Welcome to the Piano World Piano Forums
Over 2 million posts about pianos, digital pianos, and all types of keyboard instruments
Join the World's Largest Community of Piano Lovers (it's free)
It's Fun to Play the Piano ... Please Pass It On!

Gifts and supplies for the musician
SEARCH
the Forums & Piano World

This custom search works much better than the built in one and allows searching older posts.
Ad (Piano Sing)
How to Make Your Piano Sing
(ad) Pearl River
Pearl River Pianos
(ad 125) Sweetwater - Digital Keyboards & Other Gear
Digital Pianos at Sweetwater
(ad) Pianoteq
(ad) P B Guide
Acoustic & Digital Piano Guide
Who's Online
89 registered (36251, anamnesis, A Guy, barbaram, ALEXANDER DYKER, 31 invisible), 1263 Guests and 15 Spiders online.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
Quick Links to Useful Piano & Music Resources
Our Classified Ads
Find Piano Professionals-

*Piano Dealers - Piano Stores
*Piano Tuners
*Piano Teachers
*Piano Movers
*Piano Restorations
*Piano Manufacturers
*Organs

Quick Links:
*Advertise On Piano World
*Free Piano Newsletter
*Online Piano Recitals
*Piano Recitals Index
*Piano & Music Accessories
*Music School Listings
* Buying a Piano
*Buying A Acoustic Piano
*Buying a Digital Piano
*Pianos for Sale
*Sell Your Piano
*How Old is My Piano?
*Piano Books
*Piano Art, Pictures, & Posters
*Directory/Site Map
*Contest
*Links
*Virtual Piano
*Music Word Search
*Piano Screen Saver
*Piano Videos
*Virtual Piano Chords
(ad) Estonia Piano
Estonia Pianos
Page 1 of 3 1 2 3 >
Topic Options
#2097630 - 06/07/13 04:07 AM The Art of Raising Fees
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5587
Loc: Orange County, CA
What are some of the ways (or reasons?) you raise fees, other than doing so on a regular annual/bi-annual basis?

I had a conversation with my student's parent today, and I am about to get a referral because one of my colleagues has just raised her fees. To me, it feels like this family is just out shopping for a cheaper teacher. But the reality is that if we continually raise our fees, sooner or later it will reach a breaking point, and students will leave to find someone cheaper.
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

Top
(ad) Piano & Music Accessories
piano accessories music gifts tuning and moving equipment
#2097648 - 06/07/13 05:28 AM Re: The Art of Raising Fees [Re: AZNpiano]
Peter K. Mose Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/06/12
Posts: 1382
Loc: Toronto, Ontario
AZN, you have raised an always interesting topic. It can seem like a simple one - what do you charge for a piano lesson? - but lurking close behind are a host of complex issues of value.

Here are a few reasons for raising rates. One is simply to keep pace with the rising cost of living. Another is to reward myself for what I assume is my continued improvement as a teacher. Another is to keep pace with what other piano teachers in my area charge.

Balanced against these reasons for raising rates is the issue you have mentioned: a concern that if I charge too much, I may lose students, or not gain as many new ones. Private music study is not a necessity, it is a luxury, and I want to remain affordable, not simply serve the elite class.

Piano teachers are free to charge whatever they want in our society, which just makes all this more complicated. I don't raise my rates regularly, and I fret about setting the figures each time.

I'll be curious to read other thoughts.

Top
#2097714 - 06/07/13 09:14 AM Re: The Art of Raising Fees [Re: AZNpiano]
Minniemay Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/09
Posts: 1702
Loc: CA
People will always be looking for a bargain. Part of the reason my students stay is because I develop significant relationships with both student and parents. There is some loyalty that is built into that, I think.
_________________________
B.A., Piano, Piano Pegagogy, Music Ed.
M.M., Piano

Top
#2097719 - 06/07/13 09:25 AM Re: The Art of Raising Fees [Re: AZNpiano]
Piano*Dad Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10422
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
Quote:
But the reality is that if we continually raise our fees, sooner or later it will reach a breaking point,


Please pardon an extended walk through some economic theory … smile

First, let's distinguish between you (Azn) raising your price relative to your local peers, versus YOU (the whole profession) raising fees over time compared to the inflation rate. The case of one teacher raising fees relative to their peers is fairly straightforward. Unless you can demonstrate to your clientele why you are increasingly better than your peers -- and that is indeed possible -- then continually pushing up the comparative cost of your lessons versus theirs will ultimately price you out of your local market.

I'm going to talk about the latter situation. Can the whole profession raise fees relative to the inflation rate? The answer, perhaps surprisingly, is yes.

The diagram below shows the time path of the price of services and the price of goods, along with the path of the overall national price level.




A quick glance reveals an important fact. Service price increases have continually outpaced the rise in goods prices. This phenomenon long predates the years in the diagram. As far back as 1817, David Ricardo noted the same thing in Britain of his day.

The reason is what economist William Baumol has called "cost disease." It's really not a disease in the bad sense of the word. The cause of the disease is actually productivity growth in making reproducible stuff (like cars, airplanes and bushels of wheat). By contrast, many services are largely immune to technologically driven productivity growth. If you can get labor out of the production process you can increase the number of cars produced per hour of work (that's labor productivity). Unless and until you can deliver an hour's worth of music lesson in a half hour you cannot get the same kind of productivity growth in a personal service like music lessons … or third grade teaching, or haircuts.

The "cost" of the service to society is how much of the good it gives up by putting labor into services instead of goods. As a result, as the productivity of labor in the goods industries rises, the "cost" of the service must go up relative to the cost of the good. In other words, we give up more of the good to keep an hour of labor in the service sector.

This does not mean that the service becomes less affordable. It is "comparatively" more expensive (you have to pay more of the good to get one unit of the service) but the average level of labor productivity in the country (which is our national income) has risen. We can afford more of both things as a result.

So no, raising your fees is a natural process common to virtually all service industries and it does not mean your business will dry up because of it.

There are special circumstances to consider, however. If the overall demand for your particular service is falling (fewer people who want to learn the instrument) then the number of service providers will fall as well. But it's the declining interest in the instrument that is the cause more than you raising your rates as the opportunity cost of your time goes up (you could work in a different business for the right wage, after all). And the people who are most likely to leave the business are those who have the best opportunities elsewhere.

_________________________
Grotrian 192 #156455

https://www.youtube.com/user/dhfeld/videos

Top
#2097737 - 06/07/13 10:01 AM Re: The Art of Raising Fees [Re: AZNpiano]
red-rose Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/20/13
Posts: 177
Loc: Cleveland, OH
Yes, very interesting discussion.

While the explanation of cost of goods vs. service is quite interesting, I think you also have to consider whether over time is our society is gradually valuing something like piano lessons (and music in general) *more,* or *less.* (I envy your situation if you think it's more.) IMHO, the devaluation of piano lessons and financial inflation sort of cancel each other out. smirk (I've thought for the past 8 years or so that $20/half hour is a very reasonable fee for me.)

Unless inflation truly starts accelerating, then I think that raising fees annually and certainly biannually sounds quite excessive to me! But also... are we talking 50 cents or $5?

And as for reasons to actually present it to parents... I'm not sure you really have to give any. Isn't it just common knowledge about how inflation works, and that just about *everything* increases in sticker price eventually?

Top
#2097743 - 06/07/13 10:12 AM Re: The Art of Raising Fees [Re: red-rose]
Barb860 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/11/09
Posts: 1646
Loc: northern California
Piano Dad, thanks for the economics lesson. A great read for us all, most insightful stuff.
_________________________
Piano Teacher

Top
#2097750 - 06/07/13 10:32 AM Re: The Art of Raising Fees [Re: Barb860]
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3250
Loc: Virginia, USA
Interesting lecture, piano.dad.

