Welcome to the Piano World Piano Forums
Over 2 million posts about pianos, digital pianos, and all types of keyboard instruments
Join the World's Largest Community of Piano Lovers (it's free)
It's Fun to Play the Piano ... Please Pass It On!

SEARCH
the Forums & Piano World

This custom search works much better than the built in one and allows searching older posts.
(ad 125) Sweetwater - Digital Keyboards & Other Gear
Digital Pianos at Sweetwater
(ad) Pianoteq
Latest Pianoteq add-on instrument: U4 upright piano
(ad) Pearl River
Pearl River Pianos
(ad) P B Guide
Acoustic & Digital Piano Guide
PianoSupplies.com (150)
Piano Accessories Music Related Gifts Piano Tuning Equipment Piano Moving Equipment
We now offer Gift Certificates in our online store!
(ad) Estonia Piano
Estonia Piano
Quick Links to Useful Stuff
Our Classified Ads
Find Piano Professionals-

*Piano Dealers - Piano Stores
*Piano Tuners
*Piano Teachers
*Piano Movers
*Piano Restorations
*Piano Manufacturers
*Organs

Quick Links:
*Advertise On Piano World
*Free Piano Newsletter
*Online Piano Recitals
*Piano Recitals Index
*Piano Accessories
* Buying a Piano
*Buying A Acoustic Piano
*Buying a Digital Piano
*Pianos for Sale
*Sell Your Piano
*How Old is My Piano?
*Piano Books
*Piano Art, Pictures, & Posters
*Directory/Site Map
*Contest
*Links
*Virtual Piano
*Music Word Search
*Piano Screen Saver
*Piano Videos
*Virtual Piano Chords
Topic Options
#1264891 - 09/08/09 09:36 PM requirements to continue lessons
Ann in Kentucky Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2647
Loc: Kentucky
Do any of you drop students if they don't practice? Do you give a month probationary period? Or perhaps talk with parents about the problem (more than just encouraging practice)? Ask if the student is really interested in learning to play piano?

I am not quite ready to let a couple of students go (teens who have only had 1 year of lessons and hardly any practice)...but I'm getting close. I only have 3 openings left. If I get to where I have a waiting list, perhaps that is when I will choose to drop those who are unwilling to practice.I'm considering asking the two in particular who make no effort if there is anything they'd like me to teach them.

I saw "I'm willing to teach anyone who practices" on a post. May come up with ways to address it in my policies...yet feel reluctant to sound negative. So far I just repeatedly point out that regular practice is necessary for success in learning piano.

Top
(ad) My Music Staff
Check out the new way to manage your music studio
#1264927 - 09/08/09 10:39 PM Re: requirements to continue lessons [Re: Ann in Kentucky]
Stanny Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/08/06
Posts: 1461
I've gotten close myself, but never done it.
_________________________
~Stanny~

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

Top
#1264951 - 09/08/09 11:47 PM Re: requirements to continue lessons [Re: Stanny]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7300
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Teens? Are we talking high school students here, or middle school?

If they are HS, I recommend being quite direct with them. Discuss the importance of preparing lessons, whether for piano, algebra, language class, history, or what ever. You cannot make any meaningful progress in anything without preparation. Not even cooking, sewing, driving, sports, anything. So what's the issue? You need to put the monkey on their back, get it off of your back. Make them responsible by choosing your words so that they are the actors, not you.

FWIW, I tell my less well-prepared HS students, "You decide. You decide how much you want to progress this year. You decide how advanced at piano you want to be. What ever you decide, I'll help you. And what I can tell you is that if you decide for max effort, you'll get to here (and I illustrate some repertoire they could play)."
_________________________
"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

Top
#1264952 - 09/08/09 11:48 PM Re: requirements to continue lessons [Re: John v.d.Brook]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7300
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
PS If you find yourself developing a waiting list, it means your rates are too low. Adjust them upward.
_________________________
"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

Top
#1265159 - 09/09/09 09:53 AM Re: requirements to continue lessons [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Ann in Kentucky Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2647
Loc: Kentucky
Thank you Stanny and John for your comments. John, one is a 7th grader and one a 10th grader. I took notes on your post...so eloquent and right to the point. I find it helpful to think of it as putting the monkey on their back.

I really have felt as though it's a bad reflection on me...and I'm anticipating how it will look when I have a piano party. Parents making judgements.(Monkey on my back.) It will be obvious that some are much better players with about the same length of time in lessons. But I'm trying to focus on my reasons for the party...get kids performing for each other and having fun with playing and motivate them to polish some pieces). It's not about my trying to prove myself.

