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#1360954 - 01/29/10 02:03 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: Lollipop]
John v.d.Brook Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7344
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
L, we have discussed this before, but many years ago, so this is probably a good time to resurrect the subject. In re Kreisler's comment: this is one very powerful reason for all teachers, not just males, to make a video record of each and every lesson.
_________________________
"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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#1360956 - 01/29/10 02:09 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: Lollipop]
Rachel J Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/11/09
Posts: 325
Loc: Brooklyn, NY
Originally Posted By: Lollipop
I'm curious if any female piano teachers have any feelings concerning teaching adult males? I have taught a father/daughter duo without any problems. But I was recently contacted for lessons by another man (about my age), and wasn't comfortable with the idea. As it turned out, he was looking for irregular lessons, preferably on weekends, as he traveled a lot. I turned him down because I don't teach on weekends, but I was relieved to have a "good" reason. Is that silly? Prudent?


If I didn't teach young to middle-aged men, I'd lose a third of my students! A couple of times it has crossed my mind that I am putting myself in a position of vulnerability, but I refuse to live my life fearing what might happen. As it is, all my students (including the 15 or so men I've worked with in the last few years) have been nothing but kind and respectful.
_________________________
Rachel Jimenez Piano teacher in Brooklyn, NY / Author of Fundamental Keys method
My professional website: FundamentalKeys.com
Latest blog post: "A marvelous pianist and mentor"

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#1361040 - 01/29/10 03:59 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Volusiano Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/01/10
Posts: 770
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
L, we have discussed this before, but many years ago, so this is probably a good time to resurrect the subject. In re Kreisler's comment: this is one very powerful reason for all teachers, not just males, to make a video record of each and every lesson.


This is a very good idea, actually, but I wonder about the logistics of it. First is to get permission from the parents (or adult students) to record them. It must be uncomfortable to ask, and what if permission is not given? But I can see that if you make this part of your policy then it should be OK. The bigger concern is how long you keep these video tapes for? Surely you don't want to tape over an old lesson that was just last week. But if you keep them around long enough (which is a question in itself, how long is long enough?), you may end up with a lot of video tapes and the cost of too many tapes may be prohibitive.

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#1361049 - 01/29/10 04:08 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: Rachel J]
landorrano Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/26/06
Posts: 2457
Loc: France
Originally Posted By: Rachel J


If I didn't teach young to middle-aged men, I'd lose a third of my students! A couple of times it has crossed my mind that I am putting myself in a position of vulnerability, but I refuse to live my life fearing what might happen. As it is, all my students (including the 15 or so men I've worked with in the last few years) have been nothing but kind and respectful.


Didn't Son of Sam play piano? (No, just kidding!)

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#1361050 - 01/29/10 04:10 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: John v.d.Brook]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11648
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
Originally Posted By: keystring
John, I've been thinking about what you wrote. It sounds as if you are proposing a counter-move in those cases where parents are doing a power play, where they try to deliberately intimidate and control the teacher.


I don't think it's deliberate so much as human nature.


I don't think you understand what I am trying to say. I am thinking that you are proposing this strategy in those cases where that kind of power play is going on for the purpose of countering this power play. I do not think that you would want to make a student feel inferior to you and worry about not being good enough for you as a relationship to be established between teacher and student. I would feel better if you confirmed this, because I suspect this is true.

When I wrote of a student asking "What do I need to do to reach this." then I am thinking that this is the attitude that you want to induce in the student and in the parent, rather than "Am I good enough?" By worrying about their abilities, and comparing themselves to others, people cripple themselves.

I cannot picture what that means (still) if you seriously propose this question to be more than a device to stop the parent from saying "You are not good enough for my child." It is an impossible question. If you are "not good enough" for something, that means you don't have the attributes needed to do it. So a 6 year old child who has never had lessons before, how on earth can he be "not good enough" for you to teach him? What would cause you to say "Sorry, I can't teach you because you are not good enough." That's where it leads, and it is absurd. You cannot be saying this. It would be "Sorry, I cannot teach you because you won't do the work."