Cost of goods has multiplied by 4 while that of services has multiplied by 12? I had no idea.

Is there another chart factoring in income? If real income has risen more than 4 times, then goods are more affordable now than then even if the price is greater. But if it has risen less than 12 times, we've upset the balance between goods and services.

The other factor that might make a difference is something we called "real value" in engineering economics classes. Not all processes add real value to the economy. Some do, like mining or manufacturing. Others, particularly services, do not; they merely reshuffle existing value with of course small losses at each transfer.
_________________________
gotta go practice

Top
#2097762 - 06/07/13 10:44 AM Re: The Art of Raising Fees [Re: AZNpiano]
Piano*Dad Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10422
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
Lecture … hmmm. Yes, it was a bit of that. grin

I think you have the term "real" a bit confused. "Real" means in constant dollars. So as long as "nominal" income has risen by at least a factor of 4, then goods are cheaper in "real" terms. In fact, real income per capita has more than doubled since 1960. In other words, nominal income has risen more than twice as rapidly as the inflation rate. Even the average person who consumes nothing but services (which is no one, of course) would feel higher real income.

The relative price of services has gone up, which is the same thing as saying that the relative price of goods has gone down. But the average person can buy more of both. The real purchasing power of the economy has risen. This is due to rapid technologically-driven growth in productivity.

The problem in our society, and now I risk politicizing the issue, is that the distribution of income today isn't the same as it was in 1975. We are not the same middle class society. People in the bottom quarter of the income distribution have experienced no increase in real income over the past forty years. For them, services whose prices are rising more rapidly than inflation are indeed becoming less affordable. And the absolute number of people who are losers in the current economy is rising as the middle hollows out. On the other hand the top 1% has experienced astonishing gains in real income over the past quarter century. For them, the services of piano teachers are a drop in the bucket of their rising real income.
_________________________
Grotrian 192 #156455

https://www.youtube.com/user/dhfeld/videos

Top
#2097782 - 06/07/13 11:15 AM Re: The Art of Raising Fees [Re: AZNpiano]
R0B Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/03/08
Posts: 1439
Loc: Australia
I have a rather odd system for raising fees.

I had a long term student, and at the outset, I charged 'x'.
Two years in, her mother said, "You have not raised your fee in two years, so we would like to increase our payment to 'y'

This happened three times over the time I was teaching her daughter, and I applied the higher rate, each time to all new students.

Existing students, continue on the rate that they originally signed up, for two years, before any increase is applied.

Some may say that this is not the best business practice, but it works for me, and everyone knows where they stand.
_________________________
Rob

Top
#2097803 - 06/07/13 11:46 AM Re: The Art of Raising Fees [Re: Piano*Dad]
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3250
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: Piano*Dad

I think you have the term "real" a bit confused.


Yes, I used it twice with totally different meanings. Sorry.

Real for income was intended to be constant dollars as you said.

But real as applied to value is something quite different. Shaping steel into a car adds value to the economy in a way that e.g., collecting statistics on it does not. You need a sufficient percentage of your economy to be based on real value adding processes to be able to afford activities which use existing value - like the arts for example.
_________________________
gotta go practice

Top
#2097811 - 06/07/13 11:53 AM Re: The Art of Raising Fees [Re: AZNpiano]
pianoSD Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/20/13
Posts: 57
Loc: San Diego, CA
I've raised my fees twice in the past two years. How have I done it?

1. Tact.
2. Leveraging the strong relationships I've built with students and parents.
3. Proven results (Student awards, achievements).
4. Higher demand by new students (fueled by teaching online as well).

When the parents and students see these four things, they haven't had a problem with the increasing rates. In fact, I will probably raise them again in September.

Bottom line, if you are providing value and results, people will pay for it.
_________________________
My Piano Lessons - Schedule Me Online!

Top
#2097820 - 06/07/13 12:04 PM Re: The Art of Raising Fees [Re: AZNpiano]
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2919
Loc: UK.
I raise rates by a small amount at the start of each acedemic year (September) which barely covers the cost of inflation. Every student gets a letter in July with information about the following term and also the new lesson fees which are also posted on the website. So far nobody has complained and I haven't lost any students as a result of raising fees.

Getting new business is a different matter. I do get fewer enquiries now than in the past although this doesn't have much to do with fees. It's more that every man and his dog is teaching piano. I think with rising unemployment and the squeeze on family incomes most people who play an instrument, no matter how good or bad, have cottoned on to the fact that they can make a bit of money on the side from tuition. I was told recently by a lady who called me that there were three other local teachers she tried who were charging less than I do. I did explain that there were many factors which determine the cost of lessons. Things like experience, qualifications, reputation and also teaching style. That conversation ended pretty quickly! I suppose it depends on how much people value those things or whether they really do just want the cheapest quote.

The rise in self tuition via the Internet probably plays a part too. Many people, particularly adults would rather try to teach themselves than find and pay for tuition. Most of what you find online is free so no wonder they are reluctant to fork out for lessons.

I do think this is a problem which is likely to get worse in the future.

One other thing for potential teachers to consider is that there can be very little in the way of promotion or wage increase. I knew this when I started so have accepted it. When I entered the profession almost 20 years ago my rates were similar to any other teacher in the area. And they still are. Yes they have increased over the years but in real terms (hope that's correct) I am hardly any better off than I was back then. Some people might pay a slight premium for an experienced teacher but there are limits to how much more than the average you can push for.
_________________________
Pianist and piano teacher.

Top
#2097841 - 06/07/13 12:35 PM Re: The Art of Raising Fees [Re: Piano*Dad]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5587
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: Piano*Dad
First, let's distinguish between you (Azn) raising your price relative to your local peers . . . The case of one teacher raising fees relative to their peers is fairly straightforward. Unless you can demonstrate to your clientele why you are increasingly better than your peers -- and that is indeed possible -- then continually pushing up the comparative cost of your lessons versus theirs will ultimately price you out of your local market.

I think this point has a more direct impact on my situation. You'd think by the track record I've attained I'd be able to separate myself from some of my local colleagues, but the honest truth is that most parents just don't care about competitions, festivals, and exams, or they are not musically informed enough to make the judgement call. Most potential clients are really out there to shop for the cheapest teacher possible, thinking that "all piano teachers are created equal."

But I think the second half of your post should be a lesson taught to the entire profession. Some teachers have been teaching 40 years and they're still charging fees from 40 years ago. That is not doing anybody any good.
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

Top
#2097845 - 06/07/13 12:40 PM Re: The Art of Raising Fees [Re: Chris H.]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5587
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: Chris H.
It's more that every man and his dog is teaching piano. I think with rising unemployment and the squeeze on family incomes most people who play an instrument, no matter how good or bad, have cottoned on to the fact that they can make a bit of money on the side from tuition.

There have always been hack teachers and charlatans (I studied with some, back in the day), but one can only conjecture that there are more of them now, with the bad economy and all.

And this is precisely the point that is preventing some musicians from attaining an advanced degree. Whether one has a DMA, MM, or BM, he/she still has to compete with hack teachers without a degree. An advanced degree in music does not guarantee more clients and higher pay.
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

Top
#2097854 - 06/07/13 12:51 PM Re: The Art of Raising Fees [Re: AZNpiano]
Piano*Dad Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10422
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
Quote:
Some teachers have been teaching 40 years and they're still charging fees from 40 years ago. That is not doing anybody any good.


Well, if those teachers are any good, then it's certainly doing their lucky students (actually their parents) some good. smile

I wonder though, perhaps these antediluvian folks are the ones whose skills have atrophied over the years and they are charging just what they're worth. grin

But indeed, pricing is a difficult thing when you sell a personal service to a small client base with whom you interact face-to-face. It creates that particular awkwardness in approaching them that, say, a spa owner doesn't face when they push up the massage rate.

