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When do you "Fire" a student? #2388917
02/21/15 12:53 AM
02/21/15 12:53 AM
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California
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pianoheart Offline OP
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Do you dismiss students? Why or why not?
What are some guidelines you use when you dismiss a student?

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Re: When do you "Fire" a student? [Re: pianoheart] #2388931
02/21/15 01:42 AM
02/21/15 01:42 AM
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Nikolas Offline
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When I can't stand them anymore! grin

I talk to the parents and explain the reasons for doing so... I will try to give them a chance or two, but if they won't be corrected to what I consider to be a valid way of acting in a piano studio, then they're out!

Re: When do you "Fire" a student? [Re: pianoheart] #2388943
02/21/15 02:43 AM
02/21/15 02:43 AM
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Orange County, CA
AZNpiano Offline
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I did. When I used to work two jobs, I could afford to dismiss students just like that. There was one girl who NEVER practiced piano, and her progress was slower than a snail. I fired her.

Right now I work just one job, so financially it's more difficult for me to let anyone go. That's why I've been holding onto a bunch of really really REALLY bad students. I just got two more students who, just a few years ago, I wouldn't have accepted into my studio.


Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member
Re: When do you "Fire" a student? [Re: pianoheart] #2389204
02/21/15 04:32 PM
02/21/15 04:32 PM
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Irvine, CA
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bzpiano Offline
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I have this in my policy:
Dismissal of Piano Lessons by Teacher:
Repeated failure to attend or prepare for lessons.
Nonpayment of tuition fees or invoices.
Not Showing as Contracted at State Convention


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Re: When do you "Fire" a student? [Re: bzpiano] #2389222
02/21/15 05:34 PM
02/21/15 05:34 PM
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keystring Offline
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Originally Posted by ezpiano.org
I have this in my policy:
Dismissal of Piano Lessons by Teacher:
Repeated failure to attend or prepare for lessons.
Nonpayment of tuition fees or invoices.
Not Showing as Contracted at State Convention

Ezpiano, all your points make sense except for the last one. I literally don't understand what you mean.

Re: When do you "Fire" a student? [Re: keystring] #2389283
02/21/15 08:02 PM
02/21/15 08:02 PM
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AZNpiano Offline
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Originally Posted by keystring
Originally Posted by ezpiano.org
I have this in my policy:
Dismissal of Piano Lessons by Teacher:
Repeated failure to attend or prepare for lessons.
Nonpayment of tuition fees or invoices.
Not Showing as Contracted at State Convention

Ezpiano, all your points make sense except for the last one. I literally don't understand what you mean.

That last clause is a uniquely MTAC problem. If students don't show up to Convention program as registered, then the TEACHER gets slammed. However, since it costs $30 to play, it's doubtful that students will just pull a no-show at one of these Convention recitals.

I don't have such a clause in my studio policy.


Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member
Re: When do you "Fire" a student? [Re: pianoheart] #2389347
02/21/15 09:50 PM
02/21/15 09:50 PM
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Posts: 1,924
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chasingrainbows Offline
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I may add such a clause in my policy! I usually let a student go if

They are continually rude during lessons
Consistently do not prepare for lessons and/or leave music home
Do not show interest in making progress
and of course,
failure to pay on time


Piano teacher, BA Music, MTNA member
Re: When do you "Fire" a student? [Re: pianoheart] #2389349
02/21/15 09:52 PM
02/21/15 09:52 PM
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keystring Offline
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I assume that a student who is taking lessons in order to learn how to play the piano well can opt out of these recitals. It would be a shame to dismiss a student who is practising diligently and progressing well, because of an event that has nothing to do with learning to play.

Re: When do you "Fire" a student? [Re: pianoheart] #2389384
02/22/15 12:39 AM
02/22/15 12:39 AM
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hreichgott Offline
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I've never fired a student.
But there have been several conversations along the lines of "This doesn't seem to be working, let's discuss how we should proceed." From non-payment to non-practice to no-shows to behavioral issues to simply being too young for lessons. Sometimes those conversations end with a decision to stop lessons. Sometimes the family meets me halfway and makes it work. I've discovered I never know for sure which students are really invested and which ones are disengaged, or where they'll be a year later... they can change so fast, especially kids.

Last edited by hreichgott; 02/22/15 12:39 AM.

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Re: When do you "Fire" a student? [Re: keystring] #2389398
02/22/15 01:11 AM
02/22/15 01:11 AM
Joined: Mar 2006
Posts: 7,639
Olympia, Washington, USA
John v.d.Brook Offline
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Originally Posted by keystring
I assume that a student who is taking lessons in order to learn how to play the piano well can opt out of these recitals. It would be a shame to dismiss a student who is practising diligently and progressing well, because of an event that has nothing to do with learning to play.

