Tag Archives: stop wasting my time

let sleeping dragons lie Pt IV, rubble

So apparently my email to Linda hit a nerve. I wasn’t originally going to post her reply but… the more I read it, the more it needs to be shared. I think you’ll agree.

I went to bed around midnight last night, and I was done. Done with all of it.

The flicker of lightning woke me up around 3:30, and then I noticed my phone blinking a notification at me. It was an email. From Linda. Time-stamped 3:04 am. Well! That’s quite a time to be sending an email. Let’s see what it says. (Note: I have redacted some details to protect her family, as I don’t have evidence that they were involved in the illegal aspects of this shitshow.)

“You are correct.  I have no experience as a landlord nor have I as a tenant.  My intention for buying was to move in and share with family.  Several of my [family] live in Cincinnati and work at [places] nearby.  My [family] who lives [nearby] found the place.  We bought it very quickly without investigating. Since you had a lease, [family] was recovering from surgery, and my [family] and my place in [other state] hadn’t sold yet, I found that along with having the building,  I was to becoming a landlord by default.  And still did not have my own place in Cincinnati.  It was bad experience.  Thank you for taking the time to educate me.  I’ve learned I don’t want to be a landlord.”

Let’s unpack this gem, shall we?

First off: Who enters a legal contract with another person and goes, “huh, I know nothing about this, I’ll just wing it?” How… how dumb do you have to be?  I mean, the whole situation sounds like poorly thought-through and even more poorly executed mess, but really, winging a legal contract? Really?

Second: That’s a lot of excuses – a lot of excuses – I count five excuses and five irrelevant “life is hard” complaints masquerading as extenuating circumstances, correct me if I’m wrong – with not even an acknowledgement of any responsibility on her part whatsoever.

Third: No apology. Nothing even in the same galaxy as an apology. Not even a half-assed one. Not “Sorry you went through this,” or “Sorry this turned out the way it did.” Nothing.

I cannot even imagine the hubris it took to hit Send. Seriously though, you end up in legal jeopardy due to your own willful neglect, I decline to take you to court over it, you can’t even admit you had any responsibility in the matter, and don’t even attempt to apologize? Wow. I can’t quite decide if she’s too ashamed to let it go without attempting justification or too proud to admit she fucked up big. Could go either way, but judging by the snide and condescending tone, I’d bet on the latter.

But, the moral of the story stands. Don’t rent from Linda Wilson (Wilson Booth LLC). She’s already proven she’s a horrific landlord. She’s just built a pile of evidence against her as a person, as well.

Good riddance.

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let sleeping dragons lie Pt III, burn

Landlord‘s name is Linda Wilson. She is neglectful, uncommunicative, and unfit to be a landlord. Do not rent from her.

Right about when I had enough alcohol to calm me down Linda responded to my email last night, approaching midnight, destroying any chances I had of sleeping. It began:

“Dear Liz,

I assumed you decided to forego your deposit. [Yes, she actually typed that.]  I know you were working at cleaning but with the heat I thought you had given up. I took pictures which I will attach so you can see what all still needed to be done.  I hired someone to help.  She worked for over 15 hours at $20 an hour.  I paid her $300.  I will have a copy of the receipt made for you if you like.”

She then sent me a series of photos. The only actual cause against me were boxes left in the basement and some items on the porch, both of which I verbally cleared with her in the preceding weeks. Every other picture was of dust. Literally. Dusty windowsills, a cobweb in a corner.

She claimed “it was a big job” and offered me $150.

I could drag her into small claims court, dispute every charge she made against my deposit, and win almost all of them. And boy is that tempting, after all the shit she’s tried to pull. But the thought of dealing with her for that much longer… I couldn’t abide it. I accepted the offer, and I drafted an email laying out my case against her and why she is unfit to be a landlord. She dropped off the check this afternoon, and as soon as I deposited it, I sent the email.