It gets serious, however, if you are talking about an older student because of the fear of "not having enough talent" (not being good enough) and that as soon as the teacher discovers they "are not good enough" he will kick them out. That creates debilitating anxiety. In fact, in the ABF there is an eight year old who is afraid of meeting the new teacher because he is afraid he is not good enough. This only makes sense to me if you mean it as a counter to a parental attitude of "You are not good enough to teach me child."

Would you say that how the new people are approached also depends on the attitude they present?


Edited by keystring (01/29/10 04:11 PM)

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#1361051 - 01/29/10 04:13 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: Volusiano]
John v.d.Brook Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7344
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Originally Posted By: Volusiano
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
L, we have discussed this before, but many years ago, so this is probably a good time to resurrect the subject. In re Kreisler's comment: this is one very powerful reason for all teachers, not just males, to make a video record of each and every lesson.


This is a very good idea, actually, but I wonder about the logistics of it. First is to get permission from the parents (or adult students) to record them. It must be uncomfortable to ask, and what if permission is not given? But I can see that if you make this part of your policy then it should be OK. The bigger concern is how long you keep these video tapes for? Surely you don't want to tape over an old lesson that was just last week. But if you keep them around long enough (which is a question in itself, how long is long enough?), you may end up with a lot of video tapes and the cost of too many tapes may be prohibitive.


I don't keep them at all. They are sent home with the student. Then they are erased at the next lesson and recorded over.
_________________________
"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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#1361055 - 01/29/10 04:18 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: keystring]
John v.d.Brook Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7344
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
You're correct, I don't understand what you're trying to say. And I think that you're reading stuff into my posts that isn't implied by me. Perhaps my poor writing skills are to blame.

We're talking about dealing with parents "with attitude" here. The OP was feeling intimidated by some parents during the interview process. I was suggesting a strategy to work around this. Sort of like visualizing your audience naked so you don't have the stage jitters.

That's all; nothing more.
_________________________
"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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#1361058 - 01/29/10 04:23 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: chasingrainbows]
MomOfBeginners Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/03/09
Posts: 115
Loc: California, USA
I realize you were looking for fellow-teacher support for an unnerving experience. I wanted to offer a parent's perspective.

I wish to give my child a music experience on a personal level, so the character of a music teacher plays an enormous role. I am trusting the music teacher to guide my child using his/her perspectives and values which do come out on regular one-on-one sessions. Before my child is old enough to solidify her opinions, every adult is "right" in their eyes.

Music qualifications, teaching qualifications, and teaching philosophies go without saying. By the time I get to the stage of wanting to talk to the teacher, I already know the qualifications. Education, experience, musicianship, recital opportunities, etc. I don't believe a teacher would lie about it or that I have to test the teacher for it.

In meeting the teacher, I am looking for other things: (Just to make the text less crowded, I'll call the teacher a 'he' and my child a 'she'.)

- Is the teacher interested in my child and me? Has he already formed an opinion about us based on little information? Or is the teacher interested in interacting with my child and myself to find out more about us? In other words, is the teacher a good listener and open?

- Does the teacher have the right balance of pushing and backing off? By "right", I really mean is it compatible with my view. Even if I didn't agree in the first place, I may still give it a few months and give the teacher the benefit of the doubt that he knows better.

- Does the teacher have the right balance of moving forward versus persistence of polishing a piece?

- Does the teacher have the right balance of drawing from experience to overcome problems versus discovering new ways of teaching? I value both.

- Does the teacher have a passion for improvisation and analysis that can spill over to my child, or are those abilities merely an item on a checklist to achieve teaching qualifications?

- Does the teacher have a passion for understanding the composer, and can express to my child that every piece has a composer's character and a performer's character?

