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Would you accept adult student of opposite sex? #2946340 02/13/20 10:44 AM
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feebeeliszt Offline OP
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Been lurking here for years and finally I'm resurfacing... though for something troubling.

I have recently moved to an expat country with my husband. In my home country, my intakes mainly came from my personal connections and conservatory. So I know very little about the business side of piano teaching and related etiquette.

So I have been advertising a bit, engaged an agent to help me get students, worked okay so far.

But occasionally, I get requests from grown up male. My rate is already on the expensive side for leisure learners. But to put them off, I'd mark up my rate even slightly more. If they are willing to pay the markup rate (which is quite fishy if they accept that), I'd lie I have no more private slots and ask them to sign up to the music school I just started working at. At least if I'm teaching an opposite sex in a public space, I'd feel more safe.

But this case is slightly tricky

A male friend of mine texted me after finding my teaching profile on my agent's ads. He seemed genuinely wanting to learn piano. But still I was slightly uncomfortable. We were romantically involved several years ago. I have met him once since moving to the new country (very recently), since I thought all romantic affairs were over and I didn't know a single person in the country back then. I met him on a friendly basis and he seemed happily in a relationship.

But at the time he texted me for lesson today, he's single, and I'm slightly concerned if he actually wanted something more. I wouldn't have thought so much if I weren't married, but the fact that I am made me feel obliged to eliminate all possibilities that things may go wrong.

Financially I am comfortable so I am not desperate for extra students. But it's nice that he is available on weekday morning, which can fill up some morning gaps. (Most of my students are school kids so my mornings are quite empty). He kind of know how busy I am, so I am not sure if that "no private slots" excuse would work.

Probably not teaching related... but would love to know how you deal with relationships with your opposite sex grown students


The notes I handle no better than many pianists. But the pauses between the notes - ah, that is where the art resides! - Schnabel
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Re: Would you accept adult student of opposite sex? [Re: feebeeliszt] #2946368 02/13/20 11:31 AM
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Dr. Rogers Offline
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I have never turned away a potential student because of their sex. I hope I never have to. That said, my position is a little different from yours since I am a man.

I am very careful with students of the opposite sex, especially minors. I make every effort to never be alone with a minor female student. I encourage a parent or guardian to sit in on the lesson, and I try to have my wife or a female relative nearby. For adults, I try not to be alone with them until I'm confident I can trust them.

My worry is rather different from yours: I don't want my life ruined by a false accusation. Supposedly that's rare, and I sincerely hope it is, but I was falsely accused of something by an ex-girlfriend back in college. Once bitten, twice shy.

Regarding your situation, I would probably not accept that particular student, and would be honest about why. For instance, if that aforementioned ex-girlfriend approached me for lessons, I would decline and tell her that I just don't trust her anymore.

Thankfully, I'm very ugly so I don't stand much chance of my students falling in love with me!

Good luck!

Last edited by Dr. Rogers; 02/13/20 11:32 AM.

Austin Rogers, PhD
Music Teacher in Austin, TX
Baldwin SD-10 Concert Grand "Kuroneko", Baldwin Upright, Yamaha P-255
Re: Would you accept adult student of opposite sex? [Re: feebeeliszt] #2946376 02/13/20 11:57 AM
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Currently, all my adult students are parents of children students. I try to avoid unrelated adult students in general by explaining that my focus is children and families (because of how my program and schedule are set up) and that I could refer them to colleagues who might be a better fit.

Thinking back, I had adult male students only when I was teaching through a school/store. I do remember a particular call in the last few years and had decided on the spot that I would not be comfortable inviting an unknown adult male into my home. The man had previously studied with a local colleague of mine and that was a reason I could not take him, in addition to my usual explanation. I actually tell the same to children (well, their parents), that I will not knowingly poach a student from behind my colleague's back. The only difference with a child is that the child could be invited to participate in ensemble class.

On the flip side, I have taken lessons on one of my secondary instruments at the homes of male teachers.

