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#1297316 - 10/31/09 04:29 PM Challenging parents
Phyliss Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/23/09
Posts: 14
Loc: Singapore
Have you encountered challenging parents? I met my first difficult student's parent today... Grr!

> Student A packing up and preparing to leave..
> Parent of student A came up to ask questions about school curriculum and lesson..
> Told student B to start practicing first
> Still answering Parent A's questionsSs..... took 10mins -_-
> Parent B not happy that the lesson started 10mins late, sudden outburst of anger!
"MY HUSBAND HAS BEEN TELLING ME THAT THE LESSON ALWAYS STARTS LATE AND ENDS ON TIME, WE ARE PAYING SO MUCH AND I THINK YOU NEED TO BETTER MANAGE YOUR TIME. YOU KNOW WE COULD HAVE GONE TO THE SCHOOL DOWNSTAIRS... etc......"

Parent B exaggerated the situation. -_-
Told Parent B that today the exception that I started 10mins later. And that Parent B did see Parent A approached me after Student A's lesson (during Student B's lesson). It is not as if I used to the 10mins to teach Student A that caused Student B to start late isn't it! And I showed them the school clocked I used, which is actually 5 mins slower than the standard time.

Demanding parents just want to count to the every minute!

Came up with possible solutions.
>To tell Parent A to raise her questions during Student A's lesson time so that it would not eat into the next lesson.
>To look sincere in working things out, and apologise to Parent B, offering a make up of 30mins for the lost time. (I give much more than how much the time was lost!)

Any better suggestions? >.<
Argh.

If only our job does not require us to deal with such annoying parents, don't you think so?!


Edited by Phyliss (10/31/09 05:01 PM)

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#1297320 - 10/31/09 04:41 PM Re: Challenging parents [Re: Phyliss]
007Pianolady Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/21/07
Posts: 41
If it takes more than a minute or so, I ask the parent to call me outside of teaching hours. I've never had a parent protest this request.

I don't take any phone calls, or field lengthy parent questions during lessons. There just isn't time for it with 30 minute lessons, and I do insist we stay on schedule. Parents must also email me, or call outside of lesson times to reschedule a lesson. Luckily, I have other family members who can answer the phone and take messages. This works well for me.

Should you have a cancellation before or after this student's lesson, perhaps you could offer to have the student come early, or stay late.


Edited by bondpiano (10/31/09 04:43 PM)
_________________________
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#1297371 - 10/31/09 06:46 PM Re: Challenging parents [Re: 007Pianolady]
ll Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/14/08
Posts: 1101
While not a teacher, I'm the one who put my brother in his lessons and the one who speaks with his teacher.

Now his schedule is a bit better because she doesn't have a student after him and he's there for about an hour and a half, but before, I'd just ask smaller "How's it going?" at the end of a lesson. Anything longer and I'd write her a note or call her, just like bondpiano mentioned.

I can't waste the next kid's time. You may say that they're counting for every minute - but chances are, so would you if you were in that position. It's not as if it's a two hour lesson that you can waste a few minutes or so. 3 minutes of 30 minutes is 10% of the lesson. It adds up after a while.
_________________________
II. As in, second best.
Only lowercase. So not even that.
I teach piano and violin.
BM, Violin & Percussion Performance 2009, Piano Pedagogy 2011.

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#1297372 - 10/31/09 06:46 PM Re: Challenging parents [Re: 007Pianolady]
Lollipop Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/09
Posts: 820
Loc: Georgia
I also have the policy of not taking calls during lessons, and even have in my letter of intro that if they call during that time, they will need to leave a message.

I've only had one parent who tried to muscle in on another students' lesson to talk. I never left the piano, and talked to her as "an aside", making it clear that the lesson takes priority. (I told her I'd call her, but she keeps on talking.) After a couple minutes, my answer becomes, "I'll call you later. I need to teach now." Sometimes I had to repeat this several times before the parent finally would say, "I'll talk to you later - I know you're busy now." Duh.

