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#962856 - 08/11/08 11:31 PM Re: Rates....opinion please
Morodiene Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12227
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
 Quote:
Originally posted by AZNpiano:


John: I think you misread my post. My rates are higher than $50/hr, and they're going up come September. I do have to deal with a couple of local teachers who haven't changed their rates in 20 years (they still charge $40 and have students lining out the door \:\( ). [/b]
Nothing beats the lady I heard about in this area a few years back: she was charging around $7 per lesson and she would either sleep or sip at her nipper bottle while the kids played!! Sometimes you really get what you pay for.
_________________________
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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#962857 - 08/12/08 06:28 AM Re: Rates....opinion please
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2919
Loc: UK.
 Quote:
Originally posted by pianoexcellence:

Piano lessons $65 per hour (Flexible Scheduling)
Piano lessons $40 per hour (paying by semester, and adherence to policy, No makeups etc). This is unchanged from last year
[/b]
You are of course entitled to charge what you like. I think the idea is a good one and the lower price is good incentive to sign up for a regular lesson slot every week. However, I do think the difference in price is too much. As a new student I would see it that you don't really expect anyone to go for the flexible rate as it is almost 70% higer than the lower rate. Therefore it is not really much of a choice. By opting for the lower rate you are saying that there can be no flexibility at all right? This could put some people off.

I understand why you would plan your rates in this way and I agree in principle. I do work in a similar way but the one off fee is only a little higher than the standard fee. Most of my students pay tuition and come every week at the same time. I have one adult who pays each lesson and is not always able to come. I arrange them around my regular students and usually put them at the end of the session. Individual appointments for accompanying, consultations etc. are at the slightly increased hourly rate.
_________________________
Pianist and piano teacher.

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#962858 - 08/12/08 07:15 AM Re: Rates....opinion please
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5598
Loc: Orange County, CA
 Quote:
Originally posted by Morodiene:
[QUOTE] Nothing beats the lady I heard about in this area a few years back: she was charging around $7 per lesson and she would either sleep or sip at her nipper bottle while the kids played!! Sometimes you really get what you pay for. [/b]
Morodiene:

I'm not talking about that kind of teachers. There are at least two experienced teachers in my area who are still charging $40 per hour--and they're old enough to be my mother! I charge quite a bit more than they do, and thus I've lost students to them (more than the transfers I got _from_ them). They also produce dozens of competition winners each year (as did I, for the past two years). These teachers can be called "market-breakers."

The President of our MTA was dead-on when he called out these "market-breakers" in his presentation at last year's convention. Legally, these teachers are free to do whatever they want, but, economically, their actions do have a negative impact on their colleagues living in the same community.
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#962859 - 08/12/08 09:16 AM Re: Rates....opinion please
Morodiene Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12227
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
How true that is, AZN. Really, all independent music teachers are responsible for knowing what others are charging and keeping up with the markets. The ones who should charge less are the new, less experienced teachers. I had started at a low cost when I began teaching, but I would give myself incremental raises. The problem was, my increments weren't keeping up with the market, and before I knew it, I was priced way too low. Then I had to make a huge increase in cost. I lost a few students, but I wasn't really growing in numbers before, and now that I have increased, I'm getting more. I don't know if there's a direct correlation, but I have to believe that the right pricing in a given market will be ideal for business. Not too cheap to make people question and to weed out those who are only looking for a good deal, and not too expensive that I'm the highest priced teacher in the area.
_________________________
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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#962860 - 08/12/08 09:47 AM Re: Rates....opinion please
Akira Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/27/07
Posts: 1645
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
[perspective from a non teacher]

I think its the marketplace and the perception of value that determines what price one is able to charge.

Marketplace. If you taught in Beverly Hills, I strongly suspect you could get away with charging a lot more than, say, if you were to teach in Harlem. One neighborhood is virtually all millionaires, the other is not. Of course, this is an exaggeration, but markets differ from state to state and city to city.

Perception of value. You could buy a handbag for $8 at Wal-Mart, or you could spent ten times that at Coach. One has to implied prejudgements of cheap, inferior quality, non durable, mass produced. The other brings with it the complete opposite, in addition to upper class status, stylistic. These prejudgements may be true or false, but are in the buyers' minds a perception.

