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#1638288 - 03/10/11 03:44 PM "Leave of Absence" Policy?
sonataplayer Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/09/11
Posts: 50
Loc: New Hampshire
Hi Everyone,

I just discovered this forum and have already learned a great deal from reading the various posts. I love it!

I have recently been having a problem with students taking prolonged periods of time off from lessons, and then expecting to resume lessons on the same day/time when they come back. In one case, the leave of absence was quite justified. This was an adult student who was having some very serious problems with her teenage daughter and no time to focus on piano. The others were rather less justified, e.g., a parent pulling her kids out of lessons for the whole month of December because "the Christmas season is just too hectic;" another mother who, the day before her son's lesson sent an email saying that he would be taking the month of March off because they were having house guests and he would have no time to practice and she would have no time to drive him to his lessons.

I have been toying with the idea of adding a "leave of absence" policy to my contract. Something like: If you choose to take three or more weeks off from lessons I will require payment for those lessons in order to guarantee your lesson time when you return." Does this sound reasonable? If so, should I make an exception for people who have really good reasons for needing to take time off -- serious illness, injury, family crisis, etc.?

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#1638298 - 03/10/11 04:12 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: sonataplayer]
bmbutler Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/15/10
Posts: 225
Loc: North Carolina
Personally, I would not have a "leave of absence" policy. It sounds like (with the one adult student) that these parents aren't committed to the lessons in the first place. I have a studio policy that requires a 30 day notice if lessons are to be discontinued and either the student comes to their lesson for that last month or payment is expected. Very black and white. Have not had any problems. Those that quit or say they will be back sign the policy and abide by it. From my experience, those that say they are going to take a "leave" won't be back. Why would you keep their spot available? I always tell them if this happens that I will try, but cannot guarantee I will have an available slot for them in my schedule.
_________________________
Bachelor of Music (church music)
Master of Church Music (organ, music education)
Piano Teacher since 1992
Church Musician since 1983

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#1638327 - 03/10/11 05:04 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: sonataplayer]
John v.d.Brook Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7200
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA


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.
_________________________
"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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#1638334 - 03/10/11 05:12 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: sonataplayer]
Smallpiano Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/14/10
Posts: 270
Loc: California
Hi John,
I am curious how much is your early termination fee in related to your monthly fee?
Such as if my monthly fee is $120, how much should I charge for early termination fee?
_________________________
English is my 4th languages, please excuse my grammar. Thanks

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#1638410 - 03/10/11 07:15 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: sonataplayer]
Stanny Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/08/06
Posts: 1461
John summed up exactly what I wanted to say.

My studio differs in that I do not have a termination fee. You pay for lessons a semester at a time. There are no refunds. I would suggest a tightening of your studio policy.
_________________________
~Stanny~

Independent Music Teacher
Certified Piano Teacher, American College of Musicians
Member: MTNA, NGPT, ASMTA, NAMTA

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#1638412 - 03/10/11 07:17 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: sonataplayer]
John v.d.Brook Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7200
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
One month's tuition plus any outstanding payments due. So if they terminate on April 1, they'd still owe April's tuition payment plus the termination fee.

If you decide to do this, make sure you spell it out clearly in your policy statements and I'd suggest covering it during the initial interview. For example:

"When you join the Studio, you owe one year's tuition (pro-rated if not at the beginning of the year). If you decide to withdraw from the Studio before the end of the year, you will owe accumulated tuition plus an early withdrawal fee."
_________________________
"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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#1638424 - 03/10/11 07:39 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: Stanny]
ll Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/14/08
Posts: 1101
Originally Posted By: Stanny
John summed up exactly what I wanted to say.

My studio differs in that I do not have a termination fee. You pay for lessons a semester at a time. There are no refunds. I would suggest a tightening of your studio policy.


What do you do if there is a medical emergency in their family, if they move, etc etc etc - particularly outstanding reasons for their withdrawal at any given time?
_________________________
II. As in, second best.
Only lowercase. So not even that.
I teach piano and violin.
BM, Violin & Percussion Performance 2009, Piano Pedagogy 2011.

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#1638426 - 03/10/11 07:47 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: ll]
liszt85 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/26/08
Posts: 3159
Originally Posted By: ll
Originally Posted By: Stanny
John summed up exactly what I wanted to say.

My studio differs in that I do not have a termination fee. You pay for lessons a semester at a time. There are no refunds. I would suggest a tightening of your studio policy.


What do you do if there is a medical emergency in their family, if they move, etc etc etc - particularly outstanding reasons for their withdrawal at any given time?


The termination fee still holds. The families know very well what they're getting into when signing the contract. I'm pretty sure this will be John's response. Correct me if I'm wrong. We've had similar discussions many times before, about the need for a steady income, and why such policies are justified in that respect, etc. Not that I agree with the entire philosophy but what do I know? I have not experienced the difficulties that piano teachers have faced with such situations. I do know though that I would try to find some other solution (to keep my income coming in) rather than to twist people's arms in the event of an emergency.
_________________________
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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#1638429 - 03/10/11 07:50 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: liszt85]
ll Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/14/08
Posts: 1101
Originally Posted By: liszt85
Originally Posted By: ll
Originally Posted By: Stanny
John summed up exactly what I wanted to say.

My studio differs in that I do not have a termination fee. You pay for lessons a semester at a time. There are no refunds. I would suggest a tightening of your studio policy.


What do you do if there is a medical emergency in their family, if they move, etc etc etc - particularly outstanding reasons for their withdrawal at any given time?


The termination fee still holds. The families know very well what they're getting into when signing the contract. I'm pretty sure this will be John's response. Correct me if I'm wrong. We've had similar discussions many times before, about the need for a steady income, and why such policies are justified in that respect, etc. Not that I agree with the entire philosophy but what do I know? I have not experienced the difficulties that piano teachers have faced with such situations. I do know though that I would try to find some other solution (to keep my income coming in) rather than to twist people's arms in the event of an emergency.


I'm talking to Stanny. I'm interested in how one handles such a situation where the entire semester is paid but someone needs to leave half-way through/whenever.
_________________________
II. As in, second best.
Only lowercase. So not even that.
I teach piano and violin.
BM, Violin & Percussion Performance 2009, Piano Pedagogy 2011.

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#1638447 - 03/10/11 08:37 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: sonataplayer]
rocket88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 3158
Where I work we simply tell parents and students that if they leave the regular cycle of weekly lessons for anything other than a bona-fide emergency, and then another student wants that time slot, the new person gets it, and we will be happy to have them come for lessons at another time slot. If they want to keep the time slot, they have to pay for it as if they were attending.

From time to time I have students who want to come every other week. I tell them that is fine (after telling them it is not as good as weekly lessons), but if someone wants that time slot on a weekly basis, they have to forfeit it.

We do try to work around people's schedules as much as possible. However, for the lessons in "prime time", which is from about 3 pm to about 6 pm, those spots are golden, and we make sure people know that.

No one has ever complained about any of the above scenarios, as they know this is a business, and must be run business-like.
_________________________
Music teacher and piano player.

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#1638499 - 03/10/11 11:21 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: ll]
John v.d.Brook Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7200
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Originally Posted By: ll
What do you do if there is a medical emergency in their family, if they move, etc etc etc - particularly outstanding reasons for their withdrawal at any given time?

Think back to your college days - what were the policies of your institution? How far into the semester could you withdraw and receive partial tuition back?

Teachers, whether part of an institution or operating a private studio, have overhead and that overhead has to be distributed among the enrolled students. If one leaves mid-year, should the other students pick up the slack? Or should the institution over-charge everyone figuring someone will drop out mid-year? Teachers cannot really do that, because of the competitiveness of the profession, thus a cancellation fee to help off-set some of these expenses. The teacher usually gets holding the bag, for the most part.
_________________________
"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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#1638517 - 03/10/11 11:54 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: John v.d.Brook]
ll Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/14/08
Posts: 1101
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
Originally Posted By: ll
What do you do if there is a medical emergency in their family, if they move, etc etc etc - particularly outstanding reasons for their withdrawal at any given time?

Think back to your college days - what were the policies of your institution? How far into the semester could you withdraw and receive partial tuition back?

Teachers, whether part of an institution or operating a private studio, have overhead and that overhead has to be distributed among the enrolled students. If one leaves mid-year, should the other students pick up the slack? Or should the institution over-charge everyone figuring someone will drop out mid-year? Teachers cannot really do that, because of the competitiveness of the profession, thus a cancellation fee to help off-set some of these expenses. The teacher usually gets holding the bag, for the most part.


No John, I understand and agree to an extent. I follow the same type of procedure you do: a tuition-based fee based on the year that is split into monthly installments, with a cancellation fee (basically, until the end of the month no matter what happens).

I'm just talking about a teacher who charges for the whole semester, without refunds, and what happens when someone has to stop for whatever reason. Just honestly curious if it's happened and what is done in that situation if it's over a medical emergency or similar reasons.
_________________________
II. As in, second best.
Only lowercase. So not even that.
I teach piano and violin.
BM, Violin & Percussion Performance 2009, Piano Pedagogy 2011.

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#1638533 - 03/11/11 12:16 AM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: sonataplayer]
Candywoman Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/14/03
Posts: 824
"Unless otherwise agreed to prior to September, you are committed to forty lessons for this session, beginning in September 2010 and ending in June 2011." You could write a line like this in your Welcome Sheet.

For the Christmas parent, I'd say you still have to pay for the lessons, but if you'd prefer, we can do two lessons per week for a few weeks in January.

For the house guests, I'd say, any of your house guests are welcome to sit in on the lesson. But you cannot take a whole month off.