—————

Linda,

Thank you for dropping off the check. Speaking as your now former tenant, I advise you to brush up on Ohio’s laws regarding the landlord-tenant relationship before leasing out the apartment again. I don’t know if you’ve ever been a landlord before but it’s painfully clear you don’t know what you’re doing. The only reason I haven’t taken you to small claims court is that I sincerely never want to deal with you again. But I could have, and was sorely tempted to. Here’s why.

According to statute in every state, the security deposit cannot be used to cover anything that is considered “normal wear and tear,” including dust. You had a legitimate case with the boxes. The bathroom would have been arguable. None of the other photos indicated any “damage” or excessive dirt that would have been considered neglectful on my part. These would not stand up in small claims court.

Relatedly, you seemed to think the boxes in the driveway were somehow something you could charge me for, on no grounds whatsoever. They were trash, as should have been patently obvious by the fact that they were sitting next to four full trash bins. They go out with those bins on the next trash day. There’s no legal basis to charge a tenant for something because you’re annoyed trash day happens after they turned in the keys.

Most importantly, I could take you to court solely on the basis of your email’s first line: “I assumed you decided to forego your deposit.” Again, I don’t know on what planet you think that’s legal or even reasonable. I gave you my forwarding address when I moved out, therefore within 30 days you had to either 1. return it to me or 2. provide me with an itemized list of why you were not. Those are your only options. You don’t get to decide to keep the deposit and not tell the tenant. That’s both incredibly slimy and ILLEGAL.

FURTHERMORE – and this is important – the only reason I’m forced to settle is because I contacted you yesterday, 7/26, instead of today, 7/27, which prompted you to send me your complaints. I have heard not a single word from you since I handed in my keys 30 days ago. Had I waited until Wednesday, the 30th day, you would legally owe me the entire deposit, plus interest, plus the prorated days, simply because you did not contact me. Read that again: Had I waited until Wednesday, the 30th day, you would legally owe me the entire deposit, plus interest, plus the prorated days, simply because you did not contact me. The only reason you get to keep ANY of my deposit is because I contacted you 24 hours too early.

I am kicking myself for that, but I am absolutely furious with you. You have failed to communicate with me at every stage. I thought you would have learned after you called me at the airport to yell at me for not being able to read your mind, but I was apparently mistaken. I wonder if you would have figured it out if you legally owed me the entire deposit because of your own neglect to contact me. You also seem to think you can charge a tenant because you’re annoyed at them, on no legal ground whatsoever. For your sake, I hope you get your act together before your next tenant has grounds to sue you. I am not optimistic. I am telling all my friends not to rent from you.

Good riddance.

Liz Remizowski

—————

Her name is Linda Wilson. Do not rent from her.

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let sleeping dragons lie Pt II, flashback

While we’re waiting for Landlord* to get her act together, I thought I’d share the airport incident referenced in Part I.

It was a Wednesday in early June. I had secured a place to live and was starting to pack. My neighbor was just about moved out from downstairs – we had been commiserating about the moving process for a few weeks. That morning, we met outside the apartment one last time. She said she had officially informed Landlord she was out, but Landlord told Neighbor to give me the keys and she’d pick them up. This seemed highly odd to me, and in retrospect should have been a red flag, but I took the key and wished her well. I sat it with my spare key on my bookshelf, figuring I’d be giving them back to Landlord all at the same time.

That afternoon, at 2:43, Landlord texts me.

Landlord: I am on my way over to get Neighbor’s key. Thanks
Me: (are you fucking serious? no notice? I’m literally on my way out the door to work.) I’ll be here another 5 mins, I have to leave for work
Landlord: Two minutes

I stood outside on the landing. Soon Landlord pulled in the driveway and I went down to hand her Neighbor’s key through her open passenger-side window. She gave me the most condescending smile I’ve ever seen and asked how the moving was going. I told her, “It’s going,” and when it became clear she had nothing else to say I turned around and got in my car. I was already angry with her at her unprofessionalism in handling this move and her condescension was not helping.

