So, just the other day, I was walking close to my old place of work and a mom stopped me on the sidewalk. “Ms. Stathia!! Oh my goodness! It’s so good to see you! You had our son in his first music classes 9 years ago and now he’s 9!!” I totally remembered her! Her son was a tiny and scrawny little boy at 3 or 4 months old who loved music class. They were part of a group of kids that was just a year younger than my Juliette. She told me she had 4 kids now and that she never really made time for music classes with her other ones, but going to music class with her son was one of her favorite memories.
This totally made my day. It has been exactly 2 years since I was terminated from my old work unexpectedly. I had been there for over 15 years. I had raised my babies there while I worked. I taught so many amazing kids from 3 months old all the way to high school graduates. We were a family of faculty and students. It was a special place. But then, changes happened, and I no longer fit there. My vision for a music studio was not shared by the new team. Even though I had already made plans to resign at the end of the semester, I knew it was going to be hard to leave.
Though I would never want to repeat that time in my life, I’ve learned a lot from this experience. As I did a lot of soul searching trying to find answers for why this horrible thing happened, I read somewhere that everyone needs to be fired at some point in their life. Really?!?! If I could save anyone from that humiliation, I would. At first I believed that only “bad” people got fired; those who didn’t do their job well or were always late or whatever. When I tell people that I was fired, they kind of look at me funny and just laugh like I’ve told them a joke! But once I start thinking about it, being fired has taught me more about life and how I want to run a business than I could ever have dreamed. I am now a bit more guarded and cautious when it comes to trusting people (which is probably a good thing for this naive girl). I also see more clearly how important it is to treat people well and communicate with them. I see that appearances are not always what they seem to be, the truth can be skewed in ways I never dreamed! It has taught me the power of forgiveness, but not to forget.
All of this to say, Music SO Simple got quite the jump start in April of 2016! We are officially 2 years old! I could not be prouder of what Music SO Simple stands for and what it does for all of our students from the little ones to our adults. I am grateful for my experience today. It shoved me out on my own and pushed me to have faith in so many people. It also showed me that so many of you supported me through a very tough time. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Amazing things are happening for Music SO SImple!
Quitting lessons is not something we really love to talk about, especially in our studio. When students sign up for lessons, we assume you are in for the long haul and are committed to enriching your child’s life through the study of music. However, in every student’s journey, there comes a time when quitting is brought into question. It can happen for various reasons, but it usually occurs during what I like to call a “slump”- a time when motivation is lost and self-esteem is down. This happens to nearly every student at some point (we actually have an entire blog devoted to this! You can read it here). During these low points, parents and students may begin to ask themselves if their private lesson journey has reached the double bar line.
My advice to families is that before you make your final decision, have an honest conversation about it with your teacher: in fact, I believe the teacher should be involved in this decision. He/she may agree with you, or perhaps your teacher has solutions to the issues you’re having. When I think back to my students who have quit over the years, I feel as if some of the problems they were encountering were a simple fix, but they had made up their minds without talking to me first. As a teacher, I wish I had the chance to talk with the students about what was going on or if something was missing from our lessons. Taking a break from piano with the intention of coming back is also not a great idea: I believe it’s better to lighten the load and continue than stop altogether. Otherwise, so many skills that took years to obtain and so much learning disappears.
Another reason many students think they should quit is lack of practice. Again, various reasons for this: too much homework, too many other activities, doesn’t like to play, the student is too young to remember to practice and parents may be tired of reminding them, the list goes on and on. I think it’s this particular reason where talking with your teacher can be super helpful- perhaps parents and students just need a little guidance and support. We as teachers are full of ideas and resources on how to make practice fun and consistent! Sometimes it comes down to simply changing the time of day a student sits down at the piano to practice. A lot of the time when a student says they don’t like to play, that really just means they don’t like the music they are working on. Switching method books or starting a book with preferred music can make a world of difference- kids will want to practice if they really love their pieces! This is the perfect situation to teach your child a valuable life lesson- don’t quit when it gets tough! If students and parents can push through these “slumps”, so much can be gained musically and personally.
Even if you are 90% sure that you are not going to continue lessons, talk with your teacher anyway. They will least have a heads up that lessons are going to stop in the near future and they can wrap up accordingly with the student. Private lesson students and their teachers often have a very strong bond, especially if they have been working together for years. Out of respect for that, give your teacher plenty of notice so that the proper closure can be given.