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#950039 - 08/10/08 11:04 PM Re: Make-up Lessons
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17786
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
When I teach my undergraduate social psych class, I assign a weekly 3-page paper. However, I have absolutely NO desire to micromanage the inevitable pleas for late or makeup papers due to illness etc. So what I do is to tell them that I base their grade on the best 10 papers they turn in out of the 14 weeks of the semester. This means they can skip 4 weeks for any reasons (excused or unexcused). If somebody comes to me and says they missed class because they were sick, I just say "okay, that's one of your four skipped weeks." No argument, and no hassle of accepting and/or grading a late paper.

I think several of you have similar policies where you charge a semester fee assuming that there will be a cancellation or two, so that if the student actually goes to every single weekly lesson, he or she is in essence getting a couple extra lessons "free." This makes a great deal of sense to me and seems the easiest solution all around. If a family has to miss a lesson, for ANY reason, and nags you for a makeup, you just say "remember, your tuition was assuming that you'd miss xx number of lessons, so that's just one of your skipped lessons." I suspect you'd get fewer requests for makeups with this policy as well, because the parents wouldn't be thinking that somehow they were "owed" that time slot.

I do agree (from bitter experience with creative undergraduates) that trying to sort out valid and invalid reasons for missing a lesson is a quagmire you REALLY want to avoid. :p
_________________________
Mason & Hamlin A -- 91997
My YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/pianomonica

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#950040 - 08/10/08 11:24 PM Re: Make-up Lessons
currawong Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5946
Loc: Down Under
 Quote:
Originally posted by jerry2000:
Well,,,, at least there was no argument about the true goal of a "PIANO TEACHING BUSINESS." Which I repeat again: to maximize compensation while minimizing effort/work/teaching.
[/b]
This is starting to border on the offensive, I think, Jerry. On the basis of a no-makeups policy which is pretty common over a wide range of teaching situations (like the one Monica details) you are accusing teachers of attitudes such as the above. Even a cursory look at the contents of the posts on this forum will show you this is not the case with those who post here.

Are you a teacher? If so, I suppose you offer your services for free, then, do you? If not, then I guess you work at something else. Does getting paid for it mean you are not dedicated?

On reflection, I should alter my earlier advice to you in searching for a teacher. Rather than looking for one who offers unlimited make-ups, perhaps the best one for you would be someone who just doesn't charge at all. That seems to be the only way to ensure you don't see the teacher as "maximising compensation while minimising work".
_________________________
Du holde Kunst...

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#950041 - 08/10/08 11:28 PM Re: Make-up Lessons
dumdumdiddle Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 1265
Loc: California
 Quote:
Originally posted by jerry2000:
Well,,,, at least there was no argument about the true goal of a "PIANO TEACHING BUSINESS." Which I repeat again: to maximize compensation while minimizing effort/work/teaching. [/b]
Attitudes like the one expressed above is the reason why piano teachers need a strict policy regarding all aspects of running a studio.

Would you say the same thing about another profession? Your dentist? Your hairdresser? Your mechanic? Your college professor?

Why is it that PIANO TEACHERS must teach solely for the 'love of sharing the gift of music with others' and nothing more? Why can we not be sufficiently compensated for the years of study and hard work (which by the way, DOESN'T start when we enter college but rather YEARS before when our parents paid for our lessons)? The prevailing attitude is that we teach for 'just a little extra money' on the side. Well, it's time to WAKE UP and realize that piano teaching is a profession for many. There's nothing wrong with that.
_________________________
Music School Owner
Early Childhood Music Teacher/Group Piano Teacher/Private Piano Teacher
Member of MTAC and Guild

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#950042 - 08/11/08 12:18 AM Re: Make-up Lessons
jerry2000 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/02/05
Posts: 11
Loc: Midwest Kansas
Just so you know,,,

My attitude isn't the one that is in question, but rather the attitudes and policies that have been expressed by teachers.

Piano teaching as a business seems to be a worthy profession. It just seemed odd to me how skewed toward the teachers benefit the policies appear.

I happen to like Monica K's idea of planning for absences with a reward of "free lessons" if you attend all of them. This looks like a well balanced approach a plus for teachers if the absences occur and a plus for the student if they show up, but alas it doesn't make good business sense does it.

