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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: 16,394
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: 16,394
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: 68
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: 16,394
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
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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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San Francisco
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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
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Posts: 16,394
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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Posts: 16,394
Boynton Beach, FL
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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


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Re: Parents that exhaust my energy [Re: Andamento] #2728562
04/12/18 04:06 PM
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Boynton Beach, FL
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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.


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Re: Parents that exhaust my energy [Re: Morodiene] #2728573
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If I let go every family that lied, I would have very few students left. Like Schroeder's Cat, I often get last minute texts claiming a student is ill. When the child returns the next week, I always ask them if they are feeling better. I get responses like, "oh we were at Disney, or a sleepover, or a birthday, etc. I never say anything to the parent, b/c it will get the student in hot water, and then the student will withhold "evidence" in the future. lol. I file it away for future reference in cases where I may or may not offer a makeup.

Just last week, I had 2 no shows. No phone calls either. I made the mistake of texting the families (never again!). One said they thought the store was closed b/c of Spring Break. Every store in the state is open, so why would our strip mall store be closed? The other mom claimed the teen was "sick" and asked for a make up. I said no show, no makeup. Can't wait to see what happens at the next lesson.


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Re: Parents that exhaust my energy [Re: Morodiene] #2728580
04/12/18 04:58 PM
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[/quote]
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[/quote]

Well, the thing is, and this relates what everyone else is talking about on the thread: my scheduling policy is such that though students are expected to take weekly lessons, I allow them to only schedule and pay for the ones they're available for. It works for me. I have this system on lock down. The parents feel like they're only paying for what they actually get, but the trade off is that I only offer make ups for real emergencies. Illness/preserving the public health is a valid reason for a make up. A party is not. They should have looked at their calendar and realized the kid's birthday was on Thursday this year.
The parents all know this illness rule and I had always wondered if there were times I was being conned....now I know. Yes. But this time they got caught.
I also make it clear I don't promise make-ups. "If I am able to accommodate a make-up...." is what my policy says. That gives me the wiggle room to say no to clients who are getting on my nerves. The kid is missing his lesson again today because of a ....party. At least they told the truth. I didn't offer a make-up.

Chasingrainbows, I can see how reaching out to no-shows makes little sense in your situation. Not going to show, not going to pay? Then I ain't bothering to call you! I'll use that time to practice! Darn tootin'! But for me, I see it as, I've already been paid for slot, I'll reach out, send that text. I usually get a response of "omg, im so sorry, I got stuck at work, kid's at after school care, darn!" and that's that. They know they're eating that lesson. I then send a detailed email with that day's lesson plan and what I will expect for the next lesson. That seems to help keep the "forgetful"
(and honest) parents happy.

Re: Parents that exhaust my energy [Re: Morodiene] #2728582
04/12/18 05:32 PM
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By the math, it can be said that my regular lesson students are paying for "3.5 lessons per month" (obviously an average). What they are actually paying is a fair rate for a regular spot on my schedule. Almost all students achieve an average over 3.5 because of how I arrange my teaching schedule and I don't mind that they end up with some "extra time" because I'm more interested in their long term commitment than the exact number of hours I spend with them. Basically, I want to cultivate a program rate mindset (the example of college courses, sports, dance, etc.) rather than a per contact hour mindset.

Quibbling about long and short months is rare now, but what continues to happen is people quit mid-semester and of course I forgo the remaining months that should have been paid. (Maybe some of them didn't like the aforementioned policy.) It's not frequent enough to be truly annoying but I still don't like it and have moved new students to semester or half semester payments, instead of monthly.

My biggest parent drama: I teach out of my home and one year I moved in the middle of the semester. Despite having several months to prepare and work out new scheduling and everyone apparently agreeing, one parent became incensed after the fact about logistics and this devolved into personal attacks. I proposed AT LEAST five different solutions, all of which were initially rejected. We eventually came to an agreement on how to finish the semester and I was secretly glad (though not for the little girl) that they were finished.