I guess all I have to say to the profession is, "get over it." If you place a reasonable weight on your own income stream, and you can raise rates for reasons that you think you can defend, then charge what you are realistically worth. If you lose a certain set of clients, but replace them with others, you are better off financially. If instead you choose to be loyal to a set of current clients, then you give them a bonus by not charging what you are worth. That's your choice.

The risk, of course, is that you will lose more students than you gain, and you actually experience a loss of revenue (and gain of free time smile ). Playing with pricing is always a bit of an experiment.

But you can reduce the risk by knowing the market. In most reasonably large markets, I'm sure there is a pricing differential between the teachers who are generally sought (because of results, or whatever), and the ones people stumble upon or seek out because they are cheaper. The top teachers' rates are discoverable. Heck, they might even be published somewhere. So you're not blindly trying to pick a price. What you won't know, until you try, is whether there are enough clients out there who think you are worth a top-dollar price based on word of mouth, or on what you have posted on your web page (remember the discussion of those "tedious" results pages …. wink ).
_________________________
Grotrian 192 #156455

https://www.youtube.com/user/dhfeld/videos

Top
#2097886 - 06/07/13 01:30 PM Re: The Art of Raising Fees [Re: AZNpiano]
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11844
Loc: Canada
Food for thought, but not for the purpose of influencing decisions on teaching fees.

There is a difference between the nature of work and customer relationship experienced by a mechanic who repairs cars, and a private music teacher. The music teacher has two goals: he wants to earn a living, and he wants to teach music. If the teacher gets involved, participating, interested students and supportive parents, then he also gets to truly teach music and his work satisfaction goes up. If he gets indifference, lack of respect, is treated like one more commodity, it is demoralizing. The mechanic works with cars, different cars every day, and he builds no working relationship with those cars.

The economic model suggests that to make a good living teaching music, your clientele will be relatively well off and have lots of money to spend. The students you get will be based largely on the ability to pay. Some of the results we've seen reflected in this forum are teachers saying they feel like "used tissue that can be tossed away" by families who enroll their students in multiple activities, burned out students of the same, families competing with each other because of their society and pressuring both their children and the teachers for the wrong reasons, indifferent students taking lessons because they are forced to. At the same time there are students out there who don't have a single extra-curricular activity and would love to learn, but the family pocketbook doesn't support it. The two never get to meet. These students are also likely to live in areas where the quality of education in their schools is lower, so they get less support for the types of things that would make them excel.

There's no right or wrong in making choices that will give you enough to live comfortably and earn what the quality of your expertise suggests. But these are realities.

Top
#2097893 - 06/07/13 01:36 PM Re: The Art of Raising Fees [Re: keystring]
red-rose Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/20/13
Posts: 177
Loc: Cleveland, OH
^ applause!

Top
#2097908 - 06/07/13 01:54 PM Re: The Art of Raising Fees [Re: keystring]
rocket88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 3187
Originally Posted By: keystring
The mechanic works with cars, different cars every day, and he builds no working relationship with those cars.


What??? Of course the mechanic does not build a working relationship with an inanimate object.

What the mechanic does do (to be successful in the long run) is build a working relationship with the owners of the cars.

Which is why good mechanics, like good piano teachers, or dentists, etc, are often referred by word of mouth.
_________________________
Music teacher and piano player.

Top
#2097913 - 06/07/13 02:05 PM Re: The Art of Raising Fees [Re: AZNpiano]
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11844
Loc: Canada
Rocket, please respond to the whole of my post, and not an individual sentence, otherwise you are not understanding or responding to the actual message but a distortion. You have totally missed what I am saying.

Top
#2097921 - 06/07/13 02:22 PM Re: The Art of Raising Fees [Re: keystring]
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3250
Loc: Virginia, USA
The good mechanic builds a relationship with his clients just as the music teacher does with his clients.

The good mechanic takes pride in his work and derives great satisfaction from a job well done, just as the music teacher does.

There are a lot of hack mechanics out there but the music teaching field is far from free of hacks itself.

I'm not convinced the difference is as large as you think, nor that teaching music is a nobler cause than other forms of honest work, as seems to be implied. Some people are drawn to one vs the other.

But there is a difference in the fee structure. Maintaining expensive tools and parts inventories, paying insurance, keeping skilled technicians on board, etc. requires the mechanic to charge a substantial labor rate. We pay that rate, albeit grudgingly, because we have to. We need the car, and for the most part all mechanics charge high rates, because they all have overhead and have to.
_________________________
gotta go practice

Top
#2097922 - 06/07/13 02:27 PM Re: The Art of Raising Fees [Re: AZNpiano]
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11844
Loc: Canada
The good mechanic builds a relationship with his clients, but he does not build the client.

You are both missing what I am saying. The student who is interested in learning what the teacher has to offer, is the desired student. But the student you get may be the one whose parents have the money, who is being put into multiple activities. These are the realities of economics too. It's in my post. That post did not consist of a single sentence.

Top
#2097924 - 06/07/13 02:30 PM Re: The Art of Raising Fees [Re: AZNpiano]
Piano*Dad Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10422
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
Quote:
If you place a reasonable weight on your own income stream, and you can raise rates for reasons that you think you can defend, then charge what you are realistically worth.


Notice the "if."

Nowhere do I rule out other motives. And this isn't "the economic model." It's just a bit of deductive reasoning. I would prefer not having everything I say pigeonholed into a little box labeled economic.

If teachers hold down their rates because they are uncomfortable talking to parents about money, then they are choosing to sacrifice income for not having to face the discomfort of the money discussion. Get over it or quit complaining.

If they have students with special issues (low family income for example) teachers are free to do what they please. Treat each family as an individual pricing decision if you wish. Set up a scholarship program. Do you think THAT is easy?

If teachers want to undervalue their time to reduce turnover, fine. Again, quit complaining about low income from teaching.

This isn't rocket science.

Azn asked a clear question that suggests discomfort at being undervalued. He wondered about how people deal with this, not whether they should bother or why they shouldn't.
_________________________
Grotrian 192 #156455

https://www.youtube.com/user/dhfeld/videos

Top
#2097939 - 06/07/13 02:57 PM Re: The Art of Raising Fees [Re: AZNpiano]
Piano*Dad Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10422
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
Quote:
The economic model suggests that to make a good living teaching music, your clientele will be relatively well off and have lots of money to spend. The students you get will be based largely on the ability to pay. Some of the results we've seen reflected in this forum are teachers saying they feel like "used tissue that can be tossed away" by families who enroll their students in multiple activities, burned out students of the same, families competing with each other because of their society and pressuring both their children and the teachers for the wrong reasons, indifferent students taking lessons because they are forced to.


I'm a bit unclear on the link between charging a higher price and having families that treat teachers like used tissue paper. Most of the "top dollar" teachers (which is not an aspiration anyone needs to cultivate) probably have students who care deeply … and probably would not put up with students who didn't.
_________________________
Grotrian 192 #156455

https://www.youtube.com/user/dhfeld/videos

Top
#2097941 - 06/07/13 03:01 PM Re: The Art of Raising Fees [Re: Piano*Dad]
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3250
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: Piano*Dad
Quote:
If you place a reasonable weight on your own income stream, and you can raise rates for reasons that you think you can defend, then charge what you are realistically worth.


Notice the "if."



I think, (could be wrong here because I don't have data, just an impression) teachers have difficulty charging what they think their labor is worth for another reason.

There are too many alternatives for the customer - too many teachers willing to work for low rates. If McDonalds raises prices Burger King grins.
_________________________
gotta go practice

Top
#2097942 - 06/07/13 03:02 PM Re: The Art of Raising Fees [Re: AZNpiano]
Nikolas Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 5429
Loc: Europe
Because I live in Greece I've kinda developed a small theory (which I'm sure is not mine), and I'd like to share it with you. Keep in mind that Greece is NOT doing well. Not AT ALL!

