After Looking for a Music Teacher, Then What?

The blog has covered how to find a music teacher, but what do you do if you find one and then decide that isn’t the teacher for you?  I’ve run into this scenario several times in the past few months.  This is how it goes:

Potential student calls or emails and asks for information about lessons.  We correspond through phone or email.  We get all the way to discussing potential times and they fall off the face of the earth.  No returned phone calls or emails.

I have to say this is really rude.  If you decide that I am not the teacher for you, then that is fine.  If the location is too far, that isn’t a problem.  However, don’t just leave me hanging.  Send an email or leave a message and just say thank you for your time but we have decided to go a different direction.  There is no need to go into detail, but since you initiated the conversation have the courtesy to end it on a professional note.

Another situation of the same vein is going as far as to schedule lessons and then not showing up or cancelling when the teacher calls to confirm the lesson time.  Usually late spring, I get lots of calls about students who want to start lessons when school gets out.  We discuss cost and times and schedule the first lesson.  I always email or call to confirm the time.  If I have to leave a message, I ask that they call or email to let me know they received it.  Several times, this has been the last contact with a potential student.  If you changed your mind just let me know.  Otherwise, that time slot if blocked off until I determine that aliens abducted you or you bailed on me. 

If you teach an instrument that requires special equipment this is doubly frustrating.  I have a few oboe students.  When I schedule a new student, I order lesson books and custom made reeds.  If the student is a beginner there is no way around this.  Since oboe students can be few and far between, I don’t always keep intro level reeds and materials on hand.  This spring a parent contacted me and scheduled lessons.  We booked for the whole summer.  2 weeks prior to the start date, I ordered materials so they would arrive in time for the first lesson.  The week of the lesson, I called to confirm the time and directions. The parent told me that the child had changed their mind about learning the oboe.  It was obvious from the phone call that this wasn’t a new development.  A simple phone call or email on their part would have saved me around $50.

Be considerate.  For most music teachers, this is our livelyhood.  Having to sit on materials or not scheduling new students in a blocked off time slot can hurt our bottom line.  If you expect your teacher to be a professional, then treat them as one and be considerate of their time and effort.

Levels That Challenge the Teacher

Last week I asked a student what goals they wanted to set for the coming school year.  Finding what excites and challenges a high school student can be something of a challenge.  The student answered that taking the Carnegie Hall Achievement Program exams was at the top of the list.  This was followed by playing a ‘real’ classical music piece. 

Now you have to understand, I don’t give my students ‘fake’ classical music pieces.  The student was meaning that they wanted an independent piece not from a book or set of pieces.  I think this is an admirable goal.  However, the student is smack dab in the middle of intermediate music.  Talking about challenging.

The pieces that I can think of easily that this student would student love are too difficult right now.  The student wants to branch out from the classical era which is something of a niche for them and produces the best results.  This particular student really dislikes modern music.  Talk about frustrating perimeters. 

Intermediate music is the most difficult for me as a teacher to select.  How to find the most exciting piece?  How to keep it challenging but not too difficult?    What new skills can be learned?  How long should the piece be? 

I think I will need to consider this a treasure hunt and dig deep into my music library.