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#1210990 - 06/03/09 11:41 AM Re: "Firing" a student [Re: bitWrangler]
M.O.P. Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/09
Posts: 982
Loc: Ocala, Florida
For what its worth, I agree with BitW, if you're a professional, you act like it, no matter how the other person acts.

Am I missing something, though, didn't you post the daughter said the only reason she is taking lessons is because she has to? Even though she is a nice and sweet student, why continue if the energy and desire aren't there?

Perhaps you might be more comfortable writing a letter to sever your relationship. From your description of the parent, she seems the sort that will most likely will try to cause a scene no matter how you handle this situation.

Keep in mind, word of mouth gets around very quickly. No matter if the parent causes a scene, as long as you keep your cool and are professional, you are the better person, and your conduct will reflect the same. You have no reason to feel guilty because you need to separate yourself from this situation. There will be another student with a parent who is supportive.
_________________________
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#1211086 - 06/03/09 02:05 PM Re: "Firing" a student [Re: M.O.P.]
Morodiene Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11685
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
I agree with *not* dropping the student via email. If you cannot communicate effectively with the mom via email(according to your previous post), then this is not the best way to tell her. I think a phone call is probably best. I do a lot of my "serious" talks with parents over the phone, because it is still personal, while not taking up someone's lesson time to discuss it (and not discussing it in front of the child if it is a sensitive issue). You may not like it, but I think it is the right thing to do. Be very calm, and I recommend being non-accusatory, as that would only end in arguing. I would simply say, "Your desire to have lessons once a month is not something that I agree with, and so here are some colleagues of mine who may be able to accommodate you." Leave it at that, and be insistent if she tries to back down. Let her know you do not feel you are the right teacher for her, and she really can't argue that.
_________________________
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Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#1211102 - 06/03/09 02:29 PM Re: "Firing" a student [Re: Gary D.]
lilylady Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/17/05
Posts: 4977
Loc: boston north
"I'm sorry, but it seems like the rules of my studio do not jive with you and your daughter taking lessons here. I expect students to attend every week, and I expect full payments promptly when due and it seems that you wish things to be otherwise.

Under the current circumstances, I believe it to be in both our best interests that you find another teacher for the summer/fall term.

I wish little Susie the best. She is such a nice little girl."

Notice that I left off that it is your responsibility to find the next teacher? That is their problem, once you are out of the picture.

Good luck!
_________________________
"Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything."

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#1211131 - 06/03/09 03:16 PM Re: "Firing" a student [Re: lilylady]
eweiss Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 2393
Loc: Beautiful San Diego, CA
I wouldn't use the word "jive." Now ... here's a guy who'll do the dirty work for you - Joe Pesci.



As George Carlin said once ... "he looks like a guy who can get things done."
_________________________
Play New Age Piano
http://www.quiescencemusic.com

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#1211133 - 06/03/09 03:21 PM Re: "Firing" a student [Re: eweiss]
Ebony and Ivory Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/05
Posts: 1179
Loc: Minnesota
Originally Posted By: eweiss
I wouldn't use the word "jive." Now ... here's a guy who'll do the dirty work for you - Joe Pesci.



As George Carlin said once ... "he looks like a guy who can get things done."


Ha ha. That would take care of things, wouldn't it?!
maybe I should just start with the knee caps tho...Wouldn't want to break any fingers!
_________________________
It is better to be kind than to be right.

Professional private piano teacher since 1994.

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#1211144 - 06/03/09 03:29 PM Re: "Firing" a student [Re: Ebony and Ivory]
eweiss Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 2393
Loc: Beautiful San Diego, CA
Actually, that would be hillarious! Have Joe Pesci go after piano students who "get outta line."
_________________________
Play New Age Piano
http://www.quiescencemusic.com

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#1211149 - 06/03/09 03:36 PM Re: "Firing" a student [Re: eweiss]
bitWrangler Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/07
Posts: 1787
Loc: Central TX
Originally Posted By: eweiss
I wouldn't use the word "jive.


"Oh stewardess, I speak jive!"



Edited by bitWrangler (06/03/09 03:38 PM)

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#1211159 - 06/03/09 03:50 PM Re: "Firing" a student [Re: bitWrangler]
lilylady Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/17/05
Posts: 4977
Loc: boston north
Hmmmm...

I wasn't sure quite what the right word would be and being as tired as I am right now, that is all I could come up with...but I think the 'idea' got across. What is the word I was trying to think of?

I was thinking dance with / in sinc / ???

At least E/I got it!
_________________________
"Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything."

