Best way to leave a teacher

Posted by: Mark...

Best way to leave a teacher - 01/16/13 07:54 PM

I have been with the same teacher for the past 6 years and I'm looking to switch teachers. We get along fine and have no issues, but I feel I need a change at this time. I have found another teacher, and feel this change might help me. I feel as I'm in a rut. I believe this will challenge me.

I planned on giving notice yesterday at my lesson, but couldn't get the nerve to tell her. Any suggestions. I don't want to cause hard feelings, but I'm afraid the truth might be upsetting. I don't want to lie either, but it might be less hurtful.

Help!
Posted by: keystring

Re: Best way to leave a teacher - 01/16/13 08:08 PM

On the practical side, your teacher needs advance time so that she can find a student to replace you, who can come in your time slot. Or to juggle students around. You also represent steady predictable income, and it's fair to help her out on the business side of things. On the human side of things, I think your student would like to know that you appreciate what she taught you, that you feel you are the musician that you are at this point because of her teaching, and maybe you could mention something that was especially significant to you that she gave you.
Posted by: Mark...

Re: Best way to leave a teacher - 01/16/13 08:13 PM

Thanks for the reply. I'm paid up through January. Is two weeks enough notice? I'm not scheduled until Feb, is giving notice over the phone adequate?
Posted by: Peter K. Mose

Re: Best way to leave a teacher - 01/16/13 08:20 PM

You can't just leave a teacher on two weeks' notice after 6 years. Whether the teacher has an explicit exit policy or not.

I would tell her soon that you plan on taking a break from your studies with her at the end of, say, February or March. Or whenever you might next be taking a vacation anyway. Tell her that after 6 years you now need some time simply to make music on your own, to digest all you have learned from her.

She might get the picture. Or not. Either way, once you stop lessons with her, your relationship has ended (unless she is also a personal friend), and starting up with another teacher becomes free and easy.

I'd say something to her in person. Or write her a personal note.
Posted by: TimR

Re: Best way to leave a teacher - 01/16/13 08:42 PM

Sorry but I have to do this. And now I have an earworm - fair warning.

Quote:
"The problem is all inside your head", she said to me
The answer is easy if you take it logically
I'd like to help you in your struggle to be free
There must be fifty ways to leave your teacher

She said it's really not my habit to intrude
Furthermore, I hope my meaning won't be lost or misconstrued
But I'll repeat myself, at the risk of being crude
There must be fifty ways to leave your teacher
Fifty ways to leave your teacher

You just slip out the back, Jack
Make a new plan, Stan
You don't need to be coy, Roy
Just get yourself free
Hop on the bus, Gus
You don't need to discuss much
Just drop off the key, Lee
And get yourself free

Ooo slip out the back, Jack
Make a new plan, Stan
You don't need to be coy, Roy
Just listen to me
Hop on the bus, Gus
You don't need to discuss much
Just drop off the key, Lee
And get yourself free

She said it grieves me so to see you in such pain
I wish there was something I could do to make you smile again
I said I appreciate that and would you please explain
About the fifty ways

She said why don't we both just sleep on it tonight
And I believe in the morning you'll begin to see the light
And then she kissed me and I realized she probably was right
There must be fifty ways to leave your teacher
Fifty ways to leave your teacher

You just slip out the back, Jack
Make a new plan, Stan
You don't need to be coy, Roy
Just get yourself free
Hop on the bus, Gus
You don't need to discuss much
Just drop off the key, Lee
And get yourself free

Slip out the back, Jack
Make a new plan, Stan
You don't need to be coy, Roy
Just listen to me
Hop on the bus, Gus
You don't need to discuss much
Just drop off the key, Lee
And get yourself free
Posted by: Barb860

Re: Best way to leave a teacher - 01/16/13 10:50 PM

TimR you are hilarious!!!! thanks for the laugh for today!!!! LOLOL
Posted by: Brinestone

Re: Best way to leave a teacher - 01/16/13 10:58 PM

I don't like the idea of lying to her, and I don't think you "owe" a teacher more than a month's notice by any means. I haven't been teaching six years yet, but if I had, I wouldn't expect more than a few weeks' notice that a student was leaving.

I do like the idea of telling her you're grateful for what she's taught you. I actually wouldn't mind a student saying they wanted to see if they could grow in different ways with a different teacher. I'd probably say, "Way to go! I hope it works out for you," but I'm not living solely on what I make as a teacher right now. A lot depends on the nature of your relationship with your teacher, which only you know.

A nice gesture might be to ask if she minds you referring others to her in the future.
Posted by: Minniemay

Re: Best way to leave a teacher - 01/17/13 12:10 AM

Whether or not one depends on the income should have no part in the thinking here. One month notice is standard courtesy and a handwritten note of appreciation would be thoughtful and appropriate.

I would either call or send an email and follow it up with the personal handwritten note.
Posted by: Nikolas

Re: Best way to leave a teacher - 01/17/13 01:35 AM

First of all...

