sibling discount

Sonya Hoffman said: May 30, 2013
 Viola, Violin
Hatfield, PA
2 posts

I just discovered this teacher board and have enjoyed seeing that we all share the same questions and issues!

I just had a parent ask for a sibling discount and was a little surprised. I have taught the older child for two years and now the younger child will begin lessons. Do you give a sibling discount? I currently have two other siblings studying with me back to back at the regular lesson price. I did not offer a discount and the parent didn’t ask.

Thanks for your input!

Barb said: May 30, 2013
Barb Ennis
Suzuki Association Member
Cello
678 posts

No, I don’t. The siblings share books and parent orientation is already covered so the family saves in that regard. Also, with back to back lesson times they save in any travel costs.

In my experience, most activities that do offer family discounts only offer them for three or more participants. And in those cases most are not increasing instruction time, only group size.

Welcome to the forums! I’ve found everyone here so supportive and helpful—hope you find the same!

Barb
Music Teachers Helper—for individual teachers
Studio Helper—for entire music studios or schools

Caitlin said: May 30, 2013
Caitlin HunsuckViolin
Merced, CA
41 posts

I do! I give a discount per increasing time, so a half-hour lesson cost more per hour than an hour lesson. In my studio policies I state that if the siblings have lessons back-to-back then the hourly rate can be applied (instead of two half-hour rates)… which considering that I get the extra kid, have only one set of parents to deal with, one check to cash, and the transition time is shorter, I think that the discount is a fair deal. But I also don’t have a registration fee, I just factor that in my monthly rate. I came from a large family, so I empathize with the increasing cost of a having several kids, and I want to encourage having several kids from one family in my studio. They seem to stick with the program better when they have siblings at home doing the same thing.

Paula Bird said: May 30, 2013
 
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Piano, Viola
Wimberley, TX
386 posts

I don’t offer a discount. I figure that it is a payment for my time, and my time is not discounted, so I ask for the rate for the time that I spend. Students each need their own practice handbook, so there shouldn’t be any discount there either. In the old days when I used to have a registration fee, I used to charge the fee per family. The paperwork and record-keeping for that was such a hassle, that I gave it up and went in favor of the same fee for everyone.

Paula E. Bird
TX State University
Wildflower Suzuki Studio
http://teachsuzuki.blogspot.com (blog)
http://teachsuzuki.com (podcast)

Paula Bird said: May 30, 2013
 
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Piano, Viola
Wimberley, TX
386 posts

I forgot to add, I think parents who ask for discounts are under the belief that they are bringing you more business so should get a discount for that reason. But when I point out to them that it isn’t a discount in terms of the amount of time and the amount of materials that I spend on them, the issue usually goes away.

Paula E. Bird
TX State University
Wildflower Suzuki Studio
http://teachsuzuki.blogspot.com (blog)
http://teachsuzuki.com (podcast)

Sonya Hoffman said: May 31, 2013
 Viola, Violin
Hatfield, PA
2 posts

Thanks for your insight, everyone!

On a side note, Paula, I just checked out your blog and I also have backyard chickens!

Barbara Stafford said: May 31, 2013
Barbara Stafford
Suzuki Association Member
Violin
Plano, TX
59 posts

I read everyone’s post here so far, and I just wanted to comment. I think sometimes parents think a sibling discount is logical because dance classes and sports groups will often do that—those are groups (as Barb was saying above), so it might be easier in those cases to offer some kind of slight discount. Thinking about Caitlyn’s policy in which she does have a regressive rate structure built into her hourly rate—it also can make sense but I think it has to naturally flow from the way you already do things. For the most part, I don’t have a regressive rate structure (except from 20—30 minutes change) After reaching 30′, I have a flat rate similar to Paula. I think that keeps the first 30 minutes affordable to more people, although they might be tempted to make due with 30 minutes, even after it would be best for them to move up to 45 minutes and even 1 hour lessons.