That student, though, is now a former student. So I don't have that trouble any more.
_________________________
piano teacher

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#1297403 - 10/31/09 07:51 PM Re: Challenging parents [Re: Lollipop]
John v.d.Brook Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7417
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Phyliss, it is very difficult for younger teachers to exude an authoritative air, but you must!

When the next lesson begins, you must simply excuse yourself, politely of course, and turn to the new student. You do this by watching the clock and when it's coming up on a minute before the lesson, you need to say what's already been recommended, "I must start my next lesson now. If you would like to discuss this further, please call the studio/office during non teaching hours, and I'll be happy to pick up where we left off." Then turn to the new student and start the lesson. Ignore the parent. If they persist, you can say, "Please, how would you like it if another parent was interrupting your child's lesson? Call me later. Good bye."
_________________________
"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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#1297405 - 10/31/09 07:54 PM Re: Challenging parents [Re: Lollipop]
Overexposed Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2649
I have had just one parent who tries to talk when the next student has arrived for a lesson. I tell her "I'd like to talk with you but I have a student now" and I either close the front door, or walk back into my studio which has glass doors which I keep closed once a lesson has begun. The parent has subsequently said "I'll call you" (and then doesn't call...this is the one who is either late or absent with no call etc.) I keep exactly to the schedule and it works for me. Parents know they can arrive early to see me.

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#1297449 - 10/31/09 09:22 PM Re: Challenging parents [Re: Overexposed]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5587
Loc: Orange County, CA
Yikes!

I don't deal well with these parents. I'd just dismiss the student. I prefer to live in peace.

Or you can give Student B the first lesson after school. That way, if they are late, you can just tell them "You're 4 minutes late. The lesson is now 26 minutes."
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#1297456 - 10/31/09 09:52 PM Re: Challenging parents [Re: AZNpiano]
j&j Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/24/09
Posts: 445
Loc: Southwest
Phyliss,
30 minutes goes by quickly for a piano lesson, so a parent taking some minutes away from the next student is inconsiderate on their part. It's a shame that you have to police the lesson time. You might offer Student B some make-up time that doesn't interfer with yours or your other student's schedules. You could also post time for "office calls" like the university or college professors do. If a parent must speak to you then they should only call you during that "posted time" or during their child's lesson.


Edited by j&j (10/31/09 09:53 PM)
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J & J
Yahama C3 PE
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"Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working." Pablo Picasso

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#1297472 - 10/31/09 10:28 PM Re: Challenging parents [Re: Phyliss]
Barb860 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/11/09
Posts: 1646
Loc: northern California
Could it be that the parent asking questions really has no clue that she is taking up lesson time for the next student?
Some parents really do not get this. Put it in writing and hand this note out to each parent. Say something like, "Please feel free to phone me or set up an appointment during my office hours with any questions or concerns about your child's instruction. We do not want to talk through valuable lesson time".
In the case of this particular parent, you may want to phone her to set up the meeting, rather than wait for her to do so.
She may have lots of questions for you and/or want to be very involved with her child's lessons, which is a good thing IMO.
_________________________
Piano Teacher

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#1297524 - 11/01/09 01:14 AM Re: Challenging parents [Re: Barb860]
John v.d.Brook Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7417
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Barb, whether she has a clue or not doesn't matter, the teacher must control the lessons.

However, I happen to agree with you that the parent probably doesn't have a clue. There are a number of possibilities why.

Here's a situation I faced today. Today was our teachers' association's Autumn Harvest Festival, which I MC'd. There were a total of three, 1PM, 2PM & 3PM. Because I was the organizer, I gave my parents notice in the monthly newsletter that the festival would begin at 1PM, that there would be several different times, and because of scheduling, their student might be scheduled as late as 4PM, so keep the afternoon free. As it turned out, all my students were at 3PM and I put this on the student's assignment sheets, in big bold font, which they couldn't miss. So, of course, mom shows up with two students at 1PM! ?????? So I ask mom, what I can do, short of telephoning every student, to remind them of recital time (and I should have added, attire, as they showed up looking like rag muffins). On top of this, student practiced wrong piece. How is this possible when we spent 35 minutes of lesson time (on Thursday, no less) fine tuning the recital number? I think the answer in this case is that mom is over-committed. Parents who are over committed tend to try to cram everything into their available time, not realizing that others have commitments.

