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#1256127 - 08/25/09 09:07 PM Lost a student today
abcdefg Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/18/09
Posts: 67
Loc: midwest
I lost a student today. I wasn't surprised but disappointed. The student is in 7th grade. She missed two spring recitals because of traveling ball teams. But she still kept up with Guild and other recital opportunities. She is very talented but sports has taken top priority. I have been talking to mom to schedule a time for her lesson for several weeks. I have worked around sports schedules for years so even though it is frustrating I am patient. We finally scheduled a time. Five minutes before the lesson is supposed to start the student calls and says she will not be able to take piano lessons this year. I really don't understand when the parent has the student call. I almost feel like they are punishing the student and I can imagine that in the background they are saying "You have to call and tell your teacher that you will not be taking lessons." I always wonder if the parent wants me to try and change the students mind. One other thing, the mom is the music teacher at school.

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#1256174 - 08/25/09 10:28 PM Re: Lost a student today [Re: abcdefg]
Barb860 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/11/09
Posts: 1646
Loc: northern California
Yipes! What an awful way to handle leaving your studio. The parent should have communicated this to you a couple of weeks ago, and then brought the student over to say goodbye and thank you. How inconsiderate of this parent, giving you no notice at all. If this parent wanted you to persuade her child to continue lessons, I think she would have given you that heads-up a while back.
_________________________
Piano Teacher

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#1256180 - 08/25/09 10:41 PM Re: Lost a student today [Re: Barb860]
dmc092657 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/02/08
Posts: 277
I'm not a teacher but this sort of thing is absolutely inexcusable. I'm sure it has to be disappointing for you but the only solace I think you could take is that you won't have to deal with scheduling around all the sports activities anymore. Maybe thats not much consolation but at least you know where things stand.

I'm sorry to hear this nonetheless. The lack of consideration by some people is astounding !

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#1256191 - 08/25/09 11:00 PM Re: Lost a student today [Re: dmc092657]
Sal_ Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/06/08
Posts: 355
Loc: Lacey, WA
I had a great student leave once--no notice, no nothing, and I sincerely doubt it was the student's choice. I saw the girl (mature 12 year old) a little later and she avoided directly looking at me. It hurts and will always hurt, but the decision is theirs.

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#1256195 - 08/25/09 11:16 PM Re: Lost a student today [Re: Sal_]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11967
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
I know, even if you are expecting it, it still hurts if it is done in a callous way without showing you any respect. Canceling 5 minutes before you are supposed to start lessons is not the way to do it. Thing is, there's really no good way to go about getting the closure that would make everyone feel better about it.

Just remember that every student has to leave at some point. We always hope it will be on good terms, but sometimes the way things are done means it's not 'good terms' for us. If she wants to start up again in the future, you can certainly mention that you did not appreciate the way you were treated, but we rarely get that chance. Best to move on.

I had two siblings not come back after a summer break and they were really enjoyable students. They were both making so much progress. I called the mother to schedule their time for Fall and she said they decided to go to the local conservatory because their friends go there. She even had sent a nice card after the phone conversation (or it was in the mail when we talked) explaining this but stating they really enjoyed lessons with me. It didn't make sense, and I was pretty hurt by it. But then, a new student started voice lessons with me and he's got quite a talent, and he will also be doing piano in a couple of weeks. So, who knows? Perhaps having this opening will allow room for another student without those issues?
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#1256205 - 08/25/09 11:57 PM Re: Lost a student today [Re: Morodiene]
slowlearner Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/28/08
Posts: 48
Originally Posted By: Morodiene
...
Just remember that every student has to leave at some point. We always hope it will be on good terms, but sometimes the way things are done means it's not 'good terms' for us. ...


Hello Teachers,

Since we students all have "...to leave at some point." what, for teachers, constitutes leaving on "Good Terms"?

Here's your chance... ;-) Teach! ;-)

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#1256220 - 08/26/09 12:48 AM Re: Lost a student today [Re: slowlearner]
Candywoman Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/14/03
Posts: 845
To slowlearner:

The answer lies in all the previous posts.
Adequate notice, a kind word, perhaps a little bit of logic to their decision (although this is NOT necessary).

