Proposed Consent Agreement In the Matter of Music Teachers National Association, Inc. #00174

Submission Number:
00174
Commenter:
Randall Reade
State:
District of Columbia
Initiative Name:
Proposed Consent Agreement In the Matter of Music Teachers National Association, Inc.
Matter Number:

131-0118

I teach piano and am also an attorney. I have been a member of the Washington Music Teacher (WMTA) for about 15 years. Our organization is small and consists mostly of part time and full time music teachers who charge any where from about $30 to $90 per hour, depending on their experience and where they live. Teachers are free to set any rate that they choose, and the organization does not keep any records of anyone's rates, and WMTA does not even suggest rates. Furthermore, WMTA membership is entirely voluntary. Therefore, I do not see how our organization restricts trade in any fashion. We have had language that suggest it is unethical for a teacher to "poach" students from another teacher. The FTC apparently sees this as a restraint upon trade. If such a case exists, the scenario would be that a good student is studying under a teacher, and another teacher approaches the student to say that he or she would be a better teacher and attempt to entice the student to leave the current teacher and go with another. Although we have never had that situation ever occur, the likelihood is that the new teacher would be charging the same or more than the current teacher. Good students want to study with the best teachers and do not shop around based upon price. It is the QUALITY of instruction that matters to the student. Even with our language in place, there is no restraint whatsoever for a student from seeking out another teacher if he or she beleives another teacher will better instructor. In other words, when students are seeking to become a good piano student, pricing is irrelevant. Any student who is looking for a teacher based primarily upon price is and always has been able to make phone calls and ask teachers for their rates. But the reality is that most students do not shop around like that -- their concern is mostly that the teacher's studio is located near to home and is qualified and experienced. If price is an issue, there are plenty of ways of finding the cheapest teachers. This restraint allegation shows an appalling lack of understanding of how the teaching profession actually works. If you understand how instruction of any art form works, you would realize that there is no restraint upon anyone, and no price fixing. I'm surprised that your investigation has not realized that. We are not selling widgets, but teaching an art form and a skill that takes years to leanr and perfect.