Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss

Posted by: ezpiano.org

Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/11/13 02:10 PM

I found this:

Why parents should not bring their kids to commercial music studio at shopping center.

And

A review about commercial music studio's boss. Cameron Tong .

What do you think?
Posted by: AZNpiano

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/11/13 05:11 PM

I think it is a very well-maintained and professional-looking website.
Posted by: ezpiano.org

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/11/13 05:15 PM

Yes, actually I learn a lot from this teacher. I especially like his video of interviews with Dr. Kolar.
Posted by: Plowboy

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/11/13 06:30 PM

Originally Posted By: ezpiano.org

What do you think?


I think it is kind of slimy. He sounds like a used car salesman, not a piano teacher. Based on his website, I'd pass.
Posted by: Bluoh

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/11/13 06:32 PM

I found myself skimming through the site (not actually taking in much information); the readability of the site isn't good... for example, why is his bio post entirely in italics?

It looks like he used a template but took it the wrong way. On the main page, he has five different font colours. Five. Where does the viewer look first? Answer: the viewer leaves.

Maybe the designer in me is being nit-picky, but the website isn't drawing in a lot of students. (And it can be fixed with a few tweaks.)
Posted by: malkin

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/11/13 08:17 PM

Maybe I'm just tired, but I find the site confusing. The header is for Irvine Piano Studio, the address block on the upper right is "Kevin Kao's Piano Studio," while the refers to "FreshStart Piano Studio."

The writing is awkward throughout, and the text was difficult to read. The criticism of the Irvine School of Music was not useful. Finally, I found this sentence in particular rather offensive, "Lastly, my Christian background and upbringing gives me a level of integrity that's not always guaranteed with others."

Hope that helps.
wink
Posted by: AZNpiano

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/11/13 08:46 PM

Originally Posted By: Bluoh
Answer: the viewer leaves.

Maybe the designer in me is being nit-picky, but the website isn't drawing in a lot of students.

But how do you know if a site is drawing in a lot of students or not? I do think your assessment is mildly on the nit-picky side.

Kevin's site looks a lot better than some other websites for piano studios around here (trust me--there are some major clunkers!), and the content is actually quite useful. I don't find the site hard to navigate or confusing at all.
Posted by: ezpiano.org

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/11/13 09:05 PM

Quote:
the content is actually quite useful

I agree with Anz
Posted by: Barb860

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/11/13 10:03 PM

Originally Posted By: malkin
Maybe I'm just tired, but I find the site confusing. The header is for Irvine Piano Studio, the address block on the upper right is "Kevin Kao's Piano Studio," while the refers to "FreshStart Piano Studio."

The writing is awkward throughout, and the text was difficult to read. The criticism of the Irvine School of Music was not useful. Finally, I found this sentence in particular rather offensive, "Lastly, my Christian background and upbringing gives me a level of integrity that's not always guaranteed with others."

Hope that helps.
wink


+1
Posted by: MaggieGirl

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/11/13 10:42 PM

I can say his comparison to Tiger Wood's is crap. My daughter golfs with Tiger's first coach and he said that instantly everyone knew he had incredible raw talent. His regret was that the course members didn't appreciate him for reasons of race.

I would guess the same would be with Mozart - undeniable raw talent, but my daughter doesn't take lessons with his first piano teacher. cool

And just because my daughter has the same golf coach, no matter how committed she is, she won't be the next Tiger.

But if anyone has read Condoleezza Rice's bio and her career in ice skating, I think everyone one can agree that hard work and striving to be your best is more important than being the next Woods or Mozart.

A teacher promising more than that would make me leery.
Posted by: catpiano

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/11/13 10:58 PM

Quote:
Finally, I found this sentence in particular rather offensive, "Lastly, my Christian background and upbringing gives me a level of integrity that's not always guaranteed with others."

Hope that helps.
wink


Extremely offensive.

I didn't look through the whole website, but I do wholeheartedly agree with his stance on lessons at music centers.
Posted by: AZNpiano

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/12/13 12:18 AM

Originally Posted By: catpiano
Quote:
Finally, I found this sentence in particular rather offensive, "Lastly, my Christian background and upbringing gives me a level of integrity that's not always guaranteed with others."

Hope that helps.
wink


Extremely offensive.

Funny, I actually don't find that statement offensive. It comes across as opinionated and naive, but far from being really offensive.

The website's descriptions of commercial music schools are quite accurate, and Kevin's opinions on that topic are shared by lots and lots of piano teachers. Many local, private piano teachers who used to have 40-50 students are seeing a steady decrease of enrollment ever since the first of these "music schools" came to town, and which have since mushroomed everywhere.
Posted by: Nikolas

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/12/13 12:21 AM

AZN: It's one thing to mention something about yourself (integrity, etc), however silly your excuses are (I'm A christian) and it's entirely a different league to be talking about the rest (they are NOT Christians and thus not as good as I am)...

I think...
Posted by: lechuan

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/12/13 02:47 AM

A bit bizarre to publicly put down your employers method of business, and point people to your competing business, while still working there. Also a bad career move, in general, to publicly and negatively about a former employer (assuming one wants to continue to work in the industry). I guess he's committed to teaching privately smile
Posted by: Kreisler

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/12/13 04:38 PM

I think the whole thing is incredibly confusing. The site itself is called "IrvinePianoStudio.com", but it also seems to be the website for the "FreshStart Piano Studio" and "Kevin Kao's Piano Studio."

It contains a blog entry criticizing the "commercial music studio at the shopping center" and Conrad Tao, the director of the Irvine Piano Studio. It seems odd that IrvinePianoStudio.com has a blog criticizing the owner of the IrvinePianoStudio.com.

I can only guess that Kevin Kao is IrvinePianoStudio.com's webmaster and that he's decided to use Conrad Tao's own website against him, in which case he has zero integrity whatsoever and could probably be sued for libel. (Although it seems Mr. Kao's blog entry on the "commercial music studio in shopping center" doesn't actually have any facts on Mr. Tao and never says exactly what went wrong.)

Mr. Kao is listed as the administrative and technical contact for the IrvinePianoStudio's website. On the site, he states that he no longer works for the Irvine Piano Studio, so he's apparently chosen to use the website to promote himself while criticizing his former boss.

Mr. Kao has also taken the Facebook url "http://www.facebook.com/IrvinePianoStudio" and turned it into the FreshStart studio instead.

The whole thing is terribly confusing. Mr. Kao has succeeded in destroying the Irvine Piano Studio and FreshStart Studio brands. And he shoots himself in the foot with that "my Christian background and upbringing gives me a level of integrity" comment. There is no integrity here. Since he hasn't released the IrvinePianoStudio's domain registration, he's robbed his former employer of the ability to maintain his online presence.

Mr. Kao may say he's not bitter and has a lot of integrity, but his actions tell a different story. He'd be better off taking the high road. Create a website for FreshStart piano studio and actually make a fresh start.


Originally Posted By: ezpiano.org
I found this:

Why parents should not bring their kids to commercial music studio at shopping center.

And

A review about commercial music studio's boss. Cameron Tong .

What do you think?
Posted by: ezpiano.org

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/12/13 04:47 PM

Actually, there is Irvine Piano Studio and there is Irvine School of Music.
Mr. K worked for Mr. T in Irvine School of Music in the past then later build up Irvine Piano Studio.
Very confusing, yes, I agreed.
Posted by: Kreisler

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/12/13 04:56 PM

Ugh...I thought that might be the case, but Irvine School of Music doesn't even bother to list the names of its teachers, further adding to the confusion.

What a horrible mess! All these random brand names and studio websites with no real information on actual people. It's like Bad Marketing 101.
Posted by: AZNpiano

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/12/13 05:24 PM

Originally Posted By: Kreisler
What a horrible mess! All these random brand names and studio websites with no real information on actual people. It's like Bad Marketing 101.

Oh, there's a reason for that!! Welcome to the mess.

By my count there are now over 13 "music schools" within a 5-mile radius, and I'm not counting the private studios. It's not fair to throw a blanket over all the "music schools" and say that they are all terrible; I have personal friends who--due to various reasons--must work for one of these places. And some of them are truly good teachers!

It's all about the mad grab for clients, which the city seems to have an endless supply of. So, of course, in this mad rush to get clients some "music schools" will resort to using negative ads and poaching of students from other studios. It's also difficult to maintain quality of a large school, as there are only so many good students to go around, and the great majority of the piano students are going to be average.

That being said, if you go to the local festivals, you can instantly tell which students study at the "music schools." The difference is night and day. It seems like the really, really good students have parents who took the time to seek out excellent private teachers. They are not interested in dropping off the kids at a plaza for lessons and then go grocery shopping for the next 30 minutes.
Posted by: malkin

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/12/13 09:14 PM

*sigh*
I remember when Irvine Ranch was a ranch.
Posted by: Peter K. Mose

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/13/13 11:02 AM

Do you have to be Asian or Asian-American and a child to take piano lessons at one of these academies?
Posted by: AZNpiano

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/13/13 12:21 PM

Originally Posted By: Peter K. Mose
Do you have to be Asian or Asian-American and a child to take piano lessons at one of these academies?

crazy
I hope not! But it certainly seems that way.
Posted by: Kevin K

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/13/13 01:31 PM

Wow, what a mess is right! How fun is it that a post here asking about one of my blog entries has turned into a critique of my entire website and my character? smile

Thank you to whoever told me I was being talked about here, haha.

Okay I'll go back and reply to some posts later when I have more time...hopefully I can help clear up some of this confusion and offer up my take on some of the things.

First, my view on commercial music studios. I don't think it's an inherently bad business model, I know a few music studio owners and they are great people. I was actually approached to start one of my own as part of an afterschool program. I eventually turned it down for a few reasons, one of them was because of the contract I signed when I worked for Cameron at Irvine School of Music; it forbid the signee of the contract from starting a competing business for like...two years or something.

I used to think a lot of the commercial music studio owners are shady by nature, recruiting other teachers' students at festivals/evaluations, cutting various corners, breaking association rules to save money, etc; but, lately, through various other life events, I've seen how money changes people for the worse. While it doesn't excuse what they do, it does slightly alter my view of them. By the way, sorry if all the wise and experienced people on here already know this, but I'm still relatively young and learning, haha.

And if nothing else, they serve as warning signs for my own business future.
Posted by: Kevin K

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/13/13 02:34 PM

Originally Posted By: Plowboy
Originally Posted By: ezpiano.org

What do you think?


I think it is kind of slimy. He sounds like a used car salesman, not a piano teacher. Based on his website, I'd pass.


I'm assuming you're talking about the paragraph on my home page and not the blog post? Thanks for the feedback, I'll probably make a few changes to it since I wrote it awhile ago, but I can see how it'd come off that way. But again I'm assuming you aren't talking about the blog entry or the FAQ page?
Posted by: Kevin K

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/13/13 03:06 PM

Originally Posted By: Bluoh
I found myself skimming through the site (not actually taking in much information); the readability of the site isn't good... for example, why is his bio post entirely in italics?

It looks like he used a template but took it the wrong way. On the main page, he has five different font colours. Five. Where does the viewer look first? Answer: the viewer leaves.

Maybe the designer in me is being nit-picky, but the website isn't drawing in a lot of students. (And it can be fixed with a few tweaks.)


I didn't realize italics were hard to read, to me cursive is, but then I'm not a designer. However, to answer your question, it's entirely in italics because I wanted it to be, it looked more like a written statement as opposed to printed, but then I didn't want it in cursive, so italicized it was.

I see what you mean about the colors, I think I can get rid of one or two so my action colors stand out more. But other then that, I would hope a parent looking to invest in piano lessons for their kid wouldn't be so easily deterred by a website with five different colors, and if they are, maybe they aren't right for my piano studio and that's okay with me.

Also, I'd say you're wrong about the website not drawing in a lot of students, but that's relative, so maybe you're right.
Posted by: Kevin K

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/13/13 03:19 PM

Originally Posted By: malkin
Maybe I'm just tired, but I find the site confusing. The header is for Irvine Piano Studio, the address block on the upper right is "Kevin Kao's Piano Studio," while the refers to "FreshStart Piano Studio."

The writing is awkward throughout, and the text was difficult to read. The criticism of the Irvine School of Music was not useful. Finally, I found this sentence in particular rather offensive, "Lastly, my Christian background and upbringing gives me a level of integrity that's not always guaranteed with others."

Hope that helps.
wink


Thanks, I completely agree with the variety of studio names being confusing. I bought the domain name first but then later decided I didn't want to seem like I was proclaiming myself as THE Irvine piano studio, I might be thinking too much, but I guess my indecisiveness showed through in my website. I'm going to change Kevin Kao's Piano Studio on the top to FreshStart Piano Studio...however...I'm still undecided about what to do with my domain name and the other name for my studio even though I think it'd make more sense to just go with my domain name.

Sorry for the awkward writing, I'm trying my best, but English isn't my first language. I'd love to know which parts you found awkward.
Posted by: PianoStudent88

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/13/13 03:27 PM

A way to clear up the naming confusion: Pick a single studio name. Buy a domain name to match. Put your site on that domain name. Redirect from the other domain name to the new domain name, if you're concerned about broken links.
Posted by: Kevin K

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/13/13 04:06 PM

Originally Posted By: MaggieGirl
I can say his comparison to Tiger Wood's is crap. My daughter golfs with Tiger's first coach and he said that instantly everyone knew he had incredible raw talent. His regret was that the course members didn't appreciate him for reasons of race.

I would guess the same would be with Mozart - undeniable raw talent, but my daughter doesn't take lessons with his first piano teacher. cool

And just because my daughter has the same golf coach, no matter how committed she is, she won't be the next Tiger.

But if anyone has read Condoleezza Rice's bio and her career in ice skating, I think everyone one can agree that hard work and striving to be your best is more important than being the next Woods or Mozart.

A teacher promising more than that would make me leery.


I couldn't agree with you more on the bit you wrote about hard work and striving to be your best being more important, that is precisely what I'm advocating, although with a slight caveat. Not just hard work, but hard, smart, and deliberate work. And if you really want to preach that with your daughter I think it's counterproductive to also be placing a ceiling on what she can achieve and placing an easy way out by preaching about talent. Maybe your daughter won't think this way, but I speak from experience, most kids start to use talent as a crutch--and this goes to the ones that think they have talent AND ones that don't think they have talent.

There's actually quite a bit of literature and research available on the "talent myth" that I think are worth checking out for any parent. Just search for "talent" in Amazon.

I could respond to what you said about Tiger Woods and Mozart and my crap comment, but if you read "Talent Is Overrated" by Geoff Colvin, you'll find that the view you have is inaccurate. Unless your daughter used to golf with Tiger Wood's dad before he passed away, which she might be, then by the time this "first coach" worked with Tiger Woods he had already gone through a lot of incredibly focused and intensive training.

If you don't buy the book from Amazon, just read pg. 29-31 in the bookstore. There's also a part in the book that talks about Mozart's "talent".

So in short, I stand by my comment. Compared to the amount and kind of work Mozart and Woods put in to be successful, their talent played a much smaller role in comparison.

I hope this helps, and I hope you'll check out the literature available on this subject smile
Posted by: Peter K. Mose

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/13/13 05:17 PM

Kevin, the sooner you remove that negative essay about your rival and former employer from your website, the sooner you will present yourself as a responsible independent American piano teacher in the year 2013. Unless this is a slag-the-competition idea you acquired in a pedagogy class.
Posted by: John v.d.Brook

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/13/13 05:30 PM

Originally Posted By: Peter K. Mose
Kevin, the sooner you remove that negative essay about your rival and former employer from your website, the sooner you will present yourself as a responsible independent American piano teacher in the year 2013. Unless this is a slag-the-competition idea you acquired in a pedagogy class.

Kevin, FWIW, +1. When ever I'm at a store/service agency, etc., and they start bad-mouthing the competition, I politely make my exit. I'm interested in what positive you can do for me, not what your competitor cannot do. FWIW.
Posted by: Kevin K

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/13/13 06:59 PM

Originally Posted By: Peter K. Mose
Kevin, the sooner you remove that negative essay about your rival and former employer from your website, the sooner you will present yourself as a responsible independent American piano teacher in the year 2013. Unless this is a slag-the-competition idea you acquired in a pedagogy class.



Peter, if this is a slag-the-competition idea I learned from pedagogy class, then I'd be slagging on every other piano and music studio out there. I feel like your last statement jabs at not only me but also the pedagogy program and professors I studied with. Just a side-note, that is actually what Cameron is doing on the Irvine School of Music website, putting down every other commercial music studio and private studio with items that are just completely untrue.

My review of Cameron is true. And speaking of responsibility, I do feel responsible to let people know about him. If I know he is a chronically dishonest person, I can't just turn away and say, "oh well". Truthfully, once I found out about his character and his website, I didn’t feel comfortable teaching at his studio anymore. I realize your view stems from the fact that I'm also a piano teacher and thus a competitor, but I don't think worrying about and protecting myself from the backlash I might experience from some people excuses me from sharing what I know. The parents that were lied to were VERY upset, as well they should be. Would you keep quiet if you knew?

I don't see how the review has to do with being in the year 2013 or being an American.
Posted by: Kevin K

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/13/13 07:02 PM

Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
Kevin, FWIW, +1. When ever I'm at a store/service agency, etc., and they start bad-mouthing the competition, I politely make my exit. I'm interested in what positive you can do for me, not what your competitor cannot do. FWIW.


Thank you John, I'll think about what you said.
Posted by: ezpiano.org

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/13/13 07:23 PM

Kevin:
I really like your energetic and vision about your FreshStart Piano Studio that gives Irvine community a fresh stream through your website. You put in so much work, as I said before, your blog is very informative and I especially like your interview with Dr. Kolar.
As you see, I am in Irvine too but I do not see you as a competitor. I wasn't so sure what to think about when I see your blog about Conrad Tao, that is why I posted it here to ask other people for opinions.
I am totally agree with you that there are too many mega piano school around, they are mass producing "McDonald-Type-Like" students. We need piano teachers who can nurture each student personally in this community.
Please keep up your good work, we need piano teacher like you.
Posted by: edhamgtr

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/13/13 10:51 PM

Kevin,

Please reconsider the suggestion of deleting the critical blog posts about your former employer.

There are no winners in that type of situation and it can taint all your efforts moving forward.
Stay positive.

Your website should only contain the positive attributes of your philosophy and your passion for your students. Zero negativity. In your attempt to differentiate yourself from your competitors it is easy to sound critical of them and this is always a losing strategy.

Re-work your site with the branding clarity others have suggested and remove all thing critical or negative. You are more likely to succeed by only speaking/writing positively.

just a thought.
But I was in this business a long time and probably made these exact mistakes.
Posted by: Kevin K

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/14/13 03:26 AM

Originally Posted By: ezpiano.org
Kevin:
I really like your energetic and vision about your FreshStart Piano Studio that gives Irvine community a fresh stream through your website. You put in so much work, as I said before, your blog is very informative and I especially like your interview with Dr. Kolar.
As you see, I am in Irvine too but I do not see you as a competitor. I wasn't so sure what to think about when I see your blog about Conrad Tao, that is why I posted it here to ask other people for opinions.
I am totally agree with you that there are too many mega piano school around, they are mass producing "McDonald-Type-Like" students. We need piano teachers who can nurture each student personally in this community.
Please keep up your good work, we need piano teacher like you.

