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How to show gratitude for free music lessons

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Our local town has a marching band. About a year ago they came to my son's primary school to recruit new members. Their offer was free music lessons. They gain more members, we get free tuition. win/win. My son was one of three to take up the offer, but two have since dropped out.

I am on a low income and could not afford music lessons for my child. I think it is a wonderful skill to have (I never got the chance) and I jumped at the opportunity.

(I have seen some horrible answers on forums sometimes to the effect of 'work harder to afford it, you scrounger!' Before all the nasty comments come in, I got a degree in a 'proper' subject, at a decent uni, worked hard but sometimes people are just unlucky and I work full time for a low wage with little to spare for luxuries and don't claim benefits)

He is given an hour of music tuition once a week by one of the members, either at his house or in a church hall the band uses. He seems to have a natural talent but has not made that much progress as he does not practice often enough. By the time he is back from the childminder and I have made dinner and overseen homework, gone to Judo, swimming etc I do not really have the energy to force him to practice so I feel bad that this gift is being wasted in a sense.

He can play a few christmas carols etc, but is not yet good enough to play with the band.

I feel very grateful, but also a bit bad that this kind man is giving an hour of his time for nothing in return. So far I have, baked a cake, box of chocolates, last Christmas I gave him a £50 Argos voucher in thanks. This year I can not afford it and don't know what to do in general about this situation. I thought about;
bringing a few meals when we come to his house - I am a terrible cook though
doing some ironing for him - a bit awkward.

Please could I have some advice so that I am not taking advantage of anyone and how I can show appreciation when I literally have had to tell my mum and siblings that this year presents for children only as I do not even have £100 to celebrate Christmas, partly due to an increase in rent.
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  • bouicca21
    bouicca21 Posts: 6,524 Forumite
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    Cake. always cake.

    The other thing you might explore is why and what practice your son needs to do. If (like me) you pretty well illiterate at music then it is difficult to know just what they need to practise for, rather than simply going through their pieces mechanically. Maybe a contact book in which the teacher writes down this week's goal - a scale, or breathing control in a particulr passage for example.
  • DomRavioli
    DomRavioli Posts: 3,136 Forumite
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    Hi OP,

    Love the username!

    I'd write a heartfelt letter thanking them for their time and effort, along with something cheap (Aldi do a cracking wine for under a fiver, and some lovely chocs for under £2 in home bargains/quality save). Always goes down well, and shows appreciation.

    Just as an aside, come over to the up your income board if you have time, we're a friendly bunch, and it might help with next year's christmas.
  • Artytarty
    Artytarty Posts: 2,642 Forumite
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    How thoughtful of you! I second homemade yummies! Always appreciated and trading one skill set for another.
    I was able to sit in on a few of my sons lessons. It gave me a good idea of what he was asked to do and helped me to help him with the breathing exercises.
    Oops, also just remembered that I gave a gift to the teacher who turned out to be a Jehovah's Witness and didn't celebrate Christmas! Still, he was nice about it.
    Norn Iron Club member 473
  • fairy_lights
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    A cake, or some homemade mince pies would do, or a cheap bottle of wine/box of chocolates. I think it's the gesture that matters not the actual value of the gift.
    The teacher probably enjoys the lessons too and is getting a potential new band member so it's not a completely one way deal.
  • whitewing
    whitewing Posts: 11,852 Forumite
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    Ask your son if he can think of anything (they may chat as well as play)

    Could your son practice in the morning?

    Agree with home made goodies.

    Don't underestimate how good it will feel to a tutor to be able to pass on their skills to a new generation.
    :heartsmil When you find people who not only tolerate your quirks but celebrate them with glad cries of "Me too!" be sure to cherish them. Because these weirdos are your true family.
  • Thank you for all the kind replies. I will write a card/letter and have a small gift.
    I have an idea of what he is meant to do, but it is more a case of not doing any practice, rather than doing it incorrectly. Mornings are hard enough just getting him out of bed, so I don't see practice happening then!

    I had actually joined up too, but due to lack of confidence fell off the waggon.I was really embarrassed that it was taking me 4 weeks to learn one note and I gave up :-(
  • pollypenny
    pollypenny Posts: 29,394 Forumite
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    The best present the tutor could have would be a marked improvement in your son's progress ie he's clearly practising.

    It's hardly fair for the guy to give up his time yet your lad is not doing his bit.
    Member #14 of SKI-ers club

    Words, words, they're all we have to go by!.

    (Pity they are mangled by this autocorrect!)
  • Mojisola
    Mojisola Posts: 35,559 Forumite
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    Our local town has a marching band. About a year ago they came to my son's primary school to recruit new members.

    He is given an hour of music tuition once a week by one of the members, either at his house or in a church hall the band uses. He seems to have a natural talent but has not made that much progress as he does not practice often enough.

    By the time he is back from the childminder and I have made dinner and overseen homework, gone to Judo, swimming etc I do not really have the energy to force him to practice so I feel bad that this gift is being wasted in a sense.

    He can play a few christmas carols etc, but is not yet good enough to play with the band.

    If, after a year of lessons, he can only play a few carols, is it worth continuing with music?

    If your son is keen, would he be able to practice while he's at the childminders?

    If not and he really wants to improve, would he drop one of his other activities to make time for practice?
  • whitewing wrote: »
    Ask your son if he can think of anything (they may chat as well as play)

    Could your son practice in the morning?

    Agree with home made goodies.

    Don't underestimate how good it will feel to a tutor to be able to pass on their skills to a new generation.
    Mojisola wrote: »
    If, after a year of lessons, he can only play a few carols, is it worth continuing with music?

    If your son is keen, would he be able to practice while he's at the childminders?

    If not and he really wants to improve, would he drop one of his other activities to make time for practice?

    I don't think it is all that dire - he is at approx grade 2/3 level. My son does not really enjoy it but I think it would be a real shame to let this opportunity go just from a childish lack of interest/discipline. He also does Judo, which he enjoys, so I would not drop that and I will not drop swimming until he is proficient.

    The childminder is in a flat and did not seem keen on the idea of a trumpet practice there so I dropped the idea.
  • Mojisola
    Mojisola Posts: 35,559 Forumite
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    I don't think it is all that dire - he is at approx grade 2/3 level. My son does not really enjoy it but I think it would be a real shame to let this opportunity go just from a childish lack of interest/discipline.

    I can't see the point in making him continue when he doesn't enjoy it.
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