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HELP! (Read 893 times)

Offline dinulip

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HELP!
« on: August 15, 2019, 12:02:31 AM »
I just received this e-mail from the mother of one of my very talented students. He just turned 12, but comes from a family where there is no musical culture and where competitive sports (such as football and swimming) seem to be more encouraged. I am very sad because he's been my student for 5 years, and has just started to learn more exciting repertoire... 

Here is his mother's message :

"I am having a hard time getting (boy's name) to continue with piano lessons. Any advice?"

How would you react to this? I am at a total loss. :(

Offline brogers70

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Re: HELP!
«Reply #1 on: August 15, 2019, 02:06:37 AM »
My first reaction is to ask her to bring him to his next lesson so you can talk with him about whether he wants to continue.

Offline dogperson

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Re: HELP!
«Reply #2 on: August 15, 2019, 03:10:46 AM »
My first reaction is to ask her to bring him to his next lesson so you can talk with him about whether he wants to continue.


Assuming you have a good relationship with the student, I would add:  talk to the student ALONE.  You want an honest answer and you may not get it with a parent present.

Online lostinidlewonder

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Re: HELP!
«Reply #3 on: August 15, 2019, 05:22:48 AM »
It is dissapointing when a student is doing well all of a sudden decides to finish their lessons with you, it is an experience all teachers can relate to.  We generally cannot make students want to study a subject, that excitement to learn needs to be met from both sides for a healthy lesson environment.

Some students who don't want to do lessons have parents who are quick to support their choice but then there are others who will still carry on with lessons (either for a set period or a loosely defined time). Depending on which parents you are dealing with really controls what you can do. In these situations if a parent will only continue lessons if the child is completely happy then you are fighting a battle with one arm tied behind your back.

You can try to keep the lesson alive as long as possible by given them less work. I've noticed some students I've taught for several years can feel that the difficulty of piano is climbing and climbing and they feel like they would like just to play in the realms which they are more comfortable with for an extended period rather than constantly building up and up. Some of these students have left lessons with me because they can play all the works they like a the level of piano they are satisfied with even though they could improve and get better their current choice is to remain at a certain level. Some have called back in for lessons after they were ready to move ahead and a few out of the blue years later!

This becomes an important point to consider as teachers as we improve our students skills. After many years with a student we need to measure if the student wants to actually get better or is feeling pressured by improving past a certain point. As teachers of piano most of us play at a high level and have constanatly pushed our learning and playing capabilities, however we have to stop and consider that not all students that come to us see piano in this light and some simply want to be able to get to a certain level they are personally happy with. Each persons musical maturity has their own development over a personal timeline.
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Offline dinulip

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Re: HELP!
«Reply #4 on: August 15, 2019, 01:27:09 PM »
Thank you so much for your comments. They are helpful! Unfortunately, I seem to be  dealing with a mom who wants her child to be completely happy with what he is doing - in other words, who does not teach him to work towards the rewards that come only with dedication and persistence.

Do you think this would be a good idea to speak with her eye-to-eye, over a coffee - or would that be improper? There are so many things I would like to discuss with her - and never find the time to do it between lessons.

Hope to read you again soon! :)

Offline keypeg

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Re: HELP!
«Reply #5 on: August 15, 2019, 07:05:51 PM »
If the boy is 12, I would talk to the boy and find out what makes him tick, what his priorities are and so on. How can you work with the student, if you only know the mother's wishes?  He is the one who is your student. ;)

Offline sucom

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Re: HELP!
«Reply #6 on: September 14, 2019, 09:00:52 PM »
I have found that quite a lot of children give up after reaching a certain level and it can be frustrating for a teacher to see a child with potential then choose to quit.  But then again, not everyone wishes to be a concert pianist or wishes to devote the time required by playing piano to a higher level.

I've seen it happen many times. Those that have a passion for it will tend to see practice as an enjoyable pastime and keep going regardless whereas those who may have talent but less passion won't feel completely happy about piano practice taking up so much of their time - time which could be spent finding other activities they might feel passionate about.

I have a very definite belief that those students who are with you are with you because they are meant to be there, and those students who leave do so because life is sending them in a different direction.  It's sad to lose a good student but it's not for teachers to suggest the direction any particular student should take.  That direction must always be felt and taken by the student himself. 

Before giving up on a student, however, it's obviously beneficial to ask the student himself how he feels about it.  I have always believed that everyone is in the right place at the right time doing the right thing for them.  Nothing can stop that or change it.  We are all on our own journey so if a student wishes to leave, wish them well and move on, staying focussed on the ones who are spending time with you enjoying their lessons.  Those are the students to concentrate on!