We need to remember that 'owe' is a strong word. This student has been giving his money to his teacher for the past six years. I'd say that for such loyalty the teacher owes the student quite a bit as well! (if you get my point).

In the US, how many weeks/months notice do employees get from employers when fired? Here in Greece things suck. My wife got in her office, a couple of years ago, to be told that she wasn't to work there anymore and left the same day (without working on that same day), and things are getting worst little by little over here.

Now the part on 'how to tell her' is the easy part I think. You just tell her that you feel the need to move on. Moving on doesn't mean moving upwards, or going somewhere better necessarily. It just means 'going some place else'. You could also say that it isn't her, but you. That you need some time to think things over. That you want your own space and time. That you feel the pressure raising from her friends, etc, but that would be totally misleading (and hilarious at the same time) (and yes, I'm, kidding...)
Posted by: Amy B

Re: Best way to leave a teacher - 01/17/13 01:54 AM

TimR.....that was already in my head before I saw your post! :-)
Posted by: casinitaly

Re: Best way to leave a teacher - 01/17/13 02:25 AM

I think most teachers expect students to move on at some time.

Be courteous - I think after six years an email is a lousy way to let her know you feel the need to move on.
If you are uncomfortable discussing it - then write a nice letter, and then at the end of your lesson tell her that you think it is time for a change, and that you've written about it in the letter.

Give notice - whatever is in the policy or courteous. If you pay by the month I would think that 1 month might be the guideline for a reasonable departure notice.
Posted by: Ben Crosland

Re: Best way to leave a teacher - 01/17/13 02:47 AM

These days, anything more than just getting dumped by text seems to be a bonus.
Posted by: Bobpickle

Re: Best way to leave a teacher - 01/17/13 03:19 AM

Originally Posted By: keystring
On the practical side, your teacher needs advance time so that she can find a student to replace you, who can come in your time slot. Or to juggle students around. You also represent steady predictable income, and it's fair to help her out on the business side of things. On the human side of things, I think your student would like to know that you appreciate what she taught you, that you feel you are the musician that you are at this point because of her teaching, and maybe you could mention something that was especially significant to you that she gave you.


Originally Posted By: Minniemay
Whether or not one depends on the income should have no part in the thinking here. One month notice is standard courtesy and a handwritten note of appreciation would be thoughtful and appropriate.

I would either call or send an email and follow it up with the personal handwritten note.


With something difficult such as this, I'd likely go with Minniemay's suggestion of a handwritten note (take it from the experienced and empathetic two above female teachers). Surely they've helped you with some difficult lessons (music and life) over this extended period of time that you could express [specific] appreciation for?

I'd certainly give no less than a month's notice so you have a period of time with her to wrap things up. Also, less than one month's notice (ex. two weeks) is hardly fair from a business perspective when most teachers deal with scheduling and most certainly, finances, on a month-to-month basis, let alone from the arguably more important relational perspective.
Posted by: Overexposed

Re: Best way to leave a teacher - 01/17/13 08:03 AM

Originally Posted By: Mark...
I don't want to cause hard feelings, but I'm afraid the truth might be upsetting. I don't want to lie either, but it might be less hurtful.


I wouldn't worry about breaking your teacher's heart. We are well aware that each student who begins lessons will at some point decide to stop lessons.

I only agonized one time over losing a student. And I only agonized out of insecurity. Since then I've gained experience and confidence and accept the changes easily.

Check your teacher's policy to see what notice of termination is requested. I ask for just 2 weeks notice.

It's always nice to have a handwritten note of appreciation. It makes for a beautiful ending.
Posted by: Morodiene

Re: Best way to leave a teacher - 01/17/13 09:05 AM

If your teacher does not have an explicit termination policy, why not ask her what she would like as notice? Then she can determine if the end of January is fine.

I second the handwritten note thing. Email and texts are awful, no matter how long you've been studying with the teacher. A personal conversation, however, is the best. As long as what you say is respectful, there's nothing to fear. I'm pretty sure she's not going to burst into tears on the spot (or later even). Chances are she feels that your progress/interest has waned and is waiting for you to arrive at the same conclusion. I usually don't terminate my students, but wait for them to make that choice, and it's quite possible your teacher is doing the same.

Be prepared, however, for the teacher to disagree. If you have made up your mind, just have very clear, concise words to explain your decision, and let her know that if you change your mind you will not hesitate to return.

Also stress that you have appreciated the time together and that you will do your best to remember all of the things she taught you.
Posted by: Mark...

Re: Best way to leave a teacher - 01/17/13 09:38 AM

Thanks for all the info. I'm going to talk to her shortly and give a over months notice.
Posted by: TimR

Re: Best way to leave a teacher - 01/17/13 10:28 AM

"and just so you'll know that my decision is final, I'm not going to give any reasons."
Posted by: Jeff Clef

Re: Best way to leave a teacher - 01/17/13 10:59 AM

A month's notice. A nice note, thanking her--- maybe even a small present--- and also telling her in person would be nice. Observing that you want to study with another teacher is your reason, no need to say any more.

I like the idea of asking if you may refer other students to her. That is graceful, and carries its own message.

