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Laurie Trlak

I just had my own frustrating experience with a potential new student!

August 22, 2008 at 2:31 PM

I got a call from someone wanting lessons for her 8 year old daughter. I called back and left a message, explaining my fees and invited her to call again. I didn't hear back, so I called again, and this time spoke to a little girl (I assume the potential student). I asked to speak to her mother. The next person I spoke to sounded like a young, adolescent boy (voice changing and all that) who demanded to know who I was and where I was calling from. He then said he would get his mother. Someone then hung up the phone on me. The next day (it was getting late by this time) I called again, and actually got to speak to the mom again, who told me they had a teacher, but they would keep me in mind if they needed another one!
From Bart Meijer
Posted on August 22, 2008 at 2:42 PM
One of the many skills a violin teacher must have is the ability to change skin thickness at will: thin for music, thick for contacts with potential students and their parents.
Pity that other teacher.
From Tom Holzman
Posted on August 22, 2008 at 3:16 PM
Sorry to hear that story. I am not a violin teacher, but I imagine your story must repeat itself regularly. You need to tell yourself that in those circumstances, it is not personal. You left the relevant information on a voicemail, and the family probably found someone they thought was a better deal for whatever reason. Good luck with your teaching.
From Anne Horvath
Posted on August 22, 2008 at 4:11 PM
Ah, Phone Tag.

For what it is worth, I have a process:

1) Field call from interested parent. When Phone Tag is over and you are talking to a person instead of a machine,

2) Share relevant information (price, availability, etc). If they are still interested,

3) Have a noings-attached meeting at your studio with prospective student, and their parent (or adult student). If it is a transfer student, I have the student play. I outline expectations, go over the checklist, etc. Studio policies are discussed. If they are still interested,

4) They can start lessons right away, or shop around some more. I don't hold lesson slot times for undecideds.

Focus your energy on the students and parents that want to be there. If someone doesn't bother to return your call, don't worry about it. Phone manners aren't what they used to be!
Good luck!

From Marianne Hansen
Posted on August 22, 2008 at 5:58 PM
Irksome, but it must be clear that they are not folks you necessarily want to deal with long term.
From Laurie Trlak
Posted on August 23, 2008 at 1:16 AM
How true. It sounds like they would have been a dead end in any case. I wonder how long the little girl will last with the teacher they found? It might be interesting to see...
From Carol Cook
Posted on August 23, 2008 at 3:25 PM
Too bad. If they really did pick someone else, it must have been based on cost alone, rather than a good comparison of the prospective teachers. That doesn't speak well for the child's musical future. Imagine the fiddle they will get...
From Annette Brower
Posted on August 23, 2008 at 8:00 PM
AND...if they ever call you again, too bad your wait list will be like 5 years!
From Gene Wie
Posted on August 24, 2008 at 9:21 AM
I put all the relevant studio information in a document (word and pdf) on my website, and direct all new/potential students there to read about the policies, read my bio, and sometimes invite them to a studio class to see how things are before they decide to give it a go with me.
From Pauline Lerner
Posted on August 24, 2008 at 12:03 PM
If you call a couple of times and your call is not returned, forget it. These people do not want you as a teacher. Just accept it and move on.

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