Another smaller drama had to do with drop off and pick up and siblings. A couple of long emails went back and forth, it was resolved, and it hasn't been brought up since.

More recently: I gave a family a discount on the fall term group music class as an exception because of their extended travel, and I allowed them to participate in a recital a month into the spring term because they missed the fall performance. After that, I reiterated that spring term tuition was due and that they needed to attend class regularly in order to participate in the year end concert. They have done neither, then asked last Sat if there was class that day! On top of that, many other families complained about their behavior at the recital - which I bear some responsibility for not curtailing, but on the other hand, they also haven't been in class enough to learn what should have been learned. I'm not after the money, but in general, they aren't following my recommendations and don't keep track of class schedule (which was emailed numerous times, on my website, on my calendar). They seem to want to participate on their terms and it doesn't work that way!

Re: Parents that exhaust my energy [Re: Morodiene] #2728587
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I have to say that when I was a student as a kid, my mother 'played' precisely those 'games' with my first two teachers, when I was still living at home, paying only for the lessons I actually had even though she often gave minimal notice for my absences (none actually due to illness: coughs & colds didn't stop me wanting to have my lessons) more than a few times, resulting in unfilled slots for the teacher. I don't know whether the teacher would have offered make-ups in lieu, but my mother didn't want any, and preferred not to pay. (Music and piano lessons weren't a priority for her: as far as she was concerned, she'd kept up with the Joneses by getting a piano into the home and starting the kids on lessons).

Fortunately for everyone, when I was shipped off to continue my schooling in the UK out of sight of my parents, my new school had a simple policy for payment for its peripatetic music teachers - they were to be paid a fixed amount every term, regardless of how many lessons were taken. No make-ups were ever offered, unless the teacher was indisposed. Any public holidays that happened to fall on the day of the lesson meant that school was closed, therefore no lesson. My parents never knew how many lessons I actually had (and I didn't keep count...... grin). I never missed any lesson during my time in that high school.

In practice, however, my teacher always gave me an extra lesson or two just before the ABRSM exams, including a complete 'mock exam' to make sure I didn't crumple under stress.


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Parents that exhaust my energy [Re: casinitaly] #2728617
04/12/18 08:11 PM
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Originally Posted by casinitaly

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 had a private client who stood me up--they were at home, and I showed up at their door and could hear them inside. I did not leave until they answered the door and informed me that they did not want the session they had scheduled and not cancelled. And of course they did not wish to pay for it. (This was our final interaction.)

Originally Posted by casinitaly

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!!

The same family took a minimum of 20 minutes after each session: reminder to pay, locate the checkbook, deal with interruptions from the dog, the toddler, the phone, and whatever else was more important than their son's speech and language and then finally to write the !@##$* check.


I've been trying to change my signature quote for weeks.

Re: Parents that exhaust my energy [Re: Morodiene] #2728653
04/12/18 10:58 PM
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Ug. Boy, do I feel your pain.

My two cents:

01 Parenting is hard. I don't know how people do it. At all.
02 I don't teach kids under 15. I just don't have the patience for it.

Most parents are so overloaded and concerned, I don't
know how they make it through the day without dying.

Those things being said, you have to be patient as a teacher.
It is very difficult, but it does work.

I discovered after many years of doing this that folks have
very different reasons for taking music lessons than learning
music. The mother may need a friend, babysitter, or analyst
and possibly be reaching out to you instinctually to do all that free of charge
without even knowing that she is doing that.

I feel bad for you, and for your students and their family.

Always restate your policy via email, and reinforce it there.
No texts, 20 minute EXTRA conversations, no lingering around.

Always have something else to do the MOMENT that family
wants a 20 minute extra conversation.

I can usually sense when they are going to try and do that,
so, I will bring the parents/family into the lesson 40 minutes into the lesson hour
and have the conversation as to not ruin the clock which rules my teaching day.
NEXT STUDENT!


