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#2189760 - 11/28/13 06:28 PM Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you
Michael_99 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/12
Posts: 935
Loc: Canada Alberta
Music teachers, beware. The feds are onto you. Better not try to raise the price of your lessons.

SEE URL:

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303562904579224251626379422

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#2189825 - 11/28/13 08:47 PM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: Michael_99]
DinaP Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/31/12
Posts: 151
Thanks for bringing this to everyone's attention. Wake up, people!!! And to those who are currently too afraid to speak out I can only say what I've been saying for the last few years "You think you're afraid now -- wait -- you have not seen anything yet!!!"

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#2189827 - 11/28/13 08:56 PM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: Michael_99]
Morodiene Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11448
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Ugh! Thanks, Obama!
_________________________
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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#2189843 - 11/28/13 09:35 PM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: Michael_99]
TimR Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3169
Loc: Virginia, USA
That's not an article, it's from the opinion page. It is biased political commentary and frankly has no place in this forum. I request the topic be locked.
_________________________
gotta go practice

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#2189846 - 11/28/13 09:40 PM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: Michael_99]
Morodiene Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11448
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
So did it or did it not happen?
_________________________
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MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#2189854 - 11/28/13 10:08 PM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: Michael_99]
TimR Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3169
Loc: Virginia, USA
Read the last paragraph and see if you would trust anything in that op-ed opinion piece without verifying. Your BS detector should have pegged.
_________________________
gotta go practice

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#2189897 - 11/28/13 11:47 PM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: Michael_99]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7312
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Michael, thanks for bringing this to our attention. While the paper is editorially conservative, it has proven, over the years, to be highly accurate in rooting out government power abuses, which this is obviously one. Members of Guild and MTAC, you should probably be up-channeling this to your organization's leadership.
_________________________
"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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#2189909 - 11/29/13 12:31 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: 11586
Loc: Canada

John, wouldn't it be better for people to up-channel the info via MTNA rather than such an editorial? I found this, for example:
http://spamta.webs.com/Minutes/SPAMTA%20Business%20Meeting%20September%2011%202013.pdf

It seemed much more factual.

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#2189912 - 11/29/13 12:42 AM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: keystring]
anrpiano Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/05/04
Posts: 174
Loc: Chicago
This issue has also been reported in "The Music Trades". It has occurred and is similar to actions taken many years ago against the Piano Technicians Guild. So like it or not, this is really happening and calling it a "biased opinion" won't make it go away.
_________________________
Andrew Remillard
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#2189962 - 11/29/13 06:19 AM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: anrpiano]
Morodiene Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11448
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: anrpiano
This issue has also been reported in "The Music Trades". It has occurred and is similar to actions taken many years ago against the Piano Technicians Guild. So like it or not, this is really happening and calling it a "biased opinion" won't make it go away.
Exactly. I had looked at other sources and it verified this, including MTNA's own meeting minutes:

http://www.mtna.org/media/61062/0713_MTNAMinutes.pdf

Whether or not you like the source, this article is accurate.
_________________________
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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#2189986 - 11/29/13 08:09 AM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: keystring]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7312
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Originally Posted By: keystring

John, wouldn't it be better for people to up-channel the info via MTNA rather than such an editorial?

If MTNA informs other music organizations, they might be accused of restraint of trade, so better the members do the informing.

In re the Wisconsin Music Teacher's Association, it seems to me that Strassel's article puts flesh on the WMTA minutes.
_________________________
"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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#2189997 - 11/29/13 09:08 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: 11586
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
Originally Posted By: keystring

John, wouldn't it be better for people to up-channel the info via MTNA rather than such an editorial?

If MTNA informs other music organizations, they might be accused of restraint of trade, so better the members do the informing.

Ok, then MTNA members. That is a good idea. But using credible information rather than sensationalist journalism. The articles starts with the implication that there is a rule against raising fees. Can you imagine somebody believing this, and then complaining about the wrong thing? They would look foolish.

Quote:

In re the Wisconsin Music Teacher's Association, it seems to me that Strassel's article puts flesh on the WMTA minutes.

It twists and confuses - it's more like adding a Hallowe'en costume. It begins with the sentence about rate raising and informs the reader that music teachers charge between $5.00 and $30.00/hour. It stresses that most MTNA members are women making a modest income at home. Why stress women, and what is being implied by that? The wife making a bit of extra money or woman with no marketable skills? Men and women, trained professionals, have studios in their homes, like many skilled entrepreneurs. It's insulting, but meant to garner sympathy.

There is something that happened. But it does not involved restrictions to raising fees. I am suggesting that people get informed at the source, and not base themselves on a meandering journalistic piece. You want to be properly informed when addressing something like this. smile

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#2190001 - 11/29/13 09:27 AM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: keystring]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7312
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Quote:
The articles starts with the implication that there is a rule against raising fees.

Headlines are written by headline writers, not the article writer. Your inference was different than mine. I felt it was nothing more than an eye-catcher and took it as tongue in cheek.

BTW, the Wall Street Journal has been doing an occasional series of articles on government using massive power against individuals and small businesses.

Quote:
It begins with the sentence about rate raising and informs the reader that music teachers charge between $5.00 and $30.00/hour. It stresses that most MTNA members are women making a modest income at home. What is being implied by that?

What is meant by that is that most music teachers charge between $5 and $30/hr, and that most MTNA members are women making a modest income at home. Both are factual statements; perhaps we shouldn't read more into the statement than what is said.
_________________________
"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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#2190007 - 11/29/13 09:55 AM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: Michael_99]
ClsscLib Offline

Platinum Supporter until Jan 02 2013


Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 1717
Loc: Northern VA, U.S.
Glad to see that there is at least one "red line" Washington WILL bravely enforce: the predatory and rapacious behavior of robber baron piano teachers.

We can all sleep more soundly now. And we do.
_________________________


"People may say I can't sing, but no one can ever say I didn't sing."

-- Florence Foster Jenkins

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#2190011 - 11/29/13 10:07 AM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: anrpiano]
TimR Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3169
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: anrpiano
This issue has also been reported in "The Music Trades". It has occurred and is similar to actions taken many years ago against the Piano Technicians Guild. So like it or not, this is really happening and calling it a "biased opinion" won't make it go away.


Tying it in the last paragraph to other unrelated "offenses" that are associated fairly or not with the current administration was dishonest and biased.

The first paragraph says "making the world safe from rapacious piano teachers." And if true, that would indeed seem a liberal action. But in fact it's not only untrue, it's exactly the opposite. The FTC action is intended to free piano teachers from association regulation that prevents them from charging anything they want, and poaching any student they want - in other words to encourage any free market rapaciousness they desire.

Now, take a moment for critical thinking - is that a liberal position, or a conservative one?

The piano tech guild case, if it's the one I'm thinking of, was under the Reagan administration, not exactly known for a liberal agenda.

The IRS targeting conservatives? Is that related in some way? Is it even true? The IRS is tasked with enforcing 501.c3 regulations. These regulations say organizations can operate tax free in secret, as long as they are social and not political. The IRS did target a number of organizations whose name indicated they were political in nature, some conservative and some liberal. Was that a bad thing? Is that a liberal or conservative approach?

I don't know the story behind Gibson Guitar or the EPA mine investigation. I do know if somebody were interested in exposing an injustice, they would work on the facts of one case. If their only interest is a political smear campaign, they throw in as much garbage as they can and hope some sticks.
_________________________
gotta go practice

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#2190019 - 11/29/13 10:30 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: 11586
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
Quote:
The articles starts with the implication that there is a rule against raising fees.

Headlines are written by headline writers, not the article writer. Your inference was different than mine. I felt it was nothing more than an eye-catcher and took it as tongue in cheek.

But there are people who would not take it tongue in cheek, and it is also common for people to not read carefully. A quick scan of the article will leave negative impressions and emotion. That is how this type of journalism (including televised news) is done. It does not stay with the headline - it continues into the article.

What I am saying is that the best resource for information on serious things in your own profession is not journalism.