In any case I've been analysing over the past couple of years what has happened to Greece and actually most of Europe. And my very honest impression is that... we've stopped developing anything. We've stopped producing. All we're offering is... services, exactly as piano*dads diagram says! Only here in Greece we over did it.

If we were to flunk out of the monetary European Union we couldn't be able to produce enough:
a. Milk
b. eggs
c. Lemons
d. medicine
e. piano scores (grin)
f. EVERYTHING

Europe is pushing us to offer cheaper services. I whole heartily disagree and act accordingly: I say we need to offer excellent services for the products that WE PRODUCE! [/applause]

______________________

I think that the same applies to piano teachers and teachers all around. A piano teacher is offering his/her services as a tutor. As a mentor. As a person in charge and of a certain ability. The produce however is not tangible and needs to be proven more than once in order to work.
_________________________
http://www.musica-ferrum.com

Top
#2097950 - 06/07/13 03:14 PM Re: The Art of Raising Fees [Re: TimR]
Piano*Dad Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10422
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
Originally Posted By: TimR
Originally Posted By: Piano*Dad
Quote:
If you place a reasonable weight on your own income stream, and you can raise rates for reasons that you think you can defend, then charge what you are realistically worth.


Notice the "if."



I think, (could be wrong here because I don't have data, just an impression) teachers have difficulty charging what they think their labor is worth for another reason.

There are too many alternatives for the customer - too many teachers willing to work for low rates. If McDonalds raises prices Burger King grins.


Which goes right back to azn's original issue: how to differentiate yourself from the pack.

In my area, there is indeed a standard rate that most of the teachers charge. It goes up once in a while. I suspect there may be some lowballing teachers, but they do not suck up all the business. On the other hand, there exists a set of teachers who charge significantly more. The "market" (and I will now be smacked for being economic grin ) is not selling a purely homogeneous service. Some families will seek out the lowest price (cheap-seeking missiles). But many do not behave that way. Many people seek a good match, for instance, and they evaluate references and use tryout lessons.

BTW, do you think Burger King and McDonald's are the same? smile
_________________________
Grotrian 192 #156455

https://www.youtube.com/user/dhfeld/videos

Top
#2097964 - 06/07/13 03:44 PM Re: The Art of Raising Fees [Re: AZNpiano]
Jonathan Baker Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/09/09
Posts: 475
Loc: New York City!
I have never been able to make sense of the piano teaching market place. I am not saying it doesn't make sense - I am saying I lack the comprehension to understand it. This is the domain of Higher Minds. I will get no calls for four weeks, then get six calls in four days, and so forth. It has always been like that and I see no correlation between getting inquiries in relation to school seasons, the stock market, or a full moon.

Anyway, fees....there is so much competition here in NYC that I assume there are hundreds upon hundreds of piano teachers here - I cannot begin to know them all. Throw a rock into a crowd and you have 27.43% chance of hitting a piano teacher. The bad news is you have 41.05% chance of hitting a lawyer. I only know of about a dozen piano teachers who are in my general area. I think we all charge about the same price, give or take $5 or $10.

But then, there are 'types' of piano teachers: those who teach only kids up to 16, those who only teach one type of jazz, those who teach guitar, voice, saxophone, accordion, drums, and oh yes, I forgot, also piano. There are piano teachers who specialize with their own immigrant population (Korean, Russian, whatever) and they do a brisk business accordingly. Some piano teachers here advertise they will calm, calm, calm you down, while others advertise that they will ELECTRIFY you! There is a piano teacher not far from me who advertises that he will condescend to appraise just how bad your playing really is for $200, and then on Craig's List piano teachers who will give you a lesson at your home for $15 (or whatever the price of fifth of Smirnoff Vodka is, and please pay in cash, please, please, please). And three blocks from me is Juilliard, ten blocks up is Mannes, further up is Manhattan School of Music, and then NY University and on and on.

In other words, it's a huge zoo and every type of animal if roaming free. What to charge? I should consult an astrologer.
_________________________
Jonathan Baker
http://www.BakerPianoLessons.com/index.htm

Top
#2097971 - 06/07/13 03:58 PM Re: The Art of Raising Fees [Re: AZNpiano]
Piano*Dad Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10422
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
Well, you actually seem to have a decent handle on the issue if you know the dozen or so in your area, and you know the pricing to within $5 or $10. smile
_________________________
Grotrian 192 #156455

https://www.youtube.com/user/dhfeld/videos

Top
#2097974 - 06/07/13 04:02 PM Re: The Art of Raising Fees [Re: Piano*Dad]
Jonathan Baker Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/09/09
Posts: 475
Loc: New York City!
And thank you for the splendid chart! - it is very interesting to me.
_________________________
Jonathan Baker
http://www.BakerPianoLessons.com/index.htm

Top
#2098060 - 06/07/13 06:55 PM Re: The Art of Raising Fees [Re: AZNpiano]
Stanny Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/08/06
Posts: 1461
I loved your post, Johnathan! I've always thought NYC was a zoo, and I love to visit when I can.

I guess I'm lucky. I've managed to carve out a little niche in my medium sized university town and have figured out how to make it fit in my life.
_________________________
~Stanny~

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

Top
#2098066 - 06/07/13 07:10 PM Re: The Art of Raising Fees [Re: Stanny]
Jonathan Baker Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/09/09
Posts: 475
Loc: New York City!
Stanny,

Thanks for the feedback - I love living in NYC, and given the competition I am amazed how well I have done, but sometimes a university town like yours can be the best - you have the vitality of a young population going to colleges, but you still have the nice familiarity of a small town atmosphere at the same time.
_________________________
Jonathan Baker
http://www.BakerPianoLessons.com/index.htm

Top
#2098097 - 06/07/13 07:42 PM Re: The Art of Raising Fees [Re: Piano*Dad]
Gary D. Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4814
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: Piano*Dad

The problem in our society, and now I risk politicizing the issue, is that the distribution of income today isn't the same as it was in 1975. We are not the same middle class society. People in the bottom quarter of the income distribution have experienced no increase in real income over the past forty years. For them, services whose prices are rising more rapidly than inflation are indeed becoming less affordable. And the absolute number of people who are losers in the current economy is rising as the middle hollows out. On the other hand the top 1% has experienced astonishing gains in real income over the past quarter century. For them, the services of piano teachers are a drop in the bucket of their rising real income.

I don't mean to cherry-pick one point after you gave us such a thorough presentation - which by the way I want to thank you for.

For me, as a person who probably knows less about economy than almost anyone in the universe, what is happening to people closer to the bottom is of most concern to me. And this is because my wife and I are now apart of that.

My wife's hourly wage has been frozen for years now, going back to times before 2009. It started in the Bush years, and I am just stating a fact, not politicizing anything.

I have raised my prices, but only enough to keep pace with inflation, cost of living. So as a couple we are seeing our income go down every year, and most of the people we know are experience much the same thing.

I am holding the line with prices, but I work like a demon to provide people with things they just do not have money for or can not get from other teachers in my area, and that is probably the only thing that has allowed me to continue with a full schedule.

Since late in the spring there has been a downturn in my area that I do not fully understand. My schedule is far leaner this summer than in the past two, and I am not quite sure what to attribute this to.

It may indeed reflect more and more teachers in the area charging low rates and pulling in students who have no idea that these lower rates are going towards instruction that is anything but excellent - or even good.
_________________________
Piano Teacher

Top
#2098100 - 06/07/13 07:45 PM Re: The Art of Raising Fees [Re: Jonathan Baker]
Gary D. Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4814
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: Jonathan Baker
And thank you for the splendid chart! - it is very interesting to me.

Jonathan, you may live in a zoo - or teach in one.

