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#935654 - 08/31/06 08:49 AM Do other teachers ever need to be refreshed?
WKS70 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/04/03
Posts: 186
Loc: GA
I've been teaching continuously for ten years. Piano is my life and ever since I was a little girl, I wanted to be a piano teacher. Recently, though, I've been tired of it all and I just long to have my home back to myself and not be invaded by piano students. I'm tired of students who do not practice and don't seem to care. And I'm downright sick of students who continuously try to take advantage of me,regardless of how well my policy is written or enforced.

Part of the problem may be that I've got a toddler and I just started homeschooling my 10 year old. I've taken almost no breaks outside of Christmas holiday, etc., in the years that I've been teaching. I would rather spend all my time working with my children instead of piano students.

Do other teachers go through times like this, and do you eventually get through it?

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#935655 - 08/31/06 11:17 AM Re: Do other teachers ever need to be refreshed?
Hobie Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/11/05
Posts: 475
Loc: Rocky Mountains

I posted sometime back about stress...about what is success and my difficulties with the workload. I can relate. I think that some teachers are part-time teachers who do not depend on their teaching for their living. Unlike those teachers, I have a full-time practice and it isn't so much the job I have problems with, it is the large number of students I teach each week. I have issues with stamina and stress. This summer I actually had a day where I taught 19 students in one day. Man, I was hurting after that one.

I have no solution, just wanted to say that I feel your frustration.

My wife and I recently purchased a new home. The mortgage payments are so scary that I better find a way to cope with all of my issues, because the financial obligations I have make a powerful incentive to keep at it.

Right there with ya
"Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others." Groucho Marx

#935656 - 08/31/06 03:28 PM Re: Do other teachers ever need to be refreshed?
sarabande Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/18/05
Posts: 1597
Loc: Mo.
I've not even taught that many students. I've mentioned in past threads I've had about a half dozen at a time over the last ten years. I have re-written my policy for this fall with a lot more "limits" especially on cancellations, make-ups, times I'm available, and payments. If anyone tries to work around the policy, I plan to be firm to my policy even if it means losing the student because typically when I've tried to compromise to work things out for a student even if they are dedicated at the time, students/families that I "helped out" with schedule, not asked for payments, etc. usually quit shortly after anyway. The committed, dedicated students/families don't try to get around the policy. I've always been a person to feel guilty in general for saying "no" but have gotten a lot better at it. (There's a book "Boundaries" by Cloud and Townsend that helps in general with setting limits with others without feeling guilty.) Based on past threads, I have a feeling a lot of us teachers hate having to say "no" or be firm with people on policy.

What burns me out the most is students not practicing hardly at all. This in and of itself wouldn't bother me so much either except that I worry that parents will put the blame on me for lack of progress. As long as the student and family are accepting of the fact that little practice is going to keep one from progressing as quickly and want to continue. I'm currently working on a way (yet another plan)to hold students more accountable on practice. I haven't quite figured out how I'm going to go about it but I'm thinking of sending a report home to parents at least quarterly as to how much practice is being done. If a student comes a 3rd week with little practice, then a note will go home to the parents. I'm thinking of adding a written practice policy somewhere by which students may even be dropped if they go X amount of time with hardly any practice. I'm trying this because I'm tired of students not practicing as well.

As far as your mention that you'd rather be spending time with your kids, I know how you feel. Piano/music was always my passion. Then when I had kids, all of the sudden, I almost could care less about music or the piano because I was enamered with my kids and wanted to be spending time with them. I was always torn between all my other obligations and wanting to be with my kids. After they were both above 4, I started gravitating back towards my other interests (perhaps I got burnt out on the kids! hee! hee!). When they were babies and toddlers, I taught a few students but I had a lot harder time during that time, I think, really being committed to teaching and I don't think I put my best foot forward during that time. I had originally planned on having a lot more students when my kids were born and I started staying home, but when it came down to time to start my studio and get going, I wound up putting it all on the back burner just taking students by word of mouth all this time from a few who were taking lessons before I had kids. It's just been the last year with kids being 4 and 6, almost 5 and 7 that I've been ready to put more time and energy into teaching. Depending on how badly you need the income, can you cut back on students, not take any new students, etc. to give yourself the extra time you would like to with your kids?