My feeling is you might be getting these sorts of people because your rate is too low. Am I correct?

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#1638689 - 03/11/11 09:16 AM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: sonataplayer]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 10775
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Welcome to the forum, sonataplayer! As you can see, there are many different kinds of policies, each suited to fit a particular teacher's personality.

I used to charge either by the month (all 17 lessons per semester divided up into equal monthly payments regardless of how many lessons in the month) or by the semester (all 17 lessons paid upfront). The problem with that was I started to audition and be involved in operas which would mean missing weeks during production or auditioning. This created a lot of extra stress on me to make up those lessons. So I decided to make my policy more flexible and only have students pay for however many lessons they would have in that month. I don't issue refunds, but then I can decide if I want to credit them the next month or make up a missed lesson.

My income is a lot less stable/predictable this way, and of course I know I am not making as much money as I did previously. But for my own sanity, and also to be more flexible for my students, it has really worked out for the better all around. But I understand where you're coming from, too.

I think that having a separate policy for leave of absence will be unnecessary, though. I require 30 days notice for cancellation of lessons. Like a previous poster pointed out, many people will say they're taking a break for a little while, but many do not return after such break. Either that's they're way of leaving without saying something they feel would hurt your feelings, or they just know they need more free time and once they get it, they realize that piano is not a priority for them at this time. And then, of course, things just come up - someone loses a job and can't afford lessons anymore, for example. Whatever the reason, I don't see the need to hold a lesson time for them. If a student gives me a 30-day cancellation notice, then I ask them if they will be coming to lessons during that time. Some come for the first 2 and then stop coming, others will say they won't be coming and forfeit that time, and others still will take advantage of the lessons they've paid for. After that, their time is open for someone else.
_________________________
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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#1638708 - 03/11/11 09:48 AM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: ll]
John v.d.Brook Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7200
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Originally Posted By: 11
I'm interested in how one handles such a situation where the entire semester is paid but someone needs to leave half-way through/whenever.

Originally Posted By: ll
I'm just talking about a teacher who charges for the whole semester, without refunds, and what happens when someone has to stop for whatever reason. Just honestly curious if it's happened and what is done in that situation if it's over a medical emergency or similar reasons.


It hasn't happened to me; the people who pay a year in advance are generally in stable professions or jobs where they have the ability to anticipate large expenses and handle them. Their students would naturally finish the year.

I have one exception to my policy, and that's for military families (we have two very large military installations not too far away) who may have to relocate with little or no notice. I appreciate their defense of me and my loved-ones, and our country, so I'm more than happy to waive the cancellation fee.
_________________________
"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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#1638730 - 03/11/11 10:10 AM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: Morodiene]
sonataplayer Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/09/11
Posts: 50
Loc: New Hampshire
So I decided to make my policy more flexible and only have students pay for however many lessons they would have in that month. I don't issue refunds, but then I can decide if I want to credit them the next month or make up a missed lesson.


I think that having a separate policy for leave of absence will be unnecessary, though. I require 30 days notice for cancellation of lessons.


That is my policy too; students pay monthly for however many lessons they would have in the month, i.e., if their lesson is on Thursday, and there are four Thursdays in the month, they pay for four lessons. If students notify me at the beginning of the month that they will be unable to make a lesson on a certain week because of a planned vacation, previously scheduled commitment, etc. they do not have to pay me for that week's lesson. If, on the other hand, they cancel a lesson during the month -- for whatever reason -- I will not credit them for that weeks's lesson. I will try to reschedule it at a mutually convenient time, but I do not guarantee a re-scheduled, i.e., makeup, lesson. This has worked pretty well for me, although I agree that it would be much easier to have a simpler policy, e.g. pay by the semester, no refunds, no make-ups.

But when people start taking months at a time off, this obviously impacts my income quite a bit. Hence, my idea that perhaps charging them for the missed lessons in order to ensure that their space will be available when they return made sense.

BTW...I understand that some people just use the "I need to take some time off" as an easy way to quit; I've experienced that, but this is not the case with the examples I pointed out. The person taking her kids out of lessons for the month of December was back in January, and I feel pretty certain that the mother taking March off will be back too. I have no sense that she or her son are unhappy with the lessons and/or my teaching; they just want the time off, and see no reason why they shouldn't be able to take it and resume lessons whenever they like, without consequence. Grrrrrr...

A question about the "30 day's notice for cancellation of lessons" policy. Does that apply to a student taking a break from lessons as well as a student who is quitting for good?

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#1638741 - 03/11/11 10:36 AM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: sonataplayer]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 10775
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: sonataplayer
So I decided to make my policy more flexible and only have students pay for however many lessons they would have in that month. I don't issue refunds, but then I can decide if I want to credit them the next month or make up a missed lesson.


I think that having a separate policy for leave of absence will be unnecessary, though. I require 30 days notice for cancellation of lessons.


That is my policy too; students pay monthly for however many lessons they would have in the month, i.e., if their lesson is on Thursday, and there are four Thursdays in the month, they pay for four lessons. If students notify me at the beginning of the month that they will be unable to make a lesson on a certain week because of a planned vacation, previously scheduled commitment, etc. they do not have to pay me for that week's lesson. If, on the other hand, they cancel a lesson during the month -- for whatever reason -- I will not credit them for that weeks's lesson. I will try to reschedule it at a mutually convenient time, but I do not guarantee a re-scheduled, i.e., makeup, lesson. This has worked pretty well for me, although I agree that it would be much easier to have a simpler policy, e.g. pay by the semester, no refunds, no make-ups.

But when people start taking months at a time off, this obviously impacts my income quite a bit. Hence, my idea that perhaps charging them for the missed lessons in order to ensure that their space will be available when they return made sense.

BTW...I understand that some people just use the "I need to take some time off" as an easy way to quit; I've experienced that, but this is not the case with the examples I pointed out. The person taking her kids out of lessons for the month of December was back in January, and I feel pretty certain that the mother taking March off will be back too. I have no sense that she or her son are unhappy with the lessons and/or my teaching; they just want the time off, and see no reason why they shouldn't be able to take it and resume lessons whenever they like, without consequence. Grrrrrr...

A question about the "30 day's notice for cancellation of lessons" policy. Does that apply to a student taking a break from lessons as well as a student who is quitting for good?


Of course, because how do you know they will return until they actually do? FWIW, I have really never encountered the "I need a month off" thing. I generally try to give ample time off for holidays, and more often than not it suits their vacation schedules. When it doesn't it's usually a day off here or there. Taking a month off means they lose their lesson time IMO with the exception of the summer, when we both take a month off laugh
_________________________
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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#1638743 - 03/11/11 10:38 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: 11
I'm interested in how one handles such a situation where the entire semester is paid but someone needs to leave half-way through/whenever.

Originally Posted By: ll
I'm just talking about a teacher who charges for the whole semester, without refunds, and what happens when someone has to stop for whatever reason. Just honestly curious if it's happened and what is done in that situation if it's over a medical emergency or similar reasons.


It hasn't happened to me; the people who pay a year in advance are generally in stable professions or jobs where they have the ability to anticipate large expenses and handle them. Their students would naturally finish the year.

I have one exception to my policy, and that's for military families (we have two very large military installations not too far away) who may have to relocate with little or no notice. I appreciate their defense of me and my loved-ones, and our country, so I'm more than happy to waive the cancellation fee.


Do you have students who come from non-military families and are not rich? What proportion of your total number of students would you estimate that to be?

Its unfortunate that some of the best teachers are only accessible to the rich. (This is a general statement, need not necessarily allude to your set up, John).
_________________________
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
#1638746 - 03/11/11 10:47 AM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: liszt85]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 10775
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: liszt85
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
Originally Posted By: 11
I'm interested in how one handles such a situation where the entire semester is paid but someone needs to leave half-way through/whenever.

Originally Posted By: ll
I'm just talking about a teacher who charges for the whole semester, without refunds, and what happens when someone has to stop for whatever reason. Just honestly curious if it's happened and what is done in that situation if it's over a medical emergency or similar reasons.


It hasn't happened to me; the people who pay a year in advance are generally in stable professions or jobs where they have the ability to anticipate large expenses and handle them. Their students would naturally finish the year.

I have one exception to my policy, and that's for military families (we have two very large military installations not too far away) who may have to relocate with little or no notice. I appreciate their defense of me and my loved-ones, and our country, so I'm more than happy to waive the cancellation fee.


Do you have students who come from non-military families and are not rich? What proportion of your total number of students would you estimate that to be?

Its unfortunate that some of the best teachers are only accessible to the rich. (This is a general statement, need not necessarily allude to your set up, John).


I think a lot of times it's not wealth, but priorities. I have had several students who make lessons a priority despite being underprivileged. I try hard to be accommodating to those families while still being able to afford to teach them.
_________________________
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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#1638767 - 03/11/11 11:21 AM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: liszt85]
John v.d.Brook Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7200
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Originally Posted By: liszt85
Do you have students who come from non-military families and are not rich? What proportion of your total number of students would you estimate that to be?

100%. None of them are rich in any real sense of the word; a few are upper middle class. Most are in the struggling to make ends meet every month. And I assure you, the military families are far, far, far from rich. Quite a few families are splitting tuition between parents and grand-parents. It's really a matter of priorities for each family. Do they spend their available resources on their children's education or on entertainment or on goodies for themselves?
_________________________
"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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#1638788 - 03/11/11 11:41 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
Do you have students who come from non-military families and are not rich? What proportion of your total number of students would you estimate that to be?

