Saturday, December 31, 2011

Question of the Week: January 1, 2012 - The Numbers Game

Happy New Year! It's truly almost upon us. I can't believe how quickly this past year has zipped by, but December 31 is here and a new year is about to begin.

I've taken the past week off from blogging and studio-related activities and simply enjoyed time with family and my life away from the piano studio. It's been quite refreshing :)This coming week I'll be getting ready for the spring term, set to begin on January 8.

As I get ready to gear up for a new studio term, I have a confession to make. I'm finding myself dissatisfied with the way things are shaping up for spring. More than that, I'm battling a little bit of discouragement.

I've kind of come full circle in my studio in the past year. In 2011, my studio was full to overflowing, thanks to transfer students and referrals. I passed on several students to other teachers, and actually had a waiting list! All this was great, if a little overwhelming. I felt like things were going pretty well.

So I was totally unprepared for what hit me after the fall term. I lost several students- one very unexpectedly. Due to my limited availability, several potential students were unable to enroll, and one opted for another teacher who offered a studio plan that was more fitting to her "age and ability level". OUCH!

All of this has left me below my target range for what I consider a full studio. It all happened so quickly and so unexpectedly that I'm still struggling with feelings of frustration and failure. I know that when a student decides to quit, it is not based solely on the teacher, but I still feel mostly responsible.

Have you dealt with this type of yo-yo effect in your studio before? One term, the numbers go up, the next, you're back down. How did you deal with that type of irregularity? I'd love to hear how you learned to not let it affect your self-esteem as a teacher.

I'll be back early next week with lots of posts on my plans for the spring...


  1. I certainly understand your feelings. Having a full studio is never stable. I get most discouraged by students dropping who I look forward to teaching. Over the last 23 years I have found that things level out again and teaching goes on being satisfying. You are fun and inspiring from afar so my guess is that you give many, many students wonderful experiences. I get back on track by really looking at who is coming through my door and feeling glad to have them for a short space of time and saying to myself, "You are lucky to have me for teacher because I like you". I am hoping you have some new ideas coming for all of us......

  2. I think we all have been there. It is so hard when a student leaves or a group of students leave not to take it personally especially if you are like me get attached really quickly. Just remind yourself that we can't be everything to everyone. While that would be nice, it's just not possible. So just do your best with what you have and look forward to those new students that will come your way! Happy New Year!

  3. Hi Sarah,
    I can certainly relate to what you are feeling. It is hard not to take things personally when students quit and in many situations, you will also never find out the real reason why a student leaves. There will be families who will be grateful and there will also be families who take things for granted. You feel attached to students because you care. Your deep passion for teaching and your students is something you should always celebrate. I hope these few words of encouragement will continue to inspire you to be the best you can be. Wishing you a happy and fulfilling teaching year in 2012!

  4. Thank you all SO MUCH for your encouragement. I am so thankful to be a member of an online community where we can encourage each other.

    I'm already feeling better as I get ready to kick off the new term.

    I just have to learn to give the best I can give and not take it personally when it's just not exactly what other people want. I can't please everyone, and you can never be the 'perfect' teacher for every student.

  5. I understand how you feel. Once I lost a total of 7 beginner piano students within a short period of time. A family has a few children studied with me and when they left, they also left a big chunk of my slots and this can be devastating.

    Please do not let this bother you and we know you are a caring and competent piano teacher - more piano students will come soon. Wishing you a fulfilled 2012.


  6. Yoke- thank you for your encouragement!