Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Cowboys proliferate in recessionary times

I had a spot of time this morning to peruse one of our wonderful freesheets, in North Dublin, the Northside People.  Its poorly written in places, but the small ads are amusing.  Until I started noticing just how many of them were obvious advertising desperation by poorly thought out businesses offering rubbishy or poor services.

For example I discovered one ad for piano lessons.  As once upon a time I was a piano teacher I was curious.  What was the background of the tutor, what they were charging, etc?  Just out of interest.  I might ad I was a triple diploma-ed (all 3 teaching diplomas - 2 on pipe organ and 1 on piano) music graduate with quite a bit of experience.  I was aware of what one of my employers aptly described as "Minnie in her parlour" - offering lessons at what appears to be a professional service for cheap, but in reality is just 4th rate.  Anyway the person offering this advertised themselves as a player of piano and piano accordion, and boasted of coming from some family of Nyahs from Thomas St. No mention of credible experience, performance, who they learned from, and of course, in a business where a diploma is the standard, no sign of any of the standard qualifications.

I should add, by the way, that if you or your child's music teacher hasn't at least a performance diploma, a teaching diploma (basically the difference between the 2 is written exam and viva voce on teaching theory and practice in the latter), some kind of Music teaching degree or even an Advanced certificate from a UK or Irish exam board, your teacher is a cowboy and chancer and shouldn't be charging a fee.

Basically, unless you have a level of competence, you shouldn't be charging people a fee for skills you cannot demonstrate.  Demonstrating this through credentials, established apprenticeships or professional memberships matters, no matter what the burgeoning mini-industry in amateur-entrepeneurs will tell you, is charlatanism, fradulent, deceptive and conning your customers.  And fooling yourself has to be the biggest con of all, if you are willing to believe in your own brilliance without perfecting your skills first.

Think about it really.  Somebody who doesn't have a base qualification to practice not only hasn't demonstrated their competence to practice, but is almost certainly also not undergoing continuous professional development.  In other words, they are unproven, and will continue to be so, and presumably don't care either.  This person was charging 36 euros an hour for a totally amateur practice.  I would suggest you steer clear of any music teacher who cannot produce a diploma from a body such as ABRSM, TCL, RIAM and LCM.  Incidentally the highest standards always have been from the ABRSM, LCM used to be the easiest diploma.  There was a point where the LTCL was not difficult to achieve, but this is now apparently a very tough diploma.  ARIAM isn't hugely difficult but LRIAM is quite tough (I've both of these myself, plus a pre 96 LTCL on piano).  They at least do give you an indication of a level of competence.

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