to understand that while there are plenty of JvdB's in the world, that there are also plenty of other teachers who do have more policies/rates that do cater to those who maybe can't afford to lose an entire months tuition cost (again, regardless of why). That JvdB and others feel that their businesses are better off with the fees is perfectly fine for them. They might end up "losing business", but they've obviously weighed the pro's and con's and made a decision. That the decision may lack altruism is beyond the point. I know that in my neck of the woods, there are tons of neighborhood "piano teachers" that cost significantly less than our kids current teacher and have no formal "studio policies" at all. I'm guessing this area is not unique in that regard. Given the number of piano students we see and the scarce number of non-teaching jobs available, I would be willing to guess that this trend will continue.

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#1641537 - 03/15/11 02:02 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: John v.d.Brook]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11808
Loc: Canada
The number one problem in this forum involves statements presented as generalities, as though they were universal truths, rather than personal experience within the writer's sphere. Furthermore, educated guesses are being presented as facts. Here are facts: acoustic pianos have strings that resound when struck by hammers, musicians generally have 5 fingers on each hand (but not always), some people stick with lessons and practice, some progress and some don't. Why people quit lessons, why they don't thrive, and what they can afford, is conjecture. What you observe and what you conclude largely depends on what you are doing with whom and where. Teachers work in isolation and usually restricted to their geographic base.

Demographics play into it. If you choose an area where people are rich, enroll their kids in tons of activities of which yours is one of many and a status symbol, is it surprising that you are treated as a commodity? If you are catering to the competition & exam crowd you'll get other behaviours. To go from the specifics of your surroundings, and then make a global statement about how things are - that is the problem. As long as we all understand that a) it may be limited and local, b) even so human nature is guesswork.

In my personal experience, including people that I know, reasons for quitting lessons have been the following. These experiences are limited to those people and circumstances:
- a woman who still accompanies her musician husband, but otherwise doesn't touch the piano because she was hit so many times by her teacher with a ruler when young
- several students who wanted serious instruction and either got frivolous light things without substance, struggled without getting the tools, and couldn't get at those tools. Some went on to better teachers. Or in one case, the teacher would arrive late to her own studio, and spend most of the time talking about her students, or arguing with family members.
- lack of money

None of the above reasons for quitting lessons can be rectified through strict payment policies. In regards to lack of money, especially not. Strict payment policies will address those cases where students are frivolous, will feel the pinch and so are "motivated" to stick it through, but are not so hard off financially that you will scare them from even enrolling. If you have a timid respectful student who puts you on a pedestal, you may scare them from even approaching you if your policies are too harsh - and lose a potential good student.

If a professional model is to be cited then all sides of professionalism should be kept in mind. I'd opt for the professional who:
- has mastered his trade so that he has something to offer. There are car salesman types who do manage to get rich through their schemes, but I'll bet this is distasteful to most members here
- plans things to the benefit of his clients (your students will be able to learn so eventually they have skills for playing independently) but realistically (not everyone wants to put in the work, or can, for real musicianship)
- has a sound business plan, and takes care of his own interests (John's point).

If the tunnel vision and either/or stances could go, then maybe some of the disagreements would be less so.

It can't just be one of these.

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#1641547 - 03/15/11 02:14 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: keystring]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7409
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
keystring, I love your posts, but you make me think - What kind of world do we live in where someone wanting you to pay your bills when you agreed to pay them is considered "strict?"
_________________________
"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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#1641552 - 03/15/11 02:25 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: sonataplayer]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11808
Loc: Canada
John, you are not writing about paying your bills. You are writing about a disincentive policy whereby someone who leaves lessons early, even with proper early notification of one or more months, must pay a penalty. These are two entirely different things.

Are you able to accept that more than one scenario is possible in this wide world? And that different people are motivated differently? Your proposed policy works for some people who are in certain circumstances and think in certain ways. This may be the majority of people in your sphere. It may not have the desired effect with other people in other circumstances. The bottom line is being paid and having people stay with you - not the policy to make that happen - is that plausible?

