Ten Things You Should Never Say to A Piano Teacher

After piano teaching, my second passion is photography, and I had a good laugh the other day when I saw a “Top 10 Things You Should Never Say to a Photographer” on post Facebook.  And it got me thinking about piano teachers and how we are often united by the same struggles, the same triumphs… and the same headaches.  


Here’s my Top 10 list of things you should never say to a piano teacher.  I’d love to hear your Top 10 additions.  Share yours by leaving a comment below :)

1.  He’s going to do his practising on his Grandma’s piano because we don’t have one.

2.  She doesn’t practice because she’s not feeling challenged.

3.  We forgot his piano books.

4.  Phew!  We barely made it.  He’s been home from school all day with a nasty stomach bug!

5.  So what do you do for work?

6.  I don’t get paid until the end of the month so I’ll bring the lesson cheque then.

7.  His Aunt is getting married tomorrow.  I told her he could learn that wedding march song in today’s lesson.

8.  He’s probably not going to like piano… but can he try it anyways?

9.  Do you do drop in lessons?

10.  We have a birthday party next week.  Just let me know when you can do a make-up lesson.

Looking forward to reading your additions to this list :)

Many of these Top 10 statements just come with the territory, BUT we can help you to avoid ever hearing number 8! The Adventures of Fearless Fortissimo are comic-based piano books that will rid your studio of unenthusiastic and uncommitted male students forever!  Find out why a piano teacher emailed to say “Boys who have a hard time working on their weekly assignments learn the music for Fearless Fortissimo in a week, hands together, perfect rhythm and dynamics! I really believe Fearless Fortissimo has kept at least 2 boys from dropping out last semester!”

84 Responses to Ten Things You Should Never Say to A Piano Teacher

  1. erin ramsey says

    I would add to the list;
    ” we sometimes run late….I’m sure you could just add a few minutes on to the end of the lesson, right?”

    or “$20.00 for 30 minutes? Why do you charge so much?”

    and “I don’t understand why my child isn’t progressing”…hmmmm maybe its because you’re not making your child PRACTICE!!!!

  2. says

    “I know your money is important to you, but don’t you think I would have given the check if ‘student’ had attended his lesson? No, I cannot make a special trip into town to give you the check.”

    -Actually said by a parent to me when I very nicely asked her to bring by OR mail the check since they missed the first lesson of the month. I guess she thought I didn’t have bills to pay on time! :-O

    • Mandy says

      Oh my goodness, yes! I’ve gotten that response during the first lesson of one of my students when I was explaining the importance of practicing. She was like, “But how am I supposed to practice?” I said, “What do you mean, I just told you.” She’s like, “Well I don’t have a piano.” What do parents think? Do they think that all of the sudden their child will be the next Mozart (without practicing)? So from now on before I except any new student, I always ask if they have a piano. And, by the way, I’ve gotten some pretty funny responses, like… Are you really asking this? and, Of course, why would I ask you to teach my child if we didn’t have one? And I always say that I just need to make sure b/c some people honestly don’t think about it.
      On a different note the best excuse I’ve gotten from a student that has not practiced is… Well, you see, I didn’t practice b/c I lost my piano. I laughed, and said, “You honestly think I’m going to believe that.” Oh, The joys of being a piano teacher!

  3. says

    (A) Did he leave his piano books here last week?
    (B) Can you give me a discount — I’m on a budget
    (C) I’m going to Wal-Mart. I’ll be back as soon as possible. (3 year old who has a 15 minute lesson was here for over 2 hours)
    (D) What? You get paid to do this?

  4. Emily Davidson says

    Once a parent really pushed and pressed to try to get me to go to her house..at the PRE-LESSON interview! She actually said, “Look, you’re done here by 7:00. You could get to my house by 7:30, what’s the problem?” I did not take her on.

  5. Dee says

    I think what is worse than saying all of these, is when someone doesn’t tell you that their child is sick, and brings them. When their in lessons, they proceed to be sick!

  6. says

    I hear this one every week…
    “I didn’t practice because we have sooooo much to do”
    “yeah…I looked at the assignment for this week, but I practiced something else…”


    • says

      Yes, I get the “I couldn’t practice because we were sooo busy” all the time. So I’ve started asking “Doing what?” and they name a couple of things. I say, “There are 7 days in the week. You just told me about 2. What about the other 5?” Well, uh,…

      And “My mom (or dad) forgot my books.” Or they brought the wrong books. Really? I have to give them a bag, and explain to them how to use it – how they are to keep everything they need in their bag, so they can just grab the bag. OK, I wanted you to practice sightreading more anyway. I know some send them home, but I think some want that. So I don’t.