I hope this makes you feel at ease that meeting a teacher is not about checking if your certificate on your wall is legitimate. It's really checking to see if the compatibility factor is there.


Edited by MomOfBeginners (01/29/10 04:39 PM)
Edit Reason: Added extra spaces between lines for readability
_________________________
Mom of Two Girls Who Used to Be Beginners

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#1361061 - 01/29/10 04:29 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: keystring]
chasingrainbows Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/19/06
Posts: 1058
Loc: NJ
Originally Posted By: keystring
Originally Posted By: Minniemay
You should be in charge of this meeting, not the parent.

Have a plan and stick to it. Have your printed policy ready. You have the parent go over it while you work with the student.

I also have the parents fill out an enrollment questionnaire.

Is there a time within this plan that the parent can ask the questions that they need to ask? I think that I might need a good 20 minutes.


Might I ask what your questions would be?

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#1361069 - 01/29/10 04:38 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Canonie Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/04/09
Posts: 1941
Loc: Australia
I got the impression the OP isn't intimidated by these parents (OP hasn't met them yet) but is intimidated by the idea of being interviewed and coming 'unglued' in such a situation. Taking control and being confident in your teaching skills would seem to be good advice, and hopefully the parents are the kind that care a lot about their child and his/her development and comfort.

Keystring, there are teachers who will conduct an interview-test of the potential student and reject some on the basis of e.g. natural aural ability (beginners), or lack of reading (in non-beginners). I mentioned once before of a teacher who took one sister but rejected the other on basis of poor reading. This teacher is the competition-winner type.

There are also plenty of teachers (like me) who will accept a student based on my ability to make a big difference in their life through music. So that means I take everyone who wants to learn piano smile. I probably shouldn't take those where the parent is really keen but the child has no interest, but I have taken a few of these too. Often they stop lessons by the end of about 8 weeks.
_________________________

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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#1361085 - 01/29/10 04:54 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: Canonie]
chasingrainbows Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/19/06
Posts: 1058
Loc: NJ
Wow, I'm overwhelmed by the generous time everyone's taken to reply to my question. I would respond to each of you but must prepare a philosophy/policy for the upcoming meetings. You're correct in that I should have one even though I work for a studio.

I supposed my insecurity stems from being beaten down by a former teacher during my college years. I entered college with a slight confidence in my musical ability and graduated feeling like I had absolutely no musical ability. That was their method of teaching. Now, some ten years later, while playing various pieces in a classroom, a well respected string teacher commented that I sounded fantastic and that when she heard the music, she had to see who it was. I floated out of the building! I think my lack of confidence as a musician is at the root of all this. I have been a manager for many years, and know my students are very happy with me (including adults and transfers!) but still I worry because I've observed some real unrealistic expectations of parents, not only in piano, but in sports, etc.

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#1361102 - 01/29/10 05:15 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: chasingrainbows]
landorrano Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/26/06
Posts: 2457
Loc: France
Originally Posted By: Irenev
I entered college with a slight confidence in my musical ability and graduated feeling like I had absolutely no musical ability. That was their method of teaching.


You should'v asked them about their method of teaching!

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#1361103 - 01/29/10 05:16 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: chasingrainbows]
chasingrainbows Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/19/06
Posts: 1058
Loc: NJ
Teachers and Parents, thank you so much for all of your input and perspectives. It's been a tremendous help. I also wanted to clarify that I do have a degree in Music Ed, but do not feel nearly prepared to teach all different levels, I am constantly questioning, reading, and trying to absorb all that encompasses being the best teacher I can be. But I do bring a real love and enthusiasm for music to the studio, and I think my students feel that and respond with heartwarming progress and excitement about learning the piano.

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#1361139 - 01/29/10 06:16 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: chasingrainbows]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
This is what I use in my studio. Please understand if the formatting is off.

