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#1961104 - 09/19/12 01:04 PM Dealing with a lie
Purpl3keys Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/06/12
Posts: 11
Loc: Texas, USA
I am new in this town and I am trying to get my Piano Studio going.

I just have 5 students so far and three out of them are siblings ( two boys and a girl). They started this month. When they first came the mom told me how they couldn't afford my fees but really wanted to take lessons with me and could pay only half the price of what it was supposed to be originally. I accepted because the kids are very talented and well behaved and besides although this is my business. I always remember that when I was a child since my mom didn't make a lot of money I did get help.

I agreed and was happy doing it until today while I was driving I heard a Medical Doctor's commercial with the last name of the kids. It is a very rare last name and I know they are the only family in this town.

I feel a bit mad because I have relatives that are in the medical field and I know how much they make. Of course I was going to give her a discount but I sort of feel cheated. Has anyone ever have to deal with something like this?

I am mad specially because this is my only job and I'm not financially strong right now and my mom depends on me up to certain extent.


Edited by cassariel82 (09/19/12 01:05 PM)

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#1961121 - 09/19/12 01:45 PM Re: Dealing with a lie [Re: Purpl3keys]
ten left thumbs Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/22/09
Posts: 3328
Loc: Scotland
Welcome to the forum! smile

I appreciate you need to get your studio going, but I would never teach for less than my stated rate. If they can't afford it, too bad. Harsh, I know, but I need my income too.

I also wouldn't make assumptions based on the commercial you heard, but you know your location better than me. Can you be sure it is the same family? Are all doctors rich?
_________________________
I am a competent teacher.


www.justfingers.co.uk
www.babysinging.co.uk

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#1961131 - 09/19/12 02:09 PM Re: Dealing with a lie [Re: Purpl3keys]
Ann in Kentucky Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2643
Loc: Kentucky
Hi cassariel82, welcome to the forum.

That would be a surprise. I would not call it a lie though. The mother may feel she can't afford to pay for lessons for 3 kids and likes to negotiate for discounts. And with a high mortgage and car payments it may be a squeeze for her to add in lessons for 3 kids.

It comes down to a question about your policy and how you will handle requests for discounts.

I would recommend not giving any discounts.

But since you've already started, then consider giving the parent notice that you will no longer be able to offer discounts after a certain date. Maybe starting January l? Or just one month notice. And ask the parent what she would like to do. Would she like to pick one or two kids to continue etc.

I hope you let us know what happens.
_________________________
piano teacher

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

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#1961134 - 09/19/12 02:15 PM Re: Dealing with a lie [Re: Purpl3keys]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7200
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Originally Posted By: cassariel82
I agreed and was happy doing it until today while I was driving I heard a Medical Doctor's commercial with the last name of the kids. It is a very rare last name and I know they are the only family in this town.

Could he be starting a new practice and at this point in time, has a very low income? Rather than fume, why not simply ask mom how things are going, if Dad's practice is growing now after several months, etc., etc. When would it be appropriate for them to pay the standard rate? Perhaps you'd like to go to his office and receive a comparable discount? Your annual physical, perhaps? Whatever the outcome, as others have already stated, giving discounts is risky. Plan them carefully and then stick to your policies.
_________________________
"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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#1961141 - 09/19/12 02:26 PM Re: Dealing with a lie [Re: Purpl3keys]
Ann in Kentucky Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2643
Loc: Kentucky
I agree with John that opening communication about the medical practice is a good start.

But let's say this is the poor sister of the doctor. Even so, i would not give a discount.

If your heart truly goes out to this poor soul and you want to help, you could give her an opportunity to increase her earnings. Do you have a house to be cleaned and sheets changed weekly? Does the parent want an opportunity to work? Would it be worth it to you?

I'd love to know what a "poor" doctor's wife says when offered the opportunity to clean your home in order to pay for lessons. BTW, each of you should be paid in an arrangement like this. That way if Mom doesn't do the work, she doesn't get paid, but you still do.

If you go the route of discontinuing the discount, I would simply say you will no longer be able to offer the discount. You don't owe an explanation, but if the parent presses for a reason, you could mention that you want to be fair to everyone, and you simply can't afford to reduce your rates by 50%.