I'm just starting my 3rd year of teaching and have increased my rates each summer. I'm not sure what I'll do next year...increase or not...but if I get a waiting list that will be a consideration. What's helping me is that I'm in a great location for teaching kids...close to the better schools in our area.
_________________________
piano teacher

"She played upon her music box
a fancy air by chance,
And straightaway all her polka dots
began a lively dance."
-- Peter Newell

Top
#1265171 - 09/09/09 10:08 AM Re: requirements to continue lessons [Re: Ann in Kentucky]
LVP Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/29/09
Posts: 289
Loc: Vermont
Just for some perspective (I am not a piano teacher) if these same kids didn't do their homework, or practice for dance class, there would punishment or consequences. In dance, if you don't keep up, you get demoted to perform something you can pull off without making a mockery of the hard work everyone else put in. In my company, it was not unthinkable that a 17 year old might not have a real part if she was spacing out and being a jerk! I wonder if you warned them that they would be playing 'Mary had a little lamb' at the party if they didn't commit would change things at all. Appeal to the ego....? Good luck, I am curious to see what works (I teach in other contexts, so love to read these posts!)
_________________________
LVP
Charles Walter 1500
Korg SP-170s

Top
#1265203 - 09/09/09 10:53 AM Re: requirements to continue lessons [Re: LVP]
Morodiene Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11406
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Haha, Mary Had a Little Lamb! Love it!

I think asking them what they want to learn is a great approach. Put the onus on them to find a piece, and then make a bargain with them: you will teach them *that* piece, if they also agree to practice *this* piece, and choose one that you think they would like, but that they need to learn in order to progress.

Then talk with them about their schedules. Write down every activity they have and approximate time it takes to do said activity. Also include time needed to do homework each day. Then from that develop a schedule where they can practice and set a minimum amount of time every day. When just starting out, I tell them that 5 out of 7 days they will progress well and be much more satisfied with their playing. Let them pick the 2 days off they will have each week, but they cannot be in a row. You can decide if lessons days 'count' toward practice or not - it might be easier to do this then you're only asking for 4 days when you don't see them.

If they agree to this schedule, then be sure you have them write down their practice times each week so you can monitor it. Something else I tell them is that 5 minutes is better than no minutes, so to make sure they at least sit at the piano on these days, but the goal is to make it for their full practice time, so you can't have (4) 5-minute days. Usually I tell them this 5 minute rule once I try to get them to practice every day, and not just 5 days a week.

Once they get started on this, it does build momentum, and they really start enjoying it and wanting to get better. It takes 21 days to develop a habit, so have them commit to doing this for a month. Of course, if their schedule changes, you will need to revisit things, because that can throw you off. Just because something is a "habit" doens't mean you'll do it forever. Practice takes conscious effort.
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

Top
#1265230 - 09/09/09 11:36 AM Re: requirements to continue lessons [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Piano*Dad Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10348
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
PS If you find yourself developing a waiting list, it means your rates are too low. Adjust them upward.


There is another reason for keeping a waiting list. It gives you the ability to choose which students you want.

Piano teaching is not quite like the market for cars, steel, or hamburgers. The car maker doesn't really care about the attributes of who buys their cars as long as they have the willingness and ability to pay. You, on the other hand, are affected by your students. It's a personal service you are delivering and the effects on you are not all monetary. You feel bad if a student is not putting out effort. This is important when you realize that this time slot could be 'sold' to someone else who would pay you the same price AND give you greater non-monetary rewards of doing your job.

Your students also can affect each other, especially if you bring them together as a group on occasion to build camaraderie and support networks within the studio. This is a great idea, IMO when you have middle school kids (often boys) who are under peer pressure to drop this sissy music stuff. If peer effects can be positive reinforcements (good students encouraging others to strive to reach higher), they can also be negative. You and your other students gain by replacing unmotivated students with motivated students.

Lastly, you have long term reputation issues to consider. If you persist in working with unmotivated students you may lose business that you are not even aware of because word of mouth is steering people toward teachers whose studios get 'better' results. No one may be aware of how much hair you have ripped out trying to bring light into particular young lives. All that is seen publicly is the outcome.
_________________________
Grotrian 192 #156455

https://www.youtube.com/user/dhfeld/videos

Top
#1265243 - 09/09/09 12:01 PM Re: requirements to continue lessons [Re: Piano*Dad]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7300
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
P*D, I see the motivation, qualitative issue as separate from the rate issue. The only index you have to the market is your fee. If you keep your rates up where you discourage dabblers, you will most likely have a studio of motivated students, anyway. Teens need help becoming adults, and we can help them along this path. Most piano parents are not like you (only in our dream studio) a parent who provides a top quality instrument, and involved parental support. The two students in question no doubt have ability and musicality, or they wouldn't be long in Ann's studio. Their parents are probably overburdened and over committed. How can Ann help these two without making it her problem not their problem?
_________________________
"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

Top
#1265364 - 09/09/09 02:59 PM Re: requirements to continue lessons [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Morodiene Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11406
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
This is a tough thing to answer, but each teacher has to arrive at a conclusion as to what students they are going to allow to continue or get into their studio. This idea may change over the years, too. Sometimes those non-practicers really do need whatever encouragement you will give them. You may never see the fruits of that labor, but you have to trust that it is not a waste. The only caveat is if they don't like piano, then it is a waste for everyone involved.
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

Top
#1265370 - 09/09/09 03:05 PM Re: requirements to continue lessons [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Would a sit down discussion with the parents and the student and the teacher help work through this problem to begin to find a solution? Not to find fault or demand a result, but to counsel and say we have come from this other point and this is where we are today at this point and we must consider some changes.

