Music collection - How to lend out music?

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Postby Christine » Thu Jan 19, 2006 10:31 pm

Hello everyone,

I have a question and I just wasn't sure exactly where to post it, and how to ask it, but I will do my best. I would like to know what other teachers do with their "own" copies of music...does everyone lend out their music and if so, how do they keep track of that? When trying to find appropriate music for certain students (either to keep them interested or to teach a certain concept), I either tell them to purchase a certain book, or I go searching through all of my old books and sheet music. When I finally see something that is "perfect" for someone, I pull it out, show it to the student at the next lesson, and if it works, I either lend them the book or if the book is still in print, I tell them they can buy it. I know it is illegal to photocopy, but I certainly do hold my breathe when lending out certain music. I do write down the date it was taken and who has it, but I worry about it coming back in good shape. Is that just a "given" that music teachers have to have a decent collection of music to continually supply their students with good repertoire, or are you constantly telling students to "go out and buy this" (or often I will pick it up at the music store for them). I always feel bad telling someone they need to buy "one more book". Should I just expect that lending out books is just the "cost of doing business" as a music teacher, and I should just keep adding to my collection and just hope for the best when lending it out? Sorry for the long drawn out question...I would really like to know what others do. Every teacher I know has a huge collection of music, so I guess they lend everything out? I would love your opinions. Thanks everyone.

Christine :)
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Postby Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Ed » Fri Jan 20, 2006 8:17 am

We have written on the general topic of loaned materials and how to handle them in several places on the site and in another new article on reducing costs in the teaching studio, coming with the next upgrade.

Most teachers do a certain amount of loaning of materials of all sorts. Insofar as I'm aware, the loaning itself doesn't violate copyright law, although it would be violated if the person it is loaned to copied the item. Just as most teachers loan materials, most seem to have trouble getting the loaned materials back in good condition, to one degree or another. From hard experience, I advise teachers to institute a refundable deposit for all their new students. So long as the student returns everything in good shape, the fee is returned in full. If he doesn't, you keep the fee and use it to replace the item(s). The amount for the fee we settled on here was $50. That's enough to cover several pieces of music or a couple books.

I personally think that loaning items to save the student money is good business for the teacher, so long as she doesn't have to bear the cost of lost materials. People appreciate saving money and the teacher is assured that students get the right materials in a timely fashion. Just how much you should keep in your "lending library" is determined by how much cost you are willing to bear in keeping that "inventory" and whether you use pretty much the same materials or vary them from student to student.

Either way, you can keep this from becoming a "cost of doing business" by instituting a refundable deposit fee. Our experience here was that this reduced losses from several hundred dollars per year to virtually nothing. Don't make the fee optional; it's amazing how many people will want to borrow stuff who haven't paid the fee. You almost never get the stuff back from those people. :;):
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Postby Christine » Fri Jan 20, 2006 9:07 am

Hi Dr. Ziegler,

I will definitely read those articles. As to instituting a "deposit" at the beginning of the year, I like that idea. With a lot of my music being very old, I wouldn't even really know how much it would cost to replace (or if I could even locate some of it again without a search) but I guess it would amount to today's replacement value. I bet that would cut down on lost materials dramatically.

Since we are sort of on the topic, I have another question...when music teachers purchase materials for students at a music store, and receive a "teacher discount", am I obligated to pass this "discount" onto my students? Or, should I only be getting a discount on items that are purely for myself (and maybe intend to loan)? I have students who live on farms out of town and don't often get a chance to get into the music store in town, so I offer to go for them (often I don't know exactly what they need until I get there anyway, so most of the time I couldn't tell them to go on their own). So, as far as the discount is concerned, I have been picking up supplies for my students, but then they buy them back from me at the price it would cost if they had gone to the store themself. Is this OK?

Thanks Dr. Ziegler :)
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Postby Christine » Fri Jan 20, 2006 9:10 am

Hi Dr. ZEigler,

Just noticed I have been spelling your name incorrectly. My apologies! :D

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Postby Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Ed » Fri Jan 20, 2006 10:15 am

Christine wrote:Since we are sort of on the topic, I have another question...when music teachers purchase materials for students at a music store, and receive a "teacher discount", am I obligated to pass this "discount" onto my students? ... Is this OK?