Rob Mullins
www.planetmullins.com
Recording Artist and Jazz Piano Instructor
Re: Parents that exhaust my energy [Re: Morodiene] #2728680
04/13/18 03:00 AM
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Rob, it’s not just parents of younger kids who can be problematic- many adult students are just as bad or worse.


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Re: Parents that exhaust my energy [Re: Morodiene] #2728691
04/13/18 04:10 AM
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If I fired all the parents (of students) who exhaust my energy, I will end up with four students. It is indeed a rare combination where both parents and students are optimal.

Right now I don't work for anybody who is outright rude, but some are getting close. My primary method of retaliation is to nag, nag, nag, nag, and nag some more. I LOVE bothering people. I call them during work hours. I text them at 10:59 pm. I e-mail them at 3:00 am. If they still refuse to respond, I'll talk to them during the lesson and eat up lesson time. My favorite "blame game" is to guilt these these parents for going to the cheap piano teacher first, or ruin their kids permanently by signing them up for kiddie programs. I will go into these long lectures about how much their kids are messed up before they came to me, and how their inconsistent practice habits are causing all the problems. And if they refuse to upgrade to a better piano, I will embark on a seven-hour lecture series entitled YOUR KID SUCKS AT PIANO BECAUSE YOUR PIANO IS INADEQUATE!!!

I also LOVE to make people feel stupid. At the end of the day, I AM the expert!


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Re: Parents that exhaust my energy [Re: Morodiene] #2728747
04/13/18 09:22 AM
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I'm hoping that AZN has written a sarcastic response and not the truth. I don't think we're allowed to denigrate the former teachers of students. I also don't complain much about students' instruments as long as the piano has touch sensitivity and 88 keys.

I think we can call parents at reasonable times. Usually you can even time the call to when you know they're most able to receive it.

Re: Parents that exhaust my energy [Re: Morodiene] #2728752
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I am rather sure that it is meant sarcastically and not what really happens. What got described is ineffective, self-defeating for teaching purposes, and would eat up a teacher's time enormously. Like, would you really get up at 3:00 .am., tiring yourself out, to send a text message which the parent will read at his leisure or just delete unread, at his convenience? It's dark humour, I'm sure.

Re: Parents that exhaust my energy [Re: Morodiene] #2728762
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I bill monthly per lesson depending on how many lessons are in the month (exceptions Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Spring Break). I have this laid out crystal clear in my piano studio policy that I have a parent sign at the beginning of every school year and I keep the copy until the next year. Before doing this, I had so many parents calling at the last minute or lying about where their child was (and yes, you often do find out the truth) that I implemented a no makeup policy except for the Summer when I would rather have the child attend when they are in town than not at all. It stopped all of the last minute calls wanting me to do a make up (or often demanding I do it). I lost one student, but that Father was one of the two families that was a major problem. Child was in tears, but Dad was and is a jerk.

I do agree that our PC culture is wreaking havoc, worshipping at the sports altar and every music student hanging a "piano teacher shingle" in my university town. I had one of those graduates who had a web page so I took a look at it because she was a voice major who I didn't think could play beyond some group required lessons. She posted a video of one of her students playing an arrangement of "Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho" (Faber) on it. Rhythm was all wrong as well as the starting and stopping all the time. She honestly thought the video was showing her teaching expertise. We have a few teachers lowballing fees and two music school charging high fees with music graduates like her. Makes me SO irritated. Children are so overscheduled that an adult could not keep up with and sadly, it is only going to get much worse.


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Re: Parents that exhaust my energy [Re: Morodiene] #2728766
04/13/18 10:22 AM
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I was tripped up by "talk to them during the lesson and eat up lesson time" because I would actually do that! (in order to get something important discussed if the parent was otherwise unresponsive or had been staying in the car instead of being in the lesson as required)

Originally Posted by Andamento
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.