- The issue is not that of raising fees
- afaik, music lesson rates do not fall between $5.00 to $30.00 an hour in the United States

These are two things presented in that journalistic article, and if someone were to base himself on them, he would look a fool. It is always best to inform yourself with reliable resources, and preferably more than one, before launching into anything. You might start with the article, but then find out more. I'm sure you don't disagree with that. smile




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#2190022 - 11/29/13 10:35 AM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: keystring]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7312
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Well, I'm still waiting for the NYTimes, USAToday, Washington Post, and some of our other bastions of the free press, to report on the issue. In the mean time, I'll try to focus on the crux of what's reported, and try not to shoot the messenger who may or may not meet my journalistic standards.
_________________________
"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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#2190030 - 11/29/13 10:52 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: 11586
Loc: Canada
John, the messenger doesn't interest me - only the message. If anyone wants to act on issues affecting their profession, then they have to have correct information, or they will lose credence. So I am only suggesting to get at reliable information, which is usually done by getting as close to the source as possible.

The press has to sell and remain popular.

Are you against finding things out from MTNA members and similar? Or just want to read newspapers additionally? I really couldn't see the former as being true.

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#2190032 - 11/29/13 10:56 AM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: keystring]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7312
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Originally Posted By: keystring
Are you against finding things out from MTNA members and similar? Or just want to read newspapers additionally? I really couldn't see the former as being true.

What?????? I suspect that once again, we've been talking two separate issues here. Further, I'm not understanding what you're saying here. Unfortunately, we're off to the airport, so won't be able to check back until this evening. Have a great Friday, everyone.
_________________________
"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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#2190035 - 11/29/13 11:07 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: 11586
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook

What?????? I suspect that once again, we've been talking two separate issues here.

I think we, are, John. I have been stressing that people who want to get involved go as close to the source for information. You seemed to be arguing against that, and I think that was a misunderstanding. I think we're actually on the same page.

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#2190036 - 11/29/13 11:07 AM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: Michael_99]
DinaP Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/31/12
Posts: 151
When you to play the piano, if you are doing it right, each piece/exercise teaches some new necessary skill -- so each piece does not stand alone but rather leads the student along to the development of a skill-set that results in the ability to play more difficult pieces. We can rate progress based on the sum total of all our musical experiences.

The same principles apply to other things in life, including how we evaluate stories in the news. Too many people take each story as a stand alone event -- unique in itself. Others will begin to link stories together if they seem to belong together and see if there is a pattern evolving. Our brains are capable of that if we let them operate.

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#2190131 - 11/29/13 03:08 PM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: ClsscLib]
JimF Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/08/09
Posts: 1677
Loc: south florida
Originally Posted By: ClsscLib
Glad to see that there is at least one "red line" Washington WILL bravely enforce: the predatory and rapacious behavior of robber baron piano teachers.

We can all sleep more soundly now. And we do.


I tried to post a link to the article this morning in the ABF under the tongue-in-cheek title I bolded above. It was removed in a matter of minutes by an early rising (overzealous,IMO) mod, who deemed it was political. I actually think his/her moderating was the political act, but that is another thread.

I object to my tax dollars being squandered on this kind of nonsense, no matter who is in power, and find it laughable that anyone could seriously defend anyone taking anti-trust action against piano teachers....perhaps the most powerless professional group on the planet.


Edited by JimF (11/29/13 03:10 PM)
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#2190186 - 11/29/13 05:49 PM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: Michael_99]
TimR Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3169
Loc: Virginia, USA
It would seem reasonable to discuss what level of regulation is legal for associations to assert over their members. (and it seems to be missed repeatedly here that this FTC action, whatever it is, is directed towards the associations control of the teachers, not towards the poor terrorized teachers themselves)

It would also seem reasonable to discuss what level of regulation is ethical for associations to exert over their members. We might differ on whether that should be more or less than what the law allows.

But basing the discussion on a piece of Tea Party Trash is morally repugnant, in my view. There is not much that editorial got correct, and the writer clearly does not care. The article is purely political and I believe the moderator's actions were correct.
_________________________
gotta go practice

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#2190214 - 11/29/13 06:26 PM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: Michael_99]
ClsscLib Offline

Platinum Supporter until Jan 02 2013


Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 1717
Loc: Northern VA, U.S.
Strassel has nothing to do with the Tea Party.

"Trash" is wildly assigning inaccurate pejorative connotations to anyone with whom one might disagree.


Edited by ClsscLib (11/29/13 06:27 PM)
_________________________


"People may say I can't sing, but no one can ever say I didn't sing."

-- Florence Foster Jenkins

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#2190289 - 11/29/13 09:49 PM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: Michael_99]
laguna_greg Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/02/13
Posts: 1201
Loc: guess where in CA and WA
So Here's An Idea:

1- Contact your representatives in Congress.

2- As a matter of fact, blanket ALL representatives in congress, and...

3- Send them this article.

4-Also, write to the head of the FTC, and tell them how
foolish they look.

5- You might also send this on to your local newspaper editor, and any other news media organ you can think of. Piano teachers are such a socially and politically insignificant lot, nobody will heave heard about this I promise.

6- Send copies to the president of the organization.

It will take you about 20 minutes a day to write an email to every member of congress over about 10 days.

I'm going to start tomorrow. And, btw, these are the only people who can do something about this ridiculousness. Which is exactly how they will see it.

And also btw, if you are not willing to email your congresspeople, then you are essentially saying it's OK for this to continue.
_________________________
Laguna Greg

1919 Mason & Hamlin AA
1931 Bechstein C - now sold
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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#2190290 - 11/29/13 09:52 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: 1201
Loc: guess where in CA and WA
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
Well, I'm still waiting for the NYTimes, USAToday, Washington Post, and some of our other bastions of the free press, to report on the issue. In the mean time, I'll try to focus on the crux of what's reported, and try not to shoot the messenger who may or may not meet my journalistic standards.


John, has anybody bothered to contact the reporter and ask them if this is legit?
_________________________
Laguna Greg

1919 Mason & Hamlin AA
1931 Bechstein C - now sold
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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#2190476 - 11/30/13 10:10 AM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Morodiene Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11448
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
Well, I'm still waiting for the NYTimes, USAToday, Washington Post, and some of our other bastions of the free press, to report on the issue. In the mean time, I'll try to focus on the crux of what's reported, and try not to shoot the messenger who may or may not meet my journalistic standards.
Exactly. The fact that we heard about it at all means this article did it's job, sensationalistic or not. And really, it's hard to find non-sensationalistic journalism anywhere these days. We ALL have to sift through this and check the sources to make sure what is said is even true, even from reliable sources.

Having said all that, can we return to the brunt of the article? MTNA is a long-standing organization that does not "enforce" rates on their members. It i informing everyone of what professional ethics is. I see nothing wrong with this, and while it's clearly up to the individual to decide if they are acting in an ethical manner, I don't think such a huge financial and clerical burden should be placed on such an organization for informing their members of what they stand for.

*That* is the real issue here. 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.
_________________________
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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#2190477 - 11/30/13 10:12 AM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: TimR]
Morodiene Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11448
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: TimR
It would seem reasonable to discuss what level of regulation is legal for associations to assert over their members. (and it seems to be missed repeatedly here that this FTC action, whatever it is, is directed towards the associations control of the teachers, not towards the poor terrorized teachers themselves)

It would also seem reasonable to discuss what level of regulation is ethical for associations to exert over their members. We might differ on whether that should be more or less than what the law allows.

But basing the discussion on a piece of Tea Party Trash is morally repugnant, in my view. There is not much that editorial got correct, and the writer clearly does not care. The article is purely political and I believe the moderator's actions were correct.
And what level do they exert to enforce this code of ethics? None according to MTNA. They stated that it is merely a suggestion, and that they have no right to enforce, nor have they attempted to enforce it. So what's the big deal?
_________________________
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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#2190559 - 11/30/13 01:21 PM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: Morodiene]
laguna_greg Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/02/13
Posts: 1201
Loc: guess where in CA and WA
Originally Posted By: Morodiene
It would seem reasonable to discuss what level of regulation is legal for associations to assert over their members. (and it seems to be missed repeatedly here that this FTC action, whatever it is, is directed towards the associations control of the teachers, not towards the poor terrorized teachers themselves)

It would also seem reasonable to discuss what level of regulation is ethical for associations to exert over their members. We might differ on whether that should be more or less than what the law allows.