100%. None of them are rich in any real sense of the word; a few are upper middle class. Most are in the struggling to make ends meet every month. And I assure you, the military families are far, far, far from rich. Quite a few families are splitting tuition between parents and grand-parents. It's really a matter of priorities for each family. Do they spend their available resources on their children's education or on entertainment or on goodies for themselves?


That's good then. I'm surprised though that they commit to annual tuition without the possibility of flexibility even in the event of emergency (no way out from the early termination fees). That is not what I would expect from people who seriously have difficult making ends meet each month as you claim. I myself belong to that group of people who have difficulty making ends meet each month and I pay $70 for a one hour lesson each month, that's all I can afford. I would never sign on a sheet of paper that says that I'd have to pay $100 to withdraw from lessons for any reason.
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#1638808 - 03/11/11 11:57 AM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: sonataplayer]
John v.d.Brook Online   content
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That's the beauty of capitalism - choice. You can choose the teacher who best meets your needs, and others have the same freedom to do so. No "one size fits all" like we have in certain quarters.
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#1638819 - 03/11/11 12:08 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: John v.d.Brook]
liszt85 Offline
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Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
That's the beauty of capitalism - choice. You can choose the teacher who best meets your needs, and others have the same freedom to do so. No "one size fits all" like we have in certain quarters.


That doesn't answer my question about the inconsistency (between what you expect poor people to choose and what you claim your customers choose: your policy, which is NOT something that I expect a poor man to choose, there might be exceptions but most certainly not 100% like you claim). For people who barely make ends meet, the choice that you offer (logically) seems to be something that's not really an option for them. However, you claim that all of them make it work. You even go on to say that 100% of your clients are not rich, but you began talking about it in this thread saying that most of your families have a steady and reliable income that they don't mind committing to a year's lessons, even with the caveat that you put in your policy about cancellations. I don't quite fathom it. So either your estimate about your clients' wealth in your most recent posts is wrong, or there is some weird sociological phenomenon going on here that I don't quite understand. I know what else could explain this: your conception of "rich" and mine might differ. For you, rich might mean somebody who makes $500,000 a year. For me, rich means anybody who makes more than $100K a year.
_________________________
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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#1638858 - 03/11/11 01:13 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: liszt85]
Morodiene Offline
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Originally Posted By: liszt85
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
That's the beauty of capitalism - choice. You can choose the teacher who best meets your needs, and others have the same freedom to do so. No "one size fits all" like we have in certain quarters.


That doesn't answer my question about the inconsistency (between what you expect poor people to choose and what you claim your customers choose: your policy, which is NOT something that I expect a poor man to choose, there might be exceptions but most certainly not 100% like you claim). For people who barely make ends meet, the choice that you offer (logically) seems to be something that's not really an option for them. However, you claim that all of them make it work. You even go on to say that 100% of your clients are not rich, but you began talking about it in this thread saying that most of your families have a steady and reliable income that they don't mind committing to a year's lessons, even with the caveat that you put in your policy about cancellations. I don't quite fathom it. So either your estimate about your clients' wealth in your most recent posts is wrong, or there is some weird sociological phenomenon going on here that I don't quite understand. I know what else could explain this: your conception of "rich" and mine might differ. For you, rich might mean somebody who makes $500,000 a year. For me, rich means anybody who makes more than $100K a year.


Since you said you weren't necessarily addressing John with your concerns, I'll jump in. Obviously, John has students that make it work and enjoy taking lessons from him. Those that don't, dont' sign up and find someone who has a policy and price that suits their needs. I have students whose parents are on fixed incomes, single incomes, disability, etc. and my rates are not on the top in the community, but I would say the upper 3rd. Those that really want to study with me make it work, and I try to cooperate with them as much as my own budget can allow (like John does with military families). If he says he doesn't teach only rich people, then you'll have to take his word on it.

For me, those families that cannot afford the rates that I have set do have many options in the community of teachers who charge much less. I am pretty confident that the people who don't make a lot of money would able to afford lessons, but it may be more of a sacrifice for them than someone else. That doesn't mean I should have to live as a starving musician (been there, done that) so that I can ensure everyone who wants lessons will get them. There are also programs out there for underprivileged families and teachers who are a part of this program agre to teach at no more than 50% of their costs should the families meet all the financial criteria and agree to the teacher's policy.


Edited by Morodiene (03/11/11 01:15 PM)
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#1638859 - 03/11/11 01:16 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: sonataplayer]
John v.d.Brook Online   content
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If a rich person makes $100k, what does a middle class person earn?
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#1638877 - 03/11/11 01:35 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: John v.d.Brook]
liszt85 Offline
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Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
If a rich person makes $100k, what does a middle class person earn?


$70K? You do realize that a lot of piano teachers only make that much, don't you? They are not rich, they are middle class people who chose to teach (and chose to go to college for music) not for the money. Nobody in their right senses would be a music major in the hopes of making loads of cash.

I make $21K and am way below poverty line. :P So yes, I guessed right..it is indeed in our differences of the conception of "rich" and "poor". The poorest that's acceptable to you (and your studio) is probably someone who makes 70K a year.
_________________________
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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
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#1638883 - 03/11/11 01:43 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: liszt85]
John v.d.Brook Online   content
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Originally Posted By: liszt85
That doesn't answer my question about the inconsistency (between what you expect poor people to choose and what you claim your customers choose: your policy, which is NOT something that I expect a poor man to choose, there might be exceptions but most certainly not 100% like you claim). For people who barely make ends meet, the choice that you offer (logically) seems to be something that's not really an option for them. However, you claim that all of them make it work. You even go on to say that 100% of your clients are not rich, but you began talking about it in this thread saying that most of your families have a steady and reliable income that they don't mind committing to a year's lessons, even with the caveat that you put in your policy about cancellations. I don't quite fathom it. So either your estimate about your clients' wealth in your most recent posts is wrong, or there is some weird sociological phenomenon going on here that I don't quite understand. I know what else could explain this: your conception of "rich" and mine might differ. For you, rich might mean somebody who makes $500,000 a year. For me, rich means anybody who makes more than $100K a year.

Perhaps the larger issue is our differing expectations of businesses. I offer a service which, if I do a good job at it, provides my customers a solid musical education and provides me a steady income. A fair trade in my estimation. It doesn't provide great wealth which I knew going in (oh, if only I could be a bus driver in Wisconsin such as Madison bus driver, John E. Nelson, was able to make $159,000 in 2009) but a sufficient income to meet our needs. It's not my job to figure out how my services could be affordable to 100% of the population. I couldn't possibly do that anyway. I simply offer a service with some prudent caveats.

Originally Posted By: liszt85
$70K? You do realize that a lot of piano teachers only make that much, don't you? They are not rich, they are middle class people who chose to teach (and chose to go to college for music) not for the money. Nobody in their right senses would be a music major in the hopes of making loads of cash.

You got that right. I don't know a single piano teacher who makes anywhere that amount. A few may gross $50k, but after the tax wallop, it's a whole lot less.
_________________________
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#1638885 - 03/11/11 01:46 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: sonataplayer]
Ann in Kentucky Offline
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sonataplayer, my policy is that if a student takes unpaid leave from lessons there is a $50 re-enrollment fee upon returning. This is working well for me.

This has also acted as a deterrent to returning. One parent who was particularly difficult decided to "think it over" when she called to restart lessons. It was really a dodged bullet to not have them return.

This has also helped parents to understand what I expect from them. I go over the policy with parents at our initial meeting and no one has a problem with it.

Some teachers here on PW don't like to call it a re-enrollment fee. So feel free to call it something else.


Edited by Ann in Kentucky (03/11/11 01:47 PM)
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#1638936 - 03/11/11 03:12 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: John v.d.Brook]
liszt85 Offline
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Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook

It's not my job to figure out how my services could be affordable to 100% of the population.


Absolutely. However then, you must probably not claim that 100% of your clientele are non-rich (felt that it was a better term than "poor") but yet manage to make sacrifices to be able to sign on your policy. You have pretty high standards for "rich". So somebody who makes $100K a year wouldn't mind spending $100 on an early termination fee (and I have a strange suspicion that your early termination fee might be even higher than this guesstimate of mine), whereas somebody who's genuinely poor, might have to sacrifice some grocery that month if they were to sign your policy. Trust me, there are people like that, who make real sacrifices to pay for their piano lessons. Policies like this only make good music education even less accessible to them than it already is. There do exist good teachers out there who realize this and avoid such stringent policies but like you said, its your choice and it works well for you, so be it. Also, your sentiment seems to be the majority view on the teacher's forum here. The other kind also do exist here and I personally appreciate the second kind a tad more than the former. Yea yea, its how capitalism works. All that's fine. However, we as human beings can also make little differences.
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#1638937 - 03/11/11 03:14 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: Morodiene]
liszt85 Offline
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Originally Posted By: Morodiene

If he says he doesn't teach only rich people, then you'll have to take his word on it.


Not if our definitions of "rich" are poles apart. 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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#1638953 - 03/11/11 03:47 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: liszt85]
AZNpiano Online   sleepy
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Originally Posted By: liszt85
$70K? You do realize that a lot of piano teachers only make that much, don't you?


?????? That's a lot to assume. Most piano teachers make way, way less than $70K.
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#1638956 - 03/11/11 03:51 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: AZNpiano]
liszt85 Offline
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Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
Originally Posted By: liszt85
$70K? You do realize that a lot of piano teachers only make that much, don't you?


?????? That's a lot to assume. Most piano teachers make way, way less than $70K.


