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#2190587 - 11/30/13 02:18 PM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: John v.d.Brook]
laguna_greg Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/02/13
Posts: 1169
Loc: guess where in CA and WA
John,

Thank you for that. It doesn't matter where your politics lie. This is insane. And you're right about some megalomaniac. Well I've always felt that rabid dogs need to be put down for the general good.

I think it's time to write some letters and make some calls. I have about 5 hours a week I can devote to this.

And really, we're never going to see this in the mainstream media unless we do something. Piano teachers are as insignificant and impotent a bunch politically, economically ($5/hr?) and socially as exists today. Unless, of course, we make noise somehow.
_________________________
Laguna Greg

1919 Mason & Hamlin AA
1931 Bechstein C
http://www.triangleassociates-us.com/about_us (my day job)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dorothy_Taubman (a recent article I wrote about one of my teachers)

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#2190746 - 11/30/13 10:19 PM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: Michael_99]
Jonathan Baker Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/09/09
Posts: 281
Loc: New York City!
It is possible that the warning letter from the FTC was a fishing expedition by some lone bureaucrat just to see what sort of reaction he might get from the MTNA.

By example from another bureaucracy: twenty years ago I considered forming a business with a friend and filed the necessary paperwork to legalize the matter. I thereafter decided not to actually form the company and went on with my my life. Six months later I received a bill from the IRS for just over $37,000, wherein they declared their "calculation" of what I owed in back taxes from the 'profits' of my corporation. They were fishing. Of course, they got nothing from me on that count. I suspect the MTNA was similarly trolling around...
_________________________
Jonathan Baker
http://www.BakerPianoLessons.com/index.htm

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#2190853 - 12/01/13 08:29 AM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: Jonathan Baker]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11422
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: Jonathan Baker
It is possible that the warning letter from the FTC was a fishing expedition by some lone bureaucrat just to see what sort of reaction he might get from the MTNA.

By example from another bureaucracy: twenty years ago I considered forming a business with a friend and filed the necessary paperwork to legalize the matter. I thereafter decided not to actually form the company and went on with my my life. Six months later I received a bill from the IRS for just over $37,000, wherein they declared their "calculation" of what I owed in back taxes from the 'profits' of my corporation. They were fishing. Of course, they got nothing from me on that count. I suspect the MTNA was similarly trolling around...
Just ignoring the government is really not a great solution, and could only make matters worse. MTNA proceeded, from what I've read, in a suitable manner. FTC is not the IRS.
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#2190874 - 12/01/13 09:16 AM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: Morodiene]
Jonathan Baker Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/09/09
Posts: 281
Loc: New York City!
Originally Posted By: Morodiene
Just ignoring the government is really not a great solution, and could only make matters worse. MTNA proceeded, from what I've read, in a suitable manner. FTC is not the IRS.


Oh, but I never advocate ignoring a threat, and I can assure you I did not ignore the IRS - I put them back in their place very quickly. There is no indication that the FTC even pretends to have evidence of wrongdoing by the MTNA - and the FTC must be put in their place quickly if they have not already.

The MTNA is not some fraudulent fat cat 'charity' used as a financial dodge for billionaires, the FTC will find nothing and has no case.
_________________________
Jonathan Baker
http://www.BakerPianoLessons.com/index.htm

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#2190877 - 12/01/13 09:19 AM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: Morodiene]
John v.d.Brook Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7302
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Update from our chapter president. The subject was broached at district conferences in October and basic marching orders are not to discuss it with membership, but to be prepared for very fast response. Apparently, negotiations are still on-going.

My personal feeling is that a grass roots counter offensive via Congressional representatives, newspapers and media, using parents, students, etc. is much more effective than slithering into the closet with your tail between your legs. Also, all other music organizations need to be involved, otherwise, we'll be picked off one at a time. Martin Niemöller summarized it well.

Originally Posted By: Martin Niemöller
First they came for the Communists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Communist.

Then they came for the Socialists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.

Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak for me.
_________________________
"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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#2190894 - 12/01/13 10:12 AM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11422
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
Update from our chapter president. The subject was broached at district conferences in October and basic marching orders are not to discuss it with membership, but to be prepared for very fast response. Apparently, negotiations are still on-going.

