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#1406556 - 03/29/10 07:02 PM changing gears
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4801
Loc: South Florida
I just wondered how the rest of you handle the adjustment of going from a very eager, hard-working student to another who does that absolute minimum possible work and gives very little cooperation.

For me it is always about 10 times as difficult to stay patient while going very slowly after working with someone who is advancing very quickly. smile


Edited by Gary D. (03/29/10 07:02 PM)
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#1406608 - 03/29/10 07:56 PM Re: changing gears [Re: Gary D.]
rocket88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 3160
Its always hard.

The only thing I do is remember that in the long run, whatever is taking place in the music studio will have a positive impact on the student's life as long as I do not lose my patience.

That positive effect could be anything, ranging from an improvement in math, or fine motor skills, to actually laying the groundwork for future musical expression.

For example, several years ago I had a boy student from about 10 years old to about 14. He had a terrible time focusing, and never could play much of anything. Lessons with him were a chore...I enjoyed his company, but he rarely practiced, and when he did, the results were poor.

Well, he came back to the studio for lessons two weeks ago, paying for them himself. He is now almost 20, and somehow, in some kind of way, the essential basics of piano not only stayed with him, but came out ok.

He remembers how to read, his hand posture is fantastic, and somehow he is now capable of playing well, and is interested.

I was completely surprised.

So you never know. Just be nice, kind, and patient no matter what, and let what happens happen.

ps...If you can schedule the high performers at the end of the day, or after a slow performer, it might make the day go better.
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Music teacher and piano player.

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#1406609 - 03/29/10 07:56 PM Re: changing gears [Re: Gary D.]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7368
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Gary, it just makes me want to scream - "What's the matter with you? You're parents are giving you this wonderful gift and making this huge sacrifice and you're blowing it off as nothing."
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

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#1406716 - 03/29/10 10:46 PM Re: changing gears [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
It doesn't bother me at all. One is an achiever and the other has not found his good attitude, skill set, or passion for life, and actually may never do so despite where his life experiences