Thanks Sue(I got your name from your website), I really appreciate that, honestly I thought nobody read my blog...now I have the whole piano world criticizing it, LOL. The articles were mostly for my own reference. I already have 2 other interviewees who've agreed to be interviewed and another one that I'll call tomorrow smile

I don't see you or other piano teachers as competitors either! And I think that's the problem, I see it as me warning others about a specific person, but some people see it as me bashing a "rival" or a "competitor". To be honest I find the whole "rival" view as comedic, because I don't feel that way at all.

Oh, and I'm talking about Cameron Tong, not Conrad Tao, LOL. Conrad Tao is a concert pianist, Cameron Tong is the ISM director.
Posted by: Kevin K

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/14/13 03:41 AM

Originally Posted By: catpiano
Quote:
Finally, I found this sentence in particular rather offensive, "Lastly, my Christian background and upbringing gives me a level of integrity that's not always guaranteed with others."

Hope that helps.
wink


Extremely offensive.

I didn't look through the whole website, but I do wholeheartedly agree with his stance on lessons at music centers.


I'm actually okay with some dissension over the Christian bit because that is who I am and I think websites for piano teachers shouldn't just serve as a lead generator but also a lead qualifier.

While it wasn't meant to be offensive, it does serve as a qualifier. The people who read that and are put off by it wouldn't be a good match for my studio anyway because that is who I am. I'm saving their time and my own time by being upfront about that on my website. Now the people who read that and are drawn by it? Well, those are the prospects I actually want to spend the time to set up an interview for.

With all that said...I do think finding this to be “extremely offensive” is a bit….extreme.
Posted by: Kevin K

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/14/13 04:19 AM

Hey AZNpiano, I'm glad you find the information on my site useful, I appreciate it. Like my reply to ezpiano, I didn't think anybody actually read it.

I agree with you, there definitely are good teachers at commercial music studios. Some of the teachers were great at Irvine School of Music too and we've become really good friends-part of the reason I decided against posting the review at a bigger site even though I urge potential students to seek the teachers out privately. Ultimately that is what every piano teacher at commercial music studios would want if they could. You just can't make a decent living teaching at commercial music studios, getting paid 40% of the lesson fee. It's the music studio owners here that tend to operate on the shady side, but even there I know a couple of great music studio owners.

You hit several good points over the head for sure.
Posted by: Kevin K

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/14/13 04:27 AM

Originally Posted By: edhamgtr
Kevin,

Please reconsider the suggestion of deleting the critical blog posts about your former employer.

There are no winners in that type of situation and it can taint all your efforts moving forward.
Stay positive.

Your website should only contain the positive attributes of your philosophy and your passion for your students. Zero negativity. In your attempt to differentiate yourself from your competitors it is easy to sound critical of them and this is always a losing strategy.

Re-work your site with the branding clarity others have suggested and remove all thing critical or negative. You are more likely to succeed by only speaking/writing positively.

just a thought.
But I was in this business a long time and probably made these exact mistakes.


Hi edhamgtr, I see what you mean, thanks for the advice. I will definitely consider it.

I'm starting to think I should have just posted the review on google and be done with it ha Just kidding. It's okay, everything happens for a reason and I definitely appreciate all the feedback I've gotten smile
Posted by: malkin

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/14/13 09:02 AM

Google or Angie's list or this forum are better places for a critical review. It's even ok on a blog, but the blog should be separate from your studio site.

As for the quality of the writing, my suggestion is to contact the University and hire an editor; a graduate student in the writing program could be perfect. Although if your audience is exclusively non-native speakers of English there may be no need to clean up the writing on the site.
Posted by: Kreisler

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/14/13 09:12 AM

Aren't all studios "commercial music studios?"

If a studio isn't commercial, then it's non-profit.

Also, there are a lot of different business models for commercial studios. I've worked for two. One was as an employee, and they offered retirement and health benefits. The other was as an independent contractor. The first was a community music school that rented facilities from a church. The second is inside a music store.

I'm sure this thread makes sense to people living in Irvine, but to me, I honestly have no idea what is meant by the phrase "commercial music studio" in this context. (It's sounding more and more like we're talking about a specific studio - Mr. Tao's, but then why not just name that particular one?)
Posted by: Minniemay

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/14/13 09:42 AM

There has been an incredible growth in music studios located in places like strip malls. They may have one credentialed teacher, but the rest are independent contractors that may or may not be qualified and try to ride on the coattails of the owner, who may or may not have scruples.

Here in California, this has become a real problem, especially in southern California. They are undercharging and pulling the business out from under the feet of the private teachers. The owner teacher is entering students in events under his or her name, but the teachers actually teaching the students aren't members. Eventually, parents might realize what's wrong, but more often than not, the child simply drops piano because they aren't making progress.

The other thing these studios do is steal students. Really. I've seen it in progress. I was in the lobby before a concert when one of these teachers went up to some middle school students and their parents and tried to solicit their business. I couldn't believe the claims they were making. I saw it happening and informed their teacher when she arrived.
Posted by: TimR

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/14/13 10:13 AM

Originally Posted By: Minniemay
There has been an incredible growth in music studios located in places like strip malls. They may have one credentialed teacher, but the rest are independent contractors that may or may not be qualified and try to ride on the coattails of the owner, who may or may not have scruples.

Here in California, this has become a real problem, especially in southern California. .


This sounds quite evil. But. The private teacher field, while containing credentialed, highly skilled professional teachers also contains a large number of the opposite.

It might actually be safer to go to the strip mall studio and be assured of mediocre rather than bad teaching? The studio teacher is probably more exposed to fellow musicians than a private individual who has never been observed teaching other than by his students.

If the business model works, eventually at least some of the strip mall studios might be able to recruit the top teachers.
Posted by: keystring

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/14/13 12:29 PM

Kevin, I read your site with interest. I did NOT go to the sections first that were pointed out, because that was out of context --- "who's the writer" comes first.

The first thing I wanted to see is what you represent as a teacher. I am learning about teaching, and I have experiences both as a parent of a now-adult child who went on into a top music program after being a late starter, and as an adult student some time after that. I have some definite thoughts because of those experiences.

What you write about teaching reveals someone who wants to give students the tools of musicianship. You are not promising instant success, and you're not pushing the "music study will help your kids get good grades in school" angle. So as someone who would take music lessons in order to play music well, that attracts me. In fact, when my child asked for music lessons, he expressed it as "I want to learn to do this well."

The name "Fresh Start" reflects very well what happens if someone has had careless teaching for several years, is in a rut, and has to start from scratch so that they finally have a leg to stand on. It's a really good name.

Your ideas are comprehensible to people who know about music studies, and one gets that you know what you are talking about and have a lot to offer. But it is rambly. Well, how does a private teacher teach? He is in the presence of the student and what the student does, carrying his own knowledge, and the lesson unfolds from that. This mindset does not transfer well to paper, where a specific picture gets locked into words. This part may need some fleshing out.

No problem with italics at my end.

About "talent" - I believe that talent is potential, some innate thing, which requires (good) guidance and (good) study, to realize its potential. It also has its own advantages AND disadvantages. Tiger Woods may have shown "something special" but then he was also guided, and worked at it. Didn't he respond similar to some musician who said, "Madam, you too can become great like me. All you have to do is sit down at the piano and work diligently 8 hours a day for the next 20 years." (Beethoven?)

The type of institution that caters to a mentality and is in visible places: many of us have encountered them. It's a difficult, diplomacy-ridden thing to address.
Posted by: keystring

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/14/13 12:47 PM

Originally Posted By: TimR

This sounds quite evil. But. The private teacher field, while containing credentialed, highly skilled professional teachers also contains a large number of the opposite.

It might actually be safer to go to the strip mall studio and be assured of mediocre rather than bad teaching? The studio teacher is probably more exposed to fellow musicians than a private individual who has never been observed teaching other than by his students.

If the business model works, eventually at least some of the strip mall studios might be able to recruit the top teachers.


There is a flaw in logic, or in assumptions somewhere in there.

You seem to be thinking that the fact of an institution will prevent poor teaching from being quite as poor, because of some influence the institution has on the teacher. I don't think that teachers observe other teachers, and I don't think that all owners of these ventures know about music - it's a business venture. If there is any kind of pressure on teachers, then it's from a business angle, such as:

- sell the place's books, and use only those books, regardless of what is best suited for the student
- compete on the basis of going through grades as fast as possible because that is what impresses the unwashed masses

I'm sure there are others. Both my/my child's first teacher and our accompanist began as refugees beginning in such a place, and both managed to found their own studios after a couple of years. The "school" had these cutesy monthly newsletters, sounding "educational" with some bit of wisdom, like to bow to the audience before performing. The recital we attended clearly showed the agenda. The students were playing impressive fireworks kinds of pieces, did not show that they had any kind of good grounding. The general impression was that they were zipping through the grades to impress parents with how "fast" they could go, and the fireworks gave more bragging rights. In contrast, our teacher and the accompanist who was also a piano teacher, had more simple pieces that were played well, and were well prepared. As I got to know these teachers better, I learned that the pressure was to go fast, impress, and teach as many students as possible back to back.

Conclusion from that experience: not only did this institution NOT cause mediocre teachers to teach better, it also undermined attempts to teach well.
Posted by: TimR

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/14/13 02:06 PM

Originally Posted By: keystring
Originally Posted By: TimR

This sounds quite evil. But. The private teacher field, while containing credentialed, highly skilled professional teachers also contains a large number of the opposite.

It might actually be safer to go to the strip mall studio and be assured of mediocre rather than bad teaching? The studio teacher is probably more exposed to fellow musicians than a private individual who has never been observed teaching other than by his students.

If the business model works, eventually at least some of the strip mall studios might be able to recruit the top teachers.


There is a flaw in logic, or in assumptions somewhere in there.

You seem to be thinking that the fact of an institution will prevent poor teaching from being quite as poor, because of some influence the institution has on the teacher.


Thinking is too strong a word. Hoping is probably closer! And the hope is that teaching more publicly might (but only might) result in more accountability than the highly individualistic completely private teaching that is more common.

Quote:
Conclusion from that experience: not only did this institution NOT cause mediocre teachers to teach better, it also undermined attempts to teach well.


In this case perhaps your logic is wrong. Didn't those teachers produce exactly what their employer desired? You and I would make different choices for what should be taught. We wouldn't focus on flashy fireworks. But in the example you gave, the requirement was flashy fireworks, and the teachers succeeded. They were skillful at producing the wrong things, and if led by a different boss might be skillful at producing the right things.

Contrast that to a poor private teacher, who can produce neither flashy fireworks nor sound fundamentals. They wouldn't last in the commercial studio.

But again, it's just a hope; not claiming it actually works that way anywhere.
Posted by: AZNpiano

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/14/13 02:19 PM

Originally Posted By: TimR
It might actually be safer to go to the strip mall studio and be assured of mediocre rather than bad teaching?

You serious? eek
Posted by: AZNpiano

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/14/13 02:38 PM

Originally Posted By: Kreisler
I'm sure this thread makes sense to people living in Irvine, but to me, I honestly have no idea what is meant by the phrase "commercial music studio" in this context.

This is not just an Irvine problem. It's a problem in other parts of the world as well. As far as I know, similar things are going on in China.

You basically have an owner, maybe an investor, with some money and opens up a "music school." Then, he hires a bunch of contractors as "teachers." He then goes on to recruit clients, however aggressively or menacingly, with little or no regards to ethics.

In order to stay in business, the owner has to take a cut of the tuition. This cut can be as small as 33% and as high as 75%. Meanwhile, most of the studios in the location are tiny, with horrible sound leak and poorly-maintained instruments. Other tactics (such as hiring teachers in need of a work visa, various non-compete clauses) can be used to stay in business.

It is a business, after all, and not an institution of learning. I'm just describing a vague tip of the iceberg, but suffice it to say that the livelihood of many private teachers is at stake here.
Posted by: ezpiano.org

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/14/13 02:49 PM

Quote:
Google or Angie's list or this forum are better places for a critical review. It's even ok on a blog, but the blog should be separate from your studio site.


I am with Malkin thumb
Posted by: ezpiano.org

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/14/13 02:54 PM

Quote:
It is a business, after all, and not an institution of learning.


Good ANZ thumb

As my students are growing, my landlord ask me why not to expand? He wanted me to branch out and rent more rooms from him. I simply tell him that I can't afford the rent of another room. He said: Just hire another teacher to teach for you! (You are right, this is the businessman talking here, my landlord) I tell him that I am sure I am a good teacher, but I am not sure I am a good businessman.

I am just simply do not have time to supervise another teacher making sure that he is providing the same quality of service as I am.
Posted by: keystring

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/14/13 02:58 PM

Originally Posted By: TimR
Didn't those teachers produce exactly what their employer desired? You and I would make different choices for what should be taught. We wouldn't focus on flashy fireworks. But in the example you gave, the requirement was flashy fireworks, and the teachers succeeded. They were skillful at producing the wrong things, and if led by a different boss might be skillful at producing the right things.

The purpose of lessons is to TEACH SKILLS in doing MUSIC. No, they did NOT succeed. At that time I had never had lessons and my child had only ad lessons for 3 months so I didn't know anything yet. Nonetheless, I could hear clearly that the playing was "fast and sloppy and uncontrolled" in many of the cases. Their foundations were ruined and some future teacher would have to fix a mess! Which, btw, is what Kevin's article was about.

You're also forgetting your own point, which I was addressing, namely that the influence of the schools would cause poor teachers to improve their teaching. But this pressures good teachers to lower their standards, and it misleads beginner teachers in regards to what teaching and priorities actually are - worsening the situation all round.

They were also not "skilful". They were muddling through.
Posted by: TimR

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/14/13 03:53 PM

[quote=keystring
You're also forgetting your own point, which I was addressing, namely that the influence of the schools would cause poor teachers to improve their teaching. [/quote]

Or be weeded out, which is more likely.

But for new teachers to learn their craft faster and more thoroughly, by being in a group setting with access to fellow professionals, and observation by the boss, whose long term profit depended on hiring and keeping talent.

You've convinced me your example was a failure. And I know of others. My brother signed a contract to teach at a similar music school, without reading the fine print, then couldn't get disentangled when it turned out bad. He was at the time a professional working jazz musician and could have been an asset to a real school, but it turned out to be a quick bucks scheme.

Don't you think there's a potential for these academies to work, if done right? Must piano teaching be a solitary profession, hidden away in basements in our neighborhoods?
Posted by: Minniemay

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/14/13 04:39 PM

No, but the person in charge must have good ethics. That has been the greater problem.
Posted by: Kevin K

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/14/13 04:41 PM

Originally Posted By: malkin
Google or Angie's list or this forum are better places for a critical review. It's even ok on a blog, but the blog should be separate from your studio site.

As for the quality of the writing, my suggestion is to contact the University and hire an editor; a graduate student in the writing program could be perfect. Although if your audience is exclusively non-native speakers of English there may be no need to clean up the writing on the site.

yes...I'm starting to see that the problem is the fact that it is on my own studio website, making it easy for people to conclude that I'm just trying to trash a competing business. It also doesn't help that people here don't know me personally.
Posted by: Kevin K

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/14/13 05:00 PM

Originally Posted By: Kreisler
Aren't all studios "commercial music studios?"

If a studio isn't commercial, then it's non-profit.

Also, there are a lot of different business models for commercial studios. I've worked for two. One was as an employee, and they offered retirement and health benefits. The other was as an independent contractor. The first was a community music school that rented facilities from a church. The second is inside a music store.

I'm sure this thread makes sense to people living in Irvine, but to me, I honestly have no idea what is meant by the phrase "commercial music studio" in this context. (It's sounding more and more like we're talking about a specific studio - Mr. Tao's, but then why not just name that particular one?)

Let's see if I can try and clear this up. You're thinking of one definition of the word "commercial", for profit. I think in this case commercial is more for the commercialization of music instruction, where the main focus turns away from education and focuses on profit. Not only that, but also the focus on getting a large number of students, for better or worse.

I think these three definitions of commercial is what's implied here:

1. Of, relating to, or being goods, often unrefined, produced and distributed in large quantities for use by industry
2. being of an average or inferior quality <show-quality versus commercial cattle>
3. producing artistic work of low standards for quick market success

Cameron Tong runs a studio much like the second business model you worked for, in fact I'd say all the commercial music studios in Irvine are run as such. It's not named specifically because there's also another discussion here about commercial music studios in general, not just his.

Also, my review of Cameron Tong wasn't for his commercial music studio overall, there are decent teachers there for sure, it was for his personal lack of integrity as a business owner.

Hope this helps!
Posted by: ezpiano.org

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/14/13 05:04 PM

Quote:
Also, my review of Cameron Tong wasn't for his commercial music studio overall, there are decent teachers there for sure, it was for his personal lack of integrity as a business owner.


Now I understand. I thought you just trash him because he is your competitor, and I am afraid too, that is why I mentioned in the previous post that, hey, I am in Irvine too, but I do not view you as competitor.
Posted by: keystring

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/14/13 05:06 PM

..
Posted by: Peter K. Mose

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/14/13 05:46 PM

Let's give this little Irvine, California teacher feud a rest. It's unseemly, and not in keeping with the goals of PW. Or else let's encourage Cameron Tong - whom we only know through the lens of his rival and former employee - to describe the merits of his school, which I read now has some 200 students.

A third choice is to broaden this discussion to embrace the structures of all small multi-teacher piano schools.
Posted by: Kevin K

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/14/13 06:47 PM

Originally Posted By: Peter K. Mose
Let's give this little Irvine, California teacher feud a rest. It's unseemly, and not in keeping with the goals of PW. Or else let's encourage Cameron Tong - whom we only know through the lens of his rival and former employee - to describe the merits of his school, which I read now has some 200 students.

A third choice is to broaden this discussion to embrace the structures of all small multi-teacher piano schools.



You seem to have missed quite a bit of content on this topic since your last post.

First, if you read the other responses here you would know that there is nothing "little" about this topic and that it's not just about a "feud" between two teachers but a whole discussion about commercial music studios in general.

Secondly, about Cameron Tong, it wasn't about the merits of his school; as I've pointed out already, there are great teachers there, it's about his dishonest business practices. Also, I would take the 200 students statement with a grain of salt having worked there myself and knowing that other "facts" in the article contain lies that another reviewer-not myself-pointed out on google reviews. Plus, if you read the other posts here about how commercial music studios around here lobby for students you would know that having some 200 hundred students merits nothing if only the marketing and lobbying tactics used.

I think the discussion on commercial music studios is a very real and worthwhile topic on piano world as it affects many private piano teachers.
Posted by: Kreisler

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/14/13 06:59 PM

I'm getting curious - what are these "dishonest business practices" people keep talking about?
Posted by: AZNpiano

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/14/13 07:35 PM

Originally Posted By: Kreisler
I'm getting curious - what are these "dishonest business practices" people keep talking about?

Here are some quick examples:

1) Stealing students who are currently studying with another teacher or at another "music school"; this could be done in the form of offering sibling discounts and referral fees, even if the new client is already studying with another teacher!

