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Re: Studio vs. private instructors
Posted by lorenabravo
4/30/2013  4:35:00 PM
To reiterate, and perhaps clarify the points I made earlier in the discussion, just because a teacher works for Arthur Murray or Fred Astair does not mean that they are a terrible teacher. However, the odds that you will get someone experienced are much lower than if you go to an independent studio, because AM and FA both hire kids off the street and train them for a couple of weeks before allowing them to teach. In other words, they may only have a teeny bit more training than you yourself have.

Now, some of these same kids end up really dedicating themselves to their craft and become good teachers with good understanding of their craft. Be aware though that these people are advancing because they take the initiative, not because the corporate does all that much for them (although I hear that FA is better in that regard). Additionally, every franchise is different. There are some overarching rules that apply to all of the studios in each system, but there is a lot of room for each franchisee to run there business as they see fit. There is an AM in Sherman Oaks that is very good because they provide real professional training for their employees and they keep them for years at a time, rather than having a high turnover.

Back to your situation. It might be worth poking around a bit to see how long your teacher has been dancing to see if he really has any experience. Regardless of whether or not you do that, take some time to think about what your personal goals are, and then lay them out for your teacher. You should always do this no matter who you take from so that your teacher can be as effective as possible with their lessons. Once you have laid this out for him, ask him about how he thinks he can most effectively get you there with as little money as possible. It is not an unreasonable thing to ask. Obviously, the more ambitious your goals, the more time, money, and effort it will cost you, so don't expect to win the US Open in a year on a single lesson a week.

Your teacher will let you know if your goals are unrealistic (i.e. win the open in 3 months if you're still learning your bronze patterns), and you need to be flexible in that regard. That being said, if he can't give you a good reason as to why your goals are unrealistic, or give you at least a semi-concrete plan of action, I would consider going somewhere else.

If you do go elsewhere, be aware that not every great dancer is a great teacher. Don't be wooed by world titles and such. When in the tryout period, again, let the candidates know what you goals are and have them tell you how they believe they can get you there. Take in to consideration how tangible the information is that they give you. Can you replicate what you were taught the next day?

Finally, don't discount the fun social things your current studio provides, if that is important to you. Bear in mind that what you are really paying for is an awesome social scene. If this is important to you, it might be a good reason to stay, or just make sure that if you go elsewhere that you make sure that they provide you with a good social scene too. People get very caught up in the competitive aspect of ballroom, but that's not the main motivating factor for many people, and that's a good thing!

Okay, sorry again for the long post. I hope this was helpful, and best of luck with your dancing!
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