how to kindly reject the piano teacher
February 2, 2012 2:49 PM   Subscribe

How to talk to my daughter's piano teach about stopping our lesson with her. Truth is, we need a better teacher. But we have used her for about four years. I worry about hurting her feelings by being honest with her. Need help approaching the piano teacher.

We have a piano teach who is passionate about teaching music. She's good at working with kids. She's creative and caring. However, due to her personal life and other demands of her other work, she's often late for our classes. She's sick often, therefore, we missed a few lessons, and she hasn't been able to offer make up lessons. My daughter is not challenged enough, not getting enough new pieces to learn, therefore bored and frustrated with the piano lessons. Right now, my daughter is in CM level three. I feel that it's time that we move on to a new teacher who's more professional and can teacher my daughter till CM level ten. I need to try out a few teachers to find a good fit for my daughter. But I am dreading the talk with the current teacher to tell her that we will terminate the lesson with her. I need to offer reason for quitting, right? We have worked with this teacher for four years and I have established friendship with her. Is there a good way to say this? I can't tell her that "you are often not on time, my daughter is not progressing as fast as she could with you", I think that will hurt. I can find other excuses to tell her instead. Shall I do that or hint on the real reason? Please teach me a way to talk to the piano teacher, thanks!
posted by akomom to Human Relations (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I guess this is probably a "do as you would be done by" issue. Telling her the truth (in as kind a way as possible) lets her know how she's failing to meet client's expectations and gives her useful feedback that might make her a better teacher in future. Lying to her salves her feelings and makes for an easier conversation. If you were in her shoes, which would you prefer?
posted by yoink at 2:53 PM on February 2, 2012

"Teacher, it's been so great to work with you the past four years, but Daughter is ready to move on to a more rigorous teacher, so our final lesson will be DATE. Thank you so much for the wonderful foundation you've given her; she's learned to take so much joy in music thanks to her time with you."
posted by Snarl Furillo at 2:55 PM on February 2, 2012 [15 favorites]

Less said, the better. Find a new teacher and once you do, tell your old teacher that your daughter is switching her lessons to that teacher. End of story.
posted by sonika at 3:02 PM on February 2, 2012

Be honest but keep it short. She cannot be unaware that repeated lateness and missed lessons is not a good way to keep a client. She's quite probably frustrated at herself for not being able to provide the level of service her clients deserve and the conversation is probably not totally unexpected. While she probably wont be happy about it (unless this is just a hobby and she doesn't need the money - its possible if her other work is overwhelming her and she's having health problems, she'll actually be glad and she wanted to take a break from teaching but didn't want to let clients down), she will probably understand but there's no need to rub her nose in it.

I'd probably say something like, you're sorry to hear about her personal/health problems and you hope that she feels better soon (or whatever is applicable depending on the problems) but you have to look out for your child's best interest, so you will be looking for a new teacher and your last lesson will be #date
posted by missmagenta at 3:29 PM on February 2, 2012

You could try to work out a schedule that you know won't work for her and let her dump you.

Of course, that could turn out to have less than hilarious consequences.

If you don't want to go that route, Snarl Furillo's suggestion looks just about perfect.

In a notecard.

With candy.
posted by Momorama at 3:43 PM on February 2, 2012

(With small gift in hand) Teacher, Daughter is ready for a break from piano lessons. We're not sure what direction we'll take or when. Thank you so much for these past 4 years -- she's off to a wonderful start because of you!
posted by thinkpiece at 4:18 PM on February 2, 2012 [17 favorites]

I was a piano teacher for ten years. Unless she was a straight-up bad teacher (mean to the kids, incredibly untalented, which it sounds like this is not the case), I would use thinkpiece's advice.
posted by mrdmsy at 6:39 PM on February 2, 2012

It's not at all unusual for kids to outgrow a teacher every few years. I'd be surprised if she isn't having clients move on all the time, for a host of reasons. If you feel like being really helpful, pick one honest negative factor to share with her and several positive things you liked, to leaven the negative.
posted by wnissen at 9:38 PM on February 2, 2012

Teacher, we want to thank you so much for teaching our daughter everything she's learned. Now she is ready, and it's thanks to you. The next step is for her to develop at a new level, and we've contracted with AnotherTeacher and we're all excited to see her continue to grow.

+ small gift + card with a few sweet words from daughter.
posted by VikingSword at 10:58 PM on February 2, 2012

In my experience, trying to be honest about things like this rarely work out well. You are more likely to come off as condescending and rude than helpful. I also agree with thinkpiece for this reason. As much as it sounds like a good idea to 'help' her improve in her profession, that isn't really your role.

There are people out there who can pull off what you are thinking of, but they aren't the kind of people who would think to ask metafilter for help on how to phrase it.
posted by ianhattwick at 12:23 AM on February 3, 2012 [4 favorites]

Talk to the teacher about it in advance before you quit--maybe give her two weeks notice or a months notice. Maybe say "do you mind if we end 5 min early, b/c I want to talk to you about something. Send your kid out into the hallway and have a short chat with her at the end of the lesson. Give the teacher the "negative news sandwich" or whatever it's called:

1. Say a few nice things about how much the relationship means and how much you appreciate her guidance and friendship over the years.
2. Say that you've found a new teacher for your child that you think will be a good fit for her as she gets older (or something else somewhat vague and irrefutable). Skip anything actually critical. Why hurt her feelings, especially when you just want to move on anyway? She knows she's been late and had issues. I don't think it's necessary to rub it in. Say "My daughter's last lesson will be date XYZ, if that's okay with you."
3. Say that you really hope that you can keep in touch and that you'll always treasure the memories, etc.
4. On last lesson day, bring her a gift (tip? esp if she's been down on her luck, some cash would probably be nice) and a nice handwritten note from your daughter.
posted by tk at 6:37 AM on February 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

What thinkpiece said.

Like any other breakup, if you give her reasons she will look for a way to address them rather than lose a client. If you've decided to move on to a new teacher, don't apologize for your decision or negotiate with her. Just don't schedule any more lessons. Be firm. You can say you're "taking a break" from lessons if you want. A gift is a nice gesture.

Don't tell her who the new teacher is or that you're switching teachers. It's a small world and she'll probably know the other piano teachers in town. She'll eventually find out. But don't feel bad about that. Most kids go through several teachers, and a just-ok teacher loses most of their students before high school for the same reason you're moving on. You're not doing anything unusual.

There's a lot of value in having your child's early lessons be with a great teacher who can carry them all the way, not just as a beginner. If you stick with a just-ok teacher, you risk bad habits. Find the teacher you want her to study with when she's 18, see if that teacher will take her now, and if that teacher won't, ask for a recommendation.
posted by klao at 8:24 AM on February 3, 2012

I really like thinkpiece's way of phasing it. Also tk's advice covers all the things to be done. Everybody gave their own perspective and it helps me balance things in my head. The key things are: it's our right to choose the right teacher, no need to feel sorry for switching. But we don't want to be rude and hurt the feelings. People takes positive words way better, so point out the good learning we had in the past. Give a gift to show appreciation, then both party move on. Thanks folks!
posted by akomom at 9:47 AM on February 3, 2012

« Older A victim of circumstance   |   This too shall pass, breakup edition... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.