The following is an excerpt from a speech given by Charles Beare of J. & A. Beare, London, GB at the Violin Society of America Convention and Competition, Minneapolis, Minnesota, November 1988.
… The other old custom is the payment of commissions to members of the teaching profession. This has been going on since time immemorial. My father tells me that in the depression we paid up to 20 percent on lesser instruments and still had a turnover of under £300 a month at times. Our firm gave up paying commissions over fifteen years ago and I cannot say that business has declined, although there were a few teachers whom we never saw again. Many times I have urged dealers to work against the practice, but I have come to the conclusion that it will eventually be the associations of the teachers themselves who will outlaw it, although perhaps not just yet. Many teachers, of course, genuinely have the best interests of their pupils at heart, and are unswayed by considerations of commerce in watching over the search for the right instruments, but it is certainly true that others make a nice little sideline out of it. I have never met a dealer who thought that the practice as such had anything in its favor, but I have spoken with many who have told me that business is steered very firmly away unless the customary percentage is offered. This is why I feel that any initiative aimed at eliminating the custom should come from bodies representing the teaching profession, and I would urge them to think about it.