2) Brainwashing parents by providing false information, including incorrect information on how to play piano

3) Bad-mouthing other teachers and music schools

4) Exploiting teachers who need work visas to stay in the US; exploiting younger teachers who don't have their own studio and/or teachers who can't teach out of their apartments

5) Signing up students for exams and competitions under a different teacher's name (In California, this is a serious problem, because administering CM test relies on teacher volunteers and hundreds of hours of manpower; some schools pay the MTAC teachers money to do the extra volunteer work, and then pass on the fees to the parents!!); also, the teachers can cheat on membership fees and/or bypass the requirement of proper qualifications, such as not having a college degree in music

6) Switching the students' teachers often, without prior notice to the parents, and sometimes without notifying the current teacher; this happens to both the worst students and the most talented ones

7) Making false and exaggerated promises, such as skipping exam levels and winning competitions
Posted by: Peter K. Mose

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/14/13 07:46 PM

Kevin tried working for a commercial music school, and it didn't suit him. Now he is teaching in his own studio, at a higher hourly wage but of course with many other hidden costs.

Either way it's tough trying to support oneself teaching piano. I wish him good fortune. (I, too, like the name Fresh Start.)
Posted by: ezpiano.org

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/14/13 07:50 PM

ANZ:
All you said here could cause serious problems. If it is that "obvious" why is MTAC not taking discipline actions? I am sure that once MTAC taking its role to ensure all the code of ethic is being followed, start an investigation towards its suspicious members, then these activities can be reduce right?

Quote:
Let's review Code of Ethics for MTAC:

We, the members of the Music Teachers’ Association of California, having dedicated ourselves to the advancement of the standards in music education, shall aspire to:

to be a musical resource to our community, and encourage our students to be musically involved in their communities

encourage, guide, and develop the musical potential of each student

refrain from making exaggerated claims or misleading statements concerning our teaching qualifications

refrain from making exaggerated promises regarding a student’s musical education or progress

respect the integrity of other teaching studios and refrain from actively recruiting students from another studio by either inducement or innuendo

refrain from engaging in activities harmful to the purposes of MTAC, or use our position in MTAC to exploit personal views

respect the reputation of colleagues, and refrain from making false or malicious statements about colleagues within the profession of music
Posted by: keystring

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/14/13 07:53 PM

Originally Posted By: Peter K. Mose
Kevin tried working for a commercial music school, and it didn't suit him.

That is not close to how I understand it. Have you read everything in detail?
Posted by: AZNpiano

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/14/13 08:01 PM

Originally Posted By: ezpiano.org
If it is that "obvious" why is MTAC not taking discipline actions?

Good question.
Posted by: theJourney

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/15/13 01:15 AM

Originally Posted By: Kreisler
Aren't all studios "commercial music studios?"

If a studio isn't commercial, then it's non-profit.

Also, there are a lot of different business models for commercial studios. I've worked for two. One was as an employee, and they offered retirement and health benefits. The other was as an independent contractor. The first was a community music school that rented facilities from a church. The second is inside a music store.

I'm sure this thread makes sense to people living in Irvine, but to me, I honestly have no idea what is meant by the phrase "commercial music studio" in this context. (It's sounding more and more like we're talking about a specific studio - Mr. Tao's, but then why not just name that particular one?)


+1

I have yet to meet a piano teacher over the age of 18 and under the age of 85 that is serving the general public as a teacher for free, or a public service or as a charity. All paid, professional piano teachers are per definition commercia.
Posted by: theJourney

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/15/13 01:35 AM

Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
Originally Posted By: Kreisler
I'm getting curious - what are these "dishonest business practices" people keep talking about?

Here are some quick examples:

1) Stealing students who are currently studying with another teacher or at another "music school"; this could be done in the form of offering sibling discounts and referral fees, even if the new client is already studying with another teacher!

2) Brainwashing parents by providing false information, including incorrect information on how to play piano

3) Bad-mouthing other teachers and music schools

4) Exploiting teachers who need work visas to stay in the US; exploiting younger teachers who don't have their own studio and/or teachers who can't teach out of their apartments

5) Signing up students for exams and competitions under a different teacher's name (In California, this is a serious problem, because administering CM test relies on teacher volunteers and hundreds of hours of manpower; some schools pay the MTAC teachers money to do the extra volunteer work, and then pass on the fees to the parents!!); also, the teachers can cheat on membership fees and/or bypass the requirement of proper qualifications, such as not having a college degree in music

6) Switching the students' teachers often, without prior notice to the parents, and sometimes without notifying the current teacher; this happens to both the worst students and the most talented ones

7) Making false and exaggerated promises, such as skipping exam levels and winning competitions


Sounds like -- if this is true -- that he is acting like any normal, red-blooded and as American as Chevrolet, baseball and apple pie business anno 2013. Ethics are so last century. If this is the extent of his transgressions, then he makes the banking industry, for example, sound like Mother Teresa's chapel choir. The surprise is not the (successful but sleazy) tactics, but that they are being applied to a sleepy old, mom and pop kind of marginal business that has operated on written and unwritten codes of honor for hundreds of years (that have of course also been violated by aggressive players also for hundreds of years.)

On the other hand, it is hard to argue with success! I have never heard of a contemporary piano school with 200 simultaneous paying students before. If half of the accusations are true, and the parents decide they don't like it or that the other benefits he offers don't wash up to it, then sooner or later the pigeons will come home to roost and the wised-up customers will leave, tell others via word-of-mouth (rather than unprofessional, petty blogs or competitor websites) and his business will crash and burn. However, if a majority of his customers see value (and results that meet their expectations which don't have to meet your expectations), especially value relative to other options in the market, then he may be on to something.

Wal*Mart has not decimated the entire lineup of stores on main street in many towns because that is better for the community, better for the people who lost their independent business and are forced to work there for peanuts or necessarily better for customers. Their success is based on a model that cuts corners everywhere it can until everyone else is destroyed. Once you have that market position, you are essentially the market maker.

I can understand the emotional tirades against this studio.
Posted by: Kevin K

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/15/13 02:43 AM

Originally Posted By: keystring
Kevin, I read your site with interest. I did NOT go to the sections first that were pointed out, because that was out of context --- "who's the writer" comes first.

The first thing I wanted to see is what you represent as a teacher. I am learning about teaching, and I have experiences both as a parent of a now-adult child who went on into a top music program after being a late starter, and as an adult student some time after that. I have some definite thoughts because of those experiences.

What you write about teaching reveals someone who wants to give students the tools of musicianship. You are not promising instant success, and you're not pushing the "music study will help your kids get good grades in school" angle. So as someone who would take music lessons in order to play music well, that attracts me. In fact, when my child asked for music lessons, he expressed it as "I want to learn to do this well."

The name "Fresh Start" reflects very well what happens if someone has had careless teaching for several years, is in a rut, and has to start from scratch so that they finally have a leg to stand on. It's a really good name.

Your ideas are comprehensible to people who know about music studies, and one gets that you know what you are talking about and have a lot to offer. But it is rambly. Well, how does a private teacher teach? He is in the presence of the student and what the student does, carrying his own knowledge, and the lesson unfolds from that. This mindset does not transfer well to paper, where a specific picture gets locked into words. This part may need some fleshing out.

No problem with italics at my end.

About "talent" - I believe that talent is potential, some innate thing, which requires (good) guidance and (good) study, to realize its potential. It also has its own advantages AND disadvantages. Tiger Woods may have shown "something special" but then he was also guided, and worked at it. Didn't he respond similar to some musician who said, "Madam, you too can become great like me. All you have to do is sit down at the piano and work diligently 8 hours a day for the next 20 years." (Beethoven?)

The type of institution that caters to a mentality and is in visible places: many of us have encountered them. It's a difficult, diplomacy-ridden thing to address.

hey keystring~thanks! I appreciate that. I've gotten quite a few transfer students who've had horrible fundamentals, whether it's hand position, ability to count, note reading, or just bad habits in general. When I ask where they studied piano previously a vast number of them got their starts at commercial music studios. That's kind of where the name came from.

Can you explain the rambly part of my website? I'm not sure which section you're talking about and I'm really interested in figuring out what you mean smile
Posted by: Kevin K

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/15/13 02:56 AM

Originally Posted By: TimR
Don't you think there's a potential for these academies to work, if done right? Must piano teaching be a solitary profession, hidden away in basements in our neighborhoods?

There is absolutely potential for these academies to work and some do indeed prosper without the use of shady tactics and have upstanding owners who keep their eyes on passing on the gift of music and not purely on maximizing profit.
Posted by: Kevin K

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/15/13 03:06 AM

Originally Posted By: Peter K. Mose
Kevin tried working for a commercial music school, and it didn't suit him. Now he is teaching in his own studio, at a higher hourly wage but of course with many other hidden costs.

Either way it's tough trying to support oneself teaching piano. I wish him good fortune. (I, too, like the name Fresh Start.)

Thanks Peter, I labored over the name for awhile, haha. If I had a doctorate degree I would have just gone with Dr. Kao's Piano Studio. HAHA. But, unfortunately I only have a masters.
Posted by: Kevin K

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/15/13 03:10 AM

Originally Posted By: theJourney
Originally Posted By: Kreisler
Aren't all studios "commercial music studios?"

If a studio isn't commercial, then it's non-profit.

Also, there are a lot of different business models for commercial studios. I've worked for two. One was as an employee, and they offered retirement and health benefits. The other was as an independent contractor. The first was a community music school that rented facilities from a church. The second is inside a music store.

I'm sure this thread makes sense to people living in Irvine, but to me, I honestly have no idea what is meant by the phrase "commercial music studio" in this context. (It's sounding more and more like we're talking about a specific studio - Mr. Tao's, but then why not just name that particular one?)


+1

I have yet to meet a piano teacher over the age of 18 and under the age of 85 that is serving the general public as a teacher for free, or a public service or as a charity. All paid, professional piano teachers are per definition commercia.

Actually I've explained the way the word "commercial" is used in this case with a few dictionary definitions to Kreisler's question already. It's on the 2nd page of this topic.
Posted by: Kevin K

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/15/13 04:31 AM

Originally Posted By: theJourney
Sounds like -- if this is true -- that he is acting like any normal, red-blooded and as American as Chevrolet, baseball and apple pie business anno 2013. Ethics are so last century. If this is the extent of his transgressions, then he makes the banking industry, for example, sound like Mother Teresa's chapel choir. The surprise is not the (successful but sleazy) tactics, but that they are being applied to a sleepy old, mom and pop kind of marginal business that has operated on written and unwritten codes of honor for hundreds of years (that have of course also been violated by aggressive players also for hundreds of years.)

On the other hand, it is hard to argue with success! I have never heard of a contemporary piano school with 200 simultaneous paying students before. If half of the accusations are true, and the parents decide they don't like it or that the other benefits he offers don't wash up to it, then sooner or later the pigeons will come home to roost and the wised-up customers will leave, tell others via word-of-mouth (rather than unprofessional, petty blogs or competitor websites) and his business will crash and burn. However, if a majority of his customers see value (and results that meet their expectations which don't have to meet your expectations), especially value relative to other options in the market, then he may be on to something.

Wal*Mart has not decimated the entire lineup of stores on main street in many towns because that is better for the community, better for the people who lost their independent business and are forced to work there for peanuts or necessarily better for customers. Their success is based on a model that cuts corners everywhere it can until everyone else is destroyed. Once you have that market position, you are essentially the market maker.

I can understand the emotional tirades against this studio.

I might be reading you wrong but I think you meant the banking industry makes him sound like Mother Teresa's choir?

Anyway, you hit a few good points for sure. While I don't agree that a lack of ethics makes someone a normal, red-blooded American--call me an optimist--the unwritten code of honor bit is definitely true, ESPECIALLY for educators. We simply shouldn't compare a teaching institution of young children in ANY subject to big, corporate companies.

Why is it so shocking to hear news of teachers committing statutory rape? Why was the recent shooting in Connecticut so devastating and shocking? Because it involved children and because educators SHOULD be hold to a higher moral standard as we are often seen as examples for young children's malleable minds. I take that part of my job VERY seriously.

I think in this case it's hard for the pigeons to come home and roost because as part of the condition to work teachers have to sign a non-compete clause as mentioned in a previous post. The clause forbids teachers from giving away any personal information even if requested by parents.

In my case, my termination went something like this: Cameron calls me and tell me all my students can't make the rest of their December lessons because of their holiday schedule, says I don't have to go in for the rest of December. I go in for a "meet and greet" with a new student previously scheduled after my regular teaching time, sees the parents of my students. Confusion ensued. They were upset already because Cameron apparently moved their lesson time but didn't tell them they have a substitute teacher, and that they will have this sub from now on because I'm on a "leave of absence" until JUNE. Plus now they find out Cameron flat out lied to them and to me. And June is quite a big difference from my I get December off story.

Now, because I followed the rules and refused to give out my personal information to my students there even when they asked for it, the REST of my students that I've already formed a close relationship with just lost their piano teacher without any warning. That is a HORRIBLE feeling as I'm sure any piano teacher here can understand.

Alright, sob story aside, I agree with your statements on value, that is how things work. I think another problem is the fact that music instruction is so hard to evaluate for the average consumer; It's unlike a crappy sweater, burger, or even a poor quality car.

Another characteristic of a commercial music studio as opposed to a private piano studio is that it provides music lessons of all types of instruments, not just piano. Hence my one teacher teaching multiple instruments statement.

By the way, I take offense to your "unprofessional, petty blog" statement. If you have a professional, un-petty blog, I'd love to see it and learn from you.
Posted by: R0B

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/15/13 09:03 AM

Hi Kevin,

I have followed this thread from the outset, and quite frankly, nothing you have said, or done thus far, has given me any reason to be sympathetic to your position.

If you have just cause to take any kind of legal action against your former employer, you should do so in a private and professional manner.

Airing your dirty linen on a public forum, and also on your 'blog', will not strengthen your case in any way, and could come back to bite you IMO.

If you can put the past behind you, and move on, you will have far more chance of success in the long term.
I wish you well.
Posted by: Ken Knapp

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/15/13 09:47 AM

Originally Posted By: theJourney

Sounds like -- if this is true -- that he is acting like any normal, red-blooded and as American as Chevrolet, baseball and apple pie business anno 2013.


I would question the insinuation that unethical = American or that American = unethical. I think we can find ample examples of unethical in ANY country.

I'm sort of surprised you would choose to go down that road. I thought Frank Baxter made himself perfectly clear to you on that subject, didn't he?
Posted by: Morodiene

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/15/13 10:10 AM

Originally Posted By: R0B
Hi Kevin,

I have followed this thread from the outset, and quite frankly, nothing you have said, or done thus far, has given me any reason to be sympathetic to your position.

If you have just cause to take any kind of legal action against your former employer, you should do so in a private and professional manner.

Airing your dirty linen on a public forum, and also on your 'blog', will not strengthen your case in any way, and could come back to bite you IMO.

If you can put the past behind you, and move on, you will have far more chance of success in the long term.
I wish you well.


+1. I know of many bad teachers out there, ones who take student's money and don't teach them anything, or worse, teach them bad things that prevent the student from reaching their potential. These are facts. However, as a professional, it really reflects more poorly on me for speaking the truth about that teacher than it does on that teacher.

What you as a teacher have to offer and the way your students sound coming out of your studio speak volumes about the quality of teaching - much more than any comparison - however correct you may be about your criticisms.

One other comment. I, too, and Christian, and while "offensive" isn't quite the right word, I found your comment actually misrepresented Christians. We do not think of ourselves as superior to non-Christians; we are humbled by what Jesus did on the cross. Being Christian does not make us perfect or necessarily better in our day-to-day actions. In fact, it is because we are incapable of being perfect that makes us in need of a savior.

I personally feel that you can tell your readers that you are a Christian and therefore hold yourself to a high standard of ethics and quality in your studio, without taking a dig at non-Christians as your statement does.
Posted by: theJourney

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/15/13 11:03 AM

Originally Posted By: Ken Knapp
Originally Posted By: theJourney

Sounds like -- if this is true -- that he is acting like any normal, red-blooded and as American as Chevrolet, baseball and apple pie business anno 2013.


I would question the insinuation that unethical = American or that American = unethical. I think we can find ample examples of unethical in ANY country.

I'm sort of surprised you would choose to go down that road. I thought Frank Baxter made himself perfectly clear to you on that subject, didn't he?


I was referring to unethical BUSINESS practices in general and the unethical AMERICAN banking industry specifically which as a matter of factual public record tanked the world economy through unethical practices, yet to be unpunished.

I did not mean in any way that Americans are unethical nor that all businesses are unethical but rather indicate, as you yourself state, that unethical business practices have become common everywhere and too often normal operating procedure both within and outside of the United States. Since Irvine, CA is in the United States it would be non-sensical to say that unethical business practices have become commonplace in Nigeria. In fact, if companies want to succeed they find themselves forced to cheat or cut corners (at least that is what managers say to themselves guilty of such behavior say when they look at themselves in the mirror in the morning).

I doubt that a studio could ramp up to 200 students by acting like a typical passive-marketing home piano teacher just waiting for students to show up. More aggressive business practices are required.

Hope this clears up any confusion.
Posted by: theJourney

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/15/13 11:12 AM

Originally Posted By: Kevin K
Originally Posted By: theJourney
Sounds like -- if this is true -- that he is acting like any normal, red-blooded and as American as Chevrolet, baseball and apple pie business anno 2013. Ethics are so last century. If this is the extent of his transgressions, then he makes the banking industry, for example, sound like Mother Teresa's chapel choir. The surprise is not the (successful but sleazy) tactics, but that they are being applied to a sleepy old, mom and pop kind of marginal business that has operated on written and unwritten codes of honor for hundreds of years (that have of course also been violated by aggressive players also for hundreds of years.)


I might be reading you wrong but I think you meant the banking industry makes him sound like Mother Teresa's choir?

Indeed.
Originally Posted By: Kevin K

Anyway, you hit a few good points for sure. While I don't agree that a lack of ethics makes someone a normal, red-blooded American--call me an optimist--the unwritten code of honor bit is definitely true, ESPECIALLY for educators. We simply shouldn't compare a teaching institution of young children in ANY subject to big, corporate companies.

This is not what I said or at least what I meant to say. What I mean to say is that in big business whether in America where you are located or in Europe where I am located, playing hard ball, or pushing the envelope at the least or as far as aa lack of ethics and even illegal behavior in big business has become, unfortunately, almost a given.
Originally Posted By: Kevin K
Why is it so shocking to hear news of teachers committing statutory rape? Why was the recent shooting in Connecticut so devastating and shocking? Because it involved children and because educators SHOULD be hold to a higher moral standard as we are often seen as examples for young children's malleable minds. I take that part of my job VERY seriously.

The problem does not seem to be with the teachers, some of whom seem to be exploited themselves, but with the business practices of the owner, which for a typical independent studio would come across as unethical but for the successful studio with 200 students they might just think they are smart businesspeople.
Posted by: TimR

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/15/13 11:42 AM

Might there be some gray areas?

Is it unethical for Pepsi to advertise to Coca-Cola customers, in the honest belief that their product is superior?

