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#2262148 - 04/15/14 01:34 PM Relocating...how best to break the news
Suzannah Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 04/14/14
Posts: 2
Hello,
4 years ago, I moved to rural Wisconsin with the intention of making it my permanent home. I began teaching piano immediately, and have since built up to 25 students. There has been ups and downs, of course, but I absolutely love teaching, and love my students, many who have been with me since the start. My husband and I recently came to the decision to move to a larger town/city,sometime in September, and I am struggling with how to tell my students that I am leaving. Is it best to put it in a letter? To tell them in person, with their parents, or just speak to the parents about it? There are not a whole lot of teachers or pianists in this area, and I hate to leave them without someone who I can recommend. Any ideas on how to handle this situation gracefully?

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#2262177 - 04/15/14 02:31 PM Re: Relocating...how best to break the news [Re: Suzannah]
Peter K. Mose Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/06/12
Posts: 1313
Loc: Toronto, Ontario
First thought that comes to mind is to do some sleuthing to see if you can find an area person or two you *can* recommend.

Then you can send out a letter, or tell your students and their families in person, as you wish.

Fortunately you have a little time here.

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#2262251 - 04/15/14 04:52 PM Re: Relocating...how best to break the news [Re: Suzannah]
spanishbuddha Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/08/09
Posts: 2319
Loc: UK
Give each student a program for continuation, and offer Skype for a transition period?

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#2262586 - 04/16/14 12:44 PM Re: Relocating...how best to break the news [Re: Suzannah]
Peter K. Mose Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/06/12
Posts: 1313
Loc: Toronto, Ontario
If you are willing to try the Skype approach, and learn the technology in the next couple of months, I'm sure a few of your students would be willing to give it a try also.

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#2262592 - 04/16/14 12:55 PM Re: Relocating...how best to break the news [Re: Suzannah]
Morodiene Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11405
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Where in WI? There are lots of teachers around the state, even in rural areas. When I left Wausau for Florida, I had referred what students I could to other teachers I knew well that would suit their needs and personalities. There were some students who wanted to continue learning from me via Skype. I do see them when I return to visit during Christmas and over the summer, however. If there is no one else available, it's better than nothing for them.
_________________________
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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#2262699 - 04/16/14 05:28 PM Re: Relocating...how best to break the news [Re: Suzannah]
Candywoman Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/14/03
Posts: 832
You're not married to your students. While it might be nice to refer them to another teacher, it certainly isn't necessary. Make the break and wish them all the best. I would not start with Skype. I would just move on and cherish the moments I've shared with them. They will all survive, just as they did before you came along.

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#2262721 - 04/16/14 06:24 PM Re: Relocating...how best to break the news [Re: Suzannah]
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11549
Loc: Canada
.

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#2262784 - 04/16/14 08:32 PM Re: Relocating...how best to break the news [Re: Suzannah]
malkin Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/09
Posts: 2406
Loc: *sigh* Salt Lake City
As a student, I know I would appreciate a referral.
_________________________
A good student is one who makes the teacher feel like a good teacher.

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#2262802 - 04/16/14 09:57 PM Re: Relocating...how best to break the news [Re: malkin]
ezpiano.org Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/10/11
Posts: 1002
Loc: Irvine, CA
Originally Posted By: malkin
As a student, I know I would appreciate a referral.


Totally agree with that.

How about doing some research around your area, finding a few teachers and their teaching style and give the students the choice of who they want to continue with.
_________________________
http://ezpiano.org
Piano lessons in Irvine, CA
Watch the introduction video on YouTube
@ http://bit.ly/Ready123

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#2263337 - 04/18/14 03:33 AM Re: Relocating...how best to break the news [Re: Suzannah]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5414
Loc: Orange County, CA
A few years ago one of my MTAC colleagues moved, and she referred her students to several colleagues (myself included) who were looking for students. She compiled a list of teachers and phone numbers, and then she gave the list to her students' families at their last lesson.

Even though I didn't get any students as a result, I appreciated her doing so.
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#2263451 - 04/18/14 10:20 AM Re: Relocating...how best to break the news [Re: Candywoman]
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11549
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: Candywoman
You're not married to your students. While it might be nice to refer them to another teacher, it certainly isn't necessary. Make the break and wish them all the best. I would not start with Skype. I would just move on and cherish the moments I've shared with them. They will all survive, just as they did before you came along.

