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#1983556 - 11/06/12 07:38 PM what are the best teaching hours and situation?
Beth_Frances Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/14/12
Posts: 170
Loc: Brisbane, Australia
I am trying to decide what will be best for myself in the new year. I'm really not happy with my current situation and need to change it. Just wondering if it's a case of grass is greener, and what all of your favourite teaching situations have been?

I started out in a "music school". Worst teaching situation, and glad to have left that behind.

Then got a position in a school, working before and after school. Once my home situation changed and I could teach from home, that changed to only teaching at the school in the mornings. The mornings lessons are highly in demand, and i easily filled 7 - 9:30am but found myself exhausted so changed to starting at 7:30am.

The benefit of working there is that the word of mouth fills my home studio as well as giving me work in the morning. This is big for me - it keeps me employed and I know i shouldn't underestimate how lucky I am to effortlessly have a constant flow of new students.

The drawbacks are that they have me teaching on an absolute clunker that is in a windowless storage room next to the toilets (I kid you not), and I have to pay $1000 a year for the use of this space. People use it as a hallway, constantly walking through it, and sometimes groups of teachers or parents will stop in there or in the toilets and have a loud conversation (so rude it blows my mind). Not only that, but for the 9am lesson I have to go to a different location and teach on a basic cheap keyboard that has less than 88 keys for the last lesson of the day. There is also a lot of animosity from the teachers who don't like the noise near their classrooms every morning, which being something of a people pleaser makes me feel ridiculously anxious and uncomfortable.

I have seen other people post on here with similar school stories. Are all school teaching positions this bad??!

I know I teach a lot better in the morning, so I'm hesitant to give that up, but the split day, starting very early and ending as late as 8pm with a big yawning gap in the middle is starting to do my head in. I'm wondering if I slept in and didn't teach in the morning if I'd teach better in the afternoon than I currently do. Also if i scheduled gaps in the afternoon (which I don't currently do). I'm the sort of person who would probably just teach through the gaps though, giving people extra time for free, which negates the purpose.

This might just be end-of-year-itis but I'm feeling fed up!
_________________________
www.youtube.com/tinymozarts

http://www.bookdepository.com/?a_aid=75318 (great range of piano music, with free shipping to 90 countries)

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#1983561 - 11/06/12 08:29 PM Re: what are the best teaching hours and situation? [Re: Beth_Frances]
pianomouse Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/17/12
Posts: 87
Loc: Europe
Dear Beth
Frankly, I would stop teaching at that school in the mornings. The situation there sounds just awful, and apart from being a terrible setting for teaching, it's obvious that you aren't the least respected. Most of us always try to find the silver-lining of a teaching situation, but as you describe it, there is none.
If you can get up later, you'll certainly feel much more energy for teaching in the afternoon/evening. Most certainly, you'll also feel a lot of new energy just from being rid of that teaching situation which is bothering you so much.
Besides, by now your reputation as a teacher must have spreaded enough, so you may be comfortable with just teaching in the afternoons and still get enough new students.
Good luck! smile
_________________________
The piano keys are black and white,
But they sound like a million colours in your mind.
(Katie Melua)

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#1983572 - 11/06/12 09:21 PM Re: what are the best teaching hours and situation? [Re: Beth_Frances]
ezpiano.org Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/10/11
Posts: 958
Loc: Irvine, CA
Best teaching hours and situation for me.....(in my dream)

1. Having a plenty bedrooms house
2. Teach at living room with at least two grand pianos
3. Having computer station set up in one bedroom for students to use
4. Teaching from 10am to 12 noon, then 1pm to 4pm (total of 5 hours) Mondays to Fridays. Do not need to teach Saturdays
5. Commute from my bedroom to my living room everyday

Okay, well, only in my dream, will not happen at all.
_________________________
http://ezpiano.org
Piano lessons in Irvine, CA
Watch the introduction video on YouTube
@ http://bit.ly/Ready123

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#1983575 - 11/06/12 09:28 PM Re: what are the best teaching hours and situation? [Re: Beth_Frances]
Beth_Frances Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/14/12
Posts: 170
Loc: Brisbane, Australia
Thankyou pianomouse - sometimes I feel like I am acting spoilt by being annoyed by and feeling disrespected by the school, so it's reassuring to hear from someone else who thinks it sounds awful too.

