What little tricks of the trade can you share for when kids go through the “I don’t wanna take lessons anymore” stage and lose their enthusiasm?
I’d say it’s safe to say that every piano teacher at some point has received this dreaded call or email… “Johnny is refusing to practice at home. I have to drag him to his lessons. He says he wants to quit piano.” It’s a phone call that can get your back up (“What do you mean you have to drag him to lessons…he seems happy once he’s in my studio!”) or can make you feel discouraged (“What am I doing wrong? I’ve poured my heart and soul into this kid!”) And while it may be too late by the time you get this phone call to save that particular student, it is a good reminder that piano student retention should be something that you focus on not when students are quitting, but rather when they are beginning.
Students Who Want to Quit Piano
Piano students quit piano for many different reasons. As a piano teacher you are in the difficult position of potentially having your income diminished by an 8 year old! Not many people in this world have their financial well-being resting on the needs and desires of someone who still needs a nightlight. This little client, like it or not, has a lot of power. And you want him on your side.
Quitting Piano Lessons Is Not An Option
Wouldn’t it be nice to respond to the phone call in this way! Of course we can’t, but what we can do is preemptively strike (preferably before Johnny ever sets foot in our studio) in such an effective way that those words will be coming from Johnny’s own mouth, not yours. Piano lessons need to move from the “luxury item” or “optional item” category in the minds of your studio families to the “necessity” category. The only way you can truly achieve this is by winning over Johnny.
The Preemptive Strike
Before you can effectively hook Johnny for the long-haul, you need to determine what may cause him to cross over to the “dark side”. Think of a chore or activity in your own daily life that you detest doing. What is it about that activity that you find distasteful? Most likely words like boring, uncomfortable, routine, difficult, same-old-same-old, nervous etc. may spring to mind. Could these possibly apply to piano lessons? Your focus should be on eliminating every single one of those negative connotations from your piano lessons and your studio; building your teaching program on words such as reassuring, exciting, unpredictable and fun. Go out of your way to project this image from the very first meeting and… here’s the most important part… don’t ever stop. Settling into status quo is the nail in the coffin for any piano student teetering on the edge of quitting piano lessons.
In reality, every single one of your piano students is a potential “quitter”. Acting as though you are in “Piano Student Rescue Mode” for each and every one of your clients is a sure-fire way to ensure retention of your piano students.