QuarterNotes: Things I Missed in Music Ed Class

Things I Missed in Music Ed Class – The Business of Teaching Music by Michael Skinner

When you go to college to become a music teacher, you learn a great deal about music, repertoire, educational psychology and many other topics that develop you into a great teacher and classroom manager. In my case, what they missed made my life a bit challenging as an educator until I learned the ropes of the business of teaching music. Here are some of the things I learned along the way that made my teaching job a little easier – and more enjoyable.

Receiving a “NO we just can’t get a drum line.”

Of course, all the data in the world may not be enough to convince your administrators that you need a new drum line, background brass or woodwinds, timpani, and other pricey objects. The dollar figures can be so large that even the most supportive administrator will take a big gulp before saying “I don’t think we can afford that”. Of course your band boosters can help, but even some expenditures seem out of reach for them. I’m happy to say; I found a way to replace my drum line and the following year buy updated background brass through leasing. Yes, leasing is a very effective way to maintain a quality program and not have to face those huge price tags all at once. “Leasing?” I’ve heard, “my school doesn’t lease things.” The truth is almost every school leases something. Most often schools will lease their school busses, printers and other large ticket items. Can you imagine what school busses cost? The only cost effective way to do that is to lease them. You can do it too! Through a lease, a school can acquire instruments and obtain full ownership using yearly installments to pay for them.

The Steps were easy and the return was incredible.

The whole process started with me going to my school music dealer. The total price for the drumline I wanted was $10,000. The dealer explained that he has a payment plan where we lease the equipment for five years and subsequently own it after the five years of payments. I was intrigued by this opportunity. The dealer prepared a lease proposal and showed me the exact costs for a 2, 3, 4 and 5 year lease. Knowing what I had in my budget, I chose the 5-year lease plan. The dealer did the rest. He prepared the lease documents and sent them to my school for authorized signatures – in my case it was the principal. Once it was signed, the dealer ordered my drumline, and shortly thereafter, I was on the field with my students working a new routine on my new drums! Once we received the drums, my principal signed the acceptance agreement which is a document accepting the terms of the lease for the products delivered and we paid them our first year payment of – get this – $2,670! So going forward all we had to do from year to year was budget $2,670 each year for the following four years. It was really simple and the administration has now taken a closer look at how to do these kinds of leases more often. The list of instruments we needed was really large and knowing we had this option made all the discussions so much easier.

By spreading out the cost over time you can afford expensive items and still have funds available to service your current needs. This is a great argument for your administrator. We only pay a fraction of the total each year but our students get the full opportunity to perform better on a new instrument from day one. The other good argument for your administrators is that by leasing, you avoid inevitable price increases that come year to year, and you minimize your repair budget and the down time that goes with those repairs. School music dealers work with companies who offer lease programs on musical instruments – from pianos to piccolos. A great resource for leasing is BGE Financial Corporation. They are a long time leader in the music industry and are endorsed by NAMM. Their website, www.bgeschools.com, provides valuable information and tools to help you decide if leasing is a good option for your music program. You can even calculate payment options on the site if you know the purchase price. It’s a method you’ll never learn in college, but knowing about leasing and how to finance instruments will keep your students progressing and your program growing.