New Teachers and Relationship Conversation
Shanta H., Minnesota
I’ve been having more attrition than I’m used to among students. Two, I think, are a temporary hiatus, and two others were over-committed in their lives and needed to rearrange something. I know I can’t take it personally when a student decides to leave, but somehow it still gets me down… I don’t even need to worry too much about the income because I have a solid part time job, I have a class of 5 scheduled to start plus several more prospects. I am wondering if I could be doing better at talking about Long Term Relationships. How do all of you work this into your lessons? What do you talk about and how do you bring it up? Have you found specific ways of doing it to be more effective than others?
It’s such an odd feeling to be on a peak and a valley at the same time. I feel like every time I really feel like I get one aspect of teaching down, another aspect comes to the forefront and I really feel my own inexperience.
Any advice or other helpful words would be appreciated.
Janita P., Nebraska
I tie the LTR into lessons as much as possible. I either initiate the conversation deliberately, or insert it as a teaching moment. I especially emphasize it this time of year as people are usually taxed emotionally, physically, financially, time-wise, etc. I have the LTR picture on my piano deck every week. I speak of it as if it is really normal and not a taboo to be in a valley. Also, I have built into my Policies a one-month “cooling-off” period if they want to terminate lessons.
They need to submit it in writing as it helps with the emotional decisions and panicked phone calls.
Elsie W., Idaho
The letter to Shanta below is valuable for me as I begin this new adventure. What is the LTR picture you keep on your piano deck? Did I miss this in my training?
I have other questions, too:
1. In hindsight, what would you do differently if you were starting up again as I am?
2. How did you integrate your current students into Simply Music, and into groups?
3. I am going to have to double my fees. What is the best way to handle that?
4. Studio logistics: Any tips about the setup, arrangement of the room and equipment?
Elisa J., New Jersey
This is going to be long…sorry. I’m a fairly new teacher as well and currently have 9 students and hopefully 8 more starting in January. Although I learned traditionally, this is the only teaching experience I have and didn’t have to worry about switching any students…so I can’t put my 2 cents about that.
I think the picture they’re talking about is the graph you’ll find in the SHM’s (I hope I’m right). As far as fees, you can’t compare how much a manual typewriter is to a state of the art computer. I’ve had conversations about this already to a couple of the parents who are trying to fit it into their budget. I don’t know if you remember the fees conversation in your training. Neil compared the results you get from traditional methods vs SM. He went on saying that in SM you’ll learn without sheet music, 24 songs in 6 months. You’ll get the same results traditionally (3 or 4 songs a year) in six years. So you can do the math on how much it would cost in 6 years compared to 6 months. It takes a while to download but really worth listening to…a few times, which I did.
As far as set up, Neil likes his rooms to be as sparse as possible to remove any distractions. Some teachers also have pictures of their studio in the intranet somewhere. I have one piano and folding chairs around it. Since it’s in my home, I can put the chairs away when I’m done with lessons. Fortunately for me, if I were to have 10 students along with 10 parents, I’d be able to fit them in my living room…funny how they all take their shoes off as I’ve asked in my policies. Having policies in writing helps, too. If you’ve gone through any of the other teachers’ websites, you’ll be able to get an idea of what should be in there and make your own changes accordingly.
If you’re able to fit in that many people in a room then that’s great. I started off a group of 7 in the beginning which I thought was a great way to get my feet wet. I absolutely loved it! It was a mixture of 7-50 yr olds. I’ve had to switch a couple of students to a different group just for convenience. I like the idea if you’re able, to start at least 2 different groups or more at the same time because if a student can’t make their lesson then they have the option of sitting in another group in the same level on a different day.
Oh, that’s another thing, the parents are going to say “they can read, so they have to start from the beginning?”…and the answer is YES! You can have that conversation about the different languages. They may know their alphabet and write sentences in English but apply the same alphabet in Italian, they’ll have to start from the very beginning….same thing with SM.
I sound like I’ve been doing this for a while don’t I? I just became licensed at the end of September and started teaching in November but thanks to the great support from everyone here I feel like I’m not alone and I feel more confident about these “conversations.”
Cindy B., Illinois
In hindsight, I would pay a lot more attention to getting the parents on board. I was a traditional teacher with traditional students, and I now know that switching the students was easy, but switching the parents didn’t really happen. If I had it to do over again, I would have had a parent-teacher conference of some kind with each parent(s) and made as sure as possible that they were willing to give up the reading music concept and to align themselves with the new program. I would have been completely, and unreservedly, requirement-based, first winning them at the FIS. I ended up losing ALL but 1 of those students within 2 years – and knowing that, all the concerns I had about losing them at the start which motivated me to be request based would have gone out the window.