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I said the "B" word to my student (Read 5169 times)

Offline chenwu

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I said the "B" word to my student
« on: February 14, 2014, 04:57:57 AM »
For the first time I said the word "bitchy" to my 9 yr old student. I was frustrated because she never practice her pieces at all.  I said something to her like 'i don't want to be sound bitchy". She told her mom I was cursing and said the F word which I did not say the F word. I explained to the mom and called her and apologized. The mom understood and her daughter really need a 'push' and motivation. I always come up with some cool games to my piano students and even give them incentives/rewards/gift cards but it's so heartbreaking for me when they say, they don't practice.
I am a failure piano teacher.

Offline faulty_damper

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Re: I said the word "B" to my student
«Reply #1 on: February 14, 2014, 09:30:00 AM »
Yes, you are definitely a failure.  You tell her to do, instead of having her do.  You probably assume she knows what "practice" means.  In all likelihood, she doesn't.  Very, very few piano students know what that means.  And the general population doesn't know what that means, either.  I've never had a teacher, piano and other subjects, that showed me how to practice even though many of them told me to.  A "lesson" is really a practice session.

Offline pianoman53

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Re: I said the word "B" to my student
«Reply #2 on: February 14, 2014, 02:04:32 PM »
Tell her parents. It might feel childish, but tell her paternal to make her practice 10 minutes a say. If she doesn't, tell then there is nothing you can do to make her improve.

Offline fleetfingers

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Re: I said the word "B" to my student
«Reply #3 on: February 14, 2014, 04:10:39 PM »
I totally understand your frustration and am glad that you apologized for using that word. Also happy for you that the mother forgave you.

I would agree that telling her parents is the way to go. I've done that a couple of times, and it's the only thing that worked. In my cases, I gave the children a couple of months to shape up, and they never did.

Just a tip . . . make it all about the student and her failure to practice. YOU are NOT the failure. Address the issue as a concern for her lack of progress - and make it clear that it's because she doesn't practice between lessons. Then, let the parent know what she is supposed to be working on, and ask them nicely to do what they can to help their daughter find the time or to not forget. Let them handle it and decide whether to provide and manage a schedule for her, or to give her ultimatums, or to reward her for progress/time practiced, etc. They will do what works for their family. Most parents should respond to this, because they are paying for the lessons and have thus shown a desire for their child to be successful at piano.

Aside from that, consider that she may have musical interests other than what you're providing. She should enjoy most of what she is supposed to practice, so that when her parents make her do it, she ends up having a good time. If you can find a piece for her to work on that she really, really loves, then that might be all she needs to discipline herself. Easier said than done, though.  ;)

Offline fleetfingers

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Re: I said the word "B" to my student
«Reply #4 on: February 14, 2014, 04:15:40 PM »
Yes, you are definitely a failure.  You tell her to do, instead of having her do.  You probably assume she knows what "practice" means.  In all likelihood, she doesn't.  Very, very few piano students know what that means.  And the general population doesn't know what that means, either.  I've never had a teacher, piano and other subjects, that showed me how to practice even though many of them told me to.  A "lesson" is really a practice session.

It's true that students should know HOW to practice, but I don't think that applies to this situation. Sounds to me like she is not playing piano at all during the week. Knowing what to do when she plays won't do any good if she is not even playing!  ::)

Offline chenwu

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Re: I said the "B" word to my student
«Reply #5 on: February 14, 2014, 04:48:26 PM »
I know I definitely crossed the line and really inappropriate for me to say it to my student but this doesn't stop me from teaching piano to my kiddos. We've done music games last year from my iPad, gave them gift cards, and I started a 30 piece challenge last October. Everyone participated except her. Of course I am disappointed but there is nothing I could do about it. She definitely loves her Gold Star performance book so we'll probably going to stick with it. I appreciate your feedbacks everyone.  :)

Offline malaguena

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Re: I said the word "B" to my student
«Reply #6 on: February 15, 2014, 01:42:44 AM »
As a teacher, you are working with what your students provide you. If they don't provide you with anything, you can't do anything, except, basically, have a practice session. And that is not your fault.

Being that she is 9, if her parent wants her to progress, she needs to make her daughter sit down and practice the required amount every day. If she doesn't, she has nothing to complain about, and nothing to criticize you for.