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#1211163 - 06/03/09 03:55 PM Re: "Firing" a student [Re: lilylady]
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17768
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
I think you meant "jibe," lilylady. smile

But even "jibe" is a bit too informal in this context, I think. I'd say "it seems like the rules of my studio are a mismatch to your needs and preferences..."
_________________________
Mason & Hamlin A -- 91997
My YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/pianomonica

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#1211169 - 06/03/09 03:59 PM Re: "Firing" a student [Re: Monica K.]
Stanny Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/08/06
Posts: 1461
I've always said Jive. I must have more soul smokin
_________________________
~Stanny~

Independent Music Teacher
Certified Piano Teacher, American College of Musicians
Member: MTNA, NGPT, ASMTA, NAMTA

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#1211173 - 06/03/09 04:03 PM Re: "Firing" a student [Re: Stanny]
lilylady Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/17/05
Posts: 4977
Loc: boston north
Much better Monica!

Good thing you guys aren't monitoring me for an English tutor!!!!

_________________________
"Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything."

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#1211193 - 06/03/09 04:25 PM Re: "Firing" a student [Re: lilylady]
Gary D. Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4776
Loc: South Florida
The problem with this thread is that most of you have entirely missed the point. You insist on recommending a kind of confrontation that E&I is not comfortable with. You aren't listening to her.

I would simply tell the mother that her needs are not compatible with the way I teach, and I'd do pretty much what Monica suggested. However, if I have to stand my ground, it's rather easy for me.

The point is not what is best for the mother, who I really believe is a problem. The point is how E&I can do what she needs to do to protect herself.
_________________________
Piano Teacher

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#1212304 - 06/05/09 02:27 PM Re: "Firing" a student [Re: Ebony and Ivory]
pianoobsession Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/20/08
Posts: 109
Loc: Hot and Humid Houston Texas
So any update? We are all on pins and needles here!!
_________________________
Righty-O!

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#1212366 - 06/05/09 04:30 PM Re: "Firing" a student [Re: pianoobsession]
Ebony and Ivory Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/05
Posts: 1179
Loc: Minnesota
Originally Posted By: pianoobsession
So any update? We are all on pins and needles here!!


I'm embarrassed to say....I caved. I told her that I could only offer weekly lessons and that my invoices needed to be paid quarterly.

She said "Oh, no, my daughter just loves you! We can't lose you, I will borrow money from my dad, and I'll get her there every week. She would be crushed if we had to find a new teacher".

SO....I guess it's good that she understands and will comply. Let's just hope she really meant it. Or I REALLY WILL cut her out of the schedule. The payment was due on the 4th, but they "couldn't make it" that day, so I'm waiting for a check in the mail. In a few days I will know. If the check is wrong or doesn't come...I guess it's over with.

You guys all had a lot of good ideas and you gave me the courage to "tell it like it is". If I still need to "fire" her, I will.
Thanks to all!
_________________________
It is better to be kind than to be right.

Professional private piano teacher since 1994.

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#1212378 - 06/05/09 05:13 PM Re: "Firing" a student [Re: Ebony and Ivory]
piqué Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/15/01
Posts: 5483
as a nonteacher who has nevertheless had some dicey moments with teachers, i have to say i think you handled it just fine.

it's easy to be judgmental of the mother, but we aren't there, and it's possible that in your desire to cause no offense, you haven't been communicating clearly *enough* with her in the past.

i say this because of the mother's attitude when you were upfront with her. maybe try being more upfront with her more often. that may be the communication style she needs in order to "get it."

do you have the rules of your studio plainly spelled out on one page? if not, i would write something up, and send it to the mother, but address it as if you are sending it to all your parents.

something like:

"for the sake of clarity and getting off to a good start this fall, here are my policies:

1. i do not teach students less often than once a week.

2. payments are due at the beginning of the semester in full, ..."

etc.

maybe if she wants to pay in installments, you can tell her that is only possible if she arranges for her bank to make an automatic deposit in yours once a month.

sometimes the desire to cause no offense ends up causing much greater offense in the long run.

be straight up and clear with her, and then stick to what you say. i bet things will run much better.

and if not, you will then know that her intransigence is not because you were not clear enough, and you can fire her in good conscience.

as for the daughter saying she only plays because she is made to--this is not necessarily a bad thing, imo. especially if the whole family is musical, this girl may yet find her way into falling in love with the piano, and even if she doesn't, it's something she'll have for the rest of her life.
_________________________
piqué

now in paperback:


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#1212382 - 06/05/09 05:21 PM Re: "Firing" a student [Re: piqué]
eweiss Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 2393
Loc: Beautiful San Diego, CA
Originally Posted By: piqué
it's easy to be judgmental of the mother, but we aren't there, and it's possible that in your desire to cause no offense, you haven't been communicating clearly *enough* with her in the past.

