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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: 1214
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: 7417
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: 5593
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 Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/07/07
Posts: 1290
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.
_________________________
Piano blog: Performances, Instruction, Interviews
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 Baldwin, Yamaha Arius141
MTAC Alameda

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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 Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/07/07
Posts: 1290
Loc: Berkeley, California
Inevitably, it has to do with the parent. Once you lose that alliance, it's downhill all the way.
_________________________
Piano blog: Performances, Instruction, Interviews
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 Baldwin, Yamaha Arius141
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]
Overexposed Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2649
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.

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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 Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/07/07
Posts: 1290
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: Performances, Instruction, Interviews
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 Baldwin, Yamaha Arius141
MTAC Alameda

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

Registered: 01/07/07
Posts: 1290
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: Performances, Instruction, Interviews
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 Baldwin, Yamaha Arius141
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: 4814
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: 5593
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: 1214
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: Overexposed]
chasingrainbows Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/19/06
Posts: 1214
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: 1214
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: 1214
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: 1214
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]
Overexposed Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2649
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).

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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: 1214
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: 4814
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: 1214
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: 4814
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: 1214
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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#1707906 - 07/05/11 05:08 PM Re: Did you ever drop student b/c of parent? [Re: chasingrainbows]
music32 Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/07/07
Posts: 1290
Loc: Berkeley, California
That rings familiar.
_________________________
Piano blog: Performances, Instruction, Interviews
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 Baldwin, Yamaha Arius141
MTAC Alameda

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#1708503 - 07/06/11 02:53 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: 1214
Loc: NJ
Originally Posted By: Gary D.
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!


I guess I never really thought about it, but you are absolutely right--my students whose parents are middle or upper middle class are conscientious, rarely miss lessons and are very respectful, as are the parents. This family calls at the last minute, expects make ups or credits, and it seems everything else in their lives is priority over piano lessons and practicing. And I have to ask to be paid, whereas my other parents have the check waiting. It's been very annoying.

There are pro's and con's to teaching in the student's home. I include all possible issues that may arise, in my studio policy (as many as I can think of, that is). It was a starting point in my teaching career until I accumulated more students at the local music store. I don't have the room yet for my own studio, and I'm not even sure that would work for me.

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#1708553 - 07/06/11 04:16 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: 4814
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: chasingrainbows

There are pro's and con's to teaching in the student's home. I include all possible issues that may arise, in my studio policy (as many as I can think of, that is). It was a starting point in my teaching career until I accumulated more students at the local music store. I don't have the room yet for my own studio, and I'm not even sure that would work for me.

I mentioned elsewhere a situation in which I decided to go to a home. It was quite some time ago, but the experience was excellent. I simply think that we need to be VERY careful to protect ourselves, and one way to do it is to make sure we get paid in advance, that we stick to our policies, and that we do not allow ourselves to be treated as servants!
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#1709167 - 07/07/11 03:39 PM Re: Did you ever drop student b/c of parent? [Re: chasingrainbows]
chasingrainbows Offline
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To all who responded: I contacted the parent in question and of course, they didn't answer, so i left a message that I was unable to schedule every other week lessons and if and when they were ready to begin weekly lessons, they could contact me. I also extended wishes to them for an enjoyable summer. No return call. And I am relieved. It's so very hard to let go of students. But the longer I teach, the easier it is getting. I can understand why so many teachers include a no make up policy.

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#1709176 - 07/07/11 03:47 PM Re: Did you ever drop student b/c of parent? [Re: chasingrainbows]
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chasingrainbows,
Thanks for the update. Congratulations on getting closure with this problem. smile

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#1717429 - 07/20/11 06:19 PM Re: Did you ever drop student b/c of parent? [Re: chasingrainbows]
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I would exit, as I have encountered the same. I call it the extra musical dramas.
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#1717434 - 07/20/11 06:27 PM Re: Did you ever drop student b/c of parent? [Re: chasingrainbows]
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I had a quirky situation with a parent, where she was recommended by one of my current student's moms and lived a stone's throw from my studio. Little did I know that she was interviewing other teachers, until the end of what she termed a "trial lesson." The child, age 7, literally HATED the piano as evidenced by her behavior. Was studying with another teacher for about 9 months, and apparently mom thought the current teacher was not "clicking" with her daughter. Frankly, I could see why the teacher would not "click" with this student given her attitude, and reluctance to take piano in the first place.
When all was said and done, I was to "await" mom's decision about the lessons.. Well, I found the whole scenario not to my liking, and as soon as I got home from the Bay area, E-mailed the mom, with Subject Title "My Decision," which obviously precluded hers. I see a lot of this "trying out teachers" with the primer kids, and a lot of these parents think the grass is greener over the fence. Rather than tell the child to practice thoughtfully as the current teacher recommends, many parents would rather look for the Garden of Eden.


