"Hi! This is Natasha Fondren, the piano teacher. You called about your daughter?"
"Yeah." (A guy. This isn't good. Mothers are much more talkative.)
"Great!" (I wait for him to tell me all about his daughter.)
"So how old is your daughter?"
"How old of a three is she?"
"How old of a three is she?"
"I don't understand you."
"How. Old. Is. Your. Daughter?"
(I sigh without making a sound.)
"Do you teach students that young?" (He asks, in a tone to suggest that if I don't, I shouldn't be calling myself a teacher.)
"I usually start them at four, but if she's an old three, then that's fine."
(I try again.) "When is your daughter's birthday?"
"Well, that's fine then. Do you have a piano?"
"No. We're buying a keyboard."
"I'm sorry, I don't teach students who only have a keyboard."
"Isn't that discrimination?"
"No," (I make myself smile and pretend I'm telling a joke.) "It's a different instrument. If you want to learn violin, you go to a violin teacher. If you want to learn keyboard, you go to a keyboard teacher. If you want to learn piano, you go to a piano teacher."
(I then launch into my spiel about how starting on a keyboard causes bad habits that takes years to undo, about how just because one part of them looks the same, does not mean they are the same.)
(His tone gets snottier, as if I know nothing.) "Well how long have you been teaching?" (As if to suggest I don't know what I'm talking about.)
"Fifteen years." (I breathe, try not to get defensive. I do have a high voice.)
"How old are you?"
*pause* (I breathe. I remind myself I do have a high voice. I breathe again. I tell myself not to be offended by such an impolite question. I consider a joke. I consider asking him how old he is. I consider telling him where I went to school, and invite him to do the math.)
"Thirty-five." (I'm thirty-four, but I couldn't remember for a second and I subtracted 1973 from 2008 and got 35.)
(At this point, I wish I could just find a way to politely end the call, because no matter what he reads about me, what he learns about me from his friends, or what he learns about my qualifications, he clearly has no respect for me. I'm not taking a student whose parent has no respect for me. It's just not a good match. It won't work out.)
Will someone please tell me why people keep buying KEYBOARDS when they want to learn PIANO? This makes number TEN. TEN straight calls in a row from people who only have keyboards. This has never happened to me. Ever. I don't think, before this year, that I've ever had TWO students with keyboards call me in a row.
And why did he have no respect for me straight off the bat?
Because of my voice.
I really hate my voice. The sad part is that I have a sore throat which was already making my voice lower than normal, AND I was actually forcing my lower-than-normal voice to go lower than lower-than-normal.
This is why I don't do advertising. Unless they know me by reputation, it just doesn't work. All because of my voice.