So it is Spring 2015, you have a great studio, but you still have that one student who you just aren’t clicking with. Your personalities don’t match, you don’t communicate well, you haven’t been able to figure out their learning style… Whatever the reason is, it is not a crime. Every teacher is going to have students he or she does not know how to reach. It may be your fault, the student’s fault, or no one’s fault at all. No matter the reason, a change may in fact need to happen.
Now that you have decided something needs to be done, what now?
First, if you work for a studio, talk to your boss. He or she is likely more experienced than you, and has dealt with moving students because of a bad fit. They will have a solution for you, and even if they do not, is it your boss’ job to find the student a better fit. Rely on their leadership and prior experience to help guide you in this sticky situation.
If you work privately or you are in charge of the studio, YOU ARE THE BOSS. Find a viable alternative teacher for your student, do research on teachers that have experience with your student’s needs, and talk to the teacher and see if they have room in their studio. It is your responsibility to find a comparable replacement for yourself that will meet the student’s schedule, financial, and learning requirements.
Second, talk to the parent/student. If you have a feeling of discomfort, chances are the student does as well. The parent or student may have noticed that the trust and respect is not there, and may be open to a teacher change. Never, ever blame the student, even if they are the sole reason for inhibiting their music education. This will immediately put the parent on the defensive, as it should, and may spell trouble for you and your studio reputation.
When you are preparing to begin this conversation, be careful to gauge the parent or student. If they have a history of being sensitive or emotional with you, consider approaching it from a different perspective. Approach it as a schedule change or studio need, and suggest another teacher will be able to more effectively communicate and inspire the student. This is less likely to put the parent on the defensive, and more likely to be a successful transition for the student and for you.
Never be afraid to ask for help. Everyone has dealt with a student who does not fit. The relationship between student and teacher must be one of trust and mutual respect, but also one of friendship and connection. If the student does not feel connected to you, they will not perform their absolute best. If you do not feel a connection and love for the student, you may not be able to give your all in the lesson. Either way, you both need a change, and as uncomfortable as it may initially be, it will be better for both of you in the long run.