The Little Engine That Could

You know what is great?  When you get a student who just works at a steady pace.  The child isn’t doing anything spectacular or anything out of the ordinary, but is just doing the work.  The next thing you know, the student has zipped through 3 levels of books in less than a year. 

Keeping working! 

Summer Piano, Oboe and Voice Lessons

It’s not summer yet!  However, I am starting to get questions about how summer lessons will work and if Brunner Studios offers summer lessons.  The answer is yes, Brunner Studios will be offering lessons this summer.

Here’s how it works.  I will pick 2 or 3 days to begin with to offer lessons.  Those days will need to be semi-full before I expand the schedule.  Lessons can be scheduled starting at 10:00 in the morning.  In fact, I highly encourage students to take an early lesson if possible.

How many lessons do I need to take or what if I go out of town?  If the student is in town, I expect them to be at lessons.  If you are out of town, there isn’t much that can be done about that.  Tuition will be figured on a monthly basis and will be due at the first lesson of the month.  No refunds will be given for scheduled lessons that are missed. 

If you need to change a lesson to a different day, during the same week, on which lessons are offered, then if there is time this accommodation will be made.  If a student misses a lesson without contacting me first, the lesson will not be made up at all.

Summer scheduling will begin May 1 and summer lessons will begin June 11.  Students who take at least 8 lessons will be given first choice of fall lesson times.  After that scheduling will be open to all students on an even basis.

Summer is a great time to try out lessons before committing to a regular schedule in the fall.  Establish good practice habits and be ready to continue them when school starts back in the fall.

A Funny Student Story

A few years ago, I had this cute little boy as a student.  He was about 4 years old and totally not interested in playing the piano.  Every week he would come into his lesson and sigh.  Then he would look at me and say “I miss my Daddy.”  Of course I would ask where his dad was and the little boy would say “Working.”  So for months, I just assumed that the dad worked up town and that he and the little boy were just really close.


In the spring, the little boy bounced into the studio one day.  “My daddy is coming home, My daddy is coming home.”  A few weeks later he came back in to his lesson and said “My daddy had to go back to work.”  I finally decided to ask where his dad worked.  The student replied “Utah.”  Really?  OK that’s a little odd, but sure.  I figured the kid was pulling my leg. 


A few more weeks go by and the little boy comes to another lesson and says “My mommy and daddy are both in Utah.  It’s important at work.”  My curiosity got the better of me and I asked the student “Well, what does your daddy do for work?”  His answer-


“My daddy plays basketball.”


Yep, the student’s dad played for the Utah Jazz.  He was so excited when the season was over and his dad could bring him to lessons.  He didn’t like piano any better, but it was just better all around because “My daddy’s bringing me to my lessons now.  He doesn’t have to work until later.”

Letting a Student Go

Occasionally as a teacher you run into a situation where a student is just not working within the parameters of your studio.  Whether it be a personality clash, lack or progress or tuition issues, sometimes things just don’t work out.  How do you set up the release of student while still staying on good terms with the family?

If you and student just aren’t clicking then it is time to let them go.  There are lots of teachers and there will be one that is the perfect fit for each student.  Think about what issues are causing the clash and lay them out to the parent or student.  Sometimes it could be that the student doesn’t click with the teacher’s methodology, or there is a fight for who is the boss of the lesson, or the teacher and student don’t communicate the same way.  It is ok to let students go.  It takes a brave and personally secure teacher to release a student in hopes of them finding a better fit for the student’s musical education.

Sometimes students just don’t make the progress you demand in your studio.  Obviously, this isn’t about a bad week or even month, but a longer term issue.  As a professional, the teacher must think about the product of their studio and the message it conveys to prospective students.  A teacher can love a student dearly and enjoy their lesson time but still realize that the student isn’t the best fit for their studio.  At the same time, if a student is consistently underprepared for lessons and is wasting their parents’ money and the teachers time, then spell out the reasons that you are letting the student go.  Different studios have different expectations as to caliber of students and what standards need to be upheld.

I am a big proponent of giving students notice or putting them on probation.  Sometimes all it it takes is the knowledge that they might have to leave a studio to create some introspection to turn an attitude around.  Giving my students the benefit of the doubt to a certain point is always important to me.  However, if things are still not working, then it is time to make a decision.  If the student is just not a good fit, then help the student find a new teacher who might work better for them.  Music teachers have lots of connections and know each others teaching styles. 

Obviously, letting a student go is a big decision from a professional as well as financial standpoint.  Don’t think that your teacher has understand this decision lightly.  Sometimes a student and teacher just aren’t the best fit.  Keep looking, you will find your perfect teacher or student.

Wednesday Is Now a Wait List Day

If you have been looking for lessons at Brunner Studios, there is good and bad news.  The good news is that Tuesdays are now open for lessons.  The bad new is that Wednesdays are now a wait list day.  Wednesday is officially full.  If you are looking for a Wednesday time slot as a new student or to change your regularly scheduled time, please contact me.

It is so exciting to see the studio growing and adding students of all ages!

NCMTA Festival Charlotte

Congrats to all the students who participated yesterday in the NCMTA Festival for the Charlotte area.

A big thank you to all the teachers who ‘volunteered’ and helped the day run smoothly.  Is it really volunteering if participation is mandatory? 

See everyone again next year.