Meantime, I was also preparing to fly the next day to NY for a week to attend my cousin’s wedding and visit family. That night, I realized I would be gone for the only recyclable-pickup day left in June before I was scheduled to move out, so Thursday morning I shot Landlord a text:

Me: I’ll be out of state this afternoon returning 18 June- since Neighbor is gone, would it be possible for someone to put out the trash/recycle bins this Monday? Sorry about this, but it’s the last recycle day before I plan to move out
Landlord: Sure be glad to
Me: Thank you! I’ll let you know an official date as soon as I finalize with the movers
Landlord: [thumbs-up emoji, and another emoji my phone won’t process] (again with the unprofessionalism)

Good, got that taken care of. Now for my car. While Neighbor lived at our house, she had always parked in the narrow stone-walled driveway, and I in front of the house on the street. But since she had officially left I decided to park in the driveway while I was gone instead of paying for parking at the airport or leaving it on a side street.

I got a ride to CVG, got through TSA, and grabbed a table with an outlet in the food court. I finalized a date with the movers, then settled down with a podcast on my lappy and plenty of time to spare. After about half an hour, the phone rings. It’s not a number I recognize, but something tells me to answer. It’s Landlord.

Landlord: Hi, Liz?
Me: Yes?
Landlord: It’s Landlord.
Me: (I’ve got a bad feeling about this.) Hi, what’s up?
Landlord: Is that your car parked in the driveway?
Me: (oh no) Yes…
Landlord: Could you move it? I need access to the garage.
Me: (welp) Uh… I’m at the airport right now.
Landlord: (clearly not anticipating this answer) Oh…
Me: Yeah, I’m gonna be gone for a week. I told you that this morning.
Landlord: (getting angry) But you always park on the street!
Me: …because Neighbor parked in the driveway. That was our arrangement. Now that she’s gone, I parked there, since it is part of the property.
Landlord: (accusatory) You know I’m moving in downstairs, right?
Me: (don’t you dare with that tone) Sure, but you didn’t tell me when. I had no idea you were planning to move stuff in this week.
Landlord: I need access to the driveway for the moving truck!
Me: (and this is my problem, how?) You never said anything to me. We’ve spoken twice in the last 24 hours, I informed you I was going to be gone, you confirmed that you knew I’d be gone, and you never mentioned it. If you had told me, I could have moved it to a side street or to the airport. But you said nothing.
Landlord: (seeing this is her fault, grasping) Well… do you have a friend who has a key who can move it?
Me: No, I have the only key.
Landlord: (exasperated sigh) So you’re telling me I have to cancel the moving truck and rent storage space for my stuff for a week?
Me: (oh for fuck’s sake) I GUESS SO. I don’t know what you want me to tell you! You didn’t tell me you needed driveway access and now there’s nothing I can do. Maybe you should have communicated better.
Landlord: (at the end of her rope) I’m really frustrated!
Me: (at the end of MY rope) Yeah? Well frankly SO AM I. You call me up at the airport to yell at me for not reading your mind. You knew I was leaving for a week and you said nothing.
Landlord: I have to cancel the moving truck.
Me: (yep, you do) Again, I don’t know what you want me to do about it. You never mentioned it to me.
Landlord: Alright well… goodbye.

Un. Believable.

I was somewhat concerned she would try to move my car, since she obviously doesn’t think anything even halfway through. But she didn’t, either because she realized it would be several kinds of illegal or gave up because it would be too difficult. I thought this episode would teach her to communicate better, but as we can see from yesterday’s post, it did not. I did take some satisfaction (schadenfreude, admittedly) when she later informed me she couldn’t open the garage door anyway, because when RPM’s guys tried to fix it under the previous owner, they jammed it shut. There’s no way to open the garage door without destroying it.

*Oh yes, I’m releasing her full name in the next post. As soon as the check clears.

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let sleeping dragons lie Pt I

If we’ve met, you know it takes quite a bit to anger me. I am very understanding and pretty tolerant. Mistakes happen; rectify it and we’re good. However, every once in a while, someone or something crosses the line and rouses the dragon.

This is one of those times.