      And I’m going to group make-ups.

  7. Stephanie says

    Another favorite is parents coming 15 minutes early for their child’s lesson unannounced and then saying “I need to talk to you and didn’t want to take away our lesson time. You’re not busy are you?” Not at all, interrupting the student who is currently having their lesson is perfectly fine as long as you get extra time, or no, I didn’t need this time to finish preparing for the start of my teaching day because I wasn’t epecting you yet. Please phone first!

    • says

      I HATE when people come early! It’s almost worse than coming late! I find it so rude.

      I also get the “I/he/she couldn’t practice because we were so busy” as well. I explain that if they don’t practice at home, they will practice in lesson. And then, lessons will be extremely boring. So it’s in their best interest to practice AT HOME.

      • Noreen says

        Agree, being EARLY is worse than being late. It says to the teacher, “I don’t respect your personal time, and I feel entitled to do whatever I want, even if it inconveniences you”.

  8. Stephanie says

    My other one is “We are so busy with activities. When exactly do you expect us to practice?”. The look of shock I get when I mention that many students successfully practice in the morning before leaving for school is priceless.

  9. Noreen says

    “Guess what Ms. W., I was home SICK from school today!” (thanks for sharing the this information with me, and also your bugs!)

    “I couldn’t practise this week, because our dog peed on my piano books.” (unfortunately this was true)

    “You don’t make my child practise enough.” (Gee, I never knew I lived with you!)

    “My child has a play-date during her piano lesson. Perhaps you can fit her in during your free time?” (Sure, how about during school hours, or maybe after my last student leaves at 10:00 pm).

    “My ex-husband won’t allow my child to practise during ‘his’ time with our daughter.” (Argh, separated fathers, don’t get me going on them!)

    “I was sooo busy this week that I couldn’t practise because I had a 1-page science paper to due” (I responded with “Oh really”, and held this student’s notebook, in which I’d written 1 full page during his 30 minute lesson).

    “Sorry, Mom couldn’t get me here on time. I know I’m 20 minutes late, but Mom says it’s okay if I stay 20 minutes longer” (Yep, during the next student’s lesson-time)

  10. Hope Noar says

    Our room is being redone so the piano is covered and cannot be used. Or……after trying to reschedule a number of lessons, even offering to pick the child up, ignoring my e mails to try to reschedule the lessons, saying: “We need to talk about a refund.” I lost so many weeks, trying to make up the lessons, holding the slot, changing the student who comes after her, etc. and I don’t deserve to get paid?

  11. Jeanne says

    My son has _______(soccer, play practice, doctor appt, playdate….) during his lesson time this week. I would like him to come Monday at 4:00. Some people just don’t understand that I actually have a schedule which is set in place and that I am not just open and available at any time for them :/ One particular parent has had to be told many times that 1. Your son’s lesson time is reserved for him and I do not offer make-ups. 2. I have other student’s scheduled for the time you are requesting!

    • says

      I am dealing with this today. I had a parent ask (at noon) if she could bring her son at 12:30 instead of her booked time of 1pm. I said, no, sorry, I can’t do that. Then she asked if she could bring him at 4 because church was done early and she didn’t want to wait around for an hour (although she lives just down the street). So I said, okay, he can come at 4 for today because I happen to have that open. What do you know… it’s 4:30 and I still haven’t seen any sign of them. Texted and called her and left a message explaining that when she makes an appointment, she needs to make sure he’s here for it. I of course got no answer/response. I think they’re going to be cut off my schedule. Unacceptable.

  12. says

    The frustrating refrain in my life is the “rescheduled missed lesson”
    How about a call I got in late May “I’m calling to reschedule that lesson I missed the day before Good Friday”. Or the high-school senior who constantly calls me to say “I forgot my lesson tonight, so I’m calling to reschedule”.

    I even had one mom call to say that due to a Friday school holiday her kids’ Greek classes had been moved to Thursday (our lesson day) – I was surprised the next month when she just took off one week of lesson fees. Before you groan about a per lesson fee, I charge by the year, but she did the math herself & took off one lesson’s worth.

      • says

        Happened to us over $30. End of the term the parent quit both her daughters and has never spoken to us again, after having tutored both her daughters for years!!

        • Jan says

          Ouch. Have they any idea how much time and care we invest in their children? At the very least we give priceless undivided attention lacking in many other extra curricular activities.