I've had similar awkward timing and just let them have the Nov lesson "for free" (not free, just not a separate line-item). For example, if today is Nov 22 and we just had a "successful interview", I might say, the remaining semester tuition for Dec and Jan is X, but we can start the schedule on Nov 29. Suppose it's an open time between two students and no one else is lined up, it doesn't cost me anything to teach someone at that time. But that's my choice to offer and I would privately look askance on someone who demanded it.

Last edited by mostlystrings; 04/13/18 10:31 AM.
Re: Parents that exhaust my energy [Re: mostlystrings] #2728787
04/13/18 11:42 AM
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Originally Posted by mostlystrings
I was tripped up by "talk to them during the lesson and eat up lesson time" because I would actually do that! (in order to get something important discussed if the parent was otherwise unresponsive or had been staying in the car instead of being in the lesson as required)

Originally Posted by Andamento
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.

I've had similar awkward timing and just let them have the Nov lesson "for free" (not free, just not a separate line-item). For example, if today is Nov 22 and we just had a "successful interview", I might say, the remaining semester tuition for Dec and Jan is X, but we can start the schedule on Nov 29. Suppose it's an open time between two students and no one else is lined up, it doesn't cost me anything to teach someone at that time. But that's my choice to offer and I would privately look askance on someone who demanded it.


MostlyStrings, I agree. "But that's my choice to offer and I would privately look askance on someone who demanded it." I have a student who will be in Europe for a few weeks this summer for a musical event I'm not involved in. There will be a partial month before she leaves, a partial month after she returns, and then a third partial month before she heads off to college. I'm consolidating those "months" into two tuition payments rather than three, because they've been loyal and more than good to me in many ways over the years I've had this student.

It's an entirely different matter when someone expects a teacher to change the way she does things in order to please oneself. And nervy, if I do say so myself, to expect it of someone with whom one has never done business.

Let me demonstrate my generosity willingly without demanding it of me.

Re: Parents that exhaust my energy [Re: Morodiene] #2728807
04/13/18 01:26 PM
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My lessons are paid by month, according to how many weeks are in the month. It's clearer this way. There is no way to argue against paying for 5 lesson in a month when there are 5 weeks.

I do no meet and greets. But I give a reduced rate for the first month, which is a trial month for everyone. This gives new families or students a month to get used to me, and I have a month to decide if I want to keep going.

A huge amount of important things happens in those first few weeks. It gives me time to make sure the instrument at home is OK, that some amount of work is going to get done, what family dynamics are like, and so on.

I understand the advantages of getting people to sign contracts and getting people to commit for a year, or for 9 months, but the way I do things is more compatible with life in my area.

I have never taught a free lesson. If people want to check me out, I'm absolutely fine with that. It means I get to check them out.

If people want just one lesson, as a trial, I'll take that lesson and add it for credit for the first month if they continue. But for that one lesson it is an extra 50%.

I just did that with a 4 year-old. The mother was very insistent that he is ready. Starting a kid at four can be a disaster, so I insisted back that we have to see how it goes, for one lesson. She was OK for spending extra, because I told her that if we greenlight the whole thing, I'll change it to a good first month rate. The boy was exceptional, and we immediately changed to a regular first month of lessons. I met both parents. They speak three lessons, all were very supportive in the lesson and on board for being at the lessons.

I do have people suddenly quit in a way that they would not if they were "trapped" into a contract, but that absolutely does not change much for most students. I have a high percentage of students continue during the summer and even for most of the weeks during Xmas.

I'm very lenient about make-ups with families who are cooperative. I give extra time to families I like, continuing some lessons when the next student is not there, or when someone shows up early and no student is there. Making up is no problem for me if I already have time blocked, and things are open. I think this is why I don't see to get lied to. Example: during spring break one mother did not call. Turns out she had the wrong number in her cell phone. But she was fine with a make-up, the kid was prepared, and I had the time. Over a long period I always have extra time. I only schedule make-ups in between other lessons.

When families lie to me or play games - and I know when this happens - they don't get one extra second, no leeway in make-ups. If they are late paying, the charge for monthly lessons goes up. This does NOT happen very often.


