Proposed Consent Agreement In the Matter of Music Teachers National Association, Inc. #00229

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


It is of great concern to me that the Music Teachers National Association has been coerced by the Federal Trade Commission to adopt certain standards and viewpoints which are inconsistent with the goals of music education in this country solely because it has the power to do so. It has long been misunderstood by the public that the purpose of music is to be consumed, and so music has become as much a commodity as any other item of trade. (If music were not viewed as such, it is unlikely that the Federal Trade Commission would now be throwing its weight around in the musical world.) In fact, music is much deeper, more intangible, and far more valuable than most people realize, and try though it might, the Federal Trade Commission is not going to be able to put a price tag on music instruction or succeed in convincing musicians that unethical behavior toward one another is ethical. We have our own standards of ethics which do not require approval or even comment by the federal government. The relationship between a student and his or her music teacher is not one of merchant and customer, but of mentor and pupil. The bond between them is more familial than commercial and thus deserves a certain amount of protection. How much protection is a matter of perspective, but the relationship should in no case be regarded as a mere financial arrangment. Much like marriage, it should not be entered into nor discarded without due cause. Both parties have much to gain and to lose from the relationship beyond any prospective monetary gains or losses. Most music students would point to their music teachers as the important source of their musical aspirations and to a large degree, even of their self-worth, and likewise, most music teachers would attribute a good deal of their personal happiness to the success of their students. Accordingly, countenancing the alienation of a student's affections toward his music teacher or of a teacher toward his student based solely upon the necessity of "fair trade" is unconscionable. What I have to say about the the meddling of the Federal Trade Commission in the ethics of the music profession applies to a host of other ethical concerns in other disciplines. I do not propose to speak on behalf of these disciplines but will allow their proponents to speak for themselves. What I do want to say is that the federal government would be far better occupied in matters to which it has experience and jurisdiction--managing the national debt, for example--than using its power to terrorize well-meaning people who have succeeded in governing themselves quite well without its interference.