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#12700 - 06/07/05 09:45 AM What You'd LIke Parents To Know
PFVTeach Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 09/17/04
Posts: 481
Loc: USA
This topic could probably go in several places in here, but because I would like to know everyone's candid and totally honest feelings and response to this I put it in here. Thought it would be fun to be able to voice all the things we wish parents knew from our perspective in a totally "what we wish we could say" way. Please keep names of actual students to either just first initial or "susie" or "johnny" etc..
I am curious to know what kinds of things that you wish parents would understand about lessons, interviews prior to lessons and anything to do with lessons (performances, teaching practice in general, etc..)

I wish parents understood that we interview perspective students not just for level placement and readiness but also to see if the student Or the parents are complete impossible pain in the necks or not before we comitt to taking you as a teacher.

#12701 - 06/07/05 10:35 AM Re: What You'd LIke Parents To Know
Whitney Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 11/21/04
Posts: 139
Loc: California
I wish parents understood that I put SO SO SO much time and money into running my piano studio. I wish they knew this because then they might not be so grumpy about having to pay for the occasional lesson they miss. My husband and I figured out that after my expenses I'm really only making less than 1/2 of what they pay and that's BEFORE taxes. If you factor all the time I spend making lesson plans, recital plans, buying books, etc., I'm making less than minimum wage per hour. I obviously teach because I LOVE it---I'm definitely not doing it for the money. I just wish they realized that.

#12702 - 06/07/05 11:33 AM Re: What You'd LIke Parents To Know
Christina Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 09/10/04
Posts: 402
Loc: Canada
i wish parents would understand that extra theory lessons are NOT a way for teachers to make more money. you can't teach anything past the "method books' theory books" theory in the last 5 mins. of a lesson, and that it actually takes a whole lesson to teach theory. when they reach a certain level of piano, it's a REQUIREMENT by the RCM to have their theory certificates if they want their piano certificates.
"Laughter is the shortest distance between two friends" - Victor Borge

#12703 - 06/07/05 11:55 AM Re: What You'd LIke Parents To Know
dlinder Offline
Mainstay Member

Registered: 03/11/01
Posts: 689
Loc: Ohio
This applies to not only piano but academics as well:
I wish parents understood that Johnny will not learn much by just being in class without outside practice/help. There is no way that a teacher can "force" them somehow to learn everything they need to know and make it stick in the short time that we have them.
I also wish parents understood just how much we love our students and want to see them succeed-not just for our own sense of success but for theirs ultimately.

#12704 - 06/07/05 03:57 PM Re: What You'd LIke Parents To Know
clarinetlady Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 09/30/04
Posts: 177
Loc: Toronto,ON
Some things I wish parents would understand (though have not necessarily occurred with me)...

* That I am extremely serious about piano students learning on a real piano practically from the very beginning (including quality digital pianos), and not an electronic keyboard. Besides myself hating the sound, the lack of pedal, and touch of electronic keyboards, it's extremely difficult if not impossible to play duets with students, there is the range issue, the fact that most keyboards are placed too high, how the stands of many electronic keyboards fall off,keyboards shifting around on a table or keyboard stand, students seem to have greater difficulty with playing staccato, and then the dynamic range of even touch-sensitive keyboards. Good thing Faber's Piano Adventures shows a clear need for a proper piano late in the primer book and early in the Level 1 book... I am so serious about this that I no longer will teach students wanting to start on an electronic keyboard (I used to say 2-3 months); I have them purchase, rent, or borrow a piano, or, in the very least have the lesson at a friend or relative's place who does have a proper piano. (the parents quickly see why it's that important!) Actually, I wrote an article on "12 reasons to use a piano from the very beginning of piano lessons (and avoid one of the most common reasons for being dismissed by a piano teacher!"--if you want a copy, PM (private message)me.)

* That even if the student quits the piano and studies another instrument privately, the piano will be useful for the student being able to have someone play the piano parts of music for most instruments, or help them with music theory. Then the entertainment value, then what if another child (or yourself!) become interested in the piano?

* That the reason private music teacher's charge a month in advance is not only to make our financial records easier to maintain, but allows us to plan for future events and further our own education! (And in fact, it is easier to remember one lesson payment a month, than one per week!)

