We have an opera singer in our congregation. And I mean literally, a professional opera singer, not just someone who sounds like an opera singer. Her son is one of my 5-year-old's best friends. Her son is also showing signs of being a musical prodigy like his mom. (He's dangerous on the drum set.)
So this past year my husband started teaching my friend's son piano lessons, and she started teaching my oldest son voice. She also provides vocal coaching to my husband. (And it shows. His voice--always lovely--has gotten even more beautiful in the past few years.) Jen works with my family members for an hour (total) each week, and Phil gives Blake a 15-minute piano lesson in exchange. I think we're getting the best end of that deal, don't you?
A while back, the dad of one of my piano students lost his job. (Actually, several of my piano students have parents who have lost jobs, but that's another story.) The student in question is one of my favorites: a real sweetheart, charming and smart and quite musical. I don't want to lose this student. But I know her parents are struggling financially right now. I would happily teach this young lady for free. But I also know her parents are hesitant to let me do so. So I recently proposed to them a barter arrangement. I will continue teaching their daughter in exchange for her dad helping us with some odd jobs around the house. (My husband and I are not handy and need help with such things.) The idea was received positively! It will be a win for both of us. (Truth be told, we are again getting the best end of the deal because my piano student's dad, a member of our church, is someone who takes to heart the seventh commandment and has already helped us improve and protect our property and income on several previous occasions and would no doubt do so again.)
This bartering thing is working for us. And according to this article, we aren't the only ones. If our difficult economic times continue (and all signs suggest they will) I wonder if even more people will discover its benefits?