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#1256233 - 08/26/09 01:54 AM Re: Lost a student today [Re: abcdefg]
Gary D. Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4810
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: abcdefg
I lost a student today. I wasn't surprised but disappointed. The student is in 7th grade. She missed two spring recitals because of traveling ball teams. But she still kept up with Guild and other recital opportunities. She is very talented but sports has taken top priority. I have been talking to mom to schedule a time for her lesson for several weeks. I have worked around sports schedules for years so even though it is frustrating I am patient. We finally scheduled a time. Five minutes before the lesson is supposed to start the student calls and says she will not be able to take piano lessons this year. I really don't understand when the parent has the student call. I almost feel like they are punishing the student and I can imagine that in the background they are saying "You have to call and tell your teacher that you will not be taking lessons." I always wonder if the parent wants me to try and change the students mind. One other thing, the mom is the music teacher at school.

First, what a shame that it has to be sports OR music. Why is that?

The fact is that we are special people to a few of our students but just convenient, hired help to many families.
_________________________
Piano Teacher

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#1256270 - 08/26/09 03:47 AM Re: Lost a student today [Re: abcdefg]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
The quick, hurried phone call to cancel all lessons says so much about the chaos and carelessness of many of our clients. It's all about them and their needs and that is their only priority. Themselves. They are incapable of fair play, the golden rule, or giving reciprocity to others if it does not benefit them too. Piano lessons became an obstacle to what they chose to do.

If you are being treated badly by your clients at any time and you don't call them on it by stating your needs and viewpoint, you are one day going to receive the final insult from them.

You could set up a termination policy to add to your studio policy and discuss what you consider the proper steps to be when they are going to be leaving the studio. In my opinion, there also is a need to educate the parents and the teen students about overcoming obstacles in piano study, the feeling like quitting comes early for some who are not up to the challenge, others may not have the endurance and stamina they need early on, but it can be groomed.

The more time you spend in preventing things from being issues and problems, the better will be the outcome between you and your students. Emotions and self esteem and self confidence are a huge reason why many students want out. They just don't yet know enough about their strengths and weaknesses to know how to handle disappointment, challenges and perfections' ugly head. There are many benefits to piano lessons that are about personal growth and understanding oneself through music making.

Then there is the sports player who prizes the games and practice times (teams) over (private) piano lessons. So they don't have time, they say. Rather conclusive if one does not have time and can not put the effort in, it's not going to be very productive. They also have many other demands and activities to fit in, not just the games.

Profile your interviews, finding out what their scheduling conflicts are likely to be, help them face commitments now going in. They simply can not be in two places at once. If you don't want to be disappointed, you need to teach them not to disappoint you. Mip it in the bud.

I'm so sorry for your trials, tribulations and disappointment in how this ultimately turned out. It's painful, I know. Build a strong business model in support of your piano teaching and manage your business in a democratic set of rules that apply to everyone, no exceptions.

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#1256339 - 08/26/09 08:39 AM Re: Lost a student today [Re: abcdefg]
BSP Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/03/07
Posts: 209
Loc: Hudson Valley, NY
Oh, I share your disappointment. That has happened to me, as well. One of my favorite students told me it was going to be her last lesson. The news caught me very much by surprise, and even though I really liked the family, I didn't like that the parents made the child tell me. I figured the very same thing happened that did in your case.. the child decided they didn't want to continue, so the parents forced the child to tell the teacher, but it was a tremendous burden for her, imo.

I, too, have a family that hasn't contacted me for lessons yet, and I know I should call them, but I don't want to. They are very nice young ladies. I enjoyed teaching both of them and felt they were making nice progress. But, my gut feeling tells me that they won't be returning, simply because I haven't heard from them. frown

I can't offer much good advice, but I do really understand how you feel.

Have a good year teaching!
BevP

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#1256348 - 08/26/09 09:04 AM Re: Lost a student today [Re: Betty Patnude]
Lollipop Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/09
Posts: 820
Loc: Georgia
The fact that the parent is a school music teacher speaks volumes to me. I have been treated the most carelessly by school music teachers. I think it is because first, they are so used to students dropping their class without notice that they don't think of it as unusual or inconsiderate. And second, school teachers are all about students taking responsibility. "It's your decision; you call," is probably what was said. I can't tell you how many times I've been rebuked by my kids' teachers for asking a question or wanting information - "This is your student's responsibility, not yours." It's their way of not having to deal with the parents, I believe.