Edited by Ann in Kentucky (09/19/12 02:30 PM)
_________________________
piano teacher

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

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#1961143 - 09/19/12 02:27 PM Re: Dealing with a lie [Re: Purpl3keys]
Piano*Dad Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10297
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
Are all doctors rich? Well, no, but I'm sure it's a rare one who is not in the top 5% of the national income distribution. Unless there are other things going on, like they are paying 30% of their income to support a sick granny and there is a fourth child in the house with a serious and debilitating condition requiring expensive care, then I can understand cassariel82's exasperation. I too would think that I had possibly been deceived.

Nonetheless, I don't think I would immediately confront the family. Gather a bit more information, and suggest that the discount will go away in the not too distant future.
_________________________
Grotrian 192 #156455

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#1961144 - 09/19/12 02:28 PM Re: Dealing with a lie [Re: Purpl3keys]
rocket88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 3158
Devil's Advocate:

The Doc might have astronomical student loans, a newer medical practice needing more patients, hence the radio ads, huge loans on the medical equipment and rent, a payroll to make, a new family with at least 3 children to feed and clothe, and thus be strapped for cash.

_________________________
Music teacher and piano player.

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#1961145 - 09/19/12 02:28 PM Re: Dealing with a lie [Re: Purpl3keys]
Gary D. Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4649
Loc: South Florida
We never know all the facts, not here, and not in real life.

But discounts are tricky. I would charge less for a good friend, someone I had taught for years. I did that for one person, and she remains one of my closest friends. But for people I don't know?

No. I'm certainly not rich myself. I bust by butt for my students. I can't afford to pay my own bills if I discount lessons.
_________________________
Piano Teacher

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#1961148 - 09/19/12 02:39 PM Re: Dealing with a lie [Re: Purpl3keys]
Ann in Kentucky Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2643
Loc: Kentucky
The bottom line is that we all have to live within our means. If the parent does not have money for lessons this year, maybe she can pay off some debt this year and start lessons next year.

It's difficult getting started in teaching. And it can be tempting to accept offers to pay only 50%. But I think you would do better figuring out how to get the word out about your studio. Advertising, developing your policy, and not discounting.
_________________________
piano teacher

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

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#1961159 - 09/19/12 02:58 PM Re: Dealing with a lie [Re: Purpl3keys]
KurtZ Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/13/10
Posts: 774
Loc: The Heart of Screenland
rule # 1: Charge what you're worth.

Rule #2: Be worth what you charge.

That's the answer.
_________________________
I just wanted to be just "a" guy. That's enough of a life.

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#1961175 - 09/19/12 03:47 PM Re: Dealing with a lie [Re: ten left thumbs]
Purpl3keys Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/06/12
Posts: 11
Loc: Texas, USA
Dear Ten left thumbs, I do know it is them. This is a very small town and not all Doctors are rich but do live a comfortable life at least.
But I know to it was my mistake I should have never given such a steep discount I learned my lesson.

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#1961179 - 09/19/12 03:52 PM Re: Dealing with a lie [Re: Ann in Kentucky]
Purpl3keys Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/06/12
Posts: 11
Loc: Texas, USA
Dear Ann in Kentucky Thanks for your comment. It is true about the discount maybe it is just that it has taking me a while to get students here since I am the the only piano teacher in the area giving private one to one lessons. People are used to group lessons.

I think I will take your advice starting January 1. It is a bit sad though because I really like the kids.

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#1961180 - 09/19/12 03:53 PM Re: Dealing with a lie [Re: KurtZ]
Purpl3keys Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/06/12
Posts: 11
Loc: Texas, USA
Short but true! smile

Thanks

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#1961181 - 09/19/12 03:55 PM Re: Dealing with a lie [Re: John v.d.Brook]
dumdumdiddle Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 1250
Loc: California
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
Perhaps you'd like to go to his office and receive a comparable discount? Your annual physical, perhaps? Whatever the outcome, as others have already stated, giving discounts is risky. Plan them carefully and then stick to your policies.


