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Why I quit teaching piano (Read 5981 times)

Offline dcstudio

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Why I quit teaching piano
« on: April 23, 2015, 09:36:03 PM »
Hello  I was a piano teacher for 20 years but I quit about 4 years ago now--I still perform regularly but no more students.

I was a teacher in a large studio that put their students in all the festivals and competitions every year.  I had one of the best success rates in the city.  I would make sure that my students knew their music backwards and forwards--I gave it to them months in advance.  I sandbagged my students into lower levels so they had a better shot at winning.  It was all about my record as a teacher being directly associated with how much money I got paid from the studio.

Parents loved me--I had a waiting list, always.  They were all about those ribbons and titles, too.  I could teach their child however I chose--as long as they got high marks from the judges and were moved on to state.

I realized I wasn't teaching them anything but how to win a competition.    I moved away from that job with my husband--and I had already set up a job at another studio, but I never went.  I am a much happier person because of it, too.  I am not feeling sorry for myself here...   ;)

Guess what I am trying to say is --  has anyone else become this burned out?

Offline themeandvariation

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Re: Why I quit teaching piano
«Reply #1 on: April 23, 2015, 10:06:21 PM »
"my record as a teacher being directly associated with how much money I got paid from the studio"..To me, it is not surprising that you feel burned out… And a good thing for you not to persist…  I am sure you were appreciated, and have done wonderful things with students… I am glad you feel happy about your decision….  I wonder, if part of you considers how you might have taught music differently … And if there is part of you that would want to try it again, in a completely different context?…  One where You decide utterly and completely how it will be done?…  Of course, teaching privately allows one this freedom…
If not, many musicians choose not to teach.  And that is fine… Perhaps it (teaching) needs to be a 'calling' to be done in a passionate way…  in the way that one plays an instrument… 


4'33"

Offline taoxia1970

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Re: Why I quit teaching piano
«Reply #2 on: June 26, 2015, 04:40:01 AM »
I burned out after 4.5 years of teaching after graduating from university, for a studio teaching job, it is all about how to keep the enrollment up, and not lose any students, I didn't have to enter them into competitions, but I have to carter toward parents' interests, students interests, it is my "job" to keep them re-enrolled, and keep them "happy", I had about 54 students on a weekly basis, but more than half of them, I want to say they should choose to do something else, there is only about 5% of them that I actually cared about teaching them.

I left  teaching job and I am glad I did.  if you end up teaching at a place where "music" really matters, it will be a happy place to be a teacher....

Offline dcstudio

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Re: Why I quit teaching piano
«Reply #3 on: June 26, 2015, 07:44:23 PM »


it doesn't exist...    I was ready to start ripping apart some of these parents---sigh---lol..



Next week I start working as a casino dealer again... it's been quite a while since I worked a regular job---if you consider dealing craps a regular job...


I am very excited actually...   8)

Offline Bob

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Re: Why I quit teaching piano
«Reply #4 on: June 26, 2015, 10:45:07 PM »
Raising your price and requirements could be another way to go.  If you're not attached to earning money mostly from teaching, you could charge a lot more and pick and choose the students you want to deal with.  $200/hour?  And if you don't like the student, drop them?
Favorite new teacher quote -- "You found the only possible wrong answer."

Offline taoxia1970

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Re: Why I quit teaching piano
«Reply #5 on: June 27, 2015, 03:25:49 AM »

it doesn't exist...    I was ready to start ripping apart some of these parents---sigh---lol..


I agree, such place where "music" matters, doesn't really exist, except maybe in higher education, by the way, The first Cliburn Junior Piano Competition just announced its finalist, none of the American competitors made the cut, the standard and seriousness on fine arts in this country is rather disappointing, people in general just don't care about music much.

Offline dcstudio

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Re: Why I quit teaching piano
«Reply #6 on: June 27, 2015, 03:07:03 PM »

no they don't care about music very much at all... and I live in a casino resort based economy that is in the middle of one of the poorest places in the country.  There are plenty of gigs, especially the low paying grind kind--and a few high paying one-nighters at the big casinos--but they rotate far too much to get anything steady.

piano teachers here are starving and they underbid  each other to the point where $60 per month for a 30 min lesson is standard...

I rather deal craps.  then at least I can be more selective on where I play... I'm just so burned out that I don't feel I would make a good teacher for anyone right now.   

Offline kevin69

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Re: Why I quit teaching piano
«Reply #7 on: June 27, 2015, 11:52:03 PM »
Are there any opportunities to teach adults?

I'd expect adults to be less exam orientated and more self-motivated
then children who have been 'encouraged' to take up piano by their parents.

kevin

Offline keypeg

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Re: Why I quit teaching piano
«Reply #8 on: June 28, 2015, 03:46:10 AM »
I'm seeing "another side" to this but don't know if I'll manage to write it.

You did the work as "the industry" or "the business" defined it for you.  Aiming for success in festivals and similar, scoring wins for the studio, your reputation within those parameters, and the parents who were drawn to that kind of thing.  The tricky thing is that unless you're only doing something as a hobby or for a bit of extra money, with earnings or support coming from elsewhere, there is the business side of it.  Maybe the demand is for "wins" in competitions, maybe for exams, or maybe it's the "adult market" on the side of "fun, easy, and fast - let me give you a few chords" type of thing.  In the long run this probably starts feeling hollow, especially if music ever meant anything.

