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Topic Options
#1245896 - 08/08/09 08:02 PM Re: Problem with a parent - Advice please [Re: Candywoman]
pianogal37 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/25/09
Posts: 214
To respond to Candywoman, I have no concerns regarding how my son is doing at piano now that I am teaching him. He enjoys it much more, and is making excellent progress in both theory and practical.
Bach French Suites No. 6, Allemande and Gigue, Beethoven's Pathetique, Chopin Nocturne 72/1, Fantaisie-Impromptu, Debussy's First Arabesque, Takacs Toccata Op 54, Rachmaninoff Etude-Tableau 33/8.

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#1245911 - 08/08/09 08:20 PM Re: Problem with a parent - Advice please [Re: Candywoman]
Piano*Dad Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10647
Loc: Williamsburg, VA

You are free to teach using whatever methods you choose. You are also free to think that every parent who works with their child is a caricature of the 'helicopter parent' that the contemporary popular media so warns us about.

Reasonable parents understand the need to allow children to grow independently. But as keystring tells us, there are many ways to help children develop into healthy and independent adults. And independence is only one virtue. Knowledge and skill acquisition is another.

Lastly, families can walk and chew gum at the same time. A parent can sit in on some lessons or assist at some percentage of the student's home practice time without turning the child into a helpless and indecisive appendage. If you raise 'independence' to the chief and only virtue you can sometimes wind up with a self-indulgent failure who doesn't know what achievement really is. Yes, I know that this is a caricature as well, but it is just as plausible as the failed helicopter child of the pop psychologists on morning TV these days.

I happen to value achievement. (Yes, I'm sure you do too). I also think that rapid achievement is an ally to developing true independence. I'm willing to grant that there may be many paths to that virtue. I'm not willing to accept that the only way to that virtue is for parents who happen to have useful skills to become furniture while their children struggle with complete independence.

As bitWrangler notes, Gary has posted very sensible and practical thoughts:

The answer is simple. If more is learned with a parent present, observing in lessons and helping at home, I WANT the parent there.

There are very few parents who want to be in the lessons week after week, as the weeks turn into months and the months turn into years. Often the younger students tell their parents that they feel they are ready to work only with me.

In general, the amount of things that my six year-old students can either get wrong, between lessons, or not absorb completely, in lessons, is huge. I weight parental involvement totally on whether or not the parent is helping.

#1245945 - 08/08/09 09:44 PM Re: Problem with a parent - Advice please [Re: BrizzyGrace]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 13306
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: BrizzyGrace

I have a problem with a parent and I am hoping that you may be able to help me handle this in an appropriate manner.

I have a mother, who questions my teaching and picks me up on minor things just about every week.(One example - I was chastised about writing in the "wrong place" in the homework book. I accidentally did not write on the very next clean page.)

She is also heavily involved with the children's practicing, and, on occasion, has the children (there are two) working ahead in the book and doing what she thinks they should be doing and not what I have asked that they do.

This constant scrutiny is really getting to me and slowly eroding away my confidence.

I am a mature-age student teacher (teaching under supervision - still studying with an excellent teacher).

This parent knows of my student status and I am wondering if this is influencing their behaviour towards me?

I really enjoy teaching the children and they are coming along nicely, however this parent is really getting under my skin and I can feel the flutters of anxiety starting, days before they come for their lesson.

I put a lot into my teaching and I take it very seriously. My parents sit in on the lessons and this is non-negotiable (as per my request).

All suggestions gratefully received,


Sorry I'm a little late to the discussion. I have had families like this in the past. One that I can think of would question a lot of what I taught her daughter. I let the mom know that it undermined me as an authority and prevented the daughter from learning at all, resulting in her wasting her money. If she was paying me to be the teacher, then she has to let me be the teacher.

I think you need to have a good one-on-one with the mom (preferably with no kids present) to let her know this. Don't even mention the pointing out of mistakes specifically, because I hardly think that skipping a blank page is worthy of even mentioning. Really what she is doing is trying to put you down, and looking for anything she can find to do it. Let her know either she trusts in you and your judgment, or she should find another teacher that better suits her needs.
private piano/voice teacher FT

#1246029 - 08/09/09 02:23 AM Re: Problem with a parent - Advice please [Re: Morodiene]
jotur Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 6141
Loc: Santa Fe, NM
Glen R -

From a math teacher to a math teacher -



Practice like you are the worst; play like you are the best - anonymous

#1246107 - 08/09/09 09:57 AM Re: Problem with a parent - Advice please [Re: jotur]
Glen R. Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/03/09
Posts: 130
Loc: Alberta, Canada
Originally Posted By: jotur
Glen R -

From a math teacher to a math teacher -



Hey, another math teacher! Nice to hear another one who agrees with me!

Edited by Glen R. (08/09/09 09:59 AM)
Be the person your dog thinks you are.

#1246118 - 08/09/09 10:26 AM Re: Problem with a parent - Advice please [Re: Glen R.]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 13306
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
In response to the idea of parental observation (and I mean observation, not intrusion), I think it depends on the family dynamic. In the past I have had parents that desire to sit in on lessons due to the comfort level of the child. I have allowed this and there were no problems.

However, one boy who was particularly insecure (his mother is a principal at the middle school) insisted that mom was there all the time. I let this go for a while since I wanted him to be comfortable. However, after a while I felt that he needed to learn to be a bit more independent. This boy is in 3rd grade, by the way. So I suggested to mom that she stay for a bit and then go shopping, or leave for a few minutes during the lesson. Eventually he became more comfortable and less insecure in himself. I don't think mom was a helicopter, but I do think that there was a bit too much dependence on her in general with regards to playing piano. He needed to learn some self-reliance, that he could do it himself, even if he made mistakes. He's gotten much better and is less nervous during lessons, although if I don't see him in a while the nerves come back. It's a process, but it has been only done with the cooperation of the mother, both of us being on the same side. Without that, no learning will happen with the child.
private piano/voice teacher FT

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