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What is the most frustrating thing about being a piano teach #2748889
07/02/18 09:13 PM
07/02/18 09:13 PM
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pavane1 Offline OP
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Hi all,

What do you find the most frustrating about our job?

Students that don't practice?

Difficult parents?

Collecting payments?

How do you solve these problems in your studio? I have struggled with all of these from time to time. I am hoping to get some input from all of you.


Doreen Hall
www.palomapiano.com
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Re: What is the most frustrating thing about being a piano teach [Re: pavane1] #2748909
07/02/18 11:08 PM
07/02/18 11:08 PM
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Boynton Beach, FL
Morodiene Offline
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Originally Posted by pavane1
Hi all,

What do you find the most frustrating about our job?

Students that don't practice?
This one is always a struggle. I was one of these kids, too, so I guess that gives me hope for someone else. But I always loved piano - even when I quit lessons with my teacher after 10 years, I kept on playing. Not everyone loves piano, and that's OK. Sometimes you have to take a few lessons to discover that about yourself.

Quote
Difficult parents?
A lot of the time the "trial lesson" I sometimes give is for me to get a feel for the parent. If I Get a bad vibe, I don't try to sign them up for lessons and have them go home and think about it. They never call to sign up. Bullet dodged!

Quote
Collecting payments?
Have a clear policy, and enforce it, whatever it is. I recommend getting paid upfront, and the way banks can now send you payments automatically (or through Paypal) it often makes our lives a bit easier.

Also, get yourself on a schedule where you pay yourself an average amount each month of what you earn - maybe based on last year's taxes if your studio is more or less the same size. divide that yearly amount you earned by 12 and still get paid in the lean summer months. This can be tricky to do and requires discipline. I have a separate account for the business that I transfer money from when it's time to pay myself each month. I usually have a student or two that likes to pay for a whole semester upfront, so then there's always money in there to cover when someone's a week late. Also, I leave 20% of my earnings in that account to cover taxes, and whatever is leftover is a nice bonus!

Every job has its pluses and minuses, and hopefully you love the pluses more than you hate the minuses. I've found that you can minimize the bad parts just by knowing yourself, focusing on loving piano and your students, and always looking for ways to improve your business to make it work for you.


private piano/voice teacher FT

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Re: What is the most frustrating thing about being a piano teach [Re: Morodiene] #2748923
07/03/18 01:47 AM
07/03/18 01:47 AM
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Quote
Difficult parents?
A lot of the time the "trial lesson" I sometimes give is for me to get a feel for the parent. If I Get a bad vibe, I don't try to sign them up for lessons and have them go home and think about it. They never call to sign up. Bullet dodged!

This is a great idea. Can you expand a bit upon what gives you a bad vibe with a parent? Are they rude of to picky? Or just demanding/


Doreen Hall
www.palomapiano.com
Re: What is the most frustrating thing about being a piano teach [Re: pavane1] #2748935
07/03/18 03:20 AM
07/03/18 03:20 AM
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Orange County, CA
AZNpiano Offline
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One of the workshops at our MTAC Convention dealt with the over-scheduled students. That seems like a common problem across the globe now.


Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member
Re: What is the most frustrating thing about being a piano teach [Re: pavane1] #2748978
07/03/18 09:19 AM
07/03/18 09:19 AM
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Hmmm, most frustrating

Students/parents not knowing you have to practice -- think the 30-minute lesson is enough to make a Mozart in 6 months

Students "making noise" at the piano making parents think they are practicing but they are not accomplishing a thing.


Private Piano Instructor M.M.
Re: What is the most frustrating thing about being a piano teach [Re: NMKeys] #2749005
07/03/18 11:14 AM
07/03/18 11:14 AM
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TimR Online content
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Originally Posted by NMKeys


Students "making noise" at the piano making parents think they are practicing but they are not accomplishing a thing.