Interesting that you should bring this up, as I have just dealt with this topic in the same article on reducing costs in the teaching studio. I don't know what kind of obligation you're referring to here. I don't think there is a moral obligation involved, since you are doing the students a favor by making the trip for them, especially if you're reselling to them at a cost below that of the normal retail price. Of course, the local music store may feel that you shouldn't do this because they make less money that way.

The other issue involves tax liability for the profit you make reselling the items. You would have both Federal and state tax liability on the profit. Here in New Mexico, we have a gross receipts tax which applies to essentially all goods and services sold within the state (like a sales tax, but with broader applicability). Here, you would have to pay gross receipts tax on the resale price from the reselling, just as you would on the lesson fees, since all those transactions occur within the state. I don't know if that applies in your state. Chances are you wouldn't get caught if you didn't bother with those taxes, but I am not advising you to ignore the tax obligations, if any. Of course, we are all good citizens and always pay our taxes in full! :D




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Postby 108-1121887355 » Fri Jan 20, 2006 6:13 pm

Christine,
If there is just one or so pieces in a book, I loan it, usually, as music is so expensive. When I find a book that I like and the student likes, I sell it to them. I only get 10% discount at the music store and I figure that covers my time and gas for the car, so I charge full price to the family.
I have not had any real problems with the music being damaged. One had coffee spilled and one was badly wrinkled. I just sold the book to them. If you have some old music, you should probably see if it is still in print and buy it. If not, you may want to think about another piece. I prefer to pick out music for my students and have it here when I want it, as many parents seem too busy and weeks can go by with no book. I think most would be happy to pay fulf price if you pick it up.
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Postby Stretto » Fri Jan 20, 2006 10:40 pm

I learned the hard way. I loaned out books that were never returned. I brought it up a couple times politely asking if the students or parents would check their piano bench or home for any books they may have around. I'm sure none of them purposely set out to keep them. I think it's more a matter of families being so busy no one has time to keep track of returning books. They were very dedicated, long time students who gave me a try when I was new to teaching, so I didn't have the heart to be more demanding about the unreturned books. After I read the tip Dr. Zeigler was referring to in some PEP articles related to teaching regarding charging an upfront deposit, I started charging an upfront deposit to new students that would cover the cost of a couple piano books and 2 weeks worth of lessons. If books are all returned and adequate notice given when lessons are discontinued, the deposit is returned.

I don't loan out books as much anymore. I haven't had that much luck with students being that enthused about learning music out of borrowed material. Let's face it, for all of us, there's something about getting one's own new book that provides incentive in itself. If someone can afford the weekly lesson fee, they should be able to afford a book now and then. I try to keep the students at about 2 or possibly 3 books at a time, usually one with classical music and one with popular tunes and rarely ask that they purchase a book over $10.00. Most of the books I ask them to buy are around $5.00 to $7.00. One could print teacher recommendations in a handout or newsletter for each skill level especially around the holidays also.

What I've started doing is buying one personal copy of some of my favorites I've found to teach from. I might loan a student the book if they're really indecisive about what they want to learn for a supplemental piece, then if they decide to learn more than one piece out the book, I just get them their own copy and have them pay for it. It's kind of a way for them to test out a book to see if they like it first.

I also check the bargain section at the music stores and have found quite a few good books that way for under $2.00 a book. Even if a student just learns one piece out of the book, it's worth it when it only cost $1.00 or $2.00 to begin with. I usually just give them the book at that price too. I have a student in which I kept loaning music and the student kept returning it with the selected piece (agreed upon by the student) unlearned deciding they weren't interested. I took one of my $1.00 bargain books, assigned a piece and said, "you can keep the book if you learn at least one piece out of it." That was a great incentive. They initiated another piece on their own out of the book now too. I've also considered having a book "buy back" and offering to buy back books at half price that students are no longer using and don't want to keep. It would be along the same concept as a used textbook store for a college.

