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Laurie Niles


July 31, 2008 at 4:31 AM

It's the kind of thing that happens; actually it has to happen: My longest-lasting student quit to go to another teacher.

I started her when she was four and a half, and she's been my student for eight years. It made sense for her to move on, simply because she needs another perspective after so long. I think she and her mom were going to have a hard time moving to a weekday afternoon lesson time, as I was asking them to do, also. BUT, it still caught me a little off-guard. They were as nice as it's possible to be: she and her mom came to my house to talk to me about it, they brought me a little gift, promised to keep in touch, both told me "We love you Laurie!" But I still cried. Every week for eight years, I watched her grow up! I guess I pour a little bit of mothering into the whole endeavor, and whether I should or not is irrelevant. I just do. I'll miss her, and I'll miss her mom!

It was one of those moments when I felt like I was catching the world in the act of turning. Sometimes I just want to make it stop, so I can hold on.

After they left, my daughter Natalie gave me a big hug and said, "Mommy, you don't have to worry, I'm one student who's not going away!"

I held her tight.

Not yet!

From Sydney Menees
Posted on July 31, 2008 at 4:50 AM
:( Something like this happened to me a year ago, but I was on the other end. There was a misunderstanding and I still blame my parents for what wound up happening. Some things turned out for the better, but some not so much. In fact, that was the main reason for my practicing slump, which I blogged about a while back. Hang in there!

PS - Your daughter is really sweet. :)

From Pauline Lerner
Posted on July 31, 2008 at 6:05 AM
I feel like my students and their families are my extended family. I always feel bad when a student leaves. I haven't had a student for 8 years and watched him or her grow up as you have. It must be a difficult loss for you. I'm glad the student and her mother cared enough about you to say good by the way they did. I'm also glad that your daughter did what she could to comfort you.
From Emily Grossman
Posted on July 31, 2008 at 7:28 AM
Oh man, I'm right there with you. This time of year, I'm so pessimistic about the return of any of my students that I'm actually more surprised when I get them back. I only lost one family so far, and I saw it coming. They lived too far away, plain and simple. It still hurts, though.

I hope you don't take it personally. I tend to do that, and I have to work pretty hard to get those thoughts out of my head. From the sound of your story, you don't need to worry about that a bit; they love you very much.

From Tobias Seyb
Posted on July 31, 2008 at 7:54 AM
Hi, this sounds very familiar to me. It is sometimes very sad for me to say goodbye to a longtime student. I know and love seeing children grow up during the years, and often I, as the teacher, am a kind of a combined buddy/father/role model, with a big influence on the children.
I'm always aware of the fact that someday they won't need me anymore. This makes it a little bit less sad, when that day actually comes.
From Anne Horvath
Posted on July 31, 2008 at 1:22 PM
I lost a couple of sisters last month. They were sweet, smart, hardworking kids with fabulous parents. They moved away. Some violin teacher over in Georgia will be very happy to take them on as students...

I also picked up a couple of new students, both beginners. One is a small one with a terrific ear, and the other is an adult already afflicted with a fatal case of OCVD (Obsessive Compulsive Violin Disorder). Both are having great fun, and doing very well.

And that is the nature of the business. Students come, and students go. As hard as it is to let go sometimes, it is a good thing to have new students that bring along a fresh sense of challenges.

From Terez Mertes
Posted on July 31, 2008 at 2:03 PM
This is a great post, Laurie. It applies to so very many things in life. Thanks for helping us all to remember that. And I love your daughter's comment, too. : )
From Laurie Trlak
Posted on July 31, 2008 at 8:44 PM
I once had a student, a very nice girl who was a hard worker, always completed the assignments I gave her, but seemed a little clueless about music in general. She was my student for about a year, and one day, her mother came to me and told me that she would no longer be taking lessons as she needed to focus on her schoolwork. No problem. But I found out later that they moved her to another teacher. I would have understood if they had come to me and told me that they felt she would do better with another teacher. Their dishonest really hurt. It's so aggravating.
From Kelsey Z.
Posted on July 31, 2008 at 8:53 PM
aww Laurie! I cried at my student recital last year when I had to say goodbye to all those kids and adults I'd been teaching for so many years!

I've also had the experience from the other end. When my teacher told me he was moving away I cried right then and there and there was nothing I could do about it!

From Michael Divino
Posted on August 1, 2008 at 1:27 PM
I definitely understand where you are coming from, but my situation is reversed.

My teacher is retiring to Texas at the end of this year, and I will be going to another teacher in January 2009.

I will be sad to see him go, but I am also excited to start with someone new, where I can learn more things and become even better than I am now!

From Yixi Zhang
Posted on August 1, 2008 at 7:59 PM
Laurie, you just told us a sad story that an incredibly wonderful and successful teacher inevitably would have to tell. You taught and nurtured the kid so she feels ready move onto a different scene. After all the tears, now it’s the time to give yourself a big pat on the shoulder and a huge piece of good chocolate to celebrate your success. You deserve it!
From Tasha Miner
Posted on August 1, 2008 at 9:31 PM
I've always had a hard time with losing students for any reason. I'm glad I'm not alone. I really hope I learn to cope more appropriately.
From Laurie Niles
Posted on August 1, 2008 at 10:36 PM
I hadn't thought of chocolate! ;) It's true, I definitely feel good when a former student keeps playing and striving to greatness with the fiddle. It's a fact that eventually every single student must at some point leave, and that's nothing to take personally. And yet when someone leaves your life, it affects you! In some ways the relationship goes on, whether you ever see each other again, and that's pretty cool. I certainly have an ongoing relationship with all my former teachers, whether I speak to them or not. Their words come back to me at certain times and make sense in new ways.

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