Relevant backstory: Landlord* bought our old house last year. I had hopes she would be a better landlord than Pete, but I soon discovered my hopes were ill-founded. Suddenly in late May, she decided to evict my neighbor and me so she and her husband could move in. We had until June 30. Profoundly annoying, but legal. (This saga deserves a entire series of its own posts. However, in the interest of brevity, this is the story in a nutshell.) Over the course of that month she declined to grant me a moving extension, then angrily called me while I was waiting for a flight at the airport berating me for leaving my car in the driveway while I was gone, because she needed access to the driveway but didn’t tell me because apparently I was supposed to read her mind. (This will be its very own post one day, oh yes it will.) When I returned from my trip she took a tour of the place to see what condition it was in and what repairs she’d have to make since she never walked through before she bought it, offered me an undefined extension four days before the movers came, informed me she eventually wanted to rent out my apartment to someone else, and bought my spare furniture from me so she could rent out the apartment furnished. But she didn’t think of this beforehand – she kept half my furniture but not me. And every time I spoke with her she was entirely condescending.

I moved out of my old place June 27. Handed Landlord my keys, gave her my forwarding address, didn’t swear at her, and drove off. I haven’t heard anything from her since.

I texted her this afternoon (the most reliable way of getting a response) asking if she sent out the security deposit yet. Three hours later, she replied: “I had to hire professional cleaners for 15 hours at $20 per hour. There were also some damages”

Furious. I am furious. It was clean, there was no damage, and WHO THE FUCK THINKS IT’S OKAY OR LEGAL TO EAT A TENANT’S SECURITY DEPOSIT WITHOUT TELLING THEM?

Fuming, I texted her back asking what exactly were the damages. Then I called her and (surprise!) left a voicemail. Then I looked up Ohio state code. AND GUESS WHAT! According to code, she had 30 days to give me written notification and an itemized list if she was keeping any part of it. So I sent her an email both linking and quoting the code:

“(B) … Any deduction from the security deposit shall be itemized and identified by the landlord in a written notice delivered to the tenant together with the amount due, within thirty days after termination of the rental agreement and delivery of possession. The tenant shall provide the landlord in writing with a forwarding address or new address to which the written notice and amount due from the landlord may be sent…

(C) If the landlord fails to comply with division (B) of this section, the tenant may recover the property and money due him, together with damages in an amount equal to the amount wrongfully withheld, and reasonable attorneys fees.”

and followed it up with:

“Since tomorrow is the 30th day since I turned in my key, and I have not received written notification of any kind since I moved out, including itemization with proof of damages in any form, as of tomorrow you are in violation of state law. If this is not rectified and I have not received my security deposit back by this Friday (July 29, 2016) I will contact the appropriate authorities.”

I then texted her, telling her to check that email account. I got no response. I don’t expect one.

Though she legally owes me my deposit by tomorrow, I will give her until Friday so to avoid legal issues, since clearly the law is on my side. Even if she were asked, she cannot prove any of the “damages” were caused by me (which they were not), and I am sure the old Property Management Company still has records on file from when I moved in four years ago. And even if I had all that against me, she has already abdicated her legal claim to my security deposit since she has provided me with absolutely no written communication whatsoever since I moved out 30 days ago.

I have been warned it will be an uphill battle to get my money back. To which I say: this is a battle I will not lose. This is illegal. She has been nothing but miserable, condescending, and uncommunicative to me. I have put up with her shit for that long, but this is a step too far. This is illegal.

You woke the dragon; I will raze your village.

Stay tuned for further developments. I am not optimistic but I am prepared for war.

*I am assigning her the moniker of “Landlord” for the time being in the interests of not being a jerk (even though I’d be completely justified). If this does not reach a peaceful resolution, I will give you her full name.

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don’t shoot the messenger, she’s a quicker draw than you

This week is spring break where I teach, so I am using the opportunity to do makeup lessons for all my students who are still in town. Of them, most are getting a full hour lesson this week, which both kills two makeups in one shot and gives me an opportunity to focus more on proper form and technique and catch up on theory. Also most of them are under 12 years old, so attention span can be a challenge.