Betty Patnude Piano Studio
South Hill - Puyallup, Washington

Student Information Form
Please answer the following questions on this form and return the form to me.
The information you provide prior to the interview helps me prepare a more effective and appropriate interview.

Which is best time to schedule an interview for you?
Interview Date: _________________________
__ Friday after school
__ Saturday Mornings
__ Wednesday Afternoons - Puyallup School District Early Dismissal
__ Or, is there a different time that works better for you? _____________________________


Student’s Name: __________________________________________________________________________
Student’s: Age ____ Birthday ____/____/____
__ Child __ Teen __ Adult __ New Beginner __ Transfer __ Advanced
Today’s Date: ____/___/____

Who may I thank for this referral? __________________________________________________
Adult’s Name __________________________________________________
E-mail Address __________________________________________________________
Phone: Home __________________________ Cell: __________________
Home Address __________________________________________________
IF student is a child: Siblings Names____________________________________________________
School __________________________ District __________________________ Grade ____
Activities, Hobbies or Sports _________________________________________________
__________________________
Has the student had previous Music Study? Yes? No?
Piano Teachers Names __________________________ Length of Study __________________________
Piano Teachers Name __________________________ Length of Study __________________________
Piano Teachers Name __________________________ Length of Study __________________________
Do you have a goal for taking piano lessons?
__________________________________________________________________________________________________
Do other family members have previous musical training? Yes? No?
Do you have an instrument at home? Yes? No?
When do you expect to get started in piano study?
__ Soon __ Summer __ September __ January __ Some future date

Is there anything you would like to tell me?

Do you have questions at this time you would like to ask? ________________________________________

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#1361145 - 01/29/10 06:24 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: John v.d.Brook]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11648
Loc: Canada
Quote:
We're talking about dealing with parents "with attitude" here. The OP was feeling intimidated by some parents during the interview process. I was suggesting a strategy to work around this. Sort of like visualizing your audience naked so you don't have the stage jitters.

Thank you, John. Now I understand.

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#1361200 - 01/29/10 07:56 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: Minniemay]
pianoloverus Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19266
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: Minniemay
Absolutely. I always allow for that, but they need to know that I run the show.

I entertain questions after I am finished working with the student and ask the parent any questions I have about the child or their situation. AND, I always ask the child if the he or she has anything to ask.


Considering the parent is considering hiring you, I think this a strange way to approach an interview. IMO it shouldn't be about who's in charge but mutually trying to find out if the teacher-student match is good.

If a parent asks for an inteview, I think that puts them in position of a potential employer interviewing a potential employee.


Edited by pianoloverus (01/29/10 08:12 PM)

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#1361214 - 01/29/10 08:24 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: pianoloverus]
John v.d.Brook Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7344
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Really? Then they should be paying our FICA/Social Security taxes, right?

It seems to me they're purchasing a service, not hiring us. Just as when you see the doctor or dentist or lawyer, you're purchasing a service. If you want to hire them, the relationship changes.

Haydn was hired; Beethoven provided a service. Solieri was a hired hand of the Arch Duke; Mozart contracted out his services.

Perhaps it's a subtle difference, but it's real, none-the-less.
_________________________
"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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#1361246 - 01/29/10 09:05 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: John v.d.Brook]
pianoloverus Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19266
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
Really? Then they should be paying our FICA/Social Security taxes, right?

It seems to me they're purchasing a service, not hiring us. Just as when you see the doctor or dentist or lawyer, you're purchasing a service. If you want to hire them, the relationship changes.

Haydn was hired; Beethoven provided a service. Solieri was a hired hand of the Arch Duke; Mozart contracted out his services.

Perhaps it's a subtle difference, but it's real, none-the-less.


You can call it what you want but I see no difference in terms of what the interview should be like. If a parent starts acting like a boss with a piano teacher, the piano teacher can stop giving the lessons. The teacher isn't the boss and neither is the parent.

If you want to find a doctor to do an important operation you couldn't meet with them first to decide if you wanted them to do it? If you want someone to replace a fence, you can't do the same thing??