Couldn't help thinking of this one:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iYZIl2eiYzA


gotta go practice
Re: What is the most frustrating thing about being a piano teach [Re: pavane1] #2749006
07/03/18 11:14 AM
07/03/18 11:14 AM
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I'm struggling right now with a beginner who clearly practices no more than once or twice a week. I emphasize how long and how many days of practice is required at the meet and greet. I Iook the student and parent right in the eyes and with a smile, ask if they will commit to that. Of course, they say yes. For 3 weeks, I've asked this new student to fill in her practice days in a log I gave her, and each week it comes back blank. Spoke to the parent. We'll see if the log is filled in this week. Sooo frustrating. What do parents expect will happen with a half hour a lesson a week and no practicing???????


Piano teacher, BA Music, MTNA member
Re: What is the most frustrating thing about being a piano teach [Re: pavane1] #2749045
07/03/18 01:33 PM
07/03/18 01:33 PM
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TimR Online content
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They probably expect the same results they get with the other 20 or so activities they send their kids to.

So they're probably pretty happy with you. Except of course for your (polite suggestions)(unreasonable demands) for more practicing.


gotta go practice
Re: What is the most frustrating thing about being a piano teach [Re: pavane1] #2749049
07/03/18 01:48 PM
07/03/18 01:48 PM
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Originally Posted by pavane1
Hi all,

What do you find the most frustrating about our job?

Students that don't practice?

Difficult parents?

Collecting payments?

How do you solve these problems in your studio? I have struggled with all of these from time to time. I am hoping to get some input from all of you.


Biggest frustration with students: kids who keep making the same mistakes over and over because they don't spend any more time working on the hard parts of the music than they do on the easy parts, no matter how many times I explain (to children or parents) how to practice.

Biggest frustration with parents: when they keep asking to reschedule because something else comes up at their established time slot for piano lesson.

I recently changed my policy to address that latter issue. I've set aside three holiday weeks a year (in which there are no regular lessons scheduled) to do make-up lessons for those who miss during regular lessons weeks. If something comes up that they can't attend a regular lesson, their make-up won't be a different day that week, or a different time that day that requires me to move my business hours into my personal hours. They can use those special holiday weeks (Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day weeks) for rescheduling. (And those who have had good attendance during the year can choose to schedule bonus lessons for those weeks, essentially getting up to three free lessons--for a possible total of 48 lessons per year, which is three more than the 45 regular lessons on the schedule.)

In other words, I'm trying to reward faithfulness to regular lesson attendance. If families choose to miss some lessons due to conflicts with other events, they have three opportunities to reschedule to the weeks I designate, but not unlimited access to lessons whenever they want them. Establishing boundaries and enforcing them are helpful to all of us.

Re: What is the most frustrating thing about being a piano teach [Re: TimR] #2749142
07/03/18 10:51 PM
07/03/18 10:51 PM
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Originally Posted by TimR
They probably expect the same results they get with the other 20 or so activities they send their kids to.

So they're probably pretty happy with you. Except of course for your (polite suggestions)(unreasonable demands) for more practicing.

Bingo! When they have unrealistic expectations relative to their amount/quality of practice, then I need to have that discussion. If they are content to not practice (meaning, practice once a week with me), then I just need to make peace with myself about their abilities and limitations.

"Difficult parents" - depends on the way in which they are being difficult. My latest is parents who don't respond to email about scheduling, events, etc. I'm not sure I'm willing to let the students lose out who don't reply to stuff.

I do a similar system of bonus lessons as Andamento during most of the year. However, I think I made this summer's options a little too flexible and will change next year. Current/new issues become future policies (operating procedures)!

Re: What is the most frustrating thing about being a piano teach [Re: mostlystrings] #2749230
07/04/18 11:05 AM
07/04/18 11:05 AM
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Originally Posted by mostlystrings
Current/new issues become future policies (operating procedures)!


This is true in every field. The Policy & Procedures Manual at every company tells the story of what has gone wrong in the past.