My personal feeling is that a grass roots counter offensive via Congressional representatives, newspapers and media, using parents, students, etc. is much more effective than slithering into the closet with your tail between your legs. Also, all other music organizations need to be involved, otherwise, we'll be picked off one at a time. Martin Niemöller summarized it well.

Originally Posted By: Martin Niemöller
First they came for the Communists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Communist.

Then they came for the Socialists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.

Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak for me.
I agree, we need to make sure that people know about this.

I wonder, there are plenty of free petitioning websites one can use to garner support for a cause. What if we started one such petition and posted it here on PW? Would that be OK with PW mods and owner? I'm sure we could get many signatures that way, and of course through our own studios.
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#2191072 - 12/01/13 06:44 PM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: John v.d.Brook]
laguna_greg Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/02/13
Posts: 1169
Loc: guess where in CA and WA
John,

"Update from our chapter president. The subject was broached at district conferences in October and basic marching orders are not to discuss it with membership, but to be prepared for very fast response. Apparently, negotiations are still on-going."

Really? I mean, come on. That's a sure way to let them get away with bullying you. The national president needs to hold a major press conference, not hide. The media will have a field day with it:

"FTC Threatens Piano Teachers Nationwide!!!"

Can't you just see it?

Morodienne's idea is a very good step, getting a petition going over this. I think we should also do the following:

1-write/call our rep's in congress and let them know. It's a certainty they don't.
2- alert the media. Last year, I got the New York Times to write an obit about Dorothy Taubman by shaming them into it. All it took was one very nasty email to the editor of the city desk. We can do the same thing with this.
3- email everyone we know with I- a short explanation of what has happened, II-a link to that article, and III- some sample texts with which they can a) write letters, b) make phone calls, c) send info to more friends on their email lists.

Developing a marketing plan for this can be very easy and simple. It won't even be difficult to put into effect. For example, I myself am not a member of the MTNA. Which means that I can say anything I want about the affair, and will, to anybody who will listen.

For another example, I have friends and former students who are members of NATS, and the musicians' union local, who simply would not be happy to hear about this because they'd be next.

We need to be as active about this as we can, or it will just get worse, and not just for us.


For one thing, this is not cross-posted on every forum here. Why is that? It affects EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US ON PW!!!

I'm going to call the FTC in Washington tomorrow, and try to get somebody to explain who is responsible for this action. Then I'm going to threaten them to within an inch of the careers because they're so stupid; since they're all appointed to their jobs, they will have to take my call. After that, I'm going to call the local offices of the WA state congress people. I'm going to speak to their local office staff, and I'm going to find out how to prepare this information so they can do something about it. I'll stay on them until they do.

On Tuesday, I think I'll prepare a short press release that I can send to local and regional news organs. If there's time, I'll send a few out. On Wednesday, I'm going to send an email to everyone on my email list, and a few people I can add to it. I'll just send them everything I will have gathered by that time. If I have time on Thursday, I'll write back here and let you know how all these things went. Perhaps by then , we can develop a bigger list of people and orgs to send emails to e.g. college music departments, concert presenting organizations, musicians' unions and professional associations, etc., as well as the general public. Don't you think your school board needs to know about this?

One thing I learned from gay social activism in the 1980s was that you don't need money to fight City Hall. You just need to have more courage than your opponent, and be a little organized.


Edited by laguna_greg (12/01/13 08:37 PM)
_________________________
Laguna Greg

1919 Mason & Hamlin AA
1931 Bechstein C
http://www.triangleassociates-us.com/about_us (my day job)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dorothy_Taubman (a recent article I wrote about one of my teachers)

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#2191136 - 12/01/13 10:55 PM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: Morodiene]
TimR Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3156
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: Morodiene
Surely our tax dollars could be better spent going after for-profit companies whose practices are intended to drive out competition in a non-constitutional manner and not choose something like this to hang its hat on.


Certainly.

Now, the author of the opinion piece doesn't care a whit about piano teachers, or anything but trashing the current administration. If that isn't clear from the text, critical thinking is completely absent.

