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Parents that exhaust my energy #2728442
04/12/18 08:54 AM
04/12/18 08:54 AM
Joined: Apr 2007
Posts: 16,547
Boynton Beach, FL
Morodiene Offline OP
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As a spin off of a previous thread about students that sap energy, I wanted to open a thread with a story about a recent interaction I had with a student's mom regarding my policy.

The way my policy is, I have the regular school year planned out for 34 weeks of teaching, allowing 1 week off for Thanksgiving, 2 for Christmas/New Year's, and one for Spring Break. I take those 34 lessons, figure out what I want to charge per lesson, and multiply by 34, then divide by 9 months. I charge the same monthly amount no matter how many lesson weeks there are, because it's an average of all 34 lessons. It makes it easy for parents to remember what to pay, and I send out monthly invoices calling it "Monthly Installment" for the upcoming month.

I explain this (although more simply) in my policy which I hand to them, and I explain verbally as well. This one parent, whom I have explained this to on several occasions just couldn't get it. She keeps thinking that she's paying for 4 lessons per month, and insisted I owed mer make-ups for December. She's been with me for about a year and a half, took last month off (which I don't normally allow, but there were some major scheduling conflicts so I allowed it), and then when coming back she said I owed her make-ups.

I told her it's like car payments: you don't get to pay less for the month of February because it's a short month. You are paying down on a total amount for a period of time, so each month is the same amount. This last conversation happened via text, and she responded with, "We're going to discontinue lessons." I just said OK, let me know if anything changes and dropped it.

It's very insulting that she doesn't take the time to read my policy and try to understand what it is - what it has been since day 1.

Who goes into an established business and dictates to them the terms of payment? It's this kind of stuff that drives me nuts. Part of me is glad she's not returning, because I know it would be more of the same every time a holiday comes up. It's a shame, because there was no problem whatsoever with the student - she was progressing nicely and seemed to enjoy her lessons.

Feel free to chime in with your own stories (teachers only) about issues/misunderstandings you've had with parents. For non-teachers, you can of course, comment, but understand that the purpose of this thread is not to put teachers on the defensive but to vent to one another and possibly offer advice on how to proceed the next time this happens. smile


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Re: Parents that exhaust my energy [Re: Morodiene] #2728443
04/12/18 09:01 AM
04/12/18 09:01 AM
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I do the same thing, but it might help if you drew up a chart of the number of lessons per month for each lesson day. Then they can easily see that the three lessons in December are outweighed by the five lessons in April.

Did this lady end up paying for lessons she didn't receive? Or was she worried that she should have gotten four lessons in December instead of three?

Re: Parents that exhaust my energy [Re: Candywoman] #2728450
04/12/18 09:21 AM
04/12/18 09:21 AM
Joined: Apr 2007
Posts: 16,547
Boynton Beach, FL
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Originally Posted by Candywoman
I do the same thing, but it might help if you drew up a chart of the number of lessons per month for each lesson day. Then they can easily see that the three lessons in December are outweighed by the five lessons in April.

Did this lady end up paying for lessons she didn't receive? Or was she worried that she should have gotten four lessons in December instead of three?


She had gotten all the lessons she paid for, except that she decided to a) Start late in the school year - didn't get back to me until October (another "exception" I made) and b) took off the month of March. But I counted up all the lessons that she paid for and compared that number to what other students had, and she was right alongside them.

None of my other students have a problem with understanding this. And I find it interesting that whenever I make "exceptions" for people, they are the ones to complain.

But I like your idea of a chart, perhaps I'll modify my policy to have a calendar or a chart of the number of weeks of lessons in the school year, with the total cost of lessons for 34 weeks, divided by 9 months. Is this really that hard to understand, though? It's not unique to music lessons. It's how college courses, exercise classes, dance classes, etc. handle this.


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Re: Parents that exhaust my energy [Re: Morodiene] #2728452
04/12/18 09:24 AM
04/12/18 09:24 AM
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Virginia, USA
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You handled it well, there are people you just can't please.

