Taking on another teacher's student

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I have a current piano student who has a younger sibling taking piano lessons from another teacher. The family has now stopped lessons with the younger sibling's teacher and would like to be put on my waiting list. The other teacher is a dear friend. I would like to teach this student someday since I already teach the older sibling. How should I approach my friend about this matter?

-- Patricia Blanchard (blanchard@tqci.net), August 13, 2004


Dear Patricia, This can be tricky! Do you know why the family has stopped lessons with your friend? Is she a good teacher, or just a good friend? Perhaps the best approach should be purely business. The parents want their children with the same teacher, so you are placing her on your waiting list. Perhaps you can give your friend a referral or two from someone else that is looking for a teacher (again, only if you feel she does a reasonably good job of teaching). Maybe you will get some other suggestions, too. Ruth Farkas (satb88@sbcglobal.net)

-- Ruth Farkas (satb88@sbcglobal.net), August 14, 2004.

My friend is a master teacher and my mentor of many years. The family sites scheduling problems, but could have other reasons unknown to me. I don't want to do anything unethical, unprofessional or disrespectful.

-- Patricia (blanchard@tqci.net), August 15, 2004.

Since your friend is very experienced, she has doubtless had to deal with students leaving for a variety of reasons. Since the scheduling has been cited, I don't think there should be a problem as long as you are up front about it. "You know I've been teaching X while you've been teaching Y. The Joneses have asked me if I can take on Y because it would make their life so much less hectic. I'm really looking forward to teaching someone who has learned the basics from you. I hope you understand that I'm not trying to poach your students, just trying to make the Joneses' life a bit simpler" (and as Ruth suggested, referring some people to her would be a good idea).

Alice Dearden

-- Alice Dearden (alicedearden@look.ca), August 15, 2004.

Thank you,Alice. I think that the straightforward, simple approach is best. I am just hesitant because of our close relationship. I am probably making this bigger than it is.

-- Patricia (blanchard@tqci.net), August 15, 2004.

It's probably as simple as the parents want the children with the same teacher--one check to make out, one trip to make (saving fuel), one chunk of time to block out and wait for children to be done, etc. I doubt it is anything personal.

The bad thing I see from what you write is that the younger sibling's lessons seem to have been stopped altogether while waiting for you to be available.

-- GT (nospam@nospam.com), August 18, 2004.

Thanks for your response, GT. The student is continuing lessons for the time with his father who is a very good pianist. I do think you are right about the family wanting to consolidate everything. I am about to send an email out to my friend asking how she feels about my putting her former student on my waiting list. I should soon be able to report the result. I appreciate the responses from everyone.

-- Patricia (blanchard@tqci.net), August 18, 2004.

The end of the story....my friend said she wanted the child to have lessons and that I should put him on my waiting list. What a gracious woman, once again modeling for me true professionalism. Thanks to all.

-- Patricia (blanchard@tqci.net), September 04, 2004.

Very glad it worked out for you!

I feel that, from the start, it was not a personal issue at all, just simply wanting to simplify the driving around (you might be closer, or on the way to someplace gone to frequently--I have to have at least 3 errands to run before I bother to get in the car these days, LOL), make out one check instead of two, etc. Sometimes, after all, some teachers may even give "family discounts", though that may not apply in your case.

And I'm sure you'll be just as understanding about it if and when it happens to you--if you have kids you'd probably want to do the same thing, at least during the elementary school years, unless one child was much more advanced than the other. Enjoy!

-- GT (nospam@nospam.com), September 08, 2004.

Thanks for your words of encouragement, GT. I will take your words under advisement that I need to respond as graciously when it happens to me. Happy teaching!

-- Patricia (blanchard@tqci.net), September 08, 2004.

I'm just a Mom. Sorry if that caused any confusion!

But, as a Mom, I would have been up front, and just informed your friend that, due to such and such circumstances, we're changing to you as a teacher, but would be happy (I assume they were happy with your friend) to recommend your friend to others in the future. That's just common courtesy, in my book.

-- GT (nospam@nospam.com), September 08, 2004.

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