          • Geneva says

            What I find AMAZING is that there is never a spoken word to the sports directors about refunds for missed lessons AND I never hear of children missing their sports lessons and events. WHY does piano take a back seat to everything?

  13. Anna Hill says

    1. “Johnny has had discipline problems at school so for punishment he can not come for lessons the next month.”
    2. “Do students have to know how to read music to take lessons?”
    3. (After a month of lessons….”Suzy still can not read music.”
    4. “Can we reschedule piano PRACTICE to accomodate ball practice?”

  14. Dee says

    Just had one thing that you never say! Here it goes. I want someone to teach my son/daughter, for less than what you charge! That is not the way into a teacher’s heart.

  15. Marnie says

    I had a student who missed a lesson. When I called to set up the new month and be sure we going to continue (because he had missed the previous lesson as well – that one was planned) the mom said the dad was supposed to call me to tell me he wouldn’t be there. The dad response was “I was going to tell her at next week’s lesson.” I didn’t offer to reschedule that one.

  16. Erica says

    I travel to my students homes and on more than one occasion I have gotten to one of my student’s house and her mom has said, “She’s not here today, so I figured you could do a lesson with Teddy instead.” …The 2 year old brother

  17. says

    When I reviewed a child’s lesson with their parent after the lesson, I told them that I was teaching them about phrasing. The parent said:
    “Isn’t she too young for that? I wouldn’t have understood that at 6 years Old.” …..
    Okay, then. I will just teach your child notes and not music….as your previous teacher clearly did.

    • Geneva says

      I’ve heard it too! Actually one adult student admitted she found out that what I said was true by “watching” a “professional” pianist play and noticing that the “professional” pianist did what I had instructed. I didn’t know if I should be happy or miffed!

  18. Lynda Tracy says

    1. What? We have to PAY for the books?

    2. Teacher to student who has no bag and no books: “Where is your music?”
    Student (boy, 11 years old): “Right here”, as he pulls PAGES OUT OF HIS POCKET!!

  19. Lynda Tracy says

    And another one just remembered:
    Second lesson of new term; I have sent home with the student at the first lesson a set of lesson book, theory book, technical exercises, etc., with a statement of how much to pay for the books.
    Student comes back to second lesson, “My mom says she will pay for this one (lesson book) but she won’t pay for that one or that one (theory and technique).”

  20. Carole says

    I had a student that would skip lessons here and there. Eventually it became more and more of a habit. The parent never paid me for the full amt due for the month either. So I wrote a sweet note on her child’s assignment book explaining the “real” amount due – The mom called me and said “Oh, my! I didn’t realize that I had to pay you for missed lessons. I thought I only paid for the lessons my child actually had.” I didn’t even have the luxury of teaching out of my own home at that time – I was teaching at my church. So I travelled all the way there I guess to sit and wait on who showed up? Oh yeah…the mom never called ahead to say that her daughter would be missing a lesson either.

  21. Melissa says

    I asked a student about her piano at home in her 2nd lesson, and this happened:
    Student: We don’t have a piano at home.
    Me: Oh, ok, your keyboard then.
    Student: We don’t have a keyboard either.
    Me: Oh, um, whatever you practice on, then.
    Student: (Looks confused)
    Me (to parent): Where does she practice?
    Parent: (Also looks confused)
    Me: I mean, if you don’t have a piano or a keyboard at home…does she practice at school? Church? A relative’s house?
    Parent: Oh, we just thought we’d bring her to you so she could learn piano.
    Me: Yes, of course, but where does she practice?
    Parent: Well, we thought she would learn piano in here.
    Me: Yeah, she learns piano in here. But where does she practice?

    …it took me a comically long time to “get it.”

    • Karen Van Sickle says

      After a few of those kinds of exchanges, I now ask before we ever start lessons what kind of piano they have AT HOME. How many keys? Does it have an on/off switch? etc. THIS has to be one of the more frustrating things as a teacher.

  22. Barbara Durham says

    I was taking a 8 year old boy transfer piano student for a trial lesson. His mother said to me that he did preliminary piano examination 2 years ago and got an A. Hadn’t done grade 1 or 2, but now is doing grade 3. Just brought a photocopy of a Grade 3 piece and played not one note on the score. Couln’t play any scales except C Major when asked. Mum explained that all his music were photocopies and that they had lost them.
    I gave him 2 Grade 1 pieces (one which he said he had learnt but couldn’t play to learn as much as possible for next week, mother agreed to buy grade 1 book.
    The mother cancelled the next lesson with 6 hours notice because of the dentist and didn’t expect to pay.

