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MorningStar

Making the Decision to Quit Teaching Piano

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I'm sorry for what you've been through. If you were closer I'd love to take lessons. Regret that my mother let me quit while I was 8 years old. Or maybe if I didn't really want to practice etc. I didn't deserve to get lessons. 

I tried to live through my daughters by getting them into lessons plus my son. But always made sure they practiced and paid on time. 

I hope the world's youth will not lose the ability to have a desire to make some great music. Just watched "Soloist" about a homeless man, who was an incredible musician but mentally ill. Sometimes people are lucky enough to have a gifted musical talent. 

I hope things change and you find those out there that will treat you like you deserve. 

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1 hour ago, Tacenda said:

I'm sorry for what you've been through. If you were closer I'd love to take lessons. Regret that my mother let me quit while I was 8 years old. Or maybe if I didn't really want to practice etc. I didn't deserve to get lessons. 

I tried to live through my daughters by getting them into lessons plus my son. But always made sure they practiced and paid on time. 

I hope the world's youth will not lose the ability to have a desire to make some great music. Just watched "Soloist" about a homeless man, who was an incredible musician but mentally ill. Sometimes people are lucky enough to have a gifted musical talent. 

I hope things change and you find those out there that will treat you like you deserve. 

Thank you. ❤️ There are some kids who have the desire and once it starts to get hard, they don't want to try anymore. I was the kind of kid who knocked the wind out of myself trying to learn how to do front flips and I would never give up. My brother regrets quitting lessons, but it was because he wasn't practicing. My parents had to tell me to step away from the piano because I was getting frustrated. Sometimes it helped just to step away for a bit. I've been so drained, I hardly ever play for my own enjoyment anymore. 

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A relative teaches 40 students/week. She too is finding a drop off in practice and enthusiasm. She has dropped some students that were the worst offenders and whose parents were not supportive. 

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Is teaching adults an option?   They would probably be more motivated, plus you would have more flexibility with lesson times since you wouldn't have to work around school schedules.

 

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1 minute ago, Traela said:

Is teaching adults an option?   They would probably be more motivated, plus you would have more flexibility with lesson times since you wouldn't have to work around school schedules.

 

I've taught a few adults. Who also didn't practice. 😂 My daughter will be home for one more year before Kindergarten and then I'll probably get some kind of day job. 

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I didn't practice, my back just couldn't handle it.  I still enjoyed the weekly lesson as doing something different than my usual.  The teacher was very understanding given our frequent cancelations because of my daughter's diabetes...but my daughter is gifted so a little practice goes a long way with her.

Maybe if my tailbone ever gets fixed and I stick with an exercise routine long enough, I may try again.  I love the idea of playing as another form of expression, but I struggle with anything two hands besides typing...I think that may be because in typing you do not think of doing two things at once except for capitals.   Each hand takes turns even though it gets to practically simultaneous once speed gets up there.  Plus typing slow didn't matter to the product while playing the piano slow just sounds wrong to me.

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I teach piano; although I too am looking for a change because the income is not consistent enough because of cancellations (I am currently job searching and preparing to move to a city).  I too teach because I love the experience (normally) of sharing music and discovery. Every single one of my students (and parents) is different.  I have one little girl who never practiced and lost her book and eventually told me that they no longer had a keyboard (her lessons are held at my house at my piano).  So I decided that the lessons, as long as she was enjoying them, were about a different objective than progress per se.  She didn't like applying herself for any length of time (a little ADHD ish) and even threw a tantrum once that I let her dad handle.  But I made sure she felt loved and accepted by me.  Oddly enough at some point it clicked for her, and she is my best sight reader anyhow.  She just sits and plays a few songs each week.   No practicing in between.  I've had some parents say I wasn't giving them enough to do, they wanted their kids practicing for 30 minutes or more on multiple projects.  I don't roll that way.  For most of my students (except more advanced) I just need a 2 to 10 minute practice from them as long as it is daily.  I tell them daily short is better than skipping days and doing a whole bunch.  I assign song repetitions rather than minutes  practiced.

Nothing is worth that level of frustration and anxiety though.  I hope you feel some inspiration about what is next for you in life.