Ah, but it does. Students learn a lot about music and piano at these recitals. A common error adult students make is that learning to play piano is just a matter of hitting the right key at the right time. Life's not so simple. Have you ever heard the expression, "I played it better at home?" Teachers hear this all the time and inwardly groan. No, you didn't play it better at home, you just weren't listening! Playing in recitals focus your attention like nothing else will.

PS This isn't a personal criticism, just an observation on your point.


"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
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Re: When do you "Fire" a student? [Re: John v.d.Brook] #2389399
02/22/15 01:12 AM
02/22/15 01:12 AM
Joined: Mar 2006
Posts: 7,639
Olympia, Washington, USA
John v.d.Brook Offline
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I should add that this afternoon, my students all played in our chapter's Sonatina Festival. Guess what, "Yikes, I didn't really practice those problem areas enough."


"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA
Re: When do you "Fire" a student? [Re: John v.d.Brook] #2389400
02/22/15 01:16 AM
02/22/15 01:16 AM
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Olympia, Washington, USA
John v.d.Brook Offline
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Back OT, I haven't "fired" any students that I recall. Mostly, I let them make the discovery that piano isn't their forte. [Linked Image]


"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA
Re: When do you "Fire" a student? [Re: John v.d.Brook] #2389402
02/22/15 01:22 AM
02/22/15 01:22 AM
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Posts: 8,033
Orange County, CA
AZNpiano Offline
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Originally Posted by John v.d.Brook
I should add that this afternoon, my students all played in our chapter's Sonatina Festival. Guess what, "Yikes, I didn't really practice those problem areas enough."

I've been tempted to "fire" several students after those events.


Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member
Re: When do you "Fire" a student? [Re: pianoheart] #2389463
02/22/15 06:56 AM
02/22/15 06:56 AM
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Orange County, CA
AZNpiano Offline
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Well, a post here was deleted while I was writing a reply...

I think John extrapolated the MTAC Convention recitals to stand for ALL studio recitals in which students are forced to perform, and that extrapolation led to some misunderstanding of the situation being discussed, namely, the firing of a student over a no-show at a Convention recital.


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Re: When do you "Fire" a student? [Re: John v.d.Brook] #2389477
02/22/15 07:52 AM
02/22/15 07:52 AM
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Posts: 16,778
Canada
keystring Offline
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Originally Posted by John v.d.Brook
Originally Posted by keystring
I assume that a student who is taking lessons in order to learn how to play the piano well can opt out of these recitals. It would be a shame to dismiss a student who is practising diligently and progressing well, because of an event that has nothing to do with learning to play.

Ah, but it does. Students learn a lot about music and piano at these recitals. ....

John, my post was above all about the idea that a teacher would fire a student if the student does not attend these particular recitals. Not because the student doesn't practice or doesn't progress - the recitals appeared to be the reason. To kick a student out of a studio is a drastic measure, and I can imagine that it can be traumatic. If a student never practises and misses most lessons, I can see it. but not for missing an event that I imagine happens once or twice a year.

Now in your scenario - the student may learn about music at the recital; but if he hasn't learned how to play in the lessons and during practise, then he might as well be a spectator. In any case it's a red herring. I was addressing specifically the policy of kicking out a student because of not attending recitals. I can see it for not practising and not attending lessons, because these two things are essential for learning. A student can skip recitals and still learn, but the student cannot skip practising and still manage to participate in recitals. To me the two things are not on an equal level. I cannot imagine firing a student for not wanting to attend recitals. I can imagine it for not ever practising. I hope that makes sense.

Re: When do you "Fire" a student? [Re: AZNpiano] #2389478
02/22/15 07:55 AM
02/22/15 07:55 AM
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keystring Offline
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Well, a post here was deleted while I was writing a reply...

I think John extrapolated the MTAC Convention recitals to stand for ALL studio recitals in which students are forced to perform, and that extrapolation led to some misunderstanding of the situation being discussed, namely, the firing of a student over a no-show at a Convention recital.

That was me, AZN, sorry. I didn't like my wording. I rewrote it. My opinion is still the same, as I wrote just above this post.

Re: When do you "Fire" a student? [Re: John v.d.Brook] #2389482
02/22/15 08:12 AM
02/22/15 08:12 AM
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Originally Posted by John v.d.Brook
A common error adult students make is that learning to play piano is just a matter of hitting the right key at the right time.

