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#955157 - 08/13/05 09:03 PM From a Piano Teacher
WKS70 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/04/03
Posts: 186
Loc: GA
I've been teaching piano for nearly eight years. It seems like it never gets old, and there's always something funny or outrageous that happens. I recently had an incident that I will remember for many years, and thought I'd share it with the rest of the piano teachers. Parents of beginners -- do NOT do this to your poor piano teacher!

I had a beginner that recently started. In the phone conversation to set up a time, I asked if the student had a piano. The mother said that they did not have one just yet, but she reassured me that they would have something by the first lesson.

Lesson One -- No, we haven't had time to find a piano just yet, but we're going to go pick up a good keyboard this afternoon.

Lesson Two -- Sorry, we keep forgetting to go shopping. I PROMISE we'll get one today.

Lesson Three -- Well, this and this and this have happened, and we haven't found time to run out and pick up a keyboard somewhere. We're going to get one this afternoon. Promise!

My response each time has been there simply isn't a reason to do lessons with this child when he doesn't have an instrument at home. I say it over and over, yet they do not seem to understand this concept. These people have paid me for the month, and the only thing I can think of is to review material from the first lesson until the month is out, then tell them to not come back until they have found an instrument.

As the parent was leaving from the third lesson, he suddenly stopped at my door and said, "I'm getting worried about my son. We're not seeing any progress in piano."

?????????????????????????

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yet again for the 100th time, I explain that there isn't ANY way for his child to advance in piano WITHOUT an instrument at home. Would he expect a child to learn to read by only looking at a book with a teacher for 30 minutes one time a week? It's the same thing!

He completely looks puzzled.

Now I ask you, is it possible for people to really be this dense?????

I'm a very good teacher and I take a great deal of pride in my work. It vastly irritated me that someone could question my teaching under these circumstances. However, after a little time, the humor of this one struck me, and now I laugh every time I think of it!

By the way, they finally did get a keyboard, but I don't expect them to stay with piano for very long.

Wendy

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#955158 - 08/13/05 09:13 PM Re: From a Piano Teacher
pagnini Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/01/05
Posts: 67
Great story. Very funny.
_________________________
"I wish the government would put a tax on pianos for the incompetent."

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#955159 - 08/18/05 09:07 PM Re: From a Piano Teacher
Rob Mullins Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/10/04
Posts: 318
Loc: LA CA
Hi,
The answer is yes, people can be that stupid. Further, keep teaching-someone will top them in stupidity in your future.
I had to solve that problem with my lesson policy agreement. No lessons until they have the instrument.
_________________________
Rob Mullins
www.planetmullins.com
28th album on sale now.

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#955160 - 08/25/05 12:14 AM Re: From a Piano Teacher
drcha Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/12/05
Posts: 129
I think that a lot of unmusical people really don't understand that one has to practice in order to play. And if they do understand it, they don't usually realize how much one has to practice in order to improve.

I almost lose control when someone says to me, "Oh, how beautiful. I would love to be able to just sit down and play like that." They have no idea that I spend months learning a five-minute piece-- they think I'm just talented, and that I "just sit down" and play.

Oh that it were so!

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#955161 - 08/26/05 07:02 PM Re: From a Piano Teacher
Glyptodont Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/19/05
Posts: 377
Loc: Wisconsin
I am not a piano teacher.

But when I walked into my lesson yesterday, my teacher was very unhappy.

The student with the lesson ahead of me has missed three of the last four lessons. She is a middle school student.

Yesterday, according to my teacher, she left a message at 5:33 that she would be unable to make the 5:30 lesson.

Apparently the parents have overbooked the girl. Some of the absences have been due to tennis lessons or tennis matches.

One wonders how this student is getting ANYTHING out of piano.

Even though the teacher will be paid, since she books lessons monthly with payment up front, she was clearly very unhappy. I fully expect my teacher will refuse to accept payment for additional months of lessons.
_________________________
the Glyptodont

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#955162 - 08/26/05 08:53 PM Re: From a Piano Teacher
John Citron Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/15/05
Posts: 3925
Loc: Haverhill, Massachusetts
 Quote:
Originally posted by Glyptodont:
I am not a piano teacher.

But when I walked into my lesson yesterday, my teacher was very unhappy.

The student with the lesson ahead of me has missed three of the last four lessons. She is a middle school student.

Yesterday, according to my teacher, she left a message at 5:33 that she would be unable to make the 5:30 lesson.

Apparently the parents have overbooked the girl. Some of the absences have been due to tennis lessons or tennis matches.

One wonders how this student is getting ANYTHING out of piano.

Even though the teacher will be paid, since she books lessons monthly with payment up front, she was clearly very unhappy. I fully expect my teacher will refuse to accept payment for additional months of lessons. [/b]
Glyph,

That sounds way too familiar. I'm not a teacher either, but a very good teacher friend of mine just complained about the same thing the other day. She's now at an age where she will only take a mere handful of students, and there are a few that required make-up lessons. The students made plans, she planned her day around the students, and then they don't show up. Like your teacher, she receives the call usually five minutes before, or even fifteen minutes after the scheduled lesson has started.

For some reason the parents and the students don't consider the piano teacher's time as anything important after all the piano teacher works out of the house. Therefore she is doing it for the fun of it, not as a business. Like any business, she should and I am glad she does charge them for missed lessons. If the parents had missed a dentist appointment, I am sure they would have to pay for that. You would think that the parents would be concerned about the lost money and plan their child's time accordingly.

You're also right on about the quality of the students as well. (I get an earfull everytime we talk). She says that half the time, when the students show up, they are totally unprepared and it's obvious that nothing has been done in the previous week.