Imagine, for example, a student who has been badly burned. A previous teacher, or a series of them, have all been problematic (and truly so). The student also has limited income. The number one motivation for that student will not be a monetary threat. The number one motivation for that student will be that you are competent, able and willing to help, and will not mess that student up further. If the former teacher was abusive (as many incompetent teachers are), then any stance that appears threatening will not motivate that student - it will be a disincentive. In all likelihood you would be astute enough to size up the situation and act accordingly. What I am saying is that people are motivated by where they are at, and to get the results you want, that is a factor. In your demographics, your policy is probably perfect, and since your former problems are solved, they obviously work.

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#1641556 - 03/15/11 02:38 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: liszt85]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12141
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: liszt85
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.


I guess I don't understand what you're saying, then. You're arguing that a student can't try out lessons because of the clause in John's policy, but he has a trial period first. If you don't like the clause, then you don't take lessons from him to begin with. If you have no problem with his rates, then what *is* your problem?

I have a policy with a 30 day cancellation period. Students pay me month to month, but if they are not going to continue I require 30 days notice. I also have a trial period that all students start out of 2 months, paid in advance. After that, they are considered enrolled (if we both agree to continue) and then would have to cancel according to my policy.

Also the point was made that most students do not cancel for economic reasons. Other teachers attest to that as well. You seem to have argued several different points over the course of this post, and your main contention seems to have been lost. Can you clearly state what you have issue with?
_________________________
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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#1641557 - 03/15/11 02:42 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: keystring]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7409
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Originally Posted By: keystring
John, you are not writing about paying your bills. You are writing about a disincentive policy whereby someone who leaves lessons early, even with proper early notification of one or more months, must pay a penalty. These are two entirely different things.

Are you able to accept that more than one scenario is possible in this wide world? And that different people are motivated differently? Your proposed policy works for some people who are in certain circumstances and think in certain ways. This may be the majority of people in your sphere. It may not have the desired effect with other people in other circumstances. The bottom line is being paid and having people stay with you - not the policy to make that happen - is that plausible?

Imagine, for example, a student who has been badly burned. A previous teacher, or a series of them, have all been problematic (and truly so). The student also has limited income. The number one motivation for that student will not be a monetary threat. The number one motivation for that student will be that you are competent, able and willing to help, and will not mess that student up further. If the former teacher was abusive (as many incompetent teachers are), then any stance that appears threatening will not motivate that student - it will be a disincentive. In all likelihood you would be astute enough to size up the situation and act accordingly. What I am saying is that people are motivated by where they are at, and to get the results you want, that is a factor. In your demographics, your policy is probably perfect, and since your former problems are solved, they obviously work.


Of course they can be motivated differently, but if they agree to terms, don't you think they should honor their agreement?
_________________________
"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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#1641772 - 03/15/11 07:56 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: sonataplayer]
Ken Knapp Offline



Registered: 04/18/06
Posts: 2278
Loc: Pennsylvania
I think that when someone shops for a teacher one of the factors to consider is the studio policies. If a teacher wishes to have a policy that a student come to lessons balancing a pencil on his nose, so be it. It is up to the potential student or the parents to be familiar with the studio policies. If the teacher is serious about the studio policies he/she should convey that idea to the student/parents.

Probably any number of things that could be in a studio's policies MIGHT dissuade a student, but if that's the case I imagine it's better for a student to go elsewhere. Perhaps studio policy is as an important factor in choosing a teacher as is the teacher?

Whatever the case, the owner of the studio has the right to run the studio in any way he/she sees fit. smile
_________________________
Ken

Piano Organ Depot
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#1641780 - 03/15/11 08:06 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: sonataplayer]
liszt85 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/26/08
Posts: 3159
Ken, I don't think anybody disputed that. In fact, I repeatedly said that John is free to run his studio as he sees fit. However, to make statements that sound as though they hold well generally as statements of facts, especially when a new teacher comes in here seeking advice, is not a very healthy phenomenon. I tried to come up with some opposing points of view with plausible justifications against some clauses in policies such as John's, not to prove that John or anybody else is running studios with immoral policies but to state that people might choose not to have similar clauses for various reasons, some altruistic in nature (and still without too any significant disadvantages to the studio owner). I was merely reacting to trends in the teacher's forum here that I think are unhealthy in general. John might have found something that works well for him but it would not be in everybody's best interest if his advice is taken seriously by every single new teacher that comes in here for advice. An opposing point of view is rarely offered on these forums, it all has to do with teachers patting each other on their backs for all the policies that are presented as necessary precautions that must be taken against rogue students. I just can't buy that argument and I can't watch as this is being fed to new teachers coming in here for advice.

