Survey of Arts Management

Course blog for American University PERF-570, Fall 2014

Costly Lessons

I feel very lucky and grateful to have had the opportunity to take private lessons throughout my childhood, as I know many do not. BBC News examined this quandary of private lessons’ affordability in an article last week. The article reports that the median cost of a typical music lesson £30 in the UK – about $48.25 USD – with the Musicians’ Union recommending to charge £31.

Lately, there has been debate regarding funding for the arts as they strive to make music lessons more available to students, especially those of low-income households. Music budgets have been cut and reorganized into local “music hubs.” One resolution to the costly lessons is suggested by the Sutton Trust which advises money in these hubs to be funneled into a “pupil premium” to be made available for parents or schools for this purpose.

I think this is a wonderful idea as long as it could sustain itself. One-on-one lessons are so important for musical growth.  Luckily, as the article provides, there are ways to minimize the potential for high-priced lessons. Group lessons, using databases to find suitable teachers, and seeking advice from school music teachers or music shops are all ways to help.

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2 comments on “Costly Lessons

  1. alexgilbertschrag
    October 8, 2014

    I was very lucky in that my mother believed that I should have the dance or music lessons that inspired me, and as such she made sure we always had money for that. Private music lessons are definitely at a premium, but that also has to do with the high cost of living. Those who are private teaching need to be able to make enough money to live a sustainable life. I think finding an appropriate balance between teachers charging and what else can be funded is important.

    I’ve wondered if maybe the route to go would be to find permanent funding, or “assistance” with those trying to experience the arts. I know in public schools that some do offer lessons with the teachers there, but they don’t have a teacher of every instrument, and they definitely don’t have the funding. Providing some sort of permanent and easy way for everyone to participate with lessons will be a new issue to tackle. Perhaps there will be some sort of reward or reduction in taxes or some sort of reimbursement for teachers who privately teach and provide affordable lessons to those in need.

    I was given the opportunity to receive organ lessons in exchange for singing in the church choir every Sunday. I didn’t have to pay the costly rate, but instead was able to make it up by participating in something that was fun.

  2. torisharbaugh
    October 10, 2014

    This topic is very touchy because private music lessons are involved in the private sector and follow the economic trends of that sector. If the cost of living is rising, the cost of lessons are also going to rise. Every child deserves the chance to have private music lessons if they desire, but this pressure of costs should not be put on the teachers themselves. More affordable music lessons should come from the public sector, not from the private teachers who are trying to make a living. This availability should come from established programs and public school opportunities.

    I completely agree with Alex that a permanent funding policy should be put in place. Funding for the arts have been cut left and right (especially in the US, where funding was that extensive to begin with) and a sustainable plan needs to be put in action. My first thought whenever funding for the arts is cut is always “Why are the arts budgets almost always the first to be cut? What makes the arts so insignificant to every other area of study? There is not a unanimous realization of the impact of the arts in our society. Our world cannot exist without it”.

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