That is very simple:

1- The MTNA is a 501(c)3. the FTC doesn't have jurisdiction over such an entity.

2- The MTNA is a purely voluntary organization who does not have any power to control the profession. Now, a group like the State Bar Association, another 501(c)3, does. They are directly responsible for licensing lawyers to practice. Lawyers who break their ethics provisions get disbarred. And membership is not voluntary to practice. You must join it and pass its exams, or you can't practice law. Is the FTC going after them? The MTNA has no such authority.

3- Voluntary, privately funded non-profit associations can exert any regulations they like on their members. The Boys Scouts do. All amateur sports associations do. Remember what happened during the Sanduksy scandal at Penn State? Remember how much money they had to pay in fines to their sports association, and how many years they are going to be barred and sanctioned from competing? Those fines and sanctions have not been overturned in court because the sports association is free to impose whatever regulations it likes on its members, as it is a private and strictly voluntary organization. Its members are free to leave the association and play football elsewhere, just like the members of the MTNA. Is the FTC going after them?

Has anybody called the FTC yet? Or their senator(s)? This is just really making me angry.


Edited by laguna_greg (11/30/13 01:30 PM)
_________________________
Laguna Greg

1919 Mason & Hamlin AA
1931 Bechstein C - now sold
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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#2190579 - 11/30/13 02:00 PM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: laguna_greg]
John v.d.Brook Offline
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Originally Posted By: laguna_greg
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
Well, I'm still waiting for the NYTimes, USAToday, Washington Post, and some of our other bastions of the free press, to report on the issue. In the mean time, I'll try to focus on the crux of what's reported, and try not to shoot the messenger who may or may not meet my journalistic standards.


John, has anybody bothered to contact the reporter and ask them if this is legit?

Greg, to answer your question, let me back-track to the beginning of this discussion.

The article appeared in yesterday's WSJ. My wife picked up a copy as we transited the Salt Lake City airport (she the fabled stock picker in our family). It is clearly in the opinion section, as the article falls directly under the heading "opinion" and the sub-headline does not appear as such in the article, but as a pop-up midway through the article. It is clearly designed to catch the attention of readers who might otherwise glaze over.

As for the accuracy of the facts Ms. Strassel presents, they appear to be quite accurate.

Fact #1: The FTC did indeed investigate and penalize MTNA.

Fact #2: MTNA is a 501C3 organization with roughly 22,000 members.

Fact #3: Most members are piano teachers. Whether it's 90% exactly or 89% or 91% is difficult to determine, because many teachers teach more than one instrument.

Fact #4: The statement that membership "includes many women who earn a modest living giving lessons in their homes" is not only factually correct, but constitutes an understatement in that "modest living" is probably an exaggeration.

Fact #5: The statement that "the group promotes music study and competitions and helps train teachers" is also factually correct. It's the raison d'être of the organization.

Fact #6: "The average lesson runs around $30/hr" is factually correct based on a membership wide survey done a few years back. This means that many teachers earn more, and many earn less, as this is the average. Again, this is rounded, not to the exact penny. The survey results were published in the American Music Teacher. There were teachers who reported still charging only $5/hr. Unbelievable but none-the-less, true. Perhaps that's all their teaching is worth. But based on the survey, it's correct.

I could go on and on, but it appears that Ms. Strassel did her homework and reports honestly and correctly.

Now, please bear in mind that this article is not to report on the FTC vs MTNA, but to document continued arbitrary and abusive power under the Obama administration. That this behavior may or may not occur under other administrations, such as the Bush or Clinton, is not relevant to the purpose of Ms. Strassel's opinion piece. She's after the current administration.

Greg, the take away for me is that one megalomaniac in the Federal Trade Commission has ruined a decade's worth of work on my part. Worse, he or she has destroyed some wonderful opportunities for students. I spent the better part of the last ten years building trust among teachers, assuring teachers that they could bring their students in and have them perform in a joint teacher recital, without fear of "poaching." In our profession, the loss of just one student can have a significant impact on one's living standards and the ability to make ends meet. I fear that as word spreads of this, the programs will die.

Again, I want to stress that my focus is on the MTNA ethics aspect of the case, not the political axe Ms. Strassel is grinding. BTW, her comment on Gibson Guitar is also correct. Gibson, whose owner is a Republican supporter, almost went out of business over manifestly false allegations by the Federal Government. If your politics lean to the left, you probably will poo-poo this, but for those under the hammer of the Feds, it's all too real.

What is some of the other fall out? Even though we're not engaged in "Interstate" commerce, we are seemingly being forced to comply with Federal rules. Strange. And interestingly, if I own a minimart, I can drive around town and comparison shop prices all day long, but if I'm a music teacher, it's off to jail if I ask a colleague what they charge for lessons, or if MTNA reports an average lesson fee. Sounds fair and balanced, don't you think? And on the political fall out front, I suspect that private teachers voted somewhat more for GOP over Dems, perhaps 55-45? But now, I'd guess that figure is going to change significantly.
_________________________
"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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#2190587 - 11/30/13 02:18 PM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: John v.d.Brook]
laguna_greg Offline
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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 - now sold
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
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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...
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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 Online   content
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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.
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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
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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.
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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 Offline
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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 Online   content
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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.
_________________________
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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
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Registered: 04/02/13
Posts: 1201
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)
_________________________
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1919 Mason & Hamlin AA
1931 Bechstein C - now sold
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
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Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3169
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.
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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 Offline
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Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7312
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
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Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5903
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?
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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
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Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 5223
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...
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#2191197 - 12/02/13 12:56 AM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: Nikolas]
currawong Offline
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Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5903
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.
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#2191336 - 12/02/13 10:33 AM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: currawong]
wdot Offline
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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: 5223
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)
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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: 3169
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.
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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
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Registered: 04/02/13
Posts: 1201
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 - now sold
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 Offline
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Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7312
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
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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
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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
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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 - now sold
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
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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
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Registered: 04/02/13
Posts: 1201
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 - now sold
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 Offline
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Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7312
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.


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
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Registered: 04/02/13
Posts: 1201
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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 - now sold
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
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Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3169
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 Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7312
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
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Registered: 04/02/13
Posts: 1201
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 - now sold
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 Online   content
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Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11448
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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
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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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#2191415 - 12/02/13 12:25 PM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: John v.d.Brook]
keystring Online   content
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Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook

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.

Does that mean a teacher went up to a student who had a teacher, and told that student that he or she should study with this teacher instead of the current teacher? Or could it mean that a student who already has another teacher approached this teacher, asking to study with him or her instead?

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#2191436 - 12/02/13 12:54 PM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: keystring]
TimR Online   content
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Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3169
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: keystring
Thanks, Laguna. You are saying that the FTC should never be involved in the doings of a small organization, ever under any circumstances. Is that correct?


I believe this is where Laguna's reasoning is flawed, resulting in this complaint not being dismissed.

His position seems to be that the nature of MTNA as an organization makes it exempt from FTC attention.

The FTC seems to feel that it is not the nature of the organization but the nature of the violation that gives them jurisdiction. If the action taken is shown to be in "Restraint of Trade," then the FTC applies to anybody.

I'm not a lawyer myself. The FTC opinion sounds more in line with the history of the Sherman Act than Greg's, but who knows?

The FTC has 583 lawyers. The majority of them will be GS-11 or GS-12s, so these aren't the highly paid ones. The MTNA has legal counsel, even makes legal services available to its members, so most likely they have access to a more high powered lawyer than the FTC, and they've obviously been advised to comply.
_________________________
gotta go practice

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#2191437 - 12/02/13 12:55 PM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: Michael_99]
Kreisler Offline


Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13763
Loc: Iowa City, IA
FYI - I believe the argument is that since MTNA provides financial benefits to its members in the form of affiliate programs and group insurance programs, it waives its exemption as a non-profit. (Because while MTNA is a non-profit, it brokers services that directly affects the profits of its members.)

