Previous Discussion Topics
Music Lessons

Aug 2, 1998

How do other bands handle private lessons at their schools? We have two
major universities in our town with very good music programs and an endless
supply of instructors available to teach private lessons in school, during
school, at a VERY reasonable cost (at least half the cost of "out on the
streets"). Our quandary is how to handle payments of those lessons. Last year
parents paid into their student school accounts and the school cut the
checks based on what the director had agreed with the instructors they would
be paid. Many parents got bills at the end of the year saying they owed for
lessons and even more  students said they never got taught those lessons. We
will be initiating a form for accountability this year so I think we've
come up with the answer to the "didn't get taught" problem, but with a new
band director the boosters are trying to help him figure out the best way to
pay the instructors. He doesn't want to burden the boosters with this (bless
his heart) and as a newly incorporated organization is that also a good
reason for us not to handle payment of the instructors or, if we felt we
could handle it anyway, is Inc. status not an issue (you know the we don't
employ anyone thing)? Another option is to get parents to pay instructors
outright and let them (the instructors) handle the collection part. (My
husband teaches privately at another HS in town and he is ALWAYS on the
phone trying to get his money, so he thinks this is a BAD option.) The final
option is to continue to have students pay into their student accounts (this
way they could also use money earned through fund raising to pay for their
lessons) and have the school still cut the checks. So...any opinions and/or
suggestions? Thanks!

Diana Ossi
Booster President
Godby HS Marching Cougars
Tallahassee, FL

Aug 6, 1998

Hi Bill, Diana and Boosters List,

Private Lessons have grown into quite a project here at Westwood HS. We've
extended the program down into our two middle school feeders starting with
grade 6. Bill is right - the directors have the instructors come to the
campus and they use the practice rooms.  Boosters provides labor to
handle scheduling and fee collecting in the band halls. Boosters also
subsidizes lesson fees to the tune of about $3000 a year.

The Directors at each school interview, approve and monitor the private
instructors and make sure they are all teaching the same 'vertical curriculum'
so for instance the 6th grade flute players learn fingering they way the
directors want it done in high school.

Private Lessons are scheduled throughout the day, not just after school. This
is a huge convenience to students and parents.

The fee last year for a half hour lesson was $11 but I think its going to
$14 this year. Middle school students have a 50 minute lesson for the same

The collected fees are turned into Central Administration for the district.
The school district withholds $1 for insurance and practice room rental,
withholds taxes and sends checks back to the band halls for the instructors.

The downside is that with all of the bureaucracy, the turnaround between
collecting fees and paying instructors is not instantaneous.

The advantages are that every student from grade 6-12 can take weekly
private lessons at school without traveling all over town or having Mom
chauffer; every student is strongly encouraged to take lessons; the
directors have a lot of control over the curriculum taught in private
sessions; all students in every band can benefit from individual attention
on their instrument which strengthens the entire music program in all of
the schools.

What happens (or doesn't happen) in 6-7-8 grade music, ultimately has a
big impact on the high school program. Actually, it reaches down into
the elementary music program too, but that's another story.

In our three schools, we count our blessings that we have 8 directors
who are all working together toward shared goals and communicate with
each other on a daily basis. And no turnover after 3 school years!

Bill Tandy in Austin, TX
Westwood Area Band Boosters

Aug 6, 1998 

Sure seems to me that having the instructors collect from each student
they teach would cut down on the bureaucracy that seems to be running
rampant in some of your schools.  Our instructors collect from each
student on their own.

Cheryl Dougan
Centerville Jazz
Centerville OH

Aug 6, 1998 


    I don't see why "Central Administration" withholds taxes on contract
labor.  While I see lots of abuse of "independent contractor" status
assertions, what you described seems a clear case of where the private
teachers are clearly independent contractors.

    Perhaps it's a bureaucratic "one-size-fits-all" rule, which may be for the best.  :)
Raymond Myers
John Overton HS
Nashville, Tennessee  USA

Aug 1, 1998

      At our high school the instructors are paid directly by the student
(parents).  The way non-payment is handled is that if they are not paid up
they do not get a lesson that week.  I'm not sure but our private instructors
seem to charge the same during school hours as they do after school.
      Several years ago the band budget paid for the lessons but it just got
too costly.  We needed that money for other band necessities.
      We also have a new director this year and the subject of private lessons
during school time has not come up yet.  Our school is on "block scheduling",
so the students are in each class almost 2 hours.  Last year that really
worked well for the students taking private lessons.
      Hope you figure out a system that will work for you.

Cypress Creek HS
Orlando, Fl

Aug 1, 1998

Private lessons are not given within the school, but many of our
musicians do indeed take private lessons on the outside.

The issue of payment is simple. When I teach my students out of the
studio, the studio itself collects the fee monthly, and then pays me
(usually each week, but sometimes I wait longer - my choice.) When I
teach outside of the studio, usually at the student's house - I collect
my fee at each lesson. It just makes things much easier, and less chance
for bad feelings.
Mark L. Fendrick
formerly of the
Tottenville HS Marching Pirates
Staten Island, NYC 

Aug 2, 1998 

Diana, at Churchill lessons are not handled through the school. 
My son used to take a $10 bill (from guess who) and handed it to
his instructor when he walked in the guy's apartment.  This puts
kids all over town, and they had to provide their own transportation,
but it took the school/boosters/directors out of the headache of
managing this too.   

A better method is that of Round Rock Westwood, home of our founder,
Bill Tandy.  There they have the instructors come to the school at
stated hours - I forget but lets say from 4 to 6, where at least
one director is still there.  Makes sense, the kids are still there,
no driving needed by the kids etc.  (This of course if after marching
season, when practice for the whole band is after school).  And the
staff has a chance to keep their finger on the student's musical pulse.

 I'm not sure how they account for the lessons, but an obvious solution
to me would be to have a form that must be signed by both instructor
and student, certifying that the lesson has been given, and the date.
 I would have the instructor paid direct by the student each time
if possible, thus eliminating the school/boosters/directors/whoever
from any money headaches, and the form could serve as a receipt.
 A "Progress Notes" part on the form could serve to note the student's
status, like "Johnny learned today which end to blow in" etc.  The
accumulated receipts could be turned in to either the directors or
boosters for safekeeping and future reference, if needed.

My two cents,

Bill Gremillion
Churchill Band Fan
San Antonio

"Without the band, it's only a game."  

Aug 8, 1998

At 10:06 AM 8/6/98, Raymond Myers wrote:
>    I don't see why "Central Administration" withholds taxes on contract labor.
>    While I see lots of abuse of "independent contractor" status assertions, what
>    you described seems a clear case of where the private teachers are clearly
>    independent contractors.

The way I understand this, there are two issues.

First, the district wants to collect revenue to offset some of the cost of
liability insurance and cost of use of the practice room. At least I think
this is what is taking place.

Second, this is really sticky, but IRS rules treat these private instructors
as "employees" and not as "independent contractors" because:
1. The service is performed in the employer's facility;
2. The employer determines when the services are performed;
3. The employer supervises the service performed; and
4. The employer provides some of the equipment (chair, music stand, digitized acoustics,
and in some cases, the sheet music and music instrument)

There is a distinction between 'common law employees' and 'statutory employees'
and I think this is an instance of the former, not the latter.

I don't actually know if the district issues a Form 1099 or a W-2 to report
the private instructor's income.

Hope this explains more than it clouds things.

Bill Tandy in Austin, TX
Westwood Area Band Boosters

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