I was being extremely liberal with my estimate there because John seems to have quite a high bar for his definition of "rich". He would call $50K below poverty line and I didn't want to make piano teachers look that poor!
_________________________
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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#1638960 - 03/11/11 03:57 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: Morodiene]
AZNpiano Online   sleepy
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Originally Posted By: Morodiene
For me, those families that cannot afford the rates that I have set do have many options in the community of teachers who charge much less. I am pretty confident that the people who don't make a lot of money would able to afford lessons.


That's a very accurate description. There is a teacher in the next town over who charges 1/4 of what I charge, and she has students lining out the door.

As a working professional, you want to set your fees right at the threshold of what your ideal clients are willing to pay. I know I'm losing a lot of potential students to teachers who charge less, but I also have to make a living with the number of hours that I can work in a week!
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#1638968 - 03/11/11 04:04 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: liszt85]
John v.d.Brook Online   content
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Our definitions are poles apart, but I suspect your's might be skewed because of where you sit on the income scale.

According to the US Government, the mean income, family of two, both parents over age 25, is $86,500. The median income is a bit lower at $64,200.

I found this material at http://www.buzzle.com/articles/average-american-income.html. It's probably accurate enough for our discussion:
Quote:
9th Grade or Less
A person who has completed education till 9th grade and older than 25, irrespective of sex, race and occupation has a mean annual earning of $20,308. Which can be a pretty misleading figure as the mean figure will shoot up drastically if one of this sample set earns a lot more. So the median income is given to be around $17,422, which I feel is a more accurate number.

High School Graduate
A high school graduation opens up a lot more job openings in America. And hence understandably, the mean income again is higher. The mean income for a high school graduate is $31,664 while the median earning is $26,505.

Bachelor's Degree
A person with a bachelor's degree on his job application no doubt commands a better salary. The average American income for a person holding a bachelor's degree is more than the national average and stands at $56,740. The median earnings are $43,143. Which basically means that if you're an American holding a bachelor's degree or a higher qualification, you are most certainly earning a lot more than the average American income.

Master's Degree
A person holding a master's degree surely must be holding one of the highest paying jobs in the United States. With a mean earning of $68,302 and a median of $52,390, it is for sure a very impressive amount!

Professional Degree
The cherry on the cake really. Read the figures and gawk. A person with a professional degree on an average makes... wait for it... $119,343 per year. A massive figure indeed. Even the median number for it looks really good. $82,473 per year still means you're right up there! Biggest fish in the job search market!

Basically, for a family of two parents, with at least a BA or BS degree, they are likely to earn close to your figure of being "rich."

I recall that during the presidential race, they were bandying about the figure of $250K as being rich. Truthfully, that seems a bit on the low side to me.

We used to call people in this category "well to do" but certainly not rich. Times have changed!
_________________________
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#1638970 - 03/11/11 04:05 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: sonataplayer]
AZNpiano Online   sleepy
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liszt85--

This issue really has nothing to do with family income. I have taught and still teach children of wealthy families that make over $250K. I also have taught children of families that make less than I do. Regardless of their family income, all students follow the same studio policy IF they want to study with me. That is their choice.

Many families value piano in their children's education. Spending $2,500 a year on piano lessons is a price that many families ("rich" or "poor") are willing to pay.
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#1638976 - 03/11/11 04:08 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: liszt85]
John v.d.Brook Online   content
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Originally Posted By: liszt85
I was being extremely liberal with my estimate there because John seems to have quite a high bar for his definition of "rich". He would call $50K below poverty line and I didn't want to make piano teachers look that poor!

How on earth do you know what I would call poor? I make less than $50K. I don't consider myself poor, nor do I consider my wife and myself rich by any standard.
_________________________
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#1638985 - 03/11/11 04:30 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: ll]
Stanny Offline
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Originally Posted By: ll
Originally Posted By: liszt85
Originally Posted By: ll
Originally Posted By: Stanny
John summed up exactly what I wanted to say.

My studio differs in that I do not have a termination fee. You pay for lessons a semester at a time. There are no refunds. I would suggest a tightening of your studio policy.


What do you do if there is a medical emergency in their family, if they move, etc etc etc - particularly outstanding reasons for their withdrawal at any given time?


The termination fee still holds. The families know very well what they're getting into when signing the contract. I'm pretty sure this will be John's response. Correct me if I'm wrong. We've had similar discussions many times before, about the need for a steady income, and why such policies are justified in that respect, etc. Not that I agree with the entire philosophy but what do I know? I have not experienced the difficulties that piano teachers have faced with such situations. I do know though that I would try to find some other solution (to keep my income coming in) rather than to twist people's arms in the event of an emergency.


I'm talking to Stanny. I'm interested in how one handles such a situation where the entire semester is paid but someone needs to leave half-way through/whenever.


In the 10 years I've been teaching, I've never had anyone need to leave half way through a semester. I'm sure if there was a medical emergency, or a death of a parent or something along those lines, I'd be flexible. I just don't spell it out in the policy because it's at my discretion.
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#1638987 - 03/11/11 04:35 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: AZNpiano]
liszt85 Offline
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Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
liszt85--

This issue really has nothing to do with family income. I have taught and still teach children of wealthy families that make over $250K. I also have taught children of families that make less than I do. Regardless of their family income, all students follow the same studio policy IF they want to study with me. That is their choice.

Many families value piano in their children's education. Spending $2,500 a year on piano lessons is a price that many families ("rich" or "poor") are willing to pay.


We were not discussing lesson prices. We were discussing certain policies which have early termination fees and other kinds of fees included.

I'm having difficulty getting folks to make consistent statements here. So the discussion is becoming useless now.
_________________________
Current:
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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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#1638991 - 03/11/11 04:38 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: John v.d.Brook]
liszt85 Offline
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Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
If a rich person makes $100k, what does a middle class person earn?


This is why I thought you would consider somebody who makes $50K poor. In my mind, anybody who makes $100K a year is rich. You seemed to disagree. So why is it surprising to you that I think you wouldn't think $50K to be any significant amount of money for anybody to be earning annually?
_________________________
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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#1638992 - 03/11/11 04:38 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: sonataplayer]
Stanny Offline
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And since the thread has migrated over to income, I just want to pop in and say my families on the lower income side are the best about paying on time and making sure their children work hard at home.
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#1639000 - 03/11/11 04:45 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: Stanny]
John v.d.Brook Online   content
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Many years ago, when I was a much younger and less experienced teacher, parents were walking all over me. They would come up with a thousand excuses to quite lessons in May, or even April, leaving me holding the bag for various expenses I contracted on their behalf. Now, whether it's maturity, experience or studio policies, families "stick it out" for the year and without complaint.

And you're correct - at least in my experience as well, family income has little correlation with paying on time or preparing lessons at home.
_________________________
"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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#1639002 - 03/11/11 04:48 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: Stanny]
liszt85 Offline
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Originally Posted By: Stanny
And since the thread has migrated over to income, I just want to pop in and say my families on the lower income side are the best about paying on time and making sure their children work hard at home.


I haven't disagreed with that. I myself fall into that category. I take it very seriously because I don't have money to waste. The point though was about the early termination and other such clauses that some highly sought after teachers have. Since people seem to be confused about what I agree with and disagree with, I guess there is no point in continuing this discussion.
_________________________
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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#1639003 - 03/11/11 04:51 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: John v.d.Brook]
liszt85 Offline
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Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
Now, whether it's maturity, experience or studio policies, families "stick it out" for the year and without complaint.


In that case I'm willing to bet that 100% of these are not families that make $50K a year (since you now seem to say that $50K is not poor and since you also say that 100% of your clients are not rich). So what you said about 100% of your clients being poor/non-rich just doesn't make sense. You have a decent proportion of rich clients, its as simple as that.
_________________________
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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#1639008 - 03/11/11 05:01 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: liszt85]
John v.d.Brook Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7200
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
No, I don't define $100K income as rich, nor do most people and economists. It is solidly middle class.
_________________________
"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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#1639031 - 03/11/11 05:29 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: sonataplayer]
liszt85 Offline
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Posts: 3159
So $100K is middle class. I earlier claimed that you probably think $50K is poor but you vehemently denied it saying that you yourself make only $50K and you don't consider yourself poor. So you consider $50K middle class too? So middle class = 50K - 100K in your opinion then? That's quite a range! Am I missing something here? This doesn't make any sense whatsoever John, sorry.

So I assume then that most of your clients are "middle class"? That's all that I wanted to say, except that "middle class" is now in quotes as all of this is really relative.
_________________________
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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#1639040 - 03/11/11 05:36 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: sonataplayer]
ll Offline
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Registered: 11/14/08
Posts: 1101
Liszt85, it seems you're arguing something that doesn't actually seem to be an issue for anyone but you. You're also trying to pick specifics at a generalization. It doesn't work quite like that.

Poverty limits depend on the number of people within the household. On top of that, anything in a huge range is then broken down - 50k, for example, could be lower middle class, while 100k is upper middle class. Just as a note.
_________________________
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Only lowercase. So not even that.
I teach piano and violin.
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#1639043 - 03/11/11 05:41 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: ll]
liszt85 Offline
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Posts: 3159
Originally Posted By: ll
Liszt85, it seems you're arguing something that doesn't actually seem to be an issue for anyone but you.


Its easy to say that when most people taking part in the discussion are piano teachers. Anyway, I'm outta here. I can't stand inconsistencies.
_________________________
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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#1639044 - 03/11/11 05:41 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: liszt85]
rocket88 Offline
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Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 3158
Originally Posted By: liszt85
So middle class = 50K - 100K in your opinion then? That's quite a range! Am I missing something here? This doesn't make any sense whatsoever John, sorry.