Edited by music32 (07/20/11 06:33 PM)
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#1717460 - 07/20/11 07:00 PM Re: Did you ever drop student b/c of parent? [Re: chasingrainbows]
david_a Offline
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Originally Posted By: chasingrainbows
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?
Sorry, I didn't see your question when you wrote it. I meant that with this student, it's a bit late to start enforcing your policy now, because you've let them get away with not following it for so long - but with your newer students, don't ever let them get that way in the first place.
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#1717470 - 07/20/11 07:10 PM Re: Did you ever drop student b/c of parent? [Re: david_a]
Gary D. Offline
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Originally Posted By: david_a
I meant that with this student, it's a bit late to start enforcing your policy now, because you've let them get away with not following it for so long - but with your newer students, don't ever let them get that way in the first place.

You are so right. Once students or (parents of young students) get used to stretching rules, it's impossible to change things.

I don't mind making acceptions for people who are appreciative and show me respect, but when I feel "pushed" by people who take advantage and who do not show me respect, they will not get anything extra out of me, including an extra 30 seconds of lesson time. With those people I give them exactly what they pay for, and nothing more.

It becomes hard for me when I'm working with children who are appreciative and respectful, but their *parents* are not.
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#1717485 - 07/20/11 07:27 PM Re: Did you ever drop student b/c of parent? [Re: Gary D.]
music32 Online   content
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Applause..
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#1717489 - 07/20/11 07:29 PM Re: Did you ever drop student b/c of parent? [Re: chasingrainbows]
music32 Online   content
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There are many parents who are uninvolved with their children's lessons, except when they want to "stretch" the envelope. I've seen just about everything. You can sometimes set down rules, and they may be adhered to for a short time, until the testing comes.

I still call it the extra musical dramas..and sad that we have to deal with too many of them.
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#1717509 - 07/20/11 08:06 PM Re: Did you ever drop student b/c of parent? [Re: chasingrainbows]
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I can't tell you how interesting these round-the-campfire complaint sessions are ...
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#1717813 - 07/21/11 08:15 AM Re: Did you ever drop student b/c of parent? [Re: chasingrainbows]
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Here's a good test. If you are spending precious time and energy dwelling on a particular student or parent, and it has nothing to do with progress at the piano but rather with your relationship with them, it is time to move on.

Earlier in my teaching career, I considered myself to have failed if a particular situation didn't work out. However, I later became aware how just one or two bad apples could adversely affect my entire mindset toward teaching, even with my other students. The time and energy wasted stewing over a bad relationship could always be better spent on other things.

When I would look at my studio, I would notice that most of my students (and their families) GOT what I was about as a teacher. They appreciated what I had to offer them, were happy to pay for it, and in return I busted my butt being the best teacher I possibly could for them. Now, they weren't all model students, but they were good fits to my teaching style. I decided then and there that I wanted to fill my teaching hours with only these kinds of students. This means that it can take longer to fill your schedule, and that you may have gaps in your schedule that go unfilled for a while when a student leaves, but in the long run you will be much happier.
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#1717869 - 07/21/11 09:46 AM Re: Did you ever drop student b/c of parent? [Re: chasingrainbows]
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I would suggest that whatever the situation is, the decision not be impulsive.

I am in the middle of trying to schedule fall lessons. Some of my students' parents are being as cooperative and gracious as possible, and others are being greedy and selfish. For some reason, everyone this year seems to want Tuesday at 5. I'm getting emails implying that I "owe" a student one thing or another. Do I favor the child who came several times this summer, or the child whose been in my studio for years? Do I prioritize the working parent who has one day off from work, or the jobless parent who has one day off from school, or the parent of the new student whose sibling (who quit) had last year? The parent who digs her heels in deepest usually gets what she wants, but I also resent it the most.

I feel like parents are asking me to play favorites - and like a parent, I love different things about each child, but am not willing to declare that I love one more than another!

It's been so irritating that I am losing sleep, and contemplating just closing my studio. I find myself remembering every criticism, complaint, missed lesson, or late payment, and the situation escalates in my mind.

But I force myself to remember the progress I've seen. The relationships with the children. The good I feel I do. The surge I get from interacting with each and every child (with perhaps one or two exceptions.) Often, the most irritating parent has the most wonderful child!