For the past several semesters, one school music teacher has been saying his daughter wanted to start lessons, but they never follow through. Finally, this fall, he sent me an email asking what day she could start. I gave him a choice of times, and he emailed back that Monday or Weds would work best, and by the way, his other daughter wanted to take as well. So I answered with starting dates and times, and never heard back. I sent two more emails, and still haven't heard. Lessons were supposed to start this past week. He saw my son and mentioned that his girls were being pulled by several different activities and weren't sure what they were going to do, but that he would answer my email "tomorrow at the latest." I will get a sheepish apology eventually. It's still frustrating. Fortunately, I didn't have another student wanting those spots.

In my cover letter that goes with my policy, I have a paragraph or two about leaving. I try to communicate that it is OKAY to leave, and that there is a right way to do it. Regardless, I still have parents who do this. I lost a student this year -- we scheduled around sports, we did tons of make-up lessons, each time with the promise that "Her schedule will be better soon." I sent an email to schedule fall lessons, and got a replay, "Oh, sorry, should have told you - she's taking at this arts school this fall." I don't mind, really. She was a lot of work for me. But it would have been nice to have been told.

This girl goes to my church, and I know that she will avoid me. But I won't give her that chance. I think it is me - as the adult - who has the responsibility to make her feel comfortable with me. I will say, "It's nice to see you! How are you enjoying your new lessons?"

The part that makes it uncomfortable is that "feeling" - whether or not it is a reality - of rejection. For some reason we feel we aren't good enough, or the student or parent feels like they are saying we aren't good enough, even if they don't feel that way. It is up to me to give the message that I am NOT the right teacher or best teacher for every single person, and that is not a reflection of my personal worth!

My son switched teachers several times, for different reasons. Only once was by our choice, though. After three years with one teacher, we felt he was losing his "joy" of piano. The teacher was especially critical, just by nature, and his playing style did not match my son's. My son liked him, and switched teachers only at my insistence. (And later thanked me.) He had stopped for the summer anyway, because he was attending a summer music program. So when he returned, he stopped by the teacher's house with a present and handwritten thank-you note, and explained that he was going to switch teachers because he wanted to work on some different skills. Later, at festival, the new teacher went up to the old teacher, and thanked him for *sending* my son to her. It was a really nice thing to do, and helped smooth things over. And when my son gave his senior recital, he invited all his old teachers and publicly recognized their contributions to him.
_________________________
piano teacher

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#1256543 - 08/26/09 02:14 PM Re: Lost a student today [Re: Lollipop]
Rachel J Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/11/09
Posts: 325
Loc: Brooklyn, NY
All I can say is that I have had people leave my studio in all kinds of inconsiderate ways. Never ceases to amaze me how ill mannered some people can be at those times. I think it's quite immature of the parents to not know how to handle that situation with respect and kindness. It's not brain surgery!

Sorry about your experience, but it's quite typical, unfortunately.
_________________________
Rachel Jimenez Piano teacher in Brooklyn, NY / Author of Fundamental Keys method
My professional website: FundamentalKeys.com
Latest blog post: "A marvelous pianist and mentor"

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#1256557 - 08/26/09 02:29 PM Re: Lost a student today [Re: slowlearner]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11967
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: slowlearner
Originally Posted By: Morodiene
...
Just remember that every student has to leave at some point. We always hope it will be on good terms, but sometimes the way things are done means it's not 'good terms' for us. ...


Hello Teachers,

Since we students all have "...to leave at some point." what, for teachers, constitutes leaving on "Good Terms"?

Here's your chance... ;-) Teach! ;-)

For me, it is discontinuing lesson according to my policy, which is a 30-day cancellation period. If it happens over the summer and the student didn't take summer lessons, certainly 30 days prior to school starting would be appropriate. In person notification, or at the very least, on the phone with the parent (or student if Adult :D). That way I can understand the reasons for leaving (some just stop coming, cancel last minute without any warning, or send an email which doesn't really detail anything).

Keep in mind, that I never try to convince a student otherwise. However, I appreciate it when I am told that there is something that they'd like to cover in lessons that I'm not focusing on so I can have time to make an adjustment. Some assume that I teach only one way and so they leave if that is not what they want. However, if a student or parent does not give me any direction as to what they like and want to learn more about, I have no choice but to teach what I feel is important.

Think of it as giving your employer 2 weeks' notice. It's common courtesy vs. saying "I quit" and storm out the door.
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#1256562 - 08/26/09 02:38 PM Re: Lost a student today [Re: Lollipop]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11967
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: Lollipop

...I am NOT the right teacher or best teacher for every single person, and that is not a reflection of my personal worth!