This is probably what Phyliss is facing, a mom with precious few free minutes, who was probably grasping at an available minute she had free and not realizing that she was infringing on another student's time.
_________________________
"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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#1297614 - 11/01/09 09:00 AM Re: Challenging parents [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Piano*Dad Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10422
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
I understand Phyllis's problem here, but I must admit that I'm not particularly fond of the dismissive "if only our job ...."

Granted, I don't know all the surrounding details, but Phyllis, you have seemingly placed two parents' interests in conflict with each other and then defined them as the problem. Yes, they may have other personality issues that make them difficult to work with, but let me advocate for the devil for a moment.

If a teacher is punctual and develops a clear reputation for that, it's a lot easier to define the parent who is using up the next student's time as the problem. On the other hand, if a teacher has a more elastic concept of time then the boundaries of propriety are much murkier. If a student's lesson sometimes (or often) starts late, a parent talking to the teacher in the first few minutes of the next student's time can easily be thinking that it really is their time. Once time is elastic, the property right to it becomes elastic as well.

You can try to solve this issue with elaborate written policies that may or may not ever be thoroughly read and digested. But your own behavior ultimately will set the tone. If you make clear to people that lessons begin and end on time the problem largely will evaporate over time (pun intended). And if little problems like this occur, they will be controllable with very short reminders to people who transgress the boundaries. If you do not set such a tone, you increase the likelihood that different parents' own views will drive the process, and not always to your (or other parents) liking.
_________________________
Grotrian 192 #156455

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

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#1297621 - 11/01/09 09:18 AM Re: Challenging parents [Re: Piano*Dad]
Morodiene Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12207
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
I agree PianoDad. I do not think it is fair to blame the parents of either student in this case. yes, the Student A parent was taking up time of Student B, but the teacher allowed it to happen. I try to be mindful of the time, and to set my clock to what's on my computer (which updates itself and keeps time better than a regular wall clock). Sometimes I do go over a bit, and I'm sure to give those few minutes to the next student. I find that students will sometimes wait in the waiting area, and then only go to wash their hands at the beginning of their lesson, which also cuts down their time! I remind them it's OK to wash their hands during the other student's lesson.

I think we have to be good managers of our time. I think I will be discontinuing 30 minute lesson in the future, except for the very young student. This will allow me to have more time to get through materials. But I am still mindful of the clock when I teach these...the more time isn't more time to waste doing miscellaneous talks with parents (although one of them likes to talk before her son's lesson, which is fine, she's paying me to talk).
_________________________
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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#1297638 - 11/01/09 09:44 AM Re: Challenging parents [Re: Morodiene]
Lollipop Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/09
Posts: 820
Loc: Georgia
Additional random thoughts - As others have stated, you need to take control, but this is difficult especially for those who are young or who otherwise are not used to "bossing." You might be able to say it bluntly: "I'm sorry, another parent is paying for this time. If you like, you can talk to me at the beginning of your child's lesson next week, or call me."

I also think that giving the second student a 20 minute lesson was wrong, and you owe them an apology, 10 more minutes, or a partial refund. If it is true that you always short shrift that particular student, it has probably been festering for awhile.

I do think it's helpful to discuss what "30 minutes" means at the very beginning. My daughter is a violinist. At her first lessons I was surprised at how little of the half hour was actually spent playing. It took time at the beginning to set up the vioin, tune it, get settled in the studio, etc. And time at the end for talking. It did frustrate me, because I was used to piano, where a full 30 mintues (and usually more) was spend on the instrument. I found myself, fairly or not, resenting every minute the teacher took to visit the bathroom, talk to the store manager, etc.

