Proposed Consent Agreement In the Matter of Music Teachers National Association, Inc. #00227

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


I am writing as a long-time member of Music Teachers National Association regarding the investigation of MTNA by the FTC. I find it very disheartening that the FTC has chosen to investigate a non-profit entity such as MTNA, an organization whose sole purpose is to promote professional educational standards in the study of music (especially at a time when public schools are cutting or downsizing their music and arts offerings; and it is left largely to private music teachers to keep the study of music alive in this country, and I believe, give students the opportunity to develop their creativity and appreciation of the culture in which they live.) One of the greatest benefits of MTNA, outside of its excellent educational offerings for teachers; is the collegiality of its members, who work together to provide both competitive and non-competitive events for students; thus creating events involving interaction between numerous MTNA teachers and their students. Though it has always been a "gentlemen's agreement," it has always been clearly understood amongst colleagues that these events would not be opportunities to steal one another's students. The Code of Ethics, not unlike Codes of Ethics in many professions, serves simply as a reminder to act with human decency (or "ethics") toward one's colleagues in not diminishing or stealing another's clientele. In the real estate profession in Colorado, for example, a Realtor can lose his/her license with the Colorado State Government's Real Estate Commission for soliciting clientele from another realtor, a government regulation that seems only fair and decent. These "Codes of Ethics" simply remind individuals to respect one another's professional colleagues, a necessary reminder in an all-too-often thoughtless world. As a professional educator working in a low-paying profession (I believe that the average income of most private music teachers -- even degreed music teachers -- is realistically under $20,000/year), I am grateful for the collegiality of colleagues who respect my students, and trust that they value my respect of their studio, as well. I am not certain how the Federal Trade Commission could deem a mutually-accepted Code of Ethics and respect for one another to be "unfavorable" much less "wrongful," nor do I understand by what authority the Federal Trade Commission investigates and sanctions one of the nation's foremost non-profit educational organizations for upholding ethical standards. In a world where music may be one of the few things left in our culture that is truly collegial without ulterior motives of financial exploitation of one another, can you as a governing entity not simply allow MTNA to be a beacon in commendable ethics rather than trying to misconstrue these ethics as poor competitive practice? Would our world not be a much different place if everyone respected each other as much as we believe our professional association of music teachers collectively agrees to? It is, therefore, with these beliefs, that I respectfully request that you withdraw your investigation so our organization can simply focus on doing what they have so spectacularly done for the past century. I am forwarding a copy of this request letter to our Senate and Congressional representatives as well. Thank you for your consideration of this letter. Sincerely, Dr. Stephen Fiess