    I decided to give them one more lesson the next week to see if he remembered any of his grade 1 pieces I gave him.

    I made sure his mum sat in on the lessons.
    He remembered the notes but that’s about all. I said to her that he should do Grade 1 and 2 again properly before he went onto grade 3. The mum replied ‘But he is in Grade 3!!’ I then suggested that she find another teacher because I couldn’t be expected to take him for Grade 3 without the grounding of the lower grades. She replied that I misunderstood her and that she wanted me to take him though the same pieces he learnt again and correct all his mistakes. I repilied that it would be better to learn new material. …I was becoming exasperated. I gave him a lesson inspite of many red flags. Too exhausted to say anything more,

    Unfortunately she rang up and cancelled the next lesson(s): I was about to do the same

  23. Russell says

    I told a parent how much I would charge for her child for lessons: 20 dollars for a half hour and she says, “I only make 15 dollars an hour. Why do you work for 40 an hour?”

    Also, I recommended to another student he should practice 20 minutes a day to start with. Parent says, “He doesn’t have time to practice. It’s good enough just to learn at the lesson. Then I teach his brother while the first brother goes off and plays video games. aaaarrrg!!

  24. says

    Reading everyone’s posts for the first time today really made me feel NOT ALONE!!! In the short few months I have been teaching…I can say I have heard from parents and students….8 of the top 10 excuses.I was a nail tech for 32 years and recently took over my daughter’s piano students. I retired from the nail biz and my daughter had moved away and she asked if I could take over a few of her students. I thought about it and said SURE! I am a firm believer that children should take some sort of lessons in music (piano, guitar etc). Whether they choose to continue is up to (usually) the parents. Being in a ‘service’ business never means you are a servant. As a nail tech I have heard every excuse in the book for missing or cancelling an appointment at the last minute. One lady actually said her husband died of a heart attack in the middle of the night and she was late for her nail appointment because she waiting for the coroner to pick up his body! SERIOUS???? and yes…she had to wait 4 weeks for another appointment.

    Piano teaching should never be a ‘service’. It is a gift that you CHOOSE to share and be compensated for.

    I think my fave excuse was ‘The dog peed on my music’. I have a Great Dane…and there is NO WAY that he could have lifted his leg that high! if the music was on the piano. :-) or even if it was in a bag on a table. He is almost 36 inches high at his shoulders. SO???? LOL! GREAT MYSTERY!!!! WHERE was the piano music????

    To all fellow teachers out there??? SMILE!!!! It only get’s better! SERIOUSLY!!!!

  25. Carol says

    I laughed at some of the comments. I have heard most, if not all of them.
    One teacher mentioned rescheduling because the lesson time was not
    convenient due to sports, dancing, activities, etc mentioned. Why don’t you write up a Studio Policy….in it specifically just spell it out..
    write in what will be made up and what will not. sick days only or family emergencies…an idea? Also, state when tuition is due, etc. Then
    hand it to all parents to read, sign and return so you know they read it.
    If they chose to not show up then they forfeit the lesson. If they call
    before the lesson, 24 hrs. in advance, or that day if the child is sick
    that morning or afternoon, then it is acceptable to make up the sick day.
    No other lessons are made up including dental appts. other lessons, school functions(after school) and plays, etc. This should be spelled
    out and also about recitals, fees for recitals, vacations….this works.
    Hope this information helps.

    • says

      Carol…..I was going to post exactly the same thing. Additional: have your parents sign and date your contract. This acknowledges that they have read and understand your policies…..I have a sample of mine that I am happy to share, please email. When asked about make-ups, I always say: ” I will absolutely try to get this lesson in for you, even though it “technically” doesn’t qualify with our policies. I will call you with any extra times that become available.” And I do, if it’s convenient for me……after all, what’s an extra 1/2 hour? But typically, I never hear another word about the extra lesson. Also: post dated cheques, payment in full by cheque or cash are mandatory at the first lesson, if not before. Keep them in a card file. No exceptions. I also require a $20 registration fee payable with the registration form…..no fee, no time. Very simple. This at least covers the first lesson if they don’t show up, and it puts a bit towards all of the advertising, phone and email work, scheduling, etc that are never factored into nor understood by our clients.
      I also find that, as a yoga instructor, patience and tolerance are necessary. What do I know about their job? Or what policies, formalities, and intricacies are involved in a corporate lawyer’s world, janitor, union employee etc? You must not stop your education with the child, but follow through with the family……..we’re educators after all :) Peace & Harmony to all!