I really like this! The whole thing about students leaving doesn't hurt me one bit, but it *does* hurt me if it is done disrespectfully or carelessly. When I was a beginning teacher, I was always devastated by a student leaving. Then over the years experience taught me the above statement smile.
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#1256726 - 08/26/09 05:56 PM Re: Lost a student today [Re: Morodiene]
Lollipop Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/09
Posts: 820
Loc: Georgia
Ironic that today I had another student quit. This student is a sibling of another (continuing) student. I think it was doomed from the beginning:

*The mother doesn't speak much English; all communication is through the 9 year old older student.
*The 7 year old started at the begininng of August. Mom dropped her off for her 30 minutes lesson and returned an hour and 20 mintues later to pick her up. I was not happy. Unfortunately, all communication has to go through the kid. So it wasn't a good start.
*Second lesson, kid seemed to have no clue. Did not do her written theory, did not seem to have any recollection of what we'd done, and clearly hadn't practiced.
*Third lesson, kid didn't show up. Sister came next day to her regular lesson, and said mom had to work late, that's why sister didn't come. (But no phone call, etc. It was Mom's choice to have them on different days, btw.)
*Today - would have been fourth lesson. Big sister called to say little sister was quitting.

Little sister didn't have time to give it a fair shot, for which I feel bad, but this one just wasn't working from the get-go.
_________________________
piano teacher

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#1256885 - 08/26/09 10:50 PM Re: Lost a student today [Re: Lollipop]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11967
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: Lollipop


Little sister didn't have time to give it a fair shot, for which I feel bad, but this one just wasn't working from the get-go.
This is why all of my new students, even if they are siblings, go through an 8 lesson trial period. They know from the start what is expected of them, and that they've made this commitment to really truly try piano lessons. Making a big deal out of starting lessons usually works out well, and if it's too much of a commitment (they pay for all 8 lessons upfront), then it's not going to work out anyways. In this case, you would at least have another month to find a student to replace that one.

It's always tough this time of year, because you really never know who will be returning or not. There are those that just surprise you that they are leaving, and some that are not so surprising. But sometimes you don't really know until the school year is well under way! I think this is the toughest part of this business is that since you have clearly delineated times: Christmas Break, Summer, etc. it makes it very convenient in people's minds to choose to drop at those points, whereas if it were a year-round service like cable TV or the phone, they wouldn't think of changing their service unless something prompted them. Even if you teach year-round, you really can't avoid this mentality because of the school system.
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#1257543 - 08/27/09 10:37 PM Re: Lost a student today [Re: Morodiene]
abcdefg Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/18/09
Posts: 67
Loc: midwest
Thanks for all of the comments. I have been teaching piano lessons for 20 years now and I could see this coming. The student was getting more involved with sports and showing less interest in music.

I have since talked to mom. Mom was still angry with her daughter for quitting piano lessons. And just as I had thought, she had told her daughter that if she was going to quit lessons the daughter would have to make the phone call. I think I would have preferred mom had talked to me a little more openly when I first began making contact for the new year. Maybe I should have brought it up. Mom and daughter are starting to have typical teen-age conflicts. Daughter is feeling stressed with school, sports and everything else she does.

I have never had a termination policy from the student's standpoint. That is something for me to think about. I have terminated students who are not attending lessons or practicing enough to make progress. Usually when a student quits it is time or they have graduated and are off to college.

Again, I do appreciate your support and comments.

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#1257715 - 08/28/09 09:07 AM Re: Lost a student today [Re: abcdefg]
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17778
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
Originally Posted By: abcdefg
And just as I had thought, she had told her daughter that if she was going to quit lessons the daughter would have to make the phone call.


I've been thinking more about this. Earlier in the thread, quite a few teachers weighed in with the sentiment that it was particularly galling that it was the student, rather than the mom, to make the phone call. I felt a little perplexed by this, because my inclination would be to do the same as this mother... if the child is quitting lessons against parental advice, then the child should be the one to make the call. (I can, however, also see the benefit of the parent *also* making a call to thank the teacher for their efforts to date.)

In my mind, it's setting a bad precedent of 'helicopter parenting' if the mom volunteers to handle the communications between a child and other adults, especially if it's a conversation that's anticipated to be uncomfortable. There are exceptions, of course--parents sometimes have to intervene if a child's initial efforts at communication go awry. But it's a good idea to encourage them to make the first steps.

