Proposed Consent Agreement In the Matter of Music Teachers National Association, Inc. #00181

Submission Number:
William Gregg
Harmonic Resources
New York
Initiative Name:
Proposed Consent Agreement In the Matter of Music Teachers National Association, Inc.
Matter Number:


Competition and Ethics I began to offer private music lessons, nearly forty years ago. In conversations with other music teachers, long before I even knew the MTNA existed, I learned that it was considered unethical to try to lure students from another studio. The reason is apparent to anyone familiar with the business. A student’s progress is closely tied to their ongoing interaction with a particular instructor. Music tutors must establish a strong, trusting relationship with a pupil. The one on one connection between teacher and pupil is difficult to establish, but crucial to the student’s progress. This individualized give and take in the course of instruction is the reason why private students progress so much farther and faster than in a class situation. To deliberately undercut these relationships in the name of “vigorous competition” is detrimental to this progress. Music instruction is not a commodity. It is the ongoing development of high level physical and mental skills and, in the best instruction, the development of character traits in the pupil. In any case, there is already sufficient competition. Music tutors advertise their skills, experience and reputation and disclose their fees to prospective students. If a student is unhappy with his or her progress with a particular teacher, they are free to, and often do, seek out another instructor. If the FTC is committed to degrading the level of music instruction in the pursuit of “free trade” or “competition”, then it succeeds in this by pursuing its suit against the MTNA. The MTNA’s voluntary code of ethics has simply stated what most private music instructors have long regarded as proper professional courtesy. By its unwarranted attack on this venerable association the FTC is causing harm to a group of professionals who, more often than not, cooperate in a collegial manner with each other to promote the highest quality training of their students. Worse, it promotes practices that promise to harm the educational development of young people. It has made the FTC the butt of ridicule, and undercut the credibility of the federal government of the United States. This action by the FTC against the gentile code of conduct of music professionals smacks of the capricious and brutal legalistic bureaucratism of the former soviet regimes. I believe the FTC should rescind its “consent decree” with the MTNA and abandon its suit against the organization before further harm comes to either organization.