I would personally not use rates to deter a prospective student but would use a different reason rather than imply that I could be bought for the right price. I keep my weekday mornings free of students because I like it that way. For one, I don't want to prepare my space and mind for teaching, then go back to personal time, then back to teaching in the after school hours.

In the case of the past romance, I don't doubt that it's possible to have a business relationship. However, if you want to leave absolutely no room for any remote possibility or appearance of impropriety, DON'T DO IT. You might not want, and aren't obligated, to explain, but if you feel like you have to say something, you could make a general statement about not teaching friends (because then you'd have to charge them and have expectations of them and they would have expectations of you and so on and it's messy). You are surely not the only piano teacher in the country. If you want to maintain a social relationship with him and show thanks for his help(?) in getting settled in the new country, plan something with your husband as a couple.

Re: Would you accept adult student of opposite sex? [Re: feebeeliszt] #2946445 02/13/20 03:15 PM
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If there is any reason to suspect there may be an issue lurking, you could always offer them Skype.


gotta go practice
Re: Would you accept adult student of opposite sex? [Re: TimR] #2946457 02/13/20 03:56 PM
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Originally Posted by TimR
If there is any reason to suspect there may be an issue lurking, you could always offer them Skype.


This is very much a personal decision: but I would not offer Skype but rather another teacher. I would not want any phone calls that start out ‘I’m having a problem with this measure’.


"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow" - F. Chopin
" I never dreamt with my own two hands I could touch the sky" - Sappho

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Re: Would you accept adult student of opposite sex? [Re: feebeeliszt] #2946468 02/13/20 04:26 PM
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My guess is that he is looking to start something again with you. But of course I don't know.

If prospective students are accepting your marked up rate, it probably means you're not charging enough!

Re: Would you accept adult student of opposite sex? [Re: feebeeliszt] #2946473 02/13/20 04:34 PM
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These days, same sex students can also be problematic, if you get my drift......(and yes, I've had experience of that sort of thing in my job).

I had a music lesson once as an adult - on the cello - at the home of a female teacher, with whom I arranged the lesson by phone. That was a couple of decades ago. It never crossed my mind that my teacher might think it was an issue, and, to be frank, looking back, I don't think it crossed my teacher's mind either. (She was slightly younger than me). There was no-one else at her home when I turned up for the lesson.

When I chatted to her briefly after the (trial) lesson, it turned out that I was her first adult student, and her main misgivings (apparently after talking to a fellow teacher who had experience of teaching adult beginners) was how I would take to instruction, especially as I'd already told her I played the piano and could read music.

But in reply to the OP's dilemma about taking on an ex- as student - I'd say: very bad idea.


"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: Would you accept adult student of opposite sex? [Re: feebeeliszt] #2946565 02/13/20 09:02 PM
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I wouldn't turn a client away because of sex, age, or gender, but inconvenience or creepiness would certainly be a deal breaker.


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Re: Would you accept adult student of opposite sex? [Re: feebeeliszt] #2946566 02/13/20 09:08 PM
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Tyrone Slothrop Offline
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There's also a cultural element. There are many places in the world, the Middle East for example, where having an adult male student take lessons from a female teacher would just be a no-go, although not for the same reason as the OP has for being uncomfortable with students of the other gender.


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Re: Would you accept adult student of opposite sex? [Re: feebeeliszt] #2946610 02/13/20 11:46 PM
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I think Ms. Liszt feels ambivalent about this student and former flame. And wants us to tell her what to do with him. But of course we can't. You choose your own friends in life. And your own entanglements.

If she is looking for an affair, this might be a fine way to start one. If not, then she should simply decline this student, using whatever explanation she wishes.

But if she wants to live in the grey areas of life and make a few bucks as well, then try teaching him piano for a month or two and see how it goes.

Re: Would you accept adult student of opposite sex? [Re: feebeeliszt] #2947172 02/15/20 10:44 AM
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I would just teach him. Make his lessons long and take a lot of money from him. You will learn how to be assertive and how to bring the conversation back to piano. He might not know you are married, so work your husband's name into the first lesson.

