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Ash, Solicitor
Category: Law
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Experience:  Solicitor with 5+ years experience
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At the beginning of 2013 my daughter started taking violin

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At the beginning of 2013 my daughter started taking violin lessons with an organisation closely linked to her school. My explicit instruction to the teacher was to prepare my daughter for her Grade 8 Violin examinations only. She listened to my daughter play and said that she was happy to do this. She also told my daughter during the course of the year that she was capable of getting a very high grade. In November 2013, the school suddenly informed my daughter and this teacher that she had to perform an ensemble for her music gcse and this was agreed to be monitored by the violin teacher and prepared by February. The recital took place but went badly wrong. At the next lesson the violin teacher spent nearly an hour angrily blaming my daughter for the disastrous performance which embarrassed HER the teacher and informed my daughter that she had decided to choose a different piece of music and moreover that she was not capable of taking the Grade 8. The way in which this was done absolutely destroyed my daughter who I collected from school in tears. Needless she did not want to pick up her violin again and definitely couldn't work with this teacher again. I informed the school who to add insult to injury have meanwhile invoiced me for the next half terms lessons.

Leaving aside the damage that this particular teacher caused my daughter (who has been playing 2 instruments since the age of 7) I also feel that this teacher broke our contract: To prepare for the Grade 8 exam latest this summer. To be fair I did agree for her to prepare for the ensemble but not to change the piece in February and to start preparing another piece which in my mind would have 2 consequences

1. It would not have been ready in time for her GCSE

2. She would have to abandon her grade 8 Exam

So I immediately informed the music organisation that there would be no lessons the agreement had been broken.

On the other side the teacher was delighted because it meant I could keep her employed.

She had now changed the terms of the contract. This has not only cost me a lot of money, and then to insult she is now threatening to take me to a small claims court to get the end of the terms monies.

Please advise.

Alex Watts :

Hello my name is XXXXX XXXXX I will help you with this. Please note that I am a working Solicitor and may be on and offline as I have to attend Court and meet with clients, even at weekends. As such you may not get an instant response when you reply as this is not an ‘on demand’ live service, but rest assured I will be giving your question my immediate attention upon return. There is no need to wait here, you will get an email when I reply.

Alex Watts :

Was anything signed please?


I believe that I signed an agreement in January 2013, but it now appears from my files that I probably should have signed another agreement in September 2013 (being the beginning of a new school year - so thereafter I believe the only paperwork betweeen us were the invoices which I always paid virtually on the day. Otherwise I do have one report from the violin teacher which commends my daughter as a good student and she confirms the Target of Grade 8. I forgot to mention earlier that at the disastrous recital this particular teacher actually messed up completely because she changed the music copy before the recital and because this was a GCSE exam this would have immediately penalized my daughters performance (another damage done by this woman). Interesting when I spoke to the Music organization and asked who was my partner they replied it was the teacher.

Alex Watts :

What do the contracts say about tuition and Grade 8 please?


The contract is a standard contract setting out payments, attendance terminations etc (there was no space for individual demands). However I made it perfectly clear when I engaged the violin teacher that we only wanted to study Grade 8 (3 set pieces and the scales) and she agreed to do this although I admit this was a verbal agreement and which she kept until the lesson after the recital when she decided without consulting me to choose another piece of music and not to support the Grade 8 exam which my daughter was due to take in June. The music organisation only produces a report once a year - so I have one report dated June 2013:


Teachers comments. ..."I am pleased to be working on the grade 8 repertoire with her because she has shown herself to be a very dedicated and hardworking student. .....


Target: Grade 8


I understand that the terms and conditions mentions a notice period, but I would like to know if I am still bound to the contract (assuming I signed one) if the teacher has failed to honour our side of the agreement: It was not part of our agreement to start a new agenda which was clearly going to cost us extra time and expense and in my mind the teacher was also breaking our agreement by announcing that she would not support my daughters Grade 8 exam - quite astonishing after months of hard work and telling my daughter that she was capable of getting a distinction) so I decided to limit the damages by stopping the lessons immediately. I had no choice I would have to find another teacher in order to continue the grade 8 exam and I clearly didn't want to be paying for something for which I did not agree to. I called the music Dept and told them to inform the teacher. The whole exercise has resulted in a lot of emotional and financial damage to ourselves.

Alex Watts :

Do you mean can you CANCEL the contract or do something else please?


I mean if the teacher has not fulfilled our agreement am I entitled to cancel the contract without notice because I would be paying for something which was not agreed.

Alex Watts :

Yes you could do that.

Alex Watts :

If the teacher is in breach of contract you could certainly cancel it if the purpose of the contract is now void.

Alex Watts :

Does this answer the question for you?

Alex Watts :

Can I clarify anything for you about this today please?

Customer: Yes I think so. I just wanted to make sure that I am right in saying:
Customer: The verbal agreement was to teach the grade 8 repertoire and it was not agreed to start a new agenda therefore this was a breach of contract by the teacher.
Customer: I want sure that legally this would be considered a breach of our original verbal agreement (even confirmed by the target in the one off report).
Alex Watts :

That is correct.

Alex Watts :

Does this clarify matters?

Customer: And in doing so I no longer have to pay the notice since the contract was broken by the other party.
Alex Watts :

Yes that is correct, but clearly you can't continue to send your daughter to lessons

Customer: No I am afraid my daughter is devastated by the whole episode which is why it is so important for me to correct what the teacher has done (although the true damage is the loss of a music future for my daughter) due to a coleric teacher.
Alex Watts :

Yes of course.

Customer: Many thanks for your assistance.
Alex Watts :

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