I suspect she struggles with math concepts (not computation.) So she's defensive, thinking people are taking advantage of her.

It may be that math teaching has as many horror stories as piano teaching! I've been reading a bit about it, and I now see why some of the changes are being pushed, and maybe why they don't work. When I retire I'll probably substitute teach a bit in the local schools, there will probably be math "transfer wrecks!"


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Re: Parents that exhaust my energy [Re: Morodiene] #2728461
04/12/18 09:39 AM
04/12/18 09:39 AM
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Posts: 86
Canada
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Ack. I have the same issue, and I'm thinking about ways to make it clearer for next year. Even though I give out a calendar with the holidays and number of lessons for the year, some do not read it or do not want to understand. You're right that it's insulting when they don't even make the effort to read the policy.
Also, while parents may question "only" getting 3 lessons in December, they don't seem to mind getting 5 lessons in other months! I would be interested to hear how others have made this easier to understand.


This week's exhausting parent: came in 10 minutes late to pick up child, then wanted to have a conversation about extra lesson time to help with exam prep... during what happened to be my only break in a long day of rehearsing and teaching! Parent wanted to schedule an extra weekly lesson on Sundays at 9:00 am (obviously, I'm not available). Parent told me they had received my recent email about an upcoming recital but had not read it because they have too many things to remember and now the student is going to be responsible for her own schedule (student is not old enough to drive, how is she going to get there unless parent knows where and when?). Sigh.


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Re: Parents that exhaust my energy [Re: TimR] #2728466
04/12/18 09:59 AM
04/12/18 09:59 AM
Joined: Apr 2007
Posts: 16,547
Boynton Beach, FL
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Originally Posted by TimR
You handled it well, there are people you just can't please.

I suspect she struggles with math concepts (not computation.) So she's defensive, thinking people are taking advantage of her.

It may be that math teaching has as many horror stories as piano teaching! I've been reading a bit about it, and I now see why some of the changes are being pushed, and maybe why they don't work. When I retire I'll probably substitute teach a bit in the local schools, there will probably be math "transfer wrecks!"

Totally agree about the "shortcuts" - some just overcomplicate things.


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Re: Parents that exhaust my energy [Re: Morodiene] #2728468
04/12/18 10:02 AM
04/12/18 10:02 AM
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Two days ago the mother of a 7 year old told me:

"I'll go wherever I want during lessons, I'm paying for them."

This in response to my asking her please to be present for her son's lessons, who is doing no practice and is stuck where he started after 6 months.

I explained before starting lesson with, as I do with every young child, that I don't teach small children without an adult as part of the lesson.

He's the only student I'm having these problems with. He's a nice kid.

His mother and father are fighting behind the scenes. I think there is either a divorce or they are going through a separation. They have told me nothing.

This, by the way, is why "interviews" don't work. As a teacher you never know whether or not students' parents, who seem fine when we are talking to them, are going to "tear up the rules" and "go rogue".

This mother does not know, yet, that at the end of this month I'm going to tell her she can do whatever she wants during lessons - with another teacher.

This is one of the rudest idiots I've ever tried to work with in several decades. I did not tell her I'm done because I didn't want to embarrass her young son, who is very polite and I know would be fine with different parents.

Last edited by Gary D.; 04/12/18 10:04 AM.

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Re: Parents that exhaust my energy [Re: Morodiene] #2728505
04/12/18 12:07 PM
04/12/18 12:07 PM
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No matter how clear you make things it always seems as though someone will come along and expect special treatment. I think it's this way in every business. Customer service, restaurants etc.

The only thing you can do is stick to your plan. I favor a no make-up policy where a few bonus lessons are worked into the schedule. So that if they come to everything lesson they get a few free.

It's the only way. If you have a big studio the make-up situation gets out of control quickly and you end up having to refund money.

A colleague explains it to his students like this. "How would you like it if you went to work on Monday morning and your boss said. he didn't need you then so you could come back on Saturday to work and he would pay you for those hours"That's what happens to us when people expect us to sit around during the regular lesson time and then make another time for them.