The whole issue is being wildly misinterpreted on a variety of fronts, and the WSJ article was written with an obvious political agenda, designed to ruffle feathers, which it obviously has.

Even the title of this post is a joke. "Music teachers, beware?" The FTC's actions have NOTHING to do with how music teachers conduct their business. It's about MTNA's actions as an organization, not what its members do.
_________________________
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

www.pianoped.com
www.youtube.com/user/UIPianoPed

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#2191453 - 12/02/13 01:20 PM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: keystring]
John v.d.Brook Offline
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Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7312
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Originally Posted By: keystring
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook

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.

Does that mean a teacher went up to a student who had a teacher, and told that student that he or she should study with this teacher instead of the current teacher? Or could it mean that a student who already has another teacher approached this teacher, asking to study with him or her instead?

From what I am told, a teacher wanted the freedom to go after other teachers' students and disliked the provision in the code of ethics which states that we will not do this. Does that help?
_________________________
"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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#2191460 - 12/02/13 01:28 PM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: Michael_99]
keystring Online   content
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One thing I do understand now. Yesterday I read that this issue would affect every member of PianoWorld. I don't think it will affect people who live outside of the United States. Will it affect teachers within the United States who are not members of such organizations? Will it affect students / only students of teachers belonging to such organizations? Will it affect practising musicians who are not teachers and not students?

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#2191476 - 12/02/13 02:45 PM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: keystring]
TimR Online   content
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Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3169
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: keystring
Will it affect teachers within the United States who are not members of such organizations? Will it affect students / only students of teachers belonging to such organizations? Will it affect practising musicians who are not teachers and not students?


That depends.

As far as the FTC ruling goes, it affects only MTNA board members who write the code of ethics. They had to change the language in the code. It does not impose any changes to any teacher or practicing musician. The association was targeted, but never individual teachers.

But is there any impact to an action (poaching students) no longer being prohibited by a code of ethics?

MTNA says no. They claimed the code was never enforced, and nobody ever had to follow it. So their position is no impact either way. That may or may not be true. I suspect it did inhibit the actions of a few teachers. And if so, technically the FTC was probably right that it was an illegal restraint on trade.

I also suspect there is no impact on the majority of teachers, who will act ethically regardless of the code.
_________________________
gotta go practice

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#2191521 - 12/02/13 04:39 PM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: keystring]
Kreisler Offline


Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13763
Loc: Iowa City, IA
Originally Posted By: keystring
One thing I do understand now. Yesterday I read that this issue would affect every member of PianoWorld. I don't think it will affect people who live outside of the United States. Will it affect teachers within the United States who are not members of such organizations? Will it affect students / only students of teachers belonging to such organizations? Will it affect practising musicians who are not teachers and not students?


As I said above, this has no effect on MTNA's membership, only the MTNA organization itself.

Other organizations are not affected.

And MTNA only operates in the US, so it won't affect anything in other countries.
_________________________
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

www.pianoped.com
www.youtube.com/user/UIPianoPed

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#2191531 - 12/02/13 05:18 PM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: Michael_99]
keystring Online   content
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Thank you, Kreisler, for your input. smile

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#2191532 - 12/02/13 05:18 PM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: Kreisler]
John v.d.Brook Offline
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Registered: 03/18/06
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Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Just released from MTNA to all members via email:

"MTNA - for a more musical tomorrow

"A recent editorial in the Wall Street Journal took aim at the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) for its investigation into the code of ethics of MTNA and its affiliated state and local music teacher associations. At issue is the FTC’s claim against MTNA and the affiliates that provisions in their codes of ethics against teachers soliciting students from another studio somehow restrains trade and drives up the price of music lessons.

"Although MTNA demonstrated to the FTC that its code of ethics is voluntary and that the Association has never enforced the solicitation provision, the FTC offered MTNA the unappetizing choice of entering into a settlement or spending hundreds of thousands of membership dues dollars fighting the federal government. Moreover, the fight would have included affiliated state and local music teachers associations, which have neither the manpower nor the financial resources to take on the FTC.

"Given the alternatives, MTNA and its attorneys negotiated a consent decree with the FTC under which MTNA and its affiliated associations agree to purge their code of ethics and other policies of any solicitation requirements or other trade restraints. Other provisions of the settlement require MTNA to notify members of the settlement, conduct antitrust compliance training for national and state leaders, and disassociate itself from affiliated music teacher associations that engage in anti-competitive practices. While the consent decree, which still must be approved by the FTC, imposes these time-consuming recordkeeping and training obligations on MTNA, it was the only viable alternative for MTNA to pursue.

"The Wall Street Journal portrayed the proposed consent decree as a clear example of the federal government’s abusive practices against small businesses. The Wall Street Journal editorial labeled the FTC investigation and enforcement as “patently absurd” and “ludicrous.”

"Regardless of the relative merits of the FTC’s investigation, MTNA’s leadership, after consulting at length with MTNA attorneys, strongly believes that the settlement by consent decree was the best option for MTNA and its members. Once the consent decree is approved by the FTC, MTNA members will receive additional information about the terms of the settlement."
_________________________
"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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#2191533 - 12/02/13 05:22 PM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: Michael_99]
ClsscLib Offline

Platinum Supporter until Jan 02 2013


Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 1717
Loc: Northern VA, U.S.
Other than that, it's no big deal.
_________________________


"People may say I can't sing, but no one can ever say I didn't sing."

-- Florence Foster Jenkins

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#2191537 - 12/02/13 05:28 PM 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: 11586
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
Just released from MTNA to all members via email:

"MTNA - for a more musical tomorrow

"A recent editorial in the Wall Street Journal took aim at the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) for its investigation into the code of ethics of MTNA and its affiliated state and local music teacher associations. At issue is the FTC’s claim against MTNA and the affiliates that provisions in their codes of ethics against teachers soliciting students from another studio somehow restrains trade and drives up the price of music lessons.

"Although MTNA demonstrated to the FTC that its code of ethics is voluntary and that the Association has never enforced the solicitation provision, the FTC offered MTNA the unappetizing choice of entering into a settlement or spending hundreds of thousands of membership dues dollars fighting the federal government. Moreover, the fight would have included affiliated state and local music teachers associations, which have neither the manpower nor the financial resources to take on the FTC.

"Given the alternatives, MTNA and its attorneys negotiated a consent decree with the FTC under which MTNA and its affiliated associations agree to purge their code of ethics and other policies of any solicitation requirements or other trade restraints. Other provisions of the settlement require MTNA to notify members of the settlement, conduct antitrust compliance training for national and state leaders, and disassociate itself from affiliated music teacher associations that engage in anti-competitive practices. While the consent decree, which still must be approved by the FTC, imposes these time-consuming recordkeeping and training obligations on MTNA, it was the only viable alternative for MTNA to pursue.

"The Wall Street Journal portrayed the proposed consent decree as a clear example of the federal government’s abusive practices against small businesses. The Wall Street Journal editorial labeled the FTC investigation and enforcement as “patently absurd” and “ludicrous.”

"Regardless of the relative merits of the FTC’s investigation, MTNA’s leadership, after consulting at length with MTNA attorneys, strongly believes that the settlement by consent decree was the best option for MTNA and its members. Once the consent decree is approved by the FTC, MTNA members will receive additional information about the terms of the settlement."


It's good to see something factual. I've never been good at being Cinderella, trying to distinguish lentils from lentil-shaped ashes.

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#2191547 - 12/02/13 06:06 PM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: keystring]
Morodiene Online   content
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Registered: 04/06/07
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Originally Posted By: keystring
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
Just released from MTNA to all members via email:

"MTNA - for a more musical tomorrow

"A recent editorial in the Wall Street Journal took aim at the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) for its investigation into the code of ethics of MTNA and its affiliated state and local music teacher associations. At issue is the FTC’s claim against MTNA and the affiliates that provisions in their codes of ethics against teachers soliciting students from another studio somehow restrains trade and drives up the price of music lessons.

