Helping child through a teacher leaving


Susan said: May 13, 2010
 2 posts

Hello! My child’s music teacher is leaving at the end of this school year and I was wondering if anyone has some insights, suggestions, etc. on how to help my 10 year old deal with this loss. He is very attached to his teacher and they have a great rapport so its not going to be an easy time for him.

Thanks for any help you can offer

Sara said: May 13, 2010
191 posts

Changes are hard!

Here are some ideas:

  1. Make a special care package for the teacher. Make sure your student is very involved in this. Have him help you make it, or shop for it. It doesn’t have to be anything expensive or fancy. Just something from the heart that will leave a smile, that your teacher would appreciate receiving.

  2. See if the teacher would be open to staying in touch. Could your son record his progress in say 2 or 3 months after he/she has left and send a recording?
    I did this with one of my teachers when I was young and it really helped! He would listen to it and mail be back his comments. It motivated me to continue playing. I think I did that for over a years time. Now with technology as it is this would be even easier to do. Just knowing that there would be that contact or connection really helped the departure. In my case, it was me who moved away. But still it was difficult. I think the recordings just naturally lessened over time as I started getting involved with a new teacher and group. Even to this day I have a great love and appreciation for that teacher and what he did for me.

  3. Is there a plan for the future for your son? will he continue his study with someone else? has he met his new teacher? You could also make a “welcome package” for the new teacher. Just something simple and small. But again something to help your son look forward to doing and putting a positive focus on the future.

Hope these ideas help!

“What is man’s ultimate direction in life? It is to look for love, truth, virtue, and beauty.” Dr. Shinichi Suzuki

Kim said: May 19, 2010
 39 posts

My 9 year old is on his 3rd teacher! :( The first teacher in particular he developed a very close relationship with. Even though she moved away when he was 6, we are still in contact with her by e-mail. We regularly send her videos every few months with recitals and updates (we upload to youtube). We haven’t seen her for almost 3 years, but my son still loves staying in contact and showing off for this teacher. I think she enjoys it too .

I’d also make sure you have a good fit for the next teacher. We ended up switching with the 2nd teacher after 6 months because it just wasn’t a very good fit. Our current teacher is fabulous and amazing though, and I hope he never retires or leaves on us. But it really took almost a year to build a good relationship and rapport with this teacher, so it does take a while!

Good luck!

Susan said: May 19, 2010
 2 posts

Thanks for the advice! I love the idea of setting up a care package with my son’s input. And I think my son will really appreciate the idea of staying in touch through email and video clips. It’ll be a challenging time though.

Irene said: Sep 12, 2010
Irene Yeong160 posts

when the teacher is not a good fit with the student, how do you tell the teacher quit without hurting his or her feelings?

Jennifer Visick said: Sep 12, 2010
Jennifer VisickForum Moderator
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Suzuki Early Childhood Education, Suzuki in the Schools, Violin
1069 posts

If the teacher is not a good fit for the student, it may be that the teacher knows and/or has felt that this is true at some point or another.

Don’t wait until the last minute to tell the teacher that you’re thinking of switching. Give the teacher a chance to “finish” what they are in the midst of teaching your child. Give your child a skill or a milestone as a “finish line”—using a recital or other kind of performance as the “last” thing you do with a certain teacher could work.

EXAMPLE of a BAD WAY to quit: Once, I had a student whose lessons and assignments I had been planning, and who was preparing for an end-of-the-year recital, whose mother abruptly told me at the end of a lesson one day “this is our last lesson”. Needless to say, on top of being shocked that the mother hadn’t bothered to tell me this sooner, I felt incredibly stupid for having just spent the lesson giving assignments and telling the student “next week we will do such-and-such…” and talking about what was going to happen at the recital that (I thought) the student was preparing for!

EXAMPLE of a BETTER WAY to quit: I had a different student who informed me that they were going to stop taking lessons about two weeks after we had just begun to work on vibrato. At the time, I was experimenting with Ed Kreitman’s idea of teaching an 8-week intensive vibrato course and the student and I were able to plan together that we would finish up the 8 weeks of vibrato work as the “last thing” they would do with me. This allowed both me and the student to “finish” learning the basics of a key skill, and it allowed me enough time (6 weeks) to plan so that any other “loose ends” which I had been planning to finish or fix with this student could be addressed.

Irene said: Sep 13, 2010
Irene Yeong160 posts

In this case, the quitting is not for my daugher but me. I am learning violin myself and after some months, I know what kind of teacher will best suit my learning style.
Since my teacher never prepare for teaching materials, it should be okay to inform him during the last lesson. I dont know how to tell really. Basically, I want a teacher that has passion for the violin.. Prepared for lesson and have attention to details,

Michelle said: Sep 13, 2010
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Violin
25 posts

It’s still best to give some notice of your intent to quit, especially if you are hoping to spare the feelings of the teacher. The most respectful thing to do is give notice, not just quit and walk away. Perhaps at the next lesson, rather than just quitting, let them know that you don’t think it’s working out and you would like the next lesson to be your last. It will give the teacher some time to plan. It’s quite a disruption in the schedule to have a student quit, as you have a time slot that is reserved only for you that will now sit empty until a new student can be found, or the schedule can be rearranged. It will also allow the teacher some time to prepare a “last” lesson. As a teacher, I feel most hurt when a student quits with no explanation and no notice. I feel best when the student talks with me about their intent to quit and we have one more lesson, or finish out the month.

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Irene said: Sep 13, 2010
Irene Yeong160 posts

Violajack, you are right, I will tell in the second last lesson.


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