If you create a perceived value as to why you are unique amongst your peers (i.e. your local competition), you can get away with charging more, provided the market will bear the price. Pricing strategy also depends on how full your plate is. If you have 40 students, you can afford to charge a little more. If you have two students, its a little different story. How will get the other 38 by charging a premium over your competition?

You must examine what you are offering, how that makes you different from the other teachers, what others are charging, then set you pricing strategy.

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#962861 - 08/12/08 10:12 AM Re: Rates....opinion please
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11856
Loc: Canada
A broader perspective, if I may. In my own professional organization's code of ethics, undermining each other through unreasonably low prices is a breach. Internationally it's happening with disastrous consequences. In 1982 as a novice I offered translations at .10/word, and in 2008 agencies have sprung up that get untrained "translators" to work on mega-projects at .02/word or even under .01/word. The market is drying up. I folded once this year and accepted a cheapo-job --- result: $300 are owing me some place between Mexico and India, and that's part of the money that I use to pay for eggs, housing, and ... lessons.

When you work for low pay, you have to do more work in order to earn enough, and the quality of your work suffers. In the teaching world I imagine that you would have so many students that you suffer exhaustion and burn-out. There is also a difference between the teacher who plans lessons, goes over notes ahead of time, and prepares in some way, as opposed to someone who gets a method book and flips through it from page 1 - 25, and in a lesson says "wrong note, play B instead of F" and thinks that's teaching.

Supposing, to exaggerate, that Teacher A prepares an hour for every hour he teaches, and charges $60/hour - effectively that's $30/hour of actual work. The teaching itself is more effective and produces something, because of that preparation. Teacher B does the book-flip thing, and charges $45. For his actual work, he is more expensive. For what he produces, ditto. If you receive next to nothing, then even $5.00 for nothing is expensive. If you are engraining bad habits through careless or wrong teaching, that is VERY expensive, because you will need an expert teacher down the line to fix it, and nerves of steel.

2. The "marketplace" says that a good teacher will be able to charge a high fee, and will therefore charge it. A bad teacher will not get students unless he entices them with low fees.

3. Your market consists of society. Our society in North America has an ongoing trend whereby the affluent are becoming more so, and the poor are becoming increasingly poor. You are finding an abundance of students, to the point of waiting lists, who are willing and able to pay high fees. Essentially this drives fees up all around.

If you follow this further, it means that logically good teachers will become increasingly inaccessible to students of low income. Your demography will consist of the upper echelon, which incidentally is also the group that will have multiple activities going competing for the time spent on yours - soccer, ballet, or piano? The poor student who may be grateful for this one, single, activity will never enter your studio.

If all studios are full to overflowing with waiting lists, and if these sweet dears who are excellent teachers will offer lessons at a lower rate, might that be a safety net for the low income dedicated student? Might this not better than for him to be totally locked out, or trapped into the only thing he can afford, a bad, cheap teacher? In too great a number these teachers will take the students of the more expensive teachers and drive down the rate. Why are they, I wonder?

The reality of the way our world is currently set up would suggest the following: developing musicianship currently is not dependant on will, dedication or ability, as much as it is on economics. If a student cannot access a teacher (or instrument) the rest of it is moot. That is just how it is.

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#962862 - 08/12/08 06:39 PM Re: Rates....opinion please
musiclady Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/19/05
Posts: 431
Loc: Toronto, Canada
Hmm, I think the young teachers who have the courage to charge what some of the experienced teachers are doing the right thing, I think it's because many people of the younger generation are raised on the idea that it's good to have money.

Although I am a fairly young teacher (30 end of this month), I charge around what the experienced teachers charges (and in some cases more than what some of my colleagues more than twice my age are charging), besides teaching clarinet and piano lessons, I also provide instruction in ear training, sight-reading, rhythmic training, music theory, and ensemble coaching. A fair number of my students have achieved really good results, last spring I had a clarinet student who competed in a National competition, a number of my students earned 90% or better on the Royal Conservatory of Music exams (RCM), Toronto, a couple students play in symphony orchestras (I have an 11 year old RCM Grade 6 level clarinet student who plays in the high school level orchestra, and a 16 year old who plays in a regional orchestra his parents drive him about 40 min one way to study with me! Some of my students have won scholarships and performed in masterclasses, I actually want to charge more than I do, especially considering that I have an onsite pianist at my student, use quite a bit of technology (I record students on video to help them learn about some issues in their playing I need to point out)...and I'm charging $129/month for 45 min lessons or $159/month for 60 min lessons, plus a materials fee. There's teachers who charge a lot more, and teachers who charge a lot less, but I need to watch my student numbers, I'll be teaching at least 20 in September and still need to have time for practicing for various concerts, auditions, and exams plus theory study.