I hope this answers Morodiene's question as well. I did not want to continue arguing here but I thought I'd clarify one last time since Ken decided to make a post here.
_________________________
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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#1641787 - 03/15/11 08:19 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: John v.d.Brook]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11808
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook

Of course they can be motivated differently, but if they agree to terms, don't you think they should honor their agreement?

I don't understand the reason for the question. There has been no question in our conversation about people honoring agreements or not. Of course people should.

However, I thought we were discussing what types of approaches are good for achieving goals. If someone wants a behaviour, or to discourage a behaviour, they start with motivations, cause and effect. A person who is motivated by the pocketbook can be reached that way. A person who has other motivations won't be reached that way. It's like trying to catch tigers using peanut butter, or squirrels setting out hunks of meat.

If this is seen as part of the debate going on, I am not interested in debates. I like exploring ideas and finding solutions.

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#1641796 - 03/15/11 08:41 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: Ken Knapp]
ando Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/10
Posts: 3667
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Originally Posted By: Ken Knapp


Whatever the case, the owner of the studio has the right to run the studio in any way he/she sees fit. smile


That's only true up to a point. The reason this thread has prompted such a rigourous debate is that it is contentious and considered to be worth debating. I don't think everything can be summed up by ideas of a free-market economy. The legal system tends adapt over time to gradually weed out the ability of service-providers to maintain unfair policies - basically by putting in laws and statutes which limit what policies are enforceable or actionable. (Of course, laws are always a step or two behind the problems of the world because they come to pass once a problem has already set in.) I'm not saying this thread belongs in that category, or that this case would ever lead to that sort of reaction - but history shows that things that were once considered acceptable and up to the discretion of the service provider, may not always stay that way. That's why debate is important. Things start at the grass-roots level and gathers momentum is there is sufficient undercurrent of concern.

Let's say a piano teacher has a policy of not teaching students with a mixed-blood heritage. No matter how clearly worded, that would not be considered acceptable and would breach any number of laws. Yes, that's an extreme example, but the point I'm trying to make is that we have to be somewhat circumspect about what is considered fair and reasonable in the wider community before blindly accepting that a business person can set whatever policies they like, and enforce them, so long as they are clearly worded and have a signature beneath them.

Again, not suggesting this thread is in that ballpark, but it's a reason not to fall too blithely into the Darwinian free-market economy thing. Every policy should be subject to questioning. And I do disagree with the quote above from Ken. There are limits and controls - teaching studios can't operate like dictatorships. Many traders do set down policies and get people the sign them which are not actually legal or enforceable. A policy is only as strong as its enforceability. I encourage people to be as aware as possible of the law so that they don't suffer in the grey area of policy-making and false threats and supposed consequences. Of course, the ideal would be that you are sufficiently aware before a transaction takes place so that you don't ever get roped into an unjust policy, thinking you must abide by it. Even so, if you ever do find yourself in an unfair situation, it's always a good idea to seek advice to see if you are really beholden to it or whether it's just hot air disguised as law. A substantial proportion of policies presented like laws by service providers are not actually binding or enforceable - no matter how many times you have signed it. Policies must operate under the limits and controls of real laws.

We must also remember that there is an element of good faith involved when setting policies. People who sign things can be tricked into believing it means something different. People who ask you to sign something may gloss over the fine print, or worse, deliberately mislead you. The fact is, in the world of civil "policies", if it comes to a claims court, the judge will decide the case on the basis of general law and basic fairness, not on fine print and ingeniously-worded, rogue policies. It's something to remember when people start operating their teaching studio like it is a republic with it's own laws which cannot be challenged.

So yes, you can make your own policies, and most people will abide by them if they sign up with you. But unless your polices are inline with the law, don't expect to be able to enforce them. Signatures aren't as iron clad as you think.