    • Noreen says

      I used to allow makeup lessons for sickness…. until a parent called to say her girls were “sick”, and I caught them shopping at the mall together. Seriously, if you give parents an “out”, they will take it, and take advantage of you, and believe me, parents can and do lie. or this reason, I choose not to do makeup lessons under any circumstances. That doesn’t mean that students are allowed to attend lessons while ill, because there is a sickness clause in my Business Policies about that.

  26. Katie says

    I LOVE this!!! How about these

    1. My grandmother (uncle, aunt, friend) plays by EAR. (I’m supposed to be impressed)
    2. My mom etc was a concert pianist and/or prodigy!

    There seems to be a notion that “playing by ear” equals MORE talented than someone who reads music. I have to explain that if you ONLY play by ear or ONLY read music you will be limited. Learn how to do both and the sky is the limit! Of course they look at me like I’m crazy when I tell them I can TEACH you how to play be ear.

    I’ve never had someone tell me their _____ was a concert pianist and it actually be true. Lol.
    The student that actually practices like I tell them to is suddenly a “prodigy” and the lady that played in church her whole life is a “concert pianist” lol.

  27. says

    I enjoyed reading all the frustrating, but funny stories… however, in my 35+ years of teaching (mostly part time while my kiddos were little) I haven’t really had a problem with parents being rude or not wanting to pay. I suppose I have just been lucky. I must admit that sometimes I am just as flaky as some of my students… so I have learned to just roll with the flow. I have studio policy let parents know what I expect but for the most part I am pretty understanding. For what it’s worth, here is what works for me:

    -Before I travel to teach a lesson, I make a quick phone call to make sure the student(s) are there and not sick. –When kids come unprepared I turn the lesson into a practice session…lots of repetition in creative ways to iron out the hard parts of their piece.
    -I encourage the parents to stay for their child’s lesson, and those that do always pay and never complain about the price, and their kids do really well. Those that don’t usually quit lessons within the year anyway.
    -I joke with the kids a lot, but still expect them to work really hard to make each piece sound beautiful.
    – Families are busy, things come up. I have found that in an average month, about a quarter of the kids have to cancel mostly for good reasons, so I plan my budge accordingly. I hate doing make-up lessons, so I just don’t do them. I suppose I would rather not get paid then to mess up my schedule.

    This might not work for everyone… but for me it makes for a happy, relaxed teacher and happy students and parents.

  28. Padooski says

    Had an adult student who seemed a little odd, but nice. He attended his first lesson and was very excited. Next week, he didn’t turn up. I got an answer phone message several hours after his scheduled lesson had ended, with him telling me “I’m a bit strapped for cash this week.” He missed the next week as well citing that he had had a bad week – his fire engine was broken! Of all things.

    Have had trouble with parents paying for recital tickets. I have arranged a recital at a very nice venue with a little food included. For the cost of the venue I have had to charge all attendees – students and guests – £5 entry. This is nothing – the venue have given me a very kind deal! Anyway, a parent said that she didn’t want to pay for student x and student z to play because they are fussy eaters and will probably have had dinner by then anyway! Not only that but they have filled their quota of 4 guests and are hoping to save a buck. It’s not mandatory to bring your great grandad and the dog! Some people think it’s all about them, wanting to bring piles of guests and music teachers from school… no thought for the poor 7 year olds performing in front of people for the first time who are only bringing one parent!

  29. says

    My favorite in over ten years of teaching “so we have one of those Fischer Price pianos with the colored keys. That would work for at home practice right?” SMH.

  30. Michelle says

    Wow and I thought I was the only one!!! Great to see everyone here! Recently I told parents that there would be a nominal fee included for those sitting exams at the studio venue to cover studio room hire and myself for sitting there the whole day. We run in a commercial building and each time the exams take place we cannot have any lessons in the room. One of the parents told me the equivalent of ‘You’re a teacher, and you shouldn’t charge for these things. Teachers should put on concerts, accompany students to their exams and eisteddfods FOR FREE.’ When did teaching become philanthropy? She told me that ‘It seems like it’s all about the money.’ Well, yes. This is my job, afterall.

  31. says

    Ooo, how about what a brother and sister said to me yesterday! “I don’t really care if I miss the recital. I’ll be skiing.”

