I am the last person who wants anyone to quit piano lessons…ever! But I am the first one to admit it happens. Maybe your child just isn’t into it anymore, and you’re tired of fighting with her about practicing. Perhaps your schedule is overloaded and something has got to give. A job loss or financial setback may also cause you to feel as though you have to stop lessons. It could be that you want to continue lessons but you think it’s time for a new teacher.
How Piano Teachers Think
OK, I am not a psychic. I don’t know exactly how or what every teacher thinks but I know enough teachers personally to tell you that we hate it when a student leaves. Yes, business is Business but piano teaching is more than that for most of us. Speaking for myself I try not to. take it personally but it still feels “icky” especially if I have been working with your child for a while. If you have carefully considered all of the options and have decided it’s time for a change there are some ways to make the situation a little easier.
Let your teacher know what is going on. Be honest, if your child has lost interest your teacher knows this and most likely will be understanding. If you are having some other issue (financial etc.) you don’t have to give details but you can say that you have a lot on your plate and piano lessons don’t fit right now. If you like the teacher let him know that you have appreciated his work. This will make the news of your child’s leaving much easier.
This one is hard. Thankfully, I haven’t many students leave me for another teacher but there have been a few. I can tell you that I would rather hear it from my student’s parent than find out about it later. Piano teachers usually know one another. Piano teachers attend professional organizations and travel in the same circles. The likelihood of running into your teacher at a recital or at an event is pretty high. In the case of changing teachers, I think it’s best simply to say “Mrs. Hall I just want to tell you up front that we are going to try lessons with Mr. Smith. We heard from a friend that he was taking new students and I thought it would be good for my son to get a different point of view.” There is really no easy way to do this I recommend you just get it over with. Don’t feel guilty you have the right to try a new teacher. You haven’t signed up for a lifetime contract. Your teacher understands that this type of thing comes with the territory (or she should). It won’t feel great for either of you but you’ll walk away knowing you did the right thing.
If you are leaving be sure to check your teacher’s studio policy. Some teachers require that you give a few weeks notice before leaving their studio. Unless there is something particularly upsetting going on you should plan to honor the terms of your contract before leaving. If your lessons are on a monthly payment schedule this polite thing to do would be to tell your teacher at the beginning of the month and that you plan to terminate your child’s lessons at month’s end. If you paid for a certain period of time and decide not to wait it out you should not expect a refund for the weeks you will miss.
Talk to Your Child’s Teacher
In my opinion, the best thing you can do if you have decided to leave your teacher’s studio is to place a phone call. Speak to the teacher personally and explain that you are leaving. Be polite and give as much detail as you feel comfortable revealing. If there have been no major problems during the course of your child’s lessons with the teacher thank him and let him know that you’ve appreciated all of his hard work. Ask about his cancellation notice policy. Your teacher may ask your child to finish out the lesson term or he may ask you to terminate lessons immediately. If your teacher asks you to terminate lessons immediately he should refund any lessons for which you have already paid.
Please don’t send a text or an email to inform your teacher that you are quitting. I have talked with many piano teachers and all of them have found this really upsetting. This is especially true if the teacher has worked with your child for any length of time. Don’t have your child tell the teacher that he is quitting piano lessons. Not only is this awkward for student and teacher but your teacher will have to confirm with you anyway. Why just last month I had a student tell me that he was not going to be coming to lessons anymore because he was moving to Pennsylvania. I asked mom about this and she laughed and said that they might move in five years. Evidently, my student had overheard his parents talking and had “jumped the gun” with his announcement.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that I hope no one ever quits piano lessons. I hope every student finds the perfect teacher and continues until she graduates from high school. But I know this is not always the way things turn out. So if you do find yourself having to say goodbye to your child’s piano teacher a straightforward conversation is the best way to break the news.
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