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#1705846 - 07/01/11 07:26 PM Did you ever drop student b/c of parent?
chasingrainbows Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/19/06
Posts: 1021
Loc: NJ
I've noticed a cooler reception lately from the parent when I arrive to give a lesson to her pre-teen, who supposedly has a "very minor learning disorder." It's been challenging to teach the child, but the parent just wants lessons for the child b/c parent thinks it will improve grades. Despite my make up policy requiring 24 hours notice, parent continues to call the day of the lesson with various excuses - usually child is sick (in which case I will make up a lesson due to last minute illness), or the most recent reason: "end of school fun activities". I always remind the parent of my policy, but relent and do the makeup. I again reminded the parent of my requirement of 24 hours notice, and when I arrived for the lesson, was greeted quite distantly, and after the lesson the parent advised they want to back off for the summer and do every other week. I think this is a great opportunity to exit from this family, but there's a part of me that doesn't want to drop the student. I am thinking of providing a revised makeup policy in August stating no more makeups except in the case of teacher cancellation. Have you ever dropped a student b/c of parental issues? Some parents are so wonderful to work with, then there are those........

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#1705859 - 07/01/11 07:45 PM Re: Did you ever drop student b/c of parent? [Re: chasingrainbows]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7307
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Not to be overly critical, but it sounds like your lesson makeup policy is to do makeups at the parent's discretion. A no makeup policy means no makeups, no exceptions.

And to your question about wanting to drop students because of parents, oh, yes, we've all been down that road!
_________________________
"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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#1705942 - 07/01/11 10:38 PM Re: Did you ever drop student b/c of parent? [Re: chasingrainbows]
david_a Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 2913
If you always end up doing the makeup, then your policy is to always do the makeup.

This uncomfortable situation has happened entirely by your own choice.

Speaking VERY generally, I have found that when your relationship with the student's parents has become uncomfortable, you might as well stop now, for everyone's sake.

I have only two or three times in twenty years dropped a student because of the student. It's almost always to do with the parents.
_________________________
(I'm a piano teacher.)

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#1706003 - 07/02/11 02:06 AM Re: Did you ever drop student b/c of parent? [Re: chasingrainbows]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5422
Loc: Orange County, CA
I've dropped about eight students because of the parent. Most of the time the parents are trying to do too many things at once, and have extremely poor time management skills.
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#1706018 - 07/02/11 02:53 AM Re: Did you ever drop student b/c of parent? [Re: AZNpiano]
Philip_Johnston Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 06/30/11
Posts: 10
Not sure if it's too late to help, but there's an article on exactly this issue:

http://www.insidemusicteaching.com/articles/art_deadwood1.html

Basically looks at the circumstances under which teachers should be letting students go - painful parents/studio policy ignorers is very much on the list!

Philip Johnston

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#1706050 - 07/02/11 05:46 AM Re: Did you ever drop student b/c of parent? [Re: Philip_Johnston]
music32 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/07/07
Posts: 1184
Loc: Berkeley, California
This is such a lively and engaging article with truth abounding. Thanks for posting.

I blogged about a similar theme, perhaps a spin off of what was written. I asserted that the first interview with a prospective student is a crystal ball of what's to come.

http://arioso7.wordpress.com/2011/06/30/...a-crystal-ball/

Back to the link you posted. I particularly identify with the student whom the teacher describes as making no progress week after week.(And you know that practicing has been minimal or nonexistent) which doesn't seem to bother the student or the parent, the latter, who is usually "absent" in the desired supportive triad (teacher/student/parent)

And as I've always maintained, when the parent doesn't care what's going on, even with the calls and emails sent her way, you have a hill to climb. If, however, we as teachers let go of every student who didn't practice, or related, then we might find ourselves on the bread line.
_________________________
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http://www.arioso7.wordpress.com