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#950043 - 08/11/08 12:40 AM Re: Make-up Lessons
currawong Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5946
Loc: Down Under
 Quote:
Originally posted by jerry2000:
... a plus for teachers if the absences occur and a plus for the student if they show up, but alas it doesn't make good business sense does it. [/b]
Why is it a plus for teachers if the student doesn't show up? You keep assuming we don't want to teach.
And why doesn't it make good business sense? If you actually read more than one or two posts in one or two threads you'd know that quite a few teachers do this anyway, and more than quite a few spend much time outside the lesson time preparing materials for students. Their students are hardly short-changed, no matter what their make-up policy happens to be.

You can say it's not your attitude which is in question, but that doesn't stop me questioning it. I suppose you've shown us what one very cynical person thinks of the studio policy - maybe that's worth knowing...
_________________________
Du holde Kunst...

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#950044 - 08/11/08 07:19 AM Re: Make-up Lessons
AZNpiano Online   sleepy
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5513
Loc: Orange County, CA
 Quote:
Originally posted by jerry2000:
Just a side note, do any of you see your students as more than just a paycheck or an advertisement for your "studio" when they perform? [/b]
Paycheck? Yes--I do have bills to pay.

Advertisement for "studio"? Yes--recitals and competitions reveal the quality of teaching. Would you send your kids to a studio in which every kid is playing "Mary Had a Little Lamb"??

_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#950045 - 08/11/08 07:22 AM Re: Make-up Lessons
AZNpiano Online   sleepy
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5513
Loc: Orange County, CA
 Quote:
Originally posted by jerry2000:
Well,,,, at least there was no argument about the true goal of a "PIANO TEACHING BUSINESS." Which I repeat again: to maximize compensation while minimizing effort/work/teaching. [/b]
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#950046 - 08/11/08 09:44 AM Re: Make-up Lessons
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17786
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
 Quote:
Originally posted by jerry2000:
I happen to like Monica K's idea of planning for absences with a reward of "free lessons" if you attend all of them. This looks like a well balanced approach a plus for teachers if the absences occur and a plus for the student if they show up, but alas it doesn't make good business sense does it. [/b]
I don't want to take credit for it... I know I've seen that policy described here by at least a couple of the teachers (John? Betty?). But I do think it makes excellent business sense. The teacher sets a tuition that all are happy with, and there is a strong incentive for perfect attendance as well as a system in place for preventing hassles involved in rescheduling or vetting excuses. Sounds like a win-win scenario all around. \:\)
_________________________
Mason & Hamlin A -- 91997
My YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/pianomonica

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#950047 - 08/11/08 10:57 AM Re: Make-up Lessons
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7393
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Jerry wrote:

 Quote:
It boggles my mind when I read how some teachers have "no makeup lesson" policies.

So,, tell me, Oh teachers, what exactly do you do when you have to take time off, examples-- could be a death in the family, dentist visit, doctor visit, weather, or maybe you just didn't feel like teaching that day. After all, the students have already bought and paid for your "time." What exactly do you give the students if YOU cause the lesson to be canceled?

John v.d.Brook referenced an airline charging a 20% changing fee and asked if it would be ok to charge this for a student changing a lesson.

So to put the shoe on the other foot,
How about it teachers,, Would it be fair to require you to give a refund of 20% plus a rescheduled lesson if it was your fault for a missed lesson?

Or would that be too fair to the student and just not good for business?
Just for the record (and if you'd back checked previous posts on this topic, you'd already know) that when I have to miss a lesson, or am late to a lesson, my students get the lesson made up, plus an absolutely free lesson, at my expense.[/b]

In other words, I bend over backwards to be fair. Things happen in life, and since I cannot hire a sub at all times to fill in for me, offering parents a twofer seems more than fair.
_________________________
"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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#950048 - 08/11/08 11:08 AM Re: Make-up Lessons
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11737
Loc: Canada
John, it dawned on me that you have come up with something that seems to solve a bunch of problems at once. Some teachers cite a problem with makeup lessons because they infringe on their private non-teaching time. Others try to keep them to teaching time but must then juggle other students around by freeing one time slot for another - use someone's cancellation to give room to someone else's makeup for a previous cancellation: sounds like a real head-ache.

You have defined your working hours differently - they are not your teaching times, but the time you allot to all of your teacher-related activities, including lesson planning, bookkeeping etc. So you have this 11:00 - 9:00 area of time, and you don't teach constantly during that time - there are "empty" spots where you are doing other activities. Those empty spots are available for makeup lessons and similar requests. They are like safety margins. You are not giving up your private time, and you are not forced to juggle students. It is brilliant in its simplicity.

KS

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#950049 - 08/11/08 11:27 AM Re: Make-up Lessons
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12056
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
 Quote:
Originally posted by jerry2000:
From an outsiders perspective these policies do not benefit everybody. In fact they all seem skewed rather heavily to the teachers benefit.

