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private lessons? (long, but fluffy)

updated fri 24 jul 98


marc mancuso on thu 23 jul 98

>A friend has asked me if I would provide private lessons for her son on
>the wheel.
>What is the going rate for private lessons these days. I don't want to
>over charge them...
>but I do want whats fair...any suggestions?

Hi Steve,

There are no prices in this post. So what's taking so long? Why, my
thoughts on the matter, of course. And they're free of charge.

If it were only one or two private lessons, have them buy you dinner. You
deserve a sit-down dinner, not Quik Burgur. At least try to sit at the
table as long as you sat at the wheel. That's always been my favorite
arrangement. If there are more lessons planned than that, listen to what
other people on the list say. I haven't the foggiest idea.

You might consider quoting a price for a small number of lessons at first
(say for example, fewer than 3 lessons) giving the payors and easier price
in case junior finds it less interesting than expected, while giving you
the opportunity to try something new. At any rate (as it were) I don't
think you can go too wrong pricing lessons for these first few meetings.
Special trial offer, and all that.

Other considerations become appropriate after both of you feel comfortable
enough to continue the lessons over a longer period of time. In the end, I
think the price should at least include the fixed costs of materials and
supplies, plus an amount of money you'd like for your attentions. If
everyone feels good about it, then that's how much it costs. I suspect
teaching classes is not the way you make your living, but it can certainly
break even. This is why the dinnner system, at least in the beginning,
makes perfect sense to me. What was I going to use the money for anyway,
but to buy food?

Where all these questions come from, I don't know, but try them on for
size. They all address issues that you might feel affect the pricing.

How old is this son? Are there ages (like 29) that have zero attention span
and might end up throwing clay much quicker than you'd expect...all over
the wall in frustration. Setting age-realistic goals would be appropriate.
A 12-piece brickware table arrangement for in time for Thanksgiving might
be more labor and patience intensive than either of you have the stamina
for. Particular ages can be more labor intensive all by themselves.

Who wants the son to take the lessons? The son or someone else?

Where are the facilities? A home studio might be more comfortable for you,
or less, depending on how you deal with your space. In a public studio,
there's always more time for clean up, arranging things, and so on that you
should remember to factor into your cost. Though, of course, remember that
your student will be travelling to the same destination. (Personally, I'd
consider that scenario a draw and ignore it. Note: Taxi fares strike me as
an exception.) I think overall that lessons in a public access studio
should be less expensive. Making money in a public place (as opposed to
bartering for din-din) tends to open up issues best sorted out by the legal

Depending on the facilities, kiln costs may be an issue. Squeezing the
dozen or so first anonymous attempts into a month's firing schedule won't
have that much effect on the cost. Someone was gonna fire the kiln anyway.
But if junior fills a kiln a week, then pricing for firing the kiln may be
a separate, and fixed, fee. Portions of kilns like a shelf-full and
half-kiln are pretty standard units of measure as well, and easy to
compute. You might pursuade the enthusiast to fire the very best of the
three-pound mugs and recycle the rest, saving the huge firings for later
work. (I'm gently in favor of spaying and neutering and reclaiming fifty
percent of all brickware. But then who am I to limit expression of tender
young pots?)

But I digress....

How much time is available for lessons? Is there time to linger after a
particularly productive lesson? Does a 15-minute late start mean that
there's only time to center and pull up one cylinder? Or is clay wedged
between hockey practice and an early dinner? Are you competing with algebra
homework? (If so, show them glaze chemistry; math homework will look easy
forever after.)

How are clay and materials acquired? If you consider charging for clay and
tools and glazes like you charge for the use of kiln equipment, you might
make a decision based on the tinkerer/zealot polarity: Charge an abstract
(and possibly low) fee for supplies until junior starts throwing their
weight in clay. Then they pay for by the pound it like everyone else.
(Besides, if proper clay recycling practices are taught at this early
malleable period, then it's hard to run completely out of clay.)

Well, that's about all I can think of. Good luck, and I do hope you enjoy it.

Marc Mancuso

"Living on Earth is expensive, but it does include a free trip around the sun."

Hank Ray on thu 23 jul 98


Reading everybodys negative-capitalistic thoughts on this subject, remindes me
of a plumber friend...... who says "I'm making money this year , and friends
next year"

to that i say.... "with friends like that , who needs enemys?"

lighten up folks, life is to short...... the next thing that will be happening
is clayarters will be getting bills in the mail from all the clayarters who
post answers to questions.

peace...over and out.....flame away...
hank in very hot oklahoma....