"Although MTNA demonstrated to the FTC that its code of ethics is voluntary and that the Association has never enforced the solicitation provision, the FTC offered MTNA the unappetizing choice of entering into a settlement or spending hundreds of thousands of membership dues dollars fighting the federal government. Moreover, the fight would have included affiliated state and local music teachers associations, which have neither the manpower nor the financial resources to take on the FTC.

"Given the alternatives, MTNA and its attorneys negotiated a consent decree with the FTC under which MTNA and its affiliated associations agree to purge their code of ethics and other policies of any solicitation requirements or other trade restraints. Other provisions of the settlement require MTNA to notify members of the settlement, conduct antitrust compliance training for national and state leaders, and disassociate itself from affiliated music teacher associations that engage in anti-competitive practices. While the consent decree, which still must be approved by the FTC, imposes these time-consuming recordkeeping and training obligations on MTNA, it was the only viable alternative for MTNA to pursue.

"The Wall Street Journal portrayed the proposed consent decree as a clear example of the federal government’s abusive practices against small businesses. The Wall Street Journal editorial labeled the FTC investigation and enforcement as “patently absurd” and “ludicrous.”

"Regardless of the relative merits of the FTC’s investigation, MTNA’s leadership, after consulting at length with MTNA attorneys, strongly believes that the settlement by consent decree was the best option for MTNA and its members. Once the consent decree is approved by the FTC, MTNA members will receive additional information about the terms of the settlement."


It's good to see something factual. I've never been good at being Cinderella, trying to distinguish lentils from lentil-shaped ashes.
"Real" and yet, they have to say "this was the best option" because they lack the funds to fight it. This is ridiculous.
_________________________
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#2191549 - 12/02/13 06:08 PM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: Michael_99]
JimF Offline
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Pretty much confirms everything in the journal op-ed piece.
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#2191582 - 12/02/13 07:27 PM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: keystring]
wdot Offline
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Registered: 12/28/07
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Originally Posted By: keystring

It's good to see something factual. I've never been good at being Cinderella, trying to distinguish lentils from lentil-shaped ashes.
If you read this press release with any discernment, you will note that the MTNA quoted at length the WSJ's critical characterizations of the FTC's tactics and actions. The MTNA did not dispute those characterizations. This was almost certainly a subtle way for the MTNA to thumb its nose at the bullying FTC without coming out and directly criticizing it.

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#2191611 - 12/02/13 09:10 PM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: Michael_99]
Kreisler Offline


Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13763
Loc: Iowa City, IA
Say what you will about our ragtag band of piano teachers, but we got some smart people running the show. laugh
_________________________
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#2191622 - 12/02/13 09:50 PM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: Kreisler]
laguna_greg Offline
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Originally Posted By: Kreisler
FYI - I believe the argument is that since MTNA provides financial benefits to its members in the form of affiliate programs and group insurance programs, it waives its exemption as a non-profit. (Because while MTNA is a non-profit, it brokers services that directly affects the profits of its members.)



Kreisler,

Many non-profits offer such services to their members when cash flow will support it. My own professional association is a 501(c)3, offers such services, and retains its tax-exempt status.

I've sat on the boards of two 501(c)3's. And such a non-profit can 1- engage in business including selling things, 2- make a profit, and 3- offer business and professional services to its members. The only thing it can't do is sell an equity interest in the corporation, nor can it distribute profits to shareholders (because there can't be any). The National Safety Council is one such non-profit. They are one of the leading developers and resellers of safety training and education materials in the country, with very healthy sales every year.
_________________________
Laguna Greg

1919 Mason & Hamlin AA
1931 Bechstein C - now sold
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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#2191638 - 12/02/13 10:33 PM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: TimR]
laguna_greg Offline
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Tim,

"I believe this is where Laguna's reasoning is flawed, resulting in this complaint not being dismissed...His position seems to be that the nature of MTNA as an organization makes it exempt from FTC attention."

I don't believe I've ever had such trouble making myself understood to seemingly intelligent people.

No, that is not my concern directly. My concern has to do with the fact that the FTC is trying to break up a monopoly where no monopoly can exist. It is not possible for the MTNA to establish or maintain a monopoly in this industry. Nobody needs to join the MTNA to teach music privately. Since anyone can teach music without joining the MTNA, it cannot be possible for the MTNA to restrain the trade as such. The MTNA is powerless to erect a barrier to entry in the music teaching industry. Its members join on a purely voluntary basis. Adhering to its provisions of membership is done strictly at will. The MTNA is powerless to sanction a member for violating its membership rules. Even if it could, such an action would in no way pose a barrier to engaging in the business of teaching music. And that is the only basis on which the FTC's complaint could be valid within the law- if their rules actually constituted a monopoly on the industry, or posed any real threat to competing interests. They don't, and it's insane to say they do.

Now, has the MTNA engaged in sharp practices against competition over state lines? Of course not. They're not Google or Microsoft, who have done everything they could to sabotage their competitors and create a monopoly in the software market. They've both been the subject of a good deal of ongoing anti-trust litigation internationally, and still are. To say the MTNA is somehow in the same boat as them is incredibly misguided, and possibly malicious.

Here's another example. The NCAA is a very powerful and rich non-profit that regulates sports at the collegiate level everywhere in this country. Dues for participation are very expensive; rules of membership are very strict and harshly enforced. It sanctions members all the time, and for lots and lots of money in fines. If there ever was an interstate monopoly on an industry, the NCAA would qualify as an effective barrier to entering the industry of college sports.

And I don't see the FTC investigating them for the same things they say the MTNA does, or worse.

My concern is not just about this intrusion. It's about what ELSE they'll do if they can win this initial argument. Are they going to come in next and say that the educational requirements to join it are another "restraint of trade"? it follows along the same illogic to say so. After all, we're not doctors or lawyers. I can see them saying already, "Music teachers don't need a college degree to teach piano, do they?" Where will it stop? Is the MTNA to be surveilled and overseen like they did Microsoft?

The MTNA has broken no laws. It is a private association that should have the freedom to regulate itself just like the Boy Scouts do. Heck, it has much less money than they do!

Morodienne is right about the reason there's no contest. The MTNA simply does not have the money to litigate.

And I think you are very mistaken and wrong to think this is not going to have any effect on the members, or that the FTC has a valid complaint.
_________________________
Laguna Greg

1919 Mason & Hamlin AA
1931 Bechstein C - now sold
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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#2191644 - 12/02/13 10:49 PM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: John v.d.Brook]
TimR Online   content
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Registered: 08/17/04
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Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook


"Given the alternatives, MTNA and its attorneys negotiated a consent decree with the FTC under which MTNA and its affiliated associations agree to purge their code of ethics and other policies of any solicitation requirements or other trade restraints. Other provisions of the settlement require MTNA to notify members of the settlement, conduct antitrust compliance training for national and state leaders, and disassociate itself from affiliated music teacher associations that engage in anti-competitive practices. While the consent decree, which still must be approved by the FTC, imposes these time-consuming recordkeeping and training obligations on MTNA, it was the only viable alternative for MTNA to pursue.



In other words, the MTNA did what every other professional organization in the past 40 years has had to do, make its Code of Ethics comply with US law.

The strategy of hoping not to be noticed worked for 40 years, until one of their members filed a complaint.

I don't think that's a particularly good law in this application, nor do I think there's any huge societal good being served, but it remains the law.
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#2191647 - 12/02/13 11:03 PM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: Michael_99]
Nikolas Online   content
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I will confess in public, that I have suffered a lot due to unions (always in Greece, but I suspect this is close) and I do not enjoy it! I understand the reason d'etre of a union, but there's a line to draw and that line is that a union cannot be above the law, or the FTC (if I understand it correctly, again).
_________________________
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#2191668 - 12/03/13 12:08 AM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: laguna_greg]
Kreisler Offline


Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13763
Loc: Iowa City, IA
Don't argue with me. Argue with the US Supreme Court:

http://www.kkrlaw.com/changes/ftc.htm

Originally Posted By: laguna_greg
Originally Posted By: Kreisler
FYI - I believe the argument is that since MTNA provides financial benefits to its members in the form of affiliate programs and group insurance programs, it waives its exemption as a non-profit. (Because while MTNA is a non-profit, it brokers services that directly affects the profits of its members.)