You can be encouraging about what needs to happen or you can be finger pointing about them dropping the ball and they need to shape up. You can put them on a probationary list or you can remove them now with no further adieu.

What is the path that with the problem now shared by all participants would lead to everyone respecting each other and tasking together now and in the continuing future to do what is needed to get the results (communicated as a goal) you have asked for?

Reality is best. Working it throught in your teaching head just continues the problem indefinitely. You need to have a round table talk with respect and concern for the student and each other. Help him to find his voice to tell you and his parents what he is coping with and how he sees this situation. For instance, maybe he's just not getting it and feels like he's failing? Who knows what on his mind - he may not even know - but he has to try to communicate from his viewpoint. Other wise, every one is guessing about it.

I've had a lot of young males who are not up front or open about their piano experiences. If anger or bad behavior was part of their situation I soon decided to disconnect, but if it was uncertainty, immaturity, or self-esteemed I continued instruction thinking this person can bloom from what "piano" has to offer.

Part of why I teach piano is that we can make a big difference in people's lives through music. As long as I have that hope for them, and as long as they are interested in lessons, I try to stay availabe for them, however long that turns out to be. At the same time, I am encouraging and asking for everything I need for the student and the parents to contribute so that we can all reach our goal in being supportive to the student.

We sometimes have to pave the path by instructing what roles they need to be playing when involved in piano lessons. If they can understand that just being there is not quite enough from them. Give them some suggestions about what you think would make a difference at this point.

We sometimes don't know the influence we have, and sometimes we are reluctant to use it. Being concerned about criticism, I think, is that you haven't had much criticism to experience, and you'd like to keep it that way. Criticism does not have to be destructive and the last thing said on the way out the door.

There is such a thing as constructive criticism and maybe we should open that door more widely to hear what we need to hear, then we can stop worrying about what might be said in our minds about us.

Again, reality seems to be just the right measure when dealing with problems and their solutions.

Betty Patnude


Edited by Betty Patnude (09/09/09 03:07 PM)

Top
#1265396 - 09/09/09 03:44 PM Re: requirements to continue lessons [Re: Betty Patnude]
Piano*Dad Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10348
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
P*D, I see the motivation, qualitative issue as separate from the rate issue. The only index you have to the market is your fee. If you keep your rates up where you discourage dabblers, you will most likely have a studio of motivated students, anyway.


Indeed, I see this. I think what I'm trying to note is that you don't need to raise the rate up to the point where the waiting list disappears. There can be some virtue in having a group of people who express an interest in working with you beyond the number of places you maintain in your studio. When a space comes available, you can then be a little selective about who to call first rather than automatically taking the next person who calls (or alternatively being down one in numbers and in revenue). I suppose this is more valuable for teachers who get really aggravated by having to deal with students (and families) whose work ethic and/or general attitude run counter to their own. It would also benefit teachers who really dislike having to repeatedly confront (or negotiate with) students and families to keep them on the right path.

You're correct that charging a higher price may tend to diminish these potential pathologies anyway. But I would think they don't go away. How many times have I read here of teachers who are tired of wealthy and privileged families whose attitudes toward musical effort are less than ideal.
_________________________
Grotrian 192 #156455

https://www.youtube.com/user/dhfeld/videos

Top
#1265415 - 09/09/09 04:29 PM Re: requirements to continue lessons [Re: Morodiene]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7300
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Originally Posted By: Morodiene
This is a tough thing to answer, but each teacher has to arrive at a conclusion as to what students they are going to allow to continue or get into their studio. This idea may change over the years, too. Sometimes those non-practicers really do need whatever encouragement you will give them. You may never see the fruits of that labor, but you have to trust that it is not a waste. The only caveat is if they don't like piano, then it is a waste for everyone involved.


