Friday, March 22, 2013

"Affordable" Classes

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"Can you tell me where to find affordable dance classes?"

Guys, I really hate this question. There are so many reasons I hate this question. Let's put aside my grumpy mood for the moment and just talk about what "affordable" could mean here.

Affordable often means a particular percentage of a family's disposable income. Since I don't know your income or the percentage you're willing to part with, I can't answer this question.

Affordable is also a combination of factors. There's the monthly tuition amount, gas money getting to and from class, and the time commitment. Oh, and the expertise level of the teacher (which may or may not matter to you), not to mention how much your kid wants to take the class.

Sometimes people use the word "affordable" when they really mean "six-week course". It helps if you ask for what you really want.

In the above scenarios, I can't answer the question well because I don't know your situation intimately enough. But those are all pretty easy situations to be in. There are other times "affordable classes" conversations are much more uncomfortable for me.

Sometimes the question is a veiled way of asking me to give a discount. Personally, I can't do that. I do not own my own studio; I am a subcontractor and the class fees aren't set by me. Sure, I could rent some space and give you a private lesson at a discounted rate but it would cost more than the class fee you're trying to get out of. In cases like these, you should be talking directly with the studio owner or director.

Sometimes people start with "affordable" and then jump right into offering to pay me in homemade bread or French lessons for my kids or something. While I love bread, and I think that small-scale trade economies can be very beneficial in some instances, I never agree to this. Mostly because I can't pay my bills in a child fluent in French. But I've noticed that people who suggest a trade payment tend to try to sell you on the arrangement long after you've said the first no.

And then there are the times when this gives someone a chance to explain why they aren't taking class from me. This one doesn't bother me.

I'm not going to be annoyed if you take class from someone else. Honestly. I'll be interested to hear about the good things happening at your studio. If everyone took from me I wouldn't know that Brigham Young University has an amazing boys class or that there is a studio based out of someone's home nearby that specializes in beginning classes. (Which I can't link to because I can't find a website for them, but if you leave a comment I will ask my neighbor for the phone number.) I'll just be happy you're dancing.

I will happily recommend studios to you but they will always be based on the qualities of the program, never on tuition rates. I'll let you decide whether or not the classes are affordable.

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