You Tube Channel
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NYC HS of Performing Arts
Oberlin Conservatory
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Haddorff console
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#1706057 - 07/02/11 06:40 AM Re: Did you ever drop student b/c of parent? [Re: david_a]
music32 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/07/07
Posts: 1184
Loc: Berkeley, California
Inevitably, it has to do with the parent. Once you lose that alliance, it's downhill all the way.
_________________________
Piano blog:
http://www.arioso7.wordpress.com

You Tube Channel
http://www.youtube.com/arioso7



NYC HS of Performing Arts
Oberlin Conservatory
NYU, M.A., Steinway M grand and upright
Haddorff console
MTAC Alameda

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#1706093 - 07/02/11 09:07 AM Re: Did you ever drop student b/c of parent? [Re: chasingrainbows]
Ann in Kentucky Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2647
Loc: Kentucky
chasingrainbows, I've had a parent say they want to decrease to a lesson every 2 weeks. My response was to let the parent know I don't do that (and I say it doesn't work for kids). And I let them go. The request I had for every 2 weeks was their way of saying they don't really want to continue, but are indecisive about it.

When a parent cancels a lesson, just say "OK. See you next week." If the parent requests a make-up lesson you can say "I won't be able to give a make-up lesson. I'll plan to see you next week."

I'd let the family go, but try to focus on the success that has occurred over the length of time you've been working with them.
_________________________
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

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#1706094 - 07/02/11 09:08 AM Re: Did you ever drop student b/c of parent? [Re: david_a]
pianoeagle Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/16/11
Posts: 218
Loc: Texas
I agree! If you always end up doing the makeup lesson, how do you expect for them to comply with your "policy?" Your policy is actually doing the makeup when the parent asks you to, regardless of when they cancel. If you don't enforce your 24-hour cancellation policy, don't expect the parents to heed it.
_________________________
Children's piano instructor
Member NGPT, MTNA/TMTA/PMTA, NFMC/SJFMC

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#1706102 - 07/02/11 09:40 AM Re: Did you ever drop student b/c of parent? [Re: chasingrainbows]
Stanny Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/08/06
Posts: 1461
I understand you are being lenient with this family because their daughter has special needs, but it sounds more like the parents are expecting special treatment. I would do two things in this situation:
1) ASAP, update the policy to state NO MAKEUPS. FOR ANY REASON.
2) Suggest a break for this student. It sounds like that is what they want, and you will be giving them an easy way out.
_________________________
~Stanny~

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

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#1706105 - 07/02/11 09:46 AM Re: Did you ever drop student b/c of parent? [Re: chasingrainbows]
music32 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/07/07
Posts: 1184
Loc: Berkeley, California
As far as studio policy, you can hand a copy to parents, have them sign, but unless there are frequent reminders about absences and makeups, there's a blissful ignorance about the whole thing.
_________________________
Piano blog:
http://www.arioso7.wordpress.com

You Tube Channel
http://www.youtube.com/arioso7



NYC HS of Performing Arts
Oberlin Conservatory
NYU, M.A., Steinway M grand and upright
Haddorff console
MTAC Alameda

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#1706108 - 07/02/11 09:51 AM Re: Did you ever drop student b/c of parent? [Re: Ann in Kentucky]
music32 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/07/07
Posts: 1184
Loc: Berkeley, California
The every other week arrangement, you are right, doesn't work. Sometimes, if not often, it's meant to trim the budget, with learning being sacrificed in the process. In addition, when you agree to teach bi-monthly, you can't fill openings for every week because the day is tied up for half the month.
_________________________
Piano blog:
http://www.arioso7.wordpress.com

You Tube Channel
http://www.youtube.com/arioso7



NYC HS of Performing Arts
Oberlin Conservatory
NYU, M.A., Steinway M grand and upright
Haddorff console
MTAC Alameda

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#1706197 - 07/02/11 01:15 PM Re: Did you ever drop student b/c of parent? [Re: chasingrainbows]
trillingadventurer Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/28/08
Posts: 304
Loc: San Diego
+1 to all of the responses!
_________________________
M. Katchur

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#1706270 - 07/02/11 03:57 PM Re: Did you ever drop student b/c of parent? [Re: chasingrainbows]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4750
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: chasingrainbows
[..]and when I arrived for the lesson, was greeted quite distantly, and after the lesson the parent advised they want to back off for the summer and do every other week.[...]

