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Trying several piano teachers at once, selfish, stupid or clever idea?

(32 Posts)
flack Fri 28-Jul-06 12:50:40

We've had a couple of false starts finding a piano teacher. I am wondering if it would be better to book DS a lesson with several local teachers, and see which one he likes (and I like) best. Does this sound like a mean thing to do to the teachers, will it confuse DS too much, how do I politely explain it to the would-be teachers, will they get peeved at me and not even turn up?

Any other service you would shop around, and sample before committing, but I don't know what the protocal is for music lessons. TIA.

roisin Fri 28-Jul-06 12:58:35

What have been your experiences so far? It sounds as though you are already in a tricky situation? How old is he btw?

I would phone a prospective piano teacher and ask if they can find a parent who's happy for you to sit in and observe a lesson with another child - to see whether you're on the same wavelength. Then arrange a trial lesson with your ds.

We did none of this btw! We were on several waiting lists for a year before a vacancy came up, and I just sent him blind/cold. The chap came highly-recommended, but I hadn't even spoken on the phone let alone met him, just exchanged emails with him! We did agree though that the first lesson was a trial lesson to check everyone was happy. Fortunately it's worked out very well for us see this thread

I hope you manage to find a teacher to suit you/ds very soon.

SueW Fri 28-Jul-06 13:04:38

If he's had a couple of false starts:

- is paino the right instrument for him?

- is it the right time for him to start learning?

Or do you mean teachers haven't turned up/cancelled lessons at short notice etc.

flack Fri 28-Jul-06 13:05:32

First teacher we approached was a bit formal and fuddy duddy, had never taught children under 8 (DS is 6), was very daunted at the idea. Next teacher I phoned seemed great, DS was fired up after the lesson. But Teacher 2 didn't turn up for 2nd lesson, her phone was not taking incoming calls, and she hasn't returned my call to her mobile (weeks ago, now).
I've got 3 candidates now, one comes with a recommendation but can't start until mid-September and it's much easier to find time to help DS practise during summer hols, so wanted to get a teacher sooner. I've booked a lesson with someone for next week. But I wonder if I should try one or 2 others for possible lessons, in case we don't like the current teacher booked, either (or he drops out on us, again).

roisin Fri 28-Jul-06 13:13:38

Personally I would consider waiting for the recommended teacher, and the one with the waiting list! That tells a story in and of itself.

I was worried that ds2 had to wait to start (I wanted him to start when he was 5.5), but in the end it's worked out very well. His current teacher doesn't normally take them til 7 (ds2 started 3 months before his birthday), and ds2 has certainly had far better concentration, determination, motivation, and discipline than he would have had at 5.5; and has made fantastic progress. So there really is no harm in waiting a few months at this stage.

When they first start 5 mins practice twice a day is more than enough, so I wouldn't worry about the "time to help practice" argument at this point.

flack Fri 28-Jul-06 13:32:50

Roisin, are your children self-motivated to practise, do they just do it on their own, do they distract each other, do they have set practise times? I have to keep the other children away from DS, and he's easily distracted or needs someone to ask questions to or let him know if he's got it right. Just knowing DS, I don't think he'll practise unless I sit with him (make it a social activity). I can only help him practise when DH is home to supervise and keep the others away (small window between teatime and bedtime).

Easier to find time to sit with DS in summer when we don't have to be so strict about bedtime (no school next day).

SSSandy Fri 28-Jul-06 13:42:08

I would give a teacher a month's trial and I wouldn't try several at once TBH, think it's too confusing/unsettling for dc really. (Mind you I did take dd to 2 ballet schools at once before deciding which one to take). Before starting, I would meet the teacher or phone and ask plenty of questions to get a feel for what they're like and to find out how they approach the lesson and so on.

I love dd's (5) music teacher. She's fabulous with kids. Good luck finding someone who can motivate your dc

LieselVonTrapp Fri 28-Jul-06 13:42:53

Its a good idea cause if you try a couple of teachers and its still not for him then you'll know

roisin Fri 28-Jul-06 13:49:25

I remind ds2 to practice, and whenever I have time I sit down with him - especially when he's learning new pieces. He's happy to practice on his own, but usually perseveres more/tries harder when I sit with him. I probably manage about 40-50% of his practices!

DS1 would be a nightmare to motivate to practice: it's not really in his character I think. But fortunately he has no musical aptitude whatsoever, so we've never encouraged him to have lessons!

He is 9 though, so it's a relatively simple thing to say the room is out of bounds when ds2 is doing his practice; and we haven't had any difficulties there.

swedishmum Sat 29-Jul-06 00:31:24

Do excuse me because I've been drinking lots of wine, but practice is a noun, and practise a verb. I feel passionately that there are too few people around who are good at teaching young children. The wrong teacher definitely puts kids off. I'd speak to the teacher in person before going along with my child, and also ask to speak to other parents. (Bugbear of mine - started out as a violin teacher and there are so many dull ones around.)

threebob Sat 29-Jul-06 00:48:54

I have had a couple of children who saw several other teachers as well as me. They were honest about it and I didn't mind at all - I prefaced both conversations with "if you can't come on Thursday at 5 (or whenever) for a lesson then just see the other teachers instead because that's all I have at the moment."

I don't know if I would get in my car and drive to see you if I had a waiting list. I would see you if you came to me.

I think you have to see who YOU think is the better teacher - your son is 6 after all.