My first lesson of the day is with Fidget – a bright 11 year old girl who cannot sit still ever. She is learning the easy piano version of “Let It Go” – I’m trying to impress upon her that she has to count instead of playing what she thinks she knows. I am consequently making her count out loud as she plays and teaching her how to use a metronome, painful as it may be. We are getting down to business when the business phone rings. I do not answer; I am teaching. We are technically not open. I even purposely left the main lights off. At some point I hear the little electronic doorbell. The mailman has already delivered; it must be a student. Not mine. After a few minutes I hear it again. Probably that student figured out there was nobody here and left.

Fidget’s attention is waning; metronome work is harrrddddd. I sympathize. You can only do that crap for so long. I switch it up with flashcards. I hear the electronic doorbell again. Still can’t be my student. Why all this traffic? I’m the only one teaching today. Then I hear:

Woman: Hello? Helloooo!!!!!

I leave my room. A tall-ish blonde-ish middle-aged woman is approaching the desk. In all likelihood the mother of Doorbell Student. She is clearly looking to pick a fight. I am inclined to let her try. Her tone and demeanor are giving me no reason to be anything more than honest and professional. And it could be fun.

Me: Hello?
Woman: (serious sass) What’s going on? Where is everybody? Are you guys not open today?
Me: (keeping it stone cold and professional) We’re on spring break. I’m only here doing makeups.
Woman: (getting seriously pissed) Well why didn’t [teacher] tell my son you were on spring break?
Me: (That’s it. You want your fight? You got it. First off, how the hell should I know. Shut up. Second, don’t give me attitude, I don’t know you or your kid. Third, you’re interrupting my lesson. Fourth, you should have figured it out when nobody else is here. Fifth, he didn’t have to tell you because, most importantly,) It was on the newsletter you received when you signed up for lessons.
Woman: (hand to the holster, ready to draw) What newsletter?
Me: (too late, sweetheart) The one with all the important dates and makeup policies on it. It’s also posted right behind you on the wall (indicating literally right next to her elbow, next to the door)
Woman: (narrows her eyes at me, then the schedule) (mutters something and leaves)

Sixth, don’t blame me for a mistake that was entirely preventable by you.

Seriously don’t start with me. I’m always locked and loaded.

Or, if you prefer a moral to the story, be polite. It will get you far; it will make me want to help you and be nice and maybe even apologize for the inconvenience. Being confrontational will get you no mercy and expose you as an idiot. Choose wisely next time.

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why am i not getting better?

One of the teenagers I inherited from my predecessor is technically one of my most advanced students. I say “technically” because she’s in Level 3B, but her skill level is more around 1B. She should be able to play Anna Magdalena Bach easy pieces but I wouldn’t even attempt it on her. Her note-reading is painfully slow. Any rhythm more complicated than quarter notes baffles her. She doesn’t know what articulations are, much less what to do with them. She knows that sharps and flats indicate black keys, but which black keys elude her. Sometimes she even forgets which one is which. Putting hands together is almost painful. It takes her more than a month to play a piece that should take two weeks, tops. And she plays everything slow. Really slow.

And the thing is, she’s not dumb. She understands when I explain or demonstrate. She can demonstrate back. It’s clear in her lessons that she gets it. But whether it will stick is anyone’s guess.

So for the third week I was helping her with a simple dotted-quarter rhythm in 4/4 time (yes, really), trying to get her to count it out loud. Write in the beats, coordinate the notes, it was a struggle.  At this point I don’t know what else to do – I’ve done all my tricks and techniques.

Me: Okay, so you know what to do?
Her: Yes.
Me: You’re doing really well right now, just keep counting out loud. Go downbeat to downbeat, write in the beats if you have to. It applies to the whole piece so there’s not much new that will pop up.
Her: Okay.
Me: Do you have any questions? Anything else I can help you with? Anything I can do to make your life easier?
Her: Not really. I think I got it.