Some people culturally or personality-wise, have a more relaxed idea of time. I have a few of these students, and I have had to make a conscious decision to accommodate them or dismiss them. They aren't going to change. Since I like them, I have built an extra 15 minutes into my schedule between them and the next. Even so, they've ended up with some short lessons.

I had another parent whose time concepts were so vague that I often ended up with the child long after lesson had ended. That mother asked for the last lesson of the day, and I pointed out that I would not be willing to keep the child longer than quitting time, so if she came late to lesson it would be short, and if she picked her up late, it would not be okay.

I've also noticed that a number of my students express surprise when they encounter another student or parent. It's like they didn't realize they aren't my only student. Or if they encounter me outside of lessons - at the grocery store or something - they don't realize I have a life outside of lessons! I've even considered getting a kitchen timer to set on my piano. I often go over the lesson time. I have the room built into my schedule, but I would like them to be aware that they are getting extra!
_________________________
piano teacher

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#1297661 - 11/01/09 10:43 AM Re: Challenging parents [Re: Lollipop]
Minniemay Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/09
Posts: 1702
Loc: CA
Another option is to schedule in buffer time. You could teach 40 minute lessons (tell the parents when they sign up that is the lesson length), but place the starting times in 45 minute blocks. That gives you some wiggle room.
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#1297663 - 11/01/09 10:45 AM Re: Challenging parents [Re: Lollipop]
Phyliss Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/23/09
Posts: 14
Loc: Singapore
Yes, some of you are quite right. I am not used to bossing (yet), I just started teaching for 2 months! I have to learn to be more firm in dealing with these parents.

However right from the start when I joined the school, I was told (by other teachers around) that I should interact with the parents a min or two after the lesson to update the child's progress, so that we can work closely with the parents. Parents want to know how their child is doing, and their behaviors in class. While I find communicating with the parents important as well, there isn't any time in between before the next student comes in!

But many of you are right too. If i used the next student's time to interact with the previous parent, the next parent will probably hate me for taking up these time.

It is a difficult balance!

I find some of your suggestion quite useful, about calling and emailing me out of lesson time. Thank you!


Edited by Phyliss (11/01/09 10:45 AM)

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#1297787 - 11/01/09 03:05 PM Re: Challenging parents [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
Barb, whether she has a clue or not doesn't matter, the teacher must control the lessons.

However, I happen to agree with you that the parent probably doesn't have a clue. There are a number of possibilities why.

Here's a situation I faced today. Today was our teachers' association's Autumn Harvest Festival, which I MC'd. There were a total of three, 1PM, 2PM & 3PM. Because I was the organizer, I gave my parents notice in the monthly newsletter that the festival would begin at 1PM, that there would be several different times, and because of scheduling, their student might be scheduled as late as 4PM, so keep the afternoon free. As it turned out, all my students were at 3PM and I put this on the student's assignment sheets, in big bold font, which they couldn't miss. So, of course, mom shows up with two students at 1PM! ?????? So I ask mom, what I can do, short of telephoning every student, to remind them of recital time (and I should have added, attire, as they showed up looking like rag muffins). On top of this, student practiced wrong piece. How is this possible when we spent 35 minutes of lesson time (on Thursday, no less) fine tuning the recital number? I think the answer in this case is that mom is over-committed. Parents who are over committed tend to try to cram everything into their available time, not realizing that others have commitments.

This is probably what Phyliss is facing, a mom with precious few free minutes, who was probably grasping at an available minute she had free and not realizing that she was infringing on another student's time.


John, I completely agree with you that we teachers need to control the lesson time. We must be attentive to lesson time out of respect for each student. My thinking is that if the OP were to take control and initiate a meeting with the parent who talks through lesson time, this could help. I would not allow this parent to take up any more of another student's lesson time.
_________________________
Piano Teacher

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#1297847 - 11/01/09 05:18 PM Re: Challenging parents [Re: Barb860]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
I once had in my entry way 2 parents and their daughters.

