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Not so interested student, but parents are adamant (Read 2818 times)

Offline magic_sonata

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Not so interested student, but parents are adamant
« on: June 08, 2013, 09:52:50 PM »
I have finally opened some time up this summer to teach some of my mother's friend's children, and I have had a wonderful time teaching some of these kids.

Note that I said, some.

There is this one child, a boy, who is not interested at all. He is always making a joke out of what I am saying, and refuses to play the right thing on purpose. He sometimes bangs the piano furiously and leaves the room. I tried calming him down, but he is never willing to absorb any information. There was a small point in time where he showed some his astonishing potential, but he quickly reverted back to his usual self.
I spoke to the parents after three lessons, trying to tell them that their son isn't interested in the piano at all. What my parents taught me, is that if the a student isn't going to at least try to learn, then they won't learn at all. There is no point in doing something that you don't like to do, because all you will do is suffer.
Surely enough, the parents insist that their son is a piano loving, amazing child prodigy. I didn't want to argue, and we have had two lessons since.

Does anyone know what to do?

Thanks,

magic_sonata
magic_sonata

Offline ranniks

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Re: Not so interested student, but parents are adamant
«Reply #1 on: June 08, 2013, 11:48:14 PM »
If they are paying you just keep on with it. They're your friends right? If the kid does jack then you still earn your money.

If they after a year ask why their son can't play decent piano, tell them that that is the fault of his unwilingness. If they don't believe you, tell them about another student you have taught and his/her progress. Or just refer to others you know.

If you are feeling frustrated and stressed because of the kid, just be flat honest with the parents.

If that was my son (I'm not a father), I would want that.

Offline quantum

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Re: Not so interested student, but parents are adamant
«Reply #2 on: June 09, 2013, 01:03:41 AM »
Personally, I do not take on students that have no self-interest in learning the instrument.  This is made very clear when students/parents audition for my studio.  If parents are very insisting yet the student seems to show little interest, I will refer the family to other teachers. 


Does your student communicate or at least hint at what the tantrums are really about?  He may be trying to send a message, yet parents haven't picked up on it. 
Made a Liszt. Need new Handel's for Soler panel & Alkan foil. Will Faure Stein on the way to pick up Mendels' sohn. Josquin get Wolfgangs Schu with Clara. Gone Chopin, I'll be Bach

Offline magic_sonata

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Re: Not so interested student, but parents are adamant
«Reply #3 on: June 09, 2013, 01:11:52 AM »
Personally, I do not take on students that have no self-interest in learning the instrument.  This is made very clear when students/parents audition for my studio.  If parents are very insisting yet the student seems to show little interest, I will refer the family to other teachers. 


Does your student communicate or at least hint at what the tantrums are really about?  He may be trying to send a message, yet parents haven't picked up on it. 

I have tried speaking with him, but he says the following, "I don't want to play!" and I respond, "Why not?" and he says, "Because."

magic_sonata

Offline quantum

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Re: Not so interested student, but parents are adamant
«Reply #4 on: June 09, 2013, 02:52:59 AM »
Perhaps express interest in the "because."  Or are the parents always present, and the student reluctant to talk in front of them?
Made a Liszt. Need new Handel's for Soler panel & Alkan foil. Will Faure Stein on the way to pick up Mendels' sohn. Josquin get Wolfgangs Schu with Clara. Gone Chopin, I'll be Bach

Offline pjaul

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Re: Not so interested student, but parents are adamant
«Reply #5 on: June 09, 2013, 03:13:56 AM »
If his piano banging could potentially damage the instrument, I would have zero tolerance for him.

Offline bronnestam

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Re: Not so interested student, but parents are adamant
«Reply #6 on: June 09, 2013, 09:18:52 AM »
I would take this child away from the piano and offer him a smoothie instead, and then have a relaxed conversation with him about anything ... probably something will pop up during this talk, I agree that he seems to communicate something, there is something on his mind. It may be something that has nothing to do with piano playing as such. So you have to be a mentor instead of a piano teacher for a while.
 
 
Or, if the chemistry between you just does not work and you don't gain his trust, tell his parents so and refer to another teacher. Also point out to the parents that forcing him to do something he does not want to do, will only do you all harm.

Offline magic_sonata

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Re: Not so interested student, but parents are adamant
«Reply #7 on: June 09, 2013, 02:50:50 PM »
I would take this child away from the piano and offer him a smoothie instead, and then have a relaxed conversation with him about anything ... probably something will pop up during this talk, I agree that he seems to communicate something, there is something on his mind. It may be something that has nothing to do with piano playing as such. So you have to be a mentor instead of a piano teacher for a while.
 
 
Or, if the chemistry between you just does not work and you don't gain his trust, tell his parents so and refer to another teacher. Also point out to the parents that forcing him to do something he does not want to do, will only do you all harm.

I fully agree. I really believe that he has potential in music, he is just not applying himself. But, the parents seem to be expecting too much out of their son. I will try to mentor him and ease his possible worries, but if not, I might have a polite discussion with his parents about his behavior (and their opinions, for the most part).
magic_sonata

Offline sevencircles

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Re: Not so interested student, but parents are adamant
«Reply #8 on: June 10, 2013, 12:28:44 PM »
What kind of music does he like? Maybe he wants to play a different instrument.