And she does appear to know what she’s doing right now. So I’m thinking, hell, maybe this will just take a while. For a second I toy with the idea of moving her back a level in a different series, but almost immediately decide against it. I just need to give her something fun and easier while she catches up on this. So I suggest to her:

Me: You know, why don’t you go bring back an old book and we’ll brush up some stuff you already know? It’ll give you something fun to play while you’re doing the really hard work. I can only imagine you’re feeling frustrated right now, wondering why things aren’t going faster.
Her: Yeah, yeah. I am kind of.
Me: Then definitely bring one in, maybe your 3A books. The nice thing about being musicians is we can bring back pieces we’ve already played and they’re still enjoyable – just because we’re done learning them doesn’t mean we’re done with them. We can find new things to work on in them and they will be easier than last time. So you’ll have some fun things in between the hard work.
Her: Okay, that sounds good.

I think I’ve come up with a great plan. And it will also give me a chance to reinforce all the things she should know (dynamics, articulation, counting, fingering) on pieces she’s already familiar with. So just to get the lay of the land, I ask:

Me: Just out of curiosity, how much do you practice?
Her: Well I generally practice every other day.
Me: Okay, how much do you practice when you do?
Her: About ten minutes.

Do I really need to continue?

I told her I have my little kids aim for 20 minutes a day, and at her level I expect 30-40. I asked her to aim for 30 a day, split into two chunks if she likes. I explained that we’re actually developing a skill, so we need to put time into just doing it. And that if she just spends more time at the piano every day, I can guarantee she’ll see improvement.

I also wanted to ask her if she was effing serious, but thought better of it.

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drone strike parenting

Drone-Strike Parenting: the step beyond Helicopter Parenting. Hover, hover, hover, quietly, out of sight, then swoop in and cause massive collateral damage and mayhem. Retreat. Hover, hover, hover. Repeat as desired.

————————————————————————————————

A young teenage girl, maybe 12 or 13 years old, started lessons with me earlier this fall. I put her in the beginner level of a series I hadn’t used before, wanting to try something different. It quickly became clear that this method was pedagogically questionable – illogical ordering of concepts, requiring technique way beyond the capabilities of a beginner, learning note names indirectly. It also became clear this method was geared toward very young students and my teenager was probably bored, maybe explaining why she obviously wasn’t practicing. I planned to switch her into a different method’s adult book, figuring to address all problems simultaneously.

Meantime, her father was two weeks late in paying tuition, and was giving my employer grief about charging him a late fee. This was not the first time he paid tuition late. The girl at the desk had already warned me about him, having spoken to him on the phone. (She looked terrified.) So when he came in, brandishing a check and proclaiming “and what’s this about new music for my daughter? How much will that cost? And let’s discuss my daughter’s progress, and possibly longer lessons,” everyone except my employer pretended to not exist.

While he was giving her yet more grief about the late payment, I sized him up pretty quickly. Self-important, self-proclaimed Big Deal. He was the Boss. Ready to take action, negotiate, bargain, whatever he needed to Get His Way. I put on my “Don’t you even TRY to BS me” armor, cloaked myself with a Disarming Smile, introduced myself as his daughter’s teacher and invited them both into my studio so I could clear up any questions he had regarding her progress.

He found this satisfactory. I led them back to my room; he very obviously sized up the room to see if it was professional enough for his standards. Upon seeing my Beethoven Sonatas score laying on the piano, he smirked at me. “Ah, Beethoven.” Like he knew something. Like now he knew the lay of the land. Like now we were speaking the same language. Part of the same club. Dude, it’s Beethoven. Please.

