Letting Go or Making Adjustments
Found in: Student Retention/Attrition
Molly B., New Hampshire
Hello, Teachers. My first subject line was “Talking Points for Not Dropping Out”. But as I was writing this I realized it was more about letting go. I have two students, different families, who want to drop out. They have been with me forever, starting with their Kindermusik days. One is in 7th grade, Level 8, and is talking about trying guitar. The other is in 4th grade, Level 6, and is a serious four days a week gymnast. In both cases the parents want the kids to continue. The seventh grader has made no progress all fall and we are still working on his playlist songs from levels 6 and 7. He is a sweet boy who seems to enjoy his lessons. The fourth grader is more oppositional in lessons. They are both from very busy families.
My question is this: Do some of you lower your requirements – meaning have fewer projects – when kids are too busy? Or do you let them go when piano is not a high enough priority?
Pam K., Nebraska
What a coincidence…a long-time student of mine quit piano this week. She had been taking traditional lessons from me for three years, and transitioned to SM when I began teaching in June. She was a reluctant learner from the beginning of SM, and recently insisted that we played from her traditional books. I stood my ground, and her mom called last weekend to say they were quitting and would seek a new teacher. I remained calm and let them go. Mom was in tears when they left my house Monday, after daughters’ last lesson. She had progressed through half of Level 2. I did not give her a lot of projects due to her health (TBI at age 7–she’s now 14). I have to say I was amazed they didn’t put up more of a fight, and was equally shocked when they quit suddenly. Since I have a waiting list, it will be easy to fill her spot. Hope this helps.
Carla R., Texas
I just received a text message from a mother of two of my students. They were supposed to be at lessons when I received the text saying they had decided to drop out. I didn’t beg them to reconsider, as it didn’t hurt my feelings at all. They never were really coachable or committed. They were too scattered and inconsistent with both attendance and practice. I really need the income, and don’t have a waiting list, as I just started teaching again this year, and live in a small rural area.
With the economy I hear more and more people saying they wish they could afford lessons, but can’t. However, with all these things considered, it still didn’t hurt my feelings to let them go. I didn’t see them being teachable. If the mom isn’t teachable, the kids usually aren’t either. I was consistently trying to overcome negative habits with them. I couldn’t possibly have lowered the requirements any more than I already had.
While I believe God created everyone to be musical (to give Him praise), I don’t believe everyone is teachable, and willing to learn. If they want to be free from lessons, either to do other activities or to learn a different instrument, you can’t force them to learn piano. There are too many people who want to learn, to try to coerce those who don’t.