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#1276160 - 09/27/09 02:40 PM I just dodged a bullet..
BSP Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/03/07
Posts: 209
Loc: Hudson Valley, NY
I had a call from the parent of a potential student. She told me that she's been down this road with her 14 year old student before. Said that the daughter had taken lessons before, but was not happy with the teacher, or the students' progress, given how long she had had lessons.

I asked, "Did your daughter practice at least 30 minutes a day?". The women scoffed, "No. I was lucky to get 15 minutes out of her. You can't get 30 minutes a day out of kids these days with all they have going on. And, I work, too, so I can't be there to supervise them after school. Just like I tell them not to get on the computer after school, either. I work.. I can't check on them."

Yikes! shocked

I was relieved when the parent said that she was shopping around and would call me back. I do hope never to hear back from her. I can't imagine that I would... seems like a lose-lose situation for anyone.

BevP

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#1276168 - 09/27/09 03:06 PM Re: I just dodged a bullet.. [Re: BSP]
Lollipop Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/09
Posts: 820
Loc: Georgia
You mean, sleeping with the piano books under the pillow doesn't work???? Now you tell me.
_________________________
piano teacher

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#1276182 - 09/27/09 03:35 PM Re: I just dodged a bullet.. [Re: Lollipop]
BSP Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/03/07
Posts: 209
Loc: Hudson Valley, NY
LOL! I wondered why the woman was calling in the first place, especially when she blamed the teacher for her daughter's poor results.

BevP

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#1276197 - 09/27/09 04:04 PM Re: I just dodged a bullet.. [Re: BSP]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7417
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Well, it would certainly be interesting to hear the daughter's perspective. If she does call back, why not have an interview. Having an interview doesn't mean you have to take her as a student, but it might be a good opportunity for you to explore with the daughter her musical tastes, ambitions, desire to play an instrument, work ethic, etc. You might use the opportunity to share that most successful student musicians are practicing daily, to the tune of 90 minutes or more each day. It's nice to have a couple of pie in the sky ambitions, but a dose of reality is an ingredient of life, and perhaps you'd be doing this young lady a great favor by explaining how success and achievement actually happens. She might actually have an OMG moment and decide to work at the piano for a year. Wouldn't that be a great outcome?
_________________________
"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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#1276233 - 09/27/09 05:29 PM Re: I just dodged a bullet.. [Re: John v.d.Brook]
BSP Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/03/07
Posts: 209
Loc: Hudson Valley, NY
My gut feeling is that the mother would be difficult to deal with. She sounded very negative, though she was realistic with regards to her ability to provide supervision . There were things that she said that made me think she blamed the former teacher for her daughters' lack of progress, which was what made me ask how much her daughter practiced. Then, when she volunteered that she couldn't supervise her daughter's practice sessions, honestly, I was turned off. She didn't sound at all pleasant.

BevP

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#1276345 - 09/27/09 11:04 PM Re: I just dodged a bullet.. [Re: BSP]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12211
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Bev,
It certainly does sound like you dodged a bullet! John may be right, however, if you get a feeling from a phone conversation that turns you off to the parent, then it's probably not a good match to begin with. I've learned to trust my instincts on such things after many times of trying it out anyways and regretting it later.
_________________________
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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#1276355 - 09/27/09 11:29 PM Re: I just dodged a bullet.. [Re: Morodiene]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
The mother doesn't seem aware that she painted a bad picture of her daughter as a piano student to the person she was calling in hopes of finding a new teacher.

It makes me wonder if the student is willing. If so, she might be a prime candidate for a new teacher. At age 14 she should be able to speak for herself during an interview. And be able to say whether she really wanted lessons and a new opportunity to work on her musicianship.

Then it makes me question if I would want to have to deal with a parent who was not involved in the problem solving of being supportive to her teen daughter. The parent probably thinks it's best to be honest about the daughter's lack of practice. It's a big turn-off to hear that about any incoming student.

So, Bev, what are you thinking of doing if called again?

Actually, a parent called me about accepting a transfer student a few weeks ago. I know the teacher involved and asked the parent if she had given notice to the teacher and left the studio on good terms with her. That got me the response of her saying "I'm just checking to see who is available to teacher her, I'll call you back sometime in the future." So, I feel that I escaped a potential problem in having the teacher upset with me because her student had not left amicably.