Having power is not nearly as important as what you choose to do with it.
– Roald Dahl

Re: What is the most frustrating thing about being a piano teach [Re: pavane1] #2749309
07/04/18 04:44 PM
07/04/18 04:44 PM
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mostly strings, I have difficulty "making peace with myself about their abilities and limitations." (Kids who don't practice) After my last post, the student arrived without her practice log filled in. This student promised to practice before signing up, yet both mom and her came in (mom was laughing) and said she didn't practice all week b/c she was busy. My conflict is that many of these kids have potential, and I can't just sit back and let them get away without practicing, without discussing the need to practice at every lesson. I told her she had potential to play advanced music (demonstrating parts of impressive pieces) if she practiced/ I told her to look at her assignments as homework, and just like in school, if she didn't complete her homework, she would not pass. I have had so many students who barely touch the piano between lessons. Some I drop and end up in another teacher's studio (like AZN, lol) and are labeled "transfer wrecks." smile


Piano teacher, BA Music, MTNA member
Re: What is the most frustrating thing about being a piano teach [Re: chasingrainbows] #2749316
07/04/18 05:30 PM
07/04/18 05:30 PM
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Orange County, CA
AZNpiano Offline
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Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
I have had so many students who barely touch the piano between lessons. Some I drop and end up in another teacher's studio (like AZN, lol) and are labeled "transfer wrecks." smile

But it's not your fault. I can tell the difference.

I get transfer students that nobody can teach. They are the unteachables.


Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member
Re: What is the most frustrating thing about being a piano teach [Re: AZNpiano] #2749320
07/04/18 05:55 PM
07/04/18 05:55 PM
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Vancouver BC
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The Monkeys Offline
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano

But it's not your fault. I can tell the difference.

I get transfer students that nobody can teach. They are the unteachables.


Including their very first teacher/"teacher"?

Re: What is the most frustrating thing about being a piano teach [Re: The Monkeys] #2749336
07/04/18 06:57 PM
07/04/18 06:57 PM
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Originally Posted by The Monkeys
Originally Posted by AZNpiano

But it's not your fault. I can tell the difference.

I get transfer students that nobody can teach. They are the unteachables.


Including their very first teacher/"teacher"?

I would think that the first "teacher" went through the motions.

Re: What is the most frustrating thing about being a piano teach [Re: The Monkeys] #2749338
07/04/18 06:58 PM
07/04/18 06:58 PM
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Originally Posted by The Monkeys
Originally Posted by AZNpiano

But it's not your fault. I can tell the difference.

I get transfer students that nobody can teach. They are the unteachables.


Including their very first teacher/"teacher"?

I might need to start a new category of kids: The Unteachables. Only a moron with no sense of reality would make a statement like ALL kids can learn to play music.

And, yes, in this case the first teacher/"teacher" is moot, because the kid can't learn.


Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member
Re: What is the most frustrating thing about being a piano teach [Re: pavane1] #2749385
07/05/18 01:00 AM
07/05/18 01:00 AM
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It is interesting to read your experiences.

I know I'm most probably a very peculiar case, but if it can be of any confort to desperate teachers here about students not practicing : I was one of those kids one day. When I was 8, my parents made me took clarinet lessons. I took them for 2 years. I did like the lessons, but as a 8 years-old child, there were many things I did prefer to do over practicing, and my parents weren't pushing me much (my mom could tell me, every 2 months, that I should practice more, but there was no routine or anything that could have really made me practice).
After two years, they stopped paying for lessons they deemed useless, since I've never practiced more than once a week in this period.

But I liked playing music. When I enter high school, I've started playing with the harmony, and through the years, got more and more motivated to practice and learn. At one point, I ask my mom to have private lessons again. And I still remember my last year in high school as the best of my life BECAUSE of music. I was playing in the harmony, in the stage band, in the city harmony, in my private lessons... every lunch, I played music; evey evening, I played music. 3 hours a day, on average.

Then I've stopped for my studies, only to have the idea to learn the piano 2 years (and 4 months and a half) ago. And now, I don't understand how I manage to survive 10 years without music in my life!

And I was one of those kids who don't practice at one point. wink

Unless your students cleary don't like music, you don't know. Maybe they'll come back to it with more dedication later in their life. And you'll have been, maybe, the one that will have trigger the beggining of this wonderful adventure!

(But I perfectly understand how upseting it can be!).