It was 3:15 not 3:00 when the first one should have arrived, and not 3:30 when the first one would have left and the second one would have arrived on time.

Both came in the door within minutes of one another: The 3:30 arrived first, early, the mother and daughter were very angry with each other, the mother said, "She quits, right now, you are not going to see her again!"

The door opens and the other parent comes in almost in tears: She says, "This just isn't working, the traffic is really nasty today and I'm tired of racing through it and my daughter just isn't ready at school when I pick her up and we hurry to get here. I hate being late!" She flings herself on my livingroom couch and sobs into her hands.

I don't know what to say or to whom to say it first. I'm more than frustrated and all I've done is wait nicely for my afternoon of teaching to start.

So I tell the mother who is quitting that I will call her and we will talk and she says "Don't bother!" and slams the door on her way out.

The other lady is turning red and gasping. I tell her daughter to call her father (I know he's at their store) and have him come over immediately. I am thinking maybe I need to call 911. He arrives, takes his family home, without a word to me.

Neither family ever gave me another opportunity to talk with them about their lessons and the circumstances that we endured in the entry way.

I sent them both plants by florist with a note saying "I'm so sorry we had this problem". It was to no avail.

The first mother who "quit" didn't tell me what I later heard from another teen student: the police had come to the high school and arrested her daughter and she was ultimately sent to juvenile detention to serve some time due to drugs on campus.

The other mother was frustrated for the reasons she said and her health was causing compromises to her when she would get upset. She had a home, lots of chauffering long distance for her kids, a retail business to manage, and some dogs she was training in a support program.

So, some times, we don't realize how over the top things can get for parents, and some times there is not a darn thing we can do about it. We have to remain objective about ourselves and about our teaching and not be upset with ourselves when there were things that impacted us in a bad way but for which we were not responsible.

You don't want to have a discussion in the heat of the moment. It is better to let a little bit of time go by so that each participant comes to the conversation without emotional extremes being part of it.

This took a lot out of me that day but I was ready for my next lesson at 4:00 which thankfully was a normal day. It took a long time for this to resolve in my mind. It's now been long enough so that I can speak about it for the first time.

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#1297865 - 11/01/09 06:06 PM Re: Challenging parents [Re: Betty Patnude]
Barb860 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/11/09
Posts: 1646
Loc: northern California
My gosh, Betty, that is an upsetting experience to say the least!
It was very kind of you to send them flowers.
And also very wise to know that none of what happened was at all your fault.
As teachers, I find we tend to take things on as our fault when they really aren't at all: parents dropping off students late to lessons, no-showing lessons, expecting us to magically "make" the students love piano, on and on.
We need to continually remind ourselves that others' behavior is not our fault, as we tend to our business and make our studios and teaching as good and efficient as it can be.

Recently, 2 students arrived for a lesson at the same time, parents with them. One parent had rescheduled her child's lesson for the following day. So I filled her spot that she usually has. Both parents gabbed about this for close to 5 minutes, while I coaxed the student who was supposed to be there for her lesson into the studio.
_________________________
Piano Teacher

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#1297901 - 11/01/09 07:41 PM Re: Challenging parents [Re: Phyliss]
Morodiene Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12207
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: Phyliss


However right from the start when I joined the school, I was told (by other teachers around) that I should interact with the parents a min or two after the lesson to update the child's progress, so that we can work closely with the parents. Parents want to know how their child is doing, and their behaviors in class. While I find communicating with the parents important as well, there isn't any time in between before the next student comes in!