Let me get this straight: "arriving" for a lessons means that you are going to the student's house?

For me make-ups are about my time and getting paid. I am lenient with parents who respect me. When I don't get respect, I don't budge an inch.

And yes, I have "fired" parents. It's fair. Parents can terminate lessons with us at any time. We should have the same right!
_________________________
Piano Teacher

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#1706495 - 07/03/11 01:33 AM Re: Did you ever drop student b/c of parent? [Re: music32]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5422
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: music32
The every other week arrangement, you are right, doesn't work.

Most of the time it doesn't work, but I can find at least three examples (one is my current student, and two are my friend's students) where this bi-weekly lesson arrangement worked out well. As usual, I think it really depends on the individual student.
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#1706529 - 07/03/11 06:33 AM Re: Did you ever drop student b/c of parent? [Re: AZNpiano]
Theme&Variations Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/19/10
Posts: 135
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
Originally Posted By: music32
The every other week arrangement, you are right, doesn't work.

Most of the time it doesn't work, but I can find at least three examples (one is my current student, and two are my friend's students) where this bi-weekly lesson arrangement worked out well. As usual, I think it really depends on the individual student.


True! I am currently teaching a pair of siblings on alternate weeks (all of my other students get weekly lessons). The younger sibling (beginner this year) is doing really well - in fact, is progressing probably faster than most students who have lessons every week. The only problem is trying to fit hearing all the new music she has learnt over the past fortnight into the 30-minute lesson! smile Unfortunately the older sibling (inherited as a transfer student, isn't interested in accuracy or fingering, prefers to play "hard pieces" well above his level) is not doing so well. smirk The parents know it's not ideal, but can't afford to pay for weekly lessons for both kids at the moment.
_________________________
Private piano teacher since 2003
Member:
ASME (Australian Society for Music Education),
ANZCA (Australian and New Zealand Cultural Arts),
KMEIA (Kodály Music Education Institute of Australia).

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#1706763 - 07/03/11 05:44 PM Re: Did you ever drop student b/c of parent? [Re: music32]
chasingrainbows Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/19/06
Posts: 1021
Loc: NJ
Originally Posted By: music32
Back to the link you posted. I particularly identify with the student whom the teacher describes as making no progress week after week.(And you know that practicing has been minimal or nonexistent) which doesn't seem to bother the student or the parent, the latter, who is usually "absent" in the desired supportive triad (teacher/student/parent)

And as I've always maintained, when the parent doesn't care what's going on, even with the calls and emails sent her way, you have a hill to climb. If, however, we as teachers let go of every student who didn't practice, or related, then we might find ourselves on the bread line.


Yes, this is unfortunate wake up call to teachers. If I were to eliminate all the students who were guilty of barely practicing, coming to lessons with half their books, forgetting to do some of the assignments, I would be left with one student!

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#1706770 - 07/03/11 05:58 PM Re: Did you ever drop student b/c of parent? [Re: Ann in Kentucky]
chasingrainbows Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/19/06
Posts: 1021
Loc: NJ
Originally Posted By: Ann in Kentucky
chasingrainbows, I've had a parent say they want to decrease to a lesson every 2 weeks. My response was to let the parent know I don't do that (and I say it doesn't work for kids). And I let them go. The request I had for every 2 weeks was their way of saying they don't really want to continue, but are indecisive about it.

When a parent cancels a lesson, just say "OK. See you next week." If the parent requests a make-up lesson you can say "I won't be able to give a make-up lesson. I'll plan to see you next week."

I'd let the family go, but try to focus on the success that has occurred over the length of time you've been working with them.


Ann, unfortunately, I agreed to do every other week. I havve to develop the response of "I will get back to you after I check my schedule" or something like that, to give me time to think about it. I was so taken aback that I just immediately agreed. Now how do I extricate myself from this?