My piano journey from day 1
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Re: What is the most frustrating thing about being a piano teach [Re: pavane1] #2749401
07/05/18 03:00 AM
07/05/18 03:00 AM
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Iaroslav Vasiliev Online content
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Heinrich Neuhaus once described an "unteachable" girl, that he was struggling to teach for many years when he was young. He set a challenge for himself to make a good pianist of her although she lacked musicality, lacked sense of rhythm, had poor coordination, poor pitch and other problems. He said it was interesting but exhausting experiment that led to severe frustration. Did she ever become an excellent well-known pianist? No. Her daughter did.

Re: What is the most frustrating thing about being a piano teach [Re: Iaroslav Vasiliev] #2749650
07/06/18 03:07 AM
07/06/18 03:07 AM
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Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
Heinrich Neuhaus once described an "unteachable" girl, that he was struggling to teach for many years when he was young. He set a challenge for himself to make a good pianist of her although she lacked musicality, lacked sense of rhythm, had poor coordination, poor pitch and other problems. He said it was interesting but exhausting experiment that led to severe frustration. Did she ever become an excellent well-known pianist? No. Her daughter did.

I don't understand your last sentence. Are you saying that the Mother's pointless piano lessons somehow transferred to her daughter via DNA?

Or could it be that the Mother suffered so much at piano that she made sure her daughter got all the support that would enable her to become a good pianist?


Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member
Re: What is the most frustrating thing about being a piano teach [Re: AZNpiano] #2749652
07/06/18 03:53 AM
07/06/18 03:53 AM
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Iaroslav Vasiliev Online content
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
Heinrich Neuhaus once described an "unteachable" girl, that he was struggling to teach for many years when he was young. He set a challenge for himself to make a good pianist of her although she lacked musicality, lacked sense of rhythm, had poor coordination, poor pitch and other problems. He said it was interesting but exhausting experiment that led to severe frustration. Did she ever become an excellent well-known pianist? No. Her daughter did.

I don't understand your last sentence. Are you saying that the Mother's pointless piano lessons somehow transferred to her daughter via DNA?

Or could it be that the Mother suffered so much at piano that she made sure her daughter got all the support that would enable her to become a good pianist?


Can't say about the DNA, but Neuhaus was sure that the mother's strive and studies somehow transferred to her daughter. He was amazed to see how talented the daughter was in comparison to her parents. And I'm sure (it's not in the book, it's my suggestion) that the mother had done everything in order to help her daughter to become a good pianist, maybe trying to compensate for her own lack of abilities.

And it's something that I personally noticed, too. Very talented kids are sometimes born and grown up by mothers who dreamed of music but lacked musical abilities.

Re: What is the most frustrating thing about being a piano teach [Re: Iaroslav Vasiliev] #2749654
07/06/18 04:28 AM
07/06/18 04:28 AM
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Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
And it's something that I personally noticed, too. Very talented kids are sometimes born and grown up by mothers who dreamed of music but lacked musical abilities.

The connection is tenuous at best. I've taught many talented students, and if I were to map their parents' musical abilities, it would be completely random.

Meanwhile, for the Unteachables that I somehow continue to teach (for $$$), I really don't care if their kids become famous pianists. That's the least of my concerns as I continue to scream "F-SHARP!" that falls on deaf ears.


Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member
Re: What is the most frustrating thing about being a piano teach [Re: pavane1] #2749740
07/06/18 11:32 AM
07/06/18 11:32 AM
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I don't think it has anything to do with the mom's possession or lack of talent. I think it is more organization and structure. Kid's with potential can fail because of lack of practice. Some with no "natural talent" succeed because of sweatwork.

I think the mother in the above story saw what was missing in her education and supplied it for her daughter.


Private Piano Instructor M.M.
Re: What is the most frustrating thing about being a piano teach [Re: TimR] #2749784
07/06/18 02:16 PM
07/06/18 02:16 PM
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I wrote a post on my parent's blog about that. I had a clever student that would just hit that record himself and hit the playback button.

His sister finally told on him.
http://pianoparents.net/10-ways-to-tell-when-your-child-is-not-really-practicing-the-piano-2/

Last edited by pavane1; 07/06/18 02:17 PM.

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