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  1. #1
    Just Starting! browneyedbellydancer's Avatar
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    Question No pay only free lessons?

    Is it common for a studio to offer a student free lessons and discounts on merchandise items to become an assistant teacher (instead of a paycheck)?


  2. #2
    Fotia
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    Re: No pay only free lessons?

    Whether it's common or not, it's totally unethical. And if you are doing a "job" for them, if they aren't paying you dollars and sense, they better pay you with valuable gems and gold!


  3. #3
    I could get used to this! Meredith's Avatar
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    Re: No pay only free lessons?

    There is a prominent studio in DC that has a workstudy/intership program that exchanges working several hours at the desk for free classes. Not for teaching though, I believe.


  4. #4
    Advanced BHUZzer raqFariha's Avatar
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    Re: No pay only free lessons?

    if it were an even exchange of services IMO i wouldn't see a problem. BUT if you multiply the cost of the lesson by how many students attend and subtract studio rent, the teacher is certainly still making more than a single student's tuition, so the apprentice would be getting much less than fair pay by "receiving" a single student's tuition in exchange. unless you want to argue that the mentor is providing the student base and teacher training, but still. (you could consider a discount on merch. to be an employee discount, but it certainly shouldn't be part of the pay)


  5. #5
    Advanced BHUZzer NandaDncer's Avatar
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    Re: No pay only free lessons?

    Contra is common in all industries and I think many larger dance studios would offer what they have readily available (classes) instead of what they don't have much of (cash) in exchange for various services such as cleaning, minor admin, backstage duties, making a costume etc, and even teaching. If you wish to be paid money instead of value in classes/merchandise then you should speak up.

    Hourly rates for teaching regular classes aren't usually too crash hot and an assistant would be only getting a portion of that again, so getting classes and discounts might be the better deal.


  6. #6
    Advanced BHUZzer eshe's Avatar
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    Re: No pay only free lessons?

    I have gotten dance lessons in exchange for work. I don't think it's unethical.


  7. #7
    Advanced BHUZzer da Sage's Avatar
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    Re: No pay only free lessons?

    Quote Originally Posted by browneyedbellydancer View Post
    Is it common for a studio to offer a student free lessons and discounts on merchandise items to become an assistant teacher (instead of a paycheck)?
    I think if she is an assistant teacher, supporting the main teacher in class, a GENEROUS supply of free lessons and wholesale price on merchandise makes sense - if those terms are agreeable to both parties.

    If the "assistant" teacher is teaching classes all by herself (as in a substitute teacher situation) she should be offered regular pay. Or if she always does the warm-up and the choreography rehearsal, and the head teacher only teaches the moves, and this arrangement is ongoing - then she should be offered regular pay.


  8. #8
    A journey of ten thousand miles begins with a single post. Zumarrad's Avatar
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    Re: No pay only free lessons?

    Like Nanda says, contra is common. It's a question of whether it works for you or not.

    An assistant teacher where I come from is a person who helps out in class, takes warmups/cooldowns and occasionally subs if the teacher is sick/away. I think it is fair to be paid in cash money to teach an entire class. But getting to attend the class you'd attend anyway, for free? Excellent deal.

    When I first started teaching I got an hourly rate, not particularly high, and all my classes free.


  9. #9
    Ultimate BHUZzer ssipes's Avatar
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    Re: No pay only free lessons?

    It is only unethical if it is not a fair trade.

    The assistant teacher would need to know the value of her teaching services and the value of the lessons she would be getting. If its a fair deal and both parties desire the trade then there is nothing wrong with it.

    There is nothing unethical about trading and barter. Right now I am trading belly dance lessons for professional dog training. Believe me, I need the dog training lessons far more desperately than the dog trainer needs belly dancing lessons, so it is a great deal as far as I am concerned.


  10. #10
    Mega BHUZzer aazura's Avatar
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    Re: No pay only free lessons?

    It's neither unethical or unfair. Several studios offer this sort of scholarship arrangement. Students are allowed to take unlimited number of classes in exchange for work study, which may or may not include teaching a class. This is a great opportunity for a student who is eager to learn and will attend a several classes per week. IMO, it's win-win for everyone.

    ETA--these scholarships are very competitive in the major NY studios. One needs to audition, and only a few are handed out each year.
    Last edited by aazura; 04-18-2010 at 01:08 AM.


  11. #11
    Mega BHUZzer kashmir's Avatar
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    Re: No pay only free lessons?

    Is it fair value and is it by choice? That is, is the exchange worth about the same amount and if you'd rather have cash is it an option?


  12. #12
    Advanced BHUZzer Kathiya's Avatar
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    Re: No pay only free lessons?

    i don't think it's unethical to be paid in dance class, if the value is the same and you want the dance classes! if both parties are happy i consider it a fair exchange.