This part of your response puzzled me. I had not written about adult students. The only reason that I can think of is that in part I am still a student, and an adult. If so, I've made my priorities clear over the years - acquisition of skills and understanding of music, the combination of which together can lead to good playing of music. I've never reduced it to "right note at the right time" though I must admit that it's a good start. laugh

Personally I have participated in recitals as an adult student, and it's in my nature to enjoy them. What I've taken away from the experience is that activities geared toward skills take a priority for me over activities that prepare for an event. We hear of teachers who spend most of their time preparing those one or two pieces for recitals to the detriment of everything else - I would prefer such things to be the icing on the cake. I imagine that you might agree.

That said, I think that this discussion is about students in general, and the vast majority probably are still children.

Re: When do you "Fire" a student? [Re: keystring] #2389499
02/22/15 09:33 AM
02/22/15 09:33 AM
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Originally Posted by keystring
It would be a shame to dismiss a student who is practising diligently and progressing well, because of an event that has nothing to do with learning to play.

My focus and comment was on this very last sentence. I believe that if used properly, recitals can be a very important foundation element in student's learning and progress at the piano. I encourage teachers to explore this and use it accordingly.

FWIW, not only do I not force students to participate, I even poll them just before they go on stage to insure they are comfortable with their participation and are ready to perform. No student is ever criticized if they choose to not play at a given event.

As a student, my teacher never, ever had us perform, except for the highly feared end of year recital, which was totally a formal event. This is no way to help a student become comfortable expressing themselves in public. Once a year, you will have a chance to express yourself in front of a crowd whom you do not know; in your 3 minutes, everything must be perfect - no mistakes are acceptable. Talk about fear inducing environments.

Rather, I was and am referring to the intense focus which a student is capable of and which occurs when playing in front of others. That which was dismissed or "I'll correct it next time" suddenly is now of great import.

Unfortunately, too many teachers do not use recitals as learning venues for their students, but rather as a show case. Sad.


"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
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Re: When do you "Fire" a student? [Re: John v.d.Brook] #2389519
02/22/15 11:00 AM
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Originally Posted by John v.d.Brook
Originally Posted by keystring
It would be a shame to dismiss a student who is practising diligently and progressing well, because of an event that has nothing to do with learning to play.

My focus and comment was on this very last sentence. I believe that if used properly, recitals can be a very important foundation element in student's learning and progress at the piano. I encourage teachers to explore this and use it accordingly.

FWIW, not only do I not force students to participate, I even poll them just before they go on stage to insure they are comfortable with their participation and are ready to perform. No student is ever criticized if they choose to not play at a given event.

As a student, my teacher never, ever had us perform, except for the highly feared end of year recital, which was totally a formal event. This is no way to help a student become comfortable expressing themselves in public. Once a year, you will have a chance to express yourself in front of a crowd whom you do not know; in your 3 minutes, everything must be perfect - no mistakes are acceptable. Talk about fear inducing environments.

Rather, I was and am referring to the intense focus which a student is capable of and which occurs when playing in front of others. That which was dismissed or "I'll correct it next time" suddenly is now of great import.

Unfortunately, too many teachers do not use recitals as learning venues for their students, but rather as a show case. Sad.


This is such an important distinction -- speaking from a student perspective.

To the extent that the earlier point was that being able to play before others and get through a piece effectively and musically IS part of learning to play the piano, I agree totally.

That said, there are performance opportunities that positively support that goal and others that seem designed to produce failure.

Some degree of anxiety about playing for others is common and probably irreducible below a certain point for individual learning pianists -- especially, I think, for adult starters. But making the performance opportunity supportive and welcoming, rather than artificially formal and unwelcoming, can help towards the goal of getting a learning pianist comfortable playing for others.


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Re: When do you "Fire" a student? [Re: John v.d.Brook] #2389642
02/22/15 05:25 PM
02/22/15 05:25 PM
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Originally Posted by John v.d.Brook
Have you ever heard the expression, "I played it better at home?" Teachers hear this all the time and inwardly groan. No, you didn't play it better at home, you just weren't listening! Playing in recitals focus your attention like nothing else will.

I have to comment here. Last week before my lesson I was putting the finishing touches on a piece I have been playing for several weeks, and have performed it twice in front of my teacher.

I know every note in the piece, every single one. I ran through it 5 times, no mistakes. The first three times I played it at my lesson I made the same mistake three times in a row on the third measure.

I took a break from the piece, went on to other things, and then came back to it. This time I nailed it, probably played it better than at home several hours before. My teacher, who usually has some suggestions about every piece I play, said it was "perfect".

So in this case, I actually did play it better at home, for real. The good news my teacher believed me, gave me another chance, and it was a great experience.

Sorry, I know I'm OT here.


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