I wouldn't loan out really old music that one wasn't sure could be replaced, unless one could find another copy of the same book for loaning.

At music stores, when I purchase books for students, they ask if I'm a teacher to apply a teacher's discount. I explain to them that the music is not for myself but for my students and they apply the teacher discount anyway. I asked at a music store about it once and I'm pretty sure they told me technically the discount is only to be applied to music the teacher buys for their own use not for music in which the cost will be reimbursed by the student. They don't always seem to adhere to their own policy on this. All a person can do is be honest in regards to who the music is for. I only charge the student the price I paid for the book. Sending them to the music store, I always thought was a way to get them to look through books and maybe find an extra one they would be interested in while there. Only in doing so, about half the time the student winds up not being interesting in the "extra" book they found. When I ask why, the answer has been, "oh, that's just something my mom picked out that she likes". :D




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Postby pianoannie » Sat Jan 21, 2006 4:05 pm

Hmmm....some interesting thoughts in this thread. It never occurred to me that teacher's discounts were perhaps only intended for books for my own personal use. I'm pretty sure that when I go to the music store, and purchase, for example, 3 Piano Adventures primer level, a couple of Hal Leonard level 2, and some elementary sheets that they don't think it is for my own personal use. :laugh: They always give me 10% discount.

Actually I prefer to order online, where I get a better discount, and I don't have to make a 2-hour round trip. But I do try to support the store by going there a few times a year.

Bookkeeping is my least favorite aspect of teaching piano, so I do things as simply as I can. I do obtain all books that students will need, but I don't "re-sell" them. Cost for books, sheets, recital expenses, etc are estimated and rolled into the total semester payment.

Oh, I just remembered that the original question was about a lending library. I'm a shop-a-holic when it comes to buying music books anyway, so I'm always trying new books for students (ie through new release clubs, buying lots of NFMC pieces, etc) so I do keep a well-stocked lending library. That cost is also taken into account in what I charge students. My students are supposed to take one book home per week for sightreading. I don't think I should expect them to buy a new sightreading book every week, so the lending library works well for me. I've seldom had a problem. Maybe twice in 12 years someone lost or damaged a book--I simply billed them for the book's cost. Now, old, irreplaceable books--no way would I loan those. Old books are simply too fragile.
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Postby Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Ed » Tue Jan 24, 2006 8:12 am

Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Editor wrote:Most teachers do a certain amount of loaning of materials of all sorts. Insofar as I'm aware, the loaning itself doesn't violate copyright law, although it would be violated if the person it is loaned to copied the item.

It occurred to me in re-reading my earlier post that there is one exception in particular to the general rule that lending doesn't violate copyright law. That exception is software. Most software shrink-wrap licenses forbid installation on more than one machine and grant the license specifically to the registered owner. Thus, if you loaned software that was installed to your hard disk (most is) and the person it was loaned to installed it to their hard disk (as would almost certainly happen), you would be in violation of the license. You might even be in violation of the license if you removed it from your computer and then loaned it.

For most software, you can resell it under the license if you transfer the entire package, including the box and all documentation that came with the software, to the new owner and don't maintain an installed copy on your computer's hard disk. There are, however, exceptions even to this "rule." Although most software license terms are fairly standardized these days, there are almost always some unique provisions in each. Thus, you really do have to read the fine print in the license if you plan to do anything other than use the software yourself on a single computer.

These license protections evolved in the early days of the software industry, when it was common for people to pass around multiple copies of commercial software. That still happens in places like China, where copyright protections are largely "winked at." Many of you probably remember the days of physical copy protection schemes (I think the first was Lotus 1-2-3, where you always had to have the key disk in the floppy drive for it to run). There was such an outcry from legitimate users of software over these schemes that they were abandoned in favor of more restrictive license terms.

Anyway, the bottom line is that you have to be really careful about loaning software, especially if it installs to your hard disk from the distribution CD or diskette. I don't blame software manufacturers for trying to restrict licensing of their software to legitimate purchasers. I've done it myself on software that I have written, for some of the same reasons.