But one still would wonder why the FTC would target a relatively small (in the grand scheme of things) source of trouble.

And the answer is simple. They are required to respond to a complaint. The complaint would ask whether or not the current practice of MTNA is legal under the existing regulations. The FTC would probably prefer NOT to waste diminishing resources (have you noticed how much their budget has suffered?) on these matters, but they have no choice. In this case they are not promulgating new regulations or asserting their right to regulate an additional group - they are simply rendering an opinion whether these policies hamper free trade and unbridled capitalism.

And it would appear they do, in some small fashion. I don't think that's such a bad thing, but our conservative end of the political spectrum considers any interference with capitalism (including hazardous waste disposal, if you watched any of the last presidential debates) onerous. So in response to a complaint, probably from a disgruntled conservative piano teacher, the FTC has been forced to issue a ruling they probably had little interest in.
_________________________
gotta go practice

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#2191142 - 12/01/13 11:18 PM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: TimR]
John v.d.Brook Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7302
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Yes, the answer is simple. They don't have jurisdiction and that's all they would have had to say. And then bow out.

Reading through some of the responses to the article sheds an interesting light. As this is not a political site, I'll not comment, other than to say many points are novel but certainly have a ring of truth to them.
_________________________
"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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#2191144 - 12/01/13 11:23 PM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: laguna_greg]
currawong Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5901
Loc: Down Under
Originally Posted By: laguna_greg
For one thing, this is not cross-posted on every forum here. Why is that? It affects EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US ON PW!!!
It does?
_________________________
Du holde Kunst...

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#2191157 - 12/01/13 11:38 PM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: currawong]
Nikolas Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 5219
Loc: Europe
Originally Posted By: currawong
Originally Posted By: laguna_greg
For one thing, this is not cross-posted on every forum here. Why is that? It affects EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US ON PW!!!
It does?
In a really long way, yes...

We're all connected in a way or another. If piano teacher in the US suffer, there will be less sales for me, less people in pianoworld, Frank may suffer, etc... :-/

But I'm still to decide on this whole deal. Right now it just feels so anti-government that I'm not sure what to say...
_________________________
http://www.musica-ferrum.com

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#2191197 - 12/02/13 12:56 AM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: Nikolas]
currawong Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5901
Loc: Down Under
Originally Posted By: Nikolas
But I'm still to decide on this whole deal. Right now it just feels so anti-government that I'm not sure what to say...
My impression too - but I really know very little about it.
_________________________
Du holde Kunst...

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#2191336 - 12/02/13 10:33 AM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: currawong]
wdot Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/07
Posts: 726
Loc: South Carolina, USA
Originally Posted By: currawong
Originally Posted By: Nikolas
But I'm still to decide on this whole deal. Right now it just feels so anti-government that I'm not sure what to say...
My impression too - but I really know very little about it.

Here's the thing about the government. You can't be in favor of governmental intervention in all aspects of everybody's lives . . . other than your own. If you're in favor of the government micromanaging "big banks" and evil for-profit corporations, you're implicitly in favor of the government micro-managing sole proprietorships and, yes, even piano teachers. There is no limiting principle. So be careful when you cheer on the government when it attacks an unpopular target. You might be next.

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#2191346 - 12/02/13 10:50 AM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: wdot]
Nikolas Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 5219
Loc: Europe
Originally Posted By: wdot
Originally Posted By: currawong
Originally Posted By: Nikolas
But I'm still to decide on this whole deal. Right now it just feels so anti-government that I'm not sure what to say...
My impression too - but I really know very little about it.

Here's the thing about the government. You can't be in favor of governmental intervention in all aspects of everybody's lives . . . other than your own. If you're in favor of the government micromanaging "big banks" and evil for-profit corporations, you're implicitly in favor of the government micro-managing sole proprietorships and, yes, even piano teachers. There is no limiting principle. So be careful when you cheer on the government when it attacks an unpopular target. You might be next.
Actually I very much can! wink I'm Greek and you won't believe how many people I can blame for not following the laws. People who cross the red light, people who park illegally, people who tax evade, people who steal a little, people who...