Do you give them any choice in the rescheduled lesson time? Is your time so much more valuable than theirs that they only get 1 "makeup" per semester while you get to reschedule whenever you perform?
[/b]
I do give them a choice of their rescheduled time. We find a time that 1) I can be there, and 2) they can do easily. Also, this is something that I've added this year: If a student makes all of their lessons or only has one make-up, they will actually get a free lesson. And, by the way, my performances happen maybe once or twice per semester, and I know well in advance of when they are, so I can give a student a time of their choice to make it up. Is my time valuable? Yes, it is to me. Isn't your time valuable to you? I get paid for time, as do most people. You seem to be angry at teachers for some reason. Perhaps you've been slighted in the past. I am sorry for this, but I was not the one who slighted you. All students sign my policy after reading through it. They all agree to these terms, and those that do not, go elsewhere. They have that freedom.

 Quote:
Then we come to obligations and family and fairness.

Are your obligations more important than your students? Is your "family time" more important than their "family time?" Do you tell your students these facts?[/b]
If I do not protect my family time, who will? My students? They don't know what I have planned in my schedule other than their lesson time. If a student calls me last minute to reschedule something when I had planned on making dinner and spending time with my husband, am I obligated to put that student first? The simple answer is my husband is *always* more important than my job or my students. I married him and I take my vows to him seriously. Students are extremely important to me, but on the list of priorities, they are second to my husband and my family. A student who calls to change a lesson time probably doesn't consider the fact that I don't have much free time to play with. This is also why I have a lesson swap in my policy, so if a student can't make a lesson, they can call another student who has a time that works for them and switch for that week. This doesn't go against their one make-up lesson, and if they do this, they would still get their free lesson each semester.

 Quote:
As to fairness I think it is quite obvious that the "piano teaching business" is not fair to the students but is rather heavily skewed toward the bottom line of the "teaching professional." Policies to maximize compensation while minimizing effort/work appears to be the norm.

God forbid someone would actually teach with a goal of producing pianists instead of a paycheck. [/b]
I have said this before, but it bears repeating: I teach because I love to teach, not because I have to. If I wanted to make money, I'd go back into the finance business. I make less than $20,000 per year teaching in a good year. I have a Master's degree in music and I continue to take lessons to improve myself as a performer and teacher. All of this gets passed down to my students as a benefit to them and their progress. Most people with this much formal and continuing education make much more than that. So don't you *ever* accuse me of doing this for money.
_________________________
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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#950050 - 08/11/08 12:47 PM Re: Make-up Lessons
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Jerry2000 proclaims: "Well,,,, at least there was no argument about the true goal of a "PIANO TEACHING BUSINESS." Which I repeat again: to maximize compensation while minimizing effort/work/teaching."

And - "Just a side note, do any of you see your students as more than just a paycheck or an advertisement for your "studio" when they perform?"

And - "Just so you know,,, My attitude isn't the one that is in question, but rather the attitudes and policies that have been expressed by teachers."

"Piano teaching as a business seems to be a worthy profession. It just seemed odd to me how skewed toward the teachers benefit the policies appear."

"I happen to like Monica K's idea of planning for absences with a reward of "free lessons" if you attend all of them. This looks like a well balanced approach a plus for teachers if the absences occur and a plus for the student if they show up, but alas it doesn't make good business sense does it."

Where do I start with you Jerry2000?

1) I am one of the ones as Monica is mentioning, and yes, yes, yes, it makes very good business sense. I do not limit my makeups, and rescheduling is mutally possible because like John, I am in my home office long hours, or simply at home, and can accomodate what people need. I try to keep a lid on it and have people plan well ahead, and they do give me their planned absences for the quarter ahead, if not for the month. Anyone having too many absences is going to find that their lessons will average out to have cost them more if they drop down below 40 lessons per week. But chiefly, we have about 47 weeks out of the year to attend the 40 lessons paid for. So there is a benefit by keeping good attendance. Good attendance is one of our goals.

2)My studio policy works as well for the clients as it does for me. The reason I have a policy with 37 years of teaching experience is that so many people want you to make exceptions that benefit them - strong manipulation - defensive attitude about what they will pay for and what they won't and making the rules. It was horrifying, absolutely rude, and a disadvantage for me everything I listened to someone's demand on how I ran my business. Business. Business is the keyword. In self defense in the 1980's I formulated a very tough policy - and the reason for the policy was to remove everyone from doing their own thing. To be able to teach well, one must have an organized and efficient studio - not chaos and confusion. The larger my studio was the more difficult it was to manage.