Meri
_________________________
Clarinet and Piano Teacher based out of Toronto, Canada.Web: http://donmillsmusicstudio.weebly.com

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#962863 - 08/12/08 10:44 PM Re: Rates....opinion please
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7418
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Good for you. I wish some of the old biddies, oops, excuse me, experienced elder teachers, in our community would learn from your example! Thanks on behalf of the other teachers who are trying to earn a decent income.
_________________________
"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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#962864 - 08/13/08 12:18 AM Re: Rates....opinion please
Mistaya Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/29/06
Posts: 185
Loc: Alberta
My children and I all take lessons. We have never yet quibbled about rates and have paid whatever the teacher that we wanted to study with was asking. The major determinant was finding a good fit. I've paid anywhere from $30/hr to $60/hr, depending on the situation. My earlier comment to Jeremy was related to the price difference ($40 vs. $65) for coaching. In our area, teachers with masters degrees or those who experience good relationships and results charge around $40-50/hr (some more). I know of one fellow who offers coaching at $60/hr - an excellent teacher with a PhD and college position. As a parent and student, I am willing to pay for your expertise.

The other side of the coin is that many don't have that luxury. There is a lady in our rural area who has minimal qualifications and who knows that she's underpriced. She does this because there are many who have difficulty affording lessons and/or have a number of children. She serves a specific market. She is also very good with young children and they stay quite motivated and have fun. Our area doesn't have enough piano teachers and she fills a niche - she's much appreciated.

I think the major problem is that some people don't place as much value on music education as they do on sports, acquiring gadgets, etc. For a child to play hockey in our area costs an enormous amount and people don't bat an eye. You and I know that you're worth a living wage, but you can only charge according to what members of the community value. Who can rationalize what hockey/basketball players earn?

Many of us value you highly. Your best predictor of being over or underpriced is the number of students on your waiting list (without taking advantage in under served areas - like mine:)
_________________________

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#962865 - 08/13/08 12:23 AM Re: Rates....opinion please
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
When I said that my first fee from piano lessons was $6 per half hour, I was not advocating that anyone start at that level today.

A piano teacher who has been through college to major in music is certainly entitled to charge what other professionals charge in teaching.

We do know though and have met the ones who have little preparation, with a hobbyist slant to music and stay just slightly ahead of their students. There have been some strong disagreements when they post because they do laugh at us who have a few more ethics, standards, responsibility to our businesses.

That is the kind of situation I bemoan where the parents and students have no idea of what they are buying or what the results might be.

I love that youth continues to be choosing music as a career and that a good living can be made by the many contributions these new and younger teachers can make.

I also remember the times we discussed fees and studio policies in our music teaching chapter. Everyone was concerned that their prices would be disclosed - so the group did it by writing on small paper and turning their answers in to be read and later tabulated to the questions that had been asked. Everyone received anonymity.

Twenty years later I think the Q. and A. over the same subject would be handled the same way.

John, you are cracking me up, you know you and I are the same age this year, and if I get to be an old betty, there are a lot of other people I know in the same boat.

Isn't retirement simply the fact that you are tired two nights in a row? Well, I've had that problem since I gave birth to my children many years ago.

My very best wishes to Meri the musiclady! It's nice to meet you!

Betty

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#962866 - 08/13/08 02:36 AM Re: Rates....opinion please
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5598
Loc: Orange County, CA
 Quote:
Originally posted by Betty Patnude:
I also remember the times we discussed fees and studio policies in our music teaching chapter. Everyone was concerned that their prices would be disclosed - so the group did it by writing on small paper and turning their answers in to be read and later tabulated to the questions that had been asked. Everyone received anonymity. [/b]
Betty--

If we did that at our MTA branch, there'd be a wide spread ($15/hr - $100/hr). But I'd be interested to know where the median rate lies.
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#962867 - 08/13/08 06:20 AM Re: Rates....opinion please
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11856
Loc: Canada
We've run into a situation in regards to discussing our fees over in the translation corner. Apparently US law prohibits price fixing. The one US-based site (like PW) will not allow professionals to name their fees and compare them because of legalities. The American professional organization doesn't discuss fees either. But on the other site, which is Canadian-based, we do discuss fees, and there is a published survey in graph form of what percentage of people charge a given fee. My Canadian professional organization (sort of like the MTNA but with a lot of differences) does have a survey and statistics.