Is it unethical for piano teachers to advertise to other people's students, in the honest belief they can teach better/
Posted by: theJourney

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/15/13 11:56 AM

Now we are back to the ancient, unwritten codes of honor of cottage-industry piano teachers (including codification into many regional and national professional associations) versus what is normal for businesses everywhere: aggressive marketing. It is always cheaper and easier to market to an existing user (student or piano-cultured household in this case) than to try to market to the entire world in the hope of finding someone who wants to become a student. What better place to find them then at the recitals of other teachers or among the siblings of existing students, for example. It is logical.

It is not hard to understand why this business model would be successful: this studio competes like an aggressive business while many of the professional piano teachers freely tie one of their own arms behind their back in comparison.

I still believe that in the long run, this business will only be successful if they are giving parents and students what they think they want....which incidentally may not be even close to what traditional piano teachers think that they want....which is something to think about....
Posted by: Gary D.

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/15/13 12:19 PM

Originally Posted By: AZNpiano

You basically have an owner, maybe an investor, with some money and opens up a "music school." Then, he hires a bunch of contractors as "teachers." He then goes on to recruit clients, however aggressively or menacingly, with little or no regards to ethics.

In fact, what you wrote quite nicely sums up the exact story of a local "music school" here.

You might laugh at this. Yesterday I started a student. I asked the student, "How did you pick me?"

Her answer: "I just came in and asked for a teacher."

I teach in a music store. If you come to our store, you get me. I could be horrible. The people who pick me for a teacher do not know that. That fact that I am not horrible means that they got lucky.

It's ironic, isn't it?
Posted by: MaggieGirl

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/15/13 12:20 PM

It sounds like the local professional organizations should be involved. With skating, every coach has to be a member of PSA. There is a code of ethics that members have to follow.

They deal with very strict rules on promotion, solicitation and tampering. It still happens, but it is usually dealt with. parents sign agreements, coaches sign agreements and rink management signs agreements.

http://www.skatepsa.com/What-are-solicitation,%20promotion,%20and%20tampering.htm

I guess that is why the website felt so negative to me. Instead of self promotion, it was in the direction of tampering and solicitation.
Posted by: theJourney

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/15/13 12:35 PM

How many prospective parents/students find it important whether or not a school is affiliated with a professional service organisation or teacher's union? They might just think it is overhead they don't want to pay for.

As far as I know, the piano teaching profession is not a protected line of business such as a medical doctor, lawyer, accountant, etc. where you can only put yourself to operate in that business if you have the qualifications and membership in or licensing from the professional assocations.

Can't any piano school operate independently of any associations?
Posted by: TimR

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/15/13 12:40 PM

Originally Posted By: Gary D.
I asked the student, "How did you pick me?"

Her answer: "I just came in and asked for a teacher."

I teach in a music store. If you come to our store, you get me. I could be horrible.
?


What is the difference between that and picking a piano teacher from the want ads?

I would suggest that in the customer's mind, the store has provided a level of quality control.

If I go to Sears Auto for a brake job or oil change, I know I'm not getting the same level of expertise as at the Volvo dealer. But I'm also confident that the service will be above the level of the neighborhood fixit guy, that the store manager knows who is good and makes some effort to ride herd on the crew, that the store has insurance in case the mechanic gets hurt working on my car, that the store will ultimately have to stand behind the work at some level.

People go to an established business though the cottage industry service will always be cheaper for all of those reasons.

By logical extension they probably assume music teaching is the same.

And probably at some locations it is, and at others totally not.
Posted by: MaggieGirl

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/15/13 12:45 PM

Sure - my daughter's music school is not part of any professional organization. But they don't participate in festivals or competitions. Testing is only through ABRSM.

If we went in to her lesson and were told that her teacher was no longer teaching and who would we like instead, I would have no problem with leaving the studio. I doubt even if we contacted her teacher, that she would be able to teach in home (I'm sure her contract would prevent it). There are three local teachers who I would contact who work out of their own private home studios. I wasn't aware of them before I signed her up. Reading here prompted me to look several months ago.
Posted by: theJourney

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/15/13 12:56 PM

Originally Posted By: TimR
I would suggest that in the customer's mind, the store has provided a level of quality control.


Bingo.
Posted by: landorrano

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/15/13 01:09 PM

Originally Posted By: TimR

Is it unethical for Pepsi to advertise to Coca-Cola customers, in the honest belief that their product is superior?


I can't help but smile reading that.
Posted by: TimR

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/15/13 01:52 PM

Originally Posted By: landorrano
Originally Posted By: TimR

Is it unethical for Pepsi to advertise to Coca-Cola customers, in the honest belief that their product is superior?


I can't help but smile reading that.


Made me wonder if I could teach the world to sing, in per-fect har-mo-ny.
Posted by: Kevin K

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/15/13 02:00 PM

Originally Posted By: Morodiene
I know of many bad teachers out there, ones who take student's money and don't teach them anything, or worse, teach them bad things that prevent the student from reaching their potential. These are facts. However, as a professional, it really reflects more poorly on me for speaking the truth about that teacher than it does on that teacher.

What you as a teacher have to offer and the way your students sound coming out of your studio speak volumes about the quality of teaching - much more than any comparison - however correct you may be about your criticisms.

One other comment. I, too, and Christian, and while "offensive" isn't quite the right word, I found your comment actually misrepresented Christians. We do not think of ourselves as superior to non-Christians; we are humbled by what Jesus did on the cross. Being Christian does not make us perfect or necessarily better in our day-to-day actions. In fact, it is because we are incapable of being perfect that makes us in need of a savior.

I personally feel that you can tell your readers that you are a Christian and therefore hold yourself to a high standard of ethics and quality in your studio, without taking a dig at non-Christians as your statement does.

I agree that there are teachers out there that take money without teaching anything worthwhile, that is a fact. I also agree that trashing another teacher's bad teaching reflects poorly. But I think the difference for me is between this teacher's teaching and his lack of morals. I made it very clear at the end of my review about him that "he might be a decent piano teacher", but that's not what the review is about, it's about his dishonesty in treating parents and teachers.

I agree with everything you said about Christians. Also, just because somebody IS a Christian, doesn't mean that they'll have high morals; it's sad, but true and I'm very well aware of that. My intentions weren't to take digs at non-Christians at all, it was only meant to imply exactly what you said.

Would this be better?
"Lastly, because of my Christian background and upbringing, I hold myself to a high standard of ethics and quality."

...I feel like somebody can still read into this and find it "extremely offensive".
Posted by: AZNpiano

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/15/13 02:15 PM

Originally Posted By: TimR
And probably at some locations it is, and at others totally not.

I think this is the most accurate part of your last post.
Posted by: AZNpiano

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/15/13 02:26 PM

Originally Posted By: Morodiene
What you as a teacher have to offer and the way your students sound coming out of your studio speak volumes about the quality of teaching - much more than any comparison - however correct you may be about your criticisms.

In an ideal world, good teaching would lead to good word-of-mouth and many referrals for the teacher. But from what I have observed in the last decade or so, a lot of uninformed parents simply want what's cheap and/or convenient. I think we've had many previous threads on parent education, but how do you educate parents about the low quality of institutions without resorting to comparison?

I think we piano teachers might have to re-evaluate the mindset of our clientele, and then adjust our way of recruiting students. It's very hard to stay positive and objective when you see how the slimy and unethical people keep on getting more and more students, like an open flame that attracts moths.
Posted by: keystring

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/15/13 03:20 PM

Starting with the Coca Cola-Pepsi analogy. This involves large companies that sell a useless and somewhat harmful product through imagery. A lot is false - sometimes even the rivalry among large companies is fake. Entrepreneurs are often given business practice information drawn from these large enterprises, and what is given is unsuitable. It is especially unsuited to professions. Doctors, accountants, and engineers might be a better model, because if they mess up, you have death and illness, financial ruin, and collapsing buildings. Their service provides something real - not "happiness by guzzling fizz".

Teaching music is about guiding a student in acquiring skill in playing music on an instrument. It entails certain things both in skill and knowledge, and how to acquire and attain them. This has to be the goal of teacher and student or it won't work. They have to do what is necessary, or again it won't work.

When imagery, false promises, wrong goals etc. are fed to the public, and these things are then pursued, then the real purpose of music lessons won't happen. This is not "success". It's as empty as the old Marlborough cigarette commercial showing a gorgeous hunk and hunkette smoking in the great outdoors. It is "success" only in the sense of making money for somebody, at the expense of others. Usually that somebody is not the teacher. And the damage from this is real.

For as long as I have been a member here, I have preached for students and parents to become informed, so that they can set the right kinds of goals and ask the right kind of questions. This thing is not isolated to music teaching, either. If we start looking at what real things are, beyond the imagery, then a lot of things can get turned around, starting with us.

I'm not American. I have seen depictions of snake oil salesmen in old Wild West movies, so I know these existed historically, but I don't think that either of our countries was built solely on such attitudes. The snake oil is a useless thing that is sold on imagery and emotional need. Music Man with the "think system" was a more sophisticated version of that - is that character partly admired? Haven't our countries (worldwide, in fact) also produced some solid, useful, long lasting things which come from a different code of ethics?
Posted by: keystring

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/15/13 03:25 PM

Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
I think we've had many previous threads on parent education, but how do you educate parents about the low quality of institutions without resorting to comparison?


I don't know how it can be done, but if people know what music learning is about, then they can use that knowledge to weight what is being presented by such institutions (and lesser teachers). For example, my priority is skills which I know take time. So if an institution says that they'll have me playing advanced music in short order, that goes against what I know - that is my point of comparison.
Posted by: landorrano

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/15/13 04:14 PM

Originally Posted By: keystring
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
I think we've had many previous threads on parent education, but how do you educate parents about the low quality of institutions without resorting to comparison?


I don't know how it can be done, but if people know what music learning is about, then they can use that knowledge to weight what is being presented by such institutions (and lesser teachers). For example, my priority is skills which I know take time. So if an institution says that they'll have me playing advanced music in short order, that goes against what I know - that is my point of comparison.




I wouldn't consider the word "institution" appropriate for a "strip-mall" music school, which is just a business. I would be surprised to see any institution claim to have you playing advanced music in short order.
Posted by: landorrano

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/15/13 04:16 PM

Originally Posted By: TimR
Originally Posted By: landorrano
Originally Posted By: TimR

Is it unethical for Pepsi to advertise to Coca-Cola customers, in the honest belief that their product is superior?


I can't help but smile reading that.


Made me wonder if I could teach the world to sing, in per-fect har-mo-ny.


i can't help but smile reading that! smile
Posted by: keystring

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/15/13 04:18 PM

Originally Posted By: landorrano

I wouldn't consider the word "institution" ....

Before arguing about what someone writes, please check that you understand it as intended. You are inserting a meaning to the word, and then arguing against that meaning.

I am differentiating between a private practice, and a practice that is done in a place organized for that purpose, involving more than one individual engaged in that practice.
Posted by: ezpiano.org

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/15/13 04:31 PM

Between cheap, good, and convenient, you can have only two:
--You can have cheap and convenient but not good.
--You can have convenient and good but not cheap.
--You can have cheap and good but not convenient.
I think it is rarely you can get all three: cheap, good and convenient. So, I think it is really depends on parents which factor they emphasis and which factor they can live without.
Posted by: Ken Knapp

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/15/13 04:50 PM

Thank you, Journey.. smile
Posted by: landorrano

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/15/13 05:01 PM

Originally Posted By: keystring

I am differentiating between a private practice, and a practice that is done in a place organized for that purpose, involving more than one individual engaged in that practice.


Thank your for the clarification Keystring. The word institution does not have to do with private, individual teaching versus more than one teacher. Naming as an institution a "strip-mall music school" might lead to confusion for some people.
Posted by: keystring

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/16/13 07:49 AM

Your implied definition is incorrect, and nobody else was confused. Regardless, this seems a strawman tactic, Landorrano, where you take a post full of ideas, pull out one word which gets redefined, and make the discussion about that word rather than what has been posted? What about the ideas?
Posted by: TimR

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/16/13 10:40 AM

Originally Posted By: keystring
What about the ideas?


I'm losing focus on what the ideas were, after ten pages.

I do see two modela for teaching being discussed.

One is the self employed cottage industry individual teacher.

The other is the teacher as employee for a business operation, which may be a music store, music teaching studio, or even a college or university. I think we'd want to consider the college as a separate category and just consider more obviously commercial operations.

There are problems with either approach.

There are superb teachers on the cottage industry side, but there are no entry requirements and no oversight, so there are also large numbers of unqualified and poorly qualified teachers. It is truly buyer beware, with the additional problem that most buyers CANNOT tell the difference.

There are also superb teachers within the business operation system, at least one of whom has posted here. There are also horror stories, some of which have been discussed here. It is buyer beware here, too, with the additional problem that buyers are conditioned to think they have some protection by going to an established commercial business. Managers may have policies more designed to maximize profit than learning - or they may feel offering a quality product brings in business and increases their profit long term.

keystring,
I get the impression you think the commercial industry model is inherently flawed, but that may not be what you intended.

I tend to think that the root cause of problems with either system is the same: there is no easy way for the customer to judge the quality of the product, so market place forces cannot result in good teachers getting paid what they deserve, which is a lot more than they get now, or poor teachers being driven out.

I pay my teacher quite a lot per lesson, as well as driving 3 hours one way, but there was a specific reason to go to someone with a demonstrated expertise in that area, and there was no doubt about his skill. That's a case where the market forces work, but it's far from the normal.

I also realize I'm using capitalistic terminology rather than musical or educational, and that may rankle. Sorry.
Posted by: R0B

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/16/13 10:55 AM

Apropos of nothing, I gave a first lesson today, in his home, to a 51 year old adult. (guitar)
He told me that he got more out of today's lesson than he had got from the local music store's 'Studio' in many months.

In his words: "I felt like I was being taught by a 6th grader, just wanting to show off"
Posted by: ezpiano.org

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/16/13 11:07 AM

Tim, what you said here is very logical. I agree that both situations has good teachers and bad teachers.
Here is my viewpoint of two situations (piano teachers that function as sole-proprietor and piano teachers that function as contractor or employee at an established school)

Piano teacher as sole-proprietor:
Relationship of student-teacher can establish because there is only one teacher. As Kevin said, parents might want a piano teacher more than just a piano teacher, parents preferred someone to establish relationship in their children's life. In case of conflict, piano teacher, which is the only "employee or boss" in this case has to solve the conflict. If the conflict is not solve, then parents has to seek new piano teacher. In fear of losing students, usually piano teacher will try his best to find out the problem and to solve it.

Piano teacher as contractor or employee at established school:
Relationship between student and teacher has a "director" (which is the boss) in between. In fear of losing students, the director has to be in between this relationship. In case of conflict, even piano teacher wants to solve the problem, the director can just easily change the teacher. In this case, the problems is not solved. The piano student will have the same problem with new teacher. In surface, it seems that everything will go good with new teacher. It is like changing the label of the medicine with another new label and resell it. So, every year or every time when the problems come, the director change teacher to cover up instead of really focus to find out the problem and provide a solution. In this case, student not really improving. After changing to five different teachers, I am sure the parents give up piano and never wanted to deal with piano again.
Just my thoughts.
Posted by: TimR

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/16/13 11:22 AM

ezpiano,
you raise some good points.

One thing i neglected to mention is that not all customers want a high quality product. If a parent sends their child to piano lessons for general enrichment rather than to acquire performance skill, as many do, then the level of teaching required is not as high and the price they will be willing to pay is much lower. The unspoken elephant here is this may be the target market share of the strip mall.

And the corollary becomes that if you want really good teaching, you go to the private instructor, any private instructor. And of course that turns out to be completely false.

The enrichment parent may not detect problems with either teacher. So your scenario may not apply.

Your idea that individual teachers are supposed to enter into a more personal emotional relationship scares me a little. And I think to the extent that this happens it makes solving problems more difficult. Leaving that teacher, even if no progress is being made, becomes more difficult as well.

As far as solving problems within the business, any boss quickly becomes tired of dealing with a problem employee and lets them go. In the private world students walk out the door and another one walks in, with no improvement in teaching made. On the other hand, a boss is going to tolerate a mediocre teacher who gets the job done and doesn't make waves.
Posted by: Peter K. Mose

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/16/13 11:51 AM

Here's a minority view. The only really bad piano teaching is teaching that makes someone quit. And quit for a long time.

I think it's great that in Irvine, California, so many kids are learning the piano. In strip malls. In living rooms. In private studios. No matter where they take lessons. No matter from whom. No matter what they pay.
Posted by: malkin

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/16/13 02:25 PM

Anything that causes injury is bad too.
Posted by: ezpiano.org

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/16/13 02:55 PM

Quote:
Not all customers want a high quality product.

I agree with that, as I mention before between good, convenient and cheap, parents cannot have all. The most they can have is only two. So, they need to decide which area is important to them.

Quote:
And the corollary becomes that if you want really good teaching, you go to the private instructor, any private instructor. And of course that turns out to be completely false.

I agree with that. However, if parents only go to any private teachers, the chances of them getting a good teacher is more than going to strip mall. I am not saying that private teachers are always better 100% of the time. I am saying that parents will get better chances of getting better teacher. I do not know the math what would be the percentage exactly, but I afraid that the saying is correct, at least in this town that I live.

Quote:
Your idea that individual teachers are supposed to enter into a more personal emotional relationship scares me a little.

It is actually depends on how you see it. You know that we have all different type of people. With Myers Briggs, that is 16 types of people in this world. You might not be the ISFP, but ESTJ, so, this kind of personal relationship scares you, so, I won’t blame you. There are so many types of piano teachers and so many types of piano students. I think here is the guideline about how to decide if this piano teacher is worth studying with, and if this teacher is worth staying with for:
1. You look at their recitals: How are her students playing?
2. You look at their test or festival results: Are they usually doing good? Or fail? Or only concentrate on test and forget about balance? Can those students that score very good in test read music at their level or they can’t sight-read at all?
3. You look at their students: Are they happy piano students?
4. You look at yourself: Are you improving? Do you understand more? Do you like piano lessons? Can you relate to your teacher? Do you like your teacher in general?

I think that liking one’s teacher is very important. I cannot study with a teacher that I do not like personally even if that teacher has the best qualification to teach me. Maybe this is just me, so, just my opinions.
Posted by: landorrano

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/16/13 04:54 PM

Originally Posted By: ezpiano.org


I think that liking one’s teacher is very important.


I wholeheartedly agree, and ten times moreso for children.
Posted by: AZNpiano

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/16/13 05:20 PM

Originally Posted By: landorrano
Originally Posted By: ezpiano.org
I think that liking one’s teacher is very important.

I wholeheartedly agree, and ten times moreso for children.

Getting a little off-topic here...

This is not a good attitude toward learning. Does one have to "like" the teacher in order to learn? What are the chances that a student will go through 12 years of school and like every single teacher?

For example, I had a horrible conflict of personality with my Pre-Calculus teacher. Not that I wanted to switch teachers, but since there was just one teacher teaching this subject at my school, nobody could switch teachers. Instead of complaining and whining about the situation, I buckled down and studied harder than ever. I also helped my classmates who were confused by the teacher's instructions.

I think it is more important to teach our children to work through their difficulties, making compromises if needed. If the conflict is truly catastrophic, then changing teachers becomes an option. But it should not be the first (or even the second, or third) option.