I told her that in today's society, the parents are treating piano or music lessons as nothing more than a time-slot filler to keep their child tied up in one activity after another.

John
_________________________
Nothing.

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#955163 - 08/26/05 08:59 PM Re: From a Piano Teacher
Kreisler Offline


Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13776
Loc: Iowa City, IA
I don't accept students who don't have a piano.

I also drop students who miss lessons repeatedly, regardless of reason.

It's not fair to me to waste my time, and it's not fair to the student, who is presumably expecting to learn something.
_________________________
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

www.pianoped.com
www.youtube.com/user/UIPianoPed

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#955164 - 08/26/05 09:54 PM Re: From a Piano Teacher
WKS70 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/04/03
Posts: 186
Loc: GA
Well, well, that family who started off this story dropped off this week. They've done several no-shows, then I got a gooey email all about how wonderful, patient and kind I've been and how much their son has learned from me. It's not true, of course, because their son had only one lesson after he got a keyboard, but nevertheless.

Anyway, at the first lesson of this month, OOOPS! they forgot their checkbook. Man, they just feel terrible about it. They request to give me a check at the next lesson. I kindly state that I wish them to drop their check in the mail to me. Immediately. No check arrives. A week later, they suddenly cancel on me, just hours before the lesson -- a bad sinus headache, don't you know. I express sympathy, then concern that I have not yet received their check. Well, don't you know, it arrived back in the mail to them just that day! They forgot to put the zip code on it! Well, I'll be! Another week passes without a check. Then I suddenly receive an email stating that they are so sorry, but they won't be continuing lessons. No mention of a check. I fire back a very polite email stating that I understand and agree with their decision to quit lessons and that I have still not received a check. I state that they understood and agreed with my piano policy about payments and cancellations and that they owe me XXX amount. There has been no reply.

Does anyone out there think I'm going to be paid for at least the one lesson that I gave this family this month???? Ha! This one has been an interesting case. In my years of working with many, many families, this has been only the third case that slipped out of here without paying up. Oh well. Dishonesty catches up with people one way or the other!

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#955165 - 08/27/05 02:05 PM Re: From a Piano Teacher
John Citron Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/15/05
Posts: 3925
Loc: Haverhill, Massachusetts
"...Does anyone out there think I'm going to be paid for at least the one lesson that I gave this family this month???? Ha! This one has been an interesting case. In my years of working with many, many families, this has been only the third case that slipped out of here without paying up. Oh well. Dishonesty catches up with people one way or the other!"

Definitely chock these people up as a loss. You were lucky this was the only one.

I doubt you'll see a check. I've seen this happen way too many times to teachers. My teacher-friend has one student that owes her for June's lessons. She has called numerous times during the summer to no avail. It was the same litany of excuses - forgot the check, it's in the mail, mailed to wrong zipcode, etc.

It's not like these people don't have the money either. The kid always brags how she spent her summer up at the lake, or went on her European trip during the fall. I look at it this way. If they can afford a trip like that, they can surely afford the lesson, and I would definitely contront the parents. The thing is, my teacher-friend is elderly, and is easily intimidated by people now.

To be honest, I believe that many people think that music teachers are doing this for the fun of it. After all, you are working out of the house right!

John
_________________________
Nothing.

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#955166 - 08/27/05 09:13 PM Re: From a Piano Teacher
Candywoman Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/14/03
Posts: 837
What a nasty thing to have happen to you. I remember the person that ripped me off like it was yesterday.

In your shoes, I would surprise them just after Sunday dinner and say "I was just in the area, so I thought I'd come and pick up my check for the four lessons you ordered. " Then wait to see what they say. You might teach them about the concept of buying people's time, or you might settle for payment of the one lesson. Either way, you will have taught them something, hopefully in front of their child.

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#955167 - 08/27/05 09:15 PM Re: From a Piano Teacher
Candywoman Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/14/03
Posts: 837
What a nasty thing to have happen to you. I remember the person that ripped me off like it was yesterday.

In your shoes, I would surprise them just after Sunday dinner and say "I was just in the area, so I thought I'd come and pick up my check for the four lessons you ordered. " Then wait to see what they say. You might teach them about the concept of buying people's time, or you might settle for payment of the one lesson. Either way, you will have taught them something, hopefully in front of their child.

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#955168 - 08/27/05 09:16 PM Re: From a Piano Teacher
Candywoman Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/14/03
Posts: 837
What a nasty thing to have happen to you. I remember the person that ripped me off like it was yesterday.

In your shoes, I would surprise them just after Sunday dinner and say "I was just in the area, so I thought I'd come and pick up my check for the four lessons you ordered. " Then wait to see what they say. You might teach them about the concept of buying people's time, or you might settle for payment of the one lesson. Either way, you will have taught them something, hopefully in front of their child.

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#955169 - 08/28/05 09:44 PM Re: From a Piano Teacher
John Citron Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/15/05
Posts: 3925
Loc: Haverhill, Massachusetts
 Quote:
Originally posted by Candyman:
What a nasty thing to have happen to you. I remember the person that ripped me off like it was yesterday.

In your shoes, I would surprise them just after Sunday dinner and say "I was just in the area, so I thought I'd come and pick up my check for the four lessons you ordered. " Then wait to see what they say. You might teach them about the concept of buying people's time, or you might settle for payment of the one lesson. Either way, you will have taught them something, hopefully in front of their child. [/b]
When it comes to supporting the livelyhood, it's important to do what one can to collect the dues owed. I too think visiting the family and asking for money in front of the children would be the best way. Sometimes adults have to be embarassed in front of their children.

hehe.

John
_________________________
Nothing.

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