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#1594269 - 01/09/11 09:31 PM Re: Angry Mom [Re: Smallpiano]
hoffy Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/30/10
Posts: 109
Loc: Adelaide, Australia
Originally Posted By: Smallpiano
Just finish talking to the mom.
She started with that she went home and checked the studio calendar and it was clear that there was no lesson for the week. She said that it is a misunderstanding. I use Keisler’s line about “Charging by hour” but “Billing by month” and she understand. However, she said that she like the way I was in the past. I then explain to her that I am “billing” this way to keep myself and parents convenient. She said she has not come up with her decision but her daughter will come to lesson until her husband and herself make a decision. I later gave her a list of piano teacher phone number in town and say that if you like to find new teacher, I have no problem, but promise me that you will not put a gap between myself and the new teacher because I want your daughter keep playing and going to lesson without a gap. She agreed to that and also agree to give me one month notice if she found a new teacher. She also ask if new teacher “Bill by hour or by month”. I say I do not know and tell her to find out herself.


I have been reading this thread over the last few days as an outsider and thought that may indeed be the case (but was afraid to mention it).

Walk a mile in the mothers shoes. She indeed may have been unhappy with the situation back in August, but was probably too afraid to mention it. I know that I would have not been overly impressed either. Look at it from her point of view. She has gone by paying by the hour (Or lesson I am assuming) to paying by the month. This means that she has to basically find 4x's the money at the time of payment. While it's OK to say "instead of paying he money to me each week, put it away and pay monthly" a lot of people live with their finances week by week. The other thing from a consumers point of view is the "What's in it for me" attitude. Are you charging exactly the same hourly rate? She may have been thinking "If I have to pay by the month, why don't I get a discount?"
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#1594273 - 01/09/11 09:42 PM Re: Angry Mom [Re: hoffy]
ll Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/14/08
Posts: 1101
Hoffy, you misunderstand.

It's not that she's suddenly paying monthly instead of at each lesson.

It's that, regardless of how many lessons are actually in a month, you pay the same flat monthly rate because at the very end, you paid for a TOTAL NUMBER of lessons.

I do a similar thing where I charge the same monthly regardless of number of lessons. However, there are a few families I allow to pay at each session because of their finances. They're exceptions that I trust, of course, but overall, it's better the other way for both parties.
_________________________
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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#1594276 - 01/09/11 09:44 PM Re: Angry Mom [Re: Smallpiano]
hoffy Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/30/10
Posts: 109
Loc: Adelaide, Australia
No problems (if that is the case)!
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Help!

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#1594279 - 01/09/11 09:45 PM Re: Angry Mom [Re: Smallpiano]
Smallpiano Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/14/10
Posts: 270
Loc: California
Parents were given 2 months of notice about changing policy. They are free to find a new teacher if they want to. Every parents were given the new policy and a list of piano teacher's phone number in case they need a new teacher. I lost 15 students because of the transition. So I teach only 4 days instead of 6 days. This mom choose to sign the policy and stay with me, I don't see any problem with this. I did not put a gun in her face to force her to sign the policy, what would she afraid of? In fact, I not only change policy, I also raise the hourly rate by 25%.
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English is my 4th languages, please excuse my grammar. Thanks

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#1594377 - 01/10/11 12:48 AM Re: Angry Mom [Re: Smallpiano]
ando Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/10
Posts: 3704
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Originally Posted By: Smallpiano
Parents were given 2 months of notice about changing policy. They are free to find a new teacher if they want to. Every parents were given the new policy and a list of piano teacher's phone number in case they need a new teacher. I lost 15 students because of the transition. So I teach only 4 days instead of 6 days. This mom choose to sign the policy and stay with me, I don't see any problem with this. I did not put a gun in her face to force her to sign the policy, what would she afraid of? In fact, I not only change policy, I also raise the hourly rate by 25%.


Maybe therein lies the problem. It would have been better to change your billing arrangement first, then adjust your hourly rate later (or vice-versa). By doing both at once, they may feel that they are paying more due to your change of billing. All this seems logical to you because you have spent lots of time thinking about it. To outsiders it may not seem as logical.