But be honest with them - if they can't take it then I don't think they will suit you.

flack Sat 29-Jul-06 03:31:15

Thanks for the replies. September-start teacher doesn't have a waiting list, is just going on holiday for a few weeks and didn't think we would want to have the break so soon after starting. So he's coming next week, now .
I decided to book DS to meet 3 teachers in the end, and we will get a chance to see what they're like before trying to settle with just one.

roisin Sat 29-Jul-06 08:27:40

Oh, I've just realised the teacher comes to you! Can I ask how much you pay for such service?

Is this common practice [agonising about my grammar now Swedishmum ] does anyone know? I've never heard of it before.

It is a pain to take ds2 to his piano lessons because it's in the next town. But he quite likes playing on the teacher's Bechstein Grand, and it's obviously far more efficient for the teacher for us to do the travelling, rather than him.

threebob Sat 29-Jul-06 09:06:05

I know of several teachers that do this - I think they are mad. They never seem to charge enough for the travelling.

I teach in a school 1 morning a week and that represents great value to me (I can work during the day while ds is at nursery) and to the school (prestige of having visiting teacher) and for the parents (don't have to rush after school, pay for extra petrol etc.)

flack Sat 29-Jul-06 14:08:12

I am mostly getting quotes of £10-£13/hour for home lessons (1/2 hour), Roisin. We live in rural East Anglia and compared to what other MNers say, costs here seem to be lower for most services. The teacher DS saw today (another fuddy duddy) said he'd charge £18 or so per hour for home visits.

roisin Sat 29-Jul-06 14:16:16

You seem to have more than your fair share of "fuddy duddies"! I do think that for learning at 6 you do need to have a teacher who is geared up for 6 yr-olds.

My SIL is fantastic, but she's in Yorkshire!

Hope you find someone to suit soon.

roisin Wed 02-Aug-06 20:48:22

How's it going flack?

flack Sun 06-Aug-06 22:23:33

Hi roison! We found 2 teachers we liked, we have gone for the one who lives closer to us (who was also the one with recommendation, turns out he teaches someone else we know, too). DS isn't into practicing, though, and I will not make him, so am not sure whether it's all going to go.

The teacher who lived further away I slightly preferred, actually, but he had over 20 miles travel to get here which seemed silly. I told him I'll definitely recommend him to others, though.

threebob Sun 06-Aug-06 22:36:37

Why will you not make him practise? - you may as well just flush fivers down the loo. Practising for your lessons is just something you do. Why can't you tell a 6 year old to "play" the piano for a few minutes each day - "play me that great piece that Mr S showed you?"

As a piano teacher you attitude would pee me off - interview everyone and then not help a 6 year old organise his time so that he made progress and enjoyed his instrument.

roisin Sun 06-Aug-06 22:54:24

I kind of agree with threebob - though not quite so strongly! But I made it clear to ds2 that practicing is vital to learning to play the piano: you simply cannot make progress on just a 30 min lesson each week, and I'm not paying for lessons if he doesn't practise. Of course I did/do other things to encourage him to practise, but that is the bottom line and he is aware of that.

It's actually one of the benefits of learning an instrument IMO, that you have to struggle with it. No-one finds it easy: even "very musically talented" people, have to work hard and have to do some pretty mind-numbing practice at times.

threebob Sun 06-Aug-06 23:54:41

Lots of how to make practise not feel like practise ideas on

I'm only strongly opinionated because multiple teachers were interviewed and then there is no expectation of practise. It doesn't reflect well on you.

flack Mon 07-Aug-06 00:41:18

Ouch, Just exactly what do you think of me, threebob?

I have to "make" DS do so many things, I won't "make" him practise. It's just not in me to create another battlezone. Guess I'm just not a tough enough mummy/pushy enough parent. If he doesn't have the self-motivation to practise on his own then I will stop the lessons after a few more weeks.

I have told the teacher that the entire enterprise is on a trial week-by-week basis, that I will not "make" DS practise -- teacher fully supports that.

threebob Mon 07-Aug-06 01:47:28

Why is he having lessons if he doesn't want to practise? I don't want to offend you - I just don't understand.

But if the teacher is happy, then no problem.

roisin Mon 07-Aug-06 09:26:14

Maybe it's just a question of language.

I wouldn't "make" ds2 practice in that I wouldn't drag him to the piano kicking and screaming, and tell him he will sit there and play for 10 mins before he can go leave. But there are plenty of other things I "make" him do, which do not turn into a battlezone. Music practice ... along with going to bed when he's told, reading his school book, doing his homework, clearing his dishes from the table, saying please and thank you, washing his hands, tidying the playroom when I ask, etc., are simply non-negotiable expectations. Music practice - along with music lessons - is optional, but the two go together. You can't have lessons and not to the practice. And I think the sooner you establish those expectations, the better.

But you can just make it fun. Lots of praise, lots of rewards. When he first started we did a sticker chart and he put on a smiley face sticker every time he did his practice, and I think I bought him a little chocolate bar or something when he'd completed in his sticker chart (14 stickers) on the first week.

What piano tutor book is he using? The first few weeks of learning the note values, notes, and basic hand position can be quite tricky. But the sooner you get into it the better. Once he is playing 5 notes in his RH, get him a manuscript book and he encourage him to play and compose his own little tunes.

Have fun!

roisin Mon 07-Aug-06 09:27:24

Apologies for my practice/practise mistakes: I have a complete blindspot about this grammatical point, and I know it annoys people

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