Ummm ... how clear does "pay me" have to get? I mean, it's not rocket science here. You pay for a service you use. Clearly, the mother is/was walking over her. It's all about respect here.

You get what you pay for. By not paying, the mother is getting free lessons for her child. That's a no win situation in my book. What other service provider would put up with this? If you want your car fixed and can't pay for it guess what? You ain't gonna be driving.
_________________________
Play New Age Piano
http://www.quiescencemusic.com

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#1212532 - 06/05/09 11:27 PM Re: "Firing" a student [Re: eweiss]
pianoobsession Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/20/08
Posts: 109
Loc: Hot and Humid Houston Texas
I hope this works out for you, I really do, but in all honesty I'm not sure I am optimistic. It sounds like she really has money problems and reminders don't help with that.

I am also concerned about the student...how does she REALLY feel about the lessons? Why does it seem more important to the mother? I'd have a good talk with the student to get her feelings about lessons. Maybe she senses her mother's anxiousness over the money?

I hate to see you get stressed about the same situation all over again too....

Now, having said all that..have a wonderful summer and we will all be cheering you on and waiting to see what the next chapter will bring. Good luck.
_________________________
Righty-O!

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#1212540 - 06/05/09 11:45 PM Re: "Firing" a student [Re: pianoobsession]
trillingadventurer Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/28/08
Posts: 304
Loc: San Diego
I was "fired" by my master teacher a few years back. I think she read the "The Wrong Way to Fire Your Student Handbook" because she had her husband call and let me go. I was left with no explanation and no resolution. If I am ever on the "firing" side, I have promised myself to be honest,direct and compassionate. And I will not do it at all unless I have exhausted all options first. So seeing all of these suggestions, and thoughtfulness behind this issue is very nice for me to witness! Because that is what I would have wanted.
_________________________
M. Katchur

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#1212654 - 06/06/09 09:08 AM Re: "Firing" a student [Re: Ebony and Ivory]
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3187
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: Ebony and Ivory
Originally Posted By: pianoobsession
So any update? We are all on pins and needles here!!


I'm embarrassed to say....I caved.

You guys all had a lot of good ideas and you gave me the courage to "tell it like it is". If I still need to "fire" her, I will.
Thanks to all!


A long time ago, two careers back, I used to teach assertiveness training to college kids. One of the concepts we included was that you have the right not to be assertive in any given situation if you so choose, without feeling any guilt.

The child likes you, you like the child, the parent is a bit of a well intentioned pain in the rear. You can live with one student like that. Just accept the fact that it's going to be this way, and it's nothing for you to feel guilty or incompetent about, and you can laugh about your one problem student and it won't bother you anymore.

Just don't take a second one like this!
_________________________
gotta go practice

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#1212661 - 06/06/09 09:32 AM Re: "Firing" a student [Re: Ebony and Ivory]
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17768
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
Originally Posted By: Ebony and Ivory

I'm embarrassed to say....I caved. I told her that I could only offer weekly lessons and that my invoices needed to be paid quarterly.


I don't read this as you "caving." Sounds like you were assertive about your needs and stating the terms under which you were willing to let the girl remain in your studio. thumb

Now, if the "check in the mail" doesn't come by Monday, and/or you keep letting the mom string you along, THAT'S caving. wink
_________________________
Mason & Hamlin A -- 91997
My YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/pianomonica

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#1212668 - 06/06/09 09:38 AM Re: "Firing" a student [Re: TimR]
Ebony and Ivory Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/05
Posts: 1179
Loc: Minnesota
Originally Posted By: trillingadventurer
I was "fired" by my master teacher a few years back. I think she read the "The Wrong Way to Fire Your Student Handbook" because she had her husband call and let me go. I was left with no explanation and no resolution.


WHAT?? Are you serious? OMGosh that is unconscionable!
I think that's pretty rare.

I hope you had the intestinal fortitude to call her and ask why!
I hope things worked out for you.

That was one of my concerns for the student. If I "fired" (mom basically) would I get a change to speak with daughter first. I decided that if they didn't end up coming back, I would send daughter a nice card and note so she wouldn't think she did something wrong.


Originally Posted By: TimR
I used to teach assertiveness training to college kids. One of the concepts we included was that you have the right not to be assertive in any given situation if you so choose, without feeling any guilt.


Just don't take a second one like this!


