Suspicious reason for student "disappearance"

Posted by: chasingrainbows

Suspicious reason for student "disappearance" - 12/30/12 05:30 PM

After providing a revised studio policy to parents in the summer, (Increasing my fee $5 a half hour, which former fee was pitifully low) I received a call from a family the following week, stating the student needed to take off a month due to an injury. I never heard from the family again despite two emails I sent genuinely asking how the student was recovering. Almost 4 months later I receive two messages stating the family was out of the country (student pulled out of school as well?) and just returning and wanting to start back. I really enjoyed the student, but had several issues with the parents that I thought had been resolved. I assumed they didn't like my pay hike, and tried another teacher, which didn't work out, and decided to come back to me. Would you or have you taken back students in similar circumstances? And how can I avoid this happening in the future? I told parent that I was booked solid and would let them know if an opening became available.
Posted by: malkin

Re: Suspicious reason for student "disappearance" - 12/30/12 06:11 PM

When revenue is scarce and desperately needed, one can tolerate quite a bit of rudeness, cluelessness, poor communication and every sort of abuse.

In more prosperous times, these clients are the first to be dismissed.
Posted by: Morodiene

Re: Suspicious reason for student "disappearance" - 12/30/12 06:37 PM

You really don't know the true story, and to presume that this was all due to your rate hike is perhaps a bit on the defensive side. If you liked working with the student, then take him back, by all means. Do you have a termination policy? If so, you may want to remind the parents that you require 30 day's notice to discontinue lessons or whatever your policy happens to be.

If you didn't like working with the student, then I wouldn't take them back - desperate times or no. It doesn't help anyone IMO.
Posted by: MaggieGirl

Re: Suspicious reason for student "disappearance" - 12/30/12 07:05 PM

I highly doubt the family created an elaborate ruse over $20 dollars a month in fee increase.
Posted by: chasingrainbows

Re: Suspicious reason for student "disappearance" - 12/30/12 07:43 PM

I have my doubts because of the history I've had with this particular family. I wouldn't have doubted them if not for past experience with them.
Posted by: Morodiene

Re: Suspicious reason for student "disappearance" - 12/30/12 09:15 PM

Originally Posted By: chasingrainbows
I have my doubts because of the history I've had with this particular family. I wouldn't have doubted them if not for past experience with them.


Well, never second-guess your instincts. If you feel like there is something odd, definitely do NOT take them back.
Posted by: Overexposed

Re: Suspicious reason for student "disappearance" - 12/31/12 08:19 AM

chasingrainbows,

I think you were wise to say you have no openings at the moment.

I have a re-enrollment fee that applies to someone who has taken unpaid leave from lessons and wants to return. It's about equal to one month tuition. I use this policy to encourage parents not to stop and start lessons...like taking off a month when they are tired etc. But also it gets them to look at whether they really want to come back to lessons. They have to decide if paying the extra fee is worth it.

I had one student whose parents wanted him to return to lessons, but his negativity and lack of interest were such a downers that I did him the favor of not having an opening. Nothing wrong with steering clear of trouble when you can afford to.
Posted by: bmbutler

Re: Suspicious reason for student "disappearance" - 12/31/12 02:00 PM

Originally Posted By: MaggieGirl
I highly doubt the family created an elaborate ruse over $20 dollars a month in fee increase.



Oh, you would be surprised!
Posted by: chasingrainbows

Re: Suspicious reason for student "disappearance" - 12/31/12 07:37 PM

Really, this family expected me to go keyboard shopping with them on my off days, stay at least 10 minutes AFTER the lesson to go over assignments, etc. I am fairly certain the raise from 100 to $120 a month had major bearing on the sudden (very minor) injury and trip out of the country.
Posted by: MaggieGirl

Re: Suspicious reason for student "disappearance" - 12/31/12 07:38 PM

That is really scary! What if you ask the child - where did you move to? What did you do there? what was your favorite part of living there? How does a parent get a child to lie so much? And why? If I told my coach we were going to try elsewhere, she would be disappointed but she lets people come back. In a long term relationship, there can often be the grass is greener thoughts.
Posted by: chasingrainbows

Re: Suspicious reason for student "disappearance" - 01/01/13 11:59 AM

Maggiegirl, there have been previous excuses that were very questionable with this family. I could ask the student questions, but parents are in the next room and would probably come flying in to answer for the student.

I agree that parents have every right to try out other teachers and I am flattered that if that were the case, they decided to return to me. I certainly tried many teachers in my past before I found the right match for me. I am amazed that they thought their spot was still available or that I could come other days or other times when they finally decided to return.
Posted by: Jeff Clef

Re: Suspicious reason for student "disappearance" - 01/01/13 06:59 PM

Judging by the very dramatic title of the thread, I thought the student would at least have been sold into the white slave trade, and would soon be featured on a cable television expose'. I thought we would be learning what channel, and what time to watch "Suspicious Piano Teacher Blows Whistle on International Flesh Ring."