I just did a quick google search of "middle class" and what that means in $$.

Answers vary, but all answers indicated that middle class is a very wide range of income, and most had the range as much wider than just 50K.
_________________________
Music teacher and piano player.

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#1639047 - 03/11/11 05:44 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: rocket88]
liszt85 Offline
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Originally Posted By: rocket88
Originally Posted By: liszt85
So middle class = 50K - 100K in your opinion then? That's quite a range! Am I missing something here? This doesn't make any sense whatsoever John, sorry.


I just did a quick google search of "middle class" and what that means in $$.

Answers range about, but all answers indicated that middle class is a very wide range of income, and most had the range as much wider than just 50K.


I'm sure then that you came across the following quotes:

Everyone wants to believe they are middle class...But this eagerness...has led the definition to be stretched like a bungee cord — used to defend/attack/describe everything...The Drum Major Institute...places the range for middle class at individuals making between $25,000 and $100,000 a year. Ah yes, there's a group of people bound to run into each other while house-hunting.
—Dante Chinni


Definitions of the working class are confusing. Defined in terms of income, they may be split into middle-middle or statistical middle class in order to speak to issues of class structure. Class models such as Dennis Gilbert or Thompson and Hickey estimate that roughly 53% of Americans are members of the working or lower classes.




Edited by liszt85 (03/11/11 05:46 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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#1639071 - 03/11/11 06:01 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: liszt85]
ll Offline
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Originally Posted By: liszt85
Originally Posted By: ll
Liszt85, it seems you're arguing something that doesn't actually seem to be an issue for anyone but you.


Its easy to say that when most people taking part in the discussion are piano teachers. Anyway, I'm outta here. I can't stand inconsistencies.


I don't mean to disagree with your intent. I'm just saying, I don't think it becomes an issue in the sense you're thinking.

I offer fairly decent prices. While not at the lower spectrum, I definitely don't charge as much as some teachers. And I also participate in a program that subsidizes lower-income families with piano lessons, with a bit of a loss on my part. However, I couldn't logically ONLY have students like this.

That said, I should mention my income from teaching isn't my primary - as I do other things (non-music related) for that. But most teachers are just that: full-time teachers. They need a living too.
_________________________
II. As in, second best.
Only lowercase. So not even that.
I teach piano and violin.
BM, Violin & Percussion Performance 2009, Piano Pedagogy 2011.

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#1639081 - 03/11/11 06:12 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: liszt85]
rocket88 Offline
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Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 3158
Originally Posted By: liszt85
Originally Posted By: rocket88
Originally Posted By: liszt85
So middle class = 50K - 100K in your opinion then? That's quite a range! Am I missing something here? This doesn't make any sense whatsoever John, sorry.

I just did a quick google search of "middle class" and what that means in $$.

Answers range about, but all answers indicated that middle class is a very wide range of income, and most had the range as much wider than just 50K.


I'm sure then that you came across the following quotes:


Please do not claim that I saw those quotes. I did not see them.

What I did see was such a blizzard of information that I just quickly scanned a few reports, and they all agreed that the range of "middle class income" was wide, usually greater that 50K, the range you disputed with John.
_________________________
Music teacher and piano player.

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#1639122 - 03/11/11 07:36 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: liszt85]
LimeFriday Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/02/09
Posts: 303
Loc: Australia
Originally Posted By: liszt85
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
liszt85--

This issue really has nothing to do with family income. I have taught and still teach children of wealthy families that make over $250K. I also have taught children of families that make less than I do. Regardless of their family income, all students follow the same studio policy IF they want to study with me. That is their choice.

Many families value piano in their children's education. Spending $2,500 a year on piano lessons is a price that many families ("rich" or "poor") are willing to pay.


We were not discussing lesson prices. We were discussing certain policies which have early termination fees and other kinds of fees included.

I'm having difficulty getting folks to make consistent statements here. So the discussion is becoming useless now.


Why do you assume that termination fees would be off putting to people on low incomes? I've been living way under the poverty line for the last couple of years... so I am not speaking from a 'middle class or rich' position here. But there are termination fees for almost any contract you enter in to. Mobile phone contracts, mortgages and other bank loans, and so on. It's a fact of life when you make a commitment to something.

Why would a termination fee and other charges be off putting in music education when people on low/lower incomes enter into such contracts in many other areas of their lives?

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#1639188 - 03/11/11 10:34 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: sonataplayer]
stores Online   happy
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Loc: Here, as opposed to there
Wow. Anyone thinking $100K is rich has a rude awakening ahead of them at some point in life.
_________________________

"And if we look at the works of J.S. Bach — a benevolent god to which all musicians should offer a prayer to defend themselves against mediocrity... -Debussy

"It's ok if you disagree with me. I can't force you to be right."

♪ ≠ $


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#1639194 - 03/11/11 10:41 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: stores]
liszt85 Offline
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Registered: 08/26/08
Posts: 3159
Originally Posted By: stores
Wow. Anyone thinking $100K is rich has a rude awakening ahead of them at some point in life.


I certainly hope I get to a point where I do have a rude awakening waiting for me, if you know what I mean because right now, $100K a year seems like more than sufficient money to me. Anybody who has more than sufficient money is rich in my book.
_________________________
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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#1639243 - 03/11/11 11:38 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: sonataplayer]
Minniemay Offline
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$100K is a lot more than my husband I make together!
_________________________
B.A., Piano, Piano Pegagogy, Music Ed.
M.M., Piano

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#1639370 - 03/12/11 05:44 AM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: sonataplayer]
LimeFriday Offline
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Registered: 11/02/09
Posts: 303
Loc: Australia
$100K is certainly rich when you are living the lifestyle of someone who earns less than $20K wink All depends on vantage point I suppose. Though I have to say - I won't be getting a rude awakening... I felt plenty rich in the days when I was earning $80K. That was more than enough for my needs and to enjoy the things I enjoyed.

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#1639431 - 03/12/11 09:00 AM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: sonataplayer]
Morodiene Offline
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It's important to consider the cost of living in an area too. Ohio and California do not have the same economies and average costs for necessities, for example. In our area, someone making $100k is rich, or at the very least upper middle class. I also do not know any teachers that make $70k. I'm *very* lucky if I break $30k in a year.
_________________________
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#1639496 - 03/12/11 11:08 AM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: sonataplayer]
liszt85 Offline
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Posts: 3159
I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks $100K is at least upper middle class and is more than sufficient money for most people (of course it depends.. if you have 10 kids, that probably is not enough). Cost of living is a consideration too, but for someone to say that 100K is not rich (even calling clients who make $50-100K "struggling to make ends meet" to justify some point) is ridiculous. The wiki quote I posted earlier summarizes this well. People want to stretch the range of what "middle-class" is for various reasons, defending statements such as the ones made in this thread included.
_________________________
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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#1639523 - 03/12/11 11:43 AM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: sonataplayer]
ando Offline
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Registered: 11/23/10
Posts: 3340
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Just because somebody's income falls into a statistical middle ground doesn't mean they aren't rich. Some countries have bloated economies and unrealistic impressions of what richness entails. Are we going to start classifying somebody with $10 million dollars as just upper middle-class because there are people like Warren Buffet and Bill Gates around? Try comparing how people live in countries outside of the Western World and most of us will consider ourselves very rich. I recently found out that I am living in poverty according to a statistical model - first I'd heard of it. I think I live a very wealthy life even if I am at the bottom end of the scale. I find it both amusing and perverse that some people think wealth is only relative to what those around them have. Talk about ungrateful! Even people on social security benefits are rich compared to many people in the world who don't get them. I honestly don't even care what I earn compared to other people. If I have enough to live well, that's all I need to know. I can still buy my luxuries, I can still go on holidays once a year. What business do I have in accepting my official mantle of "living in poverty"? I should also add that it is largely a personal decision on my part because I decided that I wanted to work less and have more time for things I like. I sacrificed some income, but I don't feel any poorer. Only people who genuinely have to go without necessities, can be considered poor. People who have little trouble affording things are rich. There you go, richness can be defined without actually specifying numbers and comparing people with each other. That's one of the curses of the modern world - jealousy and competitiveness over what others have.

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#1639537 - 03/12/11 12:02 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: sonataplayer]
liszt85 Offline
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Finally, somebody who understands statistics (though there are points in your argument that might oppose both sides of the argument at hand here ;)). I believe you would agree with me though when I say that people who have absolutely no trouble signing up for piano lessons that involve committing to annual tuition with early termination clauses that involve at least a couple of hundred bucks are not people who struggle to make ends meet as John seems to claim his clients do.
_________________________
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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#1639562 - 03/12/11 12:48 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: liszt85]
John v.d.Brook Online   content
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Registered: 03/18/06
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Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Originally Posted By: liszt85
Finally, somebody who understands statistics (though there are points in your argument that might oppose both sides of the argument at hand here ;)). I believe you would agree with me though when I say that people who have absolutely no trouble signing up for piano lessons that involve committing to annual tuition with early termination clauses that involve at least a couple of hundred bucks are not people who struggle to make ends meet as John seems to claim his clients do.