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#1706771 - 07/03/11 06:01 PM Re: Did you ever drop student b/c of parent? [Re: Stanny]
chasingrainbows Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/19/06
Posts: 1021
Loc: NJ
Originally Posted By: Stanny
I understand you are being lenient with this family because their daughter has special needs, but it sounds more like the parents are expecting special treatment. I would do two things in this situation:
1) ASAP, update the policy to state NO MAKEUPS. FOR ANY REASON.
2) Suggest a break for this student. It sounds like that is what they want, and you will be giving them an easy way out.


Stanny, that is part of the reason for my being more accomodating. However, this particular parent is taking advantage. I am more lenient with private students rather than my store students with regard to make ups, which as stated by others in this thread, is my own fault when I am taken advantage of. It's time to let them go. I thought about revising my policy and including the no make up policy, which will ensure that they quit.

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#1706772 - 07/03/11 06:03 PM Re: Did you ever drop student b/c of parent? [Re: music32]
chasingrainbows Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/19/06
Posts: 1021
Loc: NJ
Originally Posted By: music32
The every other week arrangement, you are right, doesn't work. Sometimes, if not often, it's meant to trim the budget, with learning being sacrificed in the process. In addition, when you agree to teach bi-monthly, you can't fill openings for every week because the day is tied up for half the month.


Music32, I've reminded the parent of my policy, everytime she cancels at the last minute. It is my own fault that she continues to be so inconsiderate. I can easily fill the slot with another student, and plan to do that.

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#1706773 - 07/03/11 06:06 PM Re: Did you ever drop student b/c of parent? [Re: AZNpiano]
chasingrainbows Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/19/06
Posts: 1021
Loc: NJ
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
Originally Posted By: music32
The every other week arrangement, you are right, doesn't work.

Most of the time it doesn't work, but I can find at least three examples (one is my current student, and two are my friend's students) where this bi-weekly lesson arrangement worked out well. As usual, I think it really depends on the individual student.


Yes, it can work with serious students who possess the discipline and desire to follow assignments and practice regularly. The majority of my students come to lessons with ten reasons why they didn't practice much during the school year. Then summer comes, and with it, the ability to really put in the practice hours, and many of them drop to "take a break" or are involved in camps, vacations, and a variety of other new excuses why they didn't practice. Those are the students who should not do 2 lessons a month.

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#1706997 - 07/04/11 02:50 AM Re: Did you ever drop student b/c of parent? [Re: chasingrainbows]
kevinb Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/09
Posts: 1565
Originally Posted By: chasingrainbows
Then summer comes, and with it, the ability to really put in the practice hours, and many of them drop to "take a break" or are involved in camps, vacations, and a variety of other new excuses why they didn't practice. Those are the students who should not do 2 lessons a month.


These things are not necessarily 'excuses'. Kids do have things in their lives besides playing the piano. While the school summer break might be a great time to catch up on piano practice, it's a great time for other things as well, and for the same reason.

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#1707065 - 07/04/11 08:08 AM Re: Did you ever drop student b/c of parent? [Re: chasingrainbows]
Ann in Kentucky Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2647
Loc: Kentucky
chasingrainbows, I would say "I'm sorry for the change in plans, but teaching every other week is not going to work for me after all. I can give you contact information for other teachers if you'd like."

I like your idea of saying you'll have to check your schedule (in the future) and get back with them. I too have made the mistake of thinking I always have to give an immediate answer. "I'll think it over, check my schedule and get back with you" is a reasonable response. I've learned to use this concept in another situation (with a family member with hypochondria who continually tries to get me to take her to doctor appointments).
_________________________
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

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#1707165 - 07/04/11 11:50 AM Re: Did you ever drop student b/c of parent? [Re: chasingrainbows]
david_a Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 2913
Originally Posted By: chasingrainbows
I've reminded the parent of my policy, everytime she cancels at the last minute. It is my own fault that she continues to be so inconsiderate. I can easily fill the slot with another student, and plan to do that.
For this particular situation it's too late to change, but with all your other students, the only reminder of your policy should be that they pay you for the lesson in question. Polite reminders, if you make them, MUST come with a bill attached every time; otherwise they function as reminders that the real policy is "students have a lesson whenever they want one".
_________________________
(I'm a piano teacher.)