Many of us who know we have a student thinking of leaving will provide a referance to another teacher or even several who would be interested in continuing with our student.

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#1276437 - 09/28/09 03:48 AM Re: I just dodged a bullet.. [Re: BSP]
kevinb Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/09
Posts: 1565
Originally Posted By: BSP
There were things that she said that made me think she blamed the former teacher for her daughters' lack of progress, which was what made me ask how much her daughter practiced. Then, when she volunteered that she couldn't supervise her daughter's practice sessions, honestly, I was turned off. She didn't sound at all pleasant.


I suspect that most parents -- indeed, most people -- have absolutely no clue how much effort is required to become a competent musician, on the piano or anything else. Perhaps this lady's daughter's previous piano teachers did not make this as clear as they might have done. If a parent thinks that a child is going to make excellent progress on two 15-minute practice sessions a weak, and nobody corrects that misapprehension, then it's not very surprising that the teacher gets it in the neck, however unfair that might be.

Maybe the lady in question wants something that no teacher can provide: excellent progress for her daughter without practice. But maybe she just needs some cold, hard facts spelled out?

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#1276452 - 09/28/09 06:17 AM Re: I just dodged a bullet.. [Re: kevinb]
BSP Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/03/07
Posts: 209
Loc: Hudson Valley, NY
I really hope that I am not called again in this case. The mother's personality has rubbed me the wrong way. Just to make things more clear, I felt that she understood that success at music lessons depends on practice, but that her work schedule didn't allow her time to check whether her daughter practiced or not.

She sounded frustrated about that, but pessimistic about any other outcome, "You can't get 30 minutes a day out of these kids with all they have going on". I'm surprised that she called to ask about a teacher, at all. I heard nothing positively oriented from her end, at all. Seriously... do I want that sort of negativity in my life right now.. especially if I have a choice in the matter? Simply put, no.

It's very common up here, as I'm sure it is everywhere, for students to have religious instruction as well as sports, cheerleading and dance classes on weekday afternoons. How can you possibly fit 30 minutes of piano lessons and practicing on top of all of that?

Betty, if she does call again, my first questions will be, "how do you intend to make this go round of lessons better than it has gone in the past?" and "do your children have the time to commit to lessons at this point?. Really.. something on her end is going to have to change, regardless of who the teacher is.

BevP

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#1276454 - 09/28/09 06:25 AM Re: I just dodged a bullet.. [Re: BSP]
kevinb Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/09
Posts: 1565
The mother sounds realistic about what can be expected in the circumstances. Whether you want to enter into a business relationship with somebody that you don't feel any rapport with is an economic consideration, I guess. It's certainly nice not to have to, if you're in that position.

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#1276497 - 09/28/09 09:19 AM Re: I just dodged a bullet.. [Re: BSP]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12211
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: BSP

Betty, if she does call again, my first questions will be, "how do you intend to make this go round of lessons better than it has gone in the past?" and "do your children have the time to commit to lessons at this point?. Really.. something on her end is going to have to change, regardless of who the teacher is.

BevP


These both are excellent questions that I would definitely ask. If there is no time to really give piano lessons a fighting chance of success -- and by success, I mean the student being able to practice enough so that she enjoys piano and lessons -- then what is the child going to give up in order to allow her to practice? And it puts the ball in the mother's park by telling her to change teachers isn't going to solve the problem here, something has to change at home.
_________________________
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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#1276519 - 09/28/09 10:17 AM Re: I just dodged a bullet.. [Re: Morodiene]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7417
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
I'm still not convinced that I'd write her off quite so quickly. The daughter is 14; she may be more or less mature, but she is in 9th grade, and is capable of and should be exercising some personal responsibility. Has mom given her a chance? It sounds perhaps like the daughter may be rebelling a bit, to her own determent. Very few parents in the USA can control 14 year olds unless they've carefully laid a foundation, and it doesn't sound like this mom has. So I'd still be willing to withhold judgment until discussing piano lessons with the daughter.
_________________________
"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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#1276596 - 09/28/09 01:38 PM Re: I just dodged a bullet.. [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Andromaque Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/29/08
Posts: 3886
Loc: New York
JOhn
I agree with yourtake on this, in general. But
re: controlling 14 year olds ("Very few parents in the USA can control 14 year olds "), do you think parents outside the US have better tricks?