Re: Would you accept adult student of opposite sex? [Re: feebeeliszt] #2947174 02/15/20 10:49 AM
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rocket88 Offline
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I would not do this. Nothing but potential problems.


Piano teacher.
Re: Would you accept adult student of opposite sex? [Re: feebeeliszt] #2947511 02/16/20 05:44 AM
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I would say trust your instincts. I'd personally have no problem with teaching an adult of opposite sex, but someone you were involved with in the past another issue altogether. If you are uncomfortable with the idea I'd say turn them down. The fact you are concerned enough about it to ask I think you have answered your own question :-)

Re: Would you accept adult student of opposite sex? [Re: MichaelJK] #2947835 02/16/20 11:25 PM
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feebeeliszt Offline OP
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Originally Posted by MichaelJK
If prospective students are accepting your marked up rate, it probably means you're not charging enough!



I like your theory wink


The notes I handle no better than many pianists. But the pauses between the notes - ah, that is where the art resides! - Schnabel
Re: Would you accept adult student of opposite sex? [Re: Dr. Rogers] #2947836 02/16/20 11:33 PM
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feebeeliszt Offline OP
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Originally Posted by Dr. Rogers
I have never turned away a potential student because of their sex. I hope I never have to. That said, my position is a little different from yours since I am a man.

I am very careful with students of the opposite sex, especially minors. I make every effort to never be alone with a minor female student. I encourage a parent or guardian to sit in on the lesson, and I try to have my wife or a female relative nearby. For adults, I try not to be alone with them until I'm confident I can trust them.

My worry is rather different from yours: I don't want my life ruined by a false accusation. Supposedly that's rare, and I sincerely hope it is, but I was falsely accused of something by an ex-girlfriend back in college. Once bitten, twice shy.

Regarding your situation, I would probably not accept that particular student, and would be honest about why. For instance, if that aforementioned ex-girlfriend approached me for lessons, I would decline and tell her that I just don't trust her anymore.

Thankfully, I'm very ugly so I don't stand much chance of my students falling in love with me!

Good luck!


I agree. While being a female makes parents more at ease to entrust us to teach their girls, it gives me problems for other students.

I do think the attraction issue can be a problem for male teachers too though. I have known a conservatory friend who was secretly in love with her teacher. But I guess the difference is, female students seem less likely to "make a move" compared to men.


The notes I handle no better than many pianists. But the pauses between the notes - ah, that is where the art resides! - Schnabel
Re: Would you accept adult student of opposite sex? [Re: Candywoman] #2947837 02/16/20 11:47 PM
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feebeeliszt Offline OP
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Thank you everyone for the reply and sharing your experiences.

Originally Posted by Candywoman
I would just teach him. Make his lessons long and take a lot of money from him. You will learn how to be assertive and how to bring the conversation back to piano. He might not know you are married, so work your husband's name into the first lesson.


And an update on the situation - turns out he's seems actually keen to learn. He is learning guitar and bought a keyboard already. Sent me a few songs he wanted to learn. Been trying to pursue him to find someone else but if it doesn't work I'll just do a trial class to see if it works and keep everything professional.


The notes I handle no better than many pianists. But the pauses between the notes - ah, that is where the art resides! - Schnabel
Re: Would you accept adult student of opposite sex? [Re: feebeeliszt] #2951224 02/25/20 12:50 AM
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Charles Cohen Offline
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Originally Posted by feebeeliszt
. . .
And an update on the situation - turns out he's seems actually keen to learn. He is learning guitar and bought a keyboard already. Sent me a few songs he wanted to learn. Been trying to pursue him to find someone else but if it doesn't work I'll just do a trial class to see if it works and keep everything professional.


That's reasonable. It takes two people to re-kindle an old flame, and you sound _very_ uninterested.

I understand not wanting a adult stranger in the house. But an ex-lover isn't a stranger.


. Charles
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Re: Would you accept adult student of opposite sex? [Re: feebeeliszt] #2951677 Yesterday at 02:16 AM
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Plus he's probably come on the forum and read your post anyhow. I'd just go ahead and teach him.


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