It shouldn't about someone taking charge, it should be about both parties finding out if the teacher-student relationship looks like a good idea.


Edited by pianoloverus (01/29/10 09:06 PM)

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#1361284 - 01/29/10 10:00 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Volusiano Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/01/10
Posts: 770
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
Originally Posted By: Volusiano
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
L, we have discussed this before, but many years ago, so this is probably a good time to resurrect the subject. In re Kreisler's comment: this is one very powerful reason for all teachers, not just males, to make a video record of each and every lesson.


This is a very good idea, actually, but I wonder about the logistics of it. First is to get permission from the parents (or adult students) to record them. It must be uncomfortable to ask, and what if permission is not given? But I can see that if you make this part of your policy then it should be OK. The bigger concern is how long you keep these video tapes for? Surely you don't want to tape over an old lesson that was just last week. But if you keep them around long enough (which is a question in itself, how long is long enough?), you may end up with a lot of video tapes and the cost of too many tapes may be prohibitive.


I don't keep them at all. They are sent home with the student. Then they are erased at the next lesson and recorded over.


Oh, I see. That makes a lot of sense. By doing this, you remove the awkwardness about the reason for videotaping because the main reason is to give the parent or child a chance to review the lesson afterward at home if desired. But it also serves to show that you're all up and up when teaching the lesson and there's nothing to hide even if the parent is not present nearby.

The only reason I was thinking about keeping records of the tapes yourself is in case there is ever any false allegation about misconduct on the teacher's side a few lessons later, you have previous tapes to prove your case. But I think your approach of giving the tape to parents after each lesson and reuse it in the next lesson is good enough, and solves the problem of needing too many tapes.

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#1361301 - 01/29/10 10:30 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: Volusiano]
John v.d.Brook Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7344
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Well, they would certainly have a hard time explaining to a judge why they got rid of evidence!
_________________________
"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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#1361304 - 01/29/10 10:43 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: pianoloverus]
John v.d.Brook Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7344
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
You said:
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
If a parent asks for an interview, I think that puts them in position of a potential employer interviewing a potential employee.

I said:
Quote:
It seems to me they're purchasing a service, not hiring us. Just as when you see the doctor or dentist or lawyer, you're purchasing a service. If you want to hire them, the relationship changes.

You replied:
Quote:
You can call it what you want but I see no difference in terms of what the interview should be like. If a parent starts acting like a boss with a piano teacher, the piano teacher can stop giving the lessons. The teacher isn't the boss and neither is the parent.

You subtly changed the terms of the discussion here. It was you who brought up employer-employee relationship, no one else, as I recall. And while the term boss is generally a pejorative word these days, the fact remains that the teacher owns and runs their studio or teaching business, not the parent. As many have pointed out already, the interview should be an open, two-way street. If it's dominated by the teacher, the parent will not sign up; if it's dominated by the parent, the inexperienced teacher may find themselves in an untenable position. Recall that the OP was feeling a bit intimidated, and we're all trying her cope with what could be a bad situation.

I hope this clarifies.
_________________________
"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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#1361314 - 01/29/10 10:58 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

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

I enter a business arrangement with a contract with the parents of my students, or adult student, where it specifies what we are agreeing to do together in giving/receiving piano lessons.

It is a contract that can be terminated with 30 days notice by the purchaser of the services. The contract is in force from the time it is signed until the termination is received.

I am in music education and I provide services. The other party buys my year around services as specified in my tuition fees and studio policy. I have a one lesson introduction that can be purchased as the interview/first lesson, and then I have a 10 lesson introduction that can be a trial period before entering yer round lessons.

Someone who thinks they are "hiring" me is not going to like this. This contract allows me to find and keep students who are very serious about their music education. If I didn't define the agreement I would be a the beck and call of someone who constantly wanted to change the parameters of our relationship to his/her liking. I refuse to teach music without being the leader of the triangle of student-parent-teacher. I listen and cooperate with my clients but I don't allow them to run my business not tell me how to teach.