I have had wonderful relationships with my clients ever since putting my policy into effect. I review it twice a year to keep on top of anything that needs to change.

If anything, it has produced agreeable, respectful people in my studio. They are happy or they wouldn't be here, and I am happy too.

Being a piano teacher and having a business practice too are huge endeavors, I guarantee you. Private teachers need to establish what works best for them, with a strong eye to making sure that it also works for their clientele.

Last night we (my husband and I)were invited to dinner at the home of clients, the mom, son, daughter, have been my students for the past 15 months. The dad and his parents were also there for Sunday dinner. There was a lot of joy as we listened to the piano being played so very, very well by the daughter. The food was absolutely excellent, and the company very relaxed, social, and funny - a lovely evening and a huge treat for us.

Now tell me if you think people who are being taken advantage of by their piano teacher behave like this?

Tell me, do you get students to study with you for 7, 8, 9 years by aggravating them with your policy and unreasonable demands, and your ingratitude for their existance.

You, Jerry2000, have a narrow window which you are looking through!

I strive to be connected to my students and their families - this is not, and never had been about money for me. It's about service, and encouragement, motivation, high standards, and involvement. Clients get so much more than they ever imagined they paid for.

I'm one of many who give service with a smile.

Betty Patnude

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#950051 - 08/11/08 01:48 PM Re: Make-up Lessons
pianobuff Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/09/06
Posts: 1580
Loc: Pacific Northwest
 Quote:
Originally posted by jerry2000:
It boggles my mind when I read how some teachers have "no makeup lesson" policies.

So,, tell me, Oh teachers, what exactly do you do when you have to take time off, examples-- could be a death in the family, dentist visit, doctor visit, weather, or maybe you just didn't feel like teaching that day. After all, the students have already bought and paid for your "time." What exactly do you give the students if YOU cause the lesson to be canceled?

John v.d.Brook referenced an airline charging a 20% changing fee and asked if it would be ok to charge this for a student changing a lesson.

So to put the shoe on the other foot,
How about it teachers,, Would it be fair to require you to give a refund of 20% plus a rescheduled lesson if it was your fault for a missed lesson?

Or would that be too fair to the student and just not good for business? [/b]
Jerry2000,

You need to understand that from a teacher's stance they may have up to 50 students to schedule and to teach lessons. From a student's view there is just you and the teacher. Think about it. In order for the teacher's studio to run smoothly and effectively for all students a no make-up policy is in everyone's best interest.

Sure, you may have a conflct with your lesson time, but that is just you, one person you are dealing with. In the rare instance, the teacher cannot make the lesson, again it is just the teacher, one person, again that *you* are dealing with. But for the teacher we are dealing with *many* people asking for make-ups not just one.

My policy is very fair. I do not charge an arm and a leg for lessons. But I expect my students to be there for their time reserved, because I'm there. In the rare instance that I have to cancel a lesson, I either refund or credit the lesson or I make it up, at the student's discretion.

By having these strict policies means that us teachers are professionals and want the best for our students. If you think we have these polcies because we are trying to take advantage of students and their money, is a pretty low blow, if you feel this way, then find a teacher that gives make-ups. I'm sure eventually that teacher (that gives make-ups) will start to see they are wasting a lot of time and money rescheduling for students and teaching more hours without geting paid, and their students will become flakier and less dedicated to their piano studies. The teacher will also become burned out because her focus will not be on teaching, but instead on rescheduling and trying to make ends meet financially.

Hope you can understand.
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher,
member MTNA and Piano Basics Foundation

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#950052 - 08/11/08 02:34 PM Re: Make-up Lessons
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11737
Loc: Canada
As long as there is not a "no extra paid lessons under any circumstances" policy. Statistics and proportions are as follows:

1. A student is one person out of 50 that a teacher sees in conveyer-belt succession, and must manage. That one hour is over in no time. Then the teacher is on to the next student.

2. The student has invested some 25 hours into that lesson and will invest another 25 hours. The lesson is the critical bridge, because when you are practicing for that length of time, if you start going off track then it will really be off track if a lesson is missed and you can't have access to a teacher. The same thing is true when you are reaching something and need to know whether you're going the right direction and can trust it. You don't want to stop the momentum, and you don't want anything bad to entrench itself. A categorical "no extra lessons under any circumstances ever" would leave me edgy. If it's "no makeups", that's a different story.

One hour of lessons is woefully inadequate in any week.