Just my opinion...
Posted by: keystring

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/16/13 05:42 PM

Piano is an art, and as such needs at least some skill which is lain down with foundations by someone who knows what he is doing. This has nothing to do with future concert pianists or elite thinking. To enjoy something at any level, even just "for fun", if you don't get those foundations eventually it peters out - the student gets cheated. There are also serious situations where customers have been "kept happy" in a Music Man sort of way, and then those students have an enormous struggle with their next teacher trying to undo all that nonsense. It's not enough to keep students in the studio at all costs, and "liking" the teacher. Teaching is about teaching and learning. You do not have a soft drink fantasy world, where we pretend that by drinking a fizzy drink we will "teach the world to sing in perfect harmony - creating world peace and happiness".

This is a general comment, and not referring to any place in particular.
Posted by: keystring

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/16/13 05:45 PM

Originally Posted By: landorrano


I wholeheartedly agree, and ten times moreso for children.

moroso? I'd suggest allegro. laugh
Posted by: TimR

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/16/13 08:07 PM

Originally Posted By: ezpiano.org
However, if parents only go to any private teachers, the chances of them getting a good teacher is more than going to strip mall.


This is the heart of the debate, right?

Your statement is surely GRAT (generally regarded as true), especially in this forum which is largely populated with private teachers.

But it is not at all clear to me that it is factual.

Depends a little bit on your definitions of good. Are you thinking pass fail, or exceptional? I'd be inclined to accept your unwarrented assertion that the number of exceptional teachers in the private world is larger than the number of exceptional teachers in the commercial world. There's no evidence, but it makes sense to me.

However, that's not the comparison to make. You need to compare the number of exceptional teachers to the number of frankly bad ones in both worlds. Anyone can hang out a shingle privately. To sign up with a commercial school requires some level of credentials. It's not going to screen out ALL the bad ones, but it will get most. (unwarranted assertion on MY part) In the private world, there is no screening.

If rather than good, you used the word acceptable, would you still feel they are more likely to hit one privately? Considering most parents probably aren't able to do the level of research you suggested, with either private or commercial?
Posted by: ezpiano.org

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/16/13 08:13 PM

Quote:
This is not a good attitude toward learning.

I am totally agreed that this is not a good attitude towards learning. However, the fact is some populations are people-oriented than goal-oriented. Have you heard the saying of: It is not what you know gets you the job, but who you know gets you the job. We all know that it is not a good attitude towards finding an employee to work for you, but most of us are doing this anyway. So what?

Quote:
I think it is more important to teach our children to work through their difficulties, making compromises if needed. If the conflict is truly catastrophic, then changing teachers becomes an option. But it should not be the first (or even the second, or third) option.

I think using “I do not like the teacher” as a reason to change teacher is a very lame reason. It should be the last reason.


Quote:
There are also serious situations where customers have been "kept happy" in a Music Man sort of way, and then those students have an enormous struggle with their next teacher trying to undo all that nonsense.

That is where the integrity comes in. Remember that Kevin is not complaint that Mr. Tong is not a good piano teacher. Kevin is complaining that Mr. Tong is not being honest. So, a good piano teacher is the one that able to keep all customers happy, teach in balance and correct way, and yet being honest in assessment. A good piano teacher will tell his student that he is not good when he is not good. A bad piano teacher will just tell his bad students that they are doing good in order to keep them happy and coming back for more lessons.


XXXXXXXX


Lastly, I did learn a lot from all of you coming from different viewpoints, thank you again!
Posted by: ezpiano.org

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/16/13 08:20 PM

Quote:
Considering most parents probably aren't able to do the level of research you suggested, with either private or commercial?


If they are unable to do the level of research I suggested, they are not serious in taking piano lesson (either be very good in performing or just play for fun, they are not serious), so, I think the strip mall piano institute are catering for them.

I am fine with that. It is not my business.
Posted by: ezpiano.org

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/16/13 08:25 PM

Quote:
Your statement is surely GRAT (generally regarded as true)


Thank you, I like it this way. Yes, I think my statement is GRAT and I have no desire to prove that it is factual because
1. I do not have the statistic
2. The definition of good, bad, acceptable is varies from person to person.

So, let's keep it as GRAT instead of debating if it is a factual or not.

Thanks!!
Posted by: landorrano

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/17/13 04:24 AM

Originally Posted By: keystring
Originally Posted By: landorrano


I wholeheartedly agree, and ten times moreso for children.

moroso? I'd suggest allegro. laugh


Sancte bovinus, Keystring. For once I actually agree with your entire post!
Posted by: Minniemay

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/17/13 09:30 AM

Sancte bovinus . . . . hahahahahaha! smile
Posted by: TimR

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/17/13 02:10 PM

Originally Posted By: ezpiano.org
Quote:
Considering most parents probably aren't able to do the level of research you suggested, with either private or commercial?


If they are unable to do the level of research I suggested, they are not serious in taking piano lesson (either be very good in performing or just play for fun, they are not serious), so, I think the strip mall piano institute are catering for them.

I am fine with that. It is not my business.


The kind of research you suggest is appropriate for a conservatory bound student with a knowledgable parent, but inaccessible to the average person.

Quote:
1. You look at their recitals: How are her students playing?


How do you do that? Most recitals aren't public or publicized. And if you are musically naive, how can you assess the student performances?

Quote:
2. You look at their test or festival results: Are they usually doing good? Or fail? Or only concentrate on test and forget about balance? Can those students that score very good in test read music at their level or they can’t sight-read at all?


Are these results public information in your area? Not in mine.

Quote:
3. You look at their students: Are they happy piano students?


What, they're going to give you access to their student roster so you can interview them? Or are you just going to sit in on a few days lessons?

Quote:
4. You look at yourself: Are you improving? Do you understand more? Do you like piano lessons? Can you relate to your teacher? Do you like your teacher in general?


Liking your teacher has unfortunately nothing to do with their teaching skill set, only with their people skills.
Posted by: Kevin K

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/18/13 03:55 AM

Tim, some of the things EZpiano mentioned is indeed not in the reach of the average person, however, I think your jump from the "average person" to a "conservatory bound student" disregards a huge chunk of piano students who are in between.

And EZpiano's suggested checklist that you are arguing against is for both teacher's "worth studying with" and teachers "worth staying with", just FYI.

While a teacher's teaching skill set and people skill might seem like they have nothing to do with each other, I think unless you're teaching robots or computers, or maybe people who can overlook social short-comings in favor of better teaching, people skills are still a very important consideration in finding a teacher.

By the way, I'm VERY impressed by your dedication to your music studies...driving 3 hours for lessons.
Posted by: keystring

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/18/13 10:04 AM

In general, I do not agree with EZ's list as a way for parents or older students to educate themselves for finding a teacher - not as an only step for sure. If you go to a recital without knowing anything, you cannot necessarily judge what you are hearing. Even if you can hear that the playing is good, you don't know whether the students only learn two or three pieces a year which are honed to perfection, and you may not know that this is a concern.

Before you do anything, you should figure out what your goals are for taking lessons, and you can't figure that out until you know more about lessons. Otherwise you'll visit a teacher who says that the students progress "fast", and you think that's fantastic.

I will argue that getting good foundations is an important goal, and this is not limited to "conservatory bound" or elite students. The person who wants to play casual music needs this as much as anyone else. These are the kinds of goals that prospective students ought to be aware of before they attend concerts or look at exam grades (if that even tells them anything).

Meanwhile INFORMED parents will also take some of the pressure off of teachers to compete based on the nonsense out there, which prospective customers are induced to believe is what it's about.
Posted by: TimR

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/18/13 10:15 AM

Originally Posted By: Kevin K


And EZpiano's suggested checklist that you are arguing against is for both teacher's "worth studying with" and teachers "worth staying with", just FYI.


I didn't mean to argue against it. I think it is exactly the information I would want. I just don't see any practical way to get it.

I wonder if this might be easier with the commercial studio than with the private teacher.



Quote:
By the way, I'm VERY impressed by your dedication to your music studies...driving 3 hours for lessons.


I wasn't making any progress, and working hard didn't help, nor did working harder. The most likely conclusion was that I was doing something wrong. (Practice doesn't make perfect, it just makes permanent.) So the most logical fix was to find someone who could tell me how to do it right. At my age I didn't want to spend any time teacher swapping, and the distant one was a sure bet by reputation. I was a little surprised he was willing to take on an older amateur but it has worked well so far.
Posted by: ezpiano.org

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/18/13 12:29 PM

Hi Tim!!
Wow, you drive three hours to your current piano teacher? How long you have been study with him/her? Do you have piano teacher in your town that is less than 30 minutes away? Is your teacher charge a lot less than teachers in your town? In short, what is the reason you choose your teacher?
How do you know your teacher? Word of mouth? Website? Craiglist? (Add on: Is your teacher a commercial teacher at strip mall or a private teacher teach at home?)
How was your experience when first time meeting with your current teacher?
How is your learning? You think you learn something new every lesson? You think your teacher is helping you to achieve your goal? What are the reasons you keep going back to the same teacher and drive 3 hours away and not thinking about changing teacher at all?
The reason that I ask is because I think this issues might be easier if I can see your viewpoint and where you came from. I am pretty sure you will enlighten me! Again, I do not need you to agree with my viewpoints, but I am sure I can learn a lot from you.

Sincerely,
Sue Dibble
Posted by: ezpiano.org

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/18/13 09:12 PM

Quote:
To sign up with a commercial school requires some level of credentials. It's not going to screen out ALL the bad ones, but it will get most. (unwarranted assertion on MY part) In the private world, there is no screening.


Yes, you need to be at “some” level of credential to work in commercial school. However, what if the boss of the commercial school is not honest? What if the boss lower his standard just because he can’t find anyone higher credential to accept his offer of only 40% of parents are paying? If you read Kevin’s blog, he said his boss Mr. Tong asked him to lie at his first lesson with students. I wonder what lies that Mr. Tong wanted Kevin to say?
Quote:

In the private world, there is no screening.


It is not true. I disagree. If you just pick whoever you can find from CL, without checking if the teacher belongs to any teacher’s organization, then YOU are not screening, YOU are not doing the homework to screen. For me, belong to a teacher’s organization is the basic screening, with standard of MTAC, at least at this point, teachers has to have at least bachelor degree to join MTAC. (ANZ will tell you that some grandfather teachers do not have bachelor degree but they still MTAC member because they did not have this rules very long time ago).

In commercial school, let’s say the boss hire teacher A, B, C and D to teach at school. Could it be only Teacher A and B has MTAC member and Teacher C and D do not have the credential to join MTAC? When the CM test is approaching, could the boss ask Teacher A and B to register for Teacher C and D just to cover up the fact that he is not hiring teachers who is qualified enough to teach? We are talking about the integrity of the boss of the commercial school here. A boss with less standard of integrity would do this. I am sure a boss with high standard of integrity would not do this. If a boss is doing this, how are you going to screen out Teacher C and D? Can Teacher A and B say no to their boss? They can try, but you think some boss without integrity will not threaten Teacher A and B saying that if you don’t register for Teacher C and D, I will fire you?

In a private world, if a teacher working in her own basement and teaching a group of students, when CM test is coming, and she is not a MTAC member, can she register her students for test? She cannot cover up the fact that she is not a member of MTAC, unless she can find another teacher who is willing to register her students for her. What would be the chances of her getting someone to do this for her?

Compare two worlds: commercial and private. I am not talking about which one has more chances of getting a real non-MTAC member. I am talking about which one has more chances of getting a “FAKE MTAC member”
Posted by: TimR

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/19/13 09:34 AM

Originally Posted By: ezpiano.org
Compare two worlds: commercial and private. I am not talking about which one has more chances of getting a real non-MTAC member. I am talking about which one has more chances of getting a “FAKE MTAC member”



I'm not sure where you're going with this.

You're saying if a private teacher claims MTAC, I should trust them, but if a commercial school teacher claims the same thing, I should assume it is fake?

I just searched craig's list for my area (central Virginia) and checked the first 20 hits. None claimed MTAC. The majority were private, but some were associated with schools.

So while MTAC may be valuable, it doesn't seem to be a force in the marketplace. I would bet few prospective students have any idea it exists. I certainly didn't until reading this forum, and that was after finding a couple of piano teachers for my kids and myself.
Posted by: keystring

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/19/13 09:46 AM

Originally Posted By: TimR

I'm not sure where you're going with this.

You're saying if a private teacher claims MTAC, I should trust them, but if a commercial school teacher claims the same thing, I should assume it is fake?

I think the post was very clear, but if you only read the part you quoted, you won't understand what is being said. A post must be read in its entiretly.

Ezpiano talked about an organization that has a number of teachers, some of them registered with MTAC, and the registered member could sign for the non-member. And then that a private teacher cannot do that, because that teacher is alone. It was a specific scenario.
Posted by: AZNpiano

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/19/13 09:48 AM

Originally Posted By: TimR
So while MTAC may be valuable, it doesn't seem to be a force in the marketplace. I would bet few prospective students have any idea it exists. I certainly didn't until reading this forum, and that was after finding a couple of piano teachers for my kids and myself.

MTAC = Music Teachers' Association of CALIFORNIA

Each state has its own version of MTA, most likely associated with MTNA.

In California, MTAC has cornered the marketplace. The MTNA scene in California (called CAPMT) is rather small in comparison.
Posted by: Peter K. Mose

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/19/13 10:11 AM

Whatever the initials for an association of piano teachers in a particular region, Tim is right that such organizations are generally not a force in the marketplace. Most prospective students or their parents will never encounter them, or understand them.

But perhaps Orange County, California is different: it certainly sounds like an interesting place to be running a piano studio!
Posted by: TimR

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/19/13 10:21 AM

Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
Originally Posted By: TimR
So while MTAC may be valuable, it doesn't seem to be a force in the marketplace. I would bet few prospective students have any idea it exists. I certainly didn't until reading this forum, and that was after finding a couple of piano teachers for my kids and myself.

MTAC = Music Teachers' Association of CALIFORNIA



In California, MTAC has cornered the marketplace. The MTNA scene in California (called CAPMT) is rather small in comparison.


Kind of confusing. I went to the MTNA site, and did a search for Virginia. It came up with a list of piano teachers who are NCTM. Yet another acronym to confuse me. Most were concentrated in the northern Virginia (near DC) area but there are a sprinkling across the state.

I looked at the certification requirements. Seems like a reasonable approach (and I liked their terminology of "independent" teacher rather than private.)

I was obviously unclear about "cornered the market." The question I have is not MTAC vs MTNA vs NGPT or any other organization. It is percentage of independent teachers certified at all. Judging from craig's list and local ads, the common ways a musically naive person would search for a teacher, certification is not a factor at all in my area.

We'd also want to know the percentage certified and working at the commercial locations too.

Any guess as to which would be higher?

I know some of you have a substantial customer base with home schoolers. Do any of the home school organizations put importance on certifications?
Posted by: AZNpiano

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/19/13 10:27 AM

Originally Posted By: keystring
Ezpiano talked about an organization that has a number of teachers, some of them registered with MTAC, and the registered member could sign for the non-member. And then that a private teacher cannot do that, because that teacher is alone. It was a specific scenario.

And it is a scenario that continues to be played out, now that CM season has arrived. I'm pretty sure last November a certain percentage of CM students were signed up through another teacher. Registration is done completely on an honors system, which in recent years--with the mushrooming proliferation of "music schools"--has been abused severely and profusely.

And these "music schools" get smart! They first legitimize their existence by offering their "facilities" (of mostly out-of-tune junk pianos) for CM testing, often for free or for a really low fee if enough of their own teachers belong to a certain branch. Then, they disseminate their MTAC teachers over several branches to maximize the suffering of legitimate MTAC teachers and minimize suspicion from colleagues. When a teacher signs up 75 students for CM, obviously something is afoul. And a typical MTAC branch doesn't have enough volunteer jobs or job-hours for a studio that size.

Think about this: In some branches, if you register 1-5 students, you have to work half day for CM. Most branches don't have more than two days of testing, so teachers who sign up 20 students will have to work the two full days. Great. What if a teacher signed up 75 students? All those required volunteer hours get dumped on the shoulders of other teachers.

As a result of this madness, bitterness brews. The teachers who got volunteered to grade the 2,000 theory tests get sloppy and make tons of stupid mistakes. Teachers show up late to their morning shifts (so they don't have to help set up), or leave early from their afternoon shifts (so they don't have to help clean up).

When commercial institutions take advantage of a testing system based on teacher-volunteers, everyone loses, except of course for the music school owners.
Posted by: AZNpiano

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/19/13 10:40 AM

Originally Posted By: Peter K. Mose
But perhaps Orange County, California is different: it certainly sounds like an interesting place to be running a piano studio!

It's a curse and a blessing. On one hand, teachers who don't have close to a full studio can still charge a decent rate and make a very comfortable living. On the other hand, the sheer number of prospective clients makes this place attractive to "music schools" of all ilks, ethical or not.
Posted by: keystring

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/19/13 11:56 AM

I think an obvious conclusion is that in some regions, exams are considered important or even essential by the clientele. If the population thinks that learning is important, and exams are not an essential part of learning, then that particular card could not be played. Therefore the fuss may be incomprehensible for people depending on their environment.
Posted by: TimR

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/19/13 11:58 AM

Originally Posted By: keystring
Originally Posted By: TimR

I'm not sure where you're going with this.

You're saying if a private teacher claims MTAC, I should trust them, but if a commercial school teacher claims the same thing, I should assume it is fake?

I think the post was very clear, but if you only read the part you quoted, you won't understand what is being said. A post must be read in its entiretly.



I read it again slowly and googled CM. I didn't know what that was, as it is California specific.

So to summarize, a student who for some reason wants to take a CM test has to have a MTAC (again California specific) teacher submit them.

If they go to a school, it doesn't have to be their personal teacher, because somebody else can sign for them.

If they have an independent teacher, they can't take the test unless their teacher is certified.

Sounds like an advantage to the school. You could have a very good independent teacher, but if she isn't certified, or has some other certification, you're out of luck. With the school you could stay with the teacher you like and still take the test.
Posted by: ezpiano.org

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/20/13 01:10 PM

Quote:
Sounds like an advantage to the school. You could have a very good independent teacher, but if she isn't certified, or has some other certification, you're out of luck. With the school you could stay with the teacher you like and still take the test.


Thank you Tim. I took one day to think about what you wrote. All I can conclude is that we are very different people. Not only we are different in geography, we are different in our goal of taking piano lesson and our moral value are different too.

Please notice that I do not say my moral value is better than you, all I say here is that our moral value is very different.

Thank you for open my eyes to realize that commercial music school actually catering their business for people like you.

Please take care.
Posted by: theJourney

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/20/13 01:42 PM

Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
When commercial institutions take advantage of a testing system based on teacher-volunteers, everyone loses, except of course for the music school owners.


Why on earth should the richest nation on earth be relying on teacher-volunteers to grade official music exams that might make all the difference to those taking the exams?

Does anyone else see what is wrong with this picture?

Perhaps the time has arrived for professional, consistent, well-organized, fair and objective testing organizations, such as the ABRSM, to take on / take over the testing roles in the US, rather than relying on teacher's unions or amateur, local organizations with unmotivated or abused volunteers who are " making careless mistakes."...
Posted by: TimR

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/20/13 01:55 PM

Originally Posted By: ezpiano.org
Quote:
Sounds like an advantage to the school. You could have a very good independent teacher, but if she isn't certified, or has some other certification, you're out of luck. With the school you could stay with the teacher you like and still take the test.