I expect the government to govern (you know) in the best possible way for the general public. Laws are here, generally speaking, to settle differences. They don't necessarily have to be fair, though that would be a lovely bonus! This is the case with Greece today. We get some amazingly hurtful laws (and believe me, you guys in the US know very little on what it means to have a crooked government that pretty much destroys every home). The point, however is that it's the law, from a government that had the biggest % and this is what we get for the next 3 years or so (a bit less actually). That's it!

Next time we vote there's something to do: Vote (that goes for me, rather than you).

And, on a side note, some may know my personal issues with my family life, so I dare you not to say that I've been uninfluenced by MY government and the laws and tax and everything! frown

EDIT: If I may add that I'm very much in favour of personal consequences and personal responsibility! It's extremely easy to pass judgement on anything, especially the government for doing "everything wrong", but I still need to see some actual facts on this issue that you're discussing in order to understand what's going on exactly...


Edited by Nikolas (12/02/13 10:53 AM)
_________________________
http://www.musica-ferrum.com

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#2191348 - 12/02/13 10:54 AM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: currawong]
TimR Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3156
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: currawong
Originally Posted By: laguna_greg
For one thing, this is not cross-posted on every forum here. Why is that? It affects EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US ON PW!!!
It does?


Perhaps, in a very round about way, it does.

Now, one of the posters in this thread said that while the article was sensational in tone, Ms Strassel got all the facts right.

Not so.

Her article says that the action is taken to make
Quote:
the world safe from rapacious piano teachers
, as if individual piano teachers were somehow being regulated by the FTC.

But in fact, the FTC action taken is a ruling that the MTNA's code is an unfair restraint AGAINST the rights of individual piano teachers to act as they want.

Understand the distinction. The MTNA code of ethics says piano teachers can't do certain things, among them fix prices and poach students. The FTC says that code of ethics is a restraint on free trade and capitalism - the FTC is treating piano teaching as a professional business rather than a hobby.

So what did the MTNA do? They basically said, well you'd be right if we really did that, but we don't. We never enforce our code of ethics, nobody pays any attention to it, it's essentially meaningless.

Now, the FTC employee tasked with processing this complaint (that would be a GS-5, annual base salary $27,431 US)(who probably did the math and realized that $30/hour is just a little more than their own hourly rate of $13.14/hour) asks, then why did you put it in writing? If you don't really do it, you should just take it out.

And the MTNA seems to have agreed to do so.

Now, near as I can tell the MTNA has about 24,000 members that are now free to pillage at will, out of about 330,000 total teachers in the arts. So does it really affect everyone here?

I submit that it does, for the reason of professional identity.

Why the shock that some government regulation might apply to piano teachers?

Think about that for a moment. Might it be similar to the shock some people feel about having to obey copyright law?

Why doesn't MTNA, or somebody, regulate the piano teaching industry? Why are there no entry level standards for competence?

Is it because the group is still divided between those who identify as a professional industry, and those who consider themselves hobbyists?

The FTC doesn't know any better. They're likely to lump piano teachers in with cosmetologists, plumbers, high voltage linemen, architects, or anybody else who runs a small business.

And perhaps that's a compliment.
_________________________
gotta go practice

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#2191350 - 12/02/13 10:58 AM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: wdot]
laguna_greg Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/02/13
Posts: 1169
Loc: guess where in CA and WA
Originally Posted By: wdot

Here's the thing about the government. You can't be in favor of governmental intervention in all aspects of everybody's lives . . . other than your own. If you're in favor of the government micromanaging "big banks" and evil for-profit corporations, you're implicitly in favor of the government micro-managing sole proprietorships and, yes, even piano teachers. There is no limiting principle. So be careful when you cheer on the government when it attacks an unpopular target. You might be next.


Look, if you don't want to do anything about this, then don't. But let's not confuse the issue: the MTNA is not an investment bank, and shouldn't be treated like one.

Myself, I'm calling Washington this morning.
_________________________
Laguna Greg

1919 Mason & Hamlin AA
1931 Bechstein C
http://www.triangleassociates-us.com/about_us (my day job)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dorothy_Taubman (a recent article I wrote about one of my teachers)

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#2191360 - 12/02/13 11:13 AM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: TimR]
John v.d.Brook Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7302
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Tim, you seem to be unable to distinguish between satire and fact. I'll leave it at that.

