I have gone back and forth about whether I should really write this post....but I finally decided to go ahead with it. I need to vent. After all, this is my personal blog....about my life and experiences.
Last month, I was contacted by a local high school to do some playing for an instrumental competition -- Texas UIL Solo and Ensemble. The rehearsal process involved several evenings of rehearsals. That's not exactly true. The evenings were spent teaching high school students to count basic rhythms, learning complex accompaniment parts, and twiddling my thumbs when these irresponsible students didn't show up for rehearsal slots they had reserved. I agreed to do it because I believe in music education and wanted to begin a solid relationship with the high school. The rate of $45 per student was quoted to my colleague and me for the rehearsals and performances. I needed the money......so I agreed to take on 20 students.
I've already vented about the insane amount of paperwork I had to complete for this gig, so I won't rehash that frustration. Still, I was beginning to wonder when I was going to actually see the money. I built my budget expecting to have the extra $900 in my account. Imagine my surprise when I received an email from the assistant band director yesterday telling me that he needed an invoice for the services before I could get paid. I can handle that with no problem. But he further tells me that I will be paid $20/hour for rehearsal and $20/student for the performance. Students that didn't show up for the competition are being deducted from my compensation -- even though I already learned their music! (Did I mention that I also had to sight read a piece at the competition with a student because his inept coaches gave him the WRONG BLASTED PIECE to play?!?!?) Before you think I'm complaining over a reduction of $5 per student, it's much more severe; student rehearsals were 7 minutes long! In other words, I am being paid HALF of what I was quoted when I agreed to perform.
I don't know if this is a case of deception, poor communication, or incompetence. I'm in a pickle though. I can send the invoice for the correct amount and have my payment delayed longer because the amount was not approved by the district. When the assistant director was questioned, he said that he mistakenly quoted the amount for the state competition instead of the regional. Either way, because this was a verbal agreement, I don't have a leg to stand on for the promised rate of payment. Since services have already been rendered, I don't have anything I can withhold until I receive all of my money.
What does this mean for the future? I suppose I'll have to have a written contract that includes rate of payment before agreeing to play. I hate to become that person, but I have to protect myself and make sure that I'm receiving the payment I deserve and was promised.
Oh.....I forgot to mention that this same school has already asked me to accompany students at the state competition. I don't know how I can trust the institution to pay a fair amount after being stiffed. This is certainly not going to make me want to play for PISD in the future.