I know it will work out eventually. This too shall pass. Another month or two, and this will all seem petty.
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#1717970 - 07/21/11 12:31 PM Re: Did you ever drop student b/c of parent? [Re: Lollipop]
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I identify with all that you have said.. having encountered much of the same, but knowing in the end, that the profession is worth embracing for all the right reasons.

But how about this one. A parent wanting to bump another student's time because his kid is traveling in from the mountains.
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#1717983 - 07/21/11 12:48 PM Re: Did you ever drop student b/c of parent? [Re: Piano*Dad]
Overexposed Offline
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Originally Posted By: Piano*Dad
I can't tell you how interesting these round-the-campfire complaint sessions are ...


laugh Thanks PD for a big laugh this morning! I love your description.

Whether the discussion is riveting is up for debate. But I still enjoy reading everyone's posts.

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#1717993 - 07/21/11 12:55 PM Re: Did you ever drop student b/c of parent? [Re: chasingrainbows]
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Lollipop, you have my sympathy in scheduling woes. Your post shows me that there is an advantage to teaching year round (as I do) that I had not appreciated. By teaching through summer, kids keep their lesson time and there is no scrambling for a new spot in the fall.

I might take a whole month off next summer. Or at least 2 or 3 weeks. That is if I can come up with plans within my means. If I'm just going to be home anyway, I'd rather teach. Much more interesting.

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#1718029 - 07/21/11 01:47 PM Re: Did you ever drop student b/c of parent? [Re: chasingrainbows]
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Lollipop, even without teaching year-round, do you have an expectation in your studio that students will keep their same slot in the Fall, with only limited availability of switching depending on what slots open up or on who else asks to switch? Or do you remake your schedule from scratch each year?

[ETA: I hope it's OK to ask. I'm a mere piano student, but I am fascinated reading what teachers have to say. My current daydream is to become proficient enough playing piano to be able to be a piano teacher. I know there's a lot more than playing skill to teaching, but playing skill is the current looooooong challenge for me.]


Edited by PianoStudent88 (07/21/11 01:51 PM)
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#1718047 - 07/21/11 02:13 PM Re: Did you ever drop student b/c of parent? [Re: Overexposed]
rocket88 Offline
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Originally Posted By: Ann in Kentucky
Your post shows me that there is an advantage to teaching year round (as I do) that I had not appreciated. By teaching through summer, kids keep their lesson time and there is no scrambling for a new spot in the fall.


I have never seen it work out that way. Some students have their situations unexpectedly change so they permanently drop out, and some decide in the summer to drop out.

I try to keep everyone happy, so if a student or family has been coming for lessons reliably, and wants to take all or part of the summer off, I will keep that spot open for them in the fall. I will use it in the summer if necessary for other students.

But if they have proven to be unreliable, I tell them I will try to make that time slot work, but to check back later, nearer the fall to see what is open.

This is because I have been burnt by unreliable people who want a time slot reserved, then they do not show up, or want to change it at the last minute.


Edited by rocket88 (07/21/11 02:23 PM)
Edit Reason: clarity
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#1718076 - 07/21/11 02:41 PM Re: Did you ever drop student b/c of parent? [Re: rocket88]
Gary D. Offline
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I teach year round. Students who drop out, even for a month, have no guarantee of getting the same slot back. For me it is first come, first serve. No exceptions.

Therefore no arguments!!!
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#1718077 - 07/21/11 02:43 PM Re: Did you ever drop student b/c of parent? [Re: Piano*Dad]
Gary D. Offline
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Originally Posted By: Piano*Dad
I can't tell you how interesting these round-the-campfire complaint sessions are ...

Not campfire complaints.

Fireside Chats turned into therapy. wink


Edited by Gary D. (07/21/11 02:43 PM)
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#1718097 - 07/21/11 03:08 PM Re: Did you ever drop student b/c of parent? [Re: chasingrainbows]
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Hey, round-the-campfire chats supported by baked beans and whiskey is a form of therapy too ....
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#1718130 - 07/21/11 03:52 PM Re: Did you ever drop student b/c of parent? [Re: david_a]
chasingrainbows Offline
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Originally Posted By: david_a
Originally Posted By: chasingrainbows
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?
Sorry, I didn't see your question when you wrote it. I meant that with this student, it's a bit late to start enforcing your policy now, because you've let them get away with not following it for so long - but with your newer students, don't ever let them get that way in the first place.