  13. #13
    Advanced BHUZzer maurazebra's Avatar
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    Re: No pay only free lessons?

    Quote Originally Posted by raqFariha View Post
    If you multiply the cost of the lesson by how many students attend and subtract studio rent, the teacher is certainly still making more than a single student's tuition, so the apprentice would be getting much less than fair pay by "receiving" a single student's tuition in exchange...unless you want to argue that the mentor is providing the student base and teacher training, but still.
    Eek. Yes, I do want to argue that the mentor is providing the student base and teacher training. There's a lot more that goes into building up a student base than paying the rent. A couple of years of running in the red in order to get enough students to pay the bills; advertising and promotion efforts to keep the students coming in; constant planning and adaptation of strategy to keep the studio top-of-mind with current and potential students; no flexibility in schedule whether sick or with concerns looming in order to maintain studio reputation. As for the rent itself, the studio owner is paying rent 24/7 but the studio is generating money for only a fraction of that time, so the per/hr cost for an hour might actually be close to $40. An apprentice teacher avoids all of that. No money investment, no running in the red, no name on a three-year lease, no painful building up of student base, access to a proven dance curriculum, and with flexibility and backup built in. Frankly, there's a lot more people around who want to learn to teach then there are with the talent to build up a studio that can stay in the black. Unlimited classes in exchange for teaching a class a week is a very fair exchange.


  14. #14
    Advanced BHUZzer raqFariha's Avatar
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    Re: No pay only free lessons?

    Quote Originally Posted by maurazebra View Post
    Eek. Yes, I do want to argue that the mentor is providing the student base and teacher training. There's a lot more that goes into building up a student base than paying the rent. A couple of years of running in the red in order to get enough students to pay the bills; advertising and promotion efforts to keep the students coming in; constant planning and adaptation of strategy to keep the studio top-of-mind with current and potential students; no flexibility in schedule whether sick or with concerns looming in order to maintain studio reputation. As for the rent itself, the studio owner is paying rent 24/7 but the studio is generating money for only a fraction of that time, so the per/hr cost for an hour might actually be close to $40. An apprentice teacher avoids all of that. No money investment, no running in the red, no name on a three-year lease, no painful building up of student base, access to a proven dance curriculum, and with flexibility and backup built in. Frankly, there's a lot more people around who want to learn to teach then there are with the talent to build up a studio that can stay in the black. Unlimited classes in exchange for teaching a class a week is a very fair exchange.

    in a situation where the teacher has a physical studio dedicated to their business i deff. agree. i guess i was thinking of the way i've seen things done most often around here, where teachers rent an hour of studio space from "main stream" dance studios, or teach out of community edu. programs, or teach out of their house. i only know of 1 teacher with her own studio and i always attributed her financial troubles to the fact that she injures her students with bad technique....
    thank you for the perspective ^_^


  15. #15
    Mega BHUZzer indigostars's Avatar
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    Re: No pay only free lessons?

    I don't know if it's common and depending on what work you're doing, it may or may not be fair.

    I do work study right now for my dance classes, but it's in an office. I receive 1 free class for every hour that I work. You have to look at how much work you're actually doing and what you gain out of it. I don't feel that my work-study is asking that much out of me for a free class (my classes are 1.5 hours), and I want to help the studio succeed, since it's a non-profit.

    If being an assistant teacher also includes info/advice on being a teacher from someone you respect, I'd think that's very fair. People often pay large amounts to undergo teacher training.


  16. #16
    Advanced BHUZzer maurazebra's Avatar
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    Re: No pay only free lessons?

    Quote Originally Posted by raqFariha View Post
    i only know of 1 teacher with her own studio and i always attributed her financial troubles to the fact that she injures her students with bad technique....
    ROFL... I sincerely hope we don't resemble that remark!


  17. #17
    Ultimate BHUZzer laura 2's Avatar
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    Re: No pay only free lessons?

    Quote Originally Posted by ssipes View Post
    It is only unethical if it is not a fair trade.

    The assistant teacher would need to know the value of her teaching services and the value of the lessons she would be getting. If its a fair deal and both parties desire the trade then there is nothing wrong with it.

    There is nothing unethical about trading and barter. Right now I am trading belly dance lessons for professional dog training. Believe me, I need the dog training lessons far more desperately than the dog trainer needs belly dancing lessons, so it is a great deal as far as I am concerned.
    Completely agree with the above. I created and maintain my teacher's website in exchange for private lessons with her. For each hour I spend on her website, I earn an hour of private instruction. It seems silly to have her pay me for the website work, only for me to turn around and give her back the money to pay for my lessons.


  18. #18
    Advanced BHUZzer LiesaB.'s Avatar
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    Re: No pay only free lessons?