Morodiene, it's absolutely true. I don't expect my students to become professional pianists, and I've had both students and parents come back and thank me many many years after the fact, that I didn't give up on them or pushed them, as the case may have been. I expect many of them give their children piano lessons and who knows, because they've had that experience, they're better at parenting than their own parents were. It may take a generation or two for true fruition. yippie
_________________________
"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

Top
#1265420 - 09/09/09 04:42 PM Re: requirements to continue lessons [Re: Ann in Kentucky]
ProdigalPianist Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/08/07
Posts: 1049
Loc: Phoenix Metro, AZ
Originally Posted By: Ann in Kentucky

I saw "I'm willing to teach anyone who practices" on a post. May come up with ways to address it in my policies...yet feel reluctant to sound negative. So far I just repeatedly point out that regular practice is necessary for success in learning piano.


Ann,
My suggestion would be to think carefully about the wording, in policy and in person, of 'firing' students for lack of effort. Policies that are put into place in response to a particular student or issue may end up having an unintended effect later on.

For instance - If you say something along the lines of "needing to see a certain amount of improvement" (to avoid saying 'practice or I'll fire you' wink ) then what happens when you have a student who puts in a lot of effort for very little improvement? Obviously you don't seem like the sort of teacher who would get rid of a hard worker who just doesn't seem to be making much progress.

Being too detailed ie- "I require X amount of practice per day to remain in my studio" might not work either - if the student/parent claims they do practice that much (even when the results show that's not the case) then what is your recourse?

Perhaps wording along the lines of "to maintain their place in my studio, students are expected to make regular practice a daily priority, be engaged in and enthusiastic about playing the piano, and demonstrate steady, continued improvement." ? Something along these lines gets across the idea that once you start lessons you can coast...you have to work to maintain your place in the studio, just as you have to work to maintain your position as a starter in a sports team.

I would suggest just being upfront and truthful..."Sam just does not seem to practice. Without a desire to practice daily there is not much that I can do to teach him. If he does not want to practice then I think it would be best if he finds another teacher who might be able to motivate him or stops lessons altogether."
_________________________
Adult Amateur Pianist

My only domestic quality is that I live in a house.

Top
#1265505 - 09/09/09 08:00 PM Re: requirements to continue lessons [Re: Morodiene]
Ann in Kentucky Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2647
Loc: Kentucky
Well, I took a direct approach with a middle schooler (and parent)...about you decide how much progress you want to make this year etc. As it turns out they were not sure they wanted to continue. They had probably had a discussion and didn't know how to bring it up. Long story short this is the student's last month of lessons.

I've decided that it's difficult to see a student lose interest and quit, but it's worse to see them lose interest and stay. Anyway I let the boy know that I wouldn't be able to learn two instruments at once (he also takes viola lessons) and be in scouts etc...that it was reasonable not to spread yourself too thin etc.

Anyway it was a fairly easy conversation. And since I've been giving it all some thought, I was seeing the bright side...letting go means making space for an interested student.

The next unmotivated student did not show up...and no phone call. I figure they're going through conversations at home. Perhaps I'll call this evening and just address it all directly...instead of waiting to see if they call.
_________________________
piano teacher

"She played upon her music box
a fancy air by chance,
And straightaway all her polka dots
began a lively dance."
-- Peter Newell

Top
#1265508 - 09/09/09 08:04 PM Re: requirements to continue lessons [Re: Morodiene]
Ann in Kentucky Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2647
Loc: Kentucky
Well, I took a direct approach with a middle schooler (and parent)...about you decide how much progress you want to make this year etc. As it turns out they were not sure they wanted to continue. They had probably had a discussion and didn't know how to bring it up. Long story short: this is the student's last month of lessons.

I've decided that it's difficult to see a student lose interest and quit, but it's worse to see them lose interest and stay. Anyway I let the boy know that I wouldn't be able to learn two instruments at once (he also takes viola lessons) and be in scouts etc...that it was reasonable not to spread yourself too thin etc.

It was a fairly easy conversation. And since I've been giving it all some thought, I was seeing the bright side...letting go means making space for an interested student.

The next unmotivated student did not show up...and no phone call. I figure they're going through conversations at home. I plan call this evening and address it all directly...instead of waiting to see if they call.
_________________________
piano teacher

"She played upon her music box
a fancy air by chance,
And straightaway all her polka dots
began a lively dance."
-- Peter Newell

Top
#1265571 - 09/09/09 10:10 PM Re: requirements to continue lessons [Re: Ann in Kentucky]
Lollipop Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/09
Posts: 820
Loc: Georgia
I lost a student today. Way too many details to write about, but -

One of the issues (there were many) was that she was not practicing. She is beginning her third year of lessons, and has just begun level 1 of PA. She's smart, and plays well when she practices. If you heard her in recitals, you would think she was one of my better students - except you would think she'd just had a couple months of lessons.

I've made her a set of flashcards to use at home, issued ultimatums (that work for a week or two), spent long lessons doing practice instead of teaching new stuff...

Mom makes lots and lots of excuses for her own behavior and her daughter's. If I waived my fee and just charged her for every time she told me she was a single mom, I could retire now.