Ooohh, this sounds like an interesting idea. Put the whole 'discount' thing back on them: you'd be happy to give them a discount of 1/2 off lessons if you are afforded the same opportunity for your doctor's visits.
_________________________
Music School Owner
Early Childhood Music Teacher/Group Piano Teacher/Private Piano Teacher
Member of MTAC and Guild

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#1961183 - 09/19/12 03:56 PM Re: Dealing with a lie [Re: Purpl3keys]
Purpl3keys Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/06/12
Posts: 11
Loc: Texas, USA
Thank you everybody for your responses. I will let you know what happens. smile

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#1961184 - 09/19/12 03:58 PM Re: Dealing with a lie [Re: Purpl3keys]
bajabill Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/27/12
Posts: 86
Loc: mid USA
Regardless of one's income, we all place a value on what we buy or want to buy, that value is not the same for everyone. I have been blessed in my life and career, and I find $1500/child each year to be a lot of money for piano lessons (2 kids, neither in lessons however). Granted, I spend 3k every year on things many PW members will not appreciate, but those are our choices. I must say that I am surprised group lessons has not ever flourished to enable teachers to make the incomes they want/need and spread the costs across more families.

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#1961187 - 09/19/12 04:02 PM Re: Dealing with a lie [Re: Ann in Kentucky]
Purpl3keys Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/06/12
Posts: 11
Loc: Texas, USA
Dear Ann I liked this response. You really made me laugh. I would love to see her face if I was to tell her something like that...

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#1961188 - 09/19/12 04:04 PM Re: Dealing with a lie [Re: Purpl3keys]
Nikolas Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 4991
Loc: Europe
1. A discount is a discount and since it's your business you can do as you please.

2. If someone more or less 'pushes' you to accept a discount (and actually a big one at 50% off), then there must really be a reason.

3. I would, actually, feel cheated if I found out that there were quite a few facts hidden from me.

But the final line and point of view, for me, is that I'm not part of the family and I have NO idea on what's going on with them... Same goes, btw, with any pirate who supports piracy "because the industry is filthy rich": You have NO idea what it takes to run a business (a doctors office, for example) so you can't make absolutely any claims about someone being rich or not.

You could very well ask, however...
_________________________
http://www.musica-ferrum.com

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#1961192 - 09/19/12 04:10 PM Re: Dealing with a lie [Re: bajabill]
Purpl3keys Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/06/12
Posts: 11
Loc: Texas, USA
Group lessons will never replace private lesson Bjabill because you can't give all the attention the student needs when you have 7 to 15 kids in the same room for an hour. I've thought like this at college level so I've had experience with that.

Kids transferring from group lessons are the ones with more technical problems. Besides it is true that we make a leaving out of teaching but personally I like to offer quality and that for me you can better find in private lessons

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#1961206 - 09/19/12 04:49 PM Re: Dealing with a lie [Re: Ann in Kentucky]
Peter K. Mose Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/06/12
Posts: 1242
Loc: Toronto, Ontario
Originally Posted By: Ann in Kentucky

I would recommend not giving any discounts.

But since you've already started, then consider giving the parent notice that you will no longer be able to offer discounts after a certain date. Maybe starting January l? Or just one month notice. And ask the parent what she would like to do. Would she like to pick one or two kids to continue etc.



Ann has put it very nicely. You are mad at yourself, no doubt, but still you have committed to teaching these kids at half price. Now you will have to decide how long this price reduction will continue. I'd say either put up with it through to next June, or else change it on January 1, 2013.

Either way, you could blame it on your accountant, the fact that as of Day X you will be returning your rates back to their regular levels for all your students.

My guess is you won't lose all three siblings, assuming you're a competent teacher. You might lose one or two, or mom will ask you if two of them can share a lesson.

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#1961207 - 09/19/12 04:52 PM Re: Dealing with a lie [Re: Purpl3keys]
bajabill Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/27/12
Posts: 86
Loc: mid USA
How about 2 kids at a time, or 3? I believe you that one on one are better, but at what cost for the customer? Do all of your students need that? Perhaps, they are not willing to pay for the product you are offering.