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#1641809 - 03/15/11 09:05 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: ando]
bitWrangler Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/07
Posts: 1789
Loc: Central TX
Originally Posted By: ando
Let's say a piano teacher has a policy of not teaching students with a mixed-blood heritage. No matter how clearly worded, that would not be considered acceptable and would breach any number of laws. Yes, that's an extreme example, but the point I'm trying to make is that we have to be somewhat circumspect about what is considered fair and reasonable in the wider community before blindly accepting that a business person can set whatever policies they like, and enforce them, so long as they are clearly worded and have a signature beneath them.


No wait, that doesn't make sense. You yourself state that it would be illegal, so it doesn't fit the scenario being discussed (ethical/moral vs legal).

liszt mentions that he wants to present a countering view from JvdB in that he believes that JvdB et al's policy of handling early terminations (and related refunding of tuitions) is not one that he hopes that every teacher will blindly follow. He has done that, and any new teacher reading this thread will hopefully see that there are certain ramifications to setting up those types of policies/contracts.

But beyond that, the "moral conscience" issue with studio policies/contracts (legal issues notwithstanding) really does come down to economics. If one has no other alternatives to what are perceived to be unfair policies, then I believe "moral conscience" starts to come into play. However, if a teacher decides to have utterly draconian rules (e.g. prepay 1 year in advance, no refunds for any reason, students must meet attendance/practicing requirements, students must participate in competitions and are expected to meet performance standards, etc, etc) and folks have reasonable options available, then studios can very definitely be dictatorships (I happen to know of one that is very much run in that fashion).

We can of course debate the merits of such an approach, and that is where I believe it helps to have non-teachers pipe in on these types of topics. It's good for teachers to at least hear and understand where their customers heads are at as well. So a teacher coming here will hopefully get multiple views and choose the one that best fits.

This reminds me of the time I went skydiving for the first time. They show you a video that has a lawyer and stick a contract in front of you that says that you agree not to sue them for _any_ reason _including_ (but not limited to) gross negligence on their part (packed your chute up wrong because the packer was drunk and just dumped by his girlfriend, too bad). I read it, chuckled, and asked the person if their contract has ever held up in court. The person gave me a very unamused look and quite seriously queried, "are you a laywer?" The jump was awesome BTW.

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#1641824 - 03/15/11 09:32 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: bitWrangler]
ando Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/10
Posts: 3667
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Originally Posted By: bitWrangler
Originally Posted By: ando
Let's say a piano teacher has a policy of not teaching students with a mixed-blood heritage. No matter how clearly worded, that would not be considered acceptable and would breach any number of laws. Yes, that's an extreme example, but the point I'm trying to make is that we have to be somewhat circumspect about what is considered fair and reasonable in the wider community before blindly accepting that a business person can set whatever policies they like, and enforce them, so long as they are clearly worded and have a signature beneath them.


No wait, that doesn't make sense. You yourself state that it would be illegal, so it doesn't fit the scenario being discussed (ethical/moral vs legal).


It does if you read the rest of my post. I said quite clearly that I wasn't arguing this thread (moral/ethical or otherwise), but against a statement from Ken which suggested a teaching studio can set any policy it likes. In any case of policy, it's not worth the paper it's written on if it's not enforceable. I think I made that point very clearly. I am choosing not to involve myself in the main discussion of this thread because it already has enough players. I was quite clear that my post was an aside. Still relevant though.

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#1641860 - 03/15/11 10:52 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: sonataplayer]
Ken Knapp Offline



Registered: 04/18/06
Posts: 2278
Loc: Pennsylvania
Ando, I think you're carrying the point to an all new level. Certainly I was not speaking of a studio having the right to set policies that are morally, ethically, or legally wrong. We are speaking in terms of attendance, finances, and termination.

In the legal system, conclusions are often drawn based on what a reasonable person would expect in a given situation. The example you give goes light years beyond what a anyone should read into what I said - unless you perhaps take it totally out of the context of this topic. Then perhaps we could speculate about all sorts of unsavory things would be inappropriate to incorporate in a studio policy.. laugh

In the context of this topic I hold to exactly what I said. And the student has the choice of whether he/she wants to take lessons at that studio based on the teacher and the policies. If enough students feel the policies are out of line, there won't be any studio.