Maybe, as a remembrance, a nice edition of some music that you know she likes. One of my teachers was playing 'Hammerklavier' from a score that was, literally, in tatters.
Posted by: sonataplayer

Re: Best way to leave a teacher - 01/17/13 01:59 PM

I know I'm coming into this discussion rather late. Lots of people have offered excellent suggestions about how to leave this teacher with kindness and grace.

What I'm wondering, given that you've studied with this teacher for 6 years, is that perhaps she's feeling that it's time for you to move on as well, and she may actually be relieved that you are coming to that conclusion on your own.

I currently have two students (siblings) who I have taught for five years. They are great students, and have made wonderful progress...so much progress, in fact, that I am becoming somewhat uncomfortable teaching them. I think they would really benefit from a teacher who could offer them a broader range of experience with the classical repertoire. I am thinking that I will teach them through the end of the year, but after the June recital, I will be telling them that I feel they've learned all they can from me and that it's time for them to move on. It will be hard. They are great kids and a joy to teach and, of course, I will be losing some income by letting them go, but they need to move on, whether they realize it or not.
Posted by: AZNpiano

Re: Best way to leave a teacher - 01/17/13 06:57 PM

Originally Posted By: Mark...
I don't want to lie either, but it might be less hurtful.

Don't lie. It's far more awkward for all involved later on to discover that you lied in the first place.
Posted by: KurtZ

Re: Best way to leave a teacher - 01/20/13 01:36 PM

Simple honesty is always safe for you and better for your karma. If you have been honest in a kind way, the other person's reaction is of their own making and responsibility. I ADORE my teacher but just had to tell her that I won't be coming back after this interminable bout of tendinitis because I would be looking for an injury retraining specialist. I got a nice hug and she told me it makes a lot of sense. I would have a similar lack of consternation (very little) if I felt I was ready for new viewpoints or approaches in my artistic or technical development.

Anyone know an injury retraining piano teacher within a half hour of Los Angeles? Taubman/Golandsky don't have any listed in California. PM's are fine.

Kurt
Posted by: LoPresti

Re: Best way to leave a teacher - 01/22/13 09:51 PM

Originally Posted By: casinitaly
Be courteous - I think after six years an email is a lousy way to let her know you feel the need to move on.

I agree. Just "text her" and be done with it!

-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
Hey Tim,
I didn't know you knew how to play "Simon says . . ."

Priceless!!
Posted by: Chris H.

Re: Best way to leave a teacher - 01/24/13 10:35 AM

Or you could do what one of my students did this term and just not bother showing up at all. If only they knew how relieved I was.
Posted by: keystring

Re: Best way to leave a teacher - 01/24/13 11:42 AM

Originally Posted By: Chris H.
Or you could do what one of my students did this term and just not bother showing up at all. If only they knew how relieved I was.

I see this as venting rather than advice, and I suggest to not take this as advice. A poor student who does not bother to work with what has been given by a good teacher, and maybe has less than stellar behaviour in lessons can be a drain on the teacher. Eventually not showing up is probably part of a long cycle of such things, and thus it's a relief (to a longtime frustration). Regardless, not showing up one day is rude and thoughtless. Teachers are not ATM's - Automated Teaching Machines.

But if a student has been with his teacher for six years then I suggest a month's notice in order to give him/her a chance to get the business die in order, and include a word of appreciation.
Posted by: Chris H.

Re: Best way to leave a teacher - 01/24/13 12:37 PM

It wasn't meant to be advice, just the reality of how these things often go nowadays. A lot of people see buying piano lessons as no different to buying groceries. And I wasn't really venting, for every student who leaves there is always another to take their place.

My advice would be to tell your teacher at the next lesson that you are grateful for what she has done but that you would like to stop lessons. She will let you know what is acceptable in terms of notice and I guarantee she has dealt with this many times before. So don't worry about it, although the fact you are worried about it is nice.
Posted by: keystring

Re: Best way to leave a teacher - 01/24/13 01:37 PM

Yes, I understood it wasn't meant as advice. But I remember when I first came to forums looking for answers, I might see such a thing as advice, or in the least, be puzzled. As students we only know our own reality and not what teachers experience daily with their myriad students and parents, over years. That can result in some rather weird impressions. Sometimes these boards are the first stop in sorting out things in an unfamiliar world. I have a t-shirt to pass on in this regards. laugh
Posted by: Chris H.

Re: Best way to leave a teacher - 01/24/13 02:25 PM

Fair point keystring.

I can see why students would think of this as a really big deal and imagine that their teacher will get upset and perhaps take it personally. In most cases though it's absolutely fine. Any full time teacher is used to students coming and going for whatever reason and understand that that nobody will take piano lessons for ever. Best thing is to be honest and open. It might turn out that this teacher will agree that after six years it's perhaps time to move on and get a fresh perspective.
Posted by: Nannerl Mozart

Re: Best way to leave a teacher - 01/25/13 05:41 AM

KS, I'm pretty sure Chris was using sarcasm and humour, at least that was how I read it.