I think the important distiction is not if something can be afforded by someone? But should they buy it. Frugal people pass on a lot of products that they can afford. And if they saw them for half off, maybe they would not pass on them.


In the shoes of the subject family - If you and I agreed to a payment, and you decide to back out of that agreement because you feel I am too rich: That would be the last dollar you ever receive from me. Be careful how you get out of the deal if you did not have a timeframe set up originally. You took on the students because 50% is better than 0%.

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#1961215 - 09/19/12 05:07 PM Re: Dealing with a lie [Re: bajabill]
Barb860 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/11/09
Posts: 1644
Loc: northern California
My take on this is slightly different. The family's financial situation is none of your business. There is no lie they told, so forget about their situation because you will never know exactly what it is anyway. Bring this back to yourself and your own situation: you don't want to give discounts. I don't blame you. People will continue to ask you for discounts. I get asked from time to time, and in the past have given sibling discounts and have regretted it. You see the kids coming in to lessons in new expensive clothes, hear about their fun and lavish vacations, on and on, all the while discounting your business. Stop doing it and you will feel better.
Give the family 30 days' notice (or whatever notice you feel right about doing) that you will no longer be offering discounts and your rate will be $$ on a given date.
_________________________
Piano Teacher

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#1961251 - 09/19/12 06:41 PM Re: Dealing with a lie [Re: Purpl3keys]
pianomouse Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/17/12
Posts: 87
Loc: Europe
As far as my own experiences go, it's pretty rare to teach three siblings. Around here, there's a common policy to give a discount for the third sibling (doesn't have to be 50% though), but to charge the first and second full.

Of course it's sad to leave one of the kids out, have you thought about giving shorter lessons?

Years ago, after a long period of charging the same, I changed the rate of an adult's one-hour-lesson by a few dollars. She complained and I tried to explain that I had to live off this money and that for example the car-repair-person charged more per hour than I did. Her reply was that the car repair was necessary, but the piano lessons were only for fun. She only saw it from her point of view.
_________________________
The piano keys are black and white,
But they sound like a million colours in your mind.
(Katie Melua)

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#1961269 - 09/19/12 08:00 PM Re: Dealing with a lie [Re: Purpl3keys]
Ann in Kentucky Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2643
Loc: Kentucky
Originally Posted By: cassariel82
Dear Ann I liked this response. You really made me laugh. I would love to see her face if I was to tell her something like that...


Thanks for letting me know. It makes me happy to hear it. And I'm chuckling a long with you.

I think it's helpful to enjoy a laugh--especially when under a lot of stress.
_________________________
piano teacher

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

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#1961539 - 09/20/12 12:25 PM Re: Dealing with a lie [Re: Purpl3keys]
KurtZ Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/13/10
Posts: 774
Loc: The Heart of Screenland
I'm curious rhetorically, how many piano teachers:

Carry liability insurance?
Actually pay your city business tax? In our electronics shop, it's 1500 per year.
Have to pay a significant fee to the state to be licensed? (guild fees are optional; licenses, not so much.)
Have to pay yearly because they handle hazardous waste and then have to pay for someone to come and get that hazardous waste?
Have to buy and maintain expensive hydraulic lifts?
Have to rent or own the space occupied by an average repair garage?
Pay and maintain several employees?

That's why car repair costs more than piano lessons.
_________________________
I just wanted to be just "a" guy. That's enough of a life.

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#1961544 - 09/20/12 12:32 PM Re: Dealing with a lie [Re: KurtZ]
Nikolas Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 4991
Loc: Europe
Originally Posted By: KurtZ
I'm curious rhetorically, how many piano teachers:

Carry liability insurance?
Actually pay your city business tax? In our electronics shop, it's 1500 per year.
Have to pay a significant fee to the state to be licensed? (guild fees are optional; licenses, not so much.)
Have to pay yearly because they handle hazardous waste and then have to pay for someone to come and get that hazardous waste?
Have to buy and maintain expensive hydraulic lifts?
Have to rent or own the space occupied by an average repair garage?
Pay and maintain several employees?