Hope that helps


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Re: Parents that exhaust my energy [Re: Gary D.] #2728517
04/12/18 12:50 PM
04/12/18 12:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Gary D.
Two days ago the mother of a 7 year old told me:

"I'll go wherever I want during lessons, I'm paying for them."


Two points :

1 : Cheap babysitting.

2 : Today's "PC" culture worries me a bit here. I would never get myself in the situation of being alone with a minor without the parents present. I remember about twenty years ago, my martial arts instructor announced that he would no longer be able to "adjust" the arms and legs of the minors in the class manually due to this insane PC culture we now have. Better safe than sorry.

Re: Parents that exhaust my energy [Re: Morodiene] #2728518
04/12/18 12:58 PM
04/12/18 12:58 PM
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It sounds your problems come from your payment policy.

I always have been paying per lesson. You might want to consider it.That also makes it much easier to shift lessons if I or teacher have something more important, are sick, etc.

Comparing with cars, you can rent these per day so yes you would pay less in february.

I understand that for full time teachers, a fixed income is very convenient. But if you keep the time slots filled with lessons, you would still earn the same amount, but without the discussions.

You might also opt to offer the customers the option: either pay fixed price per month, or a per-lesson fee with more flexibility but at slightly higher price.


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Re: Parents that exhaust my energy [Re: wouter79] #2728522
04/12/18 01:11 PM
04/12/18 01:11 PM
Joined: Mar 2010
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Italy
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Originally Posted by wouter79
It sounds your problems come from your payment policy.

I always have been paying per lesson. You might want to consider it.That also makes it much easier to shift lessons if I or teacher have something more important, are sick, etc.

Comparing with cars, you can rent these per day so yes you would pay less in february.

I understand that for full time teachers, a fixed income is very convenient. But if you keep the time slots filled with lessons, you would still earn the same amount, but without the discussions.

You might also opt to offer the customers the option: either pay fixed price per month, or a per-lesson fee with more flexibility but at slightly higher price.



The problem with students paying lesson by lesson is that in 99/100 cases if they miss a lesson they won't (or really don't want to ) pay for it .

I won't do make up lessons for my students unless I have cancelled or unless I know they're really in difficulty (and they have good "reputation" with me -(they don't cancel or request a lot of changes, they do the work between lessons)). If I took lessons week by week, I have a great risk of losing a LOT of money I would never be able to recover even if I did make up lessons.
Also - if you take payment every week you spend time every week collecting, noting the payment and so on. Sure it's only five minutes a lesson but when you have 20 students.....it adds up!!

Morodiene - my piano school charges me exactly the way you run your studio - I pay a flat rate every month, If I miss, it's my problem, if the teacher misses there is a make up lesson.
I think your mom simply can't get her head around the concept you are presenting. That's too bad.


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Re: Parents that exhaust my energy [Re: Morodiene] #2728538
04/12/18 02:45 PM
04/12/18 02:45 PM
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So many stories to tell! But this one happened a few weeks ago and I'm still both shaking my head and laughing about the sheer idiocy of it all.

I have two families that are neighbors. One dad brings his two kids plus the neighbor kid. All three of these kids attend the same school and the two older ones are classmates.
Dad shows up with his two children. Neighbor boy is not with him. Dad has no explanation for me. Ok, then, maybe neighbor boy's own father is bringing him. I don't worry myself with their carpool logistics.

As I'm working with the siblings, neighbor boy's dad texts me and says his son is sick, can't make it, could they have a make-up the next day. I think, huh, he's sick tonight but will be better tomorrow? That's odd. So I turn to the kid on the bench and ask, "Hey, was neighbor boy in school today? Was he feeling ok?"
Both kids say, "He's doing great today! It's his birthday! His parents are throwing a party for him right now!"

