People with Policies
I was reminded yesterday that people with policies scare me. (I couldn’t help but remember my previous therapist, who was so policied that she wanted to see me weekly unless I was dead!) As I search for a piano teacher, I’m carefully thinking about why I want to study and the environment that will make me most productive and happy. I’m hopeful what I finally settle on will be virtually policy free.
A couple of months ago as I began to tackle more difficult music, my friend and “coach” Bill suggested that I should study with a piano teacher. I haven’t studied with anyone on a regular basis for about 15 years and I agreed with him that it was time to look for a teacher.
He gave me one suggestion. This person lives in Virginia, has absolutely stellar credentials in the chamber music field, and has the reputation of being a lovely woman. After exchanging several phone messages, we finally connected yesterday. She dodged my question of how much she charges and instead said she would e-mail me her policies prior to our arranged meeting today.
When I looked at the policies last night, I was shocked to find out she charges $100 an hour with all sorts of other fees. You basically commit to a monthly fee. But as I read further there were rules like the following:
Students must wash their hands before their lessons and practice sessions, and keep their fingernails short, flush with the end of the finger. If not, the student will use lesson time to fulfill these basic requirements.
There were more rules about notification of lesson termination, late fees, recital requirements, and on and on and on.
I could feel myself getting tense as I read over the policies.
I made a couple of phone calls to people who had reason to know the going rate and determined her fees to be well above the norm. So I called her back to decline the chance to meet her today that was going to cost me $105.
Meanwhile, one of the friends I called recommended her teacher of 10 years who happens to charge $55 an hour. She also happens to be the mother of a boy who went to high school with my daughter.
I called her today and got a very different first impression. She seemed totally flexible to whatever study approach I wanted to take. I’m sure she will teach me music theory and proper hand position, but she didn’t give me any rules for fingernail length. (My nails are of necessity short in order not to click on the keys.)
We agreed to meet and see if there is a musical good fit. Then we’ll come up with a plan for lesson frequency and figure out what music I will work on.
As I hung up, I realized how great it is to be able to make important choices like this as an adult. I acknowledged that I should never have to feel uncomfortable with anyone with whom I study anything.
My goal is not to become a concert pianist, but rather to get as much pleasure as possible out of this thing that currently occupies so much of my time. It will work best for me if policies don’t get in the way of making beautiful music.