For instruments, bows, repairs and restoration – 613 569 4803
792 Gladstone Avenue, Ottawa, K1R 6X9
This week I had a parent come into the shop. She wanted to know how much she could sell her daughter’s violin for. It was poorly re-varnished, had a replacement front, and badly repaired cracks in the scroll, sides and back.
I said the value was very low. The parent had paid $6000 for the violin, some of which she had borrowed from her parents. When buying this violin she had been recommended by the violin teacher to only visit one particular violin dealer.
In this case I wondered if the teacher had received a “teacher commission” because I couldn’t understand why anyone would recommend this instrument.
For those parents and students who don’t know, some dealers and violin makers offer some string teachers a commission (some might call it a kickback) if a student purchases an instrument from them. The amount is often around 10 to 20% of the sale price. The student is not told about the payment.
What’s sad in the rather typical case above, is the family probably asked for the teacher’s help in the selection process because they wanted an independent opinion. With a secret payment, this valuable objective opinion is lost and the teacher is selling almost in partnership with the violin dealer. The teacher may have been tempted to recommend a more expensive instrument and not the best sounding or recommended buying from the dealer paying the commission rather than other good shops who were not.
If you are a student or a parent of a young player it might be worth asking if your teacher sometimes accepts commissions. If they do, they still might be a wonderful teacher, but you might want to find someone else to help you with your instrument selection.
It’s worth noting, that many generous teachers in Ottawa spend a lot of time helping their students find a good instrument or bow. Parents can pay the teacher directly for this extra time and service which is completely fair and I would encourage this.
In my business I have never paid teachers to recommend my work. Every student who has bought an instrument from me can be confident that no commissions were paid or added to the sale price.
I hope this information is helpful to parents and students when looking to buy an instrument or bow in Ottawa or anywhere else in North America.