But you are in the Big Apple, and you are making it.

I truly envy you. If I could live anywhere in the world, you are where I would like to be. smile
_________________________
Piano Teacher

Top
#2098266 - 06/07/13 10:20 PM Re: The Art of Raising Fees [Re: Gary D.]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7417
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
There are two economic indicators your local news media doesn't report, probably because it's too complex for most folks. Per capita income and the national employment rate.

Per capita income peaked in 2008 at $42,791 has fallen and has not matched that level since.

Employment rate, the number of folks employed full-time as a percentage of the nation's population: 63.3% This is not the same as the unemployment rate, which is a measure of those seeking work who cannot find it. Employment peaked in 2009 at 66.6%. In plain English, this means our true unemployment rate is really much higher than being reported.

These numbers paint a far different picture than the Rosie Scenario we usually hear on the news.

What it translates for us piano teachers is that there are fewer potential clients out there, and the rates they can afford are declining, not rising.

I preface my comments with this info because, like AZNpiano, I've been giving this some serious thought the past three months.

In fact, what I've been considering is the idea that our teacher's business model must change, and we must now, as piano teachers, offer entry level pricing for new/beginning students and offer a graded or scale of increasing rates as students progress.

There is more than one way to do this, of course. First, you could offer lessons for 1st year students at $50/mo, 2nd year students at $65/mo, 3rd year students at $80 per month, and increment the fees up as students progress. This model is not particularly new. Universities, just as an example, often offer lower pricing for 1st and 2nd year level courses than for 3rd and 4th year level courses, and even higher for grad level courses.

The obvious implication of this model is that you'd either take an income hit, or end up working for a lower average income. In this economy, that may be what it takes.

A second possibility, which many of you younger teachers might really want to consider, is to engage your upper intermediate level students as teachers for beginners, where you would charge a much lower rate, they would receive a starting level payment, and you'd supervise lessons. For example, you might have 3 really strong upper intermediate, lower advanced students, who'd like to earn money working Saturday mornings. They could each be assigned 4 - 6 beginners with 30 min lessons. You'd attend one lesson a month. The tuition might be $60/mo and the student would receive $30/mo, and you'd receive the other $30.

At the end of year one, these 18 - 24 for students would be evaluated for continuing studies. Drop outs might constitute 6 - 8 students; of the remaining 12 - 16, 2/3rd or 3/4ths would continue on in the methods, and you might cull out the remainder with special invitations to move up to your main studio. With 3 or 4 students moving into your main studio every year, you'd be in a very strong income earning situation in just a few years.

The past two years, I've frozen my rates. The competition is such that raising rates will only isolate me from potential students. We, like many other communities, have too many "high end" teachers for the available student pool.
_________________________
"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

Top
#2098335 - 06/07/13 10:56 PM Re: The Art of Raising Fees [Re: AZNpiano]
Peter K. Mose Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/06/12
Posts: 1382
Loc: Toronto, Ontario
John, great post. But please explain your rationale for charging less money to teach a beginner, then charging a little more per year of a student's advancement. Is it just meant as a come-on, starter offer, to invite people to try piano at a time when fewer do than in the past?

I'm so old-fashioned I'm afraid I can't grasp what you are suggesting.
One could say you are penalizing a student for progressing, but maybe that's a perverted way of viewing it.

Seems to me you could just as readily do the opposite: *lower* a student's rate year by year, with the beginner paying the most.

Top
#2098371 - 06/07/13 11:33 PM Re: The Art of Raising Fees [Re: Peter K. Mose]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7417
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Peter, I can only speak for our local situation, but I've raised my prices to match inflation, and a whisker more for additional training and teaching competency, and have found myself at the high end of the scale with fewer and fewer potential students available.

So what I'm suggesting is entry level pricing. As AZNpiano and others have pointed out, people don't know what their missing until they try it. It's getting them to try it which is difficult. To answer your question:

Originally Posted By: Peter
Is it just meant as a come-on, starter offer, to invite people to try piano at a time when fewer do than in the past?

YES!
_________________________
"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

Top
#2098390 - 06/07/13 11:59 PM Re: The Art of Raising Fees [Re: AZNpiano]
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11844
Loc: Canada
The only part that bothers me in the suggestions is that of having students teach beginner students. The absolutely most important things that are learned happen in the very beginning when the student is set up and gets the foundations for everything that follows. That would have to be some very good supervision and guidance by the master teacher.

Top
#2098401 - 06/08/13 12:12 AM Re: The Art of Raising Fees [Re: Peter K. Mose]
Jonathan Baker Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/09/09
Posts: 475
Loc: New York City!
Hello Peter,

Be patient with me - I am not sure I understand your question...

If you are referring to the fact that I charge a 45 minute lesson at slightly different per-minute rate than a 60 minute lesson, that is true, but that has nothing to do with whether one is a beginner or not (by the way, I no longer give 30-minute lessons so I need to strike that from my website, it is only 60 or 45 minute lessons now).

The reason for the disparity: I prefer to give one-hour lessons and I do not want to open my door for less time or money. The 45-minute lesson is my way of evading the requests for a cut in my usual fee: if they cannot afford a 60 minute lesson, I have in place a 45 minute lesson at the rate of my choosing. I currently have 5 students who have chosen that option.

Otherwise, my students come from the upper class (by geographic circumstance) and could afford to pay several times what I charge without it making the slightest dent in their lifestyle, but I still must account for the competitive 'going rate' of the profession in my area. I have found that because people make million$ per year does not mean they necessarily want to pay more for anything.

I have made occasional exceptions on fees: I charge less than 50% of my usual rate to my most talented student who comes from an immigrant family who are barely getting by (the 12-year old boy came to me playing the Beethoven Sonata Opus 27 #2, with the third movement at a spectacular clip never dropping a note - without ever having seen the music. Naturally I took him up on the spot, and I pay for his music myself and give him extra lessons 'off the books', etc.)

So if someone is truly gifted and truly poor, I easily make an exception, but frankly, most people who try bargain me down for discounts are invariably trying to cut a clever deal at my expense and I figure out their game within seconds on the telephone and do not take them - I do not appreciate being manipulated that way before I have even given an interview.

I hope I have answered your question with clarity. If not, I will try again.

Regards,

JB

_________________________
Jonathan Baker
http://www.BakerPianoLessons.com/index.htm

Top
#2098411 - 06/08/13 12:32 AM Re: The Art of Raising Fees [Re: Gary D.]
Jonathan Baker Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/09/09
Posts: 475
Loc: New York City!
Originally Posted By: Gary D.
Originally Posted By: Jonathan Baker
And thank you for the splendid chart! - it is very interesting to me.

Jonathan, you may live in a zoo - or teach in one.But you are in the Big Apple, and you are making it.I truly envy you. If I could live anywhere in the world, you are where I would like to be. smile


Thanks for the kind words, Gary. I could not make my way into NYC now the way I did many years ago when I stepped off the bus an impoverished teenager, just another hopeful from no place special - the city has become astronomically expensive, largely due to the outlandish, if not utterly obscene, prosperity of the 'financial services' industry.

Poor artists used to live across the street from me, but now the CEO of Morgan Stanley bought up the entire building and turned it into a private home, complete with a swimming pool in the basement and an elevator to a newly constructed penthouse on top. Seven other moguls have done the same thing on my block alone. Its all banking industry money. Truly mind bending. I could tell you stories about the wealth, and the stark disparity of wealth, in this city, but I suppose that will have to wait for another time since I don't want to throw this thread off its path. But I would find it interesting to share that with you in the proper venue, because it weighs on my mind. I am grateful that I manage to pay my bills in this surreal environment.
_________________________
Jonathan Baker
http://www.BakerPianoLessons.com/index.htm

Top
#2098428 - 06/08/13 01:04 AM Re: The Art of Raising Fees [Re: AZNpiano]
Polyphonist Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 7776
Loc: New York City
Maybe we should start an NYC thread so we can rant about living here. ha
_________________________
Regards,

Polyphonist

Top
#2098511 - 06/08/13 08:57 AM Re: The Art of Raising Fees [Re: keystring]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7417
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Originally Posted By: keystring
The only part that bothers me in the suggestions is that of having students teach beginner students. The absolutely most important things that are learned happen in the very beginning when the student is set up and gets the foundations for everything that follows. That would have to be some very good supervision and guidance by the master teacher.

