Ballroom Dance > How much is too much to pay for a lesson?

Discussion in 'Ballroom Dance' started by caityrosey, Dec 13, 2005.

  1. dTas

    dTas New Member

    how many advanced teachers are there? the higher up in the education scale you go the less accessible the people who can teach you become.

    a beginner should be taught with MORE CARE actually than a more advanced student. i didn't say that beginners students were worth less. there are more beginner teachers out there who can teach those basics to beginner students. thus the cost of beginner lessons is less, or should be less.

    plus... i'm not looking at it from the teachers point of view. many advanced dance instructors don't get all the money that is charged the student. a large cut goes to the studio which they have come to teach for and to the cost of travel to get to that studio.

    just like at a college or university. the tuition that a student pays does not go straight to the professor. the school takes it piece of the pie first and then pays the instructor. but... the fact remains as the student you've paid more for that instruction than you did for your elementary education.

    the quality of the instruction is not the issue that i'm talking about. its the level of instruction and those instructors that are qualified to give that level of instruction. no matter what the level though, the quality should be high.

    good beginner instructors can teach you the basic concepts just as well as a more advanced instructor. so learn from the beginner instructor (at a lesser rate) until you are ready for the more advanced instructor (at a higher rate).

    i want to add a little "qualifier" here... take note that and elementary education goes from grade 1-12 and that a first grader is not expected to learn what a senior in highschool is learning. BUT the cost is the same. so a lot of the material you learn in a dance school is learning from grade 1-12. not college level... but that doesn't mean you can't get some additional tutoring along the way, and you do pay extra for tutors in elementary school.
  2. dTas

    dTas New Member

    oh come on! stop nit picking at the words that i'm using to describe something and look at the "bigger picture" (as you like to put it).

    i'm making my examples "simple"... i didn't use the term "mathematics" and chose to use the term "add". can't you "get the jist" of what i'm saying? do i really need to spell it out for you?
  3. caityrosey

    caityrosey New Member

    dTas--good points all. :)

    I want to come back to one of my original questons...that advanced dance instructor who travels and has potentially more expenses and such than the more ubiquitous begginner your experience, do they, when possible, try to ensure that their hourly lesson rates (when adjusted for other expenses) fall into a $$$ range that is accessible to at least the average dancer of average income who wants to learn? I can certainly see how some elite dancers instructors might charge almost anything they want for their teaching because they know they can find students with the lucre to buy the lessons...but what about those without the same access to the same amount of cash? Do instructors have an ethical obligation to try to ensure that their lessons (when adjusted for other expenses) are accessible to a wider range of the dance population or not?
  4. LXC

    LXC New Member

    I was in Larinda's camp until one day I talked with a wonderful junior/youth couple and realized that they took from a nice but not 'world famous' local coach. That got me thinking... there're probably just handful of basic principles in dancing which teachers at certain level and above are all capable of teaching. As I think about it, the $70 coach and $150 coach are pretty much telling me the same thing but from different perspectives. A kid may very well absorb everything the $70 coach has to say and do well while I have to pay $150 for another coach to explain things another way.

    I have walked away from teachers who I think are excellent but just too expensive. I'm glad I got to hear their perspective once but I don't think what they have to say are worth paying that much on a regular basis. It's a very subjective decision on how much you think the teaching is worth as compared to what you have available at a lower cost.
  5. LXC

    LXC New Member

    I don't think they do. It'd be nice if some of them choose to but I don't know how we'd require people to devote themselves to a social cause at the expense of their own financial well being.
  6. Kitty

    Kitty New Member

    yeah that comes to my mind as well. After all it is just a bit of information and $150 is a lot of money... however.

    if these are beginner/intermediate single lessons we are talking about, then it is probably a lot smarter to just take cheap lessons of decent quality rather than expensive of best-in-the-world quality cause the amount of floor time is more important for singles.

    However, some information you won't get from any number of lessons with certain cheaper teachers. Cause they might not have that information themselves (they might be actually doing the right thing but not understanding how, and not able to explain it).