More to the point, how do you know that the FTC person handling the complaint is a GS-5? More than likely, it's a GS-11 or GS-12, so the base pay is $60,343 or $74,337, steps 7 or 8 respectively. That's the base pay. There's insurance, healthcare, paid vacations, possible location pay differentials, etc.

I am not at all happy with what the leadership is doing at MTNA, based on current reports. Other member teachers may feel the same way. Time will tell.

But one thing for certain, regardless of FTC rules, I will not be poaching students from fellow teachers. If others feel the need to do so, there's little I can do about it, but in the end, it's up to parents to decide who they want to teach their children.
_________________________
"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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#2191366 - 12/02/13 11:19 AM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: Michael_99]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11559
Loc: Canada
Laguna, can you help me out with something here? I get that you consider this to be an important issue in your country, and you believe everyone should act on it because it affects everyone (involved in music living in the US). It is a bad thing. Can you define what "it" is? What, specifically, is the FTC ruling on or investigating? The article itself begins with an "eye catching" opening statement telling teachers about not raising their fees. We know it's eye catching, and there is no issue about raising fees. But what IS it?

I have a vague picture. It seems to involve a rule in the code of ethics designed to prevent teacher stealing, and maybe another one about discussing prices. But this is a vague picture I have. Can you flesh it out? WHAT is it that the FTC is checking out specifically, and which you believe should not be checked out?

Thx.

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#2191367 - 12/02/13 11:22 AM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: John v.d.Brook]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11559
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
Tim, you seem to be unable to distinguish between satire and fact.

John, we cross-posted. I am able to recognize satire. In a satirical article, trying to get at fact is like being Cinderella trying to pick the lentils out of the ashes. Could you flesh out WHAT it is about, specifically?

I.e. while I can recognize satire, I can't get AT the fact.

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#2191368 - 12/02/13 11:22 AM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: TimR]
laguna_greg Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/02/13
Posts: 1169
Loc: guess where in CA and WA
Tim,

"I submit that it does, for the reason of professional identity.

Why the shock that some government regulation might apply to piano teachers?

Think about that for a moment. Might it be similar to the shock some people feel about having to obey copyright law?

Why doesn't MTNA, or somebody, regulate the piano teaching industry? Why are there no entry level standards for competence?

Is it because the group is still divided between those who identify as a professional industry, and those who consider themselves hobbyists?

The FTC doesn't know any better. They're likely to lump piano teachers in with cosmetologists, plumbers, high voltage linemen, architects, or anybody else who runs a small business.

And perhaps that's a compliment."

It's not. As a professional group, we don't use, sell or administer controlled substances that need regulation. We don't work with people in a way that can cause infection. We don't perform services that can affect public safety or health. We don't do work that can cause fires or explosions. And we don't work with other people's money.

You really want our profession to be regulated with the same limitations as those people? I don't. They don't apply.

The reason there are no minimum standards for competence in our industry is because, for one thing, the MTNA has no legal authority to impose any. As a rule, we don't teach in public schools where credentialing would be required. And we don't engage in any hazardous practices that require regulation. Unlike the Bar Association, the MTNA does not have the authority to stop you from teaching piano if they don't like how you do business. Nor is there any need for it to do so. The Bar Association, on the other hand, performs a very useful service by protecting the public from unscrupulous, fraudulent or incompetent people who might pretend to know the law when they don't. The MTNA cannot, and does not do anything similar.

The Bar Association has a national organization with an ethics code all members must adhere to or face expulsion. I don't see the FTC investigating them for a restraint of trade. They are also a privately held non-profit.

In my day job, the Human Factors Engineering Society (HFES) issues credentials to its members all over the country by examination and education. They also have a pretty strict code of ethics. They are also a privately held non-profit. And they are not being investigated by the FTC either, even thgouh their ethics code could be seen as a real restraint of trade.