Absolutely! I'd suggest that the primary teacher give the introductory lesson, but with the younger teacher present, and then either sit in on, or give the young student one lesson per month, so you can correct minor errors before they become major problems. Also, I think you would probably want to go through the method books with the young teachers, making sure they can play each piece to a very high level and musically, of course.
_________________________
"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

Top
#2098517 - 06/08/13 09:08 AM Re: The Art of Raising Fees [Re: AZNpiano]
Peter K. Mose Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/06/12
Posts: 1382
Loc: Toronto, Ontario
Jonathan, thanks for the additional thoughts. My studio pricing philosophy squares with yours. (It was John v.d. Brook who had confused me by his graduated pricing ideas.)

Nice to hear from a neighborhood NYC piano teacher on this board!

Top
#2098524 - 06/08/13 09:29 AM Re: The Art of Raising Fees [Re: John v.d.Brook]
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11844
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook

Absolutely! I'd suggest that the primary teacher give the introductory lesson, but with the younger teacher present, and then either sit in on, or give the young student one lesson per month, so you can correct minor errors before they become major problems. Also, I think you would probably want to go through the method books with the young teachers, making sure they can play each piece to a very high level and musically, of course.


I have always thought that it would be a good idea for teachers to have a kind of mentorship or apprenticeship, where they are taught teaching - not just abstractly in a classroom pedagogy course - but working with a teacher. Would you envision preceding this with the intermediate student observing his teacher teach, with discussion and explanation or question-answer afterward? In fact, that in itself might be a kind of (paid?) lesson.

Top
#2098533 - 06/08/13 09:52 AM Re: The Art of Raising Fees [Re: keystring]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7417
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Keystring, I suspect that this idea is fraught with potential problems, if the supervising teacher isn't really committed to excellence. Perhaps a productive approach would be for the teacher to gather the apprentices together during the summer months and do teaching classes, where they literally go through the primer and lower grade material together, with the students being Guinea pigs for each other.
_________________________
"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

Top
#2098534 - 06/08/13 10:02 AM Re: The Art of Raising Fees [Re: John v.d.Brook]
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11844
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
Keystring, I suspect that this idea is fraught with potential problems, if the supervising teacher isn't really committed to excellence. Perhaps a productive approach would be for the teacher to gather the apprentices together during the summer months and do teaching classes, where they literally go through the primer and lower grade material together, with the students being Guinea pigs for each other.

I suspect that my idea was received backwards. I was thinking of the advanced student observing the teacher teach a number of students over a period of time, asking questions afterward and the teacher point out things - not of the student teaching and the teacher observing. I was seeing this as preliminary to your idea of this student starting to teach beginner students, which would be without this step. I have always believed that beginners should be taught by experienced teachers if at all possible.

I like your idea of group classes and these students being guinea pigs for each other. smile I'm wondering, though. These students have already been trained, so they would come to the piano bench, sit at the right height and distance, use their hands and bodies as they have been taught to do, and understand what is expected. It doesn't duplicate a true beginner and what to watch for. (?) Anyway, I suspect that we've slipped into a new topic.

Top
#2098613 - 06/08/13 01:17 PM Re: The Art of Raising Fees [Re: Peter K. Mose]
Jonathan Baker Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/09/09
Posts: 475
Loc: New York City!
Originally Posted By: Peter K. Mose
(It was John v.d. Brook who had confused me by his graduated pricing ideas.)


My friends usually call me John, so like an over-eager dog I respond automatically to that whistle. LOL.
_________________________
Jonathan Baker
http://www.BakerPianoLessons.com/index.htm

Top
#2098619 - 06/08/13 01:33 PM Re: The Art of Raising Fees [Re: AZNpiano]
Minniemay Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/09
Posts: 1702
Loc: CA
Graduated pricing? I don't think so.

1. Teaching beginners is harder than teaching other levels.

2. You penalize people for sticking with it!

Having more advanced students teach the beginners?

1. Not without tons of supervision, which would take tons of time and effort.

2. Not without systematic training, also taking tons of time and effort.

Abstract pedagogy courses: They don't have to be. The pedagogy courses I took and the pedagogy courses I teach include lecture, observation and actual supervised teaching.
_________________________
B.A., Piano, Piano Pegagogy, Music Ed.
M.M., Piano

Top
#2098657 - 06/08/13 03:42 PM Re: The Art of Raising Fees [Re: AZNpiano]
ezpiano.org Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/10/11
Posts: 1027
Loc: Irvine, CA
I tried once in my life, letting one of my high school student teach beginner (theory only) and I swear I will not do that anymore in the future because it takes me three times effort to get things done.

If I teach it myself, I just need 15 minutes.

If I let my high school student teach it, I will need 45 minutes in total because that include training, supervising, and followup.

Only if I do not care the outcome, then I can skip training and supervising, but I am not that kind of teacher.
_________________________
http://ezpiano.org
Piano lessons in Irvine, CA
Watch the introduction video on YouTube
@ http://bit.ly/Ready123

Top
#2098664 - 06/08/13 04:10 PM Re: The Art of Raising Fees [Re: Minniemay]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7417
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Like AZNpiano, we have several fine teachers who are not realistic with their pricing, probably charging one-half to two-thirds what they should. As a parent, why would I go to a good teacher who charges $160/mo when I can send my student to a good teacher charging $80/mo? This is even more of a problem for teachers located in smaller communities.

What is your solution?
_________________________
"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

Top
#2098668 - 06/08/13 04:25 PM Re: The Art of Raising Fees [Re: AZNpiano]
Piano*Dad Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10422
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
The teacher who undercharges has only so many spots. Once full, the best one can do is to get on his/her waiting list. If your market is large enough, having a few teachers who do this doesn't create much of a problem. They fill, and life goes on. In fact, once they see that you too can have a decently full studio charging a higher price (and by all means tell them about it) they may get the message that they are undervaluing their time.

In a very small market, it's a real pain, I know. But if there is someone of your ability who willingly accepts half of what you would otherwise change, then that person will affect the pool of families that seek your services. That's life. Other than talking to the person, there is little you can do.
_________________________
Grotrian 192 #156455

https://www.youtube.com/user/dhfeld/videos

Top
#2098684 - 06/08/13 05:03 PM Re: The Art of Raising Fees [Re: Piano*Dad]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7417
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Originally Posted By: Piano*Dad
But if there is someone of your ability who willingly accepts half of what you would otherwise change, then that person will affect the pool of families that seek your services. That's life. Other than talking to the person, there is little you can do.

Of course, the problem is parents with decreasing or stagnant incomes and decreasing interest in music lessons, or just plain ignorance. There are days which I think I'll offer a "fire sale" at half what these teachers charge. It may be life, but at least here we can bitch and moan about it.
_________________________
"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

Top
#2098789 - 06/08/13 08:12 PM Re: The Art of Raising Fees [Re: AZNpiano]
Candywoman Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/14/03
Posts: 857
AZN: you might try reducing the number of minutes but keeping the same price.

One reality we need to face is "we" who value music and an authentically artistic culture need to have more children. The higher priced teacher can thrive in such a situation because the most talented/wealthiest students are selected from a larger pool.

In general, more children would help the economy. As stated earlier, going back to a more manufacturing-based economy would help.