Edited by Andromaque (09/28/09 01:38 PM)

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#1276627 - 09/28/09 02:26 PM Re: I just dodged a bullet.. [Re: Andromaque]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7417
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Yes, I think there is more family orientation. At least, that's my observation having lived in both Germany and Japan.
_________________________
"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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#1276960 - 09/28/09 10:40 PM Re: I just dodged a bullet.. [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Lollipop Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/09
Posts: 820
Loc: Georgia
Funny. When we lived in Germany we always commented on how dogs were so much better behaved than in the US, and how the kids were so much worse. Perhaps it varies by region of country (in both US and Germany.)
_________________________
piano teacher

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#1276963 - 09/28/09 10:43 PM Re: I just dodged a bullet.. [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Barb860 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/11/09
Posts: 1646
Loc: northern California
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
I'm still not convinced that I'd write her off quite so quickly. The daughter is 14; she may be more or less mature, but she is in 9th grade, and is capable of and should be exercising some personal responsibility. Has mom given her a chance? It sounds perhaps like the daughter may be rebelling a bit, to her own determent. Very few parents in the USA can control 14 year olds unless they've carefully laid a foundation, and it doesn't sound like this mom has. So I'd still be willing to withhold judgment until discussing piano lessons with the daughter.

Yes, absolutely! Get to know the daughter/student. Be open and give her a chance. Perhaps it won't work out but you never know until you meet her and work with her. See what happens, if you have openings, why not?
_________________________
Piano Teacher

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#1277014 - 09/29/09 01:07 AM Re: I just dodged a bullet.. [Re: kevinb]
Candywoman Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/14/03
Posts: 857
I agree the girl needs to practice more. But just for fun, let's entertain the possibility that the teacher WAS the problem. You could be the teacher that develops a rapore with the student first. Then you begin to ask her about her activities and her life. She may just need a little nudge to axe something she finds too heavy. Meanwhile, you could inspire her with your amazing piano playing.

And lastly, you can forget the idea of the mother enforcing practice and leave it in the hands of the girl. Just think, in four or five years, the daughter could be living with somebody, having a baby, and making all her own decisions. (This actually happened to one of my students.) One hundred years ago she would probably already be in this position. We now believe girls mature earlier because biological statistics of the onset of menarche indicate this. But I'd say the lack of responsibility for themselves or siblings or household tasks has delayed and prolonged actual maturity.

So why concern yourself with the parent? PianoDad knows that I don't. wink I'd take this girl on in a heartbeat.



Edited by Candywoman (09/29/09 01:08 AM)

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#1277176 - 09/29/09 09:33 AM Re: I just dodged a bullet.. [Re: Candywoman]
Lollipop Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/09
Posts: 820
Loc: Georgia
Do you have any idea what level the girl is at? Quite honestly, in the beginning levels, I'd have a really hard time making MYSELF do 15 minutes of practice. Those songs are about 20 seconds long. That's a lot of repetition.

I have had some struggles with kids about practicing - there are some times when they practice for the first time all week immediately prior to coming to lesson. So someone who touches the piano daily would be a step up. With these students, I progress them very slowly, and make sure they really have grasped the concepts beyond "cramming." I also make sure their parents understand that progress will be necessarily slow, and that they'd get more for their money if the student put in more time at home. Beyond that, it's out of my control.

But I think you are wise to consider in advance what you are willing to accept. Otherwise, it's an exercise in frustration for both of you. When I decided my middle kid needed to switch piano teachers, I started calling around. I explained to them that piano was 3rd on his list (another instrument + composition were ahead of it), and on days with lots of homework, piano would be the one sacrificed. I had several teachers turn me down outright because they weren't willing to deal with a kid who couldn't promise a certain level of practice.

He knew he was destined for a performance degree, and needed to keep up his piano. We did eventually find a wonderful teacher who could accept it for what it was. Under her instruction, he was named an OP every year. She also worked with his composition. She still teases him about piano being his lowest priority, but I think she is also proud of him for his musical accomplishments. The key was that we all went in with our eyes open, with honesty and tempered expectations.
_________________________
piano teacher

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