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1 hour ago, Maidservant said:

I teach piano; although I too am looking for a change because the income is not consistent enough because of cancellations (I am currently job searching and preparing to move to a city).  I too teach because I love the experience (normally) of sharing music and discovery. Every single one of my students (and parents) is different.  I have one little girl who never practiced and lost her book and eventually told me that they no longer had a keyboard (her lessons are held at my house at my piano).  So I decided that the lessons, as long as she was enjoying them, were about a different objective than progress per se.  She didn't like applying herself for any length of time (a little ADHD ish) and even threw a tantrum once that I let her dad handle.  But I made sure she felt loved and accepted by me.  Oddly enough at some point it clicked for her, and she is my best sight reader anyhow.  She just sits and plays a few songs each week.   No practicing in between.  I've had some parents say I wasn't giving them enough to do, they wanted their kids practicing for 30 minutes or more on multiple projects.  I don't roll that way.  For most of my students (except more advanced) I just need a 2 to 10 minute practice from them as long as it is daily.  I tell them daily short is better than skipping days and doing a whole bunch.  I assign song repetitions rather than minutes  practiced.

Nothing is worth that level of frustration and anxiety though.  I hope you feel some inspiration about what is next for you in life.

Thank you, Maidservant! I feel the same way. No point in making them do a grueling 30 minutes straight at the piano. As a kid, I would practice, go play outside, and then practice some more just because I loved it and I was determined. Sometimes I think the parents want more because they're telling themselves, "My child doesn't practice because they're not being challenged." I've heard all sorts of weird reasons why the kids don't practice. I will stick with a child who loves lessons at least, but one who doesn't practice and hates lessons? I can't do that anymore. I hope you find a wonderful job that you love! I think if I had been able to earn my degree, I would have a lot more confidence and put up with less nonsense. 

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Hi morning.  

I think if you’re losing your own passion to play, it’s time to make a change.  Big red flag.  You’ve hit burn out with a tough clientele. 

I think a change will do you good.  Maybe you’ll find your way back to your beloved piano after you’ve taken a break. 

Be good to yourself.  The world needs your talent.  

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My dad once cajoled me into learning to play the saxophone (why? no idea) and I went to group lessons at school where the teacher would listen to my tootling and say nothing about it. Fact was, I hadn't bothered to learn the notes and was essentially pressing keys at more-or-less random.  The teacher was clearly just making the motions.  Or he was burned out because pupils like me had driven him to give up!  So I feel very sympathetic to you!

Much later, I taught myself to play guitar, but I didn't keep at it much beyond high school. I was lead guitar in my basement band, though!  My brother stayed with it, however, and he can play wonderfully!  He's the only person I know who can play the Jimmy Page lead guitar to "Stairway to Heaven", while singing somewhat like Robert Plant.  He can also play and sing nearly every Beatles song out there.  Makes me feel like a real slacker.  

I agree with @MustardSeed, I think it would be good for you to take a break!

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21 hours ago, MorningStar said:

I finally had to admit that this is causing me way too much stress, resentful feelings, etc. and cried myself to sleep the other night. On top of this, I have multiple stressful things going on in my life. I have put a smile on my face for lessons every day while miserable on the inside. 

I just thought I would share. I talk to a lot of teachers who want to quit for the same reasons. I'm so heartbroken thinking about the shortage of pianists we're going to have. I worked my butt off all through my childhood so I could play well and I'm still working to improve. I'm going to keep the two little boys I have left who asked for lessons and my own kids, otherwise I have to figure out how to replace the lost income. I'm very worried about it, but I can't handle feeling like a failure anymore. 

I probably would have been one of those that caused you heartache.  I was a rotten piano student.  I was neither hot nor cold.  If someone had decided to “spew me out” I certainly would not have blamed them!

While I had a strong desire to play well, I had no patience with failure.  After only a short while, I could not abide taking lessons from my mother, who is an accomplished pianist in her own right.  So she paid good money for me to take lessons from a very well known teacher in our town.  It seemed he had taught all of the really talented kids in the area.  I would sit in the back of the room during our recitals and be amazed and thrilled at what (and how well) other students were playing; while simultaneously dreading my turn to “perform.”