I think there is plenty of debate going on in the topic without introducing highly unlikely and illegal scenarios into the debate.
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#1641929 - 03/16/11 12:18 AM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: Ken Knapp]
ando Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/10
Posts: 3667
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Originally Posted By: Ken Knapp
Ando, I think you're carrying the point to an all new level. Certainly I was not speaking of a studio having the right to set policies that are morally, ethically, or legally wrong. We are speaking in terms of attendance, finances, and termination.

In the legal system, conclusions are often drawn based on what a reasonable person would expect in a given situation. The example you give goes light years beyond what a anyone should read into what I said - unless you perhaps take it totally out of the context of this topic. Then perhaps we could speculate about all sorts of unsavory things would be inappropriate to incorporate in a studio policy.. laugh

In the context of this topic I hold to exactly what I said. And the student has the choice of whether he/she wants to take lessons at that studio based on the teacher and the policies. If enough students feel the policies are out of line, there won't be any studio.

I think there is plenty of debate going on in the topic without introducing highly unlikely and illegal scenarios into the debate.



Ken,

I did state that I made an extreme example. What you consider to be outside of the scope of a teaching studio may not necessarily be so. Depending on location, there are laws governing how you can penalise somebody for non-payment, late payment, withdrawal penalties etc. These are EXACTLY the types of things that are discussed on this forum all the time. They are discussed in a quasi-legal sense by people with no legal experience or knowledge - other than the assumption garnered from pop sources that you can set any rule you like down, and as long as somebody agrees to it, it is an enforceable contract. My intention was simply to point out that policies are not the same things as notarised contracts, and whilst most people will abide by the spirit of a policy, it may not be legally binding at all.

This becomes relevant when trying to chase people up for money that you feel they owe you, but you may not be technically entitled to. It varies from region to region in terms of how it works so I can't state concrete examples that work in every location. I think most teachers here might be surprised if they actually looked into the legalities in their region. They may well find several point of contention with their own policies. I hope this seems a bit more relevant to the thread to you.

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#1641944 - 03/16/11 12:27 AM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: sonataplayer]
Ken Knapp Offline



Registered: 04/18/06
Posts: 2278
Loc: Pennsylvania
Now that's something everyone can sink their teeth into! laugh

Thanks for the clarification.
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http://www.mitatechs.org
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#1642094 - 03/16/11 09:29 AM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: sonataplayer]
Morodiene Offline
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Registered: 04/06/07
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I think it is an excellent idea, ando, for every teacher to understand what their rights are legally with regards to policies and collections of unpaid lessons and fees. MTNA provides this information, as well as collection letters and advice to its members. If you are a member, I highly recommend that a teacher look into this when writing or re-writing their policies, as well as prior to having to collect on a debt. That way should a dispute ever go to court, you are well prepared.
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#1642175 - 03/16/11 11:43 AM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: sonataplayer]
R0B Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/03/08
Posts: 1439
Loc: Australia
My policy is a Handshake smile

To date, it has not let me down.
I charge per lesson, and parents who cancel last minute, generally offer to pay for the missed lesson.
I used to feel bad about accepting payment for work I had not done, but, as refusal often offends, I now accept with good grace.

For those who don't offer, I hold no grudge, as it gives me free time to work on other income producing activities.

I have the luxury of a (small) waiting list, so can easily fill a vacated slot, should the need arise.
As I travel to students' homes, most are very flexible when it comes to bringing their lesson forward, should I have a last minute cancellation.

Just a couple of weeks ago, the parent of one student, said, "You have not increased your fee, for over a year, so we want to pay you $5/per lesson more!"
I am not knocking those who have restrictive policies, just saying what works for me.
_________________________
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#1642526 - 03/16/11 09:41 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: sonataplayer]
Smallpiano Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/14/10
Posts: 270
Loc: California
"My policy is a Handshake"

To ROB...I need to learn from you. Thank you for sharing.
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English is my 4th languages, please excuse my grammar. Thanks

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#1642635 - 03/17/11 01:49 AM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: sonataplayer]
Sparkler Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/27/09
Posts: 177
Just to point something out... there are plenty of other businesses who make you sign a contract and early termination fee.

Case in point - cell phone providers.