What I've done a lot of in recent years is not just with teaching piano, but in other areas of life too, is to ask myself "what is it that's really bothering me?", i.e. students not practicing, people not following the policy, more time with kids, etc. then I ask myself what changes can I make? I've been making a lot of changes in the last few years to keep from having a lot of the everyday annoyances. \:D

#935657 - 09/01/06 05:29 AM Re: Do other teachers ever need to be refreshed?
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2919
Loc: UK.
I have just taken a 6 week break from teaching over the Summer. I know this sounds expensive but I budget for it all year round. My break has even included not taking part in the forum as I felt I just needed to have almost nothing to do with piano or teaching in order to refresh myself. My piano has been covered up and I have hardly touched it.

The other thing I have done is have a clear out of students! Do you remember a while back I posted about losing students? Well, here's what I did....

I decided to go with the suggestion of writing to parents of kids I no longer wanted to teach as I needed to reduce my hours slightly. In the end I just can't do this kind of thing over the phone or face to face as I feel uncomfortable with it. I sent out half a dozen letters and have only had one phone call from a parent who was unhappy about it. I explained there was nothing I could do and they left it at that. In the letter I was able to word things carefully and make sure there could be no come back. I gave reccomendations for other teachers so they have somewhere to go. It turned out to be much easier than I thought it would be.

I start back next Monday and to be honest I feel like I am ready to go back to work. The thought of slightly less students (especially those who were not motivated for whatever reason) makes things even better. I think everyone needs a break now and then.
Pianist and piano teacher.

#935658 - 09/01/06 09:05 PM Re: Do other teachers ever need to be refreshed?
mjelle Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/10/06
Posts: 38
Loc: OH
I like Sarabande's idea of sending letters home to student's that don't practice! That is a great idea!

#935659 - 09/01/06 11:24 PM Re: Do other teachers ever need to be refreshed?
starsea49 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/17/06
Posts: 77
I think i can learn one thing or two from sarabande ... my problem has always been "having difficulty in letting go" - bending over backwards to accomodate the present yet difficult students/parents despite having a long waiting list !!! It's difficult to let go of all the efforts being invested in an old student ... i feel tired having to start all over again with a new one !!

I still haven't accepted the fact that when i open my studio door for business, it's inevitable that some students might come and go !!!

#935660 - 09/02/06 03:52 AM Re: Do other teachers ever need to be refreshed?
pianobuff Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/09/06
Posts: 1584
Loc: Pacific Northwest
I too am starting to feel burnt-out.
I've already said no to two people wanting to take lessons.
I feel it most when I teach 6 days a week by putting in a performance/group class along with their weekly private lessons. And then there is the music festivals and evaluations etc, etc... I am thinking of cutting down on the performance classes, but then again I think they help so much. Or, I was thinking of no private lesson the week of group lesson. But then I think that the private lesson is most important.
I think things would be so much less stressful if I could consistently have two days off. Any ideas? Do any of you also teach 6 days a week most of the time? Do you have group lessons? How do you handle this if you do?

When my children were young, I had maybe a couple of students here and there, nothing serious at all. We also homeschooled our children. It wasn't until my daughter was 11 and my son was 6 when I started up my studio.
Private Piano Teacher,
member MTNA and Piano Basics Foundation

#935661 - 09/02/06 08:25 PM Re: Do other teachers ever need to be refreshed?
starsea49 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/17/06
Posts: 77
I am torn myself; i hold two annual recitals per year, not withstanding all the smaller ones (one or two every month for open houses and silent auctions) plus my project featuring my students in a local access channel. The filming eats up so much time !!!

Group theory and group clavinova camps where students get to imitate instruments based on symphonic open score are highly interactive.

Preparing some of these students for exams to gain college credit is another nightmare.

Private lessons is a must ... i don't see cutting down on that one ...

I don't know, pianobuff; i think all our activities are important ... they do set short term goals for our students to work towards to. It keeps them practising ... it also keeps the parents involved.


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