How on earth did this parent think I wasn't going to find out? How childish! Lying to the piano teacher because you're embarrassed you forgot that your child's birthday fell on his lesson day, and then trying not to lose money on it? These people take a long summer break and what they don't know is that I won't have a slot for them in the fall. I don't put up with liars.
And I have my eye on the other dad since he clearly knew what was up and didn't say a word. I kept it light, and just said, "Well, there are certainly no make ups for birthday parties! And to fib! What foolishness!"

And speaking of lies....this is Slow Finger's family. Oh yes, that's right. I finally got the answer. They were all lying to me. There was never any practice. He actually said he didn't even know why he was taking lessons. He quit in Feb. I'm pretty upset about the run-around I've gotten from this family, so I'm looking forward to being rid of them come June.

Re: Parents that exhaust my energy [Re: pianist_lady] #2728547
04/12/18 03:42 PM
04/12/18 03:42 PM
Joined: Apr 2007
Posts: 16,547
Boynton Beach, FL
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Originally Posted by pianist_lady
Ack. I have the same issue, and I'm thinking about ways to make it clearer for next year. Even though I give out a calendar with the holidays and number of lessons for the year, some do not read it or do not want to understand. You're right that it's insulting when they don't even make the effort to read the policy.
Also, while parents may question "only" getting 3 lessons in December, they don't seem to mind getting 5 lessons in other months! I would be interested to hear how others have made this easier to understand.


This week's exhausting parent: came in 10 minutes late to pick up child, then wanted to have a conversation about extra lesson time to help with exam prep... during what happened to be my only break in a long day of rehearsing and teaching! Parent wanted to schedule an extra weekly lesson on Sundays at 9:00 am (obviously, I'm not available). Parent told me they had received my recent email about an upcoming recital but had not read it because they have too many things to remember and now the student is going to be responsible for her own schedule (student is not old enough to drive, how is she going to get there unless parent knows where and when?). Sigh.


I hear you, but perhaps it will be better if the child learns to be responsible for things. Then you don't even have to bother communicating to the parent, just tell the kid. This has worked out surprisingly well with some students.


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Re: Parents that exhaust my energy [Re: Morodiene] #2728548
04/12/18 03:46 PM
04/12/18 03:46 PM
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I can relate to a lot of these stories.

Quote
Who goes into an established business and dictates to them the terms of payment?


I had a parent who, even before his daughter's first lesson, called me to say he thought it was unfair that I was asking for a partial-month tuition payment (to start in late November), and then charging a full month for December, when there would only be three lessons for that month.

In other words, he thought the one November lesson should be combined with the three December lessons to equal one month. My policy was that for students who start after the first scheduled lesson of a month, tuition is pro-rated for that month, and then after that, all months are equal installments (1/12 of my annual tuition). When you consider that there are longer and shorter months over the long term, it all averages out in the end.

But anyway, with this guy, I thought, okay, I'll let him have his way, since it was kind of an unusual situation, starting at a time like that.

Guess who quit when I announced an upcoming rate increase a little over a year later? Yep. And that family could afford a rate hike more easily than any of my other families at the time, who all stayed with me.

I enjoyed teaching his daughter, but was glad to not have to deal with her dad anymore after they left. And he was a business owner himself. I wouldn't imagine he would let someone come in and dictate the terms of payment to him!

Re: Parents that exhaust my energy [Re: Gary D.] #2728549
04/12/18 03:46 PM
04/12/18 03:46 PM
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Boynton Beach, FL
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Originally Posted by Gary D.
Two days ago the mother of a 7 year old told me:

"I'll go wherever I want during lessons, I'm paying for them."

This in response to my asking her please to be present for her son's lessons, who is doing no practice and is stuck where he started after 6 months.

I explained before starting lesson with, as I do with every young child, that I don't teach small children without an adult as part of the lesson.

He's the only student I'm having these problems with. He's a nice kid.

His mother and father are fighting behind the scenes. I think there is either a divorce or they are going through a separation. They have told me nothing.

This, by the way, is why "interviews" don't work. As a teacher you never know whether or not students' parents, who seem fine when we are talking to them, are going to "tear up the rules" and "go rogue".

This mother does not know, yet, that at the end of this month I'm going to tell her she can do whatever she wants during lessons - with another teacher.