I don't like it, but I do like my cell phone and I want the service, so I follow their rules.

Personally, I don't charge an early termination fee, but I wouldn't have a problem if a teacher of mine chose to. What I do, is to ask for 2 weeks notice.

I'm generally very strict in my policies but leave room for changing my mind in person. For example, a couple of months ago I had a family quit because the Mom was having health issues. They tried to pay me for the 2 weeks notice and I refused to take it.

On the other hand, another student's mother recently gave me a check that was 1 week's worth of $$ short from what it was supposed to be. I politely handed it back and reminded them about the full amount. This same student is missing 2 out of 5 weeks this month because of personal reasons, but I do offer a make up lesson opportunity once every quarter.

I think most of us have a heart and under extreme circumstances would happily work with any families who were having difficulties. But if you're not strict on paper, people WILL start to run all over you.

Just my random, rambling thoughts. :-)
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#1643046 - 03/17/11 05:17 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: rocket88]
RonaldSteinway Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/11/08
Posts: 1501
Originally Posted By: rocket88
Originally Posted By: liszt85
Originally Posted By: rocket88
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
Originally Posted By: rocket88
I am not being sarcastic...its just a thought.
Really?


Yes really...its called pro bono. I really was not being sarcastic.


Oh yea? The comment about the number of posts I've made here on PW is a dead giveaway. You must think you're really smart.


The # of posts was to illustrate that you have some spare time. Nothing more. I know you won't believe me, but that is what I meant...pro bono work, and you have the time.

Why are you so angry?


When one does have a lot of time and/or does not have a mean to have other fun due to various reasons, such as financial or physical constraints etc, hanging out in PW is an ideal place to have fun. Writing a personal blog is also fun too, for example writing about one's journey on learning piano etc.

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#1643216 - 03/17/11 09:37 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: RonaldSteinway]
alexb Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/19/10
Posts: 265
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: RonaldSteinway
Originally Posted By: rocket88
Originally Posted By: liszt85
Originally Posted By: rocket88
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
Originally Posted By: rocket88
I am not being sarcastic...its just a thought.
Really?


Yes really...its called pro bono. I really was not being sarcastic.


Oh yea? The comment about the number of posts I've made here on PW is a dead giveaway. You must think you're really smart.


The # of posts was to illustrate that you have some spare time. Nothing more. I know you won't believe me, but that is what I meant...pro bono work, and you have the time.

Why are you so angry?


When one does have a lot of time and/or does not have a mean to have other fun due to various reasons, such as financial or physical constraints etc, hanging out in PW is an ideal place to have fun. Writing a personal blog is also fun too, for example writing about one's journey on learning piano etc.


I agree, but like rocket88 noticed, this extra time often turns what should be occasional fun into anger (and frustration) when said time is too much and poster too frustrated for whatever reason.

You'd think a forum about piano and music would be friendly, but the Internet is so often used to vent, no matter what the topic. So it's best to ignore such posts/posters IMO, because they do neither you nor the poster any good bickering back and forth.

A lot of anger out there in the world these days, manifested all over the place in many different ways, and it's sad to see. But venting on the Internet is innocent compared to how others handle their frustrations (i.e crime, etc.).

How venting on the Internet takes away from other more traditional (and dangerous) venting outlets would make for an interesting undergraduate psychology course.

Now back to the topic at hand..

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#1643283 - 03/18/11 12:09 AM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: sonataplayer]
liszt85 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/26/08
Posts: 3159
RonaldSteinway and Alexb are two people who've had altercations with me via PM. Alexb just sent me one yesterday telling me that he was going to warn everybody on PW about me and how I was insincere and what not. RonaldSteinway even called me dumb and crazy via PM and seemingly he hasn't even received a warning from a mod though I reported him when he started calling me names via PM. He wouldn't be trying to pick up a fight again by posting ONE post in a huge thread targeting just me if the mods had done something at that time (I apologize if you already did warn him and he is doing in spite of your warning). The same goes for Alexb. These are troublemakers. I will not directly address them here. If one of the mods do happen to pass by, I'd like to ask you if this behavior is acceptable. Here is this long drawn out discussion with opinions coming from two valid sides and suddenly pops up two people who apparently have personal problems with one of the posters and chooses posts directed against him or made by him to make one (or two) solitary comment on, completely irrelevant to the topic.

