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#1802141 - 12/07/11 04:22 PM Who pays for tuning, them or me?
IPlayPiano Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/08/11
Posts: 103
I have a small dilemma. I teach out of a small town and I use one of the churches as my studio because I live 15 mins away from this town. My hours are 12-5 mon-wed. Anyways, the church expects me to tune the piano (and pay for it) because I am the primary user. They use it on Sundays. Is this fair?

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#1802149 - 12/07/11 04:37 PM Re: Who pays for tuning, them or me? [Re: IPlayPiano]
Overexposed Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2649
Sounds reasonable. You get use of the piano and studio space for the price of say 2 tunings a year.

Anyway, it's up to the church. They've apparently offered you use of the space, and ask that you pay for tunings. I'd suggest paying for tunings and saying "Thank you". You've got a good deal IMO.

If tuning is $120, paid twice a year...that means you get use of the piano/studio for $20 per month. Really sounds like a good deal!

OTOH, if you get a better offer elsewhere, you're free to take it.



Edited by Ann in Kentucky (12/07/11 04:38 PM)

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#1802186 - 12/07/11 05:36 PM Re: Who pays for tuning, them or me? [Re: Overexposed]
John v.d.Brook Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7407
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Let me add to Ann's reply. The correct answer is, "Your students pay for the tunings." It is a business expense, which is subtracted from gross revenues. Regretfully, so many teachers here and out in the world, do not understand basic accounting or business, and don't realize that lesson fees only partially pay their salary.

I would go one step further and suggest that you have students pay some kind of annual "enrollment" fee or "activities" fee, from which tuning expenses are subtracted. Personally, I have my studio instruments tuned quarterly, as I cannot stand to listen to out of tune unisons and clashing intervals. It's easier on the tuner, and gives him time to provide other services, such as minor voicing, regulation, etc. If you go that route, I would certainly make a big deal of it to the congregation, that you so much appreciate their generosity, you're reciprocating in kind.
_________________________
"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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#1802190 - 12/07/11 05:41 PM Re: Who pays for tuning, them or me? [Re: IPlayPiano]
IPlayPiano Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/08/11
Posts: 103
I should add I do pay monthly rent.

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#1802193 - 12/07/11 05:43 PM Re: Who pays for tuning, them or me? [Re: IPlayPiano]
IPlayPiano Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/08/11
Posts: 103
I pay 12.50 a day for use which works out to about $200 a month. I charge 15 a lesson, and teach 9 lessons a day.


Edited by IPlayPiano (12/07/11 05:44 PM)

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#1802196 - 12/07/11 05:52 PM Re: Who pays for tuning, them or me? [Re: IPlayPiano]
Overexposed Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2649
Our local music store charges the teacher $20 per month for EACH student. With 18 students, teachers have to pay $360. It's a terrible deal. (And awful studios...but I'll stop myself from going on and on about it.)

So if your expenses are now $220 per month, I wouldn't sweat it. And as John says, the students tuition goes toward your expenses. It sounds like a $2 or $3 increase in monthly tuition per student would cover it.

You could try some diplomacy. "I was hoping the church would use some of the rent I pay to go toward tuning the piano." Say that either way you are grateful for use of the space and piano. And then accept their decision. Looking into rent elsewhere may help you return to a sense of gratitude.


Edited by Ann in Kentucky (12/07/11 05:55 PM)

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#1802238 - 12/07/11 07:01 PM Re: Who pays for tuning, them or me? [Re: IPlayPiano]
Jeani-Martini Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/20/11
Posts: 42
Loc: Land of Astro Turf, CA
If it was me living in a small town, I would drive to the students' homes instead and raise the tuition for fuel expenses.
_________________________
You can tune a piano, but you can't tuna fish.
Q: What's the difference between the second violins and the violas?
A: About three half-steps.
ba-da-BOOM!

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#1802317 - 12/07/11 10:04 PM Re: Who pays for tuning, them or me? [Re: Jeani-Martini]
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3242
Loc: Virginia, USA
If you were doing that in a small town, you would play on 9 out of tune pianos in one day. At least at the church you only have one out of tune piano, and you have control over that one (because you can pay to tune it.)
_________________________
gotta go practice

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#1802504 - 12/08/11 08:01 AM Re: Who pays for tuning, them or me? [Re: IPlayPiano]
Lollipop Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/09
Posts: 820
Loc: Georgia
I'm thinking you may want to renegotiate with the church. Sounds like something that should have been addressed up front. Personally, I would have considered the rent to be paying for that. Paying for use of the piano should mean paying for use of a working, tuned piano. If you weren't using the piano, does that mean the church would only tune the piano once every three or four years?

Perhaps you can agree to pay for the first tuning each year, and the church can pay for the second. Or they pay for a percentage of the fee each time. You aren't charging much for your lessons, so you may also want to consider raising your fee a bit to cover the tunings.
_________________________
piano teacher

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#1802602 - 12/08/11 10:52 AM Re: Who pays for tuning, them or me? [Re: Lollipop]
John v.d.Brook Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7407
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Yes, this needs to be negotiated. You can make a good case either way. Rents should be paid for what is used vs all inclusive rent. Now you're in a pickle.

On the practical side, you're currently in control of how often the piano is tuned and the caliber of the tuning. If you leave it to the church, you're at the mercy of the church's finances and music committees/pastor/music minister for whom a piano tuning is just one minor item on a big plate of issues. You're in a pretty good situation now, actually.

What if a string breaks, a hammer needs replacement, or other maintenance issue? Are you holding the bag for that as well?

If I understand your posts correctly, you have 27 students. Raise lesson fees by $1 per month. This will provide an income for piano use and maintenance. Inform the parents upfront, that the dollar a month increase is exclusively to cover the use and maintenance of the piano, and each student is paying a very modest sum for that. I seriously doubt you'll get any students quitting or griping even.

Finally, and you'll have to do this in a professional and very polite manner, inspect the piano first thing every Monday before teaching. If they're any maintenance issues from the Sunday church use, document it, photograph it, show it to someone in the church office, and then when repaired, send that portion of the bill to the church for reimbursement.
_________________________
"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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