Kreisler,

Many non-profits offer such services to their members when cash flow will support it. My own professional association is a 501(c)3, offers such services, and retains its tax-exempt status.

I've sat on the boards of two 501(c)3's. And such a non-profit can 1- engage in business including selling things, 2- make a profit, and 3- offer business and professional services to its members. The only thing it can't do is sell an equity interest in the corporation, nor can it distribute profits to shareholders (because there can't be any). The National Safety Council is one such non-profit. They are one of the leading developers and resellers of safety training and education materials in the country, with very healthy sales every year.
_________________________
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

www.pianoped.com
www.youtube.com/user/UIPianoPed

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#2191687 - 12/03/13 01:12 AM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: Kreisler]
Gary D. Online   content
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Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4750
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: Kreisler
Don't argue with me. Argue with the US Supreme Court:

http://www.kkrlaw.com/changes/ftc.htm

Originally Posted By: laguna_greg
Originally Posted By: Kreisler
FYI - I believe the argument is that since MTNA provides financial benefits to its members in the form of affiliate programs and group insurance programs, it waives its exemption as a non-profit. (Because while MTNA is a non-profit, it brokers services that directly affects the profits of its members.)



Kreisler,

Many non-profits offer such services to their members when cash flow will support it. My own professional association is a 501(c)3, offers such services, and retains its tax-exempt status.

I've sat on the boards of two 501(c)3's. And such a non-profit can 1- engage in business including selling things, 2- make a profit, and 3- offer business and professional services to its members. The only thing it can't do is sell an equity interest in the corporation, nor can it distribute profits to shareholders (because there can't be any). The National Safety Council is one such non-profit. They are one of the leading developers and resellers of safety training and education materials in the country, with very healthy sales every year.

But are you intelligent? Or only "seemingly intelligent"? laugh
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#2191696 - 12/03/13 01:45 AM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: Gary D.]
AZNpiano Offline
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Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5423
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: Gary D.
But are you intelligent? Or only "seemingly intelligent"? laugh

Ha! ha
_________________________
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#2191782 - 12/03/13 07:50 AM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: Kreisler]
Ann in Kentucky Offline
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Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2647
Loc: Kentucky
Originally Posted By: Kreisler
Don't argue with me. Argue with the US Supreme Court:

http://www.kkrlaw.com/changes/ftc.htm

[quote=laguna_greg][quote=Kreisler]FYI - I believe the argument is that since MTNA provides financial benefits to its members in the form of affiliate programs and group insurance programs, it waives its exemption as a non-profit. (Because while MTNA is a non-profit, it brokers services that directly affects the profits of its members.)



But the argument should be dead in the water. Substantial financial benefit to members cannot be established. This condition must be met, and isn't met. (The link has the first sentence referring to "substantial financial benefit".)

A discount on insurance rates is hardly a substantial financial benefit. There is not a single member whose financial benefits of membership exceed the cost of dues.

Edit: This widespread incompetence reminds me of Sherlock Holmes describing Scotland Yard: "They never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity". In other words, the hounds of detective work are spinning their wheels in the wrong place.


Edited by Ann in Kentucky (12/03/13 08:24 AM)
_________________________
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a fancy air by chance,
And straightaway all her polka dots
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#2191904 - 12/03/13 01:19 PM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: TimR]
toyboy Offline
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Registered: 09/11/08
Posts: 321
Loc: Vermont
Originally Posted By: TimR

In other words, the MTNA did what every other professional organization in the past 40 years has had to do, make its Code of Ethics comply with US law.

The strategy of hoping not to be noticed worked for 40 years, until one of their members filed a complaint.

I don't think that's a particularly good law in this application, nor do I think there's any huge societal good being served, but it remains the law.


Call me stupid but I'm failing to understand what part of what law the deleted Code is infringing on.

"The teacher shall respect the integrity of other teacher’s studios and shall not actively recruit students from another studio."

What exactly does "actively recruit" mean? Would said recruiter stand watch at "other teacher's" studio with camera, identifying possible recruitees? Would said recruiter enter into "other teacher's" studio in the dead of night, Watergate style, and steal the list and addresses of students? Or even less stealthily, would recruiter attend the piano recitals of "other teacher" and hand out flyers to innocent 7 year olds? Trying to imagine how this sort of recruiting would work in the real world just comes up with these sorts of absurdities. But if anyone has some actual ideas, I'd be interested. No, I'm not a piano teacher but a friend of mine is. smile

If nothing else, even if this is a matter of "complying with the law" against monopolistic practise (really??? I'm failing to find any explanation of this) I hardly see how a higher ethical standard than what the law is stands as an infringement. Ethics are just that, ethics! They aren't a law other than the sort of law you guide your own self by. If we're now saying that codes of ethics are to be scrutinized for legalities, then what's the point of having codes of ethics? Mere 19th century anachronisms?

But completetly on the other hand, in regards to the original Op Ed piece, if the writer's opinion is for unrestrained free trade, I'm unclear why she even uses this as a cause celebre. Her single-minded fury at any and all government intrusion blinds her to the fact that she should actually be on the side of the FTC on this! She should also want this ethical code removed in the name of "free trade".

Am I crazy? What am I missing?
_________________________
"Everybody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense."
Gertrude Stein

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#2191915 - 12/03/13 01:50 PM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: toyboy]
TimR Online   content
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Registered: 08/17/04
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Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: toyboy
If we're now saying that codes of ethics are to be scrutinized for legalities, then what's the point of having codes of ethics? Mere 19th century anachronisms?



We're not now saying this. This legal history goes back at least 40 years, and all sorts of membership societies have been forced to modify codes of ethics. Remember that the FTC only has jurisdiction if it appears to be restraint of free trade. If it were anything else, like racism, safety, environmental, etc., they wouldn't be involved.

Quote:
But completetly on the other hand, in regards to the original Op Ed piece, if the writer's opinion is for unrestrained free trade, I'm unclear why she even uses this as a cause celebre. Her single-minded fury at any and all government intrusion blinds her to the fact that she should actually be on the side of the FTC on this! She should also want this ethical code removed in the name of "free trade".

Am I crazy? What am I missing?


You're not crazy, you're 100% correct.
_________________________
gotta go practice

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#2191943 - 12/03/13 02:45 PM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: toyboy]
John v.d.Brook Offline
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Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7312
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Originally Posted By: toyboy
What exactly does "actively recruit" mean? Would said recruiter stand watch at "other teacher's" studio with camera, identifying possible recruitees? Would said recruiter enter into "other teacher's" studio in the dead of night, Watergate style, and steal the list and addresses of students? Or even less stealthily, would recruiter attend the piano recitals of "other teacher" and hand out flyers to innocent 7 year olds? Trying to imagine how this sort of recruiting would work in the real world just comes up with these sorts of absurdities. But if anyone has some actual ideas, I'd be interested. No, I'm not a piano teacher but a friend of mine is. smile

This actually happens and has been the subject of many forum topics in the past. A search of the data base will bring them up. Most common is the teacher who discovers the date of another teacher's student recital, attends as a guest, and then proceeds to badmouth the current teacher and tells parents that she can solve all the student's problems.

A second "recruitment" scenario happens this way: We take our students to a competition. The sponsor of the competition, generally an university music department, solicits the top performers. This actually happens, but word does spread quickly.

As for what you're missing, it's the context of the op-ed. It has nothing to do with free trade, MTNA, non-profits, etc. It's about the appearance of abusive use of power by the current Administration.
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
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Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

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#2191956 - 12/03/13 02:59 PM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: Michael_99]
toyboy Offline
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Loc: Vermont
OK it's decided then. I'm not crazy. I am naive.
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#2191975 - 12/03/13 03:25 PM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: John v.d.Brook]
laguna_greg Offline
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Registered: 04/02/13
Posts: 1201
Loc: guess where in CA and WA
So Here's what I Did this Morning:

I called the DC and local offices of the senators in my state, Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray. I spoke with staff members from both offices. When I described the situation, including the ethics code in question, they all fell off their chairs laughing. They were well aware of the anti-trust laws and, like me, did not see how this could possibly apply to the MTNA. They wanted more information, which I am going to send them.