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#950053 - 08/12/08 05:05 AM Re: Make-up Lessons
AJB Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/01/05
Posts: 3655
Loc: Surrey, England
To me this is very simple:

You guys are selling your expertise and measuring the price in time slots for which you charge a fee. That is your living.

if someone fails to turn up for a lesson, for whatever reason, and you are unable to resell the time slot, then you lose money if you do not charge the person the slot was allocated to.

If you give a make up then there is an opportunity costs - you could have sold that time to someone else.

The ability to enforce a no make up policy (or some variation on it) will depend on how much in demand you are as a teacher (a factor of pupil availability, the choice of other teachers competing with you in the area, and how well regarded you are as a teacher).

So you policies will inevitably reflect local economic circumstances. If you have a waiting list - then you can afford less flexible policies. But there is of course your longer term reputation to consider in balancing this equation.

The person who said teachers are skewing policies in favor of teachers misses the point entirely: this is the way you earn your living and you are selling hours of your life to do that. It is not up to other people to make you sell that time for free!

Many piano teachers appear to have a somewhat amateurish approach to the business side of their profession. This turns it more into a vocation rather than a business for such teachers.
_________________________
S&S Hamburg D, Yamaha CLP 280


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#950054 - 08/12/08 12:15 PM Re: Make-up Lessons
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Keystring, you kind of said something startling! "One hour of lessons is woefully inadequate in any week."

Would marketing of our services as piano teachers work better if we divided lessons into categories and gave 2 to 3 lessons per week to the same student?


Choices:
1A) Private lesson with literature - preparing memorization and performance for achieving students (one hour)

1B) Rhythmic, mood, jazzy, syncopated music and pop for entertainment purposes (one hour)

1C)lesson subject for those in preparatory and elementary through late elementary (30 minutes)

2) Additional lesson (30 minutes) on Technique and Theory

3) Additional time in analysis, of new music choosing consistent fingering, rhythm/melody/harmony patterns and practice sections identified

4) Small groups could be formed for the "Additional" materials.

For a serious student, all "Additional" would be desirable/"required".

I think this would be a better focus of time and subject and set each category off as important parts of development.

The idea is to increase their time with the teacher (for supervision and outcome)and the additional time during the week, complements practice.

5) Intense practice could be a separate subject too, but perhaps not every week.

I've always been trying to fit in the thing that is needed most at any lesson, and we have just an hour to gain perspective on where we are and what needs to be done. Then to apply it at home.

I'm beginning to understand the power of recording lessons as John does. It captures the work and the learning process on video and a student can appreciate the hard work he has contributed to the lesson and view the progress received for the investment of his time and efforts.

I think the category separation would not only pave the way better but would identify parts of the most important contributing factors to becoming a well-trained pianists.

An hour lesson is a drop in the bucket really.

Maybe we should branch out in our offerings and charge prices that include the learning in these areas of music preparation, not just the applied time at the lesson. More services (selectively) beyond "piano lessons" sets the mark higher and gives attention to our need to cover the subjects as very serious contributing parts.

What do YOU think?

I'm just posing a question about how we proceed, and whether we don't sell ourselves short by calling it just "piano lessons".

Betty

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#950055 - 08/12/08 01:27 PM Re: Make-up Lessons
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11737
Loc: Canada
Betty - thoughts on your thoughts on my thoughts:

I'm thinking of serous prepared students and maybe not at a beginner level. If we get to the kind of scenario teachers describe, where a student has not practiced what he is to practice so that it has to be done in a lesson, then this is not efficient to begin with. Then, if someone wants to make better progress and use their lesson time well, the job starts at home.

I could only go from my limited perspective and in that scenario I've seen the following:

- Something is coming together very rapidly and there just isn't enough time to get at all of it. I've seen a lesson go overtime (if it's the last lesson of the day - or teacher suggests one comes half an hour early for first lesson of day). Or a suggestion that we have another lesson in the same week (which is also paid for, of course - this is a consideration).

- You may be working on a main thing - say a piece - but something else that you have been working on (arpeggios? a study? something?) is starting to come together. In the next lesson, do you continue working on the planned for thing, do you set aside 15 min. at the end of the lesson? Do you skip what you were going to work on and go off on a tangent? Or do you decide that this would be a good occasion to find time for an extra lesson that you can dedicate just to this thing, and you can still work on what was planned?

My scenario captures my realities, of course. Part of my perspective comes perhaps through what develops while practicing. Sometimes a question or growth comes from something that could take up a whole lesson, but you don't want to lose the main direction either, so when do you fit it in?

