Over the last couple of weeks, this blog has covered some of the common concerns for parents with kids in piano lessons. While I hope that some of my perspectives have put your mind at ease, (and maybe even helped you choose to stick with lessons a little longer) I also understand that sometimes it really is appropriate to quit piano lessons. I trust that you will be a good judge for when it’s okay to quit. In this blog, I want to address one of the most uncomfortable things for parents when they have to pull out of lessons: telling the teacher.
If you ever have to approach a teacher about quitting, here are a few suggestions compiled from my own and other teacher’s experiences:
1. Give Plenty of Advance Notice
In discussion with other teachers, this was easily the most prominent answer when I asked what they would like to see happen when a student has to quit. Across the board, teachers I spoke with seem to agree that 30 days is an appropriate notice to give for quitting lessons. Whether your teacher makes a little money on the side by teaching lessons or it’s their primary source of income, always assume they’ll need enough paid time to find a student to replace the one they’re losing. If this is not the case and the teacher has families on a waiting list, they will let you know. Advance notice also gives the teacher the chance to restructure some of the student’s last few lessons so they can set the student up for success should they continue playing the piano on their own.
2. Let the teacher know why you are quitting
Admittedly, this one is tough. The older I get, the more I tend towards feeling like I don’t have to explain myself to others when it comes to my personal life decisions. However in the case of music lessons, I believe that being open with the teacher can help them move forward and improve their policies and procedures. I firmly believe that a good teacher stays in a student mentality to some extent throughout the course of their career. If I notice that my students are quitting and they all have similar reasons, I might be guided to something I need to change. Even if the reason doesn’t have to do with your teacher directly, I would encourage letting them in on it anyway. You never know what they might find beneficial.
3. Honor previous commitments
Wherever possible, try to stick to commitments such as finishing up through the term, (I have my studio scheduled in quarters; your teacher might have a different arrangement). Other commitments could involve reaching a certain level, or being able to play a certain song. Barring family emergencies or personal catastrophes, sticking to a commitment is great for the student and helpful to the teacher. (Most of us prefer giving the student a great send-off!)
4. Throw a kind gesture their way
Alright, this one might be a little selfish. I just know from personal experience that sometimes losing a student you love is really tough. Besides teaching your child piano, your teacher has likely developed a relationship with them and loves them a lot! In a couple of instances, I’ve been lucky enough to work with some really sweet families who sent me a kind note of thanks after teaching them for some time. I know, I know. I’m being a little sappy here. And certainly, your teacher is a professional who would never require this. That would be weird. I’m just throwing it out there in case you otherwise would not have thought about it. I don’t know one music teacher who wouldn’t love this.
Thank you so much for reading. Join me next week for the first of a four-part series that will absolutely rock your socks!! Spread the word, because your friends with kids in music lessons, (not just piano) are going to want to tune in! See you there!