But this year I finally put a few things in writing in my policy. (She said she was hurt by them.) This is how I worded it: "I reserve the right to dismiss students from my studio who are consistently late or absent, disrespectful, or unresponsive to my efforts (ie. not practicing)."

This particular student is very respectful. That's one out of four! I actually kept her on because I feel sorry for her. She really is a sweetheart (except that I think she is learning to make excuses like her mother does.)

After two no-show lessons this week, and a bit of a scolding by me when they finally showed up in the middle of another student's lesson, the mom called tonight to let me know her daughter "would not be back." I think she thought she was firing me. I told her I thought that was a wonderful decision, that the situation was way too stressful for everyone involved. I wished her well, and sincerely hope she can find what she's looking for. (I've tried to get her to quit several times in the past. It is like talking to a brick wall.)

It has been a frustrating week for me, with several students not practicing or performing up to expectations. But most of these kids have up days and down days - like we all do. It only becomes a problem when it is week after week after week....

I'm glad the practice policy is in writing now.
_________________________
piano teacher

Top
#1265578 - 09/09/09 10:26 PM Re: requirements to continue lessons [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Mrs.A Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/15/09
Posts: 155
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
PS If you find yourself developing a waiting list, it means your rates are too low. Adjust them upward.


I agree that a waiting list could indicate that rates are too low. It certainly could mean that a teacher could raise her/his rates.

One the other hand, I charge more then the going rate in our community. This week alone I have had three calls from potential students.

If the rates are low, it doesn’t cost the parents. If it is a financial investment, parents make sure the kids practice. When it costs, it is perceived as valuable and the parents will make sure the students are getting the most out of their investment. They will make their children practice. When I had my first big increase in rates, I found I had fewer students who did not practice enough

I have never let go of a student for not practicing but I have certainly seen my share of them. I live in a town of 25,000. A reputation for being a difficult Piano teacher would affect business. It is a fine line between having reasonable expectations and being flexible.

If a student is not practicing, I let the parents know that they will not progress. I want know misunderstanding that it is my teaching ability causing the problem.

I have a disclaimer for students who wish to participate in auditions or recitals. I send home a permission slip. It says “Yes___________will participate in the Spring Piano Festival. Enclosed please find a registration payment of $25.00. I understand that if my student does not adequately prepare for this event, he/she will not be allowed to participate. Participation is at the teachers discretion and no registration refunds will be given“

I make it clear to the students that if they don‘t practice, I will pull them from participating. I have done it.
_________________________
Piano Teacher.
Church Music Director.
Kindermusik Instructor.
Mom to four boys.


Top
#1265579 - 09/09/09 10:28 PM Re: requirements to continue lessons [Re: Mrs.A]
Mrs.A Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/15/09
Posts: 155
Originally Posted By: Mrs.A
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
PS If you find yourself developing a waiting list, it means your rates are too low. Adjust them upward.


I agree that a waiting list could indicate that rates are too low. It certainly could mean that a teacher could raise her/his rates.

One the other hand, I charge more then the going rate in our community. This week alone I have had three calls from potential students.

If the rates are low, it doesn’t cost the parents. If it is a financial investment, parents make sure the kids practice. When it costs, it is perceived as valuable and the parents will make sure the students are getting the most out of their investment. They will make their children practice. When I had my first big increase in rates, I found I had fewer students who did not practice enough

I have never let go of a student for not practicing but I have certainly seen my share of them. I live in a town of 25,000. A reputation for being a difficult Piano teacher would affect business. It is a fine line between having reasonable expectations and being flexible.

If a student is not practicing, I let the parents know that they will not progress. I want know misunderstanding that it is my teaching ability causing the problem.

I have a disclaimer for students who wish to participate in auditions or recitals. I send home a permission slip. It says “Yes___________will participate in the Spring Piano Festival. Enclosed please find a registration payment of $25.00. I understand that if my student does not adequately prepare for this event, he/she will not be allowed to participate. Participation is at the teachers discretion and no registration refunds will be given“

I make it clear to the students that if they don‘t practice, I will pull them from participating. I have done it.


Sorry about the typos. I didn't preview thnis one.
_________________________
Piano Teacher.
Church Music Director.
Kindermusik Instructor.
Mom to four boys.


Top
#1265755 - 09/10/09 08:42 AM Re: requirements to continue lessons [Re: Mrs.A]
Ann in Kentucky Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2647
Loc: Kentucky
Hi Mrs. A. I took notes on your festival registration notice. Thanks for sharing this...very good at communicating expectations.

