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Being "ghosted" by a piano student....
Old 11-10-2020, 05:42 PM
  #1

I teach piano lessons twice a week after school. One of my students, who I've taught for over a year, has missed 4 out of the 8 lessons we've had this school year. Three of those times, her mom didn't even text or call to let me know that she wasn't coming. That's so unusual for them!

Last week, she didn't show up for lessons, and again there was no message from mom. I texted her 3 times that evening, with no response. I emailed the next day, offering a makeup time. No response.

Since then, I have emailed, texted, and called several times.......NOTHING.

This is a super small town. I know that they're home and that everything is fine. The little girl is attending remote classes daily, as are her siblings.

I don't really know how to proceed! I've known this family for almost 10 years. The father takes care of my yard and plows my driveway. However, I have 5 prospective students on a waiting list, and I need the money from these lessons.

Advice?


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Ghosted
Old 11-10-2020, 05:51 PM
  #2

I would send an email saying ďI miss teaching so and so. But given Covid and times as they are, I understand if youíve decided to put a hold on lessons. Could you give me a quick reply on whether you want to continue, or wait a bit.ď

That gives them a graceful way to exit if thatís what they want. And, if you do t hear back, I would suspect student isnít returning.
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Old 11-10-2020, 05:52 PM
  #3

I'd simply text and say that you've missed their DD for 4 out of the last 8 lessons. Ask them if she's still interested in having lessons and that you understand if she's taking a break from lessons since you have a waiting list for new students.

Have you considered having a stipulation that if students miss a lesson they are still billed for the lesson? Also if students have three unexcused absences in a quarter they are dismissed from your piano lessons.

I understand that you like this family but it's pretty thoughtless of this family to ghost you.
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Old 11-10-2020, 05:54 PM
  #4

I like Renea's idea. You are teaching a private lesson and reserving time for it. You deserve to be paid.
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Old 11-10-2020, 06:35 PM
  #5

At this point, I would send one last text notifying them that their child's time slot is now being given to a student on your waiting list. And then I'd let it go. I hope they don't owe you money!


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Old 11-10-2020, 07:21 PM
  #6

I agree with Renea. If you were seeing therapist and didn't show up for appointments they would give you a warning that the next time that was the end. You have a wait list, what they are doing isn't fair to you or your students waiting.
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Old 11-10-2020, 10:19 PM
  #7

Good advice. I would change your policy and make sure you have a contract that indicates there is a charge for no-shows. I would also let them know that with the lack of response communication, you are assuming they are not interested in continuing right now and you'll be offering the spot to another family. I think missing 4 lessons (3 with no contact) and no response to texts and emails is enough. You can be very upbeat and kind in your communication, but you have to take care of yourself, too. (Do you pay the dad for his work on your house?)
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Old 11-11-2020, 04:55 AM
  #8

This is weird. Maybe something stressful is going on, causing chaos for this family; or they maybe can't afford to continue and are embarrassed to let you know. Ketikmom's wording really allows them a graceful way to back out.

In the future, think about running your lessons a little more like a business, with clear payment policies laid out in advance (probably especially important when one's students are friends/ acquaintances in a small town).

When I was teaching piano (part-time), payment was made in advance for 10 lessons - just like one would pay tuition for sports participation or any type of community ed activity. If I was notified in advance of a no-show, the lesson would be re-scheduled; otherwise the fee for that week was forfeited.
So much better than trying to bill for a missed lesson. It really cut down on the no-shows or cancellations.
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To answer some questions.....and a twist!
Old 11-11-2020, 06:29 AM
  #9

First, to answer some questions:

~ I do pay the dad (A LOT!) for his yard work and plowing.

~ I decided not to charge students for missed lessons when I started last year. My girls took lessons, and their teacher did it, and I understand that. But I also understand what it's like to be a busy mama with busy kids, and sometimes things come up. I have a "contract" (they don't sign it....it's just my policies and procedures), and I tell them that I don't charge for missed lessons, but expect them to notify me if they can't attend. We usually try to do a makeup lesson within the week instead. I've NEVER had anyone else not show up without letting me know.