My contract is legal should there ever be any difficulty with my receiving my payments for services rendered.

No one hires me, no one fires me. We work together with a plan in agreement and we agree to work to resolve any difficulties or problems or concern that arise. We agree to communicate.

Actually both the parent and myself are a support system to the child in piano study with the purpose of making progress in musicianship.

"My piano lessons are free. It's my time and expertise you pay for." Students do not hire as you do not follow the rules of having employees as per regulations of the IRS. I'm the person accountable to the IRS. I'm self-employed and many piano teachers are in that category.

A note to teachers: studio policies, interviews before accepting and contracts protect us from being misunderstood and mistreated. Without structure to your business and to your teaching you are leaving yourself wide open to situations you would rather not be involved in. The nonpayments, the missed lessons with no notice, difficult or negative customers, and those very trying situations which rob us of our spirit and energy. You can establish a standard of behavior in your studio and you can get what you want and need in your professional life working with students and their families. We do have to teach people how to treat their place in our studios with respect. This is your life and profession to establish.


Betty Patnude

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#1361317 - 01/29/10 11:03 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Volusiano Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/01/10
Posts: 770
^^^ I agree with John above. If anybody who's the boss, the teachers are their own bosses (well, at least private teachers who run their own business, anyway). They decide the policies, the fees, who they accept, who they drop, their schedule/availability, etc. And they can change any of this at will because they're their own bosses. Parents and students are just the clients.

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#1361339 - 01/29/10 11:56 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: Volusiano]
Minniemay Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/09
Posts: 1702
Loc: CA
My comments about running the show were meant to imply that the OP should feel empowered. She should not be cowed by the parents.

They are, in fact, coming to my business. I wouldn't dream of going into someone else's business and telling them how to conduct it. If I don't like the way they do business, I go somewhere else.

However, when a family comes for an interview, I must be in charge if I am to learn anything about the child and his or her readiness for study and for the child to understand that when they walk in the studio, I am the authority figure, not the parent. There have been, in times past, occasions when parents have interrupted lessons to either direct a child's behavior or suggest what I should be doing. Ultimately, that undermines my authority. If they are bringing their child to me, they have to trust I know what I'm doing and let me do it. If I'm not "running the show", the authority I demonstrate is negligible and leaves me open for abuse.

Been there, done that, don't want the t-shirt.
_________________________
B.A., Piano, Piano Pegagogy, Music Ed.
M.M., Piano

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#1361415 - 01/30/10 03:18 AM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: Minniemay]
theJourney Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/22/07
Posts: 3946
Loc: Banned
I think it is also possible that some style of teachers and teaching studio policies match different kinds of students and styles of learning and lesson taking.

A teacher who makes his or her living exclusively from teaching beginners hour after hour day in and day out must put together a very school-like and strict policy about scheduling, payments, cancellations, etc. and even be quite bossy and inflexible. Otherwise, people will treat them like "just the piano teacher" and when schedule conflicts arise they will not show up for piano because it is "just the piano". It's not like they are letting a team down or a school reputation and chance at state or bleachers filled with spectators like in school sports.

A teacher who is perhaps a professional musician with an unpredictable performance schedule would feel unnecessarily constrained by an inflexible and full roster of John Thompsoners and is very happy to find (young) adults who may also work full time or also have irregular lives whom he or she coaches or to teach advanced amateurs as a second line of income on a basis of "you pay and we make the next appointment at the end of each lesson, whenever those lessons take place".

It is of course not a black & white issue and there is a continuum of situations in between these two extremes. The idea of an interview is a very smart one and in a good interview both the parent and/or prospective student and the teacher will be "in control": in control of knowing what they want and what their objectives are, what they can offer the other party, what they are looking for in a student / teacher, what constraints they are each operating under and both committed to determining jointly in a pleasant but efficient manner if there is a basis to even give a relationship a trial run.