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#1594385 - 01/10/11 01:09 AM Re: Angry Mom [Re: ando]
david_a Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 2913
Originally Posted By: ando
Originally Posted By: Smallpiano
Parents were given 2 months of notice about changing policy. They are free to find a new teacher if they want to. Every parents were given the new policy and a list of piano teacher's phone number in case they need a new teacher. I lost 15 students because of the transition. So I teach only 4 days instead of 6 days. This mom choose to sign the policy and stay with me, I don't see any problem with this. I did not put a gun in her face to force her to sign the policy, what would she afraid of? In fact, I not only change policy, I also raise the hourly rate by 25%.


Maybe therein lies the problem. It would have been better to change your billing arrangement first, then adjust your hourly rate later (or vice-versa). By doing both at once, they may feel that they are paying more due to your change of billing. All this seems logical to you because you have spent lots of time thinking about it. To outsiders it may not seem as logical.
This is true, and it is also true that they had the summer to think about it and change their minds. I lean toward the already-stated idea that these particular people have become unhappy in general and that this (pseudo-)issue is a convenient peg on which to hang their general unhappiness with the way things are going.
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#1645589 - 03/22/11 12:52 AM Re: Angry Mom [Re: Smallpiano]
Smallpiano Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/14/10
Posts: 270
Loc: California
Update about angry mom.
Angry mom will angry all the time.
Finally she gave me a two weeks notice to terminate lesson because she can no longer drive to my studio and she wants a teacher who can go to her house. My policy said one month notice and I decide not to argue with her this time and just let go because I have enough of her.
The rest of the post is just rant, you no need to read if you do not want to.

Example one:
1. She always choose the time that she want and regreted later. For recital, I have two times, which is 2pm and 4pm on the same day. All parents are required to sign up their desire time two months before the recital. I need to make both 2pm and 4pm balance and watching out for the head count because this time my recital hall can only sit for 60 people. She is bringing 8 guests and sign up very early for 4pm and suddenly one week before, she say she needs 2pm. I go through pain to ask other students to move to 4pm for her because I know she will be very angry if I cannot do this for her.

2. Every other month I have "Piano Party" which I gather students of same level and have them play for each other. I have her daughter in a particular time that group with other students of her same level. She always have reasons that she cannot make it to the time that I have for her and wanted to choose her own time. I have 35 students, no one ask to change piano party time except her.

3. If you are familiar with MTAC CM test, you know that students were told the dates of the test 6 months before the test. Only about 2 weeks before the test, teacher will be informed with the details such as time and location. I told her the dates of the test 6 months before and tell her just keep the whole day open because we do not know the time until two weeks before the test. Now she is not happy with the time and she is not happy with the fact that this is how MTAC CM test work. She said that the system is broken! I am speechless. I told her that well, she can choose to go to her family gathering or the test, is up to her but the registration fee is not refundable whatsoever. In the phone call, she said that she will not go to the test because MTAC is ridiculus. Later, she text me and say: "Sophia will be going to the test. I had to cancel my plans which I am not happy about it. I know it is not your fault"

OK well, thank you for listening, I have happy that she will have two more lesson then switch teacher.
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#1645609 - 03/22/11 01:51 AM Re: Angry Mom [Re: Smallpiano]
Pedagogia Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/14/09
Posts: 53
Loc: Australia
Originally Posted By: Smallpiano

Angry mom will angry all the time.


I think this about sums it up.
It's all that needs to be said, though I did enjoy reading your rant. laugh

Good luck.

BBBB

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#1645613 - 03/22/11 02:26 AM Re: Angry Mom [Re: Smallpiano]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5590
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: Smallpiano
Now she is not happy with the time and she is not happy with the fact that this is how MTAC CM test work. She said that the system is broken! I am speechless.