Anita Knight said: May 31, 2013
Anita Knight
Suzuki Association Member
Violin
Kent, WA
19 posts

This is a topic near and dear to my heart. We homeschooled our 6 sons with piano & Suzuki violin and I know the sacrifices!
Now that they’re nearly grown, my vision is to make Suzuki violin accessible to homeschool families and those who couldn’t afford it otherwise. I communicate my standard price. Many can pay that. For those who are committed but have limited resources, we discuss creative ways they can compensate. Some provide housecleaning, meals (dinner on busy teaching days, yeah!) or homemade green drinks. Many transition into paying more as they’re able. I love seeing the parental budgeting and growth in this process.
While I have my core of paying students, some of these things are of greater value to me than the money.

Meanwhile, whole families are coming on board ~ the mama who called in April for her 2 children has now morphed into 3 families, with 2 husband-wife couples playing and 9 children, aged 3-10! This is gonna be interesting.
Great story, but gotta run now.
I just shake my head in awe at how God has crazy answered my prayers and is directing this studio! Its a wild ride!

Anita Knight
“Joyful Sound Violin Studio”

Phyllis Calderon said: May 31, 2013
Phyllis CalderonViolin, Suzuki Early Childhood Education, Suzuki in the Schools, Piano
Chicago, IL
22 posts

I learn so much from you all! Thanks for sharing your insights and experiences.

Regarding the sibling-discount topic, I do what both Caitlin and Anita do.

I teach in a community where families come from mixed income levels. Since I started teaching I have always wanted to make it more about providing this service to families whether or not they can afford it. For those families who can fully afford my standard rate, they pay. But for those who can’t, I do discount. I am even partnered with an organization www.MusicLinkFoundation.org that helps me offset the discounted fee in refunds and so forth. When the students can pay me what I charge when their financial situation turns around, they do. I have never had a problem. I have seen it come back to me as blessings because I meet them where they are. And sometimes I have bartered services (violin or piano lessons in exchange for tennis lessons).

After reading some of posts, though, I am now, however, rethinking offering discounts only on special group classes (like music theory or chamber ensemble) and payment in full, rather than on sibling discounts, which I have always done and currently still do. Anyhow, thanks everyone for your insights and sharing your experiences.

Phyllis Calderon
Director, String Instructor
A Touch of Classical Plus, Inc.—Calderon Music Studio
www.atouchofclassicalplus.musicteachershelper.com

Virginia Lamboley said: Jun 1, 2013
Virginia Lamboley
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Piano, Viola
Clearwater, FL
11 posts

I also have done sibling discounts or reduced my prices for the beginning Twinklers because of the long years of lesson tuition that I know is a difficult commitment for many families. After several years of reducing prices, I realized that the effort it took me to teach those beginners or siblings was just a as great, or sometimes greater, and that it wasn’t really financially feasible to me. I also have to make a living, pay my bills, etc. Also, in many cases I have found that the families that receive this ‘help’ often take advantage of it, even though they don’t intend to abuse it. I have discovered that “you get what you pay for” is often true. People tend to value and work harder for what they pay for.

I am not heartless, and still make private arrangements to help those families who truly could not afford the lessons, but will honestly value and put the effort into practice, listening and attendance at lessons and group classes. I just don’t publish this as a ’sibling discount’ or other type of discount, but make private arrangements or ’scholarship’ arrangements.

I have so appreciated reading all the other posts on this!

Virginia Lamboley
String Things Suzuki

Jennifer Visick said: Jun 1, 2013
Jennifer VisickForum Moderator
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Suzuki in the Schools, Violin
998 posts

With the Suzuki program I work with in one city, we discount siblings for group classes only (teachers in the program can make arrangements for discounts on private lessons at their own discretion).

Our discount rate is—2nd child enrolled in any of our group classes (whether a standard repertoire class or a music reading or theory class or whatever) at the same time as the first, 10% off 2nd child’s tuition; if 3 are enrolled at once, 3rd child gets 25% off group class tuition, and if 4 (or more) at once, 4th (or more) child gets 50% off.

In our culture most people don’t have 4 children enrolled at once but we have had 3 enrolled at once. We also have a scholarship application form for lower income families who wish to apply for more of a discount or who have only one child in the program but are in financial need.

Phyllis that Music Link foundation is an interesting idea… I may check into that more!

Elizabeth Friedman said: Jun 20, 2013
Elizabeth Friedman
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
49 posts

Nope—not for siblings, anyway. It’s time that could be filled by someone else paying the full rate, and honestly, I have better places to put my charity.