Obviously the family should've given more more warning. But I don't necessarily view the fact that it was the child calling in a negative light. Quite the opposite, actually, as I think the mom was helping the child become more responsible for his or her actions. (Of course, this applies only to reasonably mature and older students... I wouldn't expect or want a 7 year old to make such calls. wink )
_________________________
Mason & Hamlin A -- 91997
My YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/pianomonica

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#1257748 - 08/28/09 09:51 AM Re: Lost a student today [Re: Monica K.]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11967
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
I agree, Monica. I wasn't appalled by the fact that it was the student, but as long as the student is old enough to be making such decisions. Of course, it was the fact that it was done the day of lessons. I have a 30-day cancellation policy, but even 24 hour's notice would have been better. I'm sure the daughter put it off and didn't realize how disrespectful it came across doing it that way. I would have told her so that in the future she would realize the impact such things have on others and to respectful of people's time.
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#1257765 - 08/28/09 10:11 AM Re: Lost a student today [Re: Monica K.]
abcdefg Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/18/09
Posts: 67
Loc: midwest
I think part of what really bothered me was that I had emailed mom and talked to mom. I knew she would need a new lesson time to fit with the now junior high schedule. We finally set a time and then 5 minutes before the lesson the daughter calls to quit. If mom had brought me into the conversation earlier I could have assured her and the daughter that I have been through this transistion into junior high and sports schedules many times before and I can help them to make it work. So often the parent and child is suddenly overwhelmed by all of the changes in their lives. If I need to be a little less demanding at the lessons for awhile I can do that. I can ease up during the sport season and then we can get back to work when "piano season" starts again.

I have seen it many times, the family comes in overwhelmed. I just try to reassure them that if we work together it will be ok. I am not expecting my students to be concert artists. My goal is to teach students to play well and be proud of their accomplishments.

In fact I have a sixth grade student that is very involved in sports. We get along great and I tease her by asking how much time she practiced free throws compared to how much time she practiced the piano. She started the year saying this might be her last year taking lessons. I said ok but you will stay with piano all year. She said yes. I told her I would work realy hard at finding music she would love to play. Even if she doesn't continue lessons next year I hope she will always have a few pieces that she remembers.

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#1257790 - 08/28/09 10:38 AM Re: Lost a student today [Re: abcdefg]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11967
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
That communication is so important! I even have that as a part of my policy, and many parents have mentioned they appreciate that. Giving the teacher a chance to switch gears when the goals and lives of students change is so important. Many times parents think "it's all or nothing" or that "this is how she teaches, and if things change, we can't take lessons anymore." I personally attribute that to a lack of problem-solving skills on their part.

My husband owns a business and has several employees under him, and we see time and time again, the lack of ability for people to solve problems either in their work or their personal lives. People see a scheduling conflict between a recital and a sports event, and think "it won't work," rather than try and think of a way it can work. That's what I call "focusing on the problem, not the solution." Even after years of teaching students and training them and their parents in working around schedule conflicts, I still am flabbergasted at how easily people give up without even talking with me about alternatives. Then they call and say they can't make something, when in fact, I can give them a different time, or work around the problem.
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#1257955 - 08/28/09 02:18 PM Re: Lost a student today [Re: Morodiene]
plester102 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/23/09
Posts: 3
Loc: Eugene Oregon
"Think of it as giving your employer 2 weeks' notice. It's common courtesy vs. saying "I quit" and storm out the door."

The above quote indicates that teachers do not understand the relationship between student and teacher.

The student/parent is the employer. The teacher is the employee. An employee may be fired/dismissed for a variety of reasons. Many employers do not provide a lenghty explanation as to the why.

Remember teacher = employee.

Cheers,

A happy student.

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#1257969 - 08/28/09 02:36 PM Re: Lost a student today [Re: plester102]
mdb2303 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/02/09
Posts: 24
Loc: Birmingham - UK
"teacher = employee" This is just as silly as thinking that as a teacher you're somehow an employer. The fact of the matter is:

teacher = a business which sells a service
student = a customer who buys a service

A student who thinks they are employing me has really not understood the idea of being your own boss and selling "stuff" to customers. I would not sell a service to a customer who treated me like dirt, or like some sort of servant.

But when my good customers are fussy or annoying I am usually prepared to consider it a "loss leader".

