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Accompanying for free


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#16 BabyGrand

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Posted 08 July 2019 - 23:58

I agree with Violin Star - we are not a charity! Why would you do this for free? I will go further and say (controversially I presume) that in doing it for free you are devaluing other professionals and making it harder for them to earn a living. I feel this about teachers who massively under cut the going rate for lessons too - perhaps someone who doesn't have to make a living out of teaching, who has a partner who supports them etc.

I understand your point, but I really don't think it's the same thing.  This is my sole income and I do not have a husband/partner to support me, and yet I fully stand by my choice not to charge my own students for accompanying.  It is very much a business choice.  

 

A better comparison might be teachers offering refunds and make-up lessons for cancellations.  After all, we are not a charity - why should any teacher offer a refund for a missed lesson?  When someone does so, aren't they undermining the profession?  Now, I personally do not offer refunds, but it's something that has to be up to each individual teacher to decide.  Or what about when a teacher gives a student 15 minutes extra because they are struggling the week before an exam?  Or the teacher who spend an hour on the phone to a parent who is concerned about their child?  Shouldn't they charge for that hour of their time?  Or a teacher who spends hours creating materials or sourcing music for one student?  What about teachers who put on concerts for free?  What if I took my students to perform at an old people's home - do I charge for my time then?  Etc etc.  Every minute of our time is valuable, and technically worth paying for.  Yet no teacher truly charges for everything they do.  We all have to decide where that line is for ourselves, and it's never going to be the same for everyone.  

 

We all do more than teach someone for 30 minutes a week.  Parents might see it as paying for a half hour lesson, but in actual fact we set our fees so that they cover both lesson time, and everything else we do for our students in between lessons.  Some of use include exam accompanying in that "everything else", and some don't.  As far as I'm concerned, it's part of what I offer; part of what they are paying for when they choose me as their teacher.  If you see differently, that's fine, but it does not mean that I am devaluing your job.  It's not the same as setting yourself up as a teacher and charging half the going rate - I agree that's not on. 

 

As another example, lets' say a shop offers a free book with every purchase: does that mean they are devaluing all the other bookshops?  Does it mean they are acting as a charity?  No, they are making a business choice; that actually they believe, in the long run, their business will be better off for offering that book for free than they would be if they charged for it.  That actually they will make more profit despite giving away that book.  In the same way, paying for lessons with me comes with "free" accompanying.  It's not devaluing - if something had no value, offering it for free wouldn't mean very much!  It's only considered a "perk" based on the fact it is actual worth something, and would need to be paid for elsewhere.  

 

As I've said, when I do other accompanying work - for those who aren't my students, or for my students but not on the instrument I teach them - I do charge.  I know what my time is worth.  Specifically, I know what my time as an accompanist is worth.  But I choose to make this part of of what I include for my own students.  I also make sure I don't lose income by taking time out to accompany my students.  If I am unable to rearrange my teaching so I can be there, then they would have to find another accompanist, although so far that's never happened.  

 

Taking this approach is the best way for me, at the minute.  That doesn't mean it's going to be the best approach for anybody else.  As I said in another thread, we all have to do what is going to work best for ourselves and our students.  I think, like most things, this is an area where we have to make the choice that's right for us.  

 

Now, having said all that, when someone is doing general accompanying - not for their students - and charges little or nothing, then that I do see as an issue!  I know there is someone who has done a lot of exam accompanying in my town, who charges something like £10.  I'm not sure whether that's for a rehearsal and the exam or whether he just doesn't rehearse with them at all (which seems shockingly common), but either way, it makes my own reasonable rates (definitely not the highest locally) seem very high.  I'm not seeking large amounts of accompanying work, so it's not something that's caused me a major issue, but I know I have lost potential income to him, and it does bother me.  So I do definitely sympathise/agree with what you are saying, I just see what I choose to offer my own students as a different matter.  


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#17 zwhe

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Posted 09 July 2019 - 07:29

Perhaps it would be more accurate to say some people include accompanying in their fees and others don't?

I include pupil concerts, and from September will include music for pupils who pay monthly. These extras are not free as I have included the cost of them when setting my fees (I even wrote down the cost of all the music I asked pupils to buy for 6 months!).

The only reason I don't include accompanying is that most of my pupils are learning piano. It would seem a little unfair to charge them for it, and I prefer to have the same rate for both instruments. My terms and conditions state clearly what is included and what isn't, to reduce the number of 'do I really have to buy that' conversations with parents, and so that everybody knows it is their choice if they make the most of what they have paid or not.