In an ideal world, everybody would be honest and respect copyrights and the hard work of others that copyrights recognize. Unfortunately, we don't live in that world. A copyright infringement suit is so nasty and costly that nobody would choose to take that risk if they understood it. For more information, see my article Copyrights - An Introduction for Piano Teachers.




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Postby Tranquillo » Thu Nov 08, 2007 5:29 am

In my highschool many students are loaned sheet music and they have to sign their name as well as the date on a sheet of paper that is kept in a safe spot. The music teacher follows up on them if they havent returned it and chases them up and reminds them if they forget.



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Postby 112-1182392787 » Thu Nov 08, 2007 6:00 am

That is also the policy in choirs I have been with. There is usually a volunteer choir member in charge of "music archives" who makes a record of who has received what music, and then records when it has been returned.

If I am working on music I sometimes make copies that I can mark up however I feel the need while I'm learning, and later those marked up copies go into the shredder. The original copy is either purchased or loaned and returned.

Usually I am expected to buy my music. Sometimes, like when doing something together with others, there is shared music which is returned.




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Postby 112-1182392787 » Thu Nov 08, 2007 6:18 am

I am curious about something. I took a course in "manuscript" writing of music by hand, including very strict adherence to spacing according to note value. I find that this helps me read the music and not make mistakes in note value and timing. Recently I got music (not for piano, so only one clef) in which the spacing of the notes was atrocious and I was frequently thrown. A dotted half note took up as much space as 16th notes, for example. I wrote it out by hand and that's what I use especialy when working on timing. Speaking strictly technically, is this still "copying", or is my handwritten work my own because it comes from my hand? All interpretations such as fingering and slurs are still the same - only the spacing of the notes is changed.



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Postby Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Ed » Thu Nov 08, 2007 8:47 am

pianissimo wrote:Recently I got music (not for piano, so only one clef) in which the spacing of the notes was atrocious and I was frequently thrown. A dotted half note took up as much space as 16th notes, for example. I wrote it out by hand and that's what I use especialy when working on timing. Speaking strictly technically, is this still "copying", or is my handwritten work my own because it comes from my hand? All interpretations such as fingering and slurs are still the same - only the spacing of the notes is changed.

Well, I suppose in a literal definition sense, it is "copying", since you have characterized that way. If you're referring to how it might be interpreted in copyright law, then that gets down to determining whether it's "copyrightably distinct." Canadian and U.S. law on this are pretty close, so what I say should apply in both places. While the copy is written in your own hand, it is a faithful copy of somebody else's work and generally would not be considered copyrightably distinct. The work must be of your own creation to be copyrightable. Your making that copy would probably fall under the "fair use" doctrine (i.e. legal) with respect to any existing copyrights on the work, so long as you used the copy only for yourself (not selling, not giving it to others). Of course, it might also be fully legal if the work you copied was in the public domain - generally 75 years after the death of the author. If you were to create a two clef piano version, it might or might not, be copyrightable, depending largely on whether there is another piano version already copyrighted. You might still be able to copyright your transcription as an "edition", but I think the copyright office would fight you on it. I can tell you that the copyright office in the U.S. has become very much more critical in recent years than it used to be. I suspect that you would have to consult a copyright attorney to get a "definitive" answer to all these questions. My article, An Introduction to Copyrights for Piano Teachers has more information on this matter.
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Postby 112-1182392787 » Thu Nov 08, 2007 11:03 am

Of course, it might also be fully legal if the work you copied was in the public domain - generally 75 years after the death of the author.

Well, the composer has been dead for some 200 years, and the edition is also very old. I own the original. It is "fair use" because I am using it to play the music and copied it out by hand mainly because the original was so badly done. It is an interesting question, though, since people don't usually hand copy anymore. We don't usually hand-copy anymore which is why I asked. I'll scoot off and read your full article now.
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Postby Tranquillo » Thu Nov 08, 2007 9:31 pm

I dont know if the copyright law is 'international' but a friend of mine (in Australia) told me that as long as it is for personal use then its ok ...
Some teachers I have met in the past really do break the rules and copy every single sheet that they lend to their students....
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