Studio gossip/grapevine

said: May 1, 2006
 104 posts

I am wondering how both teachers and parents handle the issue of studio grapevine and/or gossip. How well do the families in the studio know one another? How much of each other’s business do they know and/or discuss in front of one another or the teacher? We all know the kids can occasionally compare themselves—do you ever have any negative repercussions when the PARENTS start doing this? What about when topics of conversation go outside of music-making to icnlude observations about discipline, belief systems, etc.?

I have been in studios where people barely knew or acknowledged one another and I have been in studios where the students and the parents knew one another well—sometimes this was for the better and sometimes not. I am curious to hear what others might have to say about this!

said: May 1, 2006
 122 posts

Oh boy! I swear in my 10 years of teaching I’ve about seen it all. I’m sure there’s more wonders to come in the future though :shock:

I don’t discuss families beliefs, parenting style, or anything controversial with other families. I think this models gossip for the parents and show it’s ok to talk like this. I have had a couple of families complain about one VERY rude family, and I’ve said to them I understand and that teaching respect and discipline is a long term project. What I’ve found is these parents who complained are more likely to help out the frusterated mom by watching the toddler sibling during group so that the mom can focus on her rowdy kid who is taking the class.

I think the benefit to families (both kids and parents) knowing each other far outweighs the disadvantages. In my experience:

*The parents form a support system for each other.
*The parents are much more likely to feel they are part of something and therefor tend to work through the day to day problems.
*They form family friendships and build a tightknit community in the studio.
*They also tend to be more supportive of me and my policies and understand that I can’t reschedule lessons when I have 35 students and teach ALL day!
*They tend to be more open about problems and questions during parent talks that I or a clinician lead.
*They are less likely to talk about and compare other’s kids to their own negatively
*They are more likely to go to the local institute if they know families that are going-it’s a built in security for a new situation.
*They support newer members of the program.

*And more gossip.
*They talk during group class even though I ask them not to.
*They compare teachers in my program.
*They do try to gossip with me, but the longer I model respect the less they do this.
*They compare their own kid to others and wonder why their kid isn’t progressing. Sometimes this can be a positive-it can help a slacker family start to practice daily.

The way my program is set up, with group classes and a party after every recital or event, it is inevitable the parents get to know each other. I want this though-our little Suzuki community is great!

“When love is deep, much can be accomplished.”
-Shinichi Suzuki

Lauren said: May 2, 2006
 Piano, Violin
5 posts

I love having my studio families know one another. After all, so much business is word-of-mouth that many are friends before they get to me. When “gossip” comes up, it is usually done in a positive manner—one that shows concern, I mean.

Comparisons DO happen, though. We know they aren’t supposed to, but of course they will. I don’t think it’s as hideous as we make it out to be sometimes. If your child is very far behind others, it is natural to ask why. Maybe we can find a problem in teaching/practice/listening that we can improve. The problem comes when comparisons get “competitive.”

I’m not sure I have a one-size-fits-all approach to dealing with it, because so much depends on the attitude/intention/context of what is said. Generally, though, I try to remind everyone that we all have strengths and challenges, and our job here is to work on our challenges. Then I turn the conversation around to focus on whomever is doing the gossiping and ask them how they think they are handling their challenges. We tend to end up more focused on our goals and more understanding of the fact that we all really are in the same boat.

Of course, I have never yet had to deal with really snide nasty comments, at least not about other students/families. Teachers, on the other hand…

Melissa said: May 5, 2006
 Piano, Flute
151 posts

I’ve been asked by a couple of my parents to have a studio directory, listing names, addresses and phone numbers of all families that are enrolled in our program.
I have hesitated to do this, because of wanting to avoid this particualr issue.

Emily said: Nov 27, 2013
 59 posts

In my experience, families knowing each other is far better, because they can support one another. I find that if they don’t know each other, then more gossip ensues out of jealousy.

Emily Christensen
Music Teacher & Writer

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