Ez - good one! My dream world also consists of those hours and the side by side grands! If only I could break into the homeschooling market...
_________________________
www.youtube.com/tinymozarts

http://www.bookdepository.com/?a_aid=75318 (great range of piano music, with free shipping to 90 countries)

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#1983595 - 11/06/12 11:07 PM What are the best teaching hours and situation? [Re: Beth_Frances]
LoPresti Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/07/10
Posts: 1304
Loc: New York
Not being faced with the situation, it is easier to play "What if . . .":

Instead of simply abandoning the school situation, which according to you is a good thing in several ways, how about giving them a chance to fix the problems?

"For my thousand dollars, I need a place that is conducive to giving music lessons. It needs to be either sound-proof, or isolated, where my lessons are not disturbing any other teaching, and no one else is disturbing my students. It can not be trafficed. The piano needs to be tuned and regulated periodically, or as needed. I can no longer teach any students on a toy keyboard, because it is not fair to them, nor to me."

The school may enjoy receiving your annual contribution, and find a way to accomidate your request. If not, then . . .
_________________________
In music, everything one does correctly helps everything else.

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#1983621 - 11/07/12 01:25 AM Re: what are the best teaching hours and situation? [Re: Beth_Frances]
AZNpiano Online   sleepy
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5271
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: Beth_Frances
The drawbacks are that they have me teaching on an absolute clunker that is in a windowless storage room next to the toilets (I kid you not)

Unless I'm desperate, that would have been a deal-breaker for me. Seriously? Toilets?
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#1983692 - 11/07/12 08:08 AM Re: what are the best teaching hours and situation? [Re: Beth_Frances]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 10742
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
How many students are you teaching for your $1000 per year fee? That seems pretty steep for what you are getting, but perhaps if you figure it in terms of how much money per student you are paying to teach next to toilets in a closet, it may tip the scales for you.

I'm pretty sure with your students you could inform them that you will be glad to teach them in the morning from your home, or find a mutually convenient time after school.

I have found that there are some situations as a young teacher that you put up with to get students and experience, but at some point those things wear on you, and you don't need them anymore. If the students love piano and studying with you, then they will find a time to meet you at your home where you can control the learning environment and instrument.
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#1983727 - 11/07/12 11:01 AM Re: what are the best teaching hours and situation? [Re: Beth_Frances]
Ann in Kentucky Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2643
Loc: Kentucky
Hi Beth,

You have my sympathy. It is not easy finding a boat that floats.

If you decide to continue at the school, here are some suggestions. To deal with the clunker you may be able to negotiate. Perhaps find a used piano or DP for $1,000 and offer to purchase it for the school in exchange for one year of studio rent.

It's worth a try to get the piano in a better location. Look over every nook and cranny in the school and see if you can come up with a better solution. If nothing else is available, then I'd take a can of Febreze and spray it in the bathroom or just outside the door each day.
_________________________
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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#1983736 - 11/07/12 11:41 AM Re: what are the best teaching hours and situation? [Re: Ann in Kentucky]
LoPresti Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/07/10
Posts: 1304
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: Ann in Kentucky
It is not easy finding a boat that floats.

That is precisely why they are For Sale (or For Rent, in this case.) If they floated, they would not be available.
_________________________
In music, everything one does correctly helps everything else.

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#1983772 - 11/07/12 01:30 PM Re: what are the best teaching hours and situation? [Re: Beth_Frances]
Ann in Kentucky Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2643
Loc: Kentucky
Yes, the boat this school offers definitely has some big holes in it.

What I mean is that we all have to find a means of earning a living--a means of staying afloat financially. And it's not easy to find what works.