    The very expensively priced coaches both have achieved a lot as competitive dancers and have a lot of teaching experience and have thought out all aspects of technique.
  7. dTas

    dTas New Member

    i do agree that there are coaches out there that charge too much for the amount of information they are giving you.

    at the high levels i'm really paying for the information as much as the "eye" and the ability to "adjust" what it is that i'm doing to make it better. aka... the experience.

    there are coaches out there that are awful. you go to them with specific material you want to go over and they disregard what you want and teach what they want. bad bad bad.

    and then there are other coaches that hit the nail on the head and give you exactly what you are looking for AND exactly what you need. (and cost less to boot!)

    there are some coaches out there that base their price on how well they've placed in competitions AND ARE AWFUL TEACHERS!

    where on the other hand there are coaches out there that have never competed but are WONDERFUL instructors.

    i'm trying to keep my point of discussion targeted on the wonderful instructors and not the pompus egotistical ones that believe they deserve to charge extra just because they're "champions"... eventhough they can't teach worth a dime.

    now of the wonderful instructors out there... they can charge a different amount based on how much information and skill they have in instructing, breaking down techniques, analysing your body and giving you the proper information to get you to do what it is you want to accomplish.

    i've seen 2 month old beginners with money pay $100 an hour for coaching for information that thier $50 an hour studio instructor could have told them. but since they're paying $100 an hour the same words must mean more.
  8. Another Elizabeth

    Another Elizabeth Active Member

    I do know of some fairly elite coaches who will give college students and other "needy" dancers a break on price. Often it comes with the condition that you don't let anyone else know what you paid (which is why I won't name the coaches in question). I suspect that it's not only because they feel some ethical obligation to help those dancers, but because college students (at least those who are serious about dancing) are some of the most fun students to teach. They're young and often more physically capable, they're smart and used to absorbing information, and they generally have a lot of free time and fewer encumbrances, so they can practice more outside of lessons.

    In general, I do decide on whether I'm willing to pay a given price for a coach on the basis of their teaching skills, not their competitive credentials. I might be more willing to give someone a try if I know their competitive background is good, but I give far more weight to recommendations from other students.

    That said, even very good teachers aren't necessarily good for everyone. Michael Houseman was very well respected as a top teacher (in addition to having quite good competitive credentials). But I stopped taking lessons from him because every time I did, I ended up so depressed about how bad my dancing was that I wanted to quit. He had lots of good stuff to tell me about how to improve, but something about our personalities just didn't work (I did keep taking from Valerie when she came to town). I don't think it was that he despised my dancing - he used to mark us pretty well - but I always came away from a lesson with the discouraged feeling that the obstacles before me were overwhelming. I've had other coaches that were more critical during lessons (e.g., Enrique Ramon, who once stood with his face two inches from mine and growled, "Don't give me that sh-t, young lady!"), but left me feeling inspired to get better.
  9. Kitty

    Kitty New Member

    analogy of learning addition vs learning math is a good one.

    beginners often don't have certain muscles and ability to rotate their body or to use their feet or to maintain tone in their body for too long. so they need someone to teach them that. and just to get them moving and doing basics. I don't think beginners usually possess the ability to fully comprehend some difficult technique aspects especially if they don't have the muscles for it.
    Like when I was a beginner a coach would ask me to engage such and such muscles and I would be like "I didn't know I had them"

    however on the higher levels you do need to think about techinique aspect that make dancing work when you do have some muscles and some understanding of alingments and hoow the body moves and the footwork and other basic things. then a top coach can give you food for thought as to how make two bodies work more efficiently and with correct muscels.

    same as you need to be comfortable with addition and multiplication before you can learn calculus

    of course you'd probably got better faster if the top coach instructed you from the beginnning - then you know you are working in the right direction on the right muscles 100% of the time.... but it is probably an overkill, unless you are a millionaire and don't care if it is $70 or $170.
  10. Dancebug

    Dancebug Well-Known Member

    I don’t think they have such an obligation, but I have seen some of the expensive coaches doing very altruistic things, basically making their lessons not so expensive for some of their students. For example, they will charge the same rate to all of their students, but spend more time with some of their students. Remember that many of good coaches have passion for dancing more than anything else in the world and they have likes and not-so-likes like all humans do. I think it is hard for them not to have their favorite students because after all they make their job more enjoyable.
  11. dTas

    dTas New Member

    i'm not saying that i'm a coach but for me there are three loves in the world of dancing... one is dancing and dancing to the best of my ability (my show dancing), another is dancing with my wife (my passion of dancing), and the last is teaching and loving to see students open their minds and understand concepts.

    i don't get much "dance" enjoyment from dancing with my students, that's because i'm in "instructor mode" and trying to analyse what they are doing and how they can improve; so i get "teaching" enjoyment. now this might be different with other instructors, i can only speak for myself and how i feel about it.

    so i tend to spend more time with students who love to learn and want to improve and less time with students who just like to dance.
  12. Hey everyone, first time posting on dance forum. I couldn't pass up a chance to post on this issue.