I only devoted about 50% of the time to practicing that I should have.  So while I did make progress, it was so slow that I would get frustrated and discouraged; and my teacher would get irritated with me.  It got worse as I grew older.  Mom and I had a growing war of wills about my continuing with it. 

When I look back now, I’m a bit amazed that I stuck with it (or rather she stuck with it) clear into high school.  And I am terribly grateful that I can read music and play well enough to enjoy playing for myself.  It is an abiding blessing and soothing "tender mercy" to be able to play.  And to this day, I deeply regret that I’m only about half the pianist I could have been.

The only other insight I can offer comes from David the King:  "Where there is no vision, the people perish." --Psalms 29:18

This was certainly true in my case.  I did well in the first few years when progress seemed easy and fast; but when the going started getting tougher, my "vision" began to cloud and my practicing dropped off drastically.

And just for fun, here is one additional personal anecdote:

Years ago, I attended a workshop at BYU featuring Reid Nibley.  At the end of his presentation, he allowed us to ask questions. I’ll never forget his response to a question about his mother:  

“Oh!  My mother was hell on wheels!  She pushed her children!”

To which I could only nod and laugh in complete agreement and yes...eternal gratitude.

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It's too bad that piano teaching seems to be a lesson by lesson thing. It should be a monthly charge, with make up days possible but not nonpayment when a client is taking up a time slot that can't be given to someone else. 

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7 minutes ago, juliann said:

It's too bad that piano teaching seems to be a lesson by lesson thing. It should be a monthly charge, with make up days possible but not nonpayment when a client is taking up a time slot that can't be given to someone else. 

Good idea, and payment before the lessons, or late charges if not paid on time at the beginning of the month.

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I am the bishop of our ward. I am also a pianist and organist. Sadly, I end up playing the organ about 2/3 of Sundays and even at many stake meetings because so few people can play any more. Our ward has nearly 40 youth, and only 4 kids are in piano lessons (two of which are mine!). It's a dying art, and a really sad thing. :( 

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Posted (edited)

I would have thought given the highly booked nature of kids' existence that this would include many committed to music, but it looks like my view is skewed due to nieces and nephews desiring to be professional performers (one has recently moved to Utah and become part of the Orchestra at Temple Square, must brag a bit he is so sweet).  Perhaps the difference is when practice requires direct supervision by parents rather than having them instructed by others.  Also there are many things that provide easy distraction these days.  Not watching TV after school was easy when it was game shows and old reruns.  So many other tech options these days even without leaving the house.

Edited by Calm
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2 hours ago, DispensatorMysteriorum said:

I am the bishop of our ward. I am also a pianist and organist. Sadly, I end up playing the organ about 2/3 of Sundays and even at many stake meetings because so few people can play any more. Our ward has nearly 40 youth, and only 4 kids are in piano lessons (two of which are mine!). It's a dying art, and a really sad thing. :( 

That's one thing I worry about. How sad that you have to play! At the same time, there are parents who tell their kid, "You will take piano until you can play hymns!" There is very little enjoyment in playing hymns and that's not going to give anyone a passion for music. My teacher never taught me hymns - I learned them on my own. Hymns are written for voices - not fingers. 

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3 hours ago, juliann said:

It's too bad that piano teaching seems to be a lesson by lesson thing. It should be a monthly charge, with make up days possible but not nonpayment when a client is taking up a time slot that can't be given to someone else. 

I do charge monthly and payment is due the first lesson of the month. The problem is when they decide the day of that lesson to call it quits. Literally the day of. Like two hours before their lesson. It suddenly hits them, "I have to pay the piano teacher today, but these kids haven't practiced. I know! Rather than waste my money some more, we'll just quit today!" Yes, I could go after them legally, but it's a touchy thing going after people in your stake. Us piano teachers warn each other about crap like that. "Do NOT take that family!" Even if it weren't in my policy to give me two weeks notice, it's just rude. 

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6 hours ago, Okrahomer said:

I probably would have been one of those that caused you heartache.  I was a rotten piano student.  I was neither hot nor cold.  If someone had decided to “spew me out” I certainly would not have blamed them!

