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Not sure how to respond to email


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#1 tetrachord

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Posted 18 November 2019 - 12:26

I received an email from a parent and I'm not sure how to respond to it. They basically say their child has just started lessons through a school initiative and they're thinking about getting more lessons for the child. If the child enjoys the lessons they might take it further. They also said my profile appeals because I mentioned the dread word fun and they say it's more for fun right now. I have done advertising in the past where I say “Happy to teach towards exams or just for fun” so I suppose it's down to bad wording on my part.

I'm trying to work out how to respond to this; obviously if the child is already having lessons I don't want to encourage them having 2 teachers, even if the other lessons aren't going well! I can sort of understand the parent's point of view that if the school lessons aren't working out they want to make sure a new teacher is right for them, but I feel uncomfortable with the whole situation, not least because I don't know if they are looking for another teacher because the first one isn't working out or if they just think having two teachers would be better than one.


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#2 elemimele

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Posted 18 November 2019 - 13:52

Probably best to arrange a quick chat, and outline honestly any issues with the parents. Is the school initiative anything with long-term prospects, or is it just one of those things where a school arranges a handful of sessions to get things started (and tick a box or two), with no expectation it will continue? If so,the parents might be doing the right thing, seeking a way to turn a temporary success into longer-term learning.

Of course it's possible that the person running the handful of sessions is hoping to pick up some pupils, so there may be a slight conflict, but parents do have the right to choose a different teacher - from their perspective, all that's happened so far is that they've found that their kid has a previously undiscovered love of the Bavarian Furzchenhorn - now it's up to them to decide what to do about it.

On the "fun" thing, some of us parents have this view of music teachers as ferocious ladies of a certain maturity, their hair tied up in a rigid bun, glaring at tiny pupils and threatening to whack them over the knuckles with a ruler every time they miss a note as they play endless scales(*). Or they've heard stories from tiger-mums about how rapidly kids should leap from grade to grade. It could be that they just mean "without exams please, and we don't mind how long it takes". Though of course they might mean "without any sense of commitment please" - but you can probably judge that pretty quickly.

 

(* sorry about ageism, genderism and hair-bias; this is a statement of prejudice! It's obviously wrong, but we have our strange fixed ideas)


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#3 zwhe

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Posted 18 November 2019 - 14:09

 

On the "fun" thing, some of us parents have this view of music teachers as ferocious ladies of a certain maturity, their hair tied up in a rigid bun, glaring at tiny pupils and threatening to whack them over the knuckles with a ruler every time they miss a note as they play endless scales(*). Or they've heard stories from tiger-mums about how rapidly kids should leap from grade to grade. It could be that they just mean "without exams please, and we don't mind how long it takes". Though of course they might mean "without any sense of commitment please" - but you can probably judge that pretty quickly.

 

(* sorry about ageism, genderism and hair-bias; this is a statement of prejudice! It's obviously wrong, but we have our strange fixed ideas)

Did we have the same teacher - although it was a pencil that she hit me with, not a ruler!

Its in my terms & conditions that I do not take pupils who have another teacher, no exceptions except for advanced students and with my consent. It just causes too many problems.


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#4 jenny

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Posted 18 November 2019 - 15:19

 

On the "fun" thing, some of us parents have this view of music teachers as ferocious ladies of a certain maturity, their hair tied up in a rigid bun, glaring at tiny pupils and threatening to whack them over the knuckles with a ruler every time they miss a note as they play endless scales(*).

 

I remember very clearly a friend who was having lessons with a teacher who did use a ruler for rapping pupils' knuckles if they played a wrong note. This was a male teacher and I remember being horrified and being so glad that my own (female) teacher had a completely different way of working. How times have changed, thank goodness!!  


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#5 Latin pianist

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Posted 18 November 2019 - 15:50

I've heard stories of teachers sitting knitting then hitting pupils' fingers with the needles!
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#6 thara96

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Posted 18 November 2019 - 16:15

I've heard stories of teachers sitting knitting then hitting pupils' fingers with the needles!

Makes me happy times are different now! 


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#7 HelenVJ

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Posted 18 November 2019 - 16:18

My first question in response to this email would be to ask what kind of instrument they have. Quite possibly they don't have one at all. But if they do, then you could ask whether the school lessons are group or individual etc. and for how long this initiative is supposed to continue. In general it's obviously not great, or even ethical, to have 2 teachers simultaneously, especially in the early stages, when differing approaches could lead to a lot of confusion. You need to ask a few more questions.


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#8 violinlove

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Posted 19 November 2019 - 12:10

I'm afraid I am very wary of the "for fun" people. I've had a few of these types in the past and what is basically meant was them showing up when and if they felt like it and doing little or no practice at home and then parents complaining that the child wasn't having "fun". Any discussion about the child needing to do a little work at home in order to learn and progress and therefore be able to gain enjoyment through music was always met by "But it's their free time" or "they want to play with their friends instead". etcetc.

 

This is not to say my lessons are deadly boring. I know that the vast majority of my pupils enjoying coming. They do have a laugh too during the lessons but they are also committed to doing some practice at home and are supported by their parents.

 

In the OP's position I would have a longer discussion with the parent by telephone to find out what was going on with the lessons at school - what sort of lessons are they? How long are they going on for - is it a permanent thing? Is the parent looking to stop the school lessons and start with a new teacher or do they want two teachers?

Like the OP I am confused as to what they want. If they really just want to learn "for fun", surely the school lessons would be enough for this unless it's not fun because of the approach - or is it because they are expected to do something at home as well.

 

Definitely do some fishing around but I wouldn't want to take the child on while they were having lessons with another teacher (causes problems unless for a specific reason and some contact between the two teachers is desirable - I have a pupil like this at the moment). And secondly the "just for fun" rings alarm bells...


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#9 violinlove

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Posted 19 November 2019 - 12:13

When I said "I have a pupil like this at the moment" - I meant a pupil who is working with me and another teacher and it is working effectively! But I communicate with the other teacher from time to time and we are both fine with the situation.


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#10 agricola

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Posted 19 November 2019 - 13:41

I would invite them to visit you (with the child) and discuss what they are looking for. I can usually spot and weed out the time-wasters this way, although even after a face-to-face I recently took on a child who only managed to last three lessons before having the screaming habdabs about having to practice for 10m every day.

 

I do occasionally teach pupils who also have lessons at school -- provided the other teacher knows about the arrangement and I can communicate with them when necessary I think it can work.


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