    First off, the knowledge that an instructor has is his or her own private knowledge. He/she is free to give it out to whomever they wish at whatver cost they wish to charge. Simply put, if a teacher dislikes or likes a student, or if a student cannot pay the what an instructor asks, it is up to the teacher to determine if they will raise, lower, or maintain a constant price for that student. The instructor is in NO WAY Morally or ethically held hostage by the desires of another human being (student) or group of human beings (the dance population).

    If this seems somehow wrong to you, please read the following examples before responding:

    An instructor has a standard rate of $100/hr for his lessons. A potential student comes in and wants a lesson. This student is known throughout the dance community as a royal pain in the to work with. Would you turn the student down? Would you turn the student down? Accept this torture at cost for an hour when you could be reading a good book or teaching someone else? Or do you jack your price up to a price that matches the torture?

    Oh the other hand. One of your students is having money problems. You really enjoy working with them and it makes you sad to see them having these problems. Would you leave things the way they are? Would you work out a payment plan for the student? Or if you really enjoy spending time with this person and enjoy seeing the happiness that dancing brings them, would you give them a discount?

    I know that this is more of a philosophy post than a dance post but the topic of altruism, guilt, and obligations always pushes my buttons.

    Personally, I would boot the punk from my studio or charge him an arm and a leg. I would either try to work out some sort of payment plan with the awesome student or give her a discount.

    Now that that is over with...I have never even seen a studio/ person charge more than $110/hr. And I have only paid that twice. Otherwise, $70/hr seems about the going rate in my area. And I can't complain about the quality of the teaching.

    If you want to learn how to dance for a wedding, you may be able to get away with paying $25/hr to a student. Of course if you can only learn between the hours of 2 and 3 am on sunday while one eye is shut and you are standing on your may need to see a "specialist" who may charge 100's/hr x 24hrs/day.
  13. lynn

    lynn New Member

    Interesting perspective!

    Welcome to DF!

  14. alemana

    alemana New Member

    the thing you might want to remember, cantski, is this is largely a rhetorical exercise we're engaging in here. when you said you feel your buttons being pushed, i felt the need to pipe up and say that i didn't believe anyone was arguing that instructors should or should not be ethically or morally bound or whatever...
  15. Medira

    Medira New Member

    Welcome to DF, cantskiforlife! Very interesting perspective and a lot of good points...
  16. alemana

    alemana New Member

    but actually something Dtas said makes me want to ask this question of folks who are currently teaching:

    what really makes a student an "i want to work with this person" student?
  17. Pathological Dancer

    Pathological Dancer New Member

    Neither a student or instructor is morally/ethically bound until services are purchased.
  18. waltzgirl

    waltzgirl Active Member

    Here's how I think about it. I have a PhD and I consider that my training qualifies me for a certain level of economic reward. My instructor is a high school graduate, but he has been training as a dancer since he was an early teen. So he has spent more time (and probably money) on his professional training than I did on mine. As a result, I consider he is entitled to make at least as good a living as I do. When you consider the studio's cut, the time he spends being coached and practicing (which benefits me as he passes that knowledge on to me, but he isn't paid for it), the probability that he has to pay for his own benefits like health insurance, he probably makes less per hour than I do. So I really can't complain about the fees (which are pretty standard studio fees).

    When thinking about top coaches who have decades of top level dancing and teaching experience and have been trained themselves by the best, I think about what a top lawyer charges per hour--and I feel like I'm getting a great bargain at $100/hour.
  19. LXC

    LXC New Member

    I'm not a teacher but based on my experience of being a professional student for most of my life, teachers' favorite students are usually those with both the will and capacity to learn as well as a pleasant personality. I would think that dancer teachers are the same.
  20. Dancebug

    Dancebug Well-Known Member

    "A professional student"? I thought I was the only one who would use that kind of description for oneself. Any way I think you explained teachers' favorite students very well.

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