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Re: Parents that exhaust my energy [Re: malkin] #2728825
04/13/18 02:33 PM
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Originally Posted by malkin
Originally Posted by casinitaly

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 had a private client who stood me up--they were at home, and I showed up at their door and could hear them inside. I did not leave until they answered the door and informed me that they did not want the session they had scheduled and not cancelled. And of course they did not wish to pay for it. (This was our final interaction.)

Originally Posted by casinitaly

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!!

The same family took a minimum of 20 minutes after each session: reminder to pay, locate the checkbook, deal with interruptions from the dog, the toddler, the phone, and whatever else was more important than their son's speech and language and then finally to write the !@##$* check.



Malkin, I had a similar experience - family took an extra 10 minutes getting payment together, until I "changed" my policy to ask for payment before the first lesson each month. Check was waiting every month. smile

They also thought that after the lesson, it was time for a mini-conference re: the lesson. After I raised my very low fee a few dollars, they claimed the child sustained an injury, and had to temporarily stop lessons. A few months later, they called me, begging me to teach their son. They at least admitted that they had tried another teacher. I would have taken the boy back, if they had not dropped me for months.


Piano teacher, BA Music, MTNA member
Re: Parents that exhaust my energy [Re: Gary D.] #2728828
04/13/18 02:41 PM
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Quote
[/quote]I'm very lenient about make-ups with families who are cooperative. I give extra time to families I like, continuing some lessons when the next student is not there, or when someone shows up early and no student is there. Making up is no problem for me if I already have time blocked, and things are open. I think this is why I don't see to get lied to. Example: during spring break one mother did not call. Turns out she had the wrong number in her cell phone. But she was fine with a make-up, the kid was prepared, and I had the time. Over a long period I always have extra time. I only schedule make-ups in between other lessons.[quote]


Gary D., I do the same. I will make exceptions for families who are cooperative. Whenever a student cancels, I immediately text parents who need make up lessons. However, I have had families who claim student illness when they are not. Since I don't want to lose the students' trust, I don't directly deal with the parent, but in the future, they will not get makeups as easily, if at all.


Piano teacher, BA Music, MTNA member
Re: Parents that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2728832
04/13/18 02:48 PM
04/13/18 02:48 PM
Joined: Apr 2007
Posts: 16,394
Boynton Beach, FL
Morodiene Offline OP
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Morodiene  Offline OP
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Joined: Apr 2007
Posts: 16,394
Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
Quote
I'm very lenient about make-ups with families who are cooperative. I give extra time to families I like, continuing some lessons when the next student is not there, or when someone shows up early and no student is there. Making up is no problem for me if I already have time blocked, and things are open. I think this is why I don't see to get lied to. Example: during spring break one mother did not call. Turns out she had the wrong number in her cell phone. But she was fine with a make-up, the kid was prepared, and I had the time. Over a long period I always have extra time. I only schedule make-ups in between other lessons.
Quote


Gary D., I do the same. I will make exceptions for families who are cooperative. Whenever a student cancels, I immediately text parents who need make up lessons. However, I have had families who claim student illness when they are not. Since I don't want to lose the students' trust, I don't directly deal with the parent, but in the future, they will not get makeups as easily, if at all.

I think that for most, policies exist because of the people who try to take advantage. Setting good boundaries, however, is always a good policy, especially with new parents who may be the kind who try and get everything for nothing (there are a lot of those around here). Those people that have been with you for a while, you have developed a mutual trust and can afford to be more lenient. But when there are problems from the beginning, that's always a huge red flag for me. That tells me I'm in for a hard time with this one.


private piano/voice teacher FT

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Re: Parents that exhaust my energy [Re: Candywoman] #2749878
07/06/18 10:12 PM
07/06/18 10:12 PM
Joined: May 2018
Posts: 257
Quebec city, QC
CadenzaVvi Offline
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CadenzaVvi  Offline
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Joined: May 2018
Posts: 257
Quebec city, QC
I must say, I came here hoping some crunchy stories (my sister is an elementary school teacher and I'm sometimes horrified by her stories about parents...). But I realize that being a music teacher seems mostly to be a challenge regarding payments more than anything else. This is really sad...