My thought is that this is a professional matter. If a professional - engineer, financial adviser, consultant, etc. - has to drop out in the middle of a project - then he will recommend a colleague whose work he knows so that the project won't founder. Well, the work a teacher and student do together is like a project. You're not teaching a bunch of pieces which any old person can continue; you're developing the student. It's very hard for students to find decent new teachers, so helping with that is a professional courtesy, if you can do it.

It is nothing like marriage where if spouses separate, the husband doesn't try to find a new husband for his wife or vice versa. wink The continued learning of a student is not an emotional matter. (Except that it can in fact be heartbreaking if a special teacher of several years moves away. heart )

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#2263466 - 04/18/14 10:56 AM Re: Relocating...how best to break the news [Re: Suzannah]
Suzannah Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 04/14/14
Posts: 2
Thank you everyone for your advice. I live in St. Croix Falls, WI, which is along the St. Croix River Valley in NW Wisconsin. I know there are other teachers in the area, but I know very little about them. One of the better teachers in the area retired a few years ago, and I actually ended up with some of his students. What I keep hearing from parents of transfer students is that their previous teachers were far too "easy", always letting the kids pass to a new song each week, no matter what the old one sounded like. I worry about a referring my students to a teacher who, either doesn't know enough to correct, or doesn't want to take the time to. I know...worries we all have, right? But there are just too many teachers who shouldn't be teaching. I do like the idea of a program of continuation--I've started writing up a page of each student listing their strengths and some of their weaknesses, and things they could work on to improve. I thought it would be nice to sit down with each student and their parents, and go through it with them. As far as skype goes, I don't know if that would be the right direction for me. I've used it before, and the idea of teaching through it seems overly complicated. I'm about the least technically savvy younger person you'd meet. I think I'm going to scout out some of the teachers in the area, and see what their teaching methods are.

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#2263467 - 04/18/14 10:57 AM Re: Relocating...how best to break the news [Re: Suzannah]
Nikolas Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 5209
Loc: Europe
But a 10 year student - teacher relationship, is not a project... So...

Plus as with every project based work, one can quit with some penalties and restrictions some times (especially in the building industry and the software industry), but...
_________________________
http://www.musica-ferrum.com

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#2263481 - 04/18/14 11:34 AM Re: Relocating...how best to break the news [Re: Suzannah]
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3149
Loc: Virginia, USA
I don't think you are obligated to find a teacher of equal ability for each student.

Fnding a good teacher who is a fit for the student is often difficult but ultimately that is the parent's job, not yours.

If you built that studio in 4 years, it is likely that the local good teacher pool is pretty small. There's nothing you can do about that.

If you give recommendations, inevitably you must recommend teachers who don't meet your standards. And there may be some bad teachers out there you'd love to warn parents about, but that road can lead to disaster.

I think your best choice is to give them as much warning as possible so they can start the search.
_________________________
gotta go practice

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#2263482 - 04/18/14 11:35 AM Re: Relocating...how best to break the news [Re: Nikolas]
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11549
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: Nikolas
But a 10 year student - teacher relationship, is not a project... So...


The 10 year student (assuming 10 years with (a) decent teacher(s) is on pretty safe ground. He will have a solid base in technique as well as music, so that can't get compromised. He also has enough experience that he can judge when interviewing a new teacher. Plus his needs are not developmental.

But what about a student who is closer to beginner, with parents who do not have a background in music? The teacher who is leaving will have been developing that student along a particular path, and the student is in mid-process without understanding that process. How do that student and his parent choose another teacher to continue a process that they themselves don't understand? What is the risk of getting the wrong teacher? That's what I'm thinking of.

Quote:
Plus as with every project based work, one can quit with some penalties and restrictions some times (especially in the building industry and the software industry), but...

This is the economic and business side. I'm thinking of goals and results, which is another side of it. And by "project" I mean a set of goals that you are trying to reach - not an assignment by an employer.

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#2263484 - 04/18/14 11:38 AM Re: Relocating...how best to break the news [Re: TimR]
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11549
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: TimR

Fnding a good teacher who is a fit for the student is often difficult but ultimately that is the parent's job, not yours.