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#1257970 - 08/28/09 02:37 PM Re: Lost a student today [Re: plester102]
Kreisler Offline


Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13792
Loc: Iowa City, IA
Even then, good employers take steps to help their employees get it right and give their employees advance notice if lay-offs are coming or if things weren't working out.

The only time a good employer would let an employee go immediately without warning would be in cases where the the law was broken or breach of contract. (For example, sexual harassment, stealing or embezzling, etc...)

So you're right, employers don't have to let you know why you've been fired; but this isn't about what's required, it's about what's respectful.
_________________________
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

www.pianoped.com
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#1257977 - 08/28/09 02:55 PM Re: Lost a student today [Re: plester102]
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17778
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
Welcome to the forum, Plester102! smile

The teacher/student relationship is a tricky one. On the one hand you are correct that the parent/student is the employer and the teacher the employee. Employers can and do dismiss employees at will... and many employers will deliberately not give notice when they do so, for excellent reasons. (If you're firing an incompetent maid, for example, you'd be wise to collect his or her keys right then and there and not have them working in your house any longer.) As long as the O.P. didn't have an established studio policy requiring greater advance notice, the family was operating within their rights to terminate lessons as they did.

But as any of the teachers on this forum can attest, the teacher-student relationship is also a personal one. Many of the teachers are literally welcoming their students into their homes, and their lives. Friendships arise, especially with adult students. Boundaries are unclear, even messy. I am not at all surprised to hear that most of the teachers interpret the phone call 5 minutes before the assigned lesson time as a slap to the face. I probably would, too.

The solution, imo, is to be explicit upfront in one's teaching policy and your initial interviews with prospective students. It would not be out of line to include a discussion of how lessons should end, if and when it comes to that.

If I were to get all professorial here, I'd start ruminating about how the piano teacher/student relationship is highly interesting in social psychological terms, because it represents inconsistent role/power relationships: the student (or the student's parents) possess higher legitimate power in the relationship (to use French and Raven's terminology regarding the bases of power), but the teacher has higher expert power and, most of the time, referent power. Makes things very complicated.

[Monica stops before everybody falls asleep.]
_________________________
Mason & Hamlin A -- 91997
My YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/pianomonica

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#1257979 - 08/28/09 02:56 PM Re: Lost a student today [Re: Kreisler]
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17778
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
Originally Posted By: Kreisler
this isn't about what's required, it's about what's respectful.


Pretty much everything I wrote in that long and boring post above could be summarized in these 9 words. whome
_________________________
Mason & Hamlin A -- 91997
My YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/pianomonica

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#1258003 - 08/28/09 03:21 PM Re: Lost a student today [Re: plester102]
Gary D. Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4810
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: plester102
"Think of it as giving your employer 2 weeks' notice. It's common courtesy vs. saying "I quit" and storm out the door."

The above quote indicates that teachers do not understand the relationship between student and teacher.

The student/parent is the employer. The teacher is the employee. An employee may be fired/dismissed for a variety of reasons. Many employers do not provide a lenghty explanation as to the why.

Remember teacher = employee.

That's simplistic and not totally accurate.

If you are my student, my only student, and thus pay my wages, I am in an obvious dependent situation. You can decide to "fire" me at any time, and I'm going to be in a horrible fix.

Most of us have dozens of students. Certainly any one of my students can decide to quit lessons with me, with little or no reason, and this happens occasionally. However, if you are a student I don't like, one who is not listening, not respectful, doing no work, I can and will "fire" you.

I do fire students. If I am angry enough, it is instant. I literally open the door, say this lesson is over, and make it very clear that I am done.

Furthermore, students who quit lessons with a good teacher often shoot themselves in the foot. Here is an example:

A family stopped lessons with me at the end of a prior year. No notice, no explanation. They hired a teacher to come to their home. That teacher then proceeded to use my materials and in over a year's time did nothing more than put metronome markings in my music. Nothing was learned, and things were lost. When that family called back, asking me to take their child back, at first I said no. When I agreed, I was explicit about the fact that I expected cooperation, and how. And I said, up front, that at the first sign of disrespect, I would end the lessons.

So there are some practical reasons for not burning bridges.
_________________________
Piano Teacher

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#1258025 - 08/28/09 03:39 PM Re: Lost a student today [Re: Monica K.]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7382
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Monika, I love that long, boring, and very informative post. Don't worry, we'll read it.
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

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#1258057 - 08/28/09 04:28 PM Re: Lost a student today [Re: plester102]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11967
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: plester102
"Think of it as giving your employer 2 weeks' notice. It's common courtesy vs. saying "I quit" and storm out the door."

