How do we pay for ballet class?
Not like how do we make the money or how do we budget it, (entertainment? health? beauty? foldin’ money?) but how do we physically hand over the money.
The Adult Beginner is kind of squeamish about the money part of it.
I know, it’s dumb and immature and kind of embarrasingly bourgeois of me, but, like, I would prefer to imagine that the teacher and I are meeting in some altruistic world that exists outside of money. My fanstasy-in-the-clouds is totally brought down to grubby reality in those ballet classes where we students are required to hand money directly to the teacher.
I’ve been to a bunch of different studios in the past year, so I’ve been able to experience different ways of paying, and I thought I’d list them here:
1) The Flat Fee Per Month, Unlimited Classes.
This is the method most gyms use. I’ve encountered it with a few dance studios, especially ones that also run fitness classes.
I like this method because it encourages you to take as many classes as possible. The more classes you take, the less each individual class costs.
It’s a mental trick, of course, as the actual cost is the same whether you go once or one hundred times, but if you are motivated by getting a good deal, as is the Adult Beginner, it’s a super effective motivator.
2) The Flat Fee Per Month, Limited Classes.
My least favorite. I encountered this one at the studio where my boy was taking ballet. In this method of payment, you are automatically charged every month for, let’s say, the four classes per month in which you are enrolled.
I am not a fan of this method as I often found myself thinking, “Well….he has a little bit of a cold….but it’s not that bad…” Basically, I feel like it encourages people to bring sick-ish kids to class for fear of wasting money on a skipped class.
To be fair to them, this particular studio had a make-up class available on another day, and I think the policy said unused classes would be credited toward the next month although I was never super clear on that, but to be fair to me, I didn’t see the sense in having a two-year old locked into any kind of automatic monthly enrollment situation when it’s likely he’ll miss two out of every four classes due to vague illnesses. I mean, so far in my experience, when this kid is sick, it’s a two-week affair, making the likelihood of catching that make-up class pretty much unlikely.
So, although I liked the teacher at that studio, I un-enrolled the kid and now instead of ballet we go to a yoga place that uses:
3) The Bulk Discount
Most dance studios use this method, in which you can buy a class card or package or series that gives a discount for buying a big chunk of classes up front. These are usually time-limited, like you have three months to use up the card, or a year, or whatever.
The place where I take my kid for yoga has no time limit, which I love, because see previous missing two classes out of every four. I’m guessing this no-time-limit method is harder financially on the business, but it is so much easier on the parental peace-of-mind.
I also like this method because each purchase is a one-time exchange, as opposed to an open-ended enrollment that you have to remember to cancel if you want to change studios.
All of the above methods are studio run, and involve handing a card over to be swiped by the receptionist at the front desk, leaving you free to skip off to your fantasy land where everyone is in class for fun.
Below we have:
4) The Independent Teacher
In this method, you pay the teacher. Personally. Per class. There’s no bulk discount, class always costs the same, and you hand your money directly to the teacher.
Generally with this set-up the teacher only takes cash or a check, because they are human, so you have to make sure you actually have cash or a check, and then they have to put your money somewhere, and make some kind of record of payment, etc etc, while everyone else waits at the barre or after class while the studio owner comes to hustle you all outta there.
This method makes me feel uncomfortable because it involves a direct exchange of money for instruction, like, a cash amount is assigned to the worth of the class.
On top of that, this method makes me feel dumb and unsophisticated for feeling uncomfortable in the first place. Money is a fact of life and there’s nothing wrong that and I shouldn’t feel weird about putting money into my teacher’s hand, but I totally do.
Also, I think this method has the reverse effect of Method 2, in that it subtly encourages one to take fewer classes, because unlike so many exchanges in our modern day, you are actually seeing the money leave your wallet.
I usually do a work-around for this method by writing a check for a few classes in a row, so at least I’m only standing in front of my teacher, awkwardly holding out payment, once every few weeks.
So there you have it.
I’m guessing Method 3 is the most common in the dance world, but I am often wrong. Holler at me and tell me how you pay!
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