While I had a strong desire to play well, I had no patience with failure.  After only a short while, I could not abide taking lessons from my mother, who is an accomplished pianist in her own right.  So she paid good money for me to take lessons from a very well known teacher in our town.  It seemed he had taught all of the really talented kids in the area.  I would sit in the back of the room during our recitals and be amazed and thrilled at what (and how well) other students were playing; while simultaneously dreading my turn to “perform.”

I only devoted about 50% of the time to practicing that I should have.  So while I did make progress, it was so slow that I would get frustrated and discouraged; and my teacher would get irritated with me.  It got worse as I grew older.  Mom and I had a growing war of wills about my continuing with it. 

When I look back now, I’m a bit amazed that I stuck with it (or rather she stuck with it) clear into high school.  And I am terribly grateful that I can read music and play well enough to enjoy playing for myself.  It is an abiding blessing and soothing "tender mercy" to be able to play.  And to this day, I deeply regret that I’m only about half the pianist I could have been.

The only other insight I can offer comes from David the King:  "Where there is no vision, the people perish." --Psalms 29:18

This was certainly true in my case.  I did well in the first few years when progress seemed easy and fast; but when the going started getting tougher, my "vision" began to cloud and my practicing dropped off drastically.

And just for fun, here is one additional personal anecdote:

Years ago, I attended a workshop at BYU featuring Reid Nibley.  At the end of his presentation, he allowed us to ask questions. I’ll never forget his response to a question about his mother:  

“Oh!  My mother was hell on wheels!  She pushed her children!”

To which I could only nod and laugh in complete agreement and yes...eternal gratitude.

That's great that you can at least play though! :D Your mom sounds amazing. 

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9 hours ago, MustardSeed said:

Hi morning.  

I think if you’re losing your own passion to play, it’s time to make a change.  Big red flag.  You’ve hit burn out with a tough clientele. 

I think a change will do you good.  Maybe you’ll find your way back to your beloved piano after you’ve taken a break. 

Be good to yourself.  The world needs your talent.  

Thank you. I forced myself to play and sing this morning during my daughter's rehearsal while I waited and not think about how the heck we're going to pay the bills. I'm definitely burned out. It hurts to bend over backwards for people and have them show their appreciation by giving no notice and not paying what they owe you. I don't think I will ever teach members of the church again. 

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What is it about some members who decide to live a communal life whenever they owe money? 😣

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Posted (edited)
53 minutes ago, strappinglad said:

What is it about some members who decide to live a communal life whenever they owe money? 😣

What is fun is when they stiff you on a job and then call up the next time there is a problem and they need help as if nothing has happened. I admit I have taken perverse pleasure in not helping them after that.

Edited by The Nehor
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51 minutes ago, The Nehor said:

What is fun is when they stiff you on a job and then call up the next time there is a problem and they need help as if nothing has happened. I admit I have taken perverse pleasure in not helping them after that.

:lol: I would too! 

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1 hour ago, strappinglad said:

What is it about some members who decide to live a communal life whenever they owe money? 😣

It's like they think "being self-reliant" and "living within your means" means being a cheapskate. Um, no. If you can't afford piano lessons, then you don't take them. It's a luxury - not a right or a need. I also get a lot of "Do you do sibling discounts?" It's actually not more convenient for me when I have back to back siblings because when they need make-ups or ask to reschedule, it's the entire family rescheduling and then there's the annoying arguing over who's going first. As if I'm not setting the timer until they figure it out! If I'm driving to their house, then that's somewhat more convenient, but if one cancels, they all cancel and if they decide to discontinue lessons the day they owe me money, I've lost even more than expected. 

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On 5/17/2019 at 1:42 PM, MorningStar said:

I have hardly had any students who consistently practice and both the parents and students have made excuses for it week after week.

Oh, that would never fly in my house. If you're going to do something - do it right. 

When my daughter expressed an interest in playing the piano, I made it crystal clear that what she was really signing up for was 20-30 minutes of practice (minimum), 5 days a week. I let her know that this was absolutely non-negotiable. 

She's stuck with it for the past year or so, and is now excited about her little brother's upcoming baptism where she will be responsible for playing the interlude music. 

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