Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Dear Anonymous: An Open Letter to a Disgruntled Parent

Thank you for taking the cheeseball way out when sending your "letter" to my husband and ccing his principal.  The good news, for my hard-working, underpaid spouse, is that his principal told him to STOP reading your letter and burn it.  This fine administrator didn't want him to take personally your ridiculous, ill-informed criticisms of his decision-making process for selecting his top group.

Instead, Mr. Music Teacher is keeping your letter.  It's going in a special place in his portfolio - not for sharing with the world your poorly-written, barely-punctuated diatribe, but to remind himself of the day that his administrator had his back 110% percent.

Perhaps your anonymous whine-fest tactic has worked for you before, but not this time.  This principal knows the facts, trusts his staff, and is able to discern in a mature and professional way when he has a problem... and when he doesn't.

You're right; you DO NOT want his job.  You don't want to go to school for 7.5 years, earn two master's degrees, teach for 15 years, and barely crack the $60K per year barrier for the first time in your life in 2015.

In addition, you don't want his job because you have NO IDEA how much he stresses over your children and their friends - you know, the ones who think they know better than a multifaceted scoring system who the top auditioners were.  You have NO IDEA what it's like to solve the logic problem of scores that land in a bell-shaped distribution within each part, trying to weight factors and be fair to the students, the process, and the group.  You have NO IDEA how much he agonized over the people "on the bubble" every night for at least two hours, with all the audition sheets laid out carefully on the floor, looking for the best pathway to the group's composition.  How he has to have balance in strength of voice, not just quality, vocal range, musical skills, and years of experience within and without his program, or how he had to go to tiebreakers such as attendance, grades, and attitude in class.  How he worries that anyone he turns down may just drop their maturity level down a notch or two and say, "I quit!" from his program entirely.  He agonizes over EVERY student he loses. Every. Single. One.

You say that your student friends report there are students who use their cellphones in class when they aren't supposed to, and that others do homework in class when they shouldn't.  If his two classes from which most of the top group is formed have between 55-70 students each in them... do you think YOU could be 100% aware from the front of the classroom for an 80 minute stretch every other day what each and every individual is doing at any time, while teaching and playing piano?  Good luck with that.

Never mind the fact that the program he took over 2.5 years ago was in a shambles and he's increased participation by 50% during that time.  (Did you know that his job depends on having a certain student load and level of participation?  That if he falls short, he can have his position reduced to less than full time?  Do you have that kind of pressure at YOUR JOB?)  If he called out each individual for each transgression every single time, a. they wouldn't want to be in his class any more because "it's not FUN," b. he would never have time to teach the students.  Shouldn't they be able to be self-disciplined and self-regulated?  Should he not trust them?

You said that the students you've spoken to have indicated that they may not try out next year because they think the process "isn't fair."  Well, first of all that would be THEIR LOSS.  Secondly, whether you believe Mr. MT went out of his way to play favorites or not (spoiler alert - he didn't)... LIFE ISN'T FAIR.  So, let those students have their whine fest, deny themselves the opportunity to work with one of the best HS choir directors in the state, and continue in the fallacious notion that this teacher plays favorites.  Attitude is everything.  Perhaps YOU could model that for all the students you know.


The Music Teacher's Wife


  1. That could be an open letter from almost any good teacher's spouse. Bravo!!