Father: (back to business) So, about my daughter’s progress. Where should she be by now? Is she going as quickly as she should? (ugh)
Me: Well, each student moves at their own pace. There are no benchmarks; I work to develop skill and build concepts. When they are ready to move on, we move on. Some are faster than others, some need more time. It’s very much dependent on each individual student’s capabilities and how much they practice.
Father: Right. I’m just thinking, you know, I know a bit about music (oh do you now?), I played guitar when I was younger (I’m sure), maybe I just forgot about the boring learning part before you get to the fun stuff, right? Heh heh. (smirk again)
Me: (wow, way to disparage your daughter!) Sure. Also, I am switching her into Adult books. I originally began her in a series more aimed for children, which I also discovered is not up to my personal standards pedagogically. This is entirely my fault – hopefully this new book will be more interesting and she will be able to progress a little faster.
(Meanwhile Daughter is standing next to him staring at her feet. I feel so bad for her.)
Father: (finding this acceptable) Fine. And how long should she be practicing? Right now she’s barely practicing at all, are you sweetie? Maybe 20 minutes twice a week.
Me: Yeah, I know. Again, hopefully this new book will be more interesting. However, I do ask that all my beginning students practice 20-30 minutes a day, six days a week.
Father: (with another smirk and a side look at Daughter) Ah, is this the old “if you want a puppy ask for a pony” trick?
Me: (for the love of…) No, sir, I don’t negotiate with my students. I don’t ask for an hour expecting 30 minutes; I ask for 30 minutes and expect them to do it.
Father: Fine, fine, good. So, I was wondering if it would be helpful to increase her to 45-minute lessons? Would that help her out?
Me: I only recommend students go to a longer lesson when they master what I’ve assigned them within a few days, long before the next lesson. Because a longer lesson gives me the chance to introduce more stuff and give them more to work on. Lessons are not supervised practicing. You’ve already confirmed with  me that your daughter doesn’t practice as it is; let’s see how this new book works out. If she starts progressing quicker than I assign pieces, we can certainly consider it then.
Father: (doubting me) So you don’t think it would help?
Me: No, I don’t. Not until she outpaces my lessons. Again, let’s see how this new book works out first before we go changing anything else.
Father: Fine, thank you, that’s what I wanted to know.

I shake his hand, give him my business card, walk him to the door and let his daughter get composed and situated at the piano. I come back in, apologize to her that that was so awkward. She just shrugged. I started her on the new book and she found it much more to her liking.

Maybe two months pass and it’s clear she’s still not practicing. Enjoying the books more, sure, but not actually practicing. She only remembers concepts that stick the first time and she’s clearly not doing much of anything outside lessons. I start playing reinforcement games with her, like flashcards and finger number games. She’s a bright kid, maybe she just needs a little more engagement. I teach her practicing games to play at home. No improvement. Eventually I flat out ask her if she likes piano. “Yeah, I like it” with a smile – that smile you give someone when you want to say yes to please them, that smile that’s eager but not earnest, the smile that says “I like it for you, but on my own I probably wouldn’t.” I tell her, “It’s okay to say no! I won’t be offended!” She reassures me she does in fact like piano.

Time comes for semester re-enrollment. I ask her if she’s coming back next semester, because we have to get the paperwork in and square our schedules. “I don’t know, my dad is taking care of it.” That’s all I could get out of her for three weeks; it was pretty obvious she had no say in it.

One day my employer pulls me aside between lessons. She apparently contacted the father as the re-enrollment deadline (to secure your current teacher and time) was a week away. He informed her that he would let us know in one week; in the meantime he was auditioning a different teacher.

Auditioning a different teacher.

Part of me really wanted to be offended. But the better part of me thought that was the funniest thing I’d heard in a long time. Your daughter isn’t practicing! She has told me as much! There’s nothing I can do about that; I don’t live with her. But you do! You can do something about that! I even told you, to your face, what I expected from her! You’re going to pay money for lessons but not make sure she’s getting the most out of it, when I laid out exactly what to do? Please. And now you’re hoping that a different teacher will magically make her better? I openly acknowledge that not every teacher and student make a great pair, and sometimes a different teacher helps. But that’s not the case here! Your daughter just doesn’t care enough about piano. This is the equivalent of replacing your weekly personal trainer because you’re not losing weight but you still eat McDonald’s every day. You’re a fool. Please. Get out.

No, they didn’t re-enroll.

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