So stop the lesson sooner. If the parent arrives early you can start talking with them 5 minutes before the lesson time is up to let them know how their child is doing, what you've worked on, etc. Make sure this time doesn't cut into the next student's time. That way both parents are getting what they want.
_________________________
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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#1297927 - 11/01/09 08:23 PM Re: Challenging parents [Re: Barb860]
John v.d.Brook Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7417
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Betty, that is completely unbelievable. I might quit teaching if that ever happened to me. Your way of handling it was very professional!
_________________________
"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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#1297978 - 11/01/09 09:56 PM Re: Challenging parents [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Thanks, John. That was the very worst experience I have ever been involved with in all my teaching years. It was one of those very inopportune moments. Afterwards, I realized I needed to first of all preserve my own sanity and sanctuary of my home at all times.

The second most troublesome thing was in the last few years when a lady made inquiry for herself and her teen age son saying that she was transferring from someone I know. Then there were a few phone calls over about a six month period asking questions and some would come in by email. We finally got our interview time about six months later. She paid tuition and started lessons - we had 2 - 3 lessons together and I was concerned about her because she started telling me about the previous teacher and why she stopped lessons. The teacher (she said) had emailed all of her students asking for prayers for herself because she had been abducted by aliens and raped repeatedly. Really? The son was sitting on the couch waiting for his mother and started laughing his head off without making any noise - the mother couldn't see him. As I know the teacher and respect her musicianship I just couldn't think - it wasn't the least bit funny and it really made me wonder what I had got myself into with the woman sitting on the bench. She could tell I wasn't going to gossip and that I found this offensive. I finally said to her - this is an ethics problem for me to hear such a story about someone I know and that I didn't want to hear any more about it.

She looked around and saw her son still laughing but trying to hide it, and she said, "Fine then. I'm giving you 30 days notice starting right now!" They grabbed their things and left and I never saw them again.

The only other story I have is about the young boy who had a pet in his shirt pocket that I didn't know about and it ran up and down the keyboard and into my lap and up my arms. I thought I'd die from the shock of it. He laughed his head off. His mother and father weren't too happy about his joke either.

One more story, a girl about 9, started to look just awful - I said, "Are you OK?" She said "Yes" and promptly threw up big time on the floor missing the piano, herself, and me. She cleaned up in the adjacent bathroom, Mom came and picked her up as usual, and I got to do the cleanup.

Sometimes, I think the students should give the piano teacher ribbons and medals for superior service and such things - like going the extra mile - and smiling when you'd rather "bop them" one.

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#1297991 - 11/01/09 11:06 PM Re: Challenging parents [Re: Betty Patnude]
Jeff Clef Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/05/08
Posts: 4441
Loc: San Jose, CA
"...she started telling me about the previous teacher and why she stopped lessons. The teacher (she said) had emailed all of her students asking for prayers for herself because she had been abducted by aliens and raped repeatedly. Really? The son was sitting on the couch waiting for his mother and started laughing his head off without making any noise..."

I don't suppose anyone would care to top that alien abduction story--- even if they could. I confess, I might have been tempted to the guilty pleasure of drawing her out on the subject, on the "give them enough rope" theory. No doubt you were wiser not to go there.

It sounds like a curiously banal reworking of the old standby, "the dog ate my homework." It also sounds like the lady may need professional help. I have a neighbor who is such a habitual liar that she doesn't seem to care anymore whether her stories are even remotely believable. Somehow, this tale calls her to mind.

As for those other beauties, who never again graced your studio, all I can say is that Someone is looking out for you. I'm sure you don't deserve people like these in your home, and I'm certain they don't deserve you. You get an A++ for your personal deportment.

I'm trying to think of the right words to describe this, and nothing seems just right. What, a scene from Klingon opera? A bad Kabuki theatre plot? A bald and threadbare daytime drama, still airing after ten seasons too many? Backstage at Woodstock? A nightmare brought on by a bad cream puff? (You could change dreams: "I dreamed I threw them out by the scruff in my MaidenForm bra." Maybe some of our members are too young to remember this ad campaign, but the idea of fantasy fulfillment of personal power is clear enough, without buying the undergarment.)