David, thanks for clarifying. I have decided that if continue lessons with this family, I will provide a revised policy that I will absolutely abide by. I know the families that will not take advantage, nor feel entitled and those families will get more flexibility.

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#1718131 - 07/21/11 03:53 PM Re: Did you ever drop student b/c of parent? [Re: chasingrainbows]
Lollipop Offline
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My "method" is to allow everyone first dibs on their old spot. For folks who want to switch, I take it as "first come, first served."

This particular issue came up because a family decided to have one child quit at the end of the school year, and their younger child to begin in the fall. Since everyone knew that child quit, there was jostling for her spot. However, the family assumed that they had first dibs on "their" spot, and therefore didn't bother to respond quickly. I asked them if they would be willing to move to 5:30, and they wouldn't even consider it. Apparently that 30 minutes difference messes up dinner, homework, and bedtime. Who knew?

I've gotten spoiled, because in the past, the schedule has fallen neatly into place without problems.
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#1718134 - 07/21/11 03:55 PM Re: Did you ever drop student b/c of parent? [Re: Gary D.]
chasingrainbows Offline
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Originally Posted By: Gary D.
I teach year round. Students who drop out, even for a month, have no guarantee of getting the same slot back. For me it is first come, first serve. No exceptions.

Therefore no arguments!!!


Gary, I agree -- first come first serve. Unfortunately, I cannot rely on promises to return in the Fall, and hold that slot open throughout the summer, only to learn the family cannot return in the Fall, or needs a different day, or time.

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#1718148 - 07/21/11 04:14 PM Re: Did you ever drop student b/c of parent? [Re: Piano*Dad]
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Originally Posted By: Piano*Dad
Hey, round-the-campfire chats supported by baked beans and whiskey is a form of therapy too ....


pianodad, my post wasn't meant as a complaint. I am soliciting the opinions of my esteemed peers who may have more teaching experience, more education, etc. than I. I truly value all the input I receive on this site. I never thought I would be in a position where I dreaded giving a lesson to a student. I didn't realize I would be faced with student after student who really hated piano, didn't practice, didn't show up for lessons, was disrespectful, sulky, rude, etc. I work in a store and there is a huge turnover. When I began teaching, I never would have dreamed that I would drop a student. As music teachers, we obviously share a deep love and passion for music and it's a rude awakening when we encounter students who arrive at the first lesson (assuming they aren't being forced) and seem to really want to learn piano, but once they realize it's not as easy as playing randomly all over the piano, and that practice is required, they quickly deteriorate into a totally different student, no matter what we try to do in each lesson to keep them interested and excited. In those instances, I suggest a short break, or possibly another teacher. I guess it's still hard for me to decide when to let go.

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#1718158 - 07/21/11 04:22 PM Re: Did you ever drop student b/c of parent? [Re: Piano*Dad]
Gary D. Offline
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Originally Posted By: Piano*Dad
Hey, round-the-campfire chats supported by baked beans and whiskey is a form of therapy too ....

Unfortunately, I often dash off comments between students, so the whisky fumes and [ehem] possible side-effects of the beans might not go over very well. <wry grin>

On a more serious note, to everyone:

I have learned these things, the hard way:

1) Last year's "loyal students/families", when they drop lessons, may or may not return. And how loyal/serious are the families who simply stop all summer, without a very good reason?

2) Students who start in the summer may become serious students who continue year-round. Why alienate them by bumping them from *their* times when they are here *now*?

3) Serious students who are away a couple weeks, at least in my life, will either:

a) Pay for lessons they miss with the agreement that we will reschedule them at times convenient for all of us, thus keeping their slots.

b) Go off schedule and take any time slot I have that works, after they return.

As long as those guidelines stay in place, I have no problems except with trouble-makers, and they are welcome to make some *other* teacher's life miserable
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#1718212 - 07/21/11 05:32 PM Re: Did you ever drop student b/c of parent? [Re: chasingrainbows]
Gary D. Offline
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Originally Posted By: chasingrainbows

pianodad, my post wasn't meant as a complaint.

Hey, let's say you are venting a little.

We all do it sometimes.

I have really good days.

I also have days where I curse the day I decided to become a teacher.

Most days are somewhere in between. smile
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#1718235 - 07/21/11 06:09 PM Re: Did you ever drop student b/c of parent? [Re: chasingrainbows]
Piano*Dad Online   content
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chasingrainbows,

My light jab was not directed specifically at your original post. But when a thread on the teachers forum turns into serial story swapping, and in this case it turned into serial parent bashing for a little while, then the thread at that point can aptly be described using my little campfire chat analogy. I thought I had pulled off a gentle critique with a touch of humor.
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#1718243 - 07/21/11 06:18 PM Re: Did you ever drop student b/c of parent? [Re: chasingrainbows]
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No problem, Gary. I was a little surprised at your comment, b/c my OP was really not my kind of "venting." When I vent, it's usually much more intense. smile I like to think of our replies as sharing, but there are times I do vent, I will totally admit to that.