This is one of the rudest idiots I've ever tried to work with in several decades. I did not tell her I'm done because I didn't want to embarrass her young son, who is very polite and I know would be fine with different parents.

That begs the question, when you explained all of this to her at the onset of lessons, was she just thinking, "Ya, whatevs, I'll do what a want!" while giving you the impression that she's onboard? Most likely there's more to this than what we see, but that doesn't necessarily mean we want to just put up with it.

Our policies are put together usually with a lot of thought as to what we think makes for the best results in the student's progress. If they don't like it, then they need to keep looking for a teacher.

Last edited by Morodiene; 04/12/18 03:48 PM.

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Re: Parents that exhaust my energy [Re: pavane1] #2728551
04/12/18 03:52 PM
04/12/18 03:52 PM
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Originally Posted by pavane1
No matter how clear you make things it always seems as though someone will come along and expect special treatment. I think it's this way in every business. Customer service, restaurants etc.

The only thing you can do is stick to your plan. I favor a no make-up policy where a few bonus lessons are worked into the schedule. So that if they come to everything lesson they get a few free.

It's the only way. If you have a big studio the make-up situation gets out of control quickly and you end up having to refund money.

A colleague explains it to his students like this. "How would you like it if you went to work on Monday morning and your boss said. he didn't need you then so you could come back on Saturday to work and he would pay you for those hours"That's what happens to us when people expect us to sit around during the regular lesson time and then make another time for them.

Hope that helps


So true. I've explained that so many times. They don't get it, or they do get it, but keep on trying to get that make up lesson.


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Re: Parents that exhaust my energy [Re: pavane1] #2728552
04/12/18 03:52 PM
04/12/18 03:52 PM
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Boynton Beach, FL
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Originally Posted by pavane1
No matter how clear you make things it always seems as though someone will come along and expect special treatment. I think it's this way in every business. Customer service, restaurants etc.

The only thing you can do is stick to your plan. I favor a no make-up policy where a few bonus lessons are worked into the schedule. So that if they come to everything lesson they get a few free.

It's the only way. If you have a big studio the make-up situation gets out of control quickly and you end up having to refund money.

A colleague explains it to his students like this. "How would you like it if you went to work on Monday morning and your boss said. he didn't need you then so you could come back on Saturday to work and he would pay you for those hours"That's what happens to us when people expect us to sit around during the regular lesson time and then make another time for them.

Hope that helps

As my schedule is, I usually can work out make-ups during those weeks off that I have. Usually the kids are more available then too. This girl was simply unavailable at any time ever, apparently.

I'm familiar with the free lesson thing, but I have an over-active sense of fairness, I guess. People get what they pay for, and while I may give an extra amount of time if there's an upcoming performance or whatever, I try to keep that to a minimum. Why? Because people tend to assign a value to something based on what they paid for it. If they pay nothing, it's worth nothing to them. That's been my experience, any way.


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Re: Parents that exhaust my energy [Re: wouter79] #2728555
04/12/18 03:56 PM
04/12/18 03:56 PM
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Boynton Beach, FL
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Originally Posted by wouter79
It sounds your problems come from your payment policy.

I always have been paying per lesson. You might want to consider it.That also makes it much easier to shift lessons if I or teacher have something more important, are sick, etc.

Comparing with cars, you can rent these per day so yes you would pay less in february.

I understand that for full time teachers, a fixed income is very convenient. But if you keep the time slots filled with lessons, you would still earn the same amount, but without the discussions.

You might also opt to offer the customers the option: either pay fixed price per month, or a per-lesson fee with more flexibility but at slightly higher price.


Oh, heck no. Why would I change the way I do something after trying other methods that didn't work for me?

Paying per lesson means lots of cancellations with or without notice, and always without pay. Maybe some teachers are OK with that, but I can't be bothered with dealing with that. Plus the hassle of collecting from people at every lesson means there will always be some that will forget their checkbook or not have the cash on them.