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#950056 - 08/12/08 02:27 PM Re: Make-up Lessons
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
The piano teacher can behave reactively to what is being heard at the lesson and what captures her/his attention is a good way, or in a needs improvement way.

The teacher may have a timeline of things to teach which is not representative of this piece, it could come in a technique or exercise area, or in sightreading, or ear training, etc. It too needs to fit in the lesson time. There may be vocabulary and definitions going on out of necessity - the focus can shift in different ways. It truly is hard to get all that you would want to cover in one piece, the composer's short history, about piano's at the time of this composition. What ever is important that the teacher wants to convey is often the stuff that takes the player and the piece over the top.

Where to go and what to do during a lesson is a decision to facilitate one thing over another.

Collaboration is a longtime goal, then one fine day, the student takes much of the learning on independently, and will not need as much assistance and sense of direction, he will have formed his own vision of how to proceed. Then it is on to the next, new steps of learning.

I think a large part of what happens between the adult learner and the piano teacher can be a clash of purposes, directions and egos.

Students who really take full instruction from a teacher are few and far between. When there are basic clashes between them the leadership that the teacher could contribute is minimized by a nonaccepting student.

A clue to a non-learner who challenges the teachers reasoning and input, is someone who is always talking, making comments, or asking questions during the lesson. I have had many of these kinds of students (the come in all ages and both genders). Much of what they do at lesson is delaying and creating obstacles for themselves.

The fear of success is sometimes as great as the fear of failure.

All of piano teaching is a balancing act, I think. I'm the one who says you can only teach with the students permission and sincere interest.

I hope it's true that anyone who has the desire for serious study has also located a serious teacher who can take this student to his or her destination musically. The relationship between them will help them weather any difficulties.

Betty

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#950057 - 08/12/08 02:42 PM Re: Make-up Lessons
keystring Online   content
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Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11737
Loc: Canada
Betty, when you write of clashes between teacher and student, is this in response to what I have written, or a general observation? I imagine it's the latter since no conflict is on the horizon.

Generally speaking I will have more than one thing going, all of them assigned. Some may be of a repertoire nature, and the others more of a technique nature. In a lesson we can only work on one or two of them, but I am expected to continue with all. You could consider the various instructions and assignments as seeds. If a student is practicing 3+ hours - as we are instructed to do - a lot of ground can get covered. So a couple of seeds might germinate.

I am not a beginner, and that makes a difference, I think. Usually my teacher will ask me in greeting how my practicing went, and whether I encountered anything I would like to mention or demonstrate. At this point the question might surface as to where the lesson's time should go. It might be good to spend the last 15 minutes on some particular thing, or shelve plans and concentrate on this thing. An alternative solution is to go ahead with the lesson as planned, but decided to have an extra lesson dedicated just to whatever has cropped up. In this way what is planned can continue, but what might be good to work with as a secondary thing can can also be addressed.

I was offering this in the context of "not having enough time" and solutions.

These things are not true tangents. They are things arising and developing out of assigned lessons.

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#950058 - 08/12/08 02:56 PM Re: Make-up Lessons
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17786
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
 Quote:
Originally posted by Betty Patnude:
A clue to a non-learner who challenges the teachers reasoning and input, is someone who is always talking, making comments, or asking questions during the lesson. [/b]
Betty, can you operationalize "always" here? What percentage of a lesson should the teacher be talking vs. the student? 100/0? 50/50? Surely some degree of a student talking, commenting, or questioning during a lesson is acceptable, even desirable?
_________________________
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My YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/pianomonica

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#950059 - 08/12/08 03:12 PM Re: Make-up Lessons
jotur Online   blank
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 5570
Loc: Santa Fe, NM
 Quote:
Originally posted by Betty Patnude:
I think a large part of what happens between the adult learner and the piano teacher can be a clash of purposes, directions and egos.

Students who really take full instruction from a teacher are few and far between. When there are basic clashes between them the leadership that the teacher could contribute is minimized by a nonaccepting student.

A clue to a non-learner who challenges the teachers reasoning and input, is someone who is always talking, making comments, or asking questions during the lesson. I have had many of these kinds of students (the come in all ages and both genders). Much of what they do at lesson is delaying and creating obstacles for themselves.

[/b]
Well, I do think the ego problem can be on either part - I hope that's the implication here \:D

I'll have to admit that I prefer students that ask questions, and have run into very few - less than one a semester probably, out of 2 or 3 classes full of students - who are actually trying delaying tactics and creating obstacles. I've never found that I'm so perfect at what I do that even most of the students don't need to ask questions - perhaps I'm just not a very good teacher \:\/ I've taught mostly adults, and find that their questions are often perceptive, and they're motivated by wanting to learn. Maybe it's radically different for some private piano teachers? Dunno. But the above post seemed to me to have a pretty negative flavor in its characterization of students who, at least to me, probably take an active part in their own learning.