Edited by Candywoman (06/08/13 08:13 PM)

Top
#2098814 - 06/08/13 08:47 PM Re: The Art of Raising Fees [Re: AZNpiano]
R_B Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/03/09
Posts: 540
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
What are some of the ways (or reasons?) you raise fees, other than doing so on a regular annual/bi-annual basis?

I had a conversation with my student's parent today, and I am about to get a referral because one of my colleagues has just raised her fees. To me, it feels like this family is just out shopping for a cheaper teacher. But the reality is that if we continually raise our fees, sooner or later it will reach a breaking point, and students will leave to find someone cheaper.


I want to reply to this initial post BEFORE reading other replies.
I am NOT a music teacher, or employed in the "music industry" in any way.

With that out of the way, it IS necessary to raise fees & prices from time to time in ANY business.
a) To keep up with increasing costs, including your own cost of living, i.e. inflation.
b) Because you are WORTH it.

No kidding, have something that sets you ABOVE other teachers.
Do NOT join the "race to the bottom", doing so just increases the pace of that race.
Walmart make very little on anything, as the saying goes they make it on volume.

You cannot double your volume, you may want to NOT be seen as a "Walmart quality" teacher (-:

I have a small business, I have ways to AVOID price shoppers.
When I sense that price is a significant factor for them I make sure that my quote is HIGH and/or I am "booked".
If a cold call starts out with "How much..." instead of "When could you..." or "Could you at this time on this day..." it is a price shopper for sure.

They want cheap, they can find it, just not HERE.
Anyone who is GOOD at what they do doesn't need to be in the market at the "going rate".
Premium product or premium service command premium prices, no need to ever apologize for your prices/fees - IMO etc.

Top
#2099073 - 06/09/13 12:40 AM Re: The Art of Raising Fees [Re: R_B]
Jonathan Baker Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/09/09
Posts: 475
Loc: New York City!
Hello RB,

Every time I raised my rates I never lost business. There is no question about that. But I cannot make a formula from that for anyone else, or even myself. However, if I lowered my rates by 50% my business would drop off by probably the same ratio. Many people associate price with quality, and sometimes I do as well.

If I had to choose between a dentist charging a flat fee of $17 per hour and one who charges $170 per hour, and all I knew about them was their pricing, there is no way I would go to the $17 dentist because I would presume, sight unseen, that he is running a seedy place and on the verge of losing his license. I might be wrong, of course, but that is the presumption I would jump to. Admittedly, piano lessons are not as scary as dental procedures gone awry! And by the time my dentist is done with me it always ends up costing a lot more than $170 per hour.

I should mention that whenever the first words from a caller are, "Is this piano lessons? How much do ya charge?" - that person never, never works out as a student. That is an absolute 100% truth, no exceptions. Their first priority is a cheap deal, not a good piano lesson. They will never get through the first difficulty in music with that cut-a-deal mentality.


If my pricing of piano lessons is within reasonable reach of the population I am serving and not wildly beyond the competition, my focus forwards to questioning whether I am presenting myself to the community intelligently. Am I being clear, relevant to their needs, easily comprehended without dumbing down? I never question the market place - that is like the starry universe - it is out of my control. But I continually question how I am interacting with it because that is the only thing where I have some leverage.
_________________________
Jonathan Baker
http://www.BakerPianoLessons.com/index.htm

Top
#2099333 - 06/09/13 02:19 PM Re: The Art of Raising Fees [Re: AZNpiano]
Barb860 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/11/09
Posts: 1646
Loc: northern California
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
What are some of the ways (or reasons?) you raise fees, other than doing so on a regular annual/bi-annual basis?

I had a conversation with my student's parent today, and I am about to get a referral because one of my colleagues has just raised her fees. To me, it feels like this family is just out shopping for a cheaper teacher. But the reality is that if we continually raise our fees, sooner or later it will reach a breaking point, and students will leave to find someone cheaper.


To me, it's all about value. What exactly are you providing for your price?
I don't charge as much as other teachers in my area because I don't offer programs such as festivals, certificate of merit, Guild, etc. In addition to weekly private lessons, my students have 2 recitals per year and optional group lessons 4 times per year and that's it. It's my job as a teacher to make sure that students who want or need more should move on to someone who provides those services.
When you say that the family may be shopping for a "cheaper teacher", would that student's opportunities to participate in programs be limited?
_________________________
Piano Teacher

Top
#2099336 - 06/09/13 02:21 PM Re: The Art of Raising Fees [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Barb860 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/11/09
Posts: 1646
Loc: northern California
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
Like AZNpiano, we have several fine teachers who are not realistic with their pricing, probably charging one-half to two-thirds what they should. As a parent, why would I go to a good teacher who charges $160/mo when I can send my student to a good teacher charging $80/mo? This is even more of a problem for teachers located in smaller communities.

What is your solution?


Are these teachers offering the same programs and curriculum that you are?
_________________________
Piano Teacher

Top
#2099394 - 06/09/13 04:11 PM Re: The Art of Raising Fees [Re: AZNpiano]
Overexposed Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2649
Well, I'll chime in.

I have not raised my rates for a couple of years, but this year I added 2 more weeks off per year to the 12 month schedule (which breaks down to a few cents more per lesson if you look at it that way). The monthly fee has stayed the same. Now I'm taking a total of 6 weeks off (that includes holidays).

This year I decided to do myself a favor and felt that taking just 4 weeks total was not enough. Up to this year I taught the week of Thanksgiving and even had a parent say to me "You didn't cancel lessons for Thanksgiving?!" I found that parents do want the time off, but feel obligated to attend all scheduled lessons to get their money's worth. Anyway, I changed the schedule in January and so far no one has complained or asked any questions about it.

Perhaps they have not ready my updated policy. I did not point out the change. I just let them know a couple of weeks in advance of the upcoming break.

In other words, I have no set schedule for raises. When I feel like it's time, I make a change.


Edited by Ann in Kentucky (06/09/13 04:14 PM)

Top
#2100003 - 06/09/13 11:53 PM Re: The Art of Raising Fees [Re: Barb860]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5587
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: Barb860
When you say that the family may be shopping for a "cheaper teacher", would that student's opportunities to participate in programs be limited?

If anything, the student's opportunity to participate in musical events would be doubled, if not tripled. Not that it is of any value to the parents in this case. In fact, most folks here will be glad if their kid can plod along to Mary Had a Little Lamb.
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

Top
#2100083 - 06/10/13 03:33 AM Re: The Art of Raising Fees [Re: Minniemay]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5587
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: Minniemay
Graduated pricing? I don't think so.

1. Teaching beginners is harder than teaching other levels.

2. You penalize people for sticking with it!

Actually, quite a few parents I've worked for expected to pay higher fees once their kid get past a certain level. I remember my own (really good) piano teacher having that exact discussion with my parents once I got to the sonatinas. My lessons went to an hour, and the fee was raised slightly more than double of the 30-minute fee.

Another reason I may be in favor of the graduated price structure is that I might attract some talented students while they are still young, whose parents may or may not realize there's talent there at that stage.

It is so much easier to work with kids from the beginning. For many years I took transfer students left and right, and most of them were so horribly taught, I truly thought about never accepting transfers ever again.
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

Top
#2100145 - 06/10/13 08:05 AM Re: The Art of Raising Fees [Re: AZNpiano]
Piano*Dad Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10422
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
Quote:
In fact, most folks here will be glad if their kid can plod along to Mary Had a Little Lamb.


Yes, but those families are simply getting fleeced …

_________________________
Grotrian 192 #156455

https://www.youtube.com/user/dhfeld/videos

Top
#2100201 - 06/10/13 10:01 AM Re: The Art of Raising Fees [Re: Piano*Dad]
Barb860 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/11/09
Posts: 1646
Loc: northern California
Originally Posted By: Piano*Dad
Quote:
In fact, most folks here will be glad if their kid can plod along to Mary Had a Little Lamb.