~ The mom does have (maybe undiagnosed?) anxiety. I've taught all 3 of her kids, and she's a ball of nerves about EVERYTHING. Maybe Covid is getting to her......that's why I might use Keltikmom's suggestion.


So, here's the TWIST! Last night, I received a text from DAD!! My debit card had been hacked, and I forgot to notify him and give him the new info so he could process my payment. So I asked him if everything was okay with the little girl, and that I was puzzled that I hadn't heard from Mom about the missed lessons.

He responded that things were crazy at home, with the remote learning and juggling that schedule, etc.

But honestly? That's BS. They've been on that schedule since September 1st. And if she simply just forgot the lesson due to their crazy schedule.....why won't she respond to my texts?!?
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Old 11-11-2020, 06:43 AM
  #10

Wow, some people. I would never even dream of treating someone like this!

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He responded that things were crazy at home, with the remote learning and juggling that schedule, etc.
And that's all they could say?! Outrageous. I'd probably send one last text (2x OR a text and voicemail and/or email to make sure they got it) to mother saying, "After hearing back from (father), I'm afraid I'll have to use your timeslot with another student, so please let me know if you ever want to resume lessons."

That is, IF you even want to deal with these unreliable, unprofessional people anymore. I probably wouldn't want to be bothered anymore at all.


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Old 11-11-2020, 07:18 AM
  #11

My EX taught guitar from our home for quite a few years. He had a policy that if you missed a lesson without prior notice, you still had to pay for it. He also added that after two missed lessons without notice, you were removed from his schedule. To be added back, you had to prepay for your lessons. He also added $1 a week penalty for overdue accounts.

It saved a lot of headaches.
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Old 11-11-2020, 07:54 AM
  #12

Imagine if you ghosted the dad? How would he feel? By his logic, itís okay for you to be rude because things are crazy for you. His response says it all. They donít respect you. Momís behavior will continue.

Think about the time, energy, and frustration youíve spent on this, even posting here. Do you have better ways to spend your time? Do you want this added stress?

Great advice given so far...you have a business so employ business practices. Have a contract for parents to sign. Have real consequences and enforce them. The consequences donít have to be harsh but there needs to be something that makes an impact. Make it the same for all. This is fair. Think about the classroom - rules, consequences, everyone held to the same rules - it works.

Honestly, Iíd drop the family and fill the slot. But thatís me - Iím trying to reduce my stress.

Wishing you luck!
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Old 11-11-2020, 08:08 AM
  #13

Ruby07- I really like your graciousness with not charging for missed lessons and being understanding of busy families. Although frustrating, kindness and understanding goes a long way.

Small town living does add a layer of complexity. Your student might need a break from the lessons. I hope you are able to get a clear response from the mother. One never knows what the family might be dealing with.
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Old 11-11-2020, 10:09 AM
  #14

I'm guessing that the dad's response was basically his way of saying that everything has caught up to the family right now and that they simply can't handle it all. Maybe it is mom's anxiety and he doesn't want to blame her.

Anyhow, I think that I would text back to him saying that you understand the stress of life right now and that you are taking the student off your schedule to simply things for both of you. And that if they want to resume lessons (maybe after Thanksgiving), they can get in touch to talk about new arrangements.
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Old 11-11-2020, 03:13 PM
  #15

I would still consider charging for missed appointments. If you get notification within a certain amount of time, that's one thing. I always gave families one "freebee" to miss a session because I know things happen and it's hard to be a parent and remember everything. But something that's been part of a schedule for a while seems less likely to be forgotten.

I can't believe the dad followed up immediately with you. Did he give you any indication of whether they were planning to come for lessons? Geez. I think you're done.
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