    Things to never, ever say to a piano teacher…

  32. says

    Ooo, how about what a brother and sister said to me yesterday! “I don’t really care if I miss the recital. I’ll be skiing.”

    Things to never, ever say to a piano teacher…

  33. Liz says

    My child is too busy to practice (for the 4th week in a row).
    We’re going to “take a break” from lessons and come back later (which really means quit).
    Can we have a discount? We’re poor, despite the BMW and Mercedes we drive and the fact that our kids go to private school.
    Parent: My child doesn’t want to practice. He’s not taking responsibility for it, and we’re not going to force him. (He’s 5)
    Me: As it states in my policies, it’s your responsibility to make sure he practices. It’s unfair and unrealistic to expect him to shoulder that responsibility. Would you have taken that on at his age?
    Parent: No.
    Me: Neither will he!

  34. Lyndell says

    Although I have experienced some of these issues, in comparison I’ve been very lucky!

    In Australia most teachers charge by the school term. I’ve heard “Sorry we can’t pay yet. It’s hard to budget ‘coz I only get paid monthly”
    There’s always an interesting response when I say I understand as I only get paid 4 times a year…
    Or… “Sorry. We’ve lots of bills due” (Of course I don’t have any!)

    I have an immune disorder and now only teach from home. Most parents are awesome and very thoughtful when they’re children aren’t well. When I was working in schools, that was a VERY different story!

    Although I don’t usually offer makeup lessons, I’m challenged too often; especially with new parents. I’ve worked long term with some amazing families and will offer makeup lessons if we can find a mutually convenient time.

    Over 20yrs I’ve noticed a HUGE differnce in practise. This is mostly due to students being enrolled in every extra curricular activity possible and genuinely having little time. I could write a book full of no practise excuses!
    A few faves-
    “Our power went out and I couldn’t use my keyboard” (“Was the power out for a whole week??”)
    “I didn’t practise ‘coz I went to a birthday party”
    (“How many days did the party go on for??”)
    “We were so busy this week!”
    I’ll ask about a fave TV show and if they watched it “Yeah it was great!”
    (“So you had time to watch TV then?”)

    This is awesome knowing others are in the same boat. I feel so blessed to genuinely love my work. All the positives far outweigh the challenges (though I’d rather not have to deal with any!)

  35. Christie says

    Wow. The comments section is long! I can identify with some of these. I take post-dated cheques for the year because I don’t want to deal with the payment issues, but have had occasions where I’ll get posted-dated cheques for only a few months. But then sometimes they forget and I don’t get the cheques until the end of the month so I’m deposting 2 months together and I do have bills to pay. People don’t realize this is your salary!
    And, I have put right in my policy letter that I don’t reschedule because my first and second year, I rescheduled all the time for kids and their sports commitments. I had few students but it was very disrupting to my family. My current students are all really good about this.

  36. Laura says

    “My mom forgot to have me practice again!”

    “I think maybe you should just teach me how to play Pachabel’s Canon” (said by a brand new student every week for the first 2 months of lessons).

    “…don’t you have any other stickers?”

    “I got fake nails the other day! They last up to 4 weeks!” (said by a student preparing for an RCM exam).

  37. Michele Tamtom says

    I don’t have to learn how to count…i learned that before I went to kindergarten.
    I don’t have to count…I already know the song in my head.
    I don’t have to count…my mom says I don’t have to.
    I didn’t have to practice this week…I already practiced this song last week.
    Mom said I didn’t have to practice this week because she hates that song.

    (Mental slap on the forehead…Sheesh!) LOL

  38. Michele Tamtom says

    I don’t have to learn how to count…i learned that before I went to kindergarten.
    I don’t have to count…I already know the song in my head.
    I don’t have to count…my mom says I don’t have to.
    I didn’t have to practice this week…I already practiced this song last week.
    Mom said I didn’t have to practice this week because she hates that song.

  39. Melody Dean says

    Andrea, will you please write follow up posts on:
    1. Helping build a culture where piano lessons are highly valued. (Music appreciation is becoming an endangered specises in areas)
    2. How do you help set expectations for parents. They need a piano at home and for the student to regularly practice from the first lesson on, but many don’t know this.
    3. How do you build appreciation and respect for the teacher’s time and efforts even when Jr. Forgets to come at his lesson time. The expectation for make up lessons or refunds IS placed much more on piano lessons/teachers then many other similar activities. How do we kindly present this to our student’s parents in advance to avoid misunderstandings and hard feelings?