Edited by Jeff Clef (11/01/09 11:21 PM)
_________________________
Clef


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#1298036 - 11/02/09 03:31 AM Re: Challenging parents [Re: Phyliss]
kevinb Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/09
Posts: 1565
Originally Posted By: Phyliss
Demanding parents just want to count to the every minute!


Quite so. The money that goes on my kids' music lessons -- they play a couple of instruments each -- is a substantial chunk of the household budget. Running to time should be item number one in teacher school. It isn't even really possible to make up for a late start with a a late finish, because very likely your students or their parents or siblings are going straight from the lesson to some other commitment.

I don't think there's really any alternative to a policy of firmness, as other people have indicated. You'll certainly lose customers very quickly if they feel they aren't getting their money's worth.

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#1298039 - 11/02/09 03:51 AM Re: Challenging parents [Re: Betty Patnude]
Canonie Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/04/09
Posts: 1941
Loc: Australia
Betty, I think I am at a loss for words... All those stories are exhausting just to think about. Maybe never seeing these people again is for the best (except for disturbing lack of closure). They obviously all needed more time to sort out lives... I assume the vomitter still comes sick but only when healthy. I hope your studio is full of darlings, dear souls and the generally pleasant for the next few years.

My new students are always drawn from friends, neighbours or family of existing students, sometimes colleagues, or they might be directly connected to me. I'm beginning to realise that there are some benefits to this! When I taught in a school it was not always so pleasant - it was hard sometimes, just to have good communication.
_________________________

Composers manufacture a product that is universally deemed superfluous—at least until their music enters public consciousness, at which point people begin to say that they could not live without it.
Alex Ross.

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#1298342 - 11/02/09 02:49 PM Re: Challenging parents [Re: Canonie]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Jeff,

I think the reason I must have posted all that "junk" was so that you could make me laugh my head off! All of that was true seen from the standpoint of today which is all several years later. I do think the universe takes care of my needs and that what happens that seems disappointing happened in order to prevent worse difficulties for medown the road. I also believe the messages were more for the awakening of the other women about things going on in their lives.

Canonie,

I think it must be a pleasure to have friends you already know in your studio to work with. You are already in a relationship that matters to each of you. I have had some of those experiences, but the majority of my students have always been complete strangers to me. Our community is many different cities and school systems easily accessible and not one town where everybody knows everyone. Also, there are a tremendous number of churches many of the same denominations within 8 or more miles of each other so there are many choices of lifestyle for all walks of life. Diversity, I think you would call it.

I have to make relationships become significant. At some point, we start to feel like a member of a larger musical family, but they don't come in the door with that in mind.

I do not enjoy teaching when there is a communication or distance problem - too polite - unavailable - that kind of thing.

And, since these lessons take place in my home - a treasured spot in my life - I expect them to make themselves comfortable here and to add to my comfort level - not to subtract from it.

Betty

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#1298389 - 11/02/09 04:25 PM Re: Challenging parents [Re: Betty Patnude]
Jeff Clef Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/05/08
Posts: 4441
Loc: San Jose, CA
Easy to laugh, Betty, now that a few years have washed by... and you probably have a new carpet. It could have been worse: the young lady could have hit the piano. So there's a ray of light even through the storm clouds. I hate to chuckle over such low comedy, but what else can you do, finally.

Kevin has a very good point: the lesson time is a protected and inviolate space--- short of the house catching fire, an earthquake higher than a 4 on the Richter, or a meteor strike. I would grant an exception in those cases.

Not only do piano lessons cost good money (which, personally, I gladly paid), but time is even more precious; all the money in the world can't call back a single second. I think the young teacher was put in a bad spot. I'm sure she'll make the parent understand that the respect given to the incoming student's lesson time also protects her own child's.


Edited by Jeff Clef (11/02/09 07:06 PM)
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#1298490 - 11/02/09 07:59 PM Re: Challenging parents [Re: Jeff Clef]
John v.d.Brook Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7417
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Originally Posted By: Jeff Clef
. . . . an earthquake higher than a 4 on the Richter, or a meteor strike. I would grant an exception in those cases.


