Sometimes in life you need to say goodbye to a teacher.
There is no one, definitive right way to do so. However, there are a few things you can do and a few to avoid in order to make the process less confronting for everyone.
Teachers understand that in life sometimes things change, life circumstances change or sometimes the fit between teacher and student just doesn’t work anymore. It happens. As a teacher I find it sad when one of my students leaves. Particularly if the student has been studying with me for sometime. We grow accustomed to seeing one another and being a part of each others’ lives every week. Teachers invest in the growth and development of student, we plan for them and hear about what’s going on in their lives each week. To most teachers you are not a number, you are a person we know, care about and want the best for.
If you are considering moving teachers, here are some thoughts for you to ponder:
If something isn’t how you would like it to be discussing the matter with your teacher may entirely alleviate the issue and you might not end up stopping lessons.
- Teachers generally know when something is coming, but sometimes it comes totally out of the blue. If you can give them as much notice as possible, it will be appreciated. Teaching is our job, our profession and if you need to leave, we need to find someone else to teach. Giving your teacher a months notice allows you both to prepare for the change. Hopefully your teacher can find another student to fill your place so their income is uneffected.
- Be honest. When students say “we’d just like to have a break for a little while,” teachers know that you’re not coming back. We just know. Being upfront about stopping lessons allows everyone to move forward.
- Be respectful. In most cases teachers wish the best for their students regardless of who they are taught by. Consider asking for your teacher’s professional advice of an appropriate colleague, if you are moving to a new area. Knowing that our students are moving on to a teacher we trust and respect gives us peace of mind.
- Be kind. If possible, tell your teacher face-to-face that you need to give notice of ceasing lessons. “I’m not coming back next week” via text message doesn’t cut it. Perhaps at the end of a lesson discuss what is going on in your life and the changes you are considering. If you are unable to do this face to face, a telephone call is polite. Something along the lines of “I’m so disappointed that I need to tell you this, I’m moving to …….in June and will be unable to have lessons after the end of May.” This works well if you have the discussion in April!
- The last lesson. If you have been with your teacher for some time, a card in the last lesson is a really lovely way to finish things off. Even if you have been learning with the teacher for a limited amount of time, you can still write a simple card to give your thanks. Every relationship between teacher and student is different and what works for some won’t necessarily work for you but a card could simply say “Thank you for teaching me!” Or you could write about some of the things you are grateful to the teacher for. I still have a few cards just like these from students over the years. They are all from students I still think of fondly.
Each student has their own musical path they will take. Sometimes it is the teachers having to say goodbye, but other times it is the students. I hope this helps you do so gracefully.
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