"Anne-Louise Andrews, come here RIGHT now!"
Directly in front of me, barking at her daughter, was Gayle Andrews, mother of Anne-Louise.
Both of us had children in gymnastic classes and we were in the waiting area. I saw my opportunity.
"My son is in the 4:00 o'clock class, but then I have to hang around till my daughter's class at 5:15. How 'bout you?" I asked casually.
"Oh, my daughter Anne-Louise is in the 4:30 class, but that's a long one so I'll be here for almost two hours."
I was giddy with excitement.
She didn't know that I already knew quite a bit about her. Her daughter, Anne-Louise was a piano student of my dearest colleague, Kara. While Anne-Louise was an acceptable piano student, her mother wasn't paying her bill. It had become contentious.
During the next few minutes I let it slip that I was a piano teacher. Gayle confided that she was looking for a new piano teacher for her daughter. Could I recommend anyone?
"Well, if you're looking for someone who comes to the house, the absolutely very, very best in the entire city is my colleague Kara. She's amazing."
"Really?" said Mrs. Andrews. "That's who my daughter's been studying with."
"You're kidding!" I replied, feigning shock. "YOU have a spot with Kara? It's impossible to get a spot with her. You are SO lucky!"
"Goodness. Well, yes, we like her but our schedules aren't working out too well."
"You'll never find anyone as good as Kara," I said helpfully.
The next morning I met Kara at Stow Lake for our daily walk.
"You'll never guess who I ran into at gymnastics class,” I said, with a sly smile.
A few days later Kara called. "Guess what?" she said. "Mrs. Andrews sent me every penny she owed."
I'm not always lucky enough to run into my Kara's most unwieldy piano parents at a gymnastic class. But I always have her back.
As independent piano teachers it’s tempting to be competitive with other teachers. A better choice is to forge a bond with them. Is there anyone you need to become better friends with? Anyone you’d like to be on your side when they run into your Mrs. Andrews?