IMHO an effective piano teaching relationship is a very intimate relationship built on respect, mutual trust and empathy. Successful piano lessons must be designed with the student's motivations as their point of departure. If a teacher in an interview starts all sentences with "I" and "My" and doesn't try to understand what the student needs and wants while being able to explain extemporaneously how their approach either fits or will be tailored to those needs, politely end the interview and call the next teacher on the list. You will be surprised how many teachers are out there and the best ones never advertise. The gift of learning to play the piano is too important and also too fragile to be entrusted to the wrong teacher.

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#1361447 - 01/30/10 06:05 AM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: John v.d.Brook]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11648
Loc: Canada
A teacher is an expert hired by a client to provide a service which he plans, designs, and implements. While the client may know what he wants, the expert will know the best way to reach it, and may also suggest changes to his original plans when they would not work well, because he knows a lot about this thing. The parent is "boss" in that his wishes that his child learn to play the piano must be respected, and the teacher can't decide that it would be more fun to do guitar. The teacher is "boss" in knowing what goals are realistic, and what child and parent need to do to bring these about.

Employment or not has nothing to do with it. A company that employees engineers or welders will make a mess if they don't allow their experts to make decisions based on their expertise. The difference is that the work and roles have already been planned out, and the structure is rather rigid. In freelancing, expert and client first define what needs to be done, what supportive role the client needs to play so that the thing can be done, and of course also hours and remuneration on the practical business side. All that is predefined in employment, including public school teaching.

The interview or trial lesson is a way for the client to assess whether he wants to hire this person. It's like sending a sample to a prospective client, which is unnerving since the worth of your work is being judged. It's all the more precarious since the client probably has no expertise and may judge based on peculiar criteria. So you are also guiding the client, letting them understand something of the process without seeming defensive. Some of us parents would find such guidance reassuring because we're nervous too, and this is actually the "leadership" John mentioned earlier.

If the client does hire you, then the trial lesson also establishes what everyone will be doing, gets questions out of the way, because all three people play a role. A parent interacts both with teacher and student and may have to act as a go-between between the teacher and student, and ditto of teacher for student and parent. A teacher cannot do a proper job if child and parent don't cooperate, so it's not about being boss but being able to get you to where you want to go.

Isn't that what it's about, rather than who is the boss of whom, or whether the hiring party pays into the pension plan?

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#1361467 - 01/30/10 07:22 AM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: keystring]
pianoloverus Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19266
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: keystring
A teacher is an expert hired by a client to provide a service which he plans, designs, and implements. While the client may know what he wants, the expert will know the best way to reach it, and may also suggest changes to his original plans when they would not work well, because he knows a lot about this thing. The parent is "boss" in that his wishes that his child learn to play the piano must be respected, and the teacher can't decide that it would be more fun to do guitar. The teacher is "boss" in knowing what goals are realistic, and what child and parent need to do to bring these about.

Employment or not has nothing to do with it. A company that employees engineers or welders will make a mess if they don't allow their experts to make decisions based on their expertise. The difference is that the work and roles have already been planned out, and the structure is rather rigid. In freelancing, expert and client first define what needs to be done, what supportive role the client needs to play so that the thing can be done, and of course also hours and remuneration on the practical business side. All that is predefined in employment, including public school teaching.

The interview or trial lesson is a way for the client to assess whether he wants to hire this person. It's like sending a sample to a prospective client, which is unnerving since the worth of your work is being judged. It's all the more precarious since the client probably has no expertise and may judge based on peculiar criteria. So you are also guiding the client, letting them understand something of the process without seeming defensive. Some of us parents would find such guidance reassuring because we're nervous too, and this is actually the "leadership" John mentioned earlier.