Liszt, you constantly put words in other people's mouths. Please stop it. You claimed I said $50k was poverty. I did not and I've already corrected you once on this. Please don't say it again. I also said many families are "struggling to make ends meet" which can happen to people at many income levels, especially if they over-commit. Do you have any idea what expenses face a family with three children, one in college, trying to pay a mortgage on a modest home, replacing a car, etc.? I suspect you don't.
_________________________
"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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#1639567 - 03/12/11 12:58 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: John v.d.Brook]
liszt85 Offline
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Registered: 08/26/08
Posts: 3159
Maybe I don't. I'm only objecting to the following:

Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
Originally Posted By: liszt85
Do you have students who come from non-military families and are not rich? What proportion of your total number of students would you estimate that to be?

100%. None of them are rich in any real sense of the word; a few are upper middle class. Most are in the struggling to make ends meet every month. And I assure you, the military families are far, far, far from rich. Quite a few families are splitting tuition between parents and grand-parents. It's really a matter of priorities for each family. Do they spend their available resources on their children's education or on entertainment or on goodies for themselves?


You don't seem to consider 100K any significant amount of money. Assumptions about 3 kids, college, mortgage and everything is exactly that, just assumptions. Anyway, this is a pointless argument. I know what I think is right (if I were in your position) and I'm pretty sure you know what's right for you and your clients, so be 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)

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#1639586 - 03/12/11 01:34 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: liszt85]
John v.d.Brook Online   content
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Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7200
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
They are not assumptions. I am well aware of what's happening with my piano families. We talk. Several have older siblings in college. Most families with children have mortgages. People do need transportation, etc.

What I object to first and foremost is your obvious ignorance of economics, especially family economics. An $100k income might seem rich to a bachelor living in tent city, but it's not reality. Do you have any idea what the tax load is for such a family? How about their monthly utilities? What about their mortgage? Their food budget? Clothing for the children? School expenses? Transportation expenses? Insurance, not just auto but life and medical? Savings for retirement? Savings for a rainy day? How about charitable contributions?

You might want to read this for some insights on the subject.
_________________________
"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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#1639590 - 03/12/11 01:39 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: sonataplayer]
Stanny Offline
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Registered: 11/08/06
Posts: 1461
A couple of pages back:
Originally Posted By: liszt85
Since people seem to be confused about what I agree with and disagree with, I guess there is no point in continuing this discussion.


A few posts later:
Originally Posted By: liszt85
Its easy to say that when most people taking part in the discussion are piano teachers. Anyway, I'm outta here. I can't stand inconsistencies.


_________________________
~Stanny~

Independent Music Teacher
Certified Piano Teacher, American College of Musicians
Member: MTNA, NGPT, ASMTA, NAMTA

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#1639621 - 03/12/11 02:18 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: sonataplayer]
liszt85 Offline
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Registered: 08/26/08
Posts: 3159
Thanks keystring for a sensible post. Its that last part I was alluding to.. some of these people might want to knock at John's doors with all the right intentions but it seems to me like his doors are closed to this particular group of people. He's denied it but I really think its got to do with the fact that he probably teaches in an affluent area with some military people living nearby like you suggested. I'm thankful for all the Economics lessons that some teachers on this forum have been giving me in this thread. However, we don't need Economics lessons here to understand that some sweeping statements that you guys make are unfair: "They prioritize music lessons and so they have no problem with my policy". I prioritize my music too but I would never sign on your policy. So are you implying that I'm not really prioritizing my music? It seems as though you (and some of your fellow teachers here) are and I don't appreciate that. I'm not putting words in your mouth, its just how your statements come across.
_________________________
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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#1639625 - 03/12/11 02:30 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
They are not assumptions. I am well aware of what's happening with my piano families. We talk. Several have older siblings in college. Most families with children have mortgages. People do need transportation, etc.

What I object to first and foremost is your obvious ignorance of economics, especially family economics. An $100k income might seem rich to a bachelor living in tent city, but it's not reality. Do you have any idea what the tax load is for such a family? How about their monthly utilities? What about their mortgage? Their food budget? Clothing for the children? School expenses? Transportation expenses? Insurance, not just auto but life and medical? Savings for retirement? Savings for a rainy day? How about charitable contributions?

You might want to read this for some insights on the subject.


Like I said, I appreciate your lessons on Economics. I'm not a bachelor living in a tent city. You seem to make assumption after assumption after requesting me not to put words in your mouth. I'm married. My wife is on a dependent visa that doesn't let her work. She has insurance through my university that I pay for. We don't have any life insurance. We just recently bought a 10 year old used car. I get $1400 a month after taxes (so that brings down my annual earning to $16800). After rent, utilities, car insurance, groceries, etc we barely have $100 left. I spend $70 of that on my monthly one hour lesson. So if I express a reservation when asked to sign on a policy such as yours that states that I have to shell out another $200 to get out of your lessons in the event of an emergency (even the slightest one would render me incapable of paying that $70), and if you were to categorize that as an "unwillingness to prioritize music lessons with you" based on whatever limited experience you have with a limited geographical and socio-economic area that your business operates in, that's just ignorance speaking. I wanted to point that out to you. Trust me, there's a huge population out there that's in a similar situation and I'm sure there are talented piano students who would like to have the opportunity to study with good teachers as well. If all of you teachers decide that these policies are fair and absolutely necessary for you to have a steady income (which I don't really believe, blame that on my lack of knowledge of Economics), that again is nothing but personal choice based on personal goals. It has nothing to do with general "facts" that you seem to believe in. You can justify it all you want using examples of phone contracts and what not. I will not be convinced by any of that.
_________________________
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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#1639628 - 03/12/11 02:32 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: sonataplayer]
keystring Online   content
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Sorry, Liszt85, I deleted it. I try not to post when upset because it's hard to know if the post is rational.

My general impression is that people are writing from their local personal perspective, and forgetting that this is a broad international forum, and their statements will be seen that way. And then there is a problem of people getting their back up, and writing accordingly.

A lot of things written here may be true locally for a small group of people, but otherwise it makes you wonder whether we all live on the same planet. I have had an intriguing image for the last couple of days, and not only about this thread. You've got this huge expanse of land stretching for thousands of miles. There these little dots far away from each other: each one is a person. They're all looking into these narrow holes directly before their feet and saying "This is what the world is." Hardly anyone sees how wide and varied it actually is. Assumptions, tunnel vision, distorted understanding. It's sort of too bad. I think I'm out of here.

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#1639632 - 03/12/11 02:37 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: John v.d.Brook]
keystring Online   content
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Going back to some original premises, and hopefully more practical.

There was the idea of committing to a new teacher for an entire year, with punitive measures if that is broken. Teaching is unregulated, and it may be impossible to regulate since it is such a mix of knowledge, skill, and an extra something that is part instinct, part creative, which can't be measured (for both music and teaching). There are a lot of people teaching who shouldn't be. Some are neglectful, some don't know enough - either a student won't get the tools, or the student can actually be harmed. Signing up with any teacher is risky. It is foolish to commit to any teacher right off the bat. If you know about yourself that you are a solid good teacher, then you will know (assume) that you don't pose such a risk. But you have to be aware that this forum is for all students approaching all teachers in the whole world. This idea is not practical. It is unwise. In that perspective.

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#1639633 - 03/12/11 02:37 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: sonataplayer]
liszt85 Offline
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Registered: 08/26/08
Posts: 3159
No problem keystring.. I didn't need back up. I'm glad to know though that there exists people here that have the opposing views as John and some other teachers here do. That hopefully will help them see other points of view as well. I certainly can understand where their comments come from. I understand that their policies work well for them. I understand that they enjoy having a steady income with strict policies to keep them going. I understand all of that. However, I do take exception to statements like the one I've quoted in my most recent post about how these guys think that people who can prioritize music lessons will sign on their policy or that everybody who signs their policies do because they prioritize music lessons.
_________________________
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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#1639635 - 03/12/11 02:44 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: liszt85]
John v.d.Brook Online   content
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There you go again, putting words in people's mouths. I didn't say you were a bachelor living in a tent city. You made a leap.

However, by your own admission, you have no children (I primarily teach children - my adults have a completely different set of policies than students enrolled for the school year - and they pay more for the flexibility they receive) and it appears you're in the academic community, perhaps as a teaching assistant/grad student???

Did you bother to read the article? Do you get that in the USA, the economic middle class family income, roughly 1 standard deviation (67%) from the mean, is roughly from $40k to $200k?

My policies for children signing up for lessons are designed to keep parents committed, and to prevent me from holding the bag if they decide to quit before the school year is finished. You are an adult student, and none of the discussion on cancellations apply to you. Most likely, your teacher is providing lessons on an "if available" basis, which is why you're paying $70 each.
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"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
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Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

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#1639641 - 03/12/11 02:49 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: sonataplayer]
keystring Online   content
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My hunch is that whatever may be stated publicly, that if such a teacher sees a genuine situation, that this teacher will respond accordingly in a suitable manner. I run a business myself, and did so badly for quite a few years since I was not demanding enough - in fact John's stance was something that helped me stop feeling "grateful" for getting paid for my work. You have to present yourself in a certain way so that people will take you seriously and not walk all over you. Because people will do so. But regardless of policy, I do respond to individuals.

The thing that bugs me in these forums are these quick statements about what the attitude of students is supposed to be. Since nobody is a mind reader, it would be good for the attempt not to be made - about anyone, whether student or teacher.

I would have also liked to see professional reasoning, rather than economic reasoning. A professional will recommend certain things because it gives results. A dentist wants to see you twice a year in order to prevent cavities. She doesn't say "I need the steady income that your regular attendance gives me." Continual lessons for at least a year is needed for any real progress to happen. Why not say that, and demonstrate professional interest in your student's growth, which is probably your priority in the first place? I bet that teachers and non-teachers would be on the same page immediately. This strife is needless.

