July 21st, 2004
Teaching drums has been kind of a losing campaign over the years. I first started teaching at a local music store when I was a senior in high school. I didn't take many students because simply because I had no idea if this was something I could do, or at what level of students I should be taking. I stuck with beginners, and it worked fine for a while. It's understandable that you'll get some kids who get put in by their parents, or it seems like a good idea at the time, and then they decide they'll never show up again. I've had a few of those over the years. That's okay though, because I explain the payment process to the parents. They then pay for an entire month, so if they never show up again, I get payed to practice guitar.
However, a trend that has always been quite infamous throughout my time as a drum teacher, is a complete lack of interest and responsibility from parents. They'll drop their kids off, pay me how much I tell them they owe, never questioning it either. Some parents I only see leaving the parking lot. They never ask me how their child is doing or try to find some validity in the money they are paying me. That's fine I guess, but it makes getting this money from them very hard to do. I normally have to send a note home with the kid and hope he shows his parents that, "hey, you owe me money!" Sometimes they get so ridiculously behind in payments that I wonder why they don't question while they're writing me checks for sometimes over one hundred and fifty dollars (which has happened on a couple occassions). Either way, they just don't seem to care that much about paying me on time, or how much they are paying me.
Over the years, I started with one lone student, and have fluctuated from having at most six or seven, to settling in at about three for the past year. This was fine while I was working another part-time job. With school and all that, I simply didn't have time to have a lot of students. When I lost that part-time job, I had more time that I could be teaching, yet for reasons occurring at this music store, I was not obtaining new students (more on that later). So by last December, being paid had become such a problem that I had to send a formal letter home to the parents (by way of the students, of course). I basically stated that I needed to be paid up front for the entire month, which ensures that I will be there, and hopefully that also somewhat locks the student there. They paid for it, so they should come. It should also prevent no-shows, or at least them contacting me when they don't make it. I also reminded them of my policies regarding cancellations and no-shows.
This is all very irritating to deal with. I hate sounding like I'm only concerned about that money, but unfortunately these people had put me in a position that I had to put entirely too much focus on the business side of all this. I had to be the business man with the student, taking time away from learning about music, simply because their parents wouldn't show up. That's not fair that I have to do that to the kids, and it's not enjoyable for me.
So anyway, I hand out the letters (except for one, that student never came back), and things improve for a while. I'll stop at this point and discuss one of my other issues, which is the store and the employees themselves.
So I started teaching there, with one student, and it fluctuated to about five or six at one point. Things were decent and all, but somehow I had lost all of them a period of about six months, one by one. Finally around November of... 2001, maybe? My last student finally stopped showing up. I told the co-owner that I had no more students, and I really didn't have any reason to be showing up until I had new students. She told me they'd pass on students to me when they hear from people. So I went home and didn't hear anything. I figured there must be a super lull in the demand of drum lessons. Then finally, about four months later, I received a call and got my first student. I returned to the store to find two people working there I hadn't see before. One of them asked me if I needed help with anything, and I kindly informed him I was waiting for a student. He said, "Oh wow, and all this time we've been telling people that we don't have a drum teacher."
Uhhhhhhhhhhhhh... what the hell?
So, for the past four months, people had been calling for drum lessons, but being turned away, told that "we currently don't have a drum teacher?" Interesting.
Well anyway, I stacked up probably about four or five students again, and was down eventually. Which was okay with me at the time, school was busy and all that. In the meantime, my former teacher began teaching again, and so did another one of his students. Which was also okay with me, as I wasn't really taking any more students. When I lost my part-time job, I could take more students... However, I had to compete with two other teachers schedules, plus a load of guitar teachers (everyone wants to play guitar).
This all changed again in about February, when I got a call for a new student. The lady at the store who manages the teacher schedules asked me, "Could you take more students, because we'd really like to be making money on that room (I pay rent)." I said, yes, I would like more, more, MORE students! However, since I don't know when other people teach, I can't just start scheduling on other days. But whatever, it didn't matter, because she never referred another student to me!
That brings me up to the present. One of the teachers is only here on Saturday's, I believe, and the other one is gone, which means I could technically be there any day. I was just told this two weeks ago, in which I expressed to the owner that, yes, I would like to take a lot more students on multiple days.
But currently, I am putting up with the student I have had the longest. He somehow has to cancel every other week (for legit reasons), but he also doesn't pay me. He is now a month and a half behind, and he owed me eighty dollars for June and July. But wait, he canceled at the beginning of July. Now he owes me seventy. Oh wait, he canceled tomorrow too. It's sixty now. If I were depending on this money, I'd be kind of screwed. Another kind of risk associated with trying to make money doing this job. If they have a legit reason to not be there, you lose money.
I guess I'm not too worried about it now, because the future outlook will hopefully have me taking on a lot more students. I've got a bit more confident in my teaching ability over the years, and I'm ready to take on a good amount of students. I felt that I had to at least get off my chest these past four years of frustration. I enjoy working with the kids who really want to be there and are willing to learn, and hopefully I'll find a few more of them. If anything, me being there more will hopefully improve the poor communication between myself and other employees of the store.
I can write long entries since I don't update often.
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