No matter how wonderful you may be as a piano teacher you will always face losing piano students. Familes choose to discontinue piano lessons for many reasons… most of which will have nothing to do with you as a teacher!
But even so, it’s difficult to hear that a student, whom you have taught for years and poured your heart and soul into, is leaving your piano teaching studio. It hurts! You can’t help but take it personally. And as much as you’d like to either a) run screaming “Don’t leave me!” behind their car as they pull out or b) throw your hands up and shout “NO! Don’t you know how beneficial piano lessons are for your child?!” resist these impulses and do this instead…
The Initial Reaction
When you are told that a student is not returning, be sure to carefully “check” your initial reaction. Always be gracious, no matter how tempting it may be to give them a piece of your mind! Resist the urge to fire back an angry or “judgy” email. If you desperately need the satisfaction of pressing “send”… send it to us at teachpianotoday instead!… (we’ll happily read and commiserate with you!)
We are all guilty of acting on those knee-jerk reactions, but it’s a good idea to become skilled at controlling these. You’ll find that you will actually get more satisfaction from erring on the opposite end of the spectrum… you catch more flies with honey than vinegar. In fact, take this to the extreme and send them the kindest email you can conjure filled with “I’ve cherished the time that Johnny and I have spent in lessons”-type (but genuine) pleasantries. People remember those “someones” in their life who are undyingly kind. Be that someone.
Why should you waste your time on a student who has jumped ship? Because there’s a strong possibility they’ll want to climb back aboard or be asked by a friend who they would recommend as a piano teacher. When a family quits piano lessons, mail them a card about a week later thanking them for their business, wishing the student all the best and relaying one specific thing that you will miss about their family or the child. This goes a long long way. Keep in mind that word-of-mouth advertising is your most valuable ally. Protect this at all costs. Promote this at all costs.
The Awkward Bump-Ins
If you live in a small community it’s likely that you will see these people again. Instead of slinking away and avoiding the encounter, go out of your way to warmly greet them and the child. By asking about their goings-on you show how much you remember about your students and how invested you were in them. Keep the door open for them to feel as though they can easily return to your studio without any hard feelings.
You May Have Been Wronged… But Do the Right Thing
Piano students don’t always leave in the nicest of ways. They don’t always go out of their way to say thank you for what you have done. They may, in fact, be just plain old rude! You may have been wronged by these clients… but learn to let it go. There is nothing to be gained by trying to be the one who is proven to be “right” in the end. There is everything to be gained from being the person who is endlessly professional, gracious and down-right lovely.
By creating the opportunity for those students you have lost to either return or to recommend you to others you are doing yourself a big favor; if a family’s circumstances change (or if the child endlessly begs to return!) being there with an open door is a great position to be in… unless your incredibly fun piano lessons have landed you with more students than you can handle!