And what qualifications does a parent have to enable him to select the next teacher who will continue what the first teacher set out to do (and which the parent may not understand)? If I have hired an expert to do something, and the expert has to leave in the middle of it, then I would be thankful for any recommendation that the expert can give me. In the very least, what to look for, what the needs of this particular child might be, and so on. I well remember when I was the parent looking for a teacher for my child. I really didn't know what to look for because I had never had music lessons myself.

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#2263551 - 04/18/14 02:09 PM Re: Relocating...how best to break the news [Re: keystring]
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3149
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: keystring
Originally Posted By: TimR

Fnding a good teacher who is a fit for the student is often difficult but ultimately that is the parent's job, not yours.

And what qualifications does a parent have to enable him to select the next teacher who will continue what the first teacher set out to do (and which the parent may not understand)?


Did I mention it is a difficult task?

Yeah, I think I did.

But it isn't any easier for the teacher to do this search. Teachers don't get to watch each other work. They have the only the same access to word of mouth reputation as anybody else.

If they've been in an area for decades, they'll probably know the names of everybody else who teaches, and may have accepted a few transfer students. If the transfer student came from a worse teacher, they wouldn't want to recommend. And if the transfer student had a better teacher, why did they change?

If this teacher built a successful studio so quickly, she may be the best teacher in the area now. How does she in good conscience recommend anybody?
_________________________
gotta go practice

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#2263554 - 04/18/14 02:14 PM Re: Relocating...how best to break the news [Re: TimR]
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11549
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: TimR

Yeah, I think I did.

But it isn't any easier for the teacher to do this search.

A teacher knows what to look for and what is needed. A parent without music background doesn't. If you have no knowledge, what will you base yourself on? I know that teachers can give guidance to the students they are leaving behind, and I have also read more than once here about teachers recommending teachers or passing their students on, when they have to move away. It isn't compulsory, but it is certainly a good thing to do.

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#2263603 - 04/18/14 03:25 PM Re: Relocating...how best to break the news [Re: keystring]
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3149
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: keystring
Originally Posted By: TimR

Yeah, I think I did.

But it isn't any easier for the teacher to do this search.

A teacher knows what to look for and what is needed.

Agreed. The good ones anyway.

Quote:
A parent without music background doesn't

Also true.

But, the parent can take a sample lesson with each of the area teachers.

A teacher cannot do that. Teachers have no access to each other while working, outside of the piano school settings, and even there it is usually limited.

There is a sort of exception to this, I think. Teachers who are also active performers will definitely get to know the other performers pretty well. But that's a subset of teachers in general.
_________________________
gotta go practice

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#2263607 - 04/18/14 03:32 PM Re: Relocating...how best to break the news [Re: TimR]
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11549
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: TimR

But, the parent can take a sample lesson with each of the area teachers.

But will the parents know what to pay attention to? Again, I'm going back to my experience as parents and then new student over a decade ago, and conversations since. Supposing, for example, that the teacher plays one of those signature pieces that are easy to play but sound awesome to non-musicians, in order to impress. Wow, great teacher - just listen to what he played! Or the teacher promises that the student will complete grades in record time. Or criticizes the former teacher for having taught "wrong" - round hands like holding an apple is the way to go. What will the parent make of such things?

Quote:
A teacher cannot do that. Teachers have no access to each other while working, outside of the piano school settings, and even there it is usually limited.

You make a good point. Will the teacher know other teachers in the area and how they teach?

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#2263739 - 04/18/14 07:17 PM Re: Relocating...how best to break the news [Re: Suzannah]
Morodiene Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11405
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Usually what I've done is refer them to the president of the local MTNA chapter. What she has done in the past is she'll mention at a meeting that she has a student or some students who are looking for a teacher and find out who has openings, and then either pass out the phone numbers or give the teacher phone numbers to the students.

Really, I don't think that there is just ONE teacher for every student and only ONE, nor do I think there's only ONE kind of teacher that will work with a student, or visa versa. I can adapt to suit the learning style and personality of many students, but not all. I'm sure students learn to adapt too to different styles of teachers. So then it's just a matter of compiling a list of teachers who have good reputations or other teachers recommend.

One can give students a list of criteria to look for, offer suggestions on what questions to ask, what information to provide, etc. and even offer to speak to whomever they are considering to go over what you've covered. But I really don't think most people make such a big deal out of it. You give them a name, they call and if they can afford it and find a time that works, they go with them.
_________________________
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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