If the client does hire you, then the trial lesson also establishes what everyone will be doing, gets questions out of the way, because all three people play a role. A parent interacts both with teacher and student and may have to act as a go-between between the teacher and student, and ditto of teacher for student and parent. A teacher cannot do a proper job if child and parent don't cooperate, so it's not about being boss but being able to get you to where you want to go.

Isn't that what it's about, rather than who is the boss of whom, or whether the hiring party pays into the pension plan?
I agree.

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#1361572 - 01/30/10 11:52 AM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: chasingrainbows]
lilylady Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/17/05
Posts: 4977
Loc: boston north
My initial response before I have read one comment...

I interview the student and parents, not the other way around.
The interview is about learning about each other and what is offered and expected. I want to learn about the student, the parents goals and explain my expectations of the student and parent. The parent wants to know a little about my personality and what is important about what I teach and how I teach. It is a give and take of sharing ideas and seeing how things fit.

I play something as an inspiration, but do not feel the need to show off. Music is to share and I hope that whatever I play, shows my feeling about sharing music.

Just a few positive suggestions!

EDIT - now that I have read your responses, there are some great suggestions and ideas being shared here.

LL


Edited by lilylady (01/30/10 12:06 PM)
_________________________
"Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything."

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#1361600 - 01/30/10 12:38 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: pianoloverus]
DancinDigits Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/15/10
Posts: 68
Loc: USA
All I can say is WOW! Things sure have changed since I took lessons!

I would hand my teacher payment, which was due at the end of the month - (or was it the beginning? You know, I can't recall as I was kid and such matters were not my concern.) - sit myself down at the grand piano and for the next hour, we would have a fine time.

My teacher was a gentle mannered soul, which was good for me as I was the shy, quiet type - we got along great. I never, never thought of him as 'just' the piano teacher. I had a great deal of respect (at times even awe) for his abilities (he played a number of instruments). He would always go out of his way to give me a very well rounded education.

As an adult, I now recognize and appreciate the quality of his instructions that I never recognized as a young child. If I could only turn the clocks back. . . . .

We were friends and I never dreamed of showing him the kind of disrespect and/or inconsideration that has been talked about here. It just wasn't 'there'. My mother never treated him as someone who was just there to occupy my time when I was bored - he was not, by any means, the glorified baby sitter.

Sure - on initial meeting there is the tendency to size each other up. After all, when one purchases a service, one wants the best bang for their buck And sure, no teacher in their right mind wants to be treated like someone who is there to entertain a kid on a rainy day, or like the 'hired help'. . . .

Some of the feelings expressed here have saddened me - saddened me that posters feel the need to 'lay down the law'.

I would sincerely hope that if I was ever lucky enough to begin formal instruction again, that my future instructor would regard me as an individual and have an open mind about what our future relationship may be like. I sincerely hope that s/he would not regard me as someone they have to protect themselves from because of the possibility of how I may treat them due to past bad experience with others.

I would further hope that thoughts of who is running the show and who is boss would be the furthest thing from our minds. Music is such a joy, and I wouldn't want those other matters to get in the way. I wouldn't want our relationship to be a tug of war, a play for 'power', each party feeling that they have to protect themselves and their interest in it.

Maybe I'm a dreamer or stuck in the past.

But like I said - all I can say is WOW!
_________________________
Music is the voice of the heart.

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#1361606 - 01/30/10 12:52 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: DancinDigits]
Minniemay Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/09
Posts: 1702
Loc: CA
Those of us who talk about "running the show" are not monsters. We've just been taken advantage of before and treated with disrepsect. We learned our lessons. The problems are not with the children, they are with the parents, people who are often just looking for the best bargain they can get.

It's a shame that these things get in the way, but I find that conducting myself in a business-like manner allows me to have the joy of music-making with the students. I have a highly successful full studio of children who are amazing to work with and parents who respect me and how I run my business.
_________________________
B.A., Piano, Piano Pegagogy, Music Ed.
M.M., Piano

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