I'm also thinking over what you said...that when it's a financial investment parents make sure kids practice. I'm now back to my plan to increase rates again in June. I had decided against it when an older friend who I respect suggested to me that I'm charging enough. I have to keep in mind that someone in their 70's may also have a different concept about the value of a dollar, recalling what they paid for kids lessons 40 years ago.
_________________________
piano teacher

"She played upon her music box
a fancy air by chance,
And straightaway all her polka dots
began a lively dance."
-- Peter Newell

Top
#1265764 - 09/10/09 08:52 AM Re: requirements to continue lessons [Re: Ann in Kentucky]
Ann in Kentucky Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2647
Loc: Kentucky
Prodigal Pianist, I'm learning as you suggested to just be "up front and truthful". I'm finding I need to make more effort to communicate with parents. Decided not to change my policy, but on initial interview and discussion thereafter will let parents know that when a child does not practice daily, "there's not much I can do to teach him". Thank you all for your support and advice.
_________________________
piano teacher

"She played upon her music box
a fancy air by chance,
And straightaway all her polka dots
began a lively dance."
-- Peter Newell

Top
#1266764 - 09/11/09 11:16 PM Re: requirements to continue lessons [Re: Ann in Kentucky]
abcdefg Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/18/09
Posts: 67
Loc: midwest
I have dismissed students who do not practice and show very little interest in learning to play the piano. When it becomes painful for both of us to do the same piece every week and feel like we are not going anywhere it is time to quit. This decision comes after much discussion, encouragement, talking to parents, etc.

For me spring recitals are mandatory, not optional. Given a choice I think most students would opt out, especially at first. I think they need to start as beginners with the wonderful fun and simple pieces. Each year they grow in confidence. One year I had 3 seniors graduating. I found their very first recital piece which they each performed before their last piece. They thought it was great fun. There are always scheduling conflicts but the recital is not a choice.

Plus I think it is very important for all of my students to hear each other play. The beginners get to hear the more advanced students and imagine what they will be able to play in the future. The advanced students sometimes hear a piece they performed when they were younger and it is a great memory.

Top
#1266780 - 09/11/09 11:48 PM Re: requirements to continue lessons [Re: abcdefg]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
abcdefg says: "When it becomes painful for both of us to do the same piece every week and feel like we are not going anywhere it is time to quit. This decision comes after much discussion, encouragement, talking to parents, etc."

I would say maybe not. Quitting is the easy out in my mind. You do say much discussion, encouragement, talking to parent, etc., but what exactly did you DO to change the lesson, VARY the requirements slightly, or MAKE it a different experience.

Sometimes we are locked into routines of doing things and we are frustrated when a student doesn't follow the direction that others follow when you teach. Once in a while we get unique situations: they are gifted, or they are remedial; they are cooperative, they are uncooperative; they are likable, they are not likable; they work hard, they don't work at all.

Once you identify a problem area that you want to fix and start working on one thing for improvement there is the possibility of something new happening between you and the student.

Talking about it does little to nothing except to maybe agree there is a problem. Some times teachers have to take a big step forward and carry a stick just enough to make set a new standard for work ethics. These are structured during the lesson and require the students active participation at the lesson. He may later be inspired to practice at home, but you have to first make the piano lesson the place where things first happen, he learns what you want him to do, and he goes home to work on it.

Sometimes I think the biggest problem is that the students don't know how to get started at home, they don't clearly have a picture of what they should be doing, and of course, there is always something else to fill the time.

They need something to pursue!

I think it's important to hold on to non-thriving students until they reach their miracle - then you really do have a student with potential who will be listening to you avidly.

Written as an option to sending a student packing.

Top
#1266789 - 09/12/09 12:00 AM Re: requirements to continue lessons [Re: Ann in Kentucky]
Daniel M Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/09/09
Posts: 43
Loc: Fife, WA
I am not a teacher of course, but may I ask what age group you have in mind when you are talking about your students?
_________________________
"Love is not about what you want. It's about finding happiness for the one you love."

Top
#1266811 - 09/12/09 01:17 AM Re: requirements to continue lessons [Re: Daniel M]
abcdefg Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/18/09
Posts: 67
Loc: midwest
The students I am referring to are generally 7th to 9th grade. One parent told his son that he had to take lessons until he was 16. I did my best to motivate and work this boy, who was very talented, but taking lessons because his parents wanted him to.

Another young talented boy, was moving along well until some of his classmates found out he was playing the piano. Even though mom is a public school music teacher we could not convince him to continue lessons. Now as a young adult he regrets quitting.

I have a female junior in high school that I think would love to quit but mom wants her to continue because mom wishes she hadn't quit. I do everything I can to find music that she will enjoy playing. So she learns a few pieces a year and we sight read. I wouldn't say she is making any progress but last year she did her best recital performance yet.

I do try to adjust my teaching style to fit each student's needs. I also adjust music choices to each student. Some of my students play more popular music, others prefer the classics.

