Meri’s Musical Musings

How to Properly Leave a Private Music Teacher

Posted on: April 4, 2013

Give them at least two weeks notice; however, 30 days notice is standard and is what many teachers require before terminating lessons.

If you must quit on very short notice, then give one month’s pay to the teacher in lieu of notice.

Tell the real reason you are leaving, instead of using a white lie.

Do NOT “disappear” on the teacher; tell the teacher you are leaving so that they can free up the slot to the next student who wants it. This seems to most often be done to try to avoid financial obligations. If you are struggling, and especially if you owe money to the teacher, be upfront about it and make payments until the debt is fully paid.

If you have been with the teacher for at least two years, especially if the teacher was an excellent one, write a nice note and include a small gift, such as a gift card to eat out or their favourite music store.

Do not quit lessons within the first 6-12 months of study; sometimes it takes a while for students and teachers to figure out how to work with each other, and some students can take this long to find their musical voice and tone quality. An early student of mine took a year to find his beautiful tone quality (who in the long run still majored in music, I accidently found his lesson ad teaching guitar lessons after he graduated from a jazz performance program majoring on that instrument when looking for a guitar teacher for a sibling of a clarinet student). However, this student was solid in rhythm. Another student who started the very same day found his beautiful tone quality in the first two weeks, but struggled with rhythm.

Expect to forfeit any remaining lessons that the teacher owes you if you do give notice and decide not to show up for any remaining lessons. Many private teachers only make a few thousand a year, and some have a no refunds policy if the student terminates lessons, and in most cases even if the teacher does, especially if it was for reasons such as too many no-shows, frequent cancellations by the student, or poor behaviour in lessons. Consider yourself lucky if the teacher does offer a refund, which they mainly only consider for clients that have dealt with them fairly. The amount is usually far too small to sue over anyway.

Do not use flimsy reasons to quit music lessons, such as “getting into middle/high school” and won’t have time, that they are finding things difficult when they are in the elementary stages of study, that they don’t want to practice, and losing interest.

If the teacher was an excellent one, send them a referral or two to replace them when possible.

Keep in touch with them if they were excellent teachers. You never know when you’ll hear about someone else needing a fine teacher of the instrument taught, or if the student has a sibling several years younger and need their services again. A family that I had one student almost 15 years ago, which that student has recently graduated from medical school, contacted me again when his much younger brother (now 7 1/2) was ready to begin lessons. The family was an excellent one and both students were and are quality students.

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  • None
  • V V: Wish I had read this before I fell for their scheme ! Oh well - have posted my experience on Yelp and N49 and hoping others can avoid the pain of fal
  • clariniano: Thanks for the additional information. It was actually Yelp that deleted my reviews, because of so-called bias. I too have seen the horrible technique
  • No Thanks: Former Teacher at the Ontario Conservatory of Music I took lessons at the Ontario Conservatory and when I left for private lessons from another tea
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