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#1707857 - 07/05/11 03:31 PM Re: Did you ever drop student b/c of parent? [Re: Gary D.]
chasingrainbows Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/19/06
Posts: 1021
Loc: NJ
Originally Posted By: Gary D.
Originally Posted By: chasingrainbows
[..]and when I arrived for the lesson, was greeted quite distantly, and after the lesson the parent advised they want to back off for the summer and do every other week.[...]

Let me get this straight: "arriving" for a lessons means that you are going to the student's house?

For me make-ups are about my time and getting paid. I am lenient with parents who respect me. When I don't get respect, I don't budge an inch.

And yes, I have "fired" parents. It's fair. Parents can terminate lessons with us at any time. We should have the same right!


Yes, for my private students, I go to their home. I should have stopped being flexible with this parent long ago. She was annoyed b/c the recital conflicted with a picnic she had to run. They arrived late, and scooted out right after the student played. I will be glad to be rid of them.

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#1707861 - 07/05/11 03:42 PM Re: Did you ever drop student b/c of parent? [Re: chasingrainbows]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4750
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: chasingrainbows

Yes, for my private students, I go to their home. I should have stopped being flexible with this parent long ago. She was annoyed b/c the recital conflicted with a picnic she had to run. They arrived late, and scooted out right after the student played. I will be glad to be rid of them.

We all have dealt with people like that, now and then. But the sooner you sever teaching relationships with them, the better. They are never pleased, they argue about everything and they do not PAY!!!
_________________________
Piano Teacher

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#1707862 - 07/05/11 03:44 PM Re: Did you ever drop student b/c of parent? [Re: chasingrainbows]
chasingrainbows Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/19/06
Posts: 1021
Loc: NJ
And what's even more ironic is that they live in a mansion in a very upscale neighborhood. My fee is a mere pittance to this family.

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#1707872 - 07/05/11 04:00 PM Re: Did you ever drop student b/c of parent? [Re: chasingrainbows]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4750
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: chasingrainbows
And what's even more ironic is that they live in a mansion in a very upscale neighborhood. My fee is a mere pittance to this family.

It's ironic, but it is also VERY common. To such people we are nothing more than servants. This is why I much prefer working with parents who are struggling. I get far more respect from them, and in general their children take lessons much more seriously.

The problem with teaching in other people's homes is that there is no "turf" for the teacher. For me such situations generally put me in a weak position: people at the door, phones ringing, friends coming in and out during lessons, siblings, etc.

That's why I totally gave up teaching in other people's homes MANY years ago!
_________________________
Piano Teacher

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#1707876 - 07/05/11 04:17 PM Re: Did you ever drop student b/c of parent? [Re: david_a]
chasingrainbows Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/19/06
Posts: 1021
Loc: NJ
Originally Posted By: david_a
Originally Posted By: chasingrainbows
I've reminded the parent of my policy, everytime she cancels at the last minute. It is my own fault that she continues to be so inconsiderate. I can easily fill the slot with another student, and plan to do that.
For this particular situation it's too late to change, but with all your other students, the only reminder of your policy should be that they pay you for the lesson in question. Polite reminders, if you make them, MUST come with a bill attached every time; otherwise they function as reminders that the real policy is "students have a lesson whenever they want one".


David, what do you mean "it's too late too change"? Do you think I must now go along with the parent's request for every other week lessons?

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#1707887 - 07/05/11 04:33 PM Re: Did you ever drop student b/c of parent? [Re: chasingrainbows]
bmbutler Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/15/10
Posts: 226
Loc: North Carolina
I am very thankful I never started teaching in homes. I honestly can't believe people do this!
_________________________
Bachelor of Music (church music)
Master of Church Music (organ, music education)
Piano Teacher since 1992
Church Musician since 1983

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