Is any of this of use when translated into private music teaching terms?

Btw, we are also fighting a trend in which the customer tries to impose his wishes on the professional: what the fee structure should be, how it's administered, what tools should be used, and how the professional should be working. We have a large number of untrained people who are being exploited and buying into that trend. It makes it hard for those of us who are actually trained professionals to maintain our standards, enforce the procedure we've been trained into that we know works, and even to have a market in the marketplace, since they are also offering super low rates, impossible results (all of which impinge on quality). We're running an ongoing "education" of customers and would-be translators, and it seems to be a losing battle. With the Internet, an American firm might negotiate with a German firm and hire an Indian agency that hires a Mexican translator, both in countries where the cost of living is lower, and neither subject to the ethical standards to which I must adhere. How do you compete with that? At least your "market" (students) are in your neighbourhood.

I hope it's ok to post this as a non-teacher, and to offer the cross-comparison. If it is utterly unhelpful and is cluttering the thread, let me know.

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#962868 - 08/13/08 10:24 AM Re: Rates....opinion please
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17815
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
 Quote:
Originally posted by Betty Patnude:
A piano teacher who has been through college to major in music is certainly entitled to charge what other professionals charge in teaching.[/b]
I agree completely with you on this statement, Betty. Knowledge and competence are, imo, more important determinants of teaching rates than is simple years of experience. I've seen enough deadwood in my colleagues to have a healthy skepticism regarding mere years of experience as an index of quality. However, my earlier comments were in response to your statement a few posts above that, where you said:


 Quote:
Originally posted by Betty Patnude:
It bothers me, and always has that beginning teachers start their prices at the place where the experienced teachers with good reputations have arrived. [/b]
I hope you can see how this is really a different sentiment, and one that I wouldn't agree with. It appears you have changed your mind about this issue as well, given your later comments. Flexibility is good. ;\)
_________________________
Mason & Hamlin A -- 91997
My YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/pianomonica

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#962869 - 08/13/08 10:40 AM Re: Rates....opinion please
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7418
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Keystring, you wrote:
 Quote:
Apparently US law prohibits price fixing.
This is true, but piano teachers are not engaged in Interstate Commerce, so the US law doesn't apply to piano teachers. States may have a similar law, but not all do. Many teachers' organizations, rather than aggressively defending teachers, take the easy way out, and avoid the subject.

And comparing prices is not price fixing, as have many court cases held. Shoppers from Safeway visit Walmart and Target, specifically to compare prices, and Target pricers visit Walmart and Safeway for the same purpose.
_________________________
"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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#962870 - 08/13/08 10:48 AM Re: Rates....opinion please
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11856
Loc: Canada
A novice teacher might have unjaded idealistic enthusiasm, an ability to see each student uniquely with fresh eyes, the memory of her own student days not far away (or current) enabling her to identify with her students. She may have far less students and so more time to invest in each one. What I imagine as ideal might be having access to an experienced teacher as a kind of mentor.

We translators constantly run into someone wanting to break into the profession for the first time and asking about rates and how to get customers. The first advice is to make sure that you have enough training in all aspects of the field (including business management, as per John). Secondly, to charge close to what an experienced veteran charges, but be prepared to work three times as hard, take four times as long, and consider it a learning period. Quality should be the goal from the beginning, not: I'll charge less because I will produce a lower quality. Similarly, a student deserves good teaching from the beginning, no?

Would it stand to reason that if a new teacher took a lot of time to prepare lessons, whereas an experienced teacher has a lot of it already as well honed routine and would take less time, the new teacher could also offer quality teaching? Plus, with the opportunities of networking that exist nowadays the teacher would have a lot more resources at her disposal.

