Proposed Consent Agreement In the Matter of Music Teachers National Association, Inc. #00176

Submission Number:
Pamela Lam
Initiative Name:
Proposed Consent Agreement In the Matter of Music Teachers National Association, Inc.
Matter Number:


As a pianist, I was asked one question the most when I was in a piano competition: "who is your teacher?". As a judge in a competition, we always want to know whom the students study with. Every teachers teach differently and have their teaching philosophy, and therefore each teacher is very unique. Teacher-Student relationship in music education industry is a very special one. It is very personal (because we have private one-to-one lesson) and sometimes last a very long time (my own students start lessons at 5 and usually "graduate" from my studio when they are 18). I see my former piano teacher in college as my 2nd mom. We understand that we teach weekly and we don't see immediate results until many years later. There are responsibilities especially in very early stage when we want to build up a good foundation for a beginner. When we see a prize-winning student in a competition, I understand that the teacher must have done YEARS of work to make that happen. We make very little money and yet because we love music so much, we are ok to live with little payment from our customers (students). Many times when I have transferred students, I always make sure they get their consents from their former teachers. If my own student wants to explore another studio, I usually welcome that idea and would participate in the process together. However, there are teachers who would "steal" students because of various reasons. At any competition, it is not surprised to see teachers asking the first place winners to transfer to their studios, so that these teachers can build up their reputation quickly by having a studio with award-winning students. Reputation is important in music-teaching industry, because we can charge more money if we have a good reputation. Many parents shop for a music teacher by researching how many award winning students the teacher has. Instead of doing all the hard works to teach a beginner how to use their fingers, it is much easier for any teacher to accept transferred students who already have showed achievements. To make the matter worse, most of the times the switch of teachers are done in a secret way; the honest teacher who teaches the student well with year of hard work would see this student "disappears" suddenly. I am always glad that we have MTNA's Code of Ethics to "remind" us to respect the work of our colleagues and not to "steal" their students. Without that code, many teachers will assume that it is ok to take away another teacher's students. Of course I have students transferred in and out, but I always make sure the process are done in a professional way that all teachers are involved in the process with much respect. It is very very sad that the FTC take this code with a wrong impression and assume that it will limit competition and drive up the lesson fee. There will always be students transferring between studios for various reasons, and I seldom heard of students transferring to a new teacher because that new teacher is cheaper. FTC, please have someone who understand this industry to evaluate this Code of Ethics. Lets talk to musicians and teachers out there. Don't let any non-musician and non-educators to evaluate this code. This is a very special code for our teachers and for our industry and it will be ashamed that FTC has to take it away. Teaching a student to play the piano well is very special job and takes years for any achievements. In a competition, people don't ask about my last name; they ask about my teacher. You see, this is a very special relationship and need to be respected.