City insists on fulfilment of contract Place at Bonn music school is being blocked unnecessarily

Bonn · Parents in Bonn wanted to terminate their contract with a municipal music school prematurely. The city insisted on abiding by the contract, even though 267 people in Bonn are on the waiting list for piano lessons. Why?

There’s a long waiting list for piano lessons in Bonn. But one slot now remains blocked because the family has missed the cancellation deadline. (Symbol photo)

There’s a long waiting list for piano lessons in Bonn. But one slot now remains blocked because the family has missed the cancellation deadline. (Symbol photo)

Foto: picture alliance / dpa/Hannibal Hanschke

What once began with lots of enthusiasm and fun is now no longer enjoyable for Miriam (not her real name). "She used to love going to piano lessons at the Bonn Music School. But in the last few months, we have noticed that her enthusiasm has dwindled," the girl's mother tells the GA. So it was clear to the parents that Miriam would no longer go to lessons after the summer holidays. "A hobby should be fun and not a burden," explains Miriam's mother.

Although the family was well aware that they had not cancelled the contract on time, "a girl from the neighbourhood has been waiting for some time to finally get a place at the music school. She was happy and immediately wanted to fill in for us," the mother says. But the city won’t let her.

There are apparently 267 people currently waiting for the opportunity to take piano lessons in the various districts. "Divided into the individual districts, the number becomes relativised: for example, there are 58 people on the waiting list for the music school district of Beuel," the city explains. Among them are many families who have already turned down places offered for personal reasons, but still want to remain on the waiting list, says a spokesperson.

A total of 3759 children, young people and adults are currently receiving lessons at the municipal music school. Of these, 796 students (as of 2 September) were receiving piano lessons, most of which are taught in individual lessons of 30 minutes. "Demand and need are great, but we are blocking a space that is no longer being used," says Miriam's mother, shaking her head in incomprehension. "Why can't we react quickly and unbureaucratically after the two tough years of the pandemic to bring normality and joy back into children's everyday lives again?" she asks. The pandemic has done enough damage to education, she adds that "a little flexibility would be nice".

The family will now pay the monthly fee of 60 euros until the regular end of the contract on 31 January 2023. "It's not about the money for us. It's more about the fact that the focus is apparently not on the children who want to have music lessons but on stubbornly sticking to a contractual agreement."

City of Bonn rejects earlier termination of contract

The city sees it differently. "The school regulations for the Ludwig van Beethoven Music Schools, in which the notice periods (31.05. with contract end on 31.07. and 30.11. with contract end on 31.01. of the following year) are also laid down, are crucial for administration," a spokesperson explains. "Above all, we have to insist on compliance to make sure everyone is treated equally and fairly, and also for contractual reasons." In addition, the waiting list order is to be adhered to.

According to the city, public music schools are bound by school regulations or bylaws that lay down the rules for terminating a contract. In Bonn, these regulations stipulate that after enrolment, there is a six-month probationary period during which the contract can be terminated at short notice. After that, the contract can be terminated twice a year. In addition, there is the possibility to terminate a contract for goodwill reasons if it can be proven that a pupil cannot attend lessons for an extended period, for example in the case of prolonged illness.

Original text: Gabriele Immenkeppel

Translation: Jean Lennox

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