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#962871 - 08/13/08 10:59 AM Re: Rates....opinion please
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11856
Loc: Canada
 Quote:
Originally posted by John v.d.Brook:
[QB] Keystring, you wrote:
 Quote:
Apparently US law prohibits price fixing.
This is true, but piano teachers are not engaged in Interstate Commerce, so the US law doesn't apply to piano teachers. ...
I'm putting it forth just in the remote case that it is an issue, because of our discussions. Over in our corner we were trying to get a handle on what reasonable fees might be, so that translators were talking to each other, in the same way that teachers are doing so over here. Somebody said "Whoah, you can't do that, because of American price-fixing laws." We: this isn't price fixing blabla... and "we're not in the U.S.". Some lawyers got on board and said US law was international law and it got hairy. We have Canadian agencies charging their customers .30/word and others trying to pay .005 (yes, half a penny per word) etc. etc. --- and then we're told that we should not discuss what the norm could be. The reasoning is that professionals are getting together to agree on one fee. Some say that is monopoly or price fixing.

When you shop around, you're doing it as a consumer. When Walmart, Sears and Staples get together to decide that toilet paper will be sold for $2.50, that's price fixing.

In the Canadian professional organization there is a survey with results published on-line, where we can see what our colleagues are charging in freelance translation, and in what percentage. Our code of ethics states that we must not undermine our colleagues through humungous unreasonable discounts. We must also guarantee quality work, not misrepresent ourselves (similar to the MTNA), so there is a relationship of quality and price.

I think some of this might be pertinent or helpful to music teaching, which is freelance, which is why I'm sharing this.

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#962872 - 08/13/08 11:19 AM Re: Rates....opinion please
Morodiene Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12227
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Keystring:
There's a fine line between price fixing and pricing yourself within a given market. Everyone prices themselves within a given market if they want to stay in business. That's not getting together and deciding "we'll charge this amount", it is "what will the consumer pay for a given service?" Comparing one's prices with a teacher of equal experience and credentials is perfectly legal, moral, and actually a good thing for everyone involved. A beginner teacher should charge less because they do not have experience. When I was a beginner teacher, I did things that perhaps weren't the best pedagogically, and learned from that experience. I also learned to run a business, often the hard way. Still, I think I was a good teacher and my students then enjoyed their lessons as they do now. I just have more experience and credentials, which caused me to increase my rates. I still did not want to price myself out of the market or be the highest in the area, so I found out where that ceiling was by investigating what others charge. That is different from all the teachers getting together and saying "this is what we'll all charge." The former is simply smart business practice, whereas the latter skews the market by dictating to the consumer what they will pay no matter where they go.
_________________________
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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#962873 - 08/13/08 11:25 AM Re: Rates....opinion please
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11856
Loc: Canada
Morodiene, I agree. I am simply passing on what has come my way in a similar situation by the remote chance that the same argument will be made by somebody somewhere. En masse international discussions are a new phenomenon. We've had lawyers getting into the fray. One of the questions was area of jurisdiction of the hosting forum: our main one is based in Canada, the other one in the U.S. None of us thought of these things until it was pointed out.

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#962874 - 08/13/08 02:36 PM Re: Rates....opinion please
Fillanzea Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/17/05
Posts: 26
Akira, not that this takes away from your main point, but Harlem is no more than 20 minutes on the subway from some of the richest parts of New York (And Harlem itself is gentrifying pretty quickly, actually). A good piano teacher in Harlem could probably charge close to as much as one in Beverly Hills.

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#962875 - 08/13/08 05:45 PM Re: Rates....opinion please
currawong Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5976
Loc: Down Under
 Quote:
Originally posted by keystring:
Secondly, to charge close to what an experienced veteran charges, but be prepared to work three times as hard, take four times as long, and consider it a learning period. Quality should be the goal from the beginning, not: I'll charge less because I will produce a lower quality. [/b]
I think you've hit this one on the head, ks. And it's the same in the area in which I mainly work. I spend days getting my fingers around some deadly difficult piece and charge the soloist roughly the same as one of my more experienced colleagues who (because he's experienced) has played this work before and put in all the hard yards. We're both aiming for quality, and delivering it. It's just that it might take me longer and more effort to achieve it. And similarly with someone who is less experienced than I am. I have no problem with them charging the same as me, if quality is the aim and they are doing what is necessary to achieve it.
_________________________
Du holde Kunst...

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