I urge you to do the same. Here's what I said:

"My name is _________. I'm a resident of your state, and I'm calling to discuss an investigation that the FTC is conducting of a professional association I belong to. It's the Musical Teachers' National Association. Yes that's right, piano teachers. I'm a local area piano teacher and senator________ represents me. I do not think that the MTNA could possibly be a barrier or restraint to trade in the piano teaching industry. I think the FTC is working outside of its mandate, and just doesn't have enough to do going after big companies like Google and Microsoft. And I'd like the senator to look into the matter. The MTNA issued a press release yesterday saying that they will comply with the FTC's demands because it simply does not have enough budget to litigate. I'm calling everyone I can think of to see if anyone will take an interest in this, and help us. Who can I send information to in your office?"

As I said in my previous posts, I'm going to call all my legislative rep's at the federal level. I'm also going to send a letter to president Obama's office. And I'm going to send out a press release to every media site I can think of. Then I'm going to tell everyone I know. You all should too.

Tim might be right. The FTC may be reading the law in such a way that it sees this action as its legitimate mandate. Well, I don't agree with that at all. This is not a right or proper use of our national resources, to harass and hamper small non-profits who have broken no laws, and well beyond their means to defend themselves. If it turns out that the FTC is acting within the purview of the law, then perhaps that law should be changed so groups like the MTNA can't be bothered by the likes of the FTC. Sometimes, all it takes is a little noise to accomplish this.

I'm going to be putting a letter and an info packet together to send to, well, anybody who'll listen. Does anybody want to help me?
_________________________
Laguna Greg

1919 Mason & Hamlin AA
1931 Bechstein C - now sold
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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#2191983 - 12/03/13 03:39 PM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: Kreisler]
laguna_greg Offline
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Registered: 04/02/13
Posts: 1201
Loc: guess where in CA and WA
Originally Posted By: Kreisler
Don't argue with me. Argue with the US Supreme Court:

http://www.kkrlaw.com/changes/ftc.htm

Originally Posted By: laguna_greg
Originally Posted By: Kreisler
FYI - I believe the argument is that since MTNA provides financial benefits to its members in the form of affiliate programs and group insurance programs, it waives its exemption as a non-profit. (Because while MTNA is a non-profit, it brokers services that directly affects the profits of its members.)



Kreisler,

Many non-profits offer such services to their members when cash flow will support it. My own professional association is a 501(c)3, offers such services, and retains its tax-exempt status.

I've sat on the boards of two 501(c)3's. And such a non-profit can 1- engage in business including selling things, 2- make a profit, and 3- offer business and professional services to its members. The only thing it can't do is sell an equity interest in the corporation, nor can it distribute profits to shareholders (because there can't be any). The National Safety Council is one such non-profit. They are one of the leading developers and resellers of safety training and education materials in the country, with very healthy sales every year.


Kreisler,

I had no intention of arguing with you. Sorry if I said the wrong thing.

However, the professional association in the decision, the Dental Association, has absolutely no resemblance to the MTNA in form or function, nor do its members derive a comparable financial benefit from membership.

Besides, I don't think the MTNA has any "for-profit service corporations" like other larger, better funded groups do. Their group health plan is provided by an outside vendor, not themselves. Same thing with any financial or brokerage services- they are provided by an outside vendor, a separate business entity, not a subsidiary of the MTNA.
_________________________
Laguna Greg

1919 Mason & Hamlin AA
1931 Bechstein C - now sold
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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#2191990 - 12/03/13 03:52 PM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: laguna_greg]
John v.d.Brook Offline
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Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7312
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Greg, guess I'll be calling Cantwell, Murray, & Heck's offices tomorrow. Thanks for the suggested script. I had planned to write, and may still do so, because both emails and phone calls can be written off fairly easily, but letters are physical and something has to be done with them! What I've been doing is trying to get other teachers in the loop, my student's parents aware, and the general public here in Olympia.
_________________________
"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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#2192001 - 12/03/13 04:06 PM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: John v.d.Brook]
TimR Online   content
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I'm not sure that script is a good strategy, because it seems to blur what you are asking for.

It seems to me there are two obvious options:

1) to claim that the MTNA does not in fact restrain trade,

or
2) to admit that the MTNA does restrain trade but should be exempt from FTC regulation.

It's going to be hard to defend 1) because MTNA does have the clauses in the old Code of Ethics, and there is a long history of legal precedents for written clauses in codes of ethics being found to be in restraint of trade. "Why did they put it in writing if they didn't expect it to have any effect?" would be a likely question from an administrative law judge.

You might be better off arguing 2) if you can find a smart lawyer who agrees. It's easy to find piano teachers who agree - but it's easy to find piano teachers who think they are exempt from copyright law, too. There's a reason lawyers don't teach piano..........some skills are specialized.

Going into the follow-on rant about intrusive government is unlikely to be productive. If you just need to vent, do it here.
_________________________
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#2192013 - 12/03/13 04:43 PM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: Michael_99]
toyboy Offline
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Registered: 09/11/08
Posts: 321
Loc: Vermont
OK I'll vent.

Again risking yet more naivete and/or idealism on my part, what I would like to think is at play here is not only that the MTNA is a 5013c but is a cultural organization or at least a coming together of mutual cultural interests of those with goals above and beyond commerce. Those of us working in such groups, or to go even further and risk broaching the A word, as artists, while not 'above the law' or the need to make a living per se, see culture as, just that, culture. It is not all that difficult to imagine the motivation that caused the original ethics code to be written. The 'restraint of trade' was not only unimportant, it wasn't even on the radar. It was more a question of etiquette! It would be a given that piano teachers with their heads full of Beethoven, Mozart and Chopin would not be the sort of people that should be antagonising other teachers, people seen as colleagues not capitalistic competitors. The government then crashes the party.

How quaint you think that thought is almost decides where you land on this matter. If nothing else this whole matter speaks of how little revered the arts are in this country. Just another commodity to be regulated.
_________________________
"Everybody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense."
Gertrude Stein

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#2192111 - 12/03/13 08:30 PM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: TimR]
laguna_greg Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/02/13
Posts: 1201
Loc: guess where in CA and WA
Tim,

I appreciate your concerns, but you're mistaken.

I'm not an attorney, but I do know that the law can be argued both de jure, in what the law says, and de facto, in what the facts are. While de jure says that those ethics codes are in violation of the letter of the law and precedent set in court decisions, de facto says that they're not because the facts don't fit either the letter or spirit of the law. Which is what I've been saying all along.

Contrary to what you've said, it's a very simple matter to prove that the MTNA is not a monopoly, and cannot be. The only reason that argument will not be heard is because the organization can't afford to bring it in front of a judge.

Laws are not made by cool heads. They are made by loud mouths who make the most noise, and have the most clout. After the SCOTUS rules in a case, the only remedy left is to convince the legislature to amend the law. Or, as in this case, ask legislators to intervene in an instance where the letter and spirit of the law is being stretched out of shape, which applies here. Anti-trust laws were never intended to regulate non-profits, who have little or no effect on the market the way for-profit business entities do. That the SCOTUS has ruled in the matter is irrelevant. All that means is that the legislature can provide clarity where, right now, there is none.

My intention here is not to convince legislators of anything. All I'm trying to do is get them to look into it. And that is what I think we should all try to do. The facts speak largely and very plainly for themselves. All we have to do is bring it to their attention, and make a little, tiny noise in other quarters. The issue will sell itself.

Are you going to call any congressional rep's? You certainly don't have to use my script. What would you rather say?
_________________________
Laguna Greg

1919 Mason & Hamlin AA
1931 Bechstein C - now sold
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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#2192319 - 12/04/13 08:24 AM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: toyboy]
TimR Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3169
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: toyboy
OK I'll vent.