-

As for the problem regarding people don't understanding the monthly concept, maybe "offering" a semestrial or annual paiement, with combinaison to the option of a monthly paiement would make them understand better?

"The price for the year is X $. You can pay X $ at the beginning of the school year, or you can pay Y $ in september and Y $ in january, or you can pay Z $ every month."
Maybe it would be easier to understand that monthly paiement is only an evening out of the yearly cost?

In local music schools, I often see something like it. Subscription is based on semesters (fall and winter) and paiements can be made with one, two or three checks throughout the semester.

-

I personally pay my teacher at the end of every lesson, but this discussion opened my eyes on why this is not viable in most of the cases!


My piano journey from day 1
Started piano on February 2016.
Pieces I'm working on :
- Rameau, Les Sauvages
- Beethoven, sonata op. 49, no. 1, 1st mov
- Chopin, nocturne op. posth. in C# minor
- Debussy, Golliwog's cakewalk
Re: Parents that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2749949
07/07/18 07:41 AM
07/07/18 07:41 AM
Joined: Apr 2010
Posts: 106
NM
N
NMKeys Offline
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NMKeys  Offline
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Joined: Apr 2010
Posts: 106
NM
Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
However, I have had families who claim student illness when they are not. Since I don't want to lose the students' trust, I don't directly deal with the parent, but in the future, they will not get makeups as easily, if at all.


LOL -- About 15 years ago, I had a mom who would have a blowout or car breakdown every lesson day. Come to find out, she preferred my make up day to my actual teaching days. I started limiting make-ups after that and miraculously it fixed her car.


Private Piano Instructor M.M.
Re: Parents that exhaust my energy [Re: Morodiene] #2758873
08/16/18 09:41 AM
08/16/18 09:41 AM
Joined: Jul 2012
Posts: 246
USA
missbelle Offline
Full Member
missbelle  Offline
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Joined: Jul 2012
Posts: 246
USA
I teach at my home studio, (word-of mouth only) and at a private Christian school that does all the paperwork and semester billing for me, including printing programs for free in color, unlimited access to the copy room, free recital hall, and free coffee! They take a small cut (20%) and it is worth it for me.

However, the one downfall is that I get NO choice in the students, unless they are repeat customers.

The coordinator (I have known for over a decade) has told me, "one violin parent DEMANDS 3pm on Thursday or they will drop lessons." (They were dropped. Another student happily filled the spot)

Another wanted a lesson right after Tuesday's science club, because her two children have two activities each, and they live so far away! (20 minutes) that they cannot do the turn-around. Kids are grade school. Many families with longer commutes/older students/more children, practically camp out at the school, doing homework, visiting the library or playground, snack/rest time, etc...20 minutes is NOT a hardship!

I have some parents that I never see until recital. I had one boy who missed recital, even after I had sent mom a preview of the program, reminder emails and notes, "oh, we had a soccer practice that morning." Not a game or a match- practice. Oh, yeah, the boy rarely came with books, and never practiced. urg.

Or a family with one child very enthusiastic about piano, so the parents make the other sibling take lessons back-to-back, to keep the schedule easy for them. One hour, one recital, one teacher, easy! But, the other sibling does NOT want lessons. Why torture the kid? They are going to make comparisons. It will not end well.

But, the majority of my students at this school DO have good parents, many who observe lessons, actually read and even sometimes write questions or comments IN the Assignment Notebook, and help their children make time for practice.

And, as frustrating as the no practice, no books, no communication families can be, I take solace in the fact that I am a well paid musical babysitter. I cannot make them (child or parent) care more than I do. I can entertain myself pretty well, and have a variety of ways to present The Same Lesson Over And Over And Over And Over...

(I taught preschool, and still volunteer at church with that age, for over two decades, so I am pretty patient.)


Learning as I teach.
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