That's why car repair costs more than piano lessons.
Well... I'll just mention a few things that come to mind from a personal experience:

* I own two pianos at home (one is a grand Avgust Foster piano and the other a lovely Krauss upright) and a digital piano in my studio.

* I actually pay rent for my studio, and I must've spend more than 60,000$ to build it.

* I update my software on a yearly bases and my computers on a two year bases pretty much.

* Yes, I have more than one computer, cause I can't do my job properly otherwise.

But the above are nothing compared to the following:

* As opposed to a youngster at the age of 18-20 who can repair a car, I finished my studies a couple of years ago, at the age of 32-32. Do you have ANY idea how much it costs to study that long? Along with a family and two kids?

* It just so happened that I was very lucky to get a scholarship for the fees of my studies, but still I had to live abroad in order to finish my PhD.

* More over until a few years ago, I was not really earning much money from music.

* Even more I still don't earn enough to accommodate my family fully. (sadly).

* My tax (in Greece) is huge compared to anywhere else, not to mention any other kind of tax. My VAT is 23% for everything but books which is 6.5% (and scores actually are 13%).

I don't know but it doesn't seem fair that the car repair costs more than a piano lesson! wink
_________________________
http://www.musica-ferrum.com

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#1961546 - 09/20/12 12:37 PM Re: Dealing with a lie [Re: Purpl3keys]
Piano*Dad Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10297
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
.. and let's all whine about why life, markets, the universe, are all so unfair to us. smile
_________________________
Grotrian 192 #156455

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#1961551 - 09/20/12 12:44 PM Re: Dealing with a lie [Re: Purpl3keys]
Opus_Maximus Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/27/04
Posts: 1457
Why not ask to see documented proof of income? Ask for copies of the W-2 forms.
I know this sounds extreme, but I leaned at a recent convention that this is standard practice for a lot of private piano teachers. And institutions require these things left and right when offering scholarships, so why should we be any different.

I agree with rocket that just because somebody is a doctor (especially a young one with a new family), does not make they automatically rich. Requiring documentation may, if nothing else, make them more open to talking about other expenses and fees that might be getting in the way without the awkwardness of you having to bring up what you heard on the radio.

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#1961641 - 09/20/12 03:36 PM Re: Dealing with a lie [Re: Purpl3keys]
Nikolas Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 4991
Loc: Europe
I think that the real question here is this:

If you KNEW that the parents were filthy rich, would you charge more?

I mean in the end I think that the OP is much more pissed because he feels cheated rather than the fact that he's loosing money. At least that's my impression.
_________________________
http://www.musica-ferrum.com

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#1961681 - 09/20/12 04:24 PM Re: Dealing with a lie [Re: KurtZ]
dumdumdiddle Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 1250
Loc: California
Originally Posted By: KurtZ
I'm curious rhetorically, how many piano teachers:

Carry liability insurance?
Actually pay your city business tax? In our electronics shop, it's 1500 per year.
Have to pay a significant fee to the state to be licensed? (guild fees are optional; licenses, not so much.)
Have to pay yearly because they handle hazardous waste and then have to pay for someone to come and get that hazardous waste?
Have to buy and maintain expensive hydraulic lifts?
Have to rent or own the space occupied by an average repair garage?
Pay and maintain several employees?

That's why car repair costs more than piano lessons.


Mmm... let's see.....

I pay a yearly business license fee

I pay studio rent of $1200 per month

I pay liability and property insurance ($1100 this year)

I attend conventions, workshops and master classes, educating myself on the latest in piano pedagogy and new materials (those cost money)

I'm a member of two professional music teacher organizations, with yearly dues

I subscribe to various music journals

Upkeep on my pianos and studio equipment

New software for computer (music games, bookkeeping software, etc...)

Upgrading studio equipment: furniture, copy machine, printer, and educational equipment for teaching

Taxes

And then there's the cost of several years of piano training starting at age 8 and going up through college... what's that... 15 years or so?


I forgot what the point was...
_________________________
Music School Owner
Early Childhood Music Teacher/Group Piano Teacher/Private Piano Teacher
Member of MTAC and Guild

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