Take away the drama, and it's just another flaky parent you don't want in your studio.
Posted by: TimR

Re: Suspicious reason for student "disappearance" - 01/01/13 09:12 PM

Originally Posted By: Jeff Clef


Take away the drama, and it's just another flaky parent you don't want in your studio.


Well said.

The language we choose affects not only how we are perceived, but how we think. Given that, I would argue for less inflammatory choices of terminology. "suspicious" is an emotion laden term not really helpful in this context.
Posted by: btb

Re: Suspicious reason for student "disappearance" - 01/02/13 12:38 AM

Call in the cops!

What a furore! ... all the "suspicion-jazz" and the
suggestion of the hiking of fees as being the fly in the ointment.

What hasn't been raised is the age of the child ... most piano teachers see the writing on the wall about the age of 10 ... when the persecuted "stayaways"
manage to persuade their parents to cut the lessons
(and save dollars) ... and relieve the student from the agony of any more "SIGHT-READING"... much better things to do.

Solve the sight-reading bogey and the battle is won.
Posted by: chasingrainbows

Re: Suspicious reason for student "disappearance" - 01/02/13 11:16 AM

JeffClef, btb, Tim, is it really worth your time and energy participating in this topic to criticize my wording? Why not use your time to answer my questions: "Would you or have you taken back students in similar circumstances? And how can I avoid this happening in the future?"

It is what it is -- I live in the real world where parents are not always truthful, and I choose to avoid those kinds of clients. The stream of excuses over the last year with these particular parents have led me to become wary of them.
Posted by: ZoeCalgary

Re: Suspicious reason for student "disappearance" - 01/02/13 01:32 PM

I am a parent not a teacher. I would say for the benefit of the student give the parents a second chance. Be clear on your policies. I know they have behaved less than stellar but without knowing all the circumstances I would give them the benefit of the doubt. As much as we parents try to keep regular schedules, stay on top of all the kids activities, payments, practices, etc.. while also working, keeping up with laundry and groceries, etc. Sometimes we miss things, we get overwhelmed, we don't see the little note in our kids backpack or notebook, we get last minute changes to other events which didn't originally cause any problems but now do! And we have aging parents to take care of or who die leaving us a whole new pile of responsibilities. I don't mean to sound whiny but for some this is our reality. Sometimes things slip and we dont realize it or we do but many months have passed.

My teacher who also teaches my son sometimes mentions she can't believe people ask if they can change the schedule. It stresses her out when people ask for changes. I've explained to her that sometimes that happens to us too. Not because we are trying to stress her out just because it is what it is. Also the more kids there are the more juggling that needs to happen. When she heard my side of it she realized it's not a hit against her or piano in general. It's just us trying to keep everything going.

Recently I asked to switch my son from Friday to another day. She had a spot on Thursday so we switched. It was requested because we found our schedules were way too hectic not because we didn't value piano lessons, her, or her time.

So I'm saying cut the parents and child some slack this last time. Have your policies ready, explain them, stick too them, and teach the student. That is after all what gives you the most joy!
Posted by: MaggieGirl

Re: Suspicious reason for student "disappearance" - 01/02/13 02:03 PM

How can you teach the student if the family doesn't show up? Or takes a month of off? Or puts them in and takes them out at a random time?

If economics were the riding point then I would take them, have them prepay by the quarter and have a no make up policy - for them only. Then you only have to think about them every quarter.

But also, I think if you believe they are creating such huge involved lies they aren't people -client or other - that I would want to be involved with.

But as a parent if a teacher thought I was lying about an injury or out of the country for 4 months situation, I wouldn't want the teacher. So in this case it sounds better to call it quits.
Posted by: Jeff Clef

Re: Suspicious reason for student "disappearance" - 01/02/13 07:58 PM

"...JeffClef, btb, Tim, is it really worth your time and energy participating in this topic to criticize my wording?..."

Oh, yes--- I find the Teachers' Forum very interesting. But, chasing--- I was not criticizing you, or your wording! Not at all my intention--- I'm glad you asked, so I can correct the misimpression. If we were speaking in person, you would have seen my eyes twinkle.

However, I was serious in describing the parents as 'flaky...' and I think it's no more than fair, if they behaved as you said. I could also have added 'discourteous.' Nicer people might have just told you, straight out, that they couldn't continue--- they might even have said, "Thank you for helping our child."

On the whole, I think it's better to laugh than to scream. But I was laughing with you, not at you, and I wish you better luck with your future customers. I do not think those people deserved you.