Don't assume that parents know the countless hours you VOLUNTEER outside your piano-teaching time in order for their kids to take CM.
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#1645754 - 03/22/11 10:13 AM Re: Angry Mom [Re: Smallpiano]
Piano*Dad Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10422
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
Smallpiano,

That really wasn't a rant. It was far too restrained and logical to be a rant. smile
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#1645758 - 03/22/11 10:20 AM Re: Angry Mom [Re: Smallpiano]
Stanny Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/08/06
Posts: 1461
Originally Posted By: Smallpiano
Update about angry mom.
...Finally she gave me a two weeks notice to terminate lesson...


Free at last!
_________________________
~Stanny~

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

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#1647050 - 03/24/11 08:27 AM Re: Angry Mom [Re: Smallpiano]
kevinb Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/09
Posts: 1565
Not everybody is numerate enough to do the math that installment billing entails. Sad but true. In the UK, this kind of billing is unusual for any kind of service, let alone music lessons. Even if people actually read your contract, you can't be sure they have the math skills to intepret it smirk

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#1647056 - 03/24/11 08:40 AM Re: Angry Mom [Re: kevinb]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12215
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: kevinb
Not everybody is numerate enough to do the math that installment billing entails. Sad but true. In the UK, this kind of billing is unusual for any kind of service, let alone music lessons. Even if people actually read your contract, you can't be sure they have the math skills to intepret it smirk


This is very true. I found myself explaining it several times to some people. They never asked of course, when they got 5 lessons and it seemed as though they were only paying for 4, but when they got only 3 in the month and their rate didn't go down, then questions sprang up. eek
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#1647234 - 03/24/11 02:20 PM Re: Angry Mom [Re: Morodiene]
Hop Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/24/08
Posts: 654
Loc: Hudson, FL
Based upon what I have seen in this thread, the angry mom will be angry regardless of what you do or accomodations that you try to make. Sadly, you are probably better off without her.

One accomodation that you could make, if you wanted, is to allow one or more students to pay by the lesson. Calculate the average cost per lesson (annual fees divided by 48), then charge 10 or 15% more for each individual lesson. For example, if you charged $960 per year for 48 lessons, (average of $20 per lesson), charge $25 for each lesson, payable in advance in cash. Each week, collect the payment for the following week. Recitals, parties, etc., would also be billed by the event. Pretty soon students and parents would be asking for a simplified system, which is what you already have.

Hop
_________________________
HG178, Roland FP-5, Casio PX 130

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#1647309 - 03/24/11 04:48 PM Re: Angry Mom [Re: Hop]
kevinb Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/09
Posts: 1565
Originally Posted By: Hop
Recitals, parties, etc., would also be billed by the event. Pretty soon students and parents would be asking for a simplified system, which is what you already have.


Maybe. And then again, maybe not. If people _perceive_ a billing system as inequitable -- even if it really isn't -- they won't necessarily be persuaded otherwise by convenience.

Oddly, it's not the amount of money apparently lost that's the problem in my experience -- it's people's unwillingness to think somebody has got the better of them, even for pennies.

I think the only solution is patient, thorough, and possibly repeated explanations. You could even point out that you'll be able to keep your prices down for longer because you'll spend less time banking. But, as I said before, if people lack the math skills to understand that the fluctuating mumber of lessons in a month doesn't lead to inequity, it's always going to be a struggle.

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#1647691 - 03/25/11 09:15 AM Re: Angry Mom [Re: kevinb]
Hop Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/24/08
Posts: 654
Loc: Hudson, FL
[quote=kevinbMaybe. And then again, maybe not. If people _perceive_ a billing system as inequitable -- even if it really isn't -- they won't necessarily be persuaded otherwise by convenience.

Oddly, it's not the amount of money apparently lost that's the problem in my experience -- it's people's unwillingness to think somebody has got the better of them, even for pennies...if people lack the math skills to understand that the fluctuating mumber of lessons in a month doesn't lead to inequity, it's always going to be a struggle.
[/quote]

Good point. How about this: pick a period of time (a quarter of a year, a semester, a year, etc.. Count the number of lessons, divide it into the amount you charge for that period of time, and establish a rate for each lesson. Let's say its $25 per lesson, based on 48 lessons per year. Then explain to your students that while you normally bill by the year, you will accept monthly (or quarterly, or semester) payments instead without any penalties or interest.