The above quote indicates that teachers do not understand the relationship between student and teacher.

The student/parent is the employer. The teacher is the employee. An employee may be fired/dismissed for a variety of reasons. Many employers do not provide a lenghty explanation as to the why.

Remember teacher = employee.

Cheers,

A happy student.

You're right, I had it backwards. I certainly didn't mean that the teacher is the employer, but the analogy was in reference to common courtesy in the business world. However, as Kreisler pointed out, a good employer gives 2 weeks' severance pay, unless there are extenuating circumstances for firing an employee (illegal activity, etc.).
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#1258210 - 08/28/09 08:41 PM Re: Lost a student today [Re: plester102]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Originally Posted By: plester102
"Think of it as giving your employer 2 weeks' notice. It's common courtesy vs. saying "I quit" and storm out the door."

The above quote indicates that teachers do not understand the relationship between student and teacher.

The student/parent is the employer. The teacher is the employee. An employee may be fired/dismissed for a variety of reasons. Many employers do not provide a lenghty explanation as to the why.

Remember teacher = employee.

Cheers,

A happy student.


Plester,

I can see that you emphatically think in the above terms because you are purchasing piano lessons from a piano teacher as a student. I am also glad to read that you are a happy student. However, I must challenge your comment about employer - employee.

I am the owner-operator-manager of a 38 year old business and I consider myself a professional piano teacher because of my reputation and track record as well as my membership in MTNA (Music Teacher's National Association".

I charge a yearly tuition of which there are 10 monthly payments due for 12 months of service. A have a contract which the parents or adult students sign representing both of us in our expectations of each other. I provide good music services with a serious sense of responsibility to the client and they meet my expectations of payments on time, appointments kept, 24 hour notice of an absence, and a 30 day termination notice to be given.

My students stay many years with me for study which is another indicatation that all services I provide are satisfactory. My students keep their "word" with me as per the contract.

When a student is leaving the studio, I want to hear from the parent because they are the signer of our contract. I would want the adult student to represent themself, too. I want to have this conversation in person because the details of the quitting can often be worked out to everyone's satisfaction. One of the things I consider necessary for successful piano lessons is that we work together as a team to keep the student in lessons. Obstacles occur from time to time and the impulse to quit is an easy solution to make. It takes no brains. Discussing any real problem with the teacher is a requirement if the parent is going to work to make sure their financial investment does not get wasted. I have many strategies about preventing quitting - not to keep "employed" - but to assist in making other viewpoints known about solving the problems that interfere with piano lessons. I consult and I counsel - I don't give up on these people very easily because I have promised them a music education which is what they were looking for in the first place. I want to help them achieve what they were looking for.

If the student has had problems in any way, it is my duty, I think, to interact with the family and help us find solutions that work. Coming to piano lessons for half of an hour or for one hour per week is only part of what we do. I am in their lives, and they are in mine. I am responsible to them and they are responsible to me. Our stated purpose for working together is an important purpose and we must not let the ordinary or the unexpected swerve us from our commitment.

I differ with you only because I have the experience of this having been my life's work and ambition. If a person thought of me as simply his employee and he was the employer, I would not consider working for them. I am the teacher, I am the musician, I am the hard working provider of services, and I choose whom I want to work with. Not every one I meet is offered a place in my studio - I have certain things that I am looking for in the interview as to the student's profile for readiness and interest in taking piano lessons. With my studio policy and contract I am assured that they will give their study with me prominance in their schedule, transportation, and payment.

Anyone who does the business end casually can be rejected by people who simply stop coming and are not vested enough in the learning process of becoming a musician, is simply asking for disappointment, rejection and unfinished emotional business in their lives. Teachers take it to heart when insulted by such rudeness from any one they have invested their time and effort.

This is education, this is an art form, this is successfully patterning someone's brain with musical experiences for growth and development. Knowing how to teach is a requirement. This is a huge investment of our knowledge and musical talents to ensure that other humans continue the legacy of music for mankind. This is no small thing that we do. Yes, I most certainly do feel this way.

"Education is more than preparation for life, it is life itself." John Dewey

"Music gives a Soul to the universe, Wings to the mind, Flight to the imagination, and Life to everything." Plato

Betty

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