Why the FTC is picking on the MTNA is a mystery, since it's clear that other organizations with more power over their members are not being singled out.

Also, your idea about about copyrights is not relevant. Copyrights laws apply to every citizen, not just piano teachers. They are not an attempt to legally regulate our profession.

If the Boy Scouts of America can have a code of ethics for its members, then so can the MTNA.
_________________________
Laguna Greg

1919 Mason & Hamlin AA
1931 Bechstein C
http://www.triangleassociates-us.com/about_us (my day job)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dorothy_Taubman (a recent article I wrote about one of my teachers)

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#2191372 - 12/02/13 11:25 AM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: Michael_99]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11559
Loc: Canada
Laguna - what are they ruling on? (See other post).

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#2191378 - 12/02/13 11:40 AM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: keystring]
laguna_greg Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/02/13
Posts: 1169
Loc: guess where in CA and WA
Originally Posted By: keystring
Laguna, can you help me out with something here? I get that you consider this to be an important issue in your country, and you believe everyone should act on it because it affects everyone (involved in music living in the US). It is a bad thing. Can you define what "it" is? What, specifically, is the FTC ruling on or investigating? The article itself begins with an "eye catching" opening statement telling teachers about not raising their fees. We know it's eye catching, and there is no issue about raising fees. But what IS it?

Thx.


Hi Key,

The FTC is saying that the MTNA cannot have their existing code of ethics. They are saying that they must change it in order to comply with federal laws against monopolies and unfair restraint of trade. But the problem with their reasoning is two-fold:

1- The FTC does not have jurisdiction to enforce these rules against privately held non-profit associations like the MTNA. They have overstepped their bounds and are poking their nose into places it doesn't belong.

2- The FTC's claims against the MTNA are just plain wrong on their merits. The MTNA cannot engage in a restraint of trade because it doesn't have the legal power to regulate the profession. In order for the FTC to be right, the MTNA would have to have the same legal powers to regulate an industry in the same way the Bar Association regulates the licensing of lawyers and judges, for example. But it doesn't, so those rules can't apply according to the law.

Other associations with bigger budgets would probably fight the FTC on legal ground, and win. The FTC investigation is frivolous and abusive; no judge would go along with it. But the MTNA simply does not have any money to even engage an attorney, so they plan to just go along with what the FTC says in order to avoid a fight they can't pay for.

And the FTC is applying these rules capriciously. The MTNA is an easy target because it can't fight back. They wouldn't go after the Boy Scouts for the same thing, for example, because they can.

Does that help?
_________________________
Laguna Greg

1919 Mason & Hamlin AA
1931 Bechstein C
http://www.triangleassociates-us.com/about_us (my day job)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dorothy_Taubman (a recent article I wrote about one of my teachers)

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#2191382 - 12/02/13 11:45 AM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: laguna_greg]
wdot Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/07
Posts: 726
Loc: South Carolina, USA
Originally Posted By: laguna_greg
Look, if you don't want to do anything about this, then don't. But let's not confuse the issue: the MTNA is not an investment bank, and shouldn't be treated like one.

Myself, I'm calling Washington this morning.
I think you mistook my meaning. Although I'm not a piano teacher, I certainly wasn't suggesting that nothing should be done about this. I was suggesting that we should strive to be consistent in our positions about the proper role of government in our lives.

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#2191386 - 12/02/13 11:48 AM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: keystring]
John v.d.Brook Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7302
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Originally Posted By: keystring
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
Tim, you seem to be unable to distinguish between satire and fact.

John, we cross-posted. I am able to recognize satire. In a satirical article, trying to get at fact is like being Cinderella trying to pick the lentils out of the ashes. Could you flesh out WHAT it is about, specifically?

I.e. while I can recognize satire, I can't get AT the fact.

Poor word choice - should have been "sarcasm."