BTW, I would not be in the least surprised to see a show with a similarly spicy title one of those cable channels--- evidently, people do watch them.
Posted by: chasingrainbows

Re: Suspicious reason for student "disappearance" - 01/04/13 06:11 PM

Maggiegirl, you are right - this family emphasized how committed they were and that they wanted a specific time, and would keep that. Of course after a few months, they asked to change their time, which I was able to accommodate. After this 4 month disappearance, she truly thought her slot was still open and again said they were totally committed. We obviously have differing ideas of what commitment entails. At the very least, an reply to my emails would have sufficed for me to take them back again.

Zoe, thanks for the parental input. I value your feedback. I may follow Maggie's suggestion and have them pay quarterly in the future, but that still doesn't prevent them from dropping off the planet for months at a time without any notice. BTW, I've cut them slack on quite a few occastions, changing their schedule upon their request, doing makeups even though they didn't provide 24 hours notice.
Posted by: chasingrainbows

Re: Suspicious reason for student "disappearance" - 01/04/13 06:13 PM

Originally Posted By: Jeff Clef
"...JeffClef, btb, Tim, is it really worth your time and energy participating in this topic to criticize my wording?..."

Oh, yes--- I find the Teachers' Forum very interesting. But, chasing--- I was not criticizing you, or your wording! Not at all my intention--- I'm glad you asked, so I can correct the misimpression. If we were speaking in person, you would have seen my eyes twinkle.

However, I was serious in describing the parents as 'flaky...' and I think it's no more than fair, if they behaved as you said. I could also have added 'discourteous.' Nicer people might have just told you, straight out, that they couldn't continue--- they might even have said, "Thank you for helping our child."

On the whole, I think it's better to laugh than to scream. But I was laughing with you, not at you, and I wish you better luck with your future customers. I do not think those people deserved you.

BTW, I would not be in the least surprised to see a show with a similarly spicy title one of those cable channels--- evidently, people do watch them.


Hi Jeff, thanks for the response. I guess the internet isn't always the optimal medium for communication. I appreciate your feedback. smile
Posted by: ZoeCalgary

Re: Suspicious reason for student "disappearance" - 01/05/13 12:36 AM

Well it does sound like you've given many second chances. It sounds like history shows there is a pattern here. Unfortunate for the student as they are caught in this parental behavior. The more I think about this the more stressed for you I feel. I believe in your shoes I would be tempted to take them if I had a open spot. If I didn't I would just say sorry, during your absence I got another student(s) and my schedule is now full. If you do take them back explain that an unexplained absence of xxx days means they will lose their spot in your studio.

All the best to you. Too bad some people have such odd (often unacceptable) behavior. It's rude and not really necessary.
Posted by: btb

Re: Suspicious reason for student "disappearance" - 01/05/13 03:09 AM

I'm always chasing rainbows,
Watching clouds drifting by,
My schemes are just like all my dreams,
Ending in the sky.
Some fellows look and find the sunshine,
I always look and find the rain.
Some fellows make a winning sometime,
I never even make a gain, believe me,
I'm always chasing rainbows,
I'm watching for a little bluebird in vain.

Remember Judy Garland and the bad witch.
Posted by: Morodiene

Re: Suspicious reason for student "disappearance" - 01/05/13 05:18 PM

Originally Posted By: btb
I'm always chasing rainbows,
Watching clouds drifting by,
My schemes are just like all my dreams,
Ending in the sky.
Some fellows look and find the sunshine,
I always look and find the rain.
Some fellows make a winning sometime,
I never even make a gain, believe me,
I'm always chasing rainbows,
I'm watching for a little bluebird in vain.

Remember Judy Garland and the bad witch.


Posted by: TimR

Re: Suspicious reason for student "disappearance" - 01/06/13 04:42 PM

Or,

While lookin' at my feet, at a crack in the sidewalk
An old tin can by the side of the road
I nearly missed a rainbow
I nearly missed a sunset
I nearly missed a shooting star going by

While studying a brand new hole in my sneaker
And finding a quarter and an old bus token
I nearly missed a rainbow
I nearly missed a sunset
I nearly missed a shooting star going by

Looking down at the ground means you know where you're going
No head up in the clouds to lead you astray
But you can't ever have any kind of dream that way

Looking down at the ground means you know where you're going
No head up in the clouds to lead you astray
But you can't ever have any kind of dream that way

While looking at my feet at a crack in the sidewalk
An old tin can by the side of the road
I nearly missed a rainbow
Elmo nearly missed a sunset
I would've missed a shooting star going by

I nearly missed a rainbow
Don't want to miss that sunset
I wouldn't miss a shooting start going by
Passing me by
Passing me by
Posted by: BeccaBb

Re: Suspicious reason for student "disappearance" - 01/06/13 07:26 PM

TimR,

+1!!!