Sounds like a good class, for ANYone!
Yeah, the problem is you don't know they are "like this" until you've already gotten them lol.
_________________________
It is better to be kind than to be right.

Professional private piano teacher since 1994.

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#1212685 - 06/06/09 10:11 AM Re: "Firing" a student [Re: Ebony and Ivory]
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3187
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: Ebony and Ivory

Originally Posted By: TimR
I used to teach assertiveness training to college kids. One of the concepts we included was that you have the right not to be assertive in any given situation if you so choose, without feeling any guilt.


Just don't take a second one like this!


Sounds like a good class, for ANYone!


At the time I was a graduate student in clinical psychology, doing an internship at the university counseling center, and working in the dorms running a variety of programs. Some of my work study students were essentially bouncers, checking IDs at the doors and trying to prevent drunks from carrying open alcohol around. Some of them really improved assertiveness skills through the training. I didn't sleep much in those days and I did a lot of late night coaching. I saw some very shy girls eventually do the assertive interaction perfectly late in the semester. Of course it didn't always work - but they did their part.

A few years later I was married and my wife broke her arm. The X-ray tech had obviously just been through one of those assertiveness courses, you could tell by the wording she used. She told me about the chair outside where I'd be more comfortable, I thanked her effusively, smiled, and stayed. She escalated - Sir, the husband stands out there. I escalated - even more polite, bigger smile, even more thankful for her consideration, but I'm okay here. This went on for several cycles of increased assertiveness on her part, combined with increasing puzzlement that it wasn't working, and the same cycles of increased gratitude and coopertiveness on my part, but NOT complying with what she wanted. In the end she gave up, still not sure what was happening.

In short - yeah, way too late for that!!! - you can do it perfectly and not succeed, and you just have to accept it and not beat yourself up over it.
_________________________
gotta go practice

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#1212715 - 06/06/09 11:14 AM Re: "Firing" a student [Re: dumdumdiddle]
SueKZ Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/17/09
Posts: 97
Loc: Colorado
This is how I do it> " I am really sorry but it appears that we are not on the same page" PERIOD. HEH.
_________________________
Sue
Private Piano Teacher since 2009

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#1212808 - 06/06/09 01:49 PM Re: "Firing" a student [Re: Ebony and Ivory]
Bob618 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 06/05/09
Posts: 1
Maybe ( if you chose not to fire her) you could aim your anguish directly to mom. Tell her in order to do any further lessons, because of the past payment problems, you require lessons be paid for prior to scheduling and if you do not call in and cancel 24 hours in advance you lose 50% of that pre-payment.
Now you'll be able to focus on gettng back to the business of teaching the girl. granted, she may not be wanting to do it too much, but she was not wanting to do it too much a month ago and that was not reason to fire her then. so the point is, that is not what is bring this to a head so that should not be part of the solution to the "mom problem." Continue to teach her, until she no longer wants to be taught - but don't let mom interfere wth your teaching.

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#1212836 - 06/06/09 02:38 PM Re: "Firing" a student [Re: Ebony and Ivory]
trillingadventurer Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/28/08
Posts: 304
Loc: San Diego
Originally Posted By: Ebony and Ivory
[quote=trillingadventurer]I was "fired" by my master teacher a few years back. I think she read the "The Wrong Way to Fire Your Student Handbook" because she had her husband call and let me go. I was left with no explanation and no resolution.


WHAT?? Are you serious? OMGosh that is unconscionable!
I think that's pretty rare.

I hope you had the intestinal fortitude to call her and ask why!
I hope things worked out for you.

She was claiming a conflict of interest...since we never spoke directly I was confused by this but her actions spoke mountains about the limitations of our relationship. I could see very clearly the invisibly glass ceiling that was there since day one. I would have been able to go only so far with this teacher...Also, I think what I was looking for I have found...RIGHT HERE on this forum!Thanks for the support! Yes, things worked out for me absolutely. It led me here.
_________________________
M. Katchur

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#1213249 - 06/07/09 11:11 AM Re: "Firing" a student [Re: John v.d.Brook]
musiclady Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/19/05
Posts: 431
Loc: Toronto, Canada
I've fired several students, at least 3 in the last year, I just want to keep my sanity...the usual reason is inconsistent lessons but poor practice habits are another big one, and one I fired related to his behaviour in lessons (banging on the piano or my percussion instruments, for example)--I have 4 year old students who behaved better and this kid was 12!

Meri
_________________________
Clarinet and Piano Teacher based out of Toronto, Canada.Web: http://donmillsmusicstudio.weebly.com

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