For you and other non-USA residents/MTNA members, here's the former code of ethics:

Originally Posted By: MTNA Code of Ethics before FTC
CODE OF ETHICS
COMMITMENT TO STUDENTS- The teacher shall conduct the relationship with students and families in a professional manner.
The teacher shall respect the personal integrity and privacy of students unless the law requires disclosure.
The teacher shall clearly communicate the expectations of the studio.
The teacher shall encourage, guide and develop the musical potential of each student.
The teacher shall treat each student with dignity and respect, without discrimination of any kind.
The teacher shall respect the student’s right to obtain instruction from the teacher of his/her choice.
COMMITMENT TO COLLEAGUES-The teacher shall maintain a professional attitude and shall act with integrity in regard to colleagues in the profession.
The teacher shall respect the reputation of colleagues and shall refrain from making false or malicious statements about colleagues.
The teacher shall refrain from disclosing sensitive information about colleagues obtained in the course of professional service unless disclosure serves a compelling professional purpose or is required by law.
The teacher shall respect the integrity of other teacher’s studios and shall not actively recruit students from another studio.
The teacher shall participate in the student’s change of teachers with as much communication as possible between parties, while being sensitive to the privacy rights of the student and families.
COMMITMENT TO SOCIETY-The teacher shall maintain the highest standard of professional conduct and personal integrity.
The teacher shall accurately represent his/her professional qualifications.
The teacher shall strive for continued growth in professional competencies.
The teacher is encouraged to be a resource in the community.


And the new code:

Quote:
Code of Ethics

The principles and aspirations found in the Code of Ethics are not conditions of membership, but are goals and ideals that each MTNA member should strive to make an essential part of his or her professional commitment to students, to colleagues and to society.
Commitment to Students

The teacher shall conduct the relationship with students and families in a professional manner.

The teacher shall respect the personal integrity and privacy of students unless the law requires disclosure.
The teacher shall clearly communicate the expectations of the studio.
The teacher shall encourage, guide and develop the musical potential of each student.
The teacher shall treat each student with dignity and respect, without discrimination of any kind.
The teacher shall respect the student's right to obtain instruction from the teacher of his or her choice.

&#8232;Commitment to Colleagues

The teacher shall maintain a professional attitude and shall act with integrity with regard to colleagues in the profession.

The teacher shall respect the reputation of colleagues and shall refrain from making false or malicious statements about colleagues.
The teacher shall refrain from disclosing sensitive information about colleagues obtained in the course of professional service unless disclosure serves a compelling professional purpose or is required by law.
The teacher shall participate in the student's change of teachers with as much communication as possible between parties, while being sensitive to the privacy rights of the student and families.

Commitment to Society

The teacher shall maintain the highest standard of professional conduct and personal integrity.

The teacher shall accurately represent his/her professional qualifications.
The teacher shall strive for continued growth in professional competencies.
The teacher is encouraged to be a resource in the community.
_________________________
"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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#2191390 - 12/02/13 11:53 AM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: TimR]
laguna_greg Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/02/13
Posts: 1169
Loc: guess where in CA and WA
Tim,

"And the answer is simple. They are required to respond to a complaint. The complaint would ask whether or not the current practice of MTNA is legal under the existing regulations. The FTC would probably prefer NOT to waste diminishing resources (have you noticed how much their budget has suffered?) on these matters, but they have no choice."

There is no complaint. If there had been, the FTC administrator should have dismissed it because the MTNA is not within their purview to regulate. It's out of bounds for them to do so, and they know it.

No, something fishy is going on.
_________________________
Laguna Greg

1919 Mason & Hamlin AA
1931 Bechstein C
http://www.triangleassociates-us.com/about_us (my day job)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dorothy_Taubman (a recent article I wrote about one of my teachers)

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#2191394 - 12/02/13 11:57 AM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: Michael_99]
TimR Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3156
Loc: Virginia, USA
Greg believes the FTC does not have jurisdiction and that the claims are without merit.

The MTNA itself appears to disagree. Perhaps they should hire Greg as a lawyer. I will tell that from my experience with government agencies, the agency usually settles quickly if the plaintiff has even a whiff of a case, because our lawyers (the standard grade for a govt lawyer is GS-12, which as John pointed out is not highly paid) are usually outclassed.

keystring,

I don't know if Canada has a similar problem.

The issue for the FTC is whether or not a professional organization's code of ethics constitutes "restraint of trade."