Edited by Ann in Kentucky (11/07/12 01:34 PM)
_________________________
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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#1983783 - 11/07/12 01:54 PM Re: what are the best teaching hours and situation? [Re: Beth_Frances]
missbelle Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/24/12
Posts: 84
Loc: USA
I teach at a school, and have been in four different rooms. All but one has been ok.

The one is not as bad as yours!

At least I have a full sized keyboard, yet it is often not set up so I have to recruit helpers to "assemble" it onto the stand, and plug in the right cables. Sometimes I have to play "find the music stand."

The room is an admin asst. office, so sometimes she is still there, making phone calls! Or her kids come in after school to "see where mom is."

Fortunately I only have four students in that room on that thing.

Ideally, I would teach at home, with 10 minute or so breaks every 3-4 lessons to take notes, make copies, use the restroom, etc...instead of being slammed every 30 minutes with zero breaks for 3-4 hours solid at a time!

I would need another piano, a copy machine, a fun music rug, a waiting room with music games and books, a great sound system for music history and appreciation lessons, and a collection of other instruments because I would also teach my own version of KinderMusik and grammar music class.

Ok, back to reality.

Teaching at a school is great for me, because I get paid direct deposit from the school, and I do not have any indications of who has or has not paid, so I have no pre-conceived notions. The school instituted a "no make-ups" policy this year since we have so little availability, except of Friday afternoons, and no one seems to want to take a make-up lesson then...go figure?

I have no rental space fee. I know the school charges 12-15% of the cost for rent for camps and outside meetings. Are you making enough to cover the $1000 fee?

Good luck. Teaching students at a school lends well for scheduling by following the school calendar, but you have to consider the trade-off of work conditions.

If you are seen as "help" instead of adjunct faculty, and some people do not "get" music, you may need to plead a strong case for a respectable location and instrument, and yet be prepared for fall-out.

As for scheduling "gaps"--if you can, great! I do not have that option as the school schedules all the after school teachers back to back to back with not even a minute break. I use my phone as a timer and sometimes have to help a child pack-out as I greet the next student. I am almost happy when a studnet is a few minutes late so I can drink some water, neaten up books, nibble a bit, hey, even run through some music!! smile
_________________________
Learning as I teach.

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#1983834 - 11/07/12 04:42 PM Re: what are the best teaching hours and situation? [Re: Beth_Frances]
Candywoman Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/14/03
Posts: 823
When you didn't have the afternoon students at your school, they came to your home. Why couldn't the morning students do the same?

I would absolutely stop with the school. Create your best situation. Otherwise, it's kind of like a young woman complaining about her boyfriend. There are millions of other good men, and she chooses to complain about the one bad guy that happened to drop into her life. Move on and have no regrets. Don't even look back and wonder. To get the strength to do this, simply engineer a short vacation for yourself. Meet with another successful piano teacher in the neighborhood or surroundings. And realize she's not putting up with the stuff you are, so why are you?

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#1985507 - 11/11/12 08:21 PM Re: what are the best teaching hours and situation? [Re: Beth_Frances]
Beth_Frances Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/14/12
Posts: 170
Loc: Brisbane, Australia
I have tried to talk to the school about my concerns before. They just brush me aside. Honestly I am getting the very strong feeling that they want me OUT and are trying to elbow me towards the door. The school had a different principal when I first started working there. The first principal was super supportive and appreciated having additional music in the school. He would ask if there was anything I needed, stayed in touch with how I was going on a regular basis and passed on parent feedback, and frequently stopped by to listen in on my lessons and encourage the kids.

The new principal hasn't made me feel welcome once. She ignores emails I send her, and never pays any attention to what I do in the school. In a meeting with her after she'd been principal for almost a year she said something about how I work there once a week and I had to inform her actually no, I'm here EVERY MORNING. She just pulled a confused face and said "oh, I thought you were only here on Tuesdays." Can't help but feel that there was a bit of psychological warfare going on there - surely she didn't seriously not notice I'm there every day...

Currently I have 24 lessons per week that are with students from the school. That is over half my entire studio. It's worth paying the $25 fee for, were the situation more pleasant. I just feel like I'm not really respecting myself to stay in a situation where I am being treated so dismally. I really don't think I deserve it.