Thank you Tim. I took one day to think about what you wrote. All I can conclude is that we are very different people. Not only we are different in geography, we are different in our goal of taking piano lesson and our moral value are different too.

Please notice that I do not say my moral value is better than you, all I say here is that our moral value is very different.

Thank you for open my eyes to realize that commercial music school actually catering their business for people like you.

Please take care.


I could be misreading this - hope so - but it would appear you've chosen a polite way to be as deliberately offensive as possible.

That would indeed indicate we have very different moral values - if in fact I've read you correctly - hope not.
Posted by: ezpiano.org

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/20/13 02:08 PM

Originally Posted By: TimR
Originally Posted By: ezpiano.org
Quote:
Sounds like an advantage to the school. You could have a very good independent teacher, but if she isn't certified, or has some other certification, you're out of luck. With the school you could stay with the teacher you like and still take the test.


Thank you Tim. I took one day to think about what you wrote. All I can conclude is that we are very different people. Not only we are different in geography, we are different in our goal of taking piano lesson and our moral value are different too.

Please notice that I do not say my moral value is better than you, all I say here is that our moral value is very different.

Thank you for open my eyes to realize that commercial music school actually catering their business for people like you.

Please take care.


I could be misreading this - hope so - but it would appear you've chosen a polite way to be as deliberately offensive as possible.

That would indeed indicate we have very different moral values - if in fact I've read you correctly - hope not.


I think you misread me, please go back and read it again. This time, slowly, and do some google if you need.
However, if you want to interpret my post in your own way, I have no right to interfere your freedom.
Your sincerely, please take care.
Posted by: theJourney

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/20/13 02:27 PM

TimR was certainly not the only one who read it that way. You cannot isolate your own last post from all your other posts on the thread....

Gosh, TimR, how does it feel to be a people like you?

Judging by aznpiano's earlier posts you are gullible and easily deceived, not interested in quality, etc.

How the heck did you manage to get that judgment given that you are someone who is traveling three hours to take lessons with an impeccable, well-researched and tested by yourself, independent teacher with impressive qualifications...?

Sometimes I get the idea that if teachers would spend half the time improving their teaching skills that they spend whinging about how unfair life is on public bulletin boards, there wouldn't be so many poor teachers out there endangering the musical lives of innocent human beings....
Posted by: hippido

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/20/13 03:59 PM


I live in Irvine as seraval of my siblings. My son spent 2 years at a "commercial" piano studio as many of his cousins. One of his cousin passed MTAC Level 10 studying from one of the commercial piano studios. Although my son now studies piano with a private teacher, many of his cousins still go to the commerical piano studios.

My son quit the multi-teacher studio because his teacher at the time, whom he has grown fond of, quit the school due to a business dispute. We decided to hire her as his private teacher following her resignation. Although I'm not a fan of commercial studios and their directors, I wanted to offer a different point of view seen from parents' perspectives.

From my experiences with several bigger commercial piano studios, most of their teachers are credentialed, highly credentialed in fact. I suspect that the studio directors want to hire highly credentialed teachers to attract clients. My son's first teacher has a doctorate degree in piano performance. His two other teachers at the same "commercial" studios have master degrees. My nephews and nieces' teachers at the commercial studios have masters or higher as well.

BTW, before my son started piano studies, I talked to my bros and sis and friends, and heard quite a few "horror" stories re: private piano teachers, hence we decided to sign him up for the multi-teacher studio.

Commercial studios offer many conveniences to the parents (the folks signing the checks) that most private teachers do not:

1. After my son's first teacher left the studio for personal reasons, his 2nd teacher and he never hit it off. After our reflection to the studio's director, he was "assigned" another teacher immediately. No 30-day notice, no explanation given to the teacher (it's not our job).

2. When his teacher needs to take a few weeks off, we did not have to search long and hard for a sub. One was assigned, so he did not miss any lessons. When he studied privately and his teacher took two months off for maternity leave, he was without a teacher for those two months.

3. Every quarter my son was evaluated by the director for progress. Based on my son's progress, the director gave us a plan, we gave him feedback. Together, we determined if the plan suited my son. Tremendous help for parents who are muscially (piano) challenged like us. I doubt if many private teachers offer such regurlar evaluations.

4. His progress was concretely measured. For the parents who know piano or music, perhaps getting past certain exam levels might not be a good indication of progress, but for those who are musically challenged like us, the only way for us to differentiate between good progress or lack of is how well our sons and daugheters are doing at exams and/or competitions. Commercial studios tend to provide concrete, measureable goals.

As mentioned, my son studies with a private teacher now, and I'm not a big fan of the music schools, but they do serve their purposes for some parents, ones like us 4+ years ago.

So, to Kevin Kao, although I live in Irvine, I had not heard of Cameron Tong and his studio until I read this post, for I suspect it's not one of the big, well-known ones in Irvine. Frankly, your review of Cameron Tong does not offer much to the parents. Cameron might be a crook, but your review smacked me as a gripe from a disgruntled former employee. Try to write for the parents, i.e. how the director being a crook affects students' progress, then perhaps it would be more useful.

I don't think there are anything wrong with large commercial studios if it's run with students' interests at heart. There might be others, but I know of at least one such studios (not the one my son attended) in Irvine. Perhaps, EZ, Kevin, AZN can team up and create a multi-teacher studio that provides the conveniences cited above, yet is ethical, and keeps student's interest above all else.

Just a thought.
Posted by: hippido

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/20/13 04:05 PM

Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
[quote=keystring] When commercial institutions take advantage of a testing system based on teacher-volunteers, everyone loses, except of course for the music school owners.


We paid a bit for my son to take the MTAC exams. There are quite a number of students taking exams every year. I thought that the money is used to pay for folks running the exams. Where does the money go if the exams were run by volunteers?
Posted by: ezpiano.org

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/20/13 04:59 PM

Levels Prep-2, 10 min. evaluation $ 30.00
Levels 3-5, 15 min. evaluation $ 35.00
Levels 6-7, 20 min. evaluation $ 40.00
Levels 8-9, 25 min. evaluation $ 45.00
Advanced, 30 min. eval. non-Panel $ 50.00
Advanced, 30 min. eval. Panel * $ 65.00

Please see above the CM fee. Teachers might charge “teacher fee” of XX amount depend on teachers on the top of the above fee to cover the “non-involvement fee” stated below.

In ideal world, my wishes would be:
Parents go to MTAC website, register their kids to take CM test themselves instead of teachers doing it. Parents will pay online with credit card to MTAC directly. The online feature will ask them to enter their kid’s name, school grade, CM Level, birthday. The following page will have them select their kid’s teachers name according to the database that MTAC has. This will give transparency towards parents that which one is their kid’s real teacher. Let’s say the kid study with Teacher C in commercial studio, then when register CM test, parents will realize that he cannot find Teacher C’s name in MTAC database and begin to be suspicious. Whatever the money that MTAC collect, they will use it to hire evaluators, pay rent for venues, hire common piano teachers to grade theory test. They will also hire non-teachers to do the side work such as buying lunch, arranging tables, chairs etc work that is not related to music.

Instead of how I describe above, this is what they do:
Teachers will register online to enter student’s name, school grade, CM Level, birthday. Teachers will collect the fee from parents (for example $20 for the test fee) then hand in the fees to local branch CM Chair. Teachers have to do volunteer work base on how many students they register. For example, let say I register 29 students, I should work 6 shifts and that is about 30 hours. If I cannot work, then I have to pay MTAC $650 to cover 6 shifts. They called it “non-involvement fee”

Questions:
Why make it so complicated? Why don’t just charge $70 instead of $20 from parents that pay directly to MTAC and MTAC can use the money to hire whoever piano teachers that is “willing to take the money and work”? Why they have to charge so low and depend on teacher’s volunteering and charge teacher when they cannot volunteer? Right now music teachers are not only expected to correct theory test, they also expected to run errands that could be done by someone who is not a music teacher. Music teachers also expected to be a door monitor!!
I will email this to our local branch CM Chair. I will do something if I want a change. Journey is right, why would a rich country like America (or California) depends their test system on teachers volunteering? Journey is also right that I as a piano teacher should not just complaint in public forum and do nothing at my end. So, I will make a suggestion to my local branch president and CM Chair.

Thank you Journey!
Posted by: MaggieGirl

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/20/13 05:57 PM

I would double missed shift fees for everyone, make sure that for every X number of students X number of shifts would have to be covered and to pay university music students to be door monitors, check ins, and run errands.
0-5 students 1 shift or $200
6-10 students 2 shifts or $400
11-15 students 3 shifts or $600
70-75 students 14 shifts $2800

If one person can physically only do 6 shifts, then cash for the overage. Right now the model works because it's cheap. Make it less cheap for the dishonest.
Posted by: Kevin K

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/20/13 09:35 PM

Originally Posted By: hippido

I live in Irvine as seraval of my siblings. My son spent 2 years at a "commercial" piano studio as many of his cousins. One of his cousin passed MTAC Level 10 studying from one of the commercial piano studios. Although my son now studies piano with a private teacher, many of his cousins still go to the commerical piano studios.

My son quit the multi-teacher studio because his teacher at the time, whom he has grown fond of, quit the school due to a business dispute. We decided to hire her as his private teacher following her resignation. Although I'm not a fan of commercial studios and their directors, I wanted to offer a different point of view seen from parents' perspectives.

From my experiences with several bigger commercial piano studios, most of their teachers are credentialed, highly credentialed in fact. I suspect that the studio directors want to hire highly credentialed teachers to attract clients. My son's first teacher has a doctorate degree in piano performance. His two other teachers at the same "commercial" studios have master degrees. My nephews and nieces' teachers at the commercial studios have masters or higher as well.

BTW, before my son started piano studies, I talked to my bros and sis and friends, and heard quite a few "horror" stories re: private piano teachers, hence we decided to sign him up for the multi-teacher studio.

Commercial studios offer many conveniences to the parents (the folks signing the checks) that most private teachers do not:

1. After my son's first teacher left the studio for personal reasons, his 2nd teacher and he never hit it off. After our reflection to the studio's director, he was "assigned" another teacher immediately. No 30-day notice, no explanation given to the teacher (it's not our job).

2. When his teacher needs to take a few weeks off, we did not have to search long and hard for a sub. One was assigned, so he did not miss any lessons. When he studied privately and his teacher took two months off for maternity leave, he was without a teacher for those two months.

3. Every quarter my son was evaluated by the director for progress. Based on my son's progress, the director gave us a plan, we gave him feedback. Together, we determined if the plan suited my son. Tremendous help for parents who are muscially (piano) challenged like us. I doubt if many private teachers offer such regurlar evaluations.

4. His progress was concretely measured. For the parents who know piano or music, perhaps getting past certain exam levels might not be a good indication of progress, but for those who are musically challenged like us, the only way for us to differentiate between good progress or lack of is how well our sons and daugheters are doing at exams and/or competitions. Commercial studios tend to provide concrete, measureable goals.

As mentioned, my son studies with a private teacher now, and I'm not a big fan of the music schools, but they do serve their purposes for some parents, ones like us 4+ years ago.

So, to Kevin Kao, although I live in Irvine, I had not heard of Cameron Tong and his studio until I read this post, for I suspect it's not one of the big, well-known ones in Irvine. Frankly, your review of Cameron Tong does not offer much to the parents. Cameron might be a crook, but your review smacked me as a gripe from a disgruntled former employee. Try to write for the parents, i.e. how the director being a crook affects students' progress, then perhaps it would be more useful.

I don't think there are anything wrong with large commercial studios if it's run with students' interests at heart. There might be others, but I know of at least one such studios (not the one my son attended) in Irvine. Perhaps, EZ, Kevin, AZN can team up and create a multi-teacher studio that provides the conveniences cited above, yet is ethical, and keeps student's interest above all else.

Just a thought.


Hi Hippido!

Thanks for offering your point of view, it's very informative.

It is definitely true that a few commercial music studios here in Irvine hire teachers with doctorates and masters in piano performance. Although that does bring into the mix the difference between a great pianist and a great piano teacher. There's a reason public school teachers need to go through years of a credential program in addition to their specific field of study. What if anybody who've taken courses in math, biology, and english, and are pretty good at it are allowed to teach at schools? It doesn't make sense there, yet it is commonly accepted that a pianist with a performance degree(i.e., pretty good at piano) would be a good teacher. But! This is a whole other discussion. And this isn't directed at you hippido, just in general.

Point 2. Personally, I think the teacher should have found a substitute teacher if she was going to be away for two months. I would. Two months is way too long to be without lessons.

Point 3. Awesome! I agree most private teachers probably don't do that that often. I think I might start doing that.

You hit on some great points pedagogically!

Irvine School of Music is relatively new and not as big as the more established ones. Just curious, would the review have been more helpful if you didn't read it on another piano teacher's website(mine) but say on Yelp or Google and I wasn't upfront about the fact that I'm a piano teacher? Or even better, if it came directly from one of the parents that were upset they were lied to? If this does change your view of the review then I think that is the unfortunate part, that my review of him is smacking quite a few people in the face as the rantings of a disgruntled former employee and dismissed accordingly.

However, if it doesn't change your view, and that as long as the student is making progress people couldn't care less about the fact that a large chunk of their tuition goes into the pockets of a crook, then I think I really am just naive and I will take this lesson to heart. Because truthfully, having a crooked director will not affect a student's progress, the teacher does. Personally, if somebody I'm giving money to is a crook, I'd like to know that.

Anyway, thanks hippido, very good thoughts indeed.

I think to summarize all the arguments presented here in terms of the QUALITY of teachers(as far as having degrees in performance go). You are more likely to get above average quality at commercial music studios than privately--percentage-wise. Obviously, the best teachers will not be working at such a place for less than 40% of what they are worth, but then the worst teachers won't get hired either. Which is necessary I think because of the public nature of a commercial studio as opposed to an independent studio that mostly relies on word-of-mouth.

Now to summarize the ethics part of this equation. You are A LOT more likely to be giving money to an unethical owner/director of a commercial music studio who then takes a large chunk of that money to continue their marketing efforts--ethical or otherwise--pay rent, pay front desk personnel, all with an eye on maximizing profit. Which, while I may not agree with as a teacher(good luck finding a commercial music studio willing to keep the same low rate of 10 years for a family who've lost their mother to cancer) and morally, I completely understand from a business point of view, e.g., the need to keep making payments on my Mercedes.

Although, I'm starting to realize less people care about ethics and moral than I had originally imagined.
Posted by: AZNpiano

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/20/13 11:42 PM

Originally Posted By: theJourney
Judging by aznpiano's earlier posts you are gullible and easily deceived, not interested in quality, etc.

Don't misquote me.
Posted by: AZNpiano

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/20/13 11:46 PM

Originally Posted By: ezpiano.org
Advanced, 30 min. eval. Panel * $ 65.00

When's the last time you sent a student to Panel? I paid more than that when I did Panel.
Posted by: theJourney

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/21/13 12:43 AM

Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
Originally Posted By: theJourney
Judging by aznpiano's earlier posts you are gullible and easily deceived, not interested in quality, etc.

Don't misquote me.


I apologize. I confused you with ezpiano.org.

aznpiano, ezpiano ...
Posted by: ezpiano.org

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/21/13 12:51 AM

Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
Originally Posted By: ezpiano.org
Advanced, 30 min. eval. Panel * $ 65.00

When's the last time you sent a student to Panel? I paid more than that when I did Panel.


I am not lying AZN, check this link yourself. This link includes all the state fee. Each branch will add on their on branch fee and each teacher will add on their own teacher fee to cover "non-involvement fee".

So, if you pay more than this when you did Panel, your teacher probably include "non-involvement fee" in your fee, that is why you are paying more.

So, when is the last time you send students to panel? Is this not what you pay? according to the link I provided?
Posted by: Kreisler

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/21/13 01:15 AM

According to the link you posted, the $65 only covers the state fee, not the branch panel surcharge mentioned at the top of the form or the $25 regional surcharge listed at the bottom.

Originally Posted By: ezpiano.org
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
Originally Posted By: ezpiano.org
Advanced, 30 min. eval. Panel * $ 65.00

When's the last time you sent a student to Panel? I paid more than that when I did Panel.


I am not lying AZN, check this link yourself. This link includes all the state fee. Each branch will add on their on branch fee and each teacher will add on their own teacher fee to cover "non-involvement fee".

So, if you pay more than this when you did Panel, your teacher probably include "non-involvement fee" in your fee, that is why you are paying more.

So, when is the last time you send students to panel? Is this not what you pay? according to the link I provided?
Posted by: ezpiano.org

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/21/13 04:14 AM

Quote:
As mentioned, my son studies with a private teacher now, and I'm not a big fan of the music schools, but they do serve their purposes for some parents, ones like us 4+ years ago.


Hi Hippido! I like your screen name, it makes me happy when I try to pronounce it.

I have two friendly questions here and later I have some feedback to your four points.

Q1: You said you are not a big fan of the music schools, but you just list four points that why you think music schools are good. So, could you share with us your reasons of not being a big fan of the music schools?

Q2: You think music schools serve their purposes for some parents, ones like you 4 years ago. Can you elaborate to compare what was your mindset four years ago and now? Later, can you tell us what makes you change?

Here is your four points and my feedback for it
Quote:
1. After my son's first teacher left the studio for personal reasons, his 2nd teacher and he never hit it off. After our reflection to the studio's director, he was "assigned" another teacher immediately. No 30-day notice, no explanation given to the teacher (it's not our job).


Yes, I agree with you that this is very convenient. IMT could not do that.

Quote:
2. About two months off for maternity leave issues.
I think this is the one that IMT cannot measure up to music schools. However, I think two months off for maternity leave is too long. I can only imagine myself take 2 to 4 weeks off.

Quote:
3. Every quarter students is evaluated by the director for progress.

Actually, IMT (independent music teacher) could do this too. I have teacher/parents conference every semester where I meet only with parents without children to give them my most honest feedback about their childen’s progress. I am sure your current IMT that you followed from music school is giving you the evaluation for progress at least every year, right?

Quote:
4. Students’ progress was concretely measured.

To be honest, any good to excellent teacher should provide this service. This service is not only provided by music schools. Every month I send out report card my emails so that parents know exactly at what point their children are. I am sure your current IMT is providing you a progress report with concretely measure, right?

Quote:
I don't think there are anything wrong with large commercial studios if it's run with students' interests at heart……Perhaps….a music schools that is ethical, and keeps student's interest above all else.


Hey Hippodido! You hit the right point! I am not against commercial schools either! In fact I think Opus119 in Irvine is doing a great job in assisting piano students and piano teachers. I am looking up to them. What we need is ethical and keeps students’ interest above everything else. However, same as Kevin, I started to think that less people care about ethics and moral than I had originally imagined. Especially those who think commercial music school could offer such advantage to them that IMT can’t and not care about what kind of cost or cause behind the screen. Just like what Keystring PM me: There is crookedness in all professions. But would we do something about it or just let it happen?
Posted by: ezpiano.org

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/21/13 04:24 AM

Originally Posted By: Kreisler
According to the link you posted, the $65 only covers the state fee, not the branch panel surcharge mentioned at the top of the form or the $25 regional surcharge listed at the bottom.