    For me, I would need to know what "assistant teacher" means in your context to determine ethical or not. Do you already have teaching qualifications? Or is it a stepping stone to becoming a full teacher? Do you have teaching experience?
    As someone who has both been a mentee and mentor, trainee and trainer to teach, I will say there is a ton of work and expense involved for the teacher. The assistant gets to learn without the burden of ownership, expenses, liabilities, etc., so getting classes in exchange for that is more than fair.
    It depends on the situation.
    I use the barter system a lot, even for plumbing, electrical work for dance stuff.


  19. #19
    Mega BHUZzer Elianae's Avatar
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    Re: No pay only free lessons?

    great info, ladies!


  20. #20
    A journey of ten thousand miles begins with a single post. Lauren_'s Avatar
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    Re: No pay only free lessons?

    I have a student who teaches for me and we do a trade. It seems much simpler than me worrying about scrounging up the money to pay her every session and then her handing the money back to me. LOL.

    It works because she is my student and was going to pay me for classes anyway. If you're not a student of the studio where you're being asked to teach, then you'd have to evaluate the deal.

    I've always done a lot of barter in business, but I have two rules. #1: dollar for dollar, all goods/services are exchanged at retail value. #2: Don't trade for things you weren't going to buy anyway.


  21. #21
    Advanced BHUZzer raqFariha's Avatar
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    Re: No pay only free lessons?

    Quote Originally Posted by maurazebra View Post
    ROFL... I sincerely hope we don't resemble that remark!
    haha, im sure you don't. i only meant that my original comment was coming from a different, and limited, perspective ^_^


    eta: before they became incorporated the karate Dojo in the complex my dad's office was in would trade us free lessons for chiropractic care. for even exchange it's legit business.
    if you get into the evolution of money and they way so much wealth these days comes from bull $h!t (like wall street, speculation, etc) and not from real products and services, and the corresponding bubble bursting; barter becomes more and more attractive.
    Last edited by raqFariha; 04-20-2010 at 12:07 PM.


  22. #22
    Official BHUZzer dancingstar's Avatar
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    Re: No pay only free lessons?

    Quote Originally Posted by ssipes View Post
    It is only unethical if it is not a fair trade.

    The assistant teacher would need to know the value of her teaching services and the value of the lessons she would be getting. If its a fair deal and both parties desire the trade then there is nothing wrong with it.

    There is nothing unethical about trading and barter. Right now I am trading belly dance lessons for professional dog training. Believe me, I need the dog training lessons far more desperately than the dog trainer needs belly dancing lessons, so it is a great deal as far as I am concerned.
    Agree with this. Although, what I initially read was:

    I need the dog training lessons far more desperately than the dog needs belly dancing lessons

    ..l;,


  23. #23
    Ultimate BHUZzer artemisia_danst's Avatar
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    Re: No pay only free lessons?

    i have been paying my teaching assistents and the teachers that teach classes for me in kind for years. for two reasons

    - they are still in training in the very beginning. I give my student teachers an informal teacher training in the beginning, that they do NOT pay for.

    - that way they do not need to register as a business. to register as a business for only teaching one class a week, and earning very little money, would actually end up costing them money (depending on their tax bracket etc) and is just a hassle. if they do not register as self employed or set up some way of paying them, i cannot LEGALLY pay them. i cannot employ them as employees for only one hour a week either. belgian labour law does not allow it (i actually looked into this option, it can be done through a temp agency contract but i'd end up paying the temp agency also, and extra taxes and they need contracts of 4hours per week on ONE day minimal). so setting up as self employed is their only option, and it's what most schools and studio's require their teachers to do. if all you do is teach one/two hours a week, its a royal pain in the butt;
    i do not want to pay teachers on a regular basis OFF the books. if i cannot pay them legally, i cannot pay them.
    So i pay them by paying workshops for them, cds, dvds, to invest in their training. If they would prefer registering as self employed and being paid € by the hour, i'd be fine with that too.
    right now, it's a mutually benifical trade off.
    Last edited by artemisia_danst; 04-20-2010 at 06:24 AM.


  24. #24
    Ultimate BHUZzer artemisia_danst's Avatar
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    Re: No pay only free lessons?

    and i do other barters as well. right now i'm trading admin services for free classes, typing out my academic interviews for free classes, and i'm considering adding massages for classes to that list. biggest advantages; if we would pay each other for those services we are now bartering, both parties would be paying taxes on it


  25. #25
    Just Starting! browneyedbellydancer's Avatar
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    Re: No pay only free lessons?

    Thanks for the thoughts everyone!


  26. #26
    Ultimate BHUZzer ssipes's Avatar
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    Re: No pay only free lessons?

    Quote Originally Posted by dancingstar View Post
    Agree with this. Although, what I initially read was:

    I need the dog training lessons far more desperately than the dog needs belly dancing lessons

    ..l;,
    LOL! Well, that would also be a true statement...


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