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#18 Dorcas

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Posted 09 July 2019 - 08:14

To be honest, I avoid accompanying, as I only teach piano.  When I am approached, which is rare, I refuse as I am not prepared to alter my teaching timetable to accommodate.  Years ago I had a student who booked piano lessons then tried to turn them into singing lessons despite me pointing out I am not a trained vocalist.  It turned out, my rates were cheaper than the singing teachers he had worked with!!!!  I am not a psychologist, but I felt his expectations of my teaching skills were delusional.  As far as charging or not charging for accompanying, it all depends on what suits each teacher.


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#19 jenny

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Posted 09 July 2019 - 11:00

I haven't done any accompanying recently, but still have a memory of being asked to accompany a young man taking an advanced grade, which involved quite a lot of practising on my part, plus two rehearsals before the exam. The parents hadn't asked beforehand how much I would charge and only asked how much they owed me after the exam. I had taken advice about a suitable fee. to include the rehearsals and my practice time and can still remember the look of shock on the father's face! He did pay what I asked, but it was obviously a lot more than he had been expecting.   


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#20 Brynfan

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Posted 13 July 2019 - 22:24

I always accompany my singing students in exams for free and don't charge for student end of term concerts (although I ask £3 from each adult audience member - children free- which includes tea/coffee/squash and biscuits). I think of it as part of the service, I'm a friendly face in the exam room, and I mostly know how my student is going to perform. It would be a different matter if I wasn't capable of accompanying them. I always charge my lesson rate for rehearsals and the exam time (travel costs and time factored in) for other teachers' students.

 

I went to an event in my town today and was approached by a parent I know vaguely through a friend. She asked me who I used to accompany my singing students in exams as the accompanist her daughter's teacher had arranged couldn't rehearse at a mutually convenient time. When I told her that I accompany them myself she was shocked. Their teacher had told them that teachers are not allowed to accompany their own pupils - ABRSM and Trinity rules! ohmy.png


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#21 Norway

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Posted 14 July 2019 - 07:18

ohmy.png indeed. Isn't it amazing how some people lie and think they will never get found out.


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#22 Latin pianist

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Posted 14 July 2019 - 07:51

Could be lies or just misconceptions. Like inherited students who say they have been told they have to rub markings out on exam pieces. I even had one parent buy another copy!
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#23 vron

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Posted 14 July 2019 - 08:33

"Like inherited students who say they have been told they have to rub markings out on exam pieces. I even had one parent buy another copy! "

now that is something as a student I thought was probably needed and I cant blame anyone else for my misconception as no-one told me that . I just thought it!
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#24 SingingPython

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Posted 14 July 2019 - 08:45

Ah well I grew up in Australia and under AMEB we did have to rub out markings on music - not necessarily every single one, but as we got general knowledge / musicianship questions asked about our pieces, lots of relevant stuff might need to be erased before an exam.


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#25 Latin pianist

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Posted 14 July 2019 - 08:57

I suppose that is true for LCM or trinity though the examiners do have copies of the actual exam books, but these have been Abrsm candidates.
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#26 Dorcas

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Posted 14 July 2019 - 17:21

It's not the case for LCM.  My candidates have never been penalised for marks on the music, although I have always tried to keep this to a minimum.


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#27 vron

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Posted 14 July 2019 - 20:12

Nice to know Dorcas as when I finally do take my very first flute exam in the future it will be with LCM as that is whom my tutor uses. I was under the impression that as they could ask you about your music etc it had to be pretty well clean.
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#28 Dorcas

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Posted 15 July 2019 - 12:28

Vron, I only write in the occasional note, rhythm counting within bars, but not a semibreve = 4 beats or such like.  For students at higher grades who want to write in a fuller analysis, I recommend photocopying the music.  As students have to take in the original exam book, photocopying in this case is permissible.  Fully annotated music would of course not be wise.  

 

Glad to be of help Vron.


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#29 Bantock

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Posted 15 July 2019 - 19:54

I teach piano, clarinet and saxophone and for years (I've been teaching for 43 years) I charged nothing at all, but in the end got fed up with being taken for granted. Like others have mentioned no-one (pupils or parents) ever bothered to say thank you for the accompanying so I thought, even if I'm being taken for granted, I might as well earn some money whilst being unappreciated. I therefore charge a standard fee of a half hour lesson per pupil with no extras for travelling. I think this is a fair amount for the lower grades but positively cheap for Grade 8 pupils were I frequently have to play, say, a (wonderful) Brahms Clarinet Sonata, which is way harder than the clarinet part.
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