* That the reason we ask for a month in advance and a proper piano is not that we are being greedy; we are giving the student a solid musical foundation. (One former student's parents actually told me this!)

* That the most successful and focussed students are those who don't do more than one other activity (maybe two) in the week. It also allows lessons to be rescheduled and extra lessons before exams.

* That many group piano classes are awful, and I recommended that you pull your child out of a poor-quality one immediately if I see that is the case.

* That extra lessons are often necessary before an exam, audition, or competition. (however, I usually just compress the number of lessons they pay for giving the student a week or two off after)

* That if you ask me to have the student take a month or more off from lessons for any reason, you are quite seriously disrupting my plan for things that I plan to work on with the student over the 3-6 months! Therefore I will say no.

* That last-minute terminations of lessons make things very hard for private music teachers. With at least 2 week's notice (and I prefer at least one month), I can easily make the student's last lesson special. It also allows me to prepare emotionally and perhaps financially as well. For example, one parent who gave me two month's notice after the student had been studying almost 3 years, I gave a small gift after his exam (a Blink-182 CD, a band he absolutely loves!) to the student, wrote a letter of appreciation to the student and one for his parents, and got some photos done on my camera.

(added June 8, 2005)

* That I consider private music lessons as a regular, long-term committment, and not merely for the student to "get a good start", remedial, or to help students catch up to the class; I consider them as a means of helping students truly achieve excellence in music.

* Don't allow the student to write in note names, nor should anyone else do it. The music soon gets too fast for that to be possible.

* Trust my methods. I know they work.

* Do things the teacher's way. Most private music teachers are reasonable, and some give a student a couple of weeks off from lessons after an exam, audition, or competition.

* One of the best things that you can do for private teachers is to give them good referrals!

* I will not accept lessons for beginner and most intermediate students less often than once a week.

* Year-round lessons are strongly recommended, especially in the first year or two of study. For clarinet students, lots of auditions happen in September or early October. Then many students find a music exam in August easier than one in January or June.

* The first month of lessons will be expensive, because of the purchase of books, materials, lessons, and the rental or purchase instrument.

* Tuition increases allow us to keep up with the growing costs of living and the growing cost of music and furthering our education.

* Teaching fewer students at a higher lesson fee means the teacher can give more individual attention per student, the teacher will be more focussed, and the teacher will have time for other musical and personal commitments they have.The teacher is also able to do more for each student. It also means that the average quality of student may be higher.

* That if you do anything stupid, chances are, the teacher's musical colleagues will hear about it, or it will be discussed on a teacher's forum.

(added June 9, 2005)

* That it's stressful for a student to constantly change private teachers. (this is a big downside of private lessons in music schools in the city I live in--high turnover of teachers, many leave after a year or two, judging by the constant advertising for teachers many music schools here do)

* That if you continually mess around with private teachers, you'll likely end up with a teacher who doesn't know how to teach and is desperate for students--if the student doesn't quit music lessons first. Good teachers making sufficient income from teaching (or teaching and doing other musical jobs)are not willing to tolerate stupidity, and even some teachers not at that point will not tolerate it either.

* Students can become very attached to their private teachers. Good teachers know how to connect with students and challenge them to play their best.

* That if siblings of the same instrument happen to end up needing different teachers (one for each), it may be a good idea. Particularly with siblings at somewhat widely different levels, or when one of the siblings has a learning disability.

* Learning a band or string instrument (especially privately!) is encouraged by many piano teachers.

* Get a quality make of instrument. It's far better to pay $300 for a used instrument of a reputable make than to pay the same amount for a new instrument of questionable quality. Poor-quality instruments have poor mechanical action, tone, and intonation.

* Let the teacher help you choose a quality instrument, or at least recommend some brands. When it comes to musical instruments, you get what you pay for. Don't be one of those people who is stuck with a cheap import that breaks down within 3-6 months of purchase! (common with band and string instruments.)

* If I purchase music or other materials for you, I expect to be paid promptly. (Actually, I've only had this problem once, with a high school student who finally paid a month after I got the materials for her! Perhaps I have been fortunate?)

