Scholarships

I’m not a big fan of giving discounts. I have found that some people expect discounts, almost like it is their right to a discount. They aren’t as appreciated and they don’t typically treat it serious as maybe they would a scholarship, for example…

Every once in a while you might come across a student that needs to quit lessons due to financial difficulties. Sometimes, it’s a student that you really don’t want to lose because they are very dedicated and come to lessons prepared each week, the parents are supportive, the student is advancing well and it just hurts you to see them quit knowing they have so much potential and love for music. I have had this happened to me several times over the years and I just can’t bare to let them go. So I offer these families a partial scholarship through the MusicLink Foundation. While I can still offer a studio scholarship on my own, I like to make these scholarships more official, I feel that they are treated more seriously since they are represented by MusicLink. Now even though the teacher does not get any sort of reimbursement from MusicLink when offering scholarships to their students, there are several benefits to going through MusicLink.

First what exactly is MusicLink? Taken from their website, “The MusicLink Foundation is a non-profit organization that seeks out promising music students in need and links them with qualified music teachers willing to teach them at up to half their normal fee for as long as the student is committed to the lessons.”

Now for some of the benefits of offering a scholarship through MusicLink:

Discounts on music and materials– Several publishers have partnered up with MusicLink and have extended discounts to MusicLink Scholarship students. Sometimes the music is even free! A great benefit that students can use!

Grass Roots Grants for MusicLink Program– This program can provide reimbursement to teachers for student music and event fees.

Assistance with instruments– MusicLink receives thousands of donated instruments that they are able to pass to MusicLink Scholarship students.

Music Camp Scholarships– This provides the opportunity for students to attend the music camp of their choice through the MusicLink camp scholarship program.

One of my favorite things about MusicLink is the policy form that the parents and students sign. This form spells out the responsibilities of the family, student and teacher during the scholarship period. I like this because if you find students are taking their scholarship for granted and sliding on their responsibilities (coming unprepared to lessons, etc…) the scholarship can be removed if the requirements aren’t being met. I also think it’s a good idea to put a time period on the scholarship (ie: 1 year) and then re-evaluate when the term is up if there is still a financial need.

Regardless if you use MusicLink or come up with your own studio scholarship, they are a great option to help those dedicated students in your studio that you don’t want to see go.

8 thoughts on “Scholarships

  1. I strongly agree with you on the perceived difference between the word ‘discount’ and the word ‘scholarship’. ‘Discount’ seems to imply you were charging too much in the first place, and this is the correct price for the deserving few who dare to ask for it.

    ‘Scholarship’ is a much stronger word IMO, because it implies something being earned through merit. As the co-owner of a completely unrelated retail business with my husband, I can testify that this happens all the time there too. I can sort of understand if people think that way about buying something from a WalMart or other humongous corporate thug. But for small, independent, one-off family businesses that get none of the huge purchasing breaks the big dudes get, we must charge a certain minimum price to be able to cover all sorts of overhead costs the average non-business-owning ‘consumer’ doesn’t know about: rent or mortgage payment, liability insurance, health insurance, plus utilities, salaries, all on top of product. We are not getting rich here, folks, we are trying to stay in business, provide a community service, and make enough money to pay our own and few local residents a living wage.

    The same might be said about us independent music teachers, as we might be seen as existing in some kind of identity limbo, between ‘educator’ and ‘business person’. Some ‘customers’ (parents/families) see as more one way than another. Perhaps commentors to your previous blog post see themselves more on the ‘educator’ side than the ‘business person’ side, or vice versa.

    I take my work seriously, and I strive hard to be what I would call a ‘professional’. I know there are teachers in my area who teach a lot of students, and may be wonderful teachers. Membership in MTNA and other professional groups is still voluntary, and yes, it costs money. But IMTs still struggle with the longtime public image of what I call ‘the little old lady down the street who takes in students’ in the same vein as ‘the little old lady down the street who takes in ironing’. The implication is that neither the lessons nor the teacher are worth much — in actual dollars or received value.

  2. Perhaps I didn’t draw my conclusion very clearly. I believe that MTNA in particular, but surely also such highly respected national organizations as NATS, SAA and others, are working very hard to raise the public’s perception of the music teaching profession (not hobby), and dues we pay for membership are well spent for all teachers — not just those who care to join.

  3. I used to give discount rates to a few families in need, but the bulk never valued this as a “gift”. I now give a very few tuition help through a program that pays for 1/4 of the tuition (after they officially research the families need) and requires the parents to pay for 1/2. My portion is 1/4 donation of the full tuition. It is a good fit, the parents respect that they get a great discount and appreciate my donation. It also gives me a small amount of free advertising as I am listed on the sire as a sponsor.

    • That is great Suzan, I was also going to ask… Is this a program that is available to everyone or is this something just in your community? If it’s available to everyone, what is it called? Thanks for sharing!

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