Yes, but those families are simply getting fleeced …




laugh Thanks for the laugh this Monday morning!!!
_________________________
Piano Teacher

Top
#2100256 - 06/10/13 11:30 AM Re: The Art of Raising Fees [Re: Piano*Dad]
R0B Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/03/08
Posts: 1439
Loc: Australia
Originally Posted By: Piano*Dad


Yes, but those families are simply getting fleeced …



Hopefully, their chops will improve over time wink
_________________________
Rob

Top
#2100391 - 06/10/13 02:52 PM Re: The Art of Raising Fees [Re: AZNpiano]
Piano*Dad Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10422
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
Arrrhh, aaarrrrrh!!

Well, if those families stop paying, they'll be .... on the lam.
_________________________
Grotrian 192 #156455

https://www.youtube.com/user/dhfeld/videos

Top
#2100847 - 06/11/13 09:38 AM Re: The Art of Raising Fees [Re: Piano*Dad]
Andy Platt Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/28/10
Posts: 2423
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: Piano*Dad
Arrrhh, aaarrrrrh!!

Well, if those families stop paying, they'll be .... on the lam.



I think you are all being like sheep laughing along with the really baaahd jokes. Sheerly you teachers can do better.
_________________________
  • Schumann - Ende vom Lied, Opus 12.8
  • Haydn - Sonata in Gm, Hob. XVI/44

Kawai K3

Top
#2100967 - 06/11/13 02:52 PM Re: The Art of Raising Fees [Re: AZNpiano]
Opus_Maximus Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/27/04
Posts: 1500
I remember a speaker at last year's MTAC convention saying that in his branch, it was customary for all teachers to have anonymous, online rate surveys - though I have never heard of this outside of his particular speech. Such a thing would be helpful...

Top
#2100973 - 06/11/13 03:00 PM Re: The Art of Raising Fees [Re: Opus_Maximus]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5587
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: Opus_Maximus
I remember a speaker at last year's MTAC convention saying that in his branch, it was customary for all teachers to have anonymous, online rate surveys - though I have never heard of this outside of his particular speech. Such a thing would be helpful...

This was also mentioned several years ago at one of our branch meetings by the presenter, but the survey results that she alluded to are quite alarming. Undercharging is the name of the game. That's why I keep on referring to the fact that there are more than a few teachers who haven't raised their rates since 1964!
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

Top
#2101071 - 06/11/13 05:44 PM Re: The Art of Raising Fees [Re: AZNpiano]
Minniemay Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/09
Posts: 1702
Loc: CA
I learned today that a teacher in my branch is charging $40/hr while my rate is $54/hour. Given the training and years of experience, this seems an appropriate range for our locale.

We did the anonymous survey a few years ago and I was truly surprised.
_________________________
B.A., Piano, Piano Pegagogy, Music Ed.
M.M., Piano

Top
#2101169 - 06/11/13 08:32 PM Re: The Art of Raising Fees [Re: AZNpiano]
malkin Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/09
Posts: 2746
Loc: *sigh* Salt Lake City
To me, $40-$54 seems like a pretty narrow range.

When I was shopping for a teacher just over a year ago I ran into a low of $20 (advertised as $10/ half hour) to a high of $120.00 per hour.
I wonder if you had a large enough sample if it would look like a nice normal bell curve.
_________________________
A good student is one who makes the teacher feel like a good teacher.

Top
#2101357 - 06/12/13 08:07 AM Re: The Art of Raising Fees [Re: malkin]
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3250
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: malkin
To me, $40-$54 seems like a pretty narrow range.

When I was shopping for a teacher just over a year ago I ran into a low of $20 (advertised as $10/ half hour) to a high of $120.00 per hour.
I wonder if you had a large enough sample if it would look like a nice normal bell curve.


I doubt it. I would suspect it would be bimodal - a big peak at the low end, serving the customer for whom price is the main criterion, and another peak at the high end, specializing in conservatory bound and other really serious students, and very little in the middle.
_________________________
gotta go practice

Top
#2101372 - 06/12/13 08:41 AM Re: The Art of Raising Fees [Re: AZNpiano]
Minniemay Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/09
Posts: 1702
Loc: CA
Mind you, these are teachers who are members of MTAC. They all have degrees or went through CalPlan training. There are other teachers around who post signs like "Piano Lessons $9/hr."
_________________________
B.A., Piano, Piano Pegagogy, Music Ed.
M.M., Piano

Top
#2101443 - 06/12/13 11:47 AM Re: The Art of Raising Fees [Re: Minniemay]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5587
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: Minniemay
There are other teachers around who post signs like "Piano Lessons $9/hr."

That's part of the battle. Can you imagine taking transfers from such places, and the kids' parents want them to do CM?
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

Top
#2101478 - 06/12/13 01:39 PM Re: The Art of Raising Fees [Re: AZNpiano]
Piano*Dad Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10422
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
Originally Posted By: Minniemay
There are other teachers around who post signs like "Piano Lessons $9/hr."

That's part of the battle. Can you imagine taking transfers from such places, and the kids' parents want them to do CM?


Only after you do CPR on their technique ... grin
_________________________
Grotrian 192 #156455

https://www.youtube.com/user/dhfeld/videos

Top
Page 1 of 3 1 2 3 >

Moderator:  Ken Knapp 
What's Hot!!
Christmas Header
- > Gift Ideas for Music Lovers < -
From PianoSupplies.com a division of Piano World.
-------------------
The December Free Piano Newsletter
-------------------
Forums Rules & Help
-------------------
ADVERTISE
on Piano World

The world's most popular piano web site.
-------------------
PIANO BOOKS
Interesting books about the piano, pianists, piano history, biographies, memoirs and more!
(ad) Yamaha CP Music Rest Promo
Yamaha CP Music Rest Promo
(ad) HAILUN Pianos
Hailun Pianos - Click for More
Ad (Seiler/Knabe)
Knabe Pianos
(125ad) Dampp Chaser
Dampp Chaser Piano Life Saver
(ad) Lindeblad Piano
Lindeblad Piano Restoration
(ad) Piano Music Sale - Dover Publications
Piano Music Sale
Sheet Music Plus (125)
Sheet Music Plus Featured Sale
New Topics - Multiple Forums
A new clip of Don Pullen in action
by rintincop
Yesterday at 11:03 PM
Learn a Song in 7 minutes: Carol of the Bells
by Hugh Sung
Yesterday at 10:11 PM
December 2014 Holiday Piano Bar
by piano_primo_1
Yesterday at 06:14 PM
The Language of Taste - Pianos, Wine ... and Birds
by PNO40
Yesterday at 05:16 PM
Good Practice Amp for Roland FP7F?
by TheloniousPunk
Yesterday at 04:24 PM
Forum Stats
77333 Members
42 Forums
159946 Topics
2348986 Posts

Max Online: 15252 @ 03/21/10 11:39 PM
Gift Ideas for Music Lovers!
Find the Perfect Gift for the Music Lovers on your List!
Visit our online store today.

Visit our online store for gifts for music lovers

 
Help keep the forums up and running with a donation, any amount is appreciated!
Or by becoming a Subscribing member! Thank-you.
Donate   Subscribe
 
Our Piano Related Classified Ads
|
Dealers | Tuners | Lessons | Movers | Restorations | Pianos For Sale | Sell Your Piano |

Advertise on Piano World
| Subscribe | Piano World | PianoSupplies.com | Advertise on Piano World | Donate | Link to Us | Classifieds |
| |Contact | Privacy | Legal | About Us | Site Map | Free Newsletter | Press Room |


copyright 1997 - 2014 Piano World ® all rights reserved
No part of this site may be reproduced without prior written permission