  40. Melody Dean says

    Thanks so much for your blog. I’ve learned so much from you and been encouraged. The piano teacher’s job is unique and sometimes lonely. Thank you for building community and inspiring me.

  41. ally says

    i couldnt practice i was too busy, i had to go away for 2 days
    i cant find my books
    i havnt finished my music theory homework, because i started in the car on the way over
    mam says she’ll pay you next week
    how much is the fee again, ive lost the bill
    i need to cancel, my 5 year old is going to a one direction concert, disney land, birthday party, on holiday, disco………when can you make this up
    can you not teach on sunday?
    why dont you leave a break in between lessons so my child can start early if that suits us
    since i was 20 minutes late for my 30 min lesson, you hardly expect me to pay for it?
    (have also been ignored and not informed when people decide to quit)
    whats your real job?
    its my first lesson so i want to learn how to play fur elise and the moonlight sonata….and i dont think theres any point in learning scales
    im too old to learn scales
    i want to only learn by ear
    i dont want to learn ‘every good boy deseves fun’ to remember egbdf…..ill just remember them
    your piano sounds different than mine
    your piano sounds louder than mine
    i can play it on my own piano
    my dad did grade 8. ‘what have you heard him play?’ abba
    the piano in the exam looked like a table…..it was a grand piano
    forgot his books
    forgot his books
    forgot his books
    the books fell behind the piano, and i cant reach them
    can you play piano or do you just teach it? ?!!
    your kitchen is actually tidy today….well its difficult having my tiny apartment spotless every day just for you
    oh i dont think theres any need for a refund that time you were sick, sure you can make it up on your day off
    term money?? you should just let everyone pay weekly so their not paying for the lessons they miss
    term money? you should get a little book and let people drop in for lessons
    term money? did i pay that?
    term money? didnt we already pay you 2 months ago? (yes that was last terms)
    term money? i thought my husband paid you
    term money? i thought my wife paid you
    she has football/choir practice/a disco, can she just come first or last on a saturday? (…..sure how does 10pm sound…..no ok 8am??)
    hello i need to talk to you about my darling on the phone for 20 minutes even though i can clearly hear a child having their lesson in the background
    term money? its not due today because she wasnt at her lesson the day you gave the bill…….(so you didnt get my text msg??! )
    i know we’re 10 minutes late but its ok she can stay longer im not in a rush….(sure ill just make my next student wait in the hall then)
    what kind of piano should we get? is hs^*%h a good make? ( …..i dont know ask a piano dealer!)
    shes not doing the recital because shes nervous about it and i dont want to put her through it so im bringing her shopping instead
    i dont want her to do an exam till grade 4 because anything up until that isnt a real exam
    how many lessons will it take to get to grade 8? ……20?
    my daughter has it easy….in my day grade 8 was actually hard…..(well done you know three grade 8 pieces, sure your practically a concert pianist)
    so you only teach friday and saturdays….how about 6pm on wednesday?
    can you teach her to play flute?
    3 days before an exam…..mother: well hes probably finding sight reading hard because hes dyslexic…………..me: thanks for telling me! thats explains a lot.
    i said he could learn this for the carol service in school instead of his exam piece today……..(piece is 3 grades about his level)
    cant we just borrow your books instead of buying them?
    mam said she will have the books next week? x10 weeks in a row
    mam says shes ordered the books.
    can you buy music books in easons?
    can i buy a keyboard in a toy shop?
    i have a fisher price keyboard in the attic. Will that do? Its about this size? (approx 1 foot long)
    we dont have a piano. Will that matter?
    she can only practice at her grannies house.
    the house was getting redecorated so the piano was out of bounds.
    im in the wrong business…….father angrily handing over cheque………
    i can only be taught by someone who has ABRSM grade 8? do you have that?……no but i have RIAM grade 8, a BA Mus degree and a diploma in Educ. and years of experience………..no thanks
    shes giving up….she never wanted to learn piano, i was just forcing her
    text: shes giving up. bye……………………..(ok no need to thank me for 6 years of music education for your daughter one on one)
    do you smoke? (there was a lighter beside a candle)
    after explaining i was booked up and her kid didnt get a place because its first come first serve and she didnt get back to me for 3 weeks…..’what! but we live down the road’ and from another parent ‘but i can come but it has to be on a saturday afternoon at exactly X time (x time being the most popular time of day)
    i didnt think she needed to take music in school because she was doing music with you
    can you teach her to sing?
    can you let him stay here after his lesson? i cant pick him up for a few hours….
    but ill have to get off work or take her out of school to do the exam!
    ive deducted some money off the fee because we’ll be at a wedding this week and she has a birthday party the following week


    • says

      Oh how I needed to see this today! I feel pretty lucky my list is short at this time but I’ve sure heard quite a few of these. My favorite is: “We don’t have a piano, but when Johnny shows some interest after 6 month of lessons, we’ll consider it. “

  42. Kathryn says

    I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry when a 7 year old student said he did not practice because, ” I’m addicted to video games!”

