Teacher commission to help buy violin
How much of a commission should I expect to give my teacher for helping me find a violin. I would expect her to go with me to a shop at least 40 miles away and spend an hour or two playing for me and listening to me. Then I'm sure I would try a few at home and have her help me decide in a lesson. I might try spending about $5000. comments? thoughts?
Remember - this is JUST ME. I don't want to speak for any other teacher.
I've never paid a commission to a teacher, and I have never expected one from a student. If your teacher is asking for that, I personally think that's not appropriate.
If the teacher is getting a commission, it usually comes from the shop and is hidden in whatever price the shop quotes you.
She hasn't asked (I haven't mentioned getting a new violin) I just want to be prepared. I thought it was the way things worked when someone helps your search.
I did this for some students for no compensation nor commission. Frankly, I much preferred to do this to having a beginning student arrive with an inferior instrument already in hand. However, if I had had a heavy teaching and rehearsal load it might have been difficult to find available time. One of my cello students was a piano teacher who had a studio of 60-70 weekly students. It is hard to imagine he could have found time to help students select instruments when shops were open had he been a string teacher.
I agree with Mary Ellen. Many teachers would not charge you, but it's fair to compensate them if it's a long drive, which it is in this case.
"I thought it was the way things worked when someone helps your search. "
As a student, I would offer to compensate for the teachers time at the same rate of lessons, and I would include travel time. If teacher offers time for free or a much reduced rate, I would remember that at holiday time and give an appropriate gift.
This has been a subject of discussion here.... In my opinion it is impossible to avoid conflict of interest unless you pay your teacher for time spent or a flat fee. I have already stated many times, do not ever disclose how much money you can spend on a violin. You are looking for violin to suit your musical needs. Violins are not priced as electronic equipment or other goods on the market, where more money can buy more features.
I couldn't agree with Rocky more. Never tell what your budget is. Ask to see violins 50% lower and up to your full budget. You will be surprised that more often than not, a cheaper violin than what you are prepared to pay for, might be a superior sounding violin than the more expensive ones. Provenance comes with a price, but it's no guarantee for a good sound.
The "fair" thing in my opinion is to pay the teacher their going hourly rate.
I agree with Erik. Evaluating a $5000 violin is professional work. My own feeling is that teachers want to be friendly and generous about this kind of thing, but honestly many of them can hardly afford it. Nobody wants to feel like they're cheating their violin teacher.
Regardless whether your teacher get a commission from the dealer or not (no need to ask her), you should get your teacher:
Great responses. Thank you. My current is about $1500 to 2000. I've been playing almost seven years. I upgraded my bow 2 years ago and found a really nice one. I want to find my forever violin and I'm an adult so "I do what I want" lol.
My guess is that you're not going to find a huge difference, although there'll be a slight step up, probably, depending on how good your current violin is for its price. $2k - $3.5k or so gets you the best of the workshop instruments. Then you're generally looking at $10k+ for established contemporary makers.
Numerous shops have approached me about commissions during my teaching career. One shop even flat out told me "What will it take to get your studio business? Just name your price."
Given your new information, I think it would be much more efficient for you to go to the shop on your own, try out instruments, and select two or three violins to take out on approval. Bring these to your next lesson and get your teacher’s opinion. Go back to the shop, hold onto the one you and your teacher have agreed is the best out of the batch, and select one or two others to take out on approval with it. Repeat this process until you are satisfied that you have the best violin for you. This will spread the process out over a much longer period of time but it gives you a chance to give the instruments a fair trial, and it is much more respectful of your teacher’s time than asking her to make an 80 mile round trip perhaps more than once.
Mary Ellen's advice would be typical practice. I suppose driving someplace wouldn't be out of the question in unusual circumstances. I know one very fine maker who refuses to ship his violins out for trial.
Tomorrow I will be going with my teacher to a violin shop to try some bows. I asked him to come with me during my weekly class, and he agreed, so this is the way I'm paying him.
When I took an instrument home for trial I had to execute a "conditional purchase." In other words, I effectively had to buy it using a credit card with the condition that I could return it in a specified amount of time (I think we agreed to one week). That way, if I wrecked it or stole it the seller already had compensation - although the seller already had the instrument insured as part of his MO.
I think that is a reasonable way to proceed. As far as I know, some shops used to ask just for a part of the full price. Some others just trusted the customer completely. And then, they found out that some people were serious and loyal, but some other used to take the instruments for "half the price" without paying the rest, forcing the shop to sue them, or that they returned the instrument in bad condition, etc.
Policies vary per shop. One of my local shops require you to provide a credit card and sign an agreement allowing them to charge your card if you fail to return the stuff on trial within the specified period.
I wonder what kind of thing you are looking for? Probably a high-grade French workshop instrument, about 100 years old, at that price? A top-quality Chinese workshop instrument? Or would you hope to get an American or English master-made instrument? Not that the latter is automatically better, though they tend to be. I ask that really just to prompt getting a bit of information and thinking through what is realistic. If the violin is ugly, you might get a better sounding instrument for the money, as they are harder to sell, but who wants an ugly fiddle?
John, in the situation you describe I think the price range would be usually something in the range of 10,000 to 15,000 price wise...no? Less than 5,000 I think it would either be new a new Chinese factory or old European factory instrument (which cover a wide range of price range depending on the particular instrument) . I think between 5000 and 10000 in terms of new instruments, usually not so known (that is to the western clientele ) or at least non-big name makers from eastern European countries. Young makers in the more affluent western countries might slightlystart charging at around 10000, maybe a bit less...but not around 5000.
If you post “Have $5,000. What should I buy?”on the other violin (making) forum, you will get offers from makers willing to sell one for $5,000.
A piece of advice from a relative of mine in the insurance business: If you take an instrument out on trial, and something happens to it, the violin shop's insurance will reimburse the shop (minus deductable) for the value of the violin, should the shop decide to file a claim.
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