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#1639645 - 03/12/11 02:51 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: sonataplayer]
liszt85 Offline
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John, like I said earlier (a quote from wiki probably by somebody well versed in Economics, more so than you or I), everybody wants to be in the middle class, and that has stretched the definition of the middle class to nonsensical limits. So its only natural that you would observe so much variability in income when you go probing the "middle class". Those statistics mean nothing.

Also, don't try to put down my argument based on my not having children or my belonging to any specific community. Keystring for example does seem to have kids, but they seem to have a similar view.. the ad hominem route or the appeal to authority route is never healthy for a discussion.
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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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#1639648 - 03/12/11 02:54 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: John v.d.Brook]
liszt85 Offline
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Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
There you go again, putting words in people's mouths. I didn't say you were a bachelor living in a tent city. You made a leap.


Seriously, was that such an unimaginable leap for me to make? You were arguing against me, who at that time was about the only person here who seemed to have an opposing view, and you came up with that to open a post. Lets not feign so much innocence here John. I'm pretty sure you thought it was quite likely that I was a bachelor. There's no way I can prove it of course. So it will eventually be judged as me putting words in your mouth.
_________________________
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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#1639657 - 03/12/11 03:03 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: liszt85]
John v.d.Brook Online   content
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There you go again, quoting out of context. In my original quote, I said: An $100k income might seem rich to a bachelor living in tent city. The implication should be clear - if you have no expenses/overhead, then $100K is a lot of disposable income.
_________________________
"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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#1639661 - 03/12/11 03:06 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: keystring]
John v.d.Brook Online   content
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Originally Posted By: keystring
Going back to some original premises, and hopefully more practical.

There was the idea of committing to a new teacher for an entire year, with punitive measures if that is broken. Teaching is unregulated, and it may be impossible to regulate since it is such a mix of knowledge, skill, and an extra something that is part instinct, part creative, which can't be measured (for both music and teaching). There are a lot of people teaching who shouldn't be. Some are neglectful, some don't know enough - either a student won't get the tools, or the student can actually be harmed. Signing up with any teacher is risky. It is foolish to commit to any teacher right off the bat. If you know about yourself that you are a solid good teacher, then you will know (assume) that you don't pose such a risk. But you have to be aware that this forum is for all students approaching all teachers in the whole world. This idea is not practical. It is unwise. In that perspective.

I really object to your use of the term "punitive" when discussing a cancellation fee. When you sign up for an activity, then back out part way through the program, you really cannot, in fairness, expect the other party to hold the bag because you changed your mind. Most contracts in this world have some kind of cancellation policy, which is clearly set forth at the beginning of the agreement. For example, you buy a house, you put down earnest money. If you back out, regardless of reason, you lose that money (yes, I know you can write exceptions into the earnest money contract).

If you, as a parent, want to check out a teacher, ask for a small set of trial lessons. I actually give parents a 30% discount on a 13 week trial package. This gives them a chance for a fair evaluation of not only me as a teacher, but to discover whether they really want piano lessons at all.

Another big problem: This is a teachers' forum and most teachers here teach school-aged children, not adults. If we teach adults, it's an extra, not a primary source of income. Generally, we have completely different parameters for adults, recognizing that they have inflexible schedules, at times, and other obligations they cannot avoid. Adults, who are most welcomed here, still need to keep in mind that as students, they represent a very small fraction of piano students. Perhaps 1% or less.

Better teachers, even if forced by economic circumstances, to teach out of home studios, are going to operate professionally and in a business-like manner. They are not going to accept a group of lookie-loos in September, only to see them fade away in March or April when Spring fever sets in and mom & dad are too busy to set priorities. This is just common sense.
_________________________
"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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#1639664 - 03/12/11 03:15 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: John v.d.Brook]
liszt85 Offline
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Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook

Did you bother to read the article? Do you get that in the USA, the economic middle class family income, roughly 1 standard deviation (67%) from the mean, is roughly from $40k to $200k?


I probably believe in numbers more than most people on this forum do. However, precisely because of that, I also know what numbers to believe with a grain of salt. The problem with standard statistics is that all of it relies on the assumption that the underlying distribution is normally distributed (if you don't understand this term, look up wiki. Its a bell shaped curve). Only then do you talk about means and standard deviations based on samples and only then do you talk about generalizing to the entire population.

In these studies, what was N (sample size)? What is the total population of North America? These are all important considerations. Since you seem to be bent on discussing statistics, I thought you could use a lesson on statistics just as you think I need lessons in Economics.

So sometimes when you see numbers, you need to understand what kind they belong to. There is the c = 299,792,458 m/s kind and then there is the "67% of the middle class family income lies in the range 40-200K" kind. You need to use common sense with the latter kind to put things in perspective whereas you need not use anything else to interpret the meaning of c. It speaks for itself. Statistics, unfortunately, cannot speak for itself. It needs interpretation and that's where common sense steps in.

You guessed right, I'm some kind of graduate assistant.. My Professor and his wife together earn about $200K a year. They send their kid to a school that charges $12-15K or so annually (tuition). That is almost equal to my annual income. Lets forget the comparison with me. Lets compare this with his postdoc who earns about $30-35K a year. So here's somebody earning $200K a year and sends his kid to a private school that charges $15K a year and here's this other person who earns $35K a year. Your statistics say that both of these people come under the same category: economic middle class.

So much for statistics. Statistics can be very useful... WHEN APPLIED SENSIBLY.

P.S: Btw, many grad students my age have kids. One of my friends has 3 kids. the oldest is 6. So would you still say that its lack of commitment/interest that would lead such a person to say no to your contract? So I'm not arguing for my own sake here. I might be an adult student, and you might have a different set of policies for adult students. Lets talk about this particular policy for kids.


Edited by liszt85 (03/12/11 03:20 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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#1639684 - 03/12/11 03:45 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: keystring]
AZNpiano Online   sleepy
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Originally Posted By: keystring
A professional will recommend certain things because it gives results.

So, by this argument, would a teacher be "not professional" if his/her student continually play poorly at exams, stumble in the middle of recitals, and fail to win competitions?

I think "results" differ in the eyes of different clients. Some parents just want their kids to have fun at the piano. Some are more serious and want their kids to do tests. And there there are some parents who won't be pleased with second place at competitions.
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#1639687 - 03/12/11 03:47 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: liszt85]
John v.d.Brook Online   content
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Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
The study size was the population of the USA, as they used US Census data. Hope that helps.

Let's discuss having a cancellation fee for children who enroll in a year long study of piano.

Let's begin by using your institution's policies as a point of departure. I'm sure they are fair and just. So, what is their policy on course cancellation? How far into the term/semester does your institution give an 100% rebate? If it's like most I'm familiar with, you must pay 100% tuition up front, or if you elect delayed payments, you are still committed to 100% of tuition. Is that the way your university works? If you drop a course after 5 classes, with 10 classes remaining, do you get a 67% rebate?
_________________________
"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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#1639691 - 03/12/11 04:05 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: sonataplayer]
Smallpiano Offline
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Loc: California
I have an idea, this is just an idea, it has not been used by me yet.

Student sign up for piano lesson with commiting to the whole year of tuition. Signing up works like membership. As long that student is coming, they are paying lets say $100 per month.

After sign up for lesson, two situations will happen:
1. Termination of lesson when student dislike piano, move away, desire to transfer to a better teacher etc.
2. Taking some time off such as 2 to 5 weeks of vacation etc.

I am suggesting that if......
If student terminate before the school year end, they have to pay early termination fee of one month value.
If student desire to take only one month off with reserving the timeslot, they have to pay 30% of the monthly tuition.
If stident want to take only one month off without reserving the timeslot, they have to pay 15% of the monthly tuition.

Making sense? Is this sound fair to both parents and the teacher?
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#1639694 - 03/12/11 04:12 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: sonataplayer]
liszt85 Offline
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I have many different arguments against your misplaced analogy but I'm tired of arguing against these analogies with universities, phone plans, and what not. You want to use these analogies for your students who are children. When it comes to adults, you say you have different policies because you seemingly understand the need for flexibility. Now you're asking me what I do with my university policy. How does any of this make any sense? I'm lost here.

Also, the census does not use the entire population. It reveals a huge flaw in how you think of those numbers. http://www.census.gov/acs/www/methodology/sample_size_data/

The population is currently around 310,000,000. It was probably around 280,000,000 in 2009. If you click on that link, you will find that the census involved data from 1,917,748 housing units and 146,716 quarters in 2009. Unless 200 people lived in each housing unit, the data uses about a hundredth of the total population. (I believe a housing unit means a household. So a more realistic estimate of the number of people in a household would be about 4 or 5, the average could be lower!). So it looks to me that the estimate of the sample size being close to about a hundredth of the size of the population is not too far from the mark.
_________________________
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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#1639695 - 03/12/11 04:12 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: sonataplayer]
keystring Online   content
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John,

Whatever name it may be given, if a person must pay something which is not for a service or goods, and if it is for such reasons, then this punitive. That is what it is, without calling it good or bad. We have late payers as a problem, and tacking on interest for late payments has been suggested in my corner - this is also punitive. That doesn't make it bad.

Quote:
Another big problem: This is a teachers' forum and most teachers here teach school-aged children, not adults. If we teach adults, it's an extra, not a primary source of income. Generally, we have completely different parameters for adults, recognizing that they have inflexible schedules, at times, and other obligations they cannot avoid. Adults, who are most welcomed here, still need to keep in mind that as students, they represent a very small fraction of piano students. Perhaps 1% or less.


