by Paul Lorenz
At the bottom of my ad reads “Committed Inquiries Only.” What do I mean by that? The short answer is you really are ready to start lessons when you inquire. You have worked out the ramifications and logistics and have confirmed intent of either your child or yourself to begin. Yet, from time to time, I get callers with unfinished business. It’s been my experience dealing with people “on the bubble” is a waste of time. Here are three common giveaways that reveal an inquirer is not serious about taking:
1) “We don’t have a piano.” In no way can you claim you’re serious about taking lessons if you don’t have an instrument to practice on. You have no business looking for a teacher until you do have one. If a caller displays intent to get one, we will exclusively discuss acquiring a piano. There would be no point in yet discussing lessons. If there is no intent to get one, I will likely tell you to have a nice day and hang up!
2) “How much do you charge?” This question is perfectly reasonable when asked at its proper time, just not first off. A serious inquiry would open with asking about the teacher’s approach, materials, background, and experience, and then the fees. If the price is all that matters to you, you likely are not ready to begin lessons. Keep in mind musical instruction is highly-skilled labor, given the many personalities a teacher must deal with, as well as the required knowledge of the material taught and the process for learning it. A good piano teacher undergoes more training than a lawyer does, including all the years of lessons, and then institutional training leading to an advanced degree. This will reflect in the fees we charge.
3) “I’ll have to talk to my husband about it.” Have you ever interviewed for a job and were led on you’d be hired, only to learn your contact still has to talk to a superior about it, never to get back to you? This actually happened to a father of two former students years ago, who was seeking a job upon exiting the military. The family had to move away as a result (no other job was available to him locally)! The need for approval from a third party is an extremely exasperating obstacle to initiating any business transaction, including a piano teacher-student partnership. It is perfectly reasonable intent to take lessons must at some point be confirmed among all involved- let’s not forget the prospective student; just do it before inquiring to a teacher, not after! If you haven’t yet confirmed among all involved, you are not yet ready to inquire.
The order in which you perform your preparation steps is very revealing of your degree of seriousness. Taking lessons involves doing many things in the right order. Doing the inquiry steps in appropriate order is good practice for what you will be facing. Put first things first!