Again risking yet more naivete and/or idealism on my part, what I would like to think is at play here is not only that the MTNA is a 5013c but is a cultural organization or at least a coming together of mutual cultural interests of those with goals above and beyond commerce.


That's certainly a valid viewpoint.

I think there's a subtext there. Are piano teachers running a professional business? Or are they hobbyists, with more of an emotional relationship to quasi family students than a practical relationship to customers? You can see some ambivalence here from time to time, in the discomfort some teachers have with asking for money, etc.

And in this case, perhaps, in the indignation felt that piano teachers should be seen as similar to other professions by a government regulatory agency.
_________________________
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#2192325 - 12/04/13 08:34 AM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: laguna_greg]
TimR Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3169
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: laguna_greg
The only reason that argument will not be heard is because the organization can't afford to bring it in front of a judge.


I don't buy that. The MTNA has lawyers, better ones than the FTC. They've advised the MTNA there is little chance of prevailing, presumably based on long and voluminous legal precedent. This isn't an expensive trial process - the documents and precedents are already compiled; it's just a matter of composing a brief.

The FTC like most agencies is risk averse. They try very hard not to continue a case unless they are very confident.

While the merits of the case seem obvious to some piano teachers, the lawyers on both sides share the opinion the Codes need to change to comply with the law. In the end this is a legal argument, not a musical one. (note to self: ask my lawyer about pedalling Bach!)
_________________________
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#2192329 - 12/04/13 08:42 AM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: TimR]
Kreisler Offline


Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13763
Loc: Iowa City, IA
Originally Posted By: TimR
Originally Posted By: laguna_greg
The only reason that argument will not be heard is because the organization can't afford to bring it in front of a judge.


I don't buy that. The MTNA has lawyers, better ones than the FTC.


I'd be curious to know your sources for that information. I think you may be overestimating MTNA's budget and the nature of the counsel it retains.
_________________________
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

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#2192343 - 12/04/13 09:40 AM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: Kreisler]
TimR Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3169
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: Kreisler
Originally Posted By: TimR
Originally Posted By: laguna_greg
The only reason that argument will not be heard is because the organization can't afford to bring it in front of a judge.


I don't buy that. The MTNA has lawyers, better ones than the FTC.


I'd be curious to know your sources for that information. I think you may be overestimating MTNA's budget and the nature of the counsel it retains.


I am extrapolating from what I do know, and making a logical deduction. I could be wrong.

The FTC maintains 583 lawyers on salary at grades of GS-11 and GS-12. A GS-12 step 5 (take the midpoint) earns $68,310 annually. There are increases for high cost of living areas, but then you also have more costs in those areas. That's $32.73 per hour.

The MTNA doesn't maintain full time salaried lawyers. As far as I know, they hire legal services as needed from established firms.

There are no lawyers in reputable firms willing to work for $68k per hour. They would never pay off the loans for college plus law school.

According to the ABA, the average lawyer salary in DC is $152k. Not quite 3 times the government amount, but close.
_________________________
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#2192359 - 12/04/13 10:46 AM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: TimR]
toyboy Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/11/08
Posts: 321
Loc: Vermont
Originally Posted By: TimR


Are piano teachers running a professional business? Or are they hobbyists, with more of an emotional relationship to quasi family students than a practical relationship to customers?


I'd go out on a very safe limb and say both. Certainly the former. To what degree the latter probably depends on the personality and inclinations/devotions of the teacher. If nothing else it's not soap they're selling.

This whole matter would be more important if there was some national chain called "Teachers R U" edging themselves into every community with their cookie cutter approach to piano teaching, finding out the current going rates and undercutting them, agressively advertising and mailing,.... oh wait, sorry that's "just" capitalism. My bad.
_________________________
"Everybody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense."
Gertrude Stein

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#2192374 - 12/04/13 11:29 AM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: TimR]
Morodiene Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11448
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: TimR
Originally Posted By: Kreisler
Originally Posted By: TimR
Originally Posted By: laguna_greg
The only reason that argument will not be heard is because the organization can't afford to bring it in front of a judge.


I don't buy that. The MTNA has lawyers, better ones than the FTC.


I'd be curious to know your sources for that information. I think you may be overestimating MTNA's budget and the nature of the counsel it retains.


I am extrapolating from what I do know, and making a logical deduction. I could be wrong.

The FTC maintains 583 lawyers on salary at grades of GS-11 and GS-12. A GS-12 step 5 (take the midpoint) earns $68,310 annually. There are increases for high cost of living areas, but then you also have more costs in those areas. That's $32.73 per hour.

The MTNA doesn't maintain full time salaried lawyers. As far as I know, they hire legal services as needed from established firms.

There are no lawyers in reputable firms willing to work for $68k per hour. They would never pay off the loans for college plus law school.

According to the ABA, the average lawyer salary in DC is $152k. Not quite 3 times the government amount, but close.

And what is MTNA's budget allowance for legal fees? What would it cost to fight FTC? Let's return to MTNA's official statement released Dec. 2, 2013:

Quote:
...the FTC offered MTNA the unappetizing choice of entering into a settlement or spending hundreds of thousands of membership dues dollars fighting the federal government. Moreover, the fight would have included affiliated state and local music teachers associations, which have neither the manpower nor the financial resources to take on the FTC....While the consent decree, which still must be approved by the FTC, imposes these time-consuming recordkeeping and training obligations on MTNA, it was the only viable alternative for MTNA to pursue.



I think it's pretty clear that MTNA determined they do not have the money to hire lawyers to fight this.
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#2192410 - 12/04/13 12:45 PM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: Morodiene]
TimR Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3169
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: Morodiene

I think it's pretty clear that MTNA determined they do not have the money to hire lawyers to fight this.


It's clear that's the party line.

But from my experience with lawyers and government agencies, it is more likely that MTNA legal counsel told the board this one was not winnable.

There is a good 40 years of history of no organization winning this one. Codes of Ethics have consistently been held to be restraint of trade and therefore required to be rewritten. I'm sure that's what the MTNA lawyers told the board.
_________________________
gotta go practice

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#2192692 - 12/04/13 10:56 PM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: TimR]
laguna_greg Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/02/13
Posts: 1201
Loc: guess where in CA and WA
Originally Posted By: TimR
Originally Posted By: Morodiene

I think it's pretty clear that MTNA determined they do not have the money to hire lawyers to fight this.


It's clear that's the party line.

But from my experience with lawyers and government agencies, it is more likely that MTNA legal counsel told the board this one was not winnable.

There is a good 40 years of history of no organization winning this one. Codes of Ethics have consistently been held to be restraint of trade and therefore required to be rewritten. I'm sure that's what the MTNA lawyers told the board.


You are way overestimating the resources available within the MTNA. A national organization, whose annual budget does not exceed $2 million in fees and donations, that pays an ED and support staff with all the attendant costs (there's close to half a million right there with rent, insurance, taxes, and indirect bennies), who runs periodic events in all 50 states, puts on an annual convention, keeps up with all 21,000 of its members and credentials them, et cetera.

That money is all spent in operations. There's no money left to litigate a highly contentious matter against a much better funded federal agency who keep lawyers on salary just to litigate matters like this without end.
_________________________
Laguna Greg

1919 Mason & Hamlin AA
1931 Bechstein C - now sold
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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#2192694 - 12/04/13 11:00 PM Re: Music teachers, beware - feds are on to you [Re: toyboy]
laguna_greg Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/02/13
Posts: 1201
Loc: guess where in CA and WA
Originally Posted By: TimR


Are piano teachers running a professional business? Or are they hobbyists, with more of an emotional relationship to quasi family students than a practical relationship to customers?


That's irrelevant to the matter at hand.

Originally Posted By: toyboy

This whole matter would be more important if there was some national chain called "Teachers R U" edging themselves into every community with their cookie cutter approach to piano teaching, finding out the current going rates and undercutting them, agressively advertising and mailing...


Exactly, and it's precisely NOT what's happening.
_________________________
Laguna Greg

1919 Mason & Hamlin AA
1931 Bechstein C - now sold
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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