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#20115 - 03/16/05 07:22 PM bringing up an old topic
Christina Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 09/10/04
Posts: 402
Loc: Canada
awhile ago, there was a topic about how some people look at piano teachers as nothing serious, just something to do, and how "nice" it was that we got to stay at home, and the thoughtless comments that people made to us. i just got one that i wanted to share.

my extremely spoiled and selfish sister-in-law actually asked my husband how much i would charge to cancel my lessons for one week so i could babysit her 1 yr. old son because she needs to "get away". (this is after she's been back at work for 2 months after a 1 yr. maternity leave. this is also the "woman" who was so hard done by at christmas because she was finding such a hard time getting all the things she needed to get done - in between getting her eyebrows waxed at the salon. i could go on forever with examples). but i couldn't believe she had the GALL to even suggest that my teaching was anything inferior to what she does. i'm sorry for venting, but it just made me so angry (i'm probably just angry because she's my sister-in-law...)

my husband just told her she couldn't afford me. he's so cool...i don't think i could've said it better myself.
_________________________
"Laughter is the shortest distance between two friends" - Victor Borge

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#20116 - 03/17/05 03:29 AM Re: bringing up an old topic
Syndi Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 04/20/04
Posts: 134
Loc: Louisville, Ky
I've been teaching for over 25 years and I still get the impression that my lessons "are just that thing that Syndi does." Little comments every once in a while like, "Oh, I forgot that you work too." I've also been asked to cancel a week's worth of lessons at the drop of a hat. The same one's that ask me to take a week away from my lessons wouldn't dream of taking a week off from their "job"! I think maybe it comes from the fact that I am in my own living room all day every day instead of having to leave the house. They just don't think. Even my mother is guilty and she has always been one of my greatest cheerleaders when it comes to my music!! I just try to laugh it off to brain ____!! It comes out of their mouths before they think!! \:D

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#20117 - 03/17/05 04:36 AM Re: bringing up an old topic
Lilla Offline
Star Member

Registered: 10/30/00
Posts: 1573
Loc: Chicago
My family, friends, and acquaintances take my piano teaching seriously. That's because I do. I take almost no time off. No summers, only the major holidays, only personal emergencies. Teaching is serious stuff, and the income derived from teaching is serious stuff. Learning piano is serious stuff. Remember the saying "If I don't practice one day . . ."? There is no room for continous lesson cancellations. That means that when a family event occurs during my scheduled lesson times, I come when and if I can or send a gift. I don't cancel. Spring break? I don't take one. After all, the part time corporate job I work doesn't give me spring break. It also doesn't give me holidays other than the biggest (July 4, Mem. Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, New Years, Christmas). That's it - no other holidays. It also doesn't give me the summers off. I do make one exception. Since I teach on Sundays, I do cancel for Mother's Day. No one has ever complained. I do not cancel for Father's Day. No one has ever complained. Guess it's a woman thing. I realize many of you either teach in the school system, or model your schedules after the school programs - thereby participating in the summers/holidays off calendar. That's all right. The one day a week I teach at the park district offers spring break, and extended holiday breaks. It's nice to get that one day a week off once in awhile, but it doesn't work for me in my private studio. JMHO

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#20118 - 03/17/05 05:52 AM Re: bringing up an old topic
jaydub2 Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 01/29/04
Posts: 250
Loc: WA
Christina - I think you should give your sis-in-law the dollar figure for how much money you make for 1 week of lessons. Maybe when she knows that piano teachers make pretty darn good money....she might shut-up and respect your profession a bit more.

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#20119 - 03/17/05 07:17 AM Re: bringing up an old topic
Christina Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 09/10/04
Posts: 402
Loc: Canada
unfortunately she's the type of person who will never understand that what other people do isn't nearly as important as what she does.
_________________________
"Laughter is the shortest distance between two friends" - Victor Borge

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#20120 - 03/17/05 10:16 AM Re: bringing up an old topic
PFVTeach Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 09/17/04
Posts: 481
Loc: USA
yikes!
do you not give any other days around holidays off for thanksgiving, christmas, new years? your anniversary? how do your students keep from being "burned out" with no time off?