 

Offline pianoman53

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Re: Not so interested student, but parents are adamant
«Reply #9 on: June 10, 2013, 04:09:39 PM »
I assume he is quite young, right? Not all, but some have this behavior.. I think it's a sort of defence mechanism. Like "if I screw up on purpose, I can't fail". If it's like that, I don't know any good way to stop it though. It might actually work with some small bribe, like a piece of candy, of to finish lesson five minutes earlier. It's not scientificly proven, whatsoever, and if someone has proof that it doesn't work, s/he is perfectly welcome to tell me that I'm wrong.

Offline mcdiddy1

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Re: Not so interested student, but parents are adamant
«Reply #10 on: June 27, 2013, 02:22:05 AM »
All of what was said is great advice. What I would do is have the parents attend the lesson. If he continues his destructive behavior they can see it and come to their senses or maybe they know methods of calming him down to focus on what he needs to. Maybe he is a perfect angel when their around. If his behavior improves you could just have them stay in their for every lesson.

I would use incentives- stickers etc. I would be careful of food due to allergies.

Try and find the trigger. If he sometimes complies to your directions and suddenly does not there is usually something that cause his behavior to switch to a distracting one. It may be when you require him to play by himself that he suddenly acts up. You can better prepare him for it by setting up a typ of game where I play something then you play something and build up independence for example. I am not saying that is the problem but you could try and find the root of the cause.

Another strategy is be real with the student like another person wrote. Have a good heart to heart and say "ok , I know you do not want to play piano but you are already hear so why don't we make it fun for you. Young students are concerned about their needs and egos so play into that. I think you should try and find out his/her interest anor d use the information. If it is baseball, you can go and get baseball stickers or find a piece with baseball as the subject etc. It sounds corny but if you come back the next day and say "hey, I remembered our conversation and I found this piece and I though you might enjoy it."

If you can spark the interest quickly and get the kid hooked then you should be in good shape. There are much worse things in life than learning the piano and luckily the subject we choose can be motivating on its own.

Offline faa2010

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Re: Not so interested student, but parents are adamant
«Reply #11 on: July 05, 2013, 07:57:57 PM »
All of what was said is great advice. What I would do is have the parents attend the lesson. If he continues his destructive behavior they can see it and come to their senses or maybe they know methods of calming him down to focus on what he needs to. Maybe he is a perfect angel when their around. If his behavior improves you could just have them stay in their for every lesson.

I agree with this idea, not only will they understand what you have tried to tell them, they will also have to re-evaluate their son's interests.

The problem could be that if the child is under pressure just by his parents presence, he won't have the same behavior he has when both of you are alone.

Also, those are summer lessons, aren't they?, that means they are like summer courses.  The summer courses, as their name says, are only given until children start school again (or before if the family decides to go on vacation), they are just for a short period of time.  So just relax both and don't live to the expectations his parents have (making him a prodigy, prepare him to the conservatory, etc, etc).


...
Try and find the trigger. If he sometimes complies to your directions and suddenly does not there is usually something that cause his behavior to switch to a distracting one. It may be when you require him to play by himself that he suddenly acts up. You can better prepare him for it by setting up a type of game where I play something then you play something and build up independence for example. I am not saying that is the problem but you could try and find the root of the cause.

...be real with the student like another person wrote. Have a good heart to heart and say "ok , I know you do not want to play piano but you are already hear so why don't we make it fun for you.

Maybe this kid doesn't want to be still and he wants to be always doing something, so you can think in activities which can be more dynamical, where he can move as if he does exercise.  Kids usually look for activities where they can do exercise (or quite the contrary, they prefer to play videogames and watch TV :P).

The most important thing is not to turn a wonderful, incredible and joyful activity like playing piano into a mandatory, joyless burden.  He is still young, he has to enjoy his childhood, and he has much time to decide his own career, path and goals in life.  Piano can still be an option even if he is not interested right now, but he could possibly think about it years later. 



Offline carrie10

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Re: Not so interested student, but parents are adamant
«Reply #12 on: July 07, 2013, 08:29:22 PM »
I feel for you!  I've had students in the past whose parents are insistent that their child is the next piano prodigy, or simply think that piano lessons need to be part of everyone's childhood--whether the child wants lessons or not.  I've had a few things work with these kids:

Incentives (as others have mentioned): students earn a sticker for each page passed in each book.  We keep track of these stickers in a folder, or even in their theory book.  Once a student has earned 25 stickers, he/she gets to pick a prize from the 'prize pouch' (prizes are very inexpensive and small: piece of candy, eraser, stickers, trinkets that you'd find in the party favor aisle at the dollar store).

Keyboard time: I bring my keyboard out for lessons with some students as a motivator.  Students like to change the timbre (e.g., vibraphone, strings, I even have a 'laser beam' setting!), as well as add rhythm accompaniment to what they consider 'boring exercises' from their books.  I also like to use the keyboard for young students with poor fine motor skills (the keys are easier to push!)

Duets: The piano exercises/pieces are much more interesting to the students when I play along with them.

Piano Games:  For the students who loathe lessons, we step away and play many piano-related games (at least they're getting their theory in, right?!).  One favorite of all my students is the m & m game: two cups are set out (one for them, one for me), and big ol' bag of m & ms (or skittles, or any tiny candy).  We go through note reading and/or theory flash cards.  If the card is played or answered correctly, an m & m is earned.  Answered incorrectly, and I get the m & m.  Students don't want to give me their candy, so they are highly motivated to concentrate and practice prior to the lesson!

Sorry, I went on at length about this.  Hope any of these suggestions helps you out.  I feel your pain!  ;)