You addressed this to me. (?) First off, I had a child taking lessons for years every single week of the year. None of the nonsense you experience came from us: there was regular practice, coming in prepared, regular attendance, prompt payment, and more than meeting the teacher's expectations. I can easily write in as a parent, and mostly I did so.

Secondly, as adult student, at least the same demands were made of me as of any child student: regular attendance, practice, same program etc. If this is so, is there actually a difference between adult and child students? If you can put a 5 year old and 15 year old in the same basket policy-wise, isn't it the same for the 17 year old ("child") and 27 year old ("adult")?

Is this about age groups, or about special wishes? What about your over-stretched child student taking ballet, horse riding, calligraphy, piano, guitar, and water colors while trying to be a straight A student - misses lessons and comes in unprepared and exhausted. Isn't that child your "adult student" as per your definition?

What about redefining this between regular committed students, and irregular special-wish student? In any case, responding to me in terms of adult vs. child makes no sense.

Quote:
Better teachers, even if forced by economic circumstances, to teach out of home studios, are going to operate professionally and in a business-like manner.


That is music to my ears. Let's hope more and more teachers do.

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#1639701 - 03/12/11 04:20 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: keystring]
LimeFriday Offline
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Registered: 11/02/09
Posts: 303
Loc: Australia
Originally Posted By: keystring

The thing that bugs me in these forums are these quick statements about what the attitude of students is supposed to be. Since nobody is a mind reader, it would be good for the attempt not to be made - about anyone, whether student or teacher.

I would have also liked to see professional reasoning, rather than economic reasoning. A professional will recommend certain things because it gives results. A dentist wants to see you twice a year in order to prevent cavities. She doesn't say "I need the steady income that your regular attendance gives me." Continual lessons for at least a year is needed for any real progress to happen. Why not say that, and demonstrate professional interest in your student's growth, which is probably your priority in the first place? I bet that teachers and non-teachers would be on the same page immediately. This strife is needless.


I think you are right in assuming that teachers have their student's growth as a priority... and that is the major reason they got into this kind of work in the first place - the driving motivation.

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.

Speaking about the economic realities doesn't not mean that the teacher has lost focus his/her main priority - providing a quality music education to students. Part of this being a teachers forum is the ability to talk about all aspects of teaching - including how to make full time teaching into a viable career.

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.

Long story short... teachers have to balance both their love for teaching and for watching their students grow... and making a viable living from teaching. Surely we need to allow teachers to discuss both aspects of their job without challenging their need to do so?

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#1639702 - 03/12/11 04:20 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: John v.d.Brook]
liszt85 Offline
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Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
There you go again, quoting out of context.


That accusation was inevitable as I pointed out when I made that comment. I have no way of proving that what I thought was right. Common sense should tell people what to believe and what not to. This is not a court of law where you are allowed to interpret based only on hard evidence, via precise written statements or whatever. If you feel you've been quoted out of context and are sincere about it, I do apologize. However, there is absolutely no way for me to prove it and its your word that we will have to take ultimately. So if you say so, fine, I quoted you out of context, my apologies.
_________________________
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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#1639704 - 03/12/11 04:24 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: LimeFriday]
liszt85 Offline
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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.
_________________________
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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#1639715 - 03/12/11 04:35 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: LimeFriday]
keystring Online   content
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LimeFriday - I was talking about teachers explaining their reality to clients, i.e. responding to those who are not music teachers. You do not explain to a client that you want them to commit to x months because you need the income. You explain to the client that it is for his benefit, and it must also be true. Shop talk is another matter.

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#1639724 - 03/12/11 04:47 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: sonataplayer]
liszt85 Offline
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There was a brief period when I offered lessons. I clearly mentioned in my advertisement that I was only taking students who would stick around for longer than just a couple of months because it takes a while before you begin to see results. A few did end up leaving after 3 months. Most did stay though. I accepted them only after an interview. However, I would never stop them from leaving by forcing a termination fee on them. People can have different reasons to leave. They might, at the end of 3-4 months decide that their goals are slightly different and can be achieved better by going to another teacher. Who knows? In my case, they were beginners. They thought they were committed to it in the beginning. However, people do lose interest due to various reasons, often not within their control. Sometimes it the fault of the teacher too. I probably was guilty of having them do more exercises than actual musical pieces. The ones who did stick around progressed a lot by the end of the year. However, I do not blame the ones who left. Similarly John, you might have 100% confidence in your abilities and that your lessons are the most interesting lessons in the world and that students might never lose interest due to anything that you might be doing wrong. Unfortunately, that might not be true. For all we know, the parents, due to the huge amounts of money they've pledged to you, might be forcing some of these kids to continue even if they express a desire to quit. You wouldn't know if that were happening, would you?
_________________________
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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#1639728 - 03/12/11 04:52 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: keystring]
John v.d.Brook Online   content
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Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7200
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Originally Posted By: keystring
Quote:
Another big problem: This is a teachers' forum and most teachers here teach school-aged children, not adults. If we teach adults, it's an extra, not a primary source of income. Generally, we have completely different parameters for adults, recognizing that they have inflexible schedules, at times, and other obligations they cannot avoid. Adults, who are most welcomed here, still need to keep in mind that as students, they represent a very small fraction of piano students. Perhaps 1% or less.


You addressed this to me. (?)

No. It was primarily addressed to Liszt.
_________________________
"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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#1639729 - 03/12/11 04:53 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: liszt85]
LimeFriday Offline
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Registered: 11/02/09
Posts: 303
Loc: Australia
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.

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#1639730 - 03/12/11 04:57 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: keystring]
LimeFriday Offline
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Loc: Australia
Originally Posted By: keystring
LimeFriday - I was talking about teachers explaining their reality to clients, i.e. responding to those who are not music teachers. You do not explain to a client that you want them to commit to x months because you need the income. You explain to the client that it is for his benefit, and it must also be true. Shop talk is another matter.


Keystring - I'm in total agreement with you here. Sorry - I took your post in order to speak primarily to Liszt85.

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#1639742 - 03/12/11 05:04 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: LimeFriday]
John v.d.Brook Online   content
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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.
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
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Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

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#1639745 - 03/12/11 05:07 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: John v.d.Brook]
keystring Online   content
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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
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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?
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#1639759 - 03/12/11 05:35 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: LimeFriday]
liszt85 Offline
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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.
_________________________
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Next in line:
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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 Online   content
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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
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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.
_________________________
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And straightaway all her polka dots
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#1640101 - 03/13/11 11:44 AM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: sonataplayer]
sonataplayer Offline
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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 Online   content
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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
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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!
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#1640775 - 03/14/11 02:13 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: John v.d.Brook]
keystring Online   content
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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 Online   content
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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
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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 Online   content
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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
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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:
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Debussy: Danseuses de Delphes (Prelude 1, Book 1)
Next in line:
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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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#1641389 - 03/15/11 10:57 AM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: liszt85]
John v.d.Brook Online   content
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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.
_________________________
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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
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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 Online   content
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 Online   content
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: 5279
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)

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#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)

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#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: 5279
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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#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: 3158
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: 3158
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: 1785
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
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Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11190
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 Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7200
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?"
_________________________
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#1641552 - 03/15/11 02:25 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: sonataplayer]
keystring Online   content
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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
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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?
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#1641557 - 03/15/11 02:42 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: keystring]
John v.d.Brook Online   content
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Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7200
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: 2130
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
_________________________
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Piano Organ Depot
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#1641780 - 03/15/11 08:06 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: sonataplayer]
liszt85 Offline
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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.
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#1641787 - 03/15/11 08:19 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: John v.d.Brook]
keystring Online   content
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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
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Registered: 11/23/10
Posts: 3340
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
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Registered: 03/14/07
Posts: 1785
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: 3340
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: 2130
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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Piano Organ Depot
http://www.pianoorgandepot.com
Hammond Organ Technician


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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: 3340
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: 2130
Loc: Pennsylvania
Now that's something everyone can sink their teeth into! laugh

Thanks for the clarification.
_________________________
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Piano Organ Depot
http://www.pianoorgandepot.com
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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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Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
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
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Registered: 11/03/08
Posts: 1432
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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#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: 1454
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.

Top
#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.
_________________________
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
#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)

Top
#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: 10775
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.
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

Top
#1643540 - 03/18/11 12:31 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: sonataplayer]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11190
Loc: Canada
The problem when there is tunnel vision and obstinacy, with people becoming entrenched, is that real issues cannot come out. If two people lock horns, then anything anyone else writes will become part of that argument. When you see someone else's ideas in an extreme way then there is no room for intelligent discussion by ** anyone **. It's like a giant whirlpool: anything we want to say which even smells like one "side" or the other gets sucked into it. Very discouraging. frown

Top
#1643571 - 03/18/11 01:37 PM Re: "Leave of Absence" Policy? [Re: sonataplayer]
liszt85 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/26/08
Posts: 3159
I reported those posts and ended up getting a warning myself for not letting up in this discussion (with John). People reported my posts too (apparently not these last few, I'm talking about the main discussion itself). People don't like to hear opposing view points, that's fine. However, reporting it to the mods just because you disagree, is unhealthy behavior (if the only reason my posts were reported was because I wasn't letting up, then John's posts ought to have got reported too but I doubt that happened, for obvious reasons in this forum). I hope people understand that. I will not post here anymore.. I leave with the wish that new eager teachers coming in to this forum seeking advice, do not lose sight of all the right reasons they got into the business in the first place. I value this forum as I come here for pianistic advice myself and I don't want to lose that privilege just because folks here in the teacher's forum don't like listening to an opposing point of view. Have fun.
_________________________
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
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