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#1718249 - 07/21/11 06:27 PM Re: Did you ever drop student b/c of parent? [Re: chasingrainbows]
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pianodad, oops, I directed my reply for you to Gary my mistake. sorry, no offense taken. Gary, ignore my last post. Time to sign off.............

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#1718379 - 07/21/11 11:08 PM Re: Did you ever drop student b/c of parent? [Re: chasingrainbows]
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What you say is right on target..There are some rude awakenings associated with being a piano teacher.. while there are high points...the hope is to keep the balance in the right direction.
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#1718467 - 07/22/11 02:29 AM Re: Did you ever drop student b/c of parent? [Re: Gary D.]
AZNpiano Offline
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Originally Posted By: Gary D.
Hey, let's say you are venting a little.

We all do it sometimes.


I think we need to do it more often! It's healthy to vent.

Just today I gave my worst student quite a lecture! I was sick of seeing the same problems, done week after week, with absolutely NO SIGN of improvement.

Then I carried that "teacher mode" over to the next two students, and gave them my "death stare." I was not nice at all, and I picked on even the smallest problems, and I dished out zero praise.

All three lessons were the post productive in months!!!

Note to self: occasional brutal honesty can be quite effective.
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#1718476 - 07/22/11 03:06 AM Re: Did you ever drop student b/c of parent? [Re: AZNpiano]
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I've mellowed. smile

When I was in my 20s I was much tougher. Two of my former students (both in their 40s now!!!) have joked with me recently about times I sent them home, one time each, for not practicing.

On both occasions I told them: "Come back next week when you have practiced."

And both told me they are very glad I did it. It taught them a lesson.

But these days I *try* to make my points more subtly. Two days ago, I think, a six year-old told me that he didn't want to do what I told him to do first. All my students use a keyboard chart, mine, and they have to play through one piece without it, saying every note name. It is my way of testing to make sure that they are absorbing the note names. I tell them that the chart is "training wheels" and we have to get rid of those "training wheels" as soon as possible.

So while I am working ahead, with the chart, I review every page, one by one, from the beginning, with OUT the chart and with counting. I then push to "catch up" to the front of the book, which I am creating in each lesson with my own materials, until all old pages have been covered, note reading is solid, counting is solid.

So when the six year-old said he didn't want to do the page with the notes, as I asked him to, and his mother (part of the lesson) said she hasn't been doing it because he "resists", I told him:

"You don't have to do the notes if you don't want to. But you will have to work with another teacher."

I smiled. But I was totally serious!

Some things are not negotiable. Some things CAN'T be negotiable, and if we don't hold our ground now, we don't have a chance of teaching in a productive way, ever. smile
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#1718842 - 07/22/11 04:59 PM Re: Did you ever drop student b/c of parent? [Re: chasingrainbows]
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Gary, that is a wonderful way to handle situations like that - and we've all been in them. I have young ones who tell me they don't want to do something (even as simple as keeping both hands on the piano, or not hanging thumbs under the piano!) as often as not. Usually I explain why they should do a particular instruction, but if they continue to resist, I will use your response.

I know a local (extremely booked) teacher who tells her students "don't come back until you've fixed that measure."

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#1718845 - 07/22/11 05:03 PM Re: Did you ever drop student b/c of parent? [Re: AZNpiano]
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Posts: 1214
Loc: NJ
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
Originally Posted By: Gary D.
Hey, let's say you are venting a little.

We all do it sometimes.


I think we need to do it more often! It's healthy to vent.

Just today I gave my worst student quite a lecture! I was sick of seeing the same problems, done week after week, with absolutely NO SIGN of improvement.

Then I carried that "teacher mode" over to the next two students, and gave them my "death stare." I was not nice at all, and I picked on even the smallest problems, and I dished out zero praise.

All three lessons were the post productive in months!!!

Note to self: occasional brutal honesty can be quite effective.


Yes, sometimes I drop the nice, easygoing, positive teacher mode and show some "tough love." Particularly annoying is when students play while I am talking. After nicely asking a 12 year old to please not play the piano while I'm talking, I finally went into teacher mode. He didn't do that again. smile

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