  43. Bec says

    “You’re so lucky to get paid for doing your hobby”. Yes, those years at the Conservatorium of Music were all part of my music hobby grand plan lol

  44. Melissa says

    Yesterday I got this from a parent “she won’t be able to make it to her lesson today, sorry for the inconvenience”. It was 15 minutes before her lesson time. Then I get another message saying “can we do a makeup tomorrow possibly?”
    *forehead smack*

  45. says

    I love this blog…thank you for posting it. I am a water colorist who has been trained since childhood by my mother who was a piano teacher. I’ve been teaching piano for quite a few years and I blend the two careers together…painting in the morning and teaching in the afternoons and evenings. I have got lots of stories too…there should be a big book of piano excuses and stories. I had to tell a student recently that, “No, it is not called the New World Sympathy”..that and…”Oh yeah…I heard of Brahms…the Brahm’s Zoo…right?”. Or how about I love playing the credenza in “Fur Elise”….

  46. Rob says

    This is the extent of my piano teaching career, and why I didn’t pursue it (I am a fourth grade teacher, and I play often for school functions and weddings):
    I was going to start teaching piano lessons for this music store in our town. The owner told me that I was to know right off that if his one keyboard sold, that piano lessons were over until he bought another one, and this whole thing was all about money first and lessons later, blah, blah, blah. Yet he posted an ad in our local newspaper wanting a piano teacher! I guess he just wanted it for his business to look good.
    Then the first student’s mother came in – all the way from the next county in our state – with this:
    “We’ve looked everywhere and talked to so many teachers, and you know what? They are all SO EMPHATIC about taking a lesson EVERY WEEK! Can my daughter [a 14 year old, I would guess] take a lesson every 2 weeks or maybe 3 or just like, once a month if need be?”
    My reply was a “You get out of it what you put into it…” speech, and we (against my wishes) set up for once every 2 weeks. She attended one lesson (and acted like a total goof-wad the whole time, laughing and making ridiculous comments after every mistake), and never returned. I guess she thought that all she really needed was one lesson per lifetime.
    I also did not further any more teaching for that music store.
    BTW, it went out of business very soon after. Hmmm…..?

  47. Jim says

    I received a text about 3 months ago from a mother who wanted me to teach her son. I replied that I was interested but that I had moved since placing the ad and told her where I now live. She replied that that was absolutely no problem. She went on to say: “I’m going to Europe for the summer and I need something to keep my 15 year old son busy. I will have a driver deliver him to your studio and wait until he is finished to take him back home. He will come to your studio two times a week and each lesson is to last three hours. Just let me know what your fee is so I can write out the checks before I leave for Europe and I will have the driver bring the check each month.”
    Have you ever???

    • Trevor says

      Wow… that’s insane! Actually this sounds a lot like those “piano lesson scams” that go around occasionally, but they’re usually not by text so this one must be legit… not sure if that’s a good thing!!

  48. Jim says

    It is insane. As are all the other comments. I don’t teach, but I would not tolerate any of that garbage to put it nicely.
    If I find a special student I want to teach I will have a sit down with both parents and the student and explain the process. Then I would present it to them in contract form for all three to sign.
    Youth are spread to thinly these days. They can’t excel at 20 different activities.
    Something that saddens me just as badly is the piano forums where the young people are teaching themselves. They claim to have teaches, but then get in piano forums and ask the most basic of questions. Why not ask the teacher? I find it all very sad, as I do most of what is going on in this world.

  49. Jim says

    Oh, one more thing. I would print this post and include it in the contract for student and parents to read and sign.
    Stop letting the tail wag the dog.

  50. RosieTan says

    I have a 8 years old student who always make excuses for not practicing.
    1) I didn’t practice because I’m busy preparing for my birthday ( his birthday is a month later)
    2) My school teacher scold me for not doing homework so I couldn’t practice
    3) My mum is watching movie so I couldn’t practice.

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