But I've disagreed with the previous poster before, so take my opinion for the amount you paid for it \:D

Cathy
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#950060 - 08/12/08 03:19 PM Re: Make-up Lessons
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17786
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
 Quote:
Originally posted by jotur:
I'll have to admit that I prefer students that ask questions,[/b]
Me too, by a long shot. When I get questions from my students, it almost always means either (a) I haven't been clear about something, and THAT'S vitally important for me to find out and correct, or (b) that I've engaged them in the material to the extent they care about it and are excited to expand on it... and THOSE are the moments I live for as a professor. \:\)
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Mason & Hamlin A -- 91997
My YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/pianomonica

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#950061 - 08/12/08 03:23 PM Re: Make-up Lessons
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11737
Loc: Canada
Going back to the topic of lesson times and dates, idea of an hour not being long enough - What is the feeling about an occasion where it would seem good to have an extra lesson to catch whatever might be cropping up? It means an extra expense to the student and time expenditure for a teacher, of course.

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#950062 - 08/12/08 05:21 PM Re: Make-up Lessons
Morodiene Offline
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Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12056
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
keystring, I have done this many times when there's an upcoming performance. If I feel a student could use just one more lesson, or a few more in order to prepare, I will suggest that and schedule them. As for doing this on a regular basis, what a wonderful thing that would be (I'm speaking as a student here) to have two or three lessons per week!
_________________________
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Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#950063 - 08/12/08 05:42 PM Re: Make-up Lessons
AZNpiano Online   sleepy
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5513
Loc: Orange County, CA
 Quote:
Originally posted by Betty Patnude:
Maybe we should branch out in our offerings and charge prices that include the learning in these areas of music preparation, not just the applied time at the lesson. More services (selectively) beyond "piano lessons" sets the mark higher and gives attention to our need to cover the subjects as very serious contributing parts.

What do YOU think?[/b]
Betty:

I also offer individual or group lessons in music theory. Our state's MTA has quite a bit of theory to cover in the syllabus; I often find myself running short on time during piano lessons to cover all the theory topics. I also have colleagues who send me their piano students for theory lessons. I schedule these non-weekly lessons on weekends.

Sometimes my piano students also ask me for help on their school essays.
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#950064 - 08/12/08 05:42 PM Re: Make-up Lessons
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Monica asked: "Betty, can you operationalize "always" here?"

Some students explain at lot, before they play something, during the playing, after the playing, "constant comment" aka "incessant chatter". This could be a sense of anxiety on their part, but it almost always (there I go again) is the advance warning about why it is not going to be "perfect".

I don't need or expect "perfect" - it's hard to achieve on any day of the week - a "good play" and "giving it your best shot" is ample. When a student makes a mistake that needs to be corrected, that is a good thing because now it can be "observed" and "fixed".

"Action" at the piano and a "quiet mind" are my two favorite tools that a learner possesses.

Monika also questioned: "Surely some degree of a student talking, commenting, or questioning during a lesson is acceptable, even desirable?

Yes, definitely, it's desirable. But, not as delaying behavior, or for dramatizing the mindset of the pianist before the action starts. Apologetic, wary, uncertain. That is not the least be useful and actually sets up what is feared most - causing it to happen.

There is no sense of empowerment until the pianist gains control over the self - including the mind set and the mind chatter. Productivity is the challenge. Self discipline. Mind to detail.

The other clue would be the non-learner who didn't hear what the teachers reasoning and input was, because she was busy thinking about what she was going to say next.

Questions don't usually get answered immediately in full detail, it takes time to absorb many things, so let's write the question down, and see how we can develop the answer together by giving it our full attention.

Monica also asked: "What percentage of a lesson should the teacher ib talking vs the student?"

It's the music that should be the focus of any thing said. What is said by the teacher should be just enough to make a difference to the student. What the teacher would expect the student to do is to "do something different" with the next playing of the section under examination. If the student has comments or questions here hopefully it would lead to helping understand something more clearly about the music or the technique or a point being made.

Things can proceed at a cordial note while these things are going on and a comfort level achieved. It does not at all have to be distress or anxiety producing.

If both student and teacher can meet each other in purpose, time, and effort, it should be an enjoyable music event together, productive, and represent the respect between each contributor.