The hallway/storage closet that I'm in is at the back of the airy breezy large school hall. The piano was put in there briefly for a school concert, and the schools health and safety officer told me she would be reccommending it stay there as she didn't think it was safe where it was (I'm not sure why it wouldn't be safe - maybe she just felt sorry for me?!) but that didn't go down and it was soon back in the dungeon. I think this is due to the teachers not wanting to listen to the lessons, as on the other side of the hall is the staff room. So much for being a kid-centred school where the priority is the child, as they claim! And they don't want the piano moved to any other part of the school, because then it wouldn't be able to be easily wheeled into the hall for end of term dos etc. With the fees I'm paying they could easily buy *another* piano to go elsewhere in the school as I have suggested...but no. They don't want to do that.

I'm sure I would keep most of the morning students if I leave. My concern is for 2 years down the track, when all of the word of mouth from the school dries up and I don't have a constant well to pull new students from.

Gahhh. The other thing is that I'm thinking of moving to a suburb 10 minutes from where I am now, making it a 20 minute drive to lessons instead of the 10 minute drive it is currently. I'm not sure how many people this will be a deal breaker for so I guess i don't want to burn 2 bridges at once. I'm just getting to a point where I can't take this any longer and still preserve my sanity.

Thanks for the support from you all, it's really appreciated smile
_________________________
www.youtube.com/tinymozarts

http://www.bookdepository.com/?a_aid=75318 (great range of piano music, with free shipping to 90 countries)

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#1985521 - 11/11/12 08:53 PM Re: what are the best teaching hours and situation? [Re: Beth_Frances]
Ann in Kentucky Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2643
Loc: Kentucky
Beth,

Sanity first! Leave that crappy environment!

I see one positive here: You would likely keep most of your morning students.

Word of mouth referrals are not coming from the school. After all, the principal only thought you were there once a week. The referrals are coming from students and parents. Teaching from home won't take that away.

Changing location is a risk. But no use worrying over that.

By leaving the school, you're not burning any bridges-- except the bridge to insanity (which you didn't want to cross anyway).
_________________________
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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#1985554 - 11/11/12 11:12 PM Re: what are the best teaching hours and situation? [Re: Beth_Frances]
currawong Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5834
Loc: Down Under
Originally Posted By: Beth_Frances
Are all school teaching positions this bad??!
Actually no, they're not. I know quite a few people who have decent conditions teaching instruments/voice at private schools. Maybe you could look around for another school situation as well.... but I hear what you're saying about the end-of-year-itis! smile
_________________________
Du holde Kunst...

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#1985568 - 11/12/12 12:12 AM Re: what are the best teaching hours and situation? [Re: Ann in Kentucky]
AZNpiano Online   sleepy
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5271
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: Ann in Kentucky
the bridge to insanity

Nice one! thumb
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#1985652 - 11/12/12 08:47 AM Re: what are the best teaching hours and situation? [Re: currawong]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 10742
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: currawong
Originally Posted By: Beth_Frances
Are all school teaching positions this bad??!
Actually no, they're not. I know quite a few people who have decent conditions teaching instruments/voice at private schools. Maybe you could look around for another school situation as well.... but I hear what you're saying about the end-of-year-itis! smile


It's hard to say, because most talked about on this forum are bad. That may be an unfair assessment simply because people post on here to discuss problems usually and not to say what's going right.

I taught in a music store early on in my teaching career and they charged me $2/student/week as rent. My room was a small closet-like space in a basement with no windows, but they did let me paint the walls and I put a little area rug in there for some decoration. I was very happy with this arrangement and only ended it when I moved into town and no longer had a need to teach from there. I determined my rates for teaching and collected payment from my students.

I think this sort of setup is much better than being an employee or one where you have less control over what you charge. The worst thing is feeling unappreciated though, either through pay or through how they treat you. Beth_Frances, I would look around at all your options, even the possibility of renting your own studio space.
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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