too many students : LUSENET : Everything About Teaching and Learning the Piano : One Thread

I have somehow said yes to a few too many students. I have been overwhelmed this year with 60 piano students. I was thinking that a few would drop out throughout the year, but no one has. And now I desperately need to cut back for next year. But how? I really enjoy all my students and parents. I feel so bad about having to tell some that they must go. Which ones? How should I go about telling the student? the parents?

Please help

-- Debbie L Lutes (, May 22, 2003


Debbie, What a great problem to have--too many students! 60 is indeed a lot. I maintain around 25 (by choice) and that feels like plenty to me. You have a few choices here. Obviously you could use a seniority process, eliminating only your newest students. However, that might cause you to keep students you'd prefer to give up, and lose students you'd prefer to keep. So, I'd suggest simply picking your most dedicated students and keeping them. You said you enjoy all your students, but surely there must be some who don't work as hard as they ought to. (if you actually have 60 students who thoroughly complete their assignments and who consistenly practice as you expect, you need to start a new thread on how you do it!!) Another option is to raise your rates, and see how many are still willing to study with you. Supply and demand is in your favor right now, plus this has a similar effect to my previous suggestion, in that you might end up with the most dedicated students (unless it backfired and you simply ended up with the wealthiest students) I heard another teacher one time recommend the following procedure (it rubs me the wrong way from an ethical point of view, though it's not totally unethical--just a bit offensive to me). If there are particular students that aren't very committed or that aren't as enjoyable to teach, significantly raise *their* rates, to a point that they most likely would not re-enroll. Keep rates at only a modest increase for the students you truly wish to continue teaching. I went through this same dilemma a few years back, where I really wanted to cut back to about half of the students I had. I debated all my options, not totally satisfied with any. But then the decision was made for me, when my husband lost his job and I had to keep all the students I had! I'll be interested to hear what you decide. Annie

-- annie (, May 23, 2003.

I would LOVE to hear your trade secrets!! I would die to have 25, much less 60 students. I have 3 and I am trying so hard to find more.

Best of luck - I wish I lived in your area. I would gladly take your excess students!!

-- Deirdre C. (, May 24, 2003.

In the words of a successful piano teacher, say," I have somehow said yes to a few too many students. I have been overwhelmed this year with 60 piano students. And now I desperately need to cut back for next year. I really enjoy all my students and parents." Then pause and let them react. They will likely say, "Does that mean you will no longer be able to teach Sarah?" You can then say, "Unfortunately, no. I'm giving you adequate notice now so that you can find another teacher in time. I can give you some names. " Then thank them for their patronage.

-- Anita (, May 24, 2003.

Hurray for you to have 60 students! First you need to ask yourself how many you want to have, and then you can start paring down your number. That's great that you enjoy them all. Are you sure there aren't a few who absolutely drive you nuts? Maybe you just want to zero in on beginners to teach or advanced to teach -- or a variety would be fine, too. Raising your rates would be an option, although they should be raised for everyone and not just the few that you want to eliminate. In an effort not to hurt too many feelings, perhaps eliminating by order of seniority might be the best bet. I have 25 students, and that is enough for me. Good luck with your decision!

-- Dianne (, June 17, 2003.

Thank you for a great question. I think that when you love teaching piano it can be very easy to bcome overwhelmed by numbers. It generally takes time for a piano teacher to find the areas of teaching that she most enjoys. Do you prefer to work with younger students? Is late intermediate or advanced work more your preferance? What about lesson plans? Do your students set goals for the school year? Festivals? Contests? What are your goals for yourself as a piano teacher? I think that you need to take time to think through and perhaps write down your personal goals as a piano teacher. How much time can you dedicate to this without feeling overwhelmed? What kind of a reputation is important to you in ten years? As far as how to pare the numbers, I think honesty is the best policy. Probably the best time would have been at the end of the school year so a parent has time to find another teacher. Or possibly over holiday break time i.e. discontinue the student before Thanksgiving. They could then start with another teacher by January. Are you acquainted with a qualified teacher who is just starting? Referrals are helpful to parents. It has been my experience that piano teachers who teach within the bounderies of their personal comfort level with careful consideration to their own education past and continuing, are the most nuruturing teachers to their students. That is of course your personal decision. Best Wishes.

-- Mary Ann Templeton (, September 12, 2003.

Too many students (over 60) sometimes results from the teacher charging very low fees. Check out your area teacher/friends to see what they are charging. You can often weed out students selectively by raising your prices for lessons up to the fair market level of your community, based on your own experience and education. Those who are seriously interested will usually stay with you and those who just like cheaper lessons will drop out. You won't have to cut many of them because natural attrition will do it for you. And remember that a teacher who does not charge a fair price for lessons hurts the whole profession of teaching music and undercuts her colleagues in the community. Now I don't know what this poster charges so these are general comments aimed at one possible solution.

-- elaine sutton (, April 07, 2004.

I recall my own coach Dr. R. Bedford Watkins at Illinois Weslyan Univ. cautioned me early in my career as a private piano teacher to beware of "burn out". How does a good teacher cut back on students? Easy: Set your standards higher. If you as a teacher practices for three hours a day, you have the moral right to require no less then two hours practice or more of your intermediate and avance students and an hour daily practice from students who have had at least 6 months of lessons. Students that miss lessons without calling or their parent calling 2 hours before the lesson, or with a very good excuse, are out the door. At my studio we only have four lessons a month. When there is a fifth week in the month we have a break. Students must practice during the 5th week break, but we all take it at the same time. True,I don't make as much money, but I get a chance to rest myself or conduct a workshop. In the past I've dismissed students who "talked back" or a parent has tried to tell me how to teach or what to teach. I keep my check book on my desk, write out a refund for the months lesson, hand it to the parent and open the door for them. I'm not teaching piano to be popular. Today I have students that I started out there teaching in Univ. with more degrees then I'd ever hope to have and I love it.

-- Everetta J. Boehme (, March 03, 2005.

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