My students don't practice much, either. That's why in every lesson I'm not just teaching them new information, or trying to cement and perfect ideas in their mind; I'm also teaching them how to practice. And usually, by the end of the lesson, they're playing the piece 10x better than before. I constantly remind them during at the end of the lesson that I'm not just teaching them new stuff- I'm teaching them how to practice, and they should practice at home the way I have them working during the lesson. I also make sure to tell them that if they can make that much progress in one lesson, they can definitely make that much in one week! Usually this embarrasses them, and they kinda duck their heads, because they know very well that they could be doing more.
Malagueña
~Piano teacher and student~

Offline faulty_damper

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Re: I said the "B" word to my student
«Reply #7 on: February 15, 2014, 02:36:17 AM »
I know I definitely crossed the line and really inappropriate for me to say it to my student but this doesn't stop me from teaching piano to my kiddos. We've done music games last year from my iPad, gave them gift cards, and I started a 30 piece challenge last October. Everyone participated except her. Of course I am disappointed but there is nothing I could do about it. She definitely loves her Gold Star performance book so we'll probably going to stick with it. I appreciate your feedbacks everyone.  :)

Using extrinsic rewards, such as gift cards, is something that psychologists have known for decades not to work.  It may initially motivate students to do something but in the long run, they end up doing the activity less than if they were never rewarded in the first place.  So by using gift cards, you're actually teaching your students to not want to play the piano.

Also, what is the mother doing about this?  She seems fine having you babysit her kid.

Offline faulty_damper

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Re: I said the word "B" to my student
«Reply #8 on: February 15, 2014, 02:54:55 AM »
Here's an abstract on extrinsic rewards' effects on intrinsic motivation:

"A meta-analysis of 128 studies examined the effects of extrinsic rewards on intrinsic motivation. As predicted, engagement-contingent, completion-contingent, and performance-contingent rewards significantly undermined free-choice intrinsic motivation (d = –0.40, –0.36, and –0.28, respectively), as did all rewards, all tangible rewards, and all expected rewards. Engagement-contingent and completion-contingent rewards also significantly undermined self-reported interest (d = –0.15, and –0.17), as did all tangible rewards and all expected rewards. Positive feedback enhanced both free-choice behavior (d = 0.33) and self-reported interest (d = 0.31). Tangible rewards tended to be more detrimental for children than college students, and verbal rewards tended to be less enhancing for children than college students. The authors review 4 previous meta-analyses of this literature and detail how this study's methods, analyses, and results differed from the previous ones. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)"

http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/bul/125/6/627.

As you can see, every single kind of extrinsic reward function undermined intrinsic motivation.  The only thing that increased it was positive feedback.  In teaching terms, this means telling the student what she did right, but NOT telling her what she did wrong.  You simply guide her until she gets it right and them tell her she did it right.

Offline quantum

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Re: I said the word "B" to my student
«Reply #9 on: February 15, 2014, 06:34:01 AM »
It is simply not enough to tell the student to go practice x amount of minutes every day.  The teacher needs to teach the student how to practice, and how they should be structuring the time spent at the instrument when at home. 

Not practicing may be a sign the student is having difficulty knowing how to tackle the practice conundrum itself.  Much like how many writers - both student and professional - may stare at a blank word processor page with blinking cursor. 

As others have said above, use the lesson to demonstrate a practice workflow and how to work at the piano when they are at home.  IMO students should be taught to use practice time efficiently and to get the most work done using minimal amounts of time, as opposed to being encouraged to spend time in order to get work done. 
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 chenwu

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Re: I said the word "B" to my student
«Reply #10 on: February 15, 2014, 06:37:27 AM »
I only give one gift card per year and I don't even give out stickers to my students every lesson. I never gotten any stickers/rewards when I first took lessons. The mom already knew her daughter doesn't practice at all. I talked to her a few months about this issue but it's  till the same. She said she'll work on it but she forget to remind her kid to practice. She also lost her assignment notebook last month.


Offline faulty_damper

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Re: I said the word "B" to my student
«Reply #11 on: February 15, 2014, 07:53:48 AM »
I agreed and understood your point there faulty_damper. Honestly, I only give one gift card per year and I don't even give out stickers to my students every lesson.

So going back to the research, it doesn't matter how small the reward is, it's still detrimental to their learning.  The only thing that has any positive impact is verbal praise for what they do well on.

Quote
Also, I always write the steps on how to practice at home in their assignment notebook.
...

She doesn't even read that.


Here's a story about a student I had for my piano pedagogy class in college.  She was new to the piano and didn't know anything.  I spent lessons having her practice endlessly once a week.  During the first in-class lesson demonstration, I did the same thing - practice.  I could see that the professor and the other classmates were bored silly watching and listening to her repeat over and over and over.  Afterward, they said that wasn't what a lesson was about and told me to stop teaching that way.  Instead, I was supposed to give general instructions and my student should practice it on her own.  So I start teaching this way from then on.  At the end of the semester, during the last in-class lesson, my student was still playing at the same level as the first lesson.  She barely improved at all.  

1. Was the professor and my other classmates right about how to teach?
2. Why did she improve so much when she practiced during lessons?
3. Why didn't she improve when given instructions?