However, I do have a student who I offer very discounted lessons to because they have demonstrable financial need, and because he practices. That’s different—it is a gift, not an expectation. It was something I offered when they said they would no longer be able to afford lessons when something negative happened with a parent’s job. I would consider sibling discounts on a case-by-case basis, but that would really be a financial gift on my part, and not a discount as such. I certainly couldn’t afford to do it regularly—I’ve got bills, too.

I’ve found that most people who have asked me for discounts have enough money (one pulled up in a new Mercedes)—they’re just accustomed to getting something for free. Or, they’re living a lifestyle on the limits, and want me to pay the price for it. Your time is worth your rate—that’s why you’re charging it. Stick to your guns.

Paula Bird said: Jun 20, 2013
 
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Piano, Viola
Wimberley, TX
386 posts

When I first started out as a young teacher, an older mentor gave me some very good advice regarding scholarships.

Rulenumber one: don’t offer them. Let the family ask for what they need. Don’t make assumptions about them. Many lower income families have a great deal of pride regarding their finances and work very hard to be able to afford privileges like music lessons. I have found it interesting that many times families ask for scholarships when they can afford to pay for the lessons. Odd phenomena that.

Rule number two: scholarships should be offered to your best students. By best students, my friend was referring to those students who do the practicing in between lessons. Also the students come to lessons regularly and attend group classes as well.

Rule number three: the family should be willing to demonstrate financial need. If the family is accustomed to discounts and scholarships elsewhere, then they are already accustomed to providing financial information to demonstrate financial need. And this information should be provided on a yearly basis, or per semester, as financial needs change.

I am all for offering scholarships, but sometimes even a partial scholarship will be useful. I have been burned many times by students’ parents who have asked for scholarships, and then they have shown that they don’t need the scholarships. Or they have shown financial irresponsibility by taking inappropriate vacations when bills have not been paid.

It is not my place to make assumptions about another person’s situation, but I do have bills to pay. This is my business, and although I have a higher purpose of providing education, it still is my business. I will run into trouble if I do not remember to treat my business as a business and to run it as a business. I have not been asked to provide a scholarship in many years now.

Paula E. Bird
TX State University
Wildflower Suzuki Studio
http://teachsuzuki.blogspot.com (blog)
http://teachsuzuki.com (podcast)

Paula Bird said: Jun 20, 2013
 
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Piano, Viola
Wimberley, TX
386 posts

Let me also clarify one thing. If I am not successful at running my business because I have been financially irresponsible regarding the issue of tuition and scholarships, then I will be out of business and I will not be able to serve the larger community. I tell new teachers that this area is one of the typical possible mistakes that new teachers make. When I first started out, I had a great deal of difficulty keeping my studio afloat and pay my own bills, because I was being very softhearted about discounts and scholarships for my students. I realized after talking to my mentor, that I needed to come to grips with the scholarship situation if I was going to succeed and teach and reach a larger number of students.

Paula E. Bird
TX State University
Wildflower Suzuki Studio
http://teachsuzuki.blogspot.com (blog)
http://teachsuzuki.com (podcast)

Laura said: Jun 27, 2013
Laura Mozena
Suzuki Association Member
Violin
Palm City, FL
105 posts

The program where I teach does offer sibling discounts, but it is also the same discount for hour lessons. The first half hour is one rate and the second half hour at a discount (whether it is a sibling or a parent’s lesson or the same student).

YMS

Jennifer said: Aug 15, 2013
Jennifer Vinciguerra
Suzuki Association Member
Violin
Pikeville, NC
4 posts

I do and yet I don’t. Let me explain. My standard rates for everyone are $25 per half hour and $45 per hour. One family has two children taking lessons so I just charge them for an hour of my time rather than for two thirty-minute lessons. It saves them $20 over the month, but I am not taking any less pay for the same amount of time.

You must log in to post comments.

A note about the discussion forum: Public discussion forum posts are viewable by anyone. Anyone can read the forums, but you must create an account with your email address to post. Private forums are viewable by anyone that is a part of that private forum's group. Discussion forum posts are the opinion of the poster and do not constitute endorsement by or official position of the Suzuki Association of the Americas, Inc.

Please do not use the discussion forums to advertise products or services