Here's a quote from the NSPE, National Society of Professional Engineers. (I'm an engineer)
Quote:
On the other side of the coin, there have been issues that have been addressed by the NSPE Code where NSPE was required as a matter of law to modify the Code to comply with the law. During the 1970s, the codes of ethics of several professions were challenged by the federal government as constituting an "agreement in restraint of trade" and therefore violative of the Sherman Antitrust Act. Following litigation national architectural and engineering groups including NSPE, the NSPE Code as well as the codes of other groups were modified to remove provisions (1) prohibiting competitive bidding for engineering services and (2) supplanting of one engineer by another. In addition, NSPE agreed with federal antitrust officials to eliminate provisions from the NSPE Code that made it unethical to engage in certain types of promotional advertising.


As you can see, this particular piano teacher organization has not been singled out - there is a 40 year history in the US of conflict between codes of ethics and an 1890 law. Besides engineering, you can find similar articles about surveyors, accountants, etc.

Here's a link that describes Restraint of Trade and the US history:
http://www.encyclopedia.com/topic/Restraint_of_Trade.aspx

Greg will of course say that piano teaching should be exempt from the regulations that apply to all other professions. Maybe so. Neither the FTC nor the MTNA seem to agree.
_________________________
gotta go practice

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#2191400 - 12/02/13 12:02 PM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: TimR]
John v.d.Brook Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7302
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Another update.

Apparently there was a complaint - from an MTNA teacher who wanted to poach students of another teacher and felt restrained because of the code of ethics.

It only takes one bad apple.
_________________________
"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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#2191402 - 12/02/13 12:10 PM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: TimR]
laguna_greg Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/02/13
Posts: 1169
Loc: guess where in CA and WA
Tim,

You misunderstand both my intent, and the issues here. The MTNA is already exempt within the law.

Music teaching is not a regulated industry, by any means. Engineering is. I'm an ergonomics consultant by day and, even though I am often called on to make decisions about environmental issues that could pose great liability to my clients, my profession is not regulated in the law either. My professional association, the HFES, has a very stringent code of ethics with provisions similar to the MTNA's about poaching clients. And because:

1- ergonomics is an unregulated industry in the law, and
2- the HFES is a purely voluntary, privately held non-profit, just like the MTNA, and cannot force any practitioner from the profession,

...it's not possible to bring a complaint against them for restraint of trade for the stated reasons.

The reason the MTNA is not fighting this is because they don't have any money to. If they could afford to get to court, the judge would just throw it out on a pre-trial motion.

Look, if you don't see the difference, that's fine. I and several other people do. Since you're not a piano teacher, it's not really your concern anyway. But your arguments are dead wrong.


Edited by laguna_greg (12/02/13 12:11 PM)
_________________________
Laguna Greg

1919 Mason & Hamlin AA
1931 Bechstein C
http://www.triangleassociates-us.com/about_us (my day job)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dorothy_Taubman (a recent article I wrote about one of my teachers)

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#2191403 - 12/02/13 12:10 PM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11422
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
Another update.

Apparently there was a complaint - from an MTNA teacher who wanted to poach students of another teacher and felt restrained because of the code of ethics.

It only takes one bad apple.
The thing is, MTNA agreed to take it out of their code of ethics but the FTC was not satisfied with that. I just don't understand what right FTC has to change the rules of a non-profit organization which is OPTIONAL membership. Unlike the Bar Association, you don't need to be an MTNA member to teach. There are several organizations teachers can belong to if one does not suit their personal tastes. So what does the FTC have to do with this?
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#2191414 - 12/02/13 12:23 PM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: Michael_99]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11559
Loc: Canada
Thanks, Laguna. As far as I can understand it right now, you are not concerned with any particular issue, like say (fictitious) if the MTNA made a rule saying every member has to dress in blue on Thursdays, where you would say "dressing in blue has nothing to do with free trade". You are concerned with the fact of the FTC getting involved in an organization such as the MTNA.

You are saying that the FTC should never be involved in the doings of a small organization, ever under any circumstances. Is that correct?

Would this also involve American political sentiments in general? For example, is it about sentiments of freedom, of the federal government not meddling in business affairs of the little people?

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