Offline theholygideons

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Re: I said the word "B" to my student
«Reply #12 on: February 15, 2014, 10:05:11 AM »
1. Was the professor and my other classmates right about how to teach?
2. Why did she improve so much when she practiced during lessons?
3. Why didn't she improve when given instructions?
This is where the thread about physically beating children comes in  :P. The professor and classmates are older, have a higher educational background, and are at a level where technical perfection is secondary to music itself, albeit probably having a solid technique anyway. The child probably doesn't understand the ultimate goal of music, and probably doesn't feel inspired by other performers or to play harder pieces, so therefore doesn't see a point in practicing. So therefore, the parent needs to start smacking their kids to practise, or withholding their needs, e.g. dinner, to yield greater results. This is why so many Asians play the piano nowadays, and I too, at the early stages did not see a point to practise, and ever since I started to enjoy playing memorable pieces, I've been grateful for being forced to play at the initial stages, otherwise I would have lost valuable time during the prime stages of development.

Offline pianoplayer51

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Re: I said the word "B" to my student
«Reply #13 on: February 19, 2014, 01:15:23 AM »
I am not a teacher but am reading this from a students point.  Hope its ok to contribute  :-\

I was never a child piano student so I have no idea how I might have approached this as a child.  As an adult, it was MY decision to take up the piano so in a way that is different because I am doing it because I want to so therefore I will be prepared to work hard at it as I do.

Some children who are gifted musically enjoy it.   Some children do it because the parents want them to.   I do not feel that any kind of game strategies are going to make the child any more enthusiastic.   

Put it this way... I do not speak any other language than my own (English).   I never had the desire to learn a language.   My parents wanted me to learn Frenh and bought me a record of french lessons and a book that went with it, and every Saturday my dad who was quite good at French would sit me down and play the record and try to teach me.  I hated it.    I was 9 years of age and wanted to go and play but instead I was made to learn French.    I cannot speak French to this day.   

A child has to want to do it whether it is piano, language or anything else.

Offline faulty_damper

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Re: I said the word "B" to my student
«Reply #14 on: February 26, 2014, 04:52:01 AM »
So ChenWu,
How is this student doing now?

Offline chenwu

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Re: I said the word "B" to my student
«Reply #15 on: February 26, 2014, 05:24:52 PM »
So ChenWu,
How is this student doing now?

She's doing good. We did a little bit of sight-reading each hand and flashcards. She played a new piece and we worked carefully per line. To help her with her note-reading, I decided to use color coding for skipping and stepping notes. She found it very helpful. I'm glad it went well.

Offline justjosh

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Re: I said the "B" word to my student
«Reply #16 on: March 03, 2014, 06:02:43 AM »
When I teach my students, I don't sit there and let them just pluck out the notes and then tell them if they are wrong or right. I teach them how to teach themselves the piece. I give them suggestions about how to learn sections of the piece themselves at home. For example I will teach them a rhythmic exercise relating to the section of the piece they are working on. I will let them hum it out or sing along while I play the rhythm or even the actual piece. I get them to try to remember how it is supposed to sound because when they are at home and are not sure how it is supposed to go when I tell them to practice it is not going to mean a whole lot if they do not know what they are aiming for. If they really understand how the piece is supposed to sound and you tell them what they need to do to achieve that sound then when they are practicing you need to teach them to listen to themselves. At the lesson ask them questions as they are playing. Probe them. Does that sound like what we just did together? How do you think you can correct that problem? If you are teaching them the notes to the piece then you want to be focused only on that at the lesson, and tell your students to focus only on that. Tell them to make sure they are playing the right note before they hit the key. You might want to have them just finger the note then you assess if it is right or wrong. Then have them think and check again if it is wrong. You first have to be sure that they do understand the concept of reading notes as opposed to just memorizing the picture "this is a C" and then when they go home they can't remember the picture from the lesson. Because this is forum is mainly for those at an advanced level it is expected that they already know this although I have come across students who are supposedly at the advanced level who do not fully understand the concept of reading notes. I would also make them tell me what they should do to learn the piece. I would also recommend having them play hands together most of the time and only going hands separately when they need to stop to work out some difficult fingering or a difficult passage of the piece.

Offline tmbias

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Re: I said the "B" word to my student
«Reply #17 on: June 17, 2014, 04:47:55 PM »
You did not fail as a teacher. You just have to be explicit in your instruction by demonstrating why, how and when to practice. The best thing I do to motivate my students is to play the difficult parts during lessons and have them play them with me as a four handed piece to motivate them. It is also good to ask them before you start with any student what type of music or goal do you want to achieve on the piano. They may say I want to play pop music I would then play a pop song on the piano and then say we can learn this but to get here we have to learn some of the basics first and some technique. And as I teach piano I may thru the technical exercises and scales incorporate some the pop music composition as a piece to motivate them. Watch how they will eager to practice. I hope this helps.

Offline keyofc

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Re: I said the "B" word to my student
«Reply #18 on: August 26, 2014, 04:43:26 PM »
You are not a failure.  You may have failed in a particular instance.  Who hasn't failed in some way?
Keep trying and looking for new ways to communicate.
Communication is the hardest art to learn.