Maybe there is more that I should or could do. But when students show up week after week without lesson materials and assignment book and they obviously have not practiced. When parents want their child to take lessons because they wish they had or because their best friend takes lessons. When I have students on a waiting list that really do want to learn to play the piano, I will dismiss a student that is not showing any interest in their lessons.

Top
#1267674 - 09/13/09 06:23 PM Re: requirements to continue lessons [Re: abcdefg]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
abcdefg says: "When I have students on a waiting list that really do want to learn to play the piano, I will dismiss a student that is not showing any interest in their lessons."

And, for some reason, the dismissed students have not connected with music lesson or with their teacher. It's hard to know where the missing link is on the teaching side or on the student side, or both. If there brains are not circuited for music study when they start they are really going to be at a disadvantage to do as the teacher asks. Maybe we have to use our lessons as practice session so that they really get how to do the practice at home and can increase their chances toward success.

I think student who enroll in the first place must have some curiosity about what playing the piano is all about. When they don't initiate on their own at their piano at home there has to be an obstacle of some proportion.

The next set of students who enter from the waiting lists are going to have some of these same problems, I think it's guaranteed. So, to me, the challenge as being the teacher would be to effect enough changes and remedies and support systems that they couldn't do anything but make progress.

The half hour lesson that doesn't practice at home, comes for an hour of intense supervision at which his eyes begin to move across the music page and his fingers "sound" out what he as seen and translated. Music IS a language! Maybe I'd say come back on Thursday for another hour and we will do the same thing, adding new materials to the mix, if it's going well.

I haven't had to do this very often in my teaching because I do it during our half hour at weekly lessons, that gives them more than enough to do at home. They begin to see the productivity to practicing.

Some kids just have incredible obstacles to getting over the first few humps that music reading present to them. One thing can be the undisciplined eye movement jerking all around the page, it never stops and begins at the left side of the page and follows each new note consistantly. Another is the "fantasy student" who is having so much cluttered thinking going on, that there is no simple place to have a clear thought with which to begin. They need a butterfly net to catch all the thoughts and clear them out of the way. Then there is the inhibited student who cannot create the first impulse as he has no control over his fingers and their destination. Left and right, up and down,
high and low are issues for him.

I'm serious about the obstacles being our issues to help solve.

I'm of the persuasion that one bird (student) in hand, is more valuable then a bird (student) in the bush.

Dismissing someone may seem like a good decision to the teacher, but to the student, being dismissed often results in negative feelings about themselves about not measuring up and failing. I think often they have no clue as to what to do at the piano - especially beginners and students who have not received good instruction.

I get a lot of satisfaction from launching a student to independance, but I get even more satisfaction from saving a student who would have been a quitter himself, or would have been dismissed by most teachers as not being worth investing time with. I teach for break throughs.

I'm stating this so that teachers might see they have options in dealing with "obstinate" students and "difficult" situation. Of course, one must have hope that the student will respond to your efforts. If you truly feel you have spent all efforts, then that's the decision: It's like we get what we think - "I can!" "I can't!" There it is - the bottom line, decision and outcome.

Betty

Top
#1267973 - 09/14/09 09:00 AM Re: requirements to continue lessons [Re: Betty Patnude]
Ann in Kentucky Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2647
Loc: Kentucky
Just thought I'd mention that I've gotten over my frustration. No longer considering dismissing a student. And the one that gave notice, although he did not practice, was not one I had in mind when I brought up this topic of dismissing students. It took me by surprise. I had already accepted him as he is especially knowing he gets treated for ADD.

After he gave notice, another has signed up and will take his spot and I am grateful for that. Only after he gave notice, did I realize the relief I felt...this student had only a small keyboard in basement...parents had the money but didn't value piano...and he is now in orchestra playing viola. I think lessons helped him a lot with his timing and other benefits.

I really want to work with the two teens left who present challenges. All the comments here helped and I came across a helpful article in "Clavier" from the 1970's. I have been given a stack of Clavier from the 1970's...wonderful reading!

I am also amazed that some experienced wonderful teachers here on the piano forum are having trouble keeping studio filled. It opened my eyes to how grateful I should be that there is a supply/demand balance in our area that made room for me to get started.
_________________________
piano teacher

"She played upon her music box
a fancy air by chance,
And straightaway all her polka dots
began a lively dance."
-- Peter Newell

Top
#1267989 - 09/14/09 09:59 AM Re: requirements to continue lessons [Re: Ann in Kentucky]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7300
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Ann, piano lessons serve often as a foundation study for later work with solo instruments. I have many "former" students who are now playing the whole range of symphonic instruments. Glad I could give them a solid musical foundation. This fall, one gal finally left - I had wondered for the past three years why she was still taking lessons, and later found out that her mom was begging and pleading with her not to give up piano - but she's a whiz in music, plays sax, keyboard in the jazz band, etc. Piano was just not where she was at, so to speak. She's very social and we all know that piano is anything but....
_________________________
"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

Top
#1268644 - 09/15/09 11:01 AM Re: requirements to continue lessons [Re: Betty Patnude]
Morodiene Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11406
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude


Dismissing someone may seem like a good decision to the teacher, but to the student, being dismissed often results in negative feelings about themselves about not measuring up and failing. I think often they have no clue as to what to do at the piano - especially beginners and students who have not received good instruction.