If, on the other hand, you get in touch with your own values, and what you would truly want to do, and manage to do it, then that becomes energizing.  Supposing that in terms of teaching, you would want to make students skillful, gradually independent, able to discover and create and enjoy through that kind of guidance - that would be a different cup of tea.  The immediate hiccup to this is that teaching is collaborative: the student, and if young, the parent, has to be on board with you.    If the student doesn't want those things, is bored by what you want to share, doesn't want to make the effort, parent undermines you etc. then if you put your energy into what matters to you, you can get a gigantic disappointment.  And that might be even more draining than the above hollow work.

I know more than one person with a degree in the arts, who has opted to earn his/her living in a non-artistic line of work, so that they can enjoy their art freely, in the manner that they choose, without catering to the demands of "where the money is". 

My dentist has this framed thing on the wall about "Integrity" - She is young and enthusiastic about her work.  "Integrity" is related to the word "integration" which I like to picture as integration with yourself; not just "honesty" as it is usually seen to mean.  If what you are doing right now feels right to you, then it must be the right thing for you at this time.

I am wondering: Would you enjoy teaching the odd student here and there, if it was the right student, and you could do it according to your own values, in the manner that you would like?

Offline dcstudio

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Re: Why I quit teaching piano
«Reply #9 on: June 28, 2015, 02:57:12 PM »
I have a couple of adult semi-students who call me for a lesson now and again--I don't mind that kind of teaching at all really.   They are very aware of what they want to learn or what they need help with.  Both play in praise bands so they already know quite a bit and are very enthusiastic.  It's very informal--and they both insist on paying me so I take their money.  So I guess you could say I still teach a little bit...a very little bit. 

I hope to never again have that overwhelming student load and all the headaches that go with it.  I love to perform and I will always find a way to do that...whether or not I get paid for it. 

Of course if I could charge a nice fate rate I would be more tempted to return to teaching--but it would have to be pretty fat...obese like...lol.

Hi keypeg nice to see you are here  ;D



Offline keypeg

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Re: Why I quit teaching piano
«Reply #10 on: June 29, 2015, 12:43:26 AM »
Hi keypeg nice to see you are here 
dcstudio - likewise.  :)

The important thing I'm reading is that you are doing what you want to be doing, what makes you feel fine, and that is how it should be.  If you enjoy performing - who says that a performer has to teach just because that musical experience is there?  And the little bit you teach now, that is under your own terms, in a way that suits you, with people you enjoy teaching.  Your other choices allow you that freedom.  Sounds excellent.

Offline slane

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Re: Why I quit teaching piano
«Reply #11 on: June 30, 2015, 01:00:56 AM »
Sounds like you've learnt a great lesson that will make you a better teacher. I'd bring my daughter to you if you promise not to put her in a competitoin or earn her any awards. :)

Offline dcstudio

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Re: Why I quit teaching piano
«Reply #12 on: June 30, 2015, 01:35:06 AM »
I'd bring my daughter to you if you promise not to put her in a competitoin or earn her any awards. :)


wow...  I have never had a parent say that to me before...lol     Parents brought their kids to me on the promise that I would make them winners.   Which I did--and it was a positive experience for most of the kids...  but I had to sacrifice a lot of lesson time to performance aspects and skip important concepts.   I had kids who played for ten years and couldn't tell you what key they were playing in... 

Parents also seemed very preoccupied with their kids being able to sight-read..  they dreamed of their child picking up music they had never heard and playing it perfectly--to them that was the end all be all of piano skills. 

some really believed that I could wave some kind of magic wand and their kid would be the next Van Cliburn.   

Offline musikology

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Re: Why I quit teaching piano
«Reply #13 on: July 12, 2015, 08:35:36 AM »
I'm in my 15th year and it just gets better every year because I learn so much more myself, about music, about teaching, about people, and about life. You did it for all the wrong reasons. It's not a sport, it's art. And it's not about you, it's about music and what it can teach us about being human.

Offline hardy_practice

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Re: Why I quit teaching piano
«Reply #14 on: July 12, 2015, 10:30:44 AM »
So why do they have to pay?
B Mus, PGCE, DipABRSM

Offline dcstudio

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Re: Why I quit teaching piano
«Reply #15 on: July 12, 2015, 12:48:28 PM »
I'm in my 15th year and it just gets better every year because I learn so much more myself, about music, about teaching, about people, and about life. You did it for all the wrong reasons. It's not a sport, it's art. And it's not about you, it's about music and what it can teach us about being human.

you are correct... I did it to support my family...  and it was a sport at the studio I worked at... I was a coach more than a teacher.  I've just been complaining  ::).. really it wasn't all bad.

I loved it for a long time too--I was very emotionally attached to my students.  My whole teaching philosophy centered around overcoming performance anxiety.  I figured if I could get them to love to perform...they would continue to play and teach themselves for the rest of their lives.  I hear from many of them still--social media makes it so easy these days.   Most of them still play -- and I did have a couple of success stories who went on to music school.

These were not high end students--just your garden variety kids.  I tried to give them a success story from their childhood---a memory where they performed well in front of people.  That can make a big difference.  :)