Of course, there are going to be some people who are unhappy no matter what you do, so you might as well accept that as a fact of life.

Hop
_________________________
HG178, Roland FP-5, Casio PX 130

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#1647830 - 03/25/11 01:48 PM Re: Angry Mom [Re: Hop]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5590
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: Hop
Of course, there are going to be some people who are unhappy no matter what you do, so you might as well accept that as a fact of life.

However, as a private piano teacher, you do have the option of not working with these unhappy people.
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#1648138 - 03/26/11 12:53 AM Re: Angry Mom [Re: Smallpiano]
RonaldSteinway Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/11/08
Posts: 1510
Why you most teachers just make thing complicated, like a mechanic trying to hide fee. Just make a calendar showing the teaching schedule, and charge them based on the number of lesson. Nothing is hidden. For any reason piano teachers love to play this kind of game. Thanks God that my piano teacher is straight forward. No signing of policy etc.

The process is:
I come, I take lesson, and I pay....that is it.

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#1648155 - 03/26/11 02:07 AM Re: Angry Mom [Re: Smallpiano]
Nikolas Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 5429
Loc: Europe
Ronald:

First of all signing a policy means that the teacher gets protected. It's a freelancer's job and this kind of thing is needed.

Then it's the simple matter that with your idea, the student (or parent) will think that they are paying only the lessons they receive which shouldn't be the case. If a slot is booked in my weekly calendar this means that I won't be booking another student there. If the student decides not to show up, I still need to get paid, becuase I could have another student who is coming normally.

Then it's the hussle of having different fees every month. This is getting tedious for quite a few parents here: A month it's 150$, then it's 210$, then it's 180$ and I don't know what. A home needs to organise, as well as the teacher.

After all since exams are yearly, we tend to charge yearly: A flat fee for the year. However they want to pay it is fine, but in the end it's a yearly fee we are charging, rather than a lesson fee.
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#1648158 - 03/26/11 02:18 AM Re: Angry Mom [Re: RonaldSteinway]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5590
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: RonaldSteinway
Why you most teachers just make thing complicated, like a mechanic trying to hide fee.


I know what you mean about those mechanics! There's a reason why I stopped taking my car back to the dealership to fix anything. You bring the car in for one problem, and they find seven others.

But, come on, piano teachers are not trying to rip anyone off here. Give us some credit, please.
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Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#1648178 - 03/26/11 04:31 AM Re: Angry Mom [Re: Smallpiano]
ll Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/14/08
Posts: 1101
To solve the issue of the 'math-illiterate,' I actually write out a calendar page.

It shows the dates of the year, what lessons are held on which days, etc etc etc. Then it explains how many lessons there are and which months they receive only 3 or the ones where they receive 5.

So far, two people have complained. I simply took out the calendar again, showed them what they agreed to and how I figured it out (which I explain to before they sign anyway, but hey, what are you gonna do), and then that problem is solved.

@Hop: your system defeats the whole purpose.
_________________________
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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#1648217 - 03/26/11 08:31 AM Re: Angry Mom [Re: RonaldSteinway]
kevinb Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/09
Posts: 1565
Originally Posted By: RonaldSteinway

The process is:
I come, I take lesson, and I pay....that is it.


For the kind of reasons I've alluded to, this remains very much the normal practice in the UK. Not just for music tuition, but for all kinds of private tuition. Where we pay for more than one session, it's nearly always school terms or half terms, and we work out the number of weeks in the term or half-term and multiple by the hourly rate. Any other expenses (books, exams, etc) are billed separately.

The one exception I can think of is my son's karate teacher, who has announced that he will be charging a monthly flat rate based on so-many teaching hours per year. So far everybody seems happy enough, but I predict that it won't be long before somebody realizes that there's only two teaching weeks in December and then there will be a fuss. I think I'm the only customer who's taken a calculator and worked out what the hourly rate comes to.

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