Yes Kreisler you are right. The panel fee is actually...
state fee $65 + branch fee $25 + teacher fee $X = $90 + $X (only if I know what is X then I can tell you what is the answer)

The rest of the fee, for example Level 6 is....
state fee $40 + branch fee $8 + teacher fee $Y = $48 + $Y

When I provide the list fee, I meant it is only for state fee. My branch charge $8 only for each student, I never been to another branch other than my current branch since I started teaching, so, I am not sure if other branch is charging a different branch fee.

So, Panel has a higher branch fee than the rest of the levels. I am right, ANZ is not wrong either.
Posted by: ezpiano.org

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/21/13 04:51 AM

Originally Posted By: theJourney
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
Originally Posted By: theJourney
Judging by aznpiano's earlier posts you are gullible and easily deceived, not interested in quality, etc.

Don't misquote me.


I apologize. I confused you with ezpiano.org.

aznpiano, ezpiano ...


That is okay Journey! So, did you glance through all the posts and decide that I call Tim "gullible", "easily deceived" and "not interest in quality"? Or, you actually "read" it?
Posted by: currawong

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their bos - 02/21/13 05:10 AM

Originally Posted By: ezpiano.org
Quote:
2. About two months off for maternity leave issues.
I think this is the one that IMT cannot measure up to music schools. However, I think two months off for maternity leave is too long. I can only imagine myself take 2 to 4 weeks off.
Well, good luck with that...
Posted by: ezpiano.org

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their bos - 02/21/13 05:14 AM

Originally Posted By: currawong
Originally Posted By: ezpiano.org
Quote:
2. About two months off for maternity leave issues.
I think this is the one that IMT cannot measure up to music schools. However, I think two months off for maternity leave is too long. I can only imagine myself take 2 to 4 weeks off.
Well, good luck with that...



No problem. Someone in my family only took two weeks off and she was C-section! Don't worry, I am a workaholic I will be bored to death if I stay home for 2 months.
Posted by: Plowboy

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their bos - 02/21/13 08:58 AM

What a thread. I didn't know piano teachers were so vicious.

For my part, I take lessons at a strip mall school. My teacher is a piano performance major at a local conservatory, the pianos are new and very well maintained Kawais. I've never purchased music from them or been pressured to do so.

As for the quality of instruction, I don't know since I've only had one teacher. But I do notice that one of the private Irvine teachers on this thread is teaching kids to use pedal with Bach. Even I know that's wrong.
Posted by: Kreisler

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their bos - 02/21/13 10:54 AM

Part of the reason teachers get so vicious is that in our industry, clients tend to ignore credentialing and certification.

In almost every other industry - healthcare, education, accounting, automotive repair, counseling, even yoga and pilates - people tend to check the credentials of people they go to.

Consider your own teacher, a "performance major at a local conservatory." Would you trust your taxes with an "accounting major at a local college?" Probably not. There is a perception among the public that music teachers don't need the same degree of qualification that other professionals do.

So unlike accountants and yoga instructors, music teachers have to compete with people who have no credentials and less experience, in part because clients are often more responsive to price and marketing savvy than credentials and experience.

As a result, qualified and experienced teachers feel a lot of frustration, and that can lead to some pretty vicious behavior.

Another part of the problem is that viable business models for teaching are elusive. In a way, this mirrors law and healthcare. Group practices are becoming the norm for physicians and attorneys because solo practices can't make enough money in a lot of markets. A high client volume helps keep the lights on. Many physicians are under tremendous pressure to see a LOT of patients. Attorneys end up being selective about their clientele and charge a very high hourly rate.

Similarly, music studios find it easier to keep the lights on if they can serve as many clients as possible. Since it's difficult to shorten a meeting to 10-15 minutes (like a physician) or command a high hourly rate (like an attorney), studio owners often end up hiring cheap labor, which often means hiring teachers who are willing to work for peanuts, often students or people just teaching part time.)

So...those are some random thoughts for now. I find this a rather fascinating thread. I'm pretty lucky here in the midwest. When I moved here, the local teachers were welcoming, referred students to me, and have been very supportive. There are a variety of business models here in town. I teach at home and as an independent contractor at a local music retailer. (I also do a ton of freelance accompanying and do adjunct work at a college.) There's also a non-profit pre-college conservatory in the area (an excellent Suzuki school), a preparatory program at the local university, and a smattering of independent music teachers.
Posted by: AZNpiano

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their bos - 02/21/13 11:13 AM

Originally Posted By: Plowboy
But I do notice that one of the private Irvine teachers on this thread is teaching kids to use pedal with Bach. Even I know that's wrong.

whome
Quite a few professional pianists use pedal while playing Bach, so I don't know what you're talking about.
Posted by: Peter K. Mose

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their bos - 02/21/13 11:29 AM

Kreisler, thanks for helping us see this little tempest in a broader light, and it's great to hear that in your Iowa community the outlook is healthier and mutually supportive.
Posted by: ezpiano.org

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their bos - 02/21/13 11:55 AM

Thank you Kreisler for explaining why would a piano teacher get vicious. However, that is not the reason why I get vicious (if that comment is for me, by the way, I am not offended by it)

I think Plowboy has his right to hire whoever he thinks is suitable for him. If he thinks a music performance major in local conservatory is good enough for him, it is his money, I am not against it, I think it is totally fine as everyone has their right to hire anyone.

The part that makes me uncomfortable is when the dishonest director comes into the picture. Let’s say if parents are informed that Teacher C and D do not have MTAC member by the director, and still decide to hire them, it is really parent’s choice. In most case just like what ANZ describe, the fact of Teacher C and D is not MTAC member is covered up by Teacher A and B by using A and B’s name to register for CM test.

If I have to compete with teachers who do not have Bachelor Degree in music, who charged less than me, that is my problem, I choose this line of work I should be aware of people do not treat piano teachers the same they treat doctors and lawyers.

However, if I have to compete “FAKE-MTAC members” that cover up by crooked and dishonest school director, that is where my vicious comes from.

Gentle to the good, vicious to the crooked! (Do they rhyme?)
Posted by: Kreisler

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their bos - 02/21/13 12:44 PM

Originally Posted By: ezpiano.org
Thank you Kreisler for explaining why would a piano teacher get vicious. However, that is not the reason why I get vicious (if that comment is for me, by the way, I am not offended by it)


Wasn't talking about you at all, just making general comments.

And I do know what you mean about ethics issues regarding competitions and other adjudicated events. In that case, ethics boards are important.

I don't know MTAC well, but here, if a teacher was circumventing membership by entering students under another teacher's name (and yes, it's happened), anyone can request that the ethics committee for our state organization look into it. In that case, all involved teachers could be placed on probation and the students could be disqualified. We also met last year as a group to clarify what was considered ethical marketing practices. We use MTNA's guidelines, and they seem to cover the bases pretty well.

That being said, no system is perfect, and there will always be a teacher here and there who get away with murder, but generally speaking, our state does pretty good job of keeping the community civil.
Posted by: ezpiano.org

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their bos - 02/21/13 12:49 PM

Originally Posted By: Kreisler
Originally Posted By: ezpiano.org
Thank you Kreisler for explaining why would a piano teacher get vicious. However, that is not the reason why I get vicious (if that comment is for me, by the way, I am not offended by it)


Wasn't talking about you at all, just making general comments.
.

No problem at all. I was referring to plowboy if his vicious comment is towards me, and again, I am not offended by it, I think I am vicious! grin
Posted by: AZNpiano

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their bos - 02/21/13 12:57 PM

Originally Posted By: Kreisler
And I do know what you mean about ethics issues regarding competitions and other adjudicated events. In that case, ethics boards are important.

That's an interesting idea.
Posted by: Plowboy

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their bos - 02/21/13 01:02 PM

Kreisler, you make a lot of good points in your posts.

My profession is highly credentialed. What I've come to discover is that, in some cases, people who are highly credentialed are very accomplished at becoming highly credentialed and nothing else. Credentials aren't necessarily any sort of guarantee of competence.

Originally Posted By: AZNpiano

Quite a few professional pianists use pedal while playing Bach, so I don't know what you're talking about.


Andras Schiff does! ha
Posted by: Plowboy

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their bos - 02/21/13 01:04 PM

Originally Posted By: ezpiano.org
Originally Posted By: Kreisler
Originally Posted By: ezpiano.org
Thank you Kreisler for explaining why would a piano teacher get vicious. However, that is not the reason why I get vicious (if that comment is for me, by the way, I am not offended by it)


Wasn't talking about you at all, just making general comments.
.

No problem at all. I was referring to plowboy if his vicious comment is towards me, and again, I am not offended by it, I think I am vicious! grin


ezpiano, I apologize if I was vicious to you. Not my intent, sorry. I do believe that the website that started this comes across as slimy and unethical, whatever its intent was.

Gary
Posted by: ezpiano.org

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/21/13 01:09 PM

No Problem PlowBoy.
I think I am vicious, so, not your problem. No need to apologize. Even if your comments is towards me, I am fine by it because you are right!

Quote:
Credentials aren't necessarily any sort of guarantee of competence.


In another thread, we talked about how some graduate students are better lecturer than some tenure professors at college. So, I am totally agree with you!

I think there are young teachers who is better than old teacher.
I think there are Bachelor Degree teachers who is better than PhD teachers.
However, no matter how I think, I can't think that dishonest teachers are better than honest teachers

That is just me. No dishonest!!! (I need a vicious emoticon here!) tiki Would this work?
Posted by: AZNpiano

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their bos - 02/21/13 01:11 PM

Well, back to the original topic...

I was kind of glad Kevin posted what he posted. So much has been swept under the carpet to maintain the guise of civility around town, that many private piano teachers are suffering in silence.

The truth is, many of the transgressions of "music schools" have been going on for a long time. When I was younger I took lessons at a "music school" and I witnessed a lot of the rule-bending practices firsthand. But that was when the economy was good, and lots of people took lessons, so it was easy to "open one eye and shut one eye" and let things go in the name of civility.

But the times are changing. The actions of some (not all, some) "music schools" have become egregious. The economy has gone south, and fewer students are taking lessons. Thus, the transgressions take on a whole new meaning in these hard times. People's livelihood is at stake here, and some people can no longer afford (literally) to maintain that guise of civility.

The MTAC state office is, to its credit, taking actions. But sweeping reform might be more appropriate than small steps to combat this growing problem.
Posted by: Minniemay

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their bos - 02/21/13 01:30 PM

Originally Posted By: hippido
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
[quote=keystring] When commercial institutions take advantage of a testing system based on teacher-volunteers, everyone loses, except of course for the music school owners.


We paid a bit for my son to take the MTAC exams. There are quite a number of students taking exams every year. I thought that the money is used to pay for folks running the exams. Where does the money go if the exams were run by volunteers?


The state receives a portion of the CM fees collected. The branch uses their portion to pay for facility rental (last year, we paid $1500 to use the facility for 2 days). The evaluators are paid. The branch incurs additional costs for printing, supplies, meals for evaluators and volunteers and anything else needed to make it run. It's not inexpensive.
Posted by: ezpiano.org

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/21/13 01:37 PM

Quote:
The evaluators are paid.
By state or branch?

So branch is paying for
Facilities rental
Printing
Supplies
Meals for evaluator

What is state paying?
Posted by: hippido

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/21/13 01:53 PM

Quote:
Q1: You said you are not a big fan of the music schools, but you just list four points that why you think music schools are good. So, could you share with us your reasons of not being a big fan of the music schools?

Q2: You think music schools serve their purposes for some parents, ones like you 4 years ago. Can you elaborate to compare what was your mindset four years ago and now? Later, can you tell us what makes you change?


Four plus years ago, when we first signed up my son for piano lessons, we did not know much about piano study. So, having the directors of the schools evaluated our child, discussed the lesson plan, answered many “dumb” questions that we had was extremely helpful. Several IMT that we talked to did not offer us the time or the info. There were a lot of ambiguities in their plans for kiddo, and perhaps they were poor communicators (not bad teachers) , but we did not want to entrust kiddo’s piano adventure with someone who did not have clear roadmaps.

We did not know how to evaluate teachers and having heard several “horror” stories about private teachers, we decided that it was better for kiddo to attend a well-known music school in the hope for a better selection of teachers.

The school offers a number of teachers, from one to work with young beginners to those that are conservatory-bound, so as kiddo progresses, he can have different teachers, without us having to go through the time-consuming and painful process of letting one go, and finding and hiring a new one.

Because there are multiple teachers, we can choose a timeslot that is suitable for us. Before anyone castigates us for poor parenting, let’s understand that as working parents, our available timeslots are limited. We also understood that piano study is long term, hence having a convenient time for his lessons would allow us to let him pursue it for as long as he wishes.

So, why did we quit?

1. We quit the school upon learning how poorly kiddo’s teacher, whom he has grown fond of and was progressing well under her tutelage, was treated.

2. During our two years there, we also saw incidents where kids left their lessons in tears, and did not think the environment was conducive to learning. I did not suspect any abuses, nor our kiddo ever left his lessons crying, but just thought that their motivational method was unnecessary. I talked to the director about it, and the result was parents were no longer allowed to lounge around.

3. We spent lot of time lurking at PW, so we’ve got more knowledgeable as parents re: piano study.

4.Kiddo has progressed rapidly, so he needs a teacher who has experiences in guiding more serious students. His 3rd teacher stopped offering lessons in Irvine a few months after her maternity leave. She gave us sufficient notice, but it took us quite a while to find his current teacher (because we are so knowledgeable hahaha), so kiddo did not have lessons for a month. Sometimes going with IMT is a pain.

This is my opinion based on experiences with one (1) music school in Irvine. That’s not a lot of data points, so let’s not extrapolate to “all” music schools in Irvine and “all” IMT in Irvine.

Quote:
However, same as Kevin, I started to think that less people care about ethics and moral than I had originally imagined. Especially those who think commercial music school could offer such advantage to them that IMT can’t and not care about what kind of cost or cause behind the screen.


I’m a cautious type. I and perhaps a few others here like to know both sides of a story before offering judgments. Giving different points of view or disagreeing with your assertions/opinions does not mean that we care less about ethics and morals than you do. I do find Kevin’s statement and yours quite offensive.

Just a thought.
Posted by: AZNpiano

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/21/13 01:54 PM

Originally Posted By: ezpiano.org
Quote:
The evaluators are paid.
By state or branch?

State.

Each branch is free to offer incentives to attract evaluators. This could be in the form of gas stipend or hotel stay, especially if the branch is far out in the boonies.
Posted by: TimR

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their bos - 02/21/13 03:39 PM

Originally Posted By: Plowboy
Kreisler, you make a lot of good points in your posts.

My profession is highly credentialed. What I've come to discover is that, in some cases, people who are highly credentialed are very accomplished at becoming highly credentialed and nothing else. Credentials aren't necessarily any sort of guarantee of competence.

Originally Posted By: AZNpiano

Quite a few professional pianists use pedal while playing Bach, so I don't know what you're talking about.


Andras Schiff does! ha


But Bach didn't. <hee, hee>
Posted by: Kreisler

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their bos - 02/21/13 04:32 PM

Bach didn't play the piano, either.

Originally Posted By: TimR
Originally Posted By: Plowboy
Kreisler, you make a lot of good points in your posts.

My profession is highly credentialed. What I've come to discover is that, in some cases, people who are highly credentialed are very accomplished at becoming highly credentialed and nothing else. Credentials aren't necessarily any sort of guarantee of competence.

Originally Posted By: AZNpiano

Quite a few professional pianists use pedal while playing Bach, so I don't know what you're talking about.


Andras Schiff does! ha


But Bach didn't. <hee, hee>
Posted by: ezpiano.org

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their bos - 02/21/13 09:48 PM

To Hipodido


I apologize that if I sound I aim my comments towards you, actually, I am not. I am aiming it to this guy that thinks going to music school will have advantage compare to going to IMT even the advantage means doing dishonest acts.


According to him, if his teacher at music school is not MTAC member, it is okay to have another teacher to register for him to take CM test. He sounded like he is totally fine with this.


This is really surprise me. Currently those parents in this situation do not know they are in this situation because the crookedness of the director is not yet exposed to public.


Maybe, after the parents learn that Teacher C and D is actually register their kiddo under Teacher A and B, they will immediately stop going to music school because they can’t morally accept this fact. JUST LIKE YOU!! When you figure that your teacher is treated poorly, you stop at the music school as one of your reasons!


So, I am not aiming at you but this other guy here.


Anyway, thank you for your additional comments that really help us to see the perspective from an unbiased parent's eyes.


With your comment, I like to add on two comments as below.


I respect you so much just base on what you wrote that you quit music school just because you think your teacher is treated poorly. Just base on this fact, I just hope that all the parents can have high-moral standard as you. Now, I am curious. What do you mean treated badly? How? She is not respected? She has very low wage? She has to work long hours? She has to follow the rules that are actually illegal to enforce by her director?


I can see how badly the management of the director. Instead of investigate what happen to the kiddo, why he cried, figure out the reason and trying to fix it, the director is trying to cover up by not allowing parents are the lounge area. That is sneaky and not whole-hearty wanted the kiddo to improve his learning experience in the music school.

Of course this is just my opinions. I don't think my opinions contradict yours in this post.

Thanks!
Posted by: MomOfBeginners

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their bos - 02/21/13 10:25 PM

I'm not a piano teacher. Reading this thread, it seemed like some miscommunication going on. Here is my interpretation (Paraphrased):

TimR: How does MTAC work?

Ezpiano.org: (What I think she meant to say-- ) Some music school teachers in music schools cheat by entering students for fellow non-MTAC teachers. It is not an honest practice. It is cheating.

Ezpiano.org: (What I think TimR understood it to say-- ) MTAC allows teachers in a music school to enter students for fellow non-MTAC teachers.

TimR: In that case, the schools do have an advantage if they only need one teacher to enter students into MTAC. (Not knowing that it's cheating and unfair)

Ezpiano.org: (Thinking that TimR embraces this cheating way of entering students) I am unhappy with how some teachers on this forum are dishonest.
Posted by: Minniemay

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their bos - 02/21/13 11:32 PM

To be clear, it is against MTAC rules for any MTAC member to register students of a non-member in events.
Posted by: ezpiano.org

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their bos - 02/21/13 11:33 PM

I like it, thanks. MOTB.
I like to apologize if it is a misunderstanding of my part.

So, let's ask Tim: Knowing that is is cheating and unfair, would you think that the schools do have an advantage compare to IMT and take the advantage?

If he answer yes, then I am not misunderstand him.

If he answer no, then I owe him an apologize.
Posted by: Kevin K

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their bos - 02/22/13 01:25 AM

Originally Posted By: Kreisler
Part of the reason teachers get so vicious is that in our industry, clients tend to ignore credentialing and certification.

In almost every other industry - healthcare, education, accounting, automotive repair, counseling, even yoga and pilates - people tend to check the credentials of people they go to.

Consider your own teacher, a "performance major at a local conservatory." Would you trust your taxes with an "accounting major at a local college?" Probably not. There is a perception among the public that music teachers don't need the same degree of qualification that other professionals do.

So unlike accountants and yoga instructors, music teachers have to compete with people who have no credentials and less experience, in part because clients are often more responsive to price and marketing savvy than credentials and experience.