By the way, I DO have a per-lesson fee (at a much rate) for those students who want infrequent lessons. I was going to offer that to this lady, but she seemed happier to discontinue lessons than speak with me about it.


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Re: Parents that exhaust my energy [Re: SchroedersCat] #2728559
04/12/18 04:02 PM
04/12/18 04:02 PM
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Boynton Beach, FL
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Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted by SchroedersCat
So many stories to tell! But this one happened a few weeks ago and I'm still both shaking my head and laughing about the sheer idiocy of it all.

I have two families that are neighbors. One dad brings his two kids plus the neighbor kid. All three of these kids attend the same school and the two older ones are classmates.
Dad shows up with his two children. Neighbor boy is not with him. Dad has no explanation for me. Ok, then, maybe neighbor boy's own father is bringing him. I don't worry myself with their carpool logistics.

As I'm working with the siblings, neighbor boy's dad texts me and says his son is sick, can't make it, could they have a make-up the next day. I think, huh, he's sick tonight but will be better tomorrow? That's odd. So I turn to the kid on the bench and ask, "Hey, was neighbor boy in school today? Was he feeling ok?"
Both kids say, "He's doing great today! It's his birthday! His parents are throwing a party for him right now!"

How on earth did this parent think I wasn't going to find out? How childish! Lying to the piano teacher because you're embarrassed you forgot that your child's birthday fell on his lesson day, and then trying not to lose money on it? These people take a long summer break and what they don't know is that I won't have a slot for them in the fall. I don't put up with liars.
And I have my eye on the other dad since he clearly knew what was up and didn't say a word. I kept it light, and just said, "Well, there are certainly no make ups for birthday parties! And to fib! What foolishness!"

And speaking of lies....this is Slow Finger's family. Oh yes, that's right. I finally got the answer. They were all lying to me. There was never any practice. He actually said he didn't even know why he was taking lessons. He quit in Feb. I'm pretty upset about the run-around I've gotten from this family, so I'm looking forward to being rid of them come June.




Yikes! Lying is the worst. thing is, I'm sure you'd have been fine with doing a reschedule sometime in the future had he just let you know in advance. But he forgets, and then expects you to work extra for free? You were there for his lesson, he was not. Sounds like a good decision to let that one go.

I'm not up on Slow Fingers, I'll have to look that one up smile


private piano/voice teacher FT

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Re: Parents that exhaust my energy [Re: Andamento] #2728562
04/12/18 04:06 PM
04/12/18 04:06 PM
Joined: Apr 2007
Posts: 16,547
Boynton Beach, FL
Morodiene Offline OP
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member
Morodiene  Offline OP
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Joined: Apr 2007
Posts: 16,547
Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted by Andamento
I can relate to a lot of these stories.

Quote
Who goes into an established business and dictates to them the terms of payment?


I had a parent who, even before his daughter's first lesson, called me to say he thought it was unfair that I was asking for a partial-month tuition payment (to start in late November), and then charging a full month for December, when there would only be three lessons for that month.

In other words, he thought the one November lesson should be combined with the three December lessons to equal one month. My policy was that for students who start after the first scheduled lesson of a month, tuition is pro-rated for that month, and then after that, all months are equal installments (1/12 of my annual tuition). When you consider that there are longer and shorter months over the long term, it all averages out in the end.

But anyway, with this guy, I thought, okay, I'll let him have his way, since it was kind of an unusual situation, starting at a time like that.

Guess who quit when I announced an upcoming rate increase a little over a year later? Yep. And that family could afford a rate hike more easily than any of my other families at the time, who all stayed with me.

I enjoyed teaching his daughter, but was glad to not have to deal with her dad anymore after they left. And he was a business owner himself. I wouldn't imagine he would let someone come in and dictate the terms of payment to him!

I find this to be the case, too: any time I've made an exception for someone that either I don't know well, or who cancels a lot, or who asks for exceptions all the time, I've regretted it when I give in.

Honestly, it's usually because I like the child that I do, but I always pay for it in the end.


private piano/voice teacher FT

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