I'm posting this here out in the open instead of just notifying them to the mods because I usually don't know if there was any follow up. So I'll leave it out here so that people can decide whether or not to take them seriously. Alexb acts as though he's a saint, advocating people to ignore angry posters. However, only hypocrites do what he does: Warn somebody over PM that they are going to "expose your insincerity to the world", and then make hateful posts in the public forum, doing exactly what he supposedly hates in what I'm doing!

I'm sorry that the other readers have to read this but I really didn't think a private notification to a mod was going to do anything to these guys. Sorry mods.. I know you are doing a great job, and that too unpaid work. So you probably don't get the time to take care of every little issue that every person has on this forum. So I chose not to bother you this time.
_________________________
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Next in line:
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#1643285 - 03/18/11 12:12 AM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: alexb]
liszt85 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/26/08
Posts: 3159
Lest they decide to delete their posts:


Originally Posted By: RonaldSteinway

When one does have a lot of time and/or does not have a mean to have other fun due to various reasons, such as financial or physical constraints etc, hanging out in PW is an ideal place to have fun. Writing a personal blog is also fun too, for example writing about one's journey on learning piano etc.





Originally Posted By: alexb
Originally Posted By: RonaldSteinway


When one does have a lot of time and/or does not have a mean to have other fun due to various reasons, such as financial or physical constraints etc, hanging out in PW is an ideal place to have fun. Writing a personal blog is also fun too, for example writing about one's journey on learning piano etc.


I agree, but like rocket88 noticed, this extra time often turns what should be occasional fun into anger (and frustration) when said time is too much and poster too frustrated for whatever reason.

You'd think a forum about piano and music would be friendly, but the Internet is so often used to vent, no matter what the topic. So it's best to ignore such posts/posters IMO, because they do neither you nor the poster any good bickering back and forth.

A lot of anger out there in the world these days, manifested all over the place in many different ways, and it's sad to see. But venting on the Internet is innocent compared to how others handle their frustrations (i.e crime, etc.).

How venting on the Internet takes away from other more traditional (and dangerous) venting outlets would make for an interesting undergraduate psychology course.

Now back to the topic at hand..
_________________________
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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#1643537 - 03/18/11 12:24 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: liszt85]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12141
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: liszt85
RonaldSteinway and Alexb are two people who've had altercations with me via PM. Alexb just sent me one yesterday telling me that he was going to warn everybody on PW about me and how I was insincere and what not. RonaldSteinway even called me dumb and crazy via PM and seemingly he hasn't even received a warning from a mod though I reported him when he started calling me names via PM. He wouldn't be trying to pick up a fight again by posting ONE post in a huge thread targeting just me if the mods had done something at that time (I apologize if you already did warn him and he is doing in spite of your warning). The same goes for Alexb. These are troublemakers. I will not directly address them here. If one of the mods do happen to pass by, I'd like to ask you if this behavior is acceptable. Here is this long drawn out discussion with opinions coming from two valid sides and suddenly pops up two people who apparently have personal problems with one of the posters and chooses posts directed against him or made by him to make one (or two) solitary comment on, completely irrelevant to the topic.

I'm posting this here out in the open instead of just notifying them to the mods because I usually don't know if there was any follow up. So I'll leave it out here so that people can decide whether or not to take them seriously. Alexb acts as though he's a saint, advocating people to ignore angry posters. However, only hypocrites do what he does: Warn somebody over PM that they are going to "expose your insincerity to the world", and then make hateful posts in the public forum, doing exactly what he supposedly hates in what I'm doing!

I'm sorry that the other readers have to read this but I really didn't think a private notification to a mod was going to do anything to these guys. Sorry mods.. I know you are doing a great job, and that too unpaid work. So you probably don't get the time to take care of every little issue that every person has on this forum. So I chose not to bother you this time.


It does seem these posts are completely off topic and meant to point the finger that those posting on here as being unreasonable. The best way to deal with such things is to ignore them. Any other reaction gives them the power over you they so wish to have. At least, that has always been my experience.
_________________________
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