Betty

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#950065 - 08/12/08 05:46 PM Re: Make-up Lessons
AZNpiano Online   sleepy
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5513
Loc: Orange County, CA
 Quote:
Originally posted by Morodiene:
what a wonderful thing that would be (I'm speaking as a student here) to have two or three lessons per week! [/b]
We actually asked our piano professor for that when we were in college. She said no, because she was raising a problematic child and had to miss many lessons as it was already.

One 1-hour lesson per week is grossly inadequate at the college level. This coming September, I'm requesting some of my advanced piano students to take 75-minute lessons.
_________________________
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#950066 - 08/12/08 05:55 PM Re: Make-up Lessons
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

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

"Betty:

I also offer individual or group lessons in music theory. Our state's MTA has quite a bit of theory to cover in the syllabus; I often find myself running short on time during piano lessons to cover all the theory topics. I also have colleagues who send me their piano students for theory lessons. I schedule these non-weekly lessons on weekends."

"Sometimes my piano students also ask me for help on their school essays."

Do you have these extra things in a print out or advertising brochure of what your teaching program contains? Is it on your studio calendar so that the clientelle begin to expect it as a regular thing. Do you charge extra lesson fees for these student activities? How do you go about letting certain students know that you want them to have this class. Can I ask?

Just as you are fine tuning your studio policy, perhaps, if you haven't done it yet, you will consider listing all these offerings. This is on the way to making your program valuable to the client and shows your versatility as a teacher, not to mention the scope of the things their children will learn. Sell these things as benefits to their overall education in a voice that clearly shows the benefit to them.

Before you know it you might be marketing some of your work in videos! Or using the videos in advertising your studio. Along with a list of your competition performers and their achievements. I think it would be worth it to have an experienced camera person help you build on your website with some of their special things you do with your students.

I'm always glad to hear your ideas, AZN!

Betty

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#950067 - 08/12/08 06:04 PM Re: Make-up Lessons
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11737
Loc: Canada
Betty, one minute we were discussing a scenario where there is not enough time in a lesson to get everything done, and the next minute this shifted to problematic students. Is it possible to explore what was started, which does not involve conflict anywhere?

The scenario is with an intermediate to advanced student. Teacher has assigned a number of things which are ongoing. In lessons we are working in Item # 1, but while practicing all the assigned things, Item # 2 has suddenly started to germinate.

Teacher asks his usual question - how has practising been going and has anything come up. Student mentions or demonstrates the thing from Item # 2 because it has indeed come up. It belongs to assigned-for-practice things.

So at this point we can make room for item # 2, switch to item # 2 and postpone item # 1, decide to spend 15 minutes at the end of the lesson to do something with item # 2 - Or decide to schedule an extra lesson dedicated to # 2. That way the whole lesson can continue being item # 1, and there can be sufficient time for # 2.

There is no conflict anywhere in this scenario. You were intrigued by the idea of "not enough time" and I offered the only perspective that I know. These things may not come up for you.

In terms of questions: They arise from what has been taught. Possible scenarios:
a) after practicing a week - I'm not sure I understood this part, is it correct? (demonstrates) - Or - Xyz seems to be happening, is that ok?
b) teacher has instructed, demonstrated - Student works on it in lesson, asks a question about what has been done, in order to clarify
c) teacher has explained something and student is not clear on something. "Could you clarify xyz? I'm not sure I understood?" (This can be done by demonstration)

These kinds of questions are brief, to the point, and pertain directly to what is being taught.

Quite often, however, a question consists of a quick glance catching the eye, and is answered with a nod or brief hand gesture. Imho, words are an overestimated commodity.

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#950068 - 08/12/08 06:11 PM Re: Make-up Lessons
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Jotur - "Well, I do think the ego problem can be on either part - I hope that's the implication here \:D "

Jotur: "But I've disagreed with the previous poster before, so take my opinion for the amount you paid for it."

Oh, Jotur, how true, you are so right! No one ribs me more effectively than you do, unless it's Monica.

In defense, may I say you are working with students in a learning subject in either high school or college, graded, graduation in sight, either every day or several days a week. Your outline is in concrete, your testings are in place, your grading system is in place. For a student to appear to be unprepared, negative, non-contributing in your class, you are going to notice. I as a private piano teacher have none of that clout - a little league coach has much more than I do to.

Private teaching is largely in the moment, and very often spontaneous in what is produced of the synergy between the pianist and the teacher.

I'm sure people with imagination can begin to see how very different we are in comparison and in organization and in methods because of our teaching arenas.

I hope you are enjoying your summer!

Betty

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