As a result, qualified and experienced teachers feel a lot of frustration, and that can lead to some pretty vicious behavior.

Another part of the problem is that viable business models for teaching are elusive. In a way, this mirrors law and healthcare. Group practices are becoming the norm for physicians and attorneys because solo practices can't make enough money in a lot of markets. A high client volume helps keep the lights on. Many physicians are under tremendous pressure to see a LOT of patients. Attorneys end up being selective about their clientele and charge a very high hourly rate.

Similarly, music studios find it easier to keep the lights on if they can serve as many clients as possible. Since it's difficult to shorten a meeting to 10-15 minutes (like a physician) or command a high hourly rate (like an attorney), studio owners often end up hiring cheap labor, which often means hiring teachers who are willing to work for peanuts, often students or people just teaching part time.)

So...those are some random thoughts for now. I find this a rather fascinating thread. I'm pretty lucky here in the midwest. When I moved here, the local teachers were welcoming, referred students to me, and have been very supportive. There are a variety of business models here in town. I teach at home and as an independent contractor at a local music retailer. (I also do a ton of freelance accompanying and do adjunct work at a college.) There's also a non-profit pre-college conservatory in the area (an excellent Suzuki school), a preparatory program at the local university, and a smattering of independent music teachers.

Kreisler. Couldn't have said it any better myself.
Posted by: Kevin K

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their bos - 02/22/13 01:36 AM

Originally Posted By: MomOfBeginners
I'm not a piano teacher. Reading this thread, it seemed like some miscommunication going on. Here is my interpretation (Paraphrased):

TimR: How does MTAC work?

Ezpiano.org: (What I think she meant to say-- ) Some music school teachers in music schools cheat by entering students for fellow non-MTAC teachers. It is not an honest practice. It is cheating.

Ezpiano.org: (What I think TimR understood it to say-- ) MTAC allows teachers in a music school to enter students for fellow non-MTAC teachers.

TimR: In that case, the schools do have an advantage if they only need one teacher to enter students into MTAC. (Not knowing that it's cheating and unfair)

Ezpiano.org: (Thinking that TimR embraces this cheating way of entering students) I am unhappy with how some teachers on this forum are dishonest.

Thank you! I thought there might be some miscommunication there too. But honestly, I'm just not sure anymore after reading some people's comments, so I didn't say anything about it.
Posted by: theJourney

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their bos - 02/22/13 01:52 AM

Originally Posted By: Kreisler
Bach didn't play the piano, either.


Nor did he have any desire to, apparently.
Posted by: TimR

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their bos - 02/22/13 08:22 AM

Originally Posted By: theJourney
Originally Posted By: Kreisler
Bach didn't play the piano, either.


Nor did he have any desire to, apparently.


Well, it's not as if he had a lot of pianos to choose from!

You could probably make an argument that Bach shouldn't be played on piano at all. Particularly if you must grunt and groan while doing so. <g>

PS the g is for grin and not a name. you know who I mean.

But my guess is if he had a good piano, he would have played it, and if it had modern pedals, he would have used them. Cautiously. It's easy to make Bach a bit muddy as it is.

He is of course long gone, we can't ask him.
Posted by: ezpiano.org

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their bos - 02/22/13 05:11 PM

Hi Tim!!
Knowing that is is cheating and unfair, would you think that the schools do have an advantage compare to IMT and take the advantage?
Posted by: TimR

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their bos - 02/22/13 08:35 PM

Originally Posted By: ezpiano.org
Hi Tim!!
Knowing that is is cheating and unfair,


Straw man. "knowing"

NOT!

I knew nothing about MTAC or CM when we started this journey, when you first attacked me. The more I learn the more I think CM itself is unethical. But that's a rabbit hole.

You were quick to make a negative character judgement of me based on no information. You did the same in your original post about Kevin's website - you have no evidence Kevin, or his opponent, or either or neither is unethical, but you've made up your mind.

From the beginning my focus with IMT vs school was quality of teaching, not ethics; while you've singlemindedly obsessed about the ethics of signing for somebody else.

I understand now that's a technical violation of MTAC rules. (check their website - it's not stated explicitly anywhere that I could find, but must be inferred). If I were an MTAC member, I would honor their ruleset, whether I agreed with all of it or not.

From the outside though it appears perfectly reasonable that a school with MTAC affiliation would have certified teachers, those working to become certified, and probably additional ones, and as a member of the school itself the student would be eligible to have someone in a responsible position sign for his test.

That's not the way MTAC works. But it IS the way many similar organizations work, and it works well. After all, if the teaching is poor the student won't pass, right? I mean, IF the test is valid and IF the scoring is accurate.

I've never lived in an area where testing was important to the consumer. Apparently in California the general public has been sold on the idea of CM. I can guess that the claims were of an objective evaluation of student progress, a way to try to maintain high standards of learning and secondarily of teaching, and a way to compare teachers on the basis of pass rates. (pass rates are published somewhere, right?)

And I can see all those claims being true, if done right. BUT! By limiting the program to its own members, MTAC has a hammer to force teachers to become members, and lock out those excellent IMTs whose students would pass at just as high or even higher rates. I call THAT unethical and unfair! I would bet this part isn't explained to the parents.

I can see how there would be pressure on teachers to find a colleague to sign for them, as this practice is not only not unethical but required in many fields. Nurse-practioners and some nurses treat patients, for example, but need an MD in the building to sign off on prescriptions. (I sign hundreds of documents for others who do the work but lack the authorization to sign - I'm required to by my job. In fact there's a 4 inch stack on my desk right now I'll have to get on the weekend) Like I said, I wouldn't do it myself if the rules were clear and I'd agreed to them; though, I'd gripe about them and maybe work to change them.

I'm not sure this type of rule breaking is as vile an ethical violation as you've made it out to be, nor that it's as common as you claim.

We know that there are excellent and poor teachers in both areas, and ethical and unethical people in both areas. (skill and ethics are two different criteria and need to be separated for clarity of thought)

Do you still maintain that the average commercial teacher is more unethical than the average IMT?

Do you think that the average commercial teacher is less skillful than the average IMT? I know you didn't really address this, but it's a more important issue to a parent, because unlike ethics, assessing teaching skill is impossible for them.
Posted by: Minniemay

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their bos - 02/22/13 09:04 PM

Tim:

The problems EZ has outlined are predominantly located in urban areas of (mostly) southern California. I live in central CA and we have had absolutely no problems like she describes.

The major problems that come from CM stem mostly from "tiger" parents who force their children into the exam system. I've seen it personally. Parents will hop from one studio to another, thinking the teacher is largest factor in how well their child does on an exam, not the amount of time the student practices, the quality of the practice or the interest of the child. This is sad. These parents think finishing CM at its highest level guarantees great things for their child. I've had the occasional parent ask about their child skipping levels (one just this past weekend, and the not the parent of one of MY students!).

The rules you are looking for about teachers entering students that are not theirs is in the CM syllabus, only available for purchase by members. Until this year, the syllabus could be purchased outside the organization, but MTAC ran into problems with copyrighted material being plagiarized and misused, so it is no longer available outside the organization.

MTAC's goal is to promote professional music teaching. One can join if they have a degree (the transcript is evaluated for necessary coursework), or they can enroll in a program called CalPlan which is designed to make sure the teacher has sufficient knowledge and training to teach their instrument. It's pretty rigorous, but it does serve to establish a minimum standard.

Do you think it unfair?
Posted by: ezpiano.org

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/22/13 10:32 PM

Originally Posted By: TIM
You were quick to make a negative character judgement of me based on no information. You did the same in your original post about Kevin's website - you have no evidence Kevin, or his opponent, or either or neither is unethical, but you've made up your mind.


I did not attack Kevin. Ask Kevin. I do not know him, but I like what I see in his blog, that is why I posted it here to share with you.


Originally Posted By: TIM
I knew nothing about MTAC or CM when we started this journey.



If you knew nothing, why don’t you do some research before writing your comments?


This is my last post, I think this is outrageous.

Thank you ANZ, Kreisler, Hippodido, Kevin, Minniemay for a lot of explanation about how MTAC works.

Thank you Keystring for kindness. I know, crookedness is everywhere!!
Posted by: keystring

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/22/13 10:36 PM

Ezpiano, if you add =name after your quote, then we will know whom you are quoting. It would look like this:

[quote=Ezpiano]blablabla [/ quote] (I've left a space between / and quote so that it doesn't turn into an actual quote)

There is still time to edit your post. Who are you quoting and responding to?
Posted by: Kevin K

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their bos - 02/22/13 10:43 PM

Hey Tim,

You seem like a cool guy and judging from your profession, very educated. Also, I think you've definitely answered the ethical question regarding yourself.

Quick statement about what you said about me. I didn't just make up a story about everything that happened. I've since taken the review off my blog as I've realized some people just can't wrap their heads around the fact that it's on a "competitor's" website, therefore I'm just a bitter, lying, former employee, whatever my real intentions are.

Piggybacking off Minniemay's response to you. CM exams are popular here because it's a quantifiable way for students to demonstrate their work and ability on the piano when it comes to college applications.

Anyway, in some of your previous posts, I can still see where you are coming from--assuming some miscommunication--but I think quite a few things you mentioned in your most recent post is pretty much way off base simply because you don't know what you are talking about. And I'm saying that in the nicest way possible. Like I said, I think you are a good person--I took the time to look at some of your other posts.

I think as far as MTAC is concerned, you should have just left it alone when you realized you didn't know anything about it. These are teachers that have been members through the years and are actually in the midst of it; it's hard for you to fully comprehend it from where you are.

Also, to fully answer your questions, we need to dissect them even further. In terms of ethics, it wasn't about the teachers, but what the DIRECTORS make the teachers do. The skills part of your question does apply to specific teachers. With that distinction, here's my take on it from a previous post:

"In terms of the QUALITY of teachers(as far as having degrees in performance go). You are more likely to get above average quality at commercial music studios than privately--percentage-wise. Obviously, the best teachers will not be working at a place for less than 40% of what they are worth, but then the worst teachers won't get hired either. Which is necessary I think because of the public nature of a commercial studio as opposed to an independent studio that mostly relies on word-of-mouth.

Now to summarize the ethics part of this equation. You are A LOT more likely to be giving money to an unethical owner/director of a commercial music studio who then takes a large chunk of that money to continue their marketing efforts--ethical or otherwise--pay rent, pay front desk personnel, all with an eye on maximizing profit."

Hope this helps. Just my two cents, and of course you are free to disagree with it.
Posted by: AZNpiano

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their bos - 02/23/13 01:00 AM

Originally Posted By: TimR
I knew nothing about MTAC or CM when we started this journey, when you first attacked me. The more I learn the more I think CM itself is unethical. But that's a rabbit hole.

Tim:

I think the safest thing for you to do--since you freely admit you knew nothing about CM or MTAC--is to reserve judgment.

When you are in knee-deep (or neck-deep) as some of the teachers here are, you can't help but make your opinions heard. Sure, some of the claims are outrageous, but outrageous things do happen.

My most recent transfer student came to me after being courted by the owner of a "music school." This owner promised things like skipping CM levels, learning difficult pieces in short periods of time, winning piano competitions, etc. The mother is enlightened enough to know that all that testing amounts to a piece of paper, and not a life-long love for music. She saw plenty of kids quit piano after Level 10, never to touch piano again. She also knew kids who spent an entire year learning 3 or 4 pieces for the test.

Unfortunately, few parents are as enlightened as this one. Most parents are absolutely, spectacularly clueless about CM, MTAC, or the entire testing process. Lies, half-truths, and misinformation get passed in these circles of parents.

Two of my former students' mothers questioned me about CM Policy, and I had to print a page off the MTAC website to prove that whatever misinformation they heard from "music schools" is WRONG. Dead wrong. And after I PROVED the "music schools" are wrong, the parents still kept enrolling their kids at the "music schools." Some people apparently enjoy being duped and brainwashed. When you repeat lies enough times, lies become the truth.

I was a victim of poaching. A lot of private teachers were. I asked a member on CM Council what to do about it, and the response I got was "These things are hard to prove." Stupendous. I guess the honest teachers will just have to wallow in our own honesty.
Posted by: Nikolas

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their boss - 02/23/13 01:19 AM

I'm trying to read this whole thread, but I'm having a hard time following, since it doesn't interest me practically in any way, but it's filled with acronyms that I've just recently met...

Still, I'd like to say that, while I'm ultra educated (PhD, blah blah), I still find that while some times I get annoyed by the credential of others, I do still understand that one cannot be judged "by a piece of paper".

I have felt very unsupported of Greece over the past few years and actually haven't been able to find a regular job in a music school ANYWHERE! reason for that is the economic crisis, the fact that each music school here has a couple of piano teachers which are enough for them and nobody cares to provide better service to their students (if we are to assume that I'd provide a better service).

I have decided, though, for better or worst on the following ideas (and based on my experience of course):

1. Even people (composers) who don't read or write music can come up with some AMAZING music (true).
2. Credentials don't mean a thing in real life, apart from perhaps showing some dedication in the field they've studied.
3. I'm slowing gaining reputation as a private teacher and this is fine by me, even if I can't enter the normal music schools system. No grudges there. in fact I have been considering that perhaps I'm lacking something (skills, networking, appearance, talent, certainly not credentials :P), so... it could be that.
Posted by: Kevin K

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their bos - 02/23/13 03:57 AM

Originally Posted By: Plowboy
As for the quality of instruction, I don't know since I've only had one teacher. But I do notice that one of the private Irvine teachers on this thread is teaching kids to use pedal with Bach. Even I know that's wrong.


....I can't tell if you are being sarcastic or not. If you are then that was a really good one.

But if you aren't then I think that reveals a little something about the quality of instruction you are getting--if only in terms of pedaling.

Anyway, it seems your passive aggressive statement about "one of the private Irvine teachers on this thread" kind of backfired already judging from the other responses so I won't add any more to it.
Posted by: Kreisler

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their bos - 02/23/13 10:45 AM

Originally Posted By: Kevin K
Quick statement about what you said about me. I didn't just make up a story about everything that happened. I've since taken the review off my blog as I've realized some people just can't wrap their heads around the fact that it's on a "competitor's" website, therefore I'm just a bitter, lying, former employee, whatever my real intentions are.


From what I recall, the problem was that your story of everything that happened was incredibly vague. There were no specifics. Had you mentioned a specific incident and given details, then the story would've had a lot more credibility.

Plus, one of the criticisms that has been levied against these commercial music schools is that they poach students and, in the process, often say bad things about the teachers they're poaching from. In a way, that seemed to be what you were doing - the blog post seemed to be a marketing tactic, aimed at convincing parents that commercial music schools provide low-quality instruction and have shady business practices.

In looking at a variety of websites in the Orange County area, I've noticed something. It's very difficult to find the names of teachers and a list of student accomplishments. I'm surprised at how few of the teachers in the area run a website that clearly indicates who they are, what their credentials are, lists recent student accomplishments, and clearly state their policies. At a minimum, websites should at least have the *names of the teachers*.

If I were a parent in Irvine, I'd be incredibly confused. Only one teacher in the area shows up as being MTNA certified, and the MTAC Irvine branch website lists teachers but doesn't give websites for more information, making it very difficult to research teachers.
Posted by: Kevin K

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their bos - 02/23/13 01:58 PM

Originally Posted By: Kreisler
Originally Posted By: Kevin K
Quick statement about what you said about me. I didn't just make up a story about everything that happened. I've since taken the review off my blog as I've realized some people just can't wrap their heads around the fact that it's on a "competitor's" website, therefore I'm just a bitter, lying, former employee, whatever my real intentions are.


From what I recall, the problem was that your story of everything that happened was incredibly vague. There were no specifics. Had you mentioned a specific incident and given details, then the story would've had a lot more credibility.

Plus, one of the criticisms that has been levied against these commercial music schools is that they poach students and, in the process, often say bad things about the teachers they're poaching from. In a way, that seemed to be what you were doing - the blog post seemed to be a marketing tactic, aimed at convincing parents that commercial music schools provide low-quality instruction and have shady business practices.

In looking at a variety of websites in the Orange County area, I've noticed something. It's very difficult to find the names of teachers and a list of student accomplishments. I'm surprised at how few of the teachers in the area run a website that clearly indicates who they are, what their credentials are, lists recent student accomplishments, and clearly state their policies. At a minimum, websites should at least have the *names of the teachers*.

If I were a parent in Irvine, I'd be incredibly confused. Only one teacher in the area shows up as being MTNA certified, and the MTAC Irvine branch website lists teachers but doesn't give websites for more information, making it very difficult to research teachers.

Interesting, I'll keep that in mind. I was talking about a very specific incident, but I guess I didn't give too many details about it.

Actually, in my review, I very specifically mention that the teachers there are great and I urge parents to seek them out privately, not seek ME out personally, I think that would be me poaching students from the teachers there. Nowhere in the review was it ever about come study with me or don't study with the teachers at ISM; it was about not supporting a dishonest owner of the commercial music studio. In fact I even say that Cameron might be a decent piano teacher himself, but he's a dishonest one and if a parent has a problem with that then please be aware, if they don't care, then that's fine with me also.

I realize now that posting it on my own website is a mistake as the review was originally intended to be posted on google; I changed my mind BECAUSE I cared about the teachers/friends I've made there. It was never about poaching students from the teachers there.

As far as the website is concerned, I don't know how I can put more about myself on there, I'm guessing you're not talking about my website. Although the student accomplishments/lists thing isn't done yet because I feel like I should ask for the parent's permission first and haven't gotten around to it yet. I've only listed the schools my students are from.

As for commercial music studio websites who don't list their teachers, my guess is it's simply not practical for them considering the turnover rate of the teachers there and probably partly because they don't want parents to have their teachers' full names in case they seek them out privately. At Irvine School of Music, Cameron made it very clear in the contract and personally that we are not allowed to give out any personal information.

I'm not a MTNA member, that's different from MTAC which I am a part of. As for the websites for the list of teachers, the truth is....most of them DON'T have a website. Speaking for my mom only, she doesn't even know how to download attachments from an email let alone create a website. One member in the branch doesn't even use computers.

Anyway! Hope this sheds some light on your concerns.
Posted by: Kreisler

Re: Commercial Music Studio at Shopping Center and their bos - 02/23/13 05:05 PM

Originally Posted By: Kevin K
As far as the website is concerned, I don't know how I can put more about myself on there, I'm guessing you're not talking about my website.


I wasn't. I did a search for Irvine piano teachers on google and checked the MTAC and MTNA websites to see what I could come up with.

Here are a few websites from where I live:

http://www.preucil.org/index.html

Very clear - names of the administrators and faculty easy to find, website looks professional, and everything is spelled and punctuated correctly. Pricing and scheduling information is easy to find.

http://www.jakobpianostudio.com/index.html

An independent teacher who works at the same store I do. A simpler website, but clearly says who he is, gives credentials, policies, and registration information.

http://www.nancycree.com/

A group of five teachers in our area who are very active in the community. Site includes bios of all teachers, contact information, a schedule of events, and a monthly newsletter.

So...three very different teaching situations with very different websites, but they all have clarity in common. I know all of them personally, and they all have good relationships with their clients, provide a quality education with a professional level of service. I would have no trouble referring students to them, and I'm pretty sure they'd all refer students to me as well.