* Students will need new books and/or reeds approximately 2-3 times per year.

* I am never sure of what my summer income from lessons will be like. (Because of September auditions for some students, I teach a few summer-only students (and often get year-round students who start in the summer), which fills in some of the gaps with students who are not taking lessons (some students are away all summer, and the families informed me far in advance), so either take your summer lessons or have your September fees paid by the last lesson before the summer session to guarantee your spot for September.

* Financial issues are not a valid reason for terminating lessons. I will make considerations for students in challenging financial situations, by, depending on the level of the student and how long they've been studying, having the student or parents help me out with various tasks related to my business, have lessons a little less often, or shorter lessons.

* Most teachers cannot afford to include books and materials in lesson fees.

* Read the lesson details! Some teachers contain more than payment, makeup, and termination issues. (Mine, for example, includes ideas on who they might want to refer for lessons, and my teacher info when students register for RCM exams)

Though I feel like I am getting far fewer of the stupid clients than I did even a year ago...


#12705 - 06/08/05 02:28 AM Re: What You'd LIke Parents To Know
Susan Offline
Star Member

Registered: 01/03/01
Posts: 2168
Loc: Texas
I wish parents would not put students in piano lessons if they have no intention on following through on practice. Do they really believe a child can learn to play the piano just coming to lessons only?

#12706 - 06/08/05 04:08 AM Re: What You'd LIke Parents To Know
xstitch4me Offline
Star Member

Registered: 08/15/04
Posts: 2167
Loc: Idaho
I wish parents would realize that I depend on getting paid just like they do from their jobs. It irks me to no end when certain parents will continually not pay on time...and when you have to almost beg to get paid. Late fees don't even bother some people.

I wish parents would not "force" a student to take piano when they hate it. Enough said on that one.

I wish parents would have enough respect for my time to call if their child is not coming to lessons....instead I get "Oh, we left town and I forgot to call" or "Oh, we didn't get back from amusement park in time" - you get the idea.

However, right now with my 11 students for summer, I haven't had any of these complaints with any of should be a great summer.

#12707 - 06/09/05 09:48 AM Re: What You'd LIke Parents To Know
Christina Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 09/10/04
Posts: 402
Loc: Canada
oh! i just thought of another one - as my recital is looming in this weekend...

i wish parents would give piano lessons the same priority they give to other activities. when they're supposed to be somewhere (like a recital!!!) at a certain time and it has been booked MUCH farther in advance than something else (like a soccer game), but they think it's ok to switch times with the piano teacher rather than miss a game regardless of what was scheduled first. GRRR!!!
"Laughter is the shortest distance between two friends" - Victor Borge

#12708 - 06/10/05 07:51 AM Re: What You'd LIke Parents To Know
Lilla Offline
Star Member

Registered: 10/30/00
Posts: 1573
Loc: Chicago
I wish parents would understand that they don't have to make "every" activity. If the piano recital is coming up, that's it for the day. Done. Sorry - baseball practice, can't make it; gymnastics? nope. Scrapbooking party? sorry. Niece's neighbor's block party? nope. Gotta do a recital today. It's important. This is our priority. (yeah, I know. Wishful thinking.)

#12709 - 06/12/05 07:52 AM Re: What You'd LIke Parents To Know
PFVTeach Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 09/17/04
Posts: 481
Loc: USA
I have one of my own I need to add to this list.
I wish parents would not ask for time or day exceptions on the teachers schedule for their students. Don't they realize that we are not going to sacrifice our family time and life for them? Don't they realize how much time we put in for teaching with prep, their lesson and record keeping all ready without aksing for these exceptions to the rules?

Another one is please read nores that come home from the teacher. Don't discard them or throw them out because you think that it is not important. This would so clear up confusion if they would READ them and then THINK about what they just read which would avoid problems.

Finally, when teachers set a price for their time and lessons, don't try and barter a different one. We need to make a living to and we have the right to set our price fairly for our time and work that we put in, even when you're not around to see it. You don't quibble about the big money for sports, so why do you begrudge the poor piano teacher or flute teacher their price? Why do you feel we are open for barter and sports is not?

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