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#20121 - 03/17/05 07:39 PM Re: bringing up an old topic
Doenny Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 02/15/05
Posts: 155
Loc: Canada
I agree!!! I would burn out if I didn't take summer off! I need at least one month (during summer). How do you cope?
_________________________
"There are still so many beautiful things to be said in C major."
- Sergei Prokofiev

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#20122 - 03/18/05 04:03 AM Re: bringing up an old topic
Lilla Offline
Star Member

Registered: 10/30/00
Posts: 1573
Loc: Chicago
I should clarify. I do not teach any advanced students, university students, or students working on juries, solo recitals, etc. So, no students practicing hours per day. At Christmas time I do substitute group classes for a period of about 2 weeks. At recital time, we replace the following weeks' lessons with the recital, which I count as a group lesson. Other than that, any lessons which fall on holidays are cancelled and rescheduled if the parent chooses. Some families take vacations - they may or may not reschedule those lessons. Some families travel extensively overseas and take a couple months off in the summer. I always try to send materials along with the student to keep up their interest in piano. I had one family take their child out of lessons this past December, but I think primarily because mom was pregnant and needed the break. I felt bad - she missed the Christmas performance class and all the awards and games that go with it.

Burn out? Students? Elementary students who practice 10-20 mins a day, and have a weekly 45-min. lessons? Diligent ones who practice 30 min? Ones who love the piano and can't stay away who practice an hour or more? What's to burn out from? Summer is wonderful. The students just soar, because they no longer have to balance practicing against homework.

This issue is really all about whether or not people perceive piano teaching as a serious profession. When we say that we can't cope, and we must take months (!) off in order to regroove, how can we be taken seriously? Look at the other high-intensity professions and consider whether or not they get to regroove during the summer. Intensive care nurses (who usually work double shifts), daycare workers, social workers -- in short, anyone with a stressful job. They are lucky to get their 2 paid weeks, and even luckier if they get to take them. Especially, 2 weeks in a row. The usual response to this is that we are piano teachers and we are a special case, etc., etc. Why?

For me? No I don't burn out. I have worked full time since the age of 21. I never had a choice. (Actually, all my life since mom and dad both had their own business.) Summers off? How I wish I had gone into school teaching. Then I could have the summers off. But the reality is that I'm supporting myself and my family. I haven't had a paid 2-week vacation since I became self-employed. Eventually, I hope to have my fee at that level, but it's not there yet. Soon, soon, soon . And in all honesty, with 3 active kids, taking a vacation is kind of moot. Baseball goes all summer and into the fall - couldn't dream of leaving town. College expenses keep coming, even in the summer. Vacation is a nice thought - maybe in retirement. Oh. That's right. This is what I intend to do for my retirement. That goodness, I love it!

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#20123 - 03/18/05 04:45 AM Re: bringing up an old topic
Lyndall Offline
Regular Member

Registered: 01/18/03
Posts: 99
Loc: Idaho Falls
 Quote:
Summer is wonderful. The students just soar, because they no longer have to balance practicing against homework.
You're lucky! Most of my students are barely home long enough to even open the piano lid let alone sit down to play. I ask for them to attend at least 5 lessons plus my week-long piano camp but some of them are honestly not in town for 5 weeks the entire summer. Others are fully booked with every possible kind of day camp or swimming lessons or horse riding school.

This year I will aim for the same schedule but will place less hope on continuity of 'learning'. We will again focus on 'fun, supplemental repertoire' but I will know what to expect (or what I should NOT expect) out of them.

I will be taking about a month off - not from burnout - but because my husband & I are trying to keep with tradition by making it to the Tour de France again!

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#20124 - 03/18/05 05:13 AM Re: bringing up an old topic
minuet Offline
Contributing Member

Registered: 01/03/04
Posts: 47
Loc: North Carolina
I have never taken the whole summer off because I fear that students will not return and I will have no income. I have noticed that when students are out for a long time, some of them do not resume lessons in the fall--adults mostly. It seems like the accountability of coming to lessons in the summer keeps them going.

On the topic of being taken seriously as a piano teacher and "is it a real job?", people make me so mad sometimes with comments about how I have it made having the mornings off and time on my hands. As you all know, we are on call most of the time. Phone calls, lesson plans, etc. One week I charted all outside time spent on my work, aside from actually teaching. I was amazed at how the hours added up to more than a full-time work week. So from then on, when someone is nosy about what I really do all day, I share with them the reality of time spent on work. They probably think I'm a psycho, but oh well.

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