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Piano Teachers: Don't Add Another Day (Yet)

July 3, 2018

Back in my grocery bagging days, I remember being approached by one of my managers to see if I would be willing to add another day to my work schedule.  "It's only a quarter shift -- 2 hours and you're out of here."  

 

No problem, right?

 

Except there was a big problem.  I hated it.

 

Not the working there.  But the fact that it was just two hours.  

 

You see, when you work for four days in a row, at eight hours each day, you get used to those being work days.  But, when I added that fifth day for just few hours?  

 

It was no longer a work day, it was just an inconvenience.

 

Why is it that working 2 hours in the middle of the day seems more inconvenient than putting in a whole day's work?  I can't explain the mystery of that other than to say it is our perception -- a work day vs. having to work during our day.  

 

The problem is, I see piano teachers do this ALL the time.  They add another day to their piano teaching schedule because of a small number of students.  I've even seen teachers (and been tempted myself) add another "day" for just ONE student, because that's the only day the student could do the lesson.

 

Tsk, tsk, tsk.  Don't do this teachers.

 

Here's why:  you deserve a streamlined schedule.  Your family deserves a streamlined schedule.  

 

Oh, but I know the reasoning that goes on in your head, because it goes on in mine too:

 

"It's just 30 minutes, not a big deal."

"Who knows?  Maybe I'll add a few more students that day."

"I really want this client and they might bring more students with them to my studio."

 

But, how does this actually work out?  Let's say you teach Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.  But Super Busy Sally can only do Fridays at 2:00.  You hem and haw a bit, but eventually agree to make Fridays at 2:00 work.  After all, you want the client and you will probably add more students to Friday, right?

 

Come the first Friday lesson, you wake up that morning with lots of regular stuff on your brain like laundry and grocery shopping, but also with this thought:  Don't forget Sally is coming at 2:00.  And all day long, your brain keeps reminding you to not forget.

 

As it gets closer to 2:00, you have to interrupt what would be a "normal" Friday for you, and you suddenly realize that the house doesn't look like it is ready for piano students.  You've only got one student coming, but it at least has to be in decent shape right?  So you straighten up, cleaning for the one student.

 

While this "not forgetting" and having to clean up works for the first Friday, those Fridays keep rolling on.  And, after a few weeks, you realize that these other students, who would make adding Friday to your schedule "worth it", haven't actually materialized.  

 

A nd now you are in the tough place of having to try to move your one Friday student to another day (which she couldn't do in the first place) OR continuing on with this Friday business indefinitely.

 

Piano Teacher Friend, don't do it.

 

When confronted by the Super Busy Sally situation, I'm going to give you something to say to yourself and something to say to the potential student.

 

To yourself (say this gently and with love):  Self, don't do it.  You've already decided that life works best when you teach on a pre-determined schedule.  Honor your schedule and your family by sticking to a sane routine.

 

To the student (say this firmly and with love):  Student, I'm sorry your schedule doesn't allow you to take lessons with me at this time.  Please contact me if your schedule changes because I would love to be your teacher.  

 

See how easy that was?   This way, you keep your schedule and you might even get that student in the future.  

 

Trust me on this:   stick to your schedule.  Honor your routine and your family.  Be firm but kind with potential clients who want you to shift your priorities.

 

Doing what is best for you and your family?  In every case, trust me, you'll be glad you did.  

 

 

 

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