Charges, Scholarships, Freebies...

June 27, 2019, 1:29 PM · Most people here know my choice to provide free lessons to aspiring young musicians largely because I could not get lessons as a young person due to financial issues.

I fully realize that the professionals here make their living exclusively or in part by teaching; it got me to thinking: "Do the any professionals give scholarships, reduced charges or outright free lessons?"

If not, why not?

If you do, how do you make your decision as to who gets lower rates, scholarships or even free lessons?

Replies (11)

June 27, 2019, 1:37 PM · I had a teacher whose answer was, "Based on how annoying the mother of the student is."
June 27, 2019, 2:16 PM · In a few situations in the past, I've offered scholarships, but with the stipulation that a significant effort must be put in on their part. It still had to be a trade, where they would receive cheap lessons and I would receive a very good student in return who would increase my reputation as a teacher.

In all of those situations, they decided that they weren't *that* serious about learning, and decided against it.

Edited: June 27, 2019, 3:47 PM · Well, no student knows if they're gonna be *that* serious when they just start out. I certainly didn't. I probably would have turned down free lessons as well, if the teacher said I had to practise three hours a day and perform and impress people.
June 27, 2019, 3:49 PM · That's the thing, Cotton. Beggars can't be choosers. If you're going to ask for free lessons, you'd better be willing to trade something in return. My guess is that you pay for lessons. That gives you the luxury of choice, in terms of how much you wanted to practice when you started.
June 27, 2019, 4:25 PM · Yes.

My scholarship students are in two categories--not planned by me, it just happened that way. First, students taking 45-minute lessons, who are serious students and dedicated practicers, who have either made comments or whose circumstances are evident enough that I can be reasonably confident my one-hour fee is a barrier to their moving up to one-hour lessons. At the point where they really need the full hour, I offer them one hour lessons for my 45-minute fee. In exchange for that, they commit to practicing six hours a week (basically, one hour a day with allowance made for a sabbath, a heavy academic day, or some indisposition). This is a win-win. The student gets longer lessons without an increased financial burden to the family, and I get well-prepared students who are a pleasure to teach and who enhance my reputation when they do well, which they do.

The second category is much smaller and that is students who come to me through their orchestra director at either the middle or high school in my neighborhood. These are Title 1 schools (more than half the students qualify for free or reduced price lunch) and I teach one or two students who come to me this way for an extremely reduced fee who otherwise would not be able to take lessons at all. The directors only refer students who are (1) very serious and (2) not otherwise able to afford lessons.

June 27, 2019, 7:06 PM · My daughter's teacher has a couple of kids she teaches pro bono. Not sure how they are vetted. I would think that something like free/reduced lunch program at school would be something measurable. But I like the idea of setting a practice standard.
June 27, 2019, 11:57 PM · I read somewhere that Franz Liszt, at the end of his career, being already wealthy, would not charge for lessons! If you were accepted to his studio, and worked hard, you would have instruction from the best technician in the world.
I think there are two types of violin teachers: full-time professional teachers, who cannot afford to give any kind of financial break, and supplementary income teachers, like me, who can. I can afford to not charge for missed lessons if I so choose.
June 28, 2019, 1:42 PM · The private music school where my teacher is employed has scholarships for poor kids. I think it comes from the overhead so the teacher still gets paid.
June 28, 2019, 5:01 PM · I have one "just happened that way" scholarship student. Without going into details, there came a time when, knowing what I did, I had to say: I understand you may or may not want to continue, but we don't have to let [tragic circumstances] force a decision; if you want to be here, let me know when you're ready and we'll work something out. (Had they chosen to move on, it would have been goodbye with sympathies, but I was not willing to be the initiator.)

"Work something out" means I accommodate them in lesson scheduling and group class planning in a way that reflects their level of effort and responsibility and that doesn't affect my commitment to others.

I would consider future new scholarship students (referred by a colleague or school or something whose judgment or vetting I could trust) although the "level of effort and responsibility" would be discussed in advance and thereafter monitored/reassessed on a regular basis.

June 28, 2019, 6:11 PM · Generally no - the calibre of students I get as a student myself tend not to be good enough to warrant anything merit-based.

I sometimes let go of the cancellation policy if a student has a perfect track record & causes no trouble with admin/parents/attitude etc.

July 1, 2019, 7:06 PM · Our local youth center provides music lessons to children in need. The instructors are paid their regular rates. The center pays them from funding and sponsors they seek. I think this is a win win situation since the instructors still earn their pay and the students are given a wonderful opportunity.

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