Betty


I agree with this. It is very rare that I will actually dismiss a student. Usually the student and/or parent realizes it's not working and they come to the same conclusion that I do. I can sense when things aren't going well, and I will always make an effort to find a way for it to work. Sometimes there's just nothing you can do.

I had a piano student who was very talented and musical, but didn't really want to work at it, and so after about a year she quit. She was just getting into late Elementary/early Intermediate at that point. Now she's a sophomore in high school and has returned for voice lessons, and then decided to take piano as well. She told me last week that she really regrets quitting, because she knows that she would have been much further along had she just kept it going. While I agreed with her, I told her that the decisions she makes create who she is now, the good and the bad ones. But now she has to stop thinking about what may have been and concentrate on what is. She can certainly still go quite far with piano if she puts the effort into the practicing. We are now working on getting into a daily practice routine. We'll see how it goes this week, but even if she continues to not practice regularly, I wouldn't drop her. Some people take a while to "figure it out" about practicing. I'm willing to wait as long as it takes, and to mix things up to find a combination of my teaching and their personality to find a solution.
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

Top
#1296591 - 10/30/09 11:15 AM Re: requirements to continue lessons [Re: Morodiene]
BSP Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/03/07
Posts: 209
Loc: Hudson Valley, NY
I'm late to this thread, but have thoroughly enjoyed this discussion. I've spoken with the parents of my students who don't practice... many of them don't know how to motivate their kids to do their daily practice. Some are satisfied if they get them to the piano more than 2x a week. frown

I'm afraid this spring's recital is going to sound just like last years did. I want my kids to do well and I wonder where I'm going wrong?

I have 3 students who just can't seem to finish level 2, having started level 2 last year. They're all middle school age and are involved in sports, etc. I'm not sure if it's a lack of understanding, motivation or what, exactly. I just feel like we're walking through mud. Two of them only come every *other* week. The one who comes weekly is involved in cheerleading, which takes 3 evenings a week for 2 hours!!
(gosh, if I could get her to practice 6 hours a week.. she'd be fabulous!)

I do speak to them regularly about their practice habits. One parent promised their child an itunes card for a month of 5 day/week practice sessions. The student did really well the first two weeks, then stopped because of cheerleading commitments. *sigh*

I will take your ideas and try them out.. hope they work!!
BevP

Top

Moderator:  Ken Knapp 
What's Hot!!
U.S. Treasury Auctioning Steinway Art Case Concert Grand
-------------------
HOW TO POST PICTURES on the Piano Forums
-------------------
Sharing is Caring!
About the Buttons
-------------------
Forums Rules & Help
-------------------
ADVERTISE
on Piano World

The world's most popular piano web site.
Ad (Seiler/Knabe)
Seiler Pianos
(ad) HAILUN Pianos
Hailun Pianos - Click for More
Sheet Music
(PW is an affiliate)
Sheet Music Plus Featured Sale
(125ad) Dampp Chaser
Dampp Chaser Piano Life Saver
(ad) Lindeblad Piano
Lindeblad Piano Restoration
Who's Online
110 registered (accordeur, Alex1, AndresD, 32 invisible), 1511 Guests and 19 Spiders online.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
Forum Stats
75487 Members
42 Forums
156076 Topics
2291949 Posts

Max Online: 15252 @ 03/21/10 11:39 PM
New Topics - Multiple Forums
Join the false-beat revolution: get your wires straight!!!
by A443
34 minutes 32 seconds ago
What brand of solid string to use?
by Grandpianoman
Today at 10:38 PM
"Rhodes" sound -- variation with volume?
by Charles Cohen
Today at 08:59 PM
That last 10%
by gooddog
Today at 08:24 PM
Hamelin Review from the Mannes Keyboard program in NYC
by Serge Marinkovic
Today at 08:03 PM
(ads by Google)

Visit our online store for gifts for music lovers

 
Our Piano Related Classified Ads
| Dealers | Tuners | Lessons | Movers | Restorations | Pianos For Sale | Sell Your Piano |

Advertise on Piano World
| Subscribe | Piano World | PianoSupplies.com | Advertise on Piano World | Donate | Link to Us | Classifieds |
| |Contact | Privacy | Legal | About Us | Site Map | Free Newsletter | Press Room |


copyright 1997 - 2014 Piano World ® all rights reserved
No part of this site may be reproduced without prior written permission