Students Unhappy in Shared Lessons
Carrie L., Michigan
I have a student who is not happy in her shared lesson. She’s in a shared lesson with one other student around the same age and has been for about 2 months. It seemed she was happy in the situation for the first month or so, but this past week I noticed she had something on her eval form that said that shared lesson was a challenge. I made a note to call the parent (last night) and the next day (today) the parent contacted me instead through email.
She said the daughter wasn’t happy in a shared lesson and wanted to see if they could work out a private lesson every other week since they couldn’t afford private lessons.
My schedule has only one opening for such a lesson and I’m not thrilled about putting a student into a private lesson that CAN be in shared. However keeping her in shared will also not suit her. Any thoughts?
Laurie Richards, Nebraska
It’s your studio and your territory. Bottom line, you need to run your studio however it works for YOU. If that means shared lessons only, then simply communicate that. Or charge at least twice your normal rate for a private lesson so at least you would be making the same amount as a shared lesson of two.
Once you start bending your own rules to make students “happy” or comfortable, they are in charge, and on some level I believe they will realize that.
Kerry V., Australia
You need to have a talk with mum to see what is really happening. I had put two girls together and it turned out they were in the same school and one bullied the other at school. So one of the mum’s spoke with me and they were willing to give it a go. It turned out the one who bullied was not as good at playing as the girl she bullied, so she left.
Talk to them to find out what is really happening.
Robin Keehn, Washington
I think I would make sure that there isn’t any underlying problem between the students or even the parents and see if you can get to the real reason that the shared lesson is a “challenge.” Is the student feeling overwhelmed or not challenged enough? Is there something you can do to change the dynamics? Get as much information as possible and then brainstorm (alone or with the parent?) some solutions. Maybe there is a simple, creative way to fix things.
This may not be relevant to these two students but when we do our FIS’s, we make sure that we explain why we primarily teach group lessons. We make sure from the very beginning that we tell prospective students that we believe that group learning is superior and renders better results than private lessons.
I also REALLY discourage people from the Every-Other-Week (EOW) lesson track. In my experience, it takes a very special student to maintain their motivation in a private EOW. Some adults can handle it but I have yet to meet a child or teen who can make progress & stick with the program for more than a couple of months in EOW lessons.
Good luck, Carrie! I think you can make it work unless there is some underlying problem that is unrelated to piano lessons.