Speaking of which, when the Nisqually quake struck back in 2001, a modest 6.8, I dashed over to keep the bookshelves from toppling onto the Grotrian grand, while my two studio pianos shook so violently that they were playing themselves.
_________________________
"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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#1298498 - 11/02/09 08:28 PM Re: Challenging parents [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
Originally Posted By: Jeff Clef
. . . . an earthquake higher than a 4 on the Richter, or a meteor strike. I would grant an exception in those cases.


Speaking of which, when the Nisqually quake struck back in 2001, a modest 6.8, I dashed over to keep the bookshelves from toppling onto the Grotrian grand, while my two studio pianos shook so violently that they were playing themselves.


What an awful experience that was, John. I can imagine it and it's horrifying. Were you alone or with students?

That day, I was at a church where I was the musician preparing organ music for Easter. My good friend, a piano teacher and organist was helping me find good registration for the music I was playing and we were going to go out to lunch when we were done. This was in Puyallup Valley which is built on a sandy base and everything shook madly - absolutely frightening when you are playing the organ and all of a sudden the chandeliers in the church are wildly swinging. Then you feel it and hear it - what? An earthquake. My friend and scooted for cover from the church windows which were solid glass wall near the organ. We landed in front of the organ with me falling on top of her when she suddenly landed on her knees. When it was over we were really shaking from the experience. She went home to her house to check for damage, I did the same - driving very slowly - and there was little damage at either home - picture frames and items on the floor. We forgot about lunch totally. And, I never played that organ again - you couldn't get me back on that bench for the love of money. The don't realize how high you are sitting and that there are no places to put your feet without making lots of groaning sounds as you try to scamper away. Falling off an organ bench was a miserable experience as well as every other impression I had of the sky is falling and the earth is opening up. And, I'd been in many earthquakes in California before that Nisqually one but this one was totally "shocking" to my nervous system.

Glad you avoided damage, John!

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#1298512 - 11/02/09 08:48 PM Re: Challenging parents [Re: John v.d.Brook]
musiclady Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/19/05
Posts: 431
Loc: Toronto, Canada
I'm one of those teachers with a somewhat elastic sense of time, and have had both types of teachers, and definitely prefer the ones who have some flexibility. With my teachers, I pay for an hour per teacher, but going 1 1/2 to 2 hours is not that rare, especially with my piano teacher. So unless I have to be somewhere else at a particular time, I'm not that strict about time, though have made minimum 45 min required for several years, except for the very youngest beginners. And I have some students who take 90 min lessons. But I charge a somewhat higher fee than many teachers in my area just so I and they can have some flexibility.

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

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#1298528 - 11/02/09 09:16 PM Re: Challenging parents [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Canonie Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/04/09
Posts: 1941
Loc: Australia
John that sounds so scary!

Betty, I meant that new students are connected to current students (friends and relatives), so they are new to me. I don't know everyone in this city! But it allows them to fit into our piano-community easily. And yes I agree that a community feel makes it easier to invite students into your own home.
_________________________

Composers manufacture a product that is universally deemed superfluous—at least until their music enters public consciousness, at which point people begin to say that they could not live without it.
Alex Ross.

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#1298587 - 11/02/09 11:20 PM Re: Challenging parents [Re: Canonie]
John v.d.Brook Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7417
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Betty, at the risk of hijacking the thread, what was unusual about the Nisqually quake (and we live right on top of the epicenter) was that it lasted so darn long. That was the longest 45 seconds of my life.

No, I don't teach in the morning; I had finished practicing, and was sitting in the chair next to the fire place reading when it hit. I rushed to get the tv on and the quake was just hitting Seattle. Kind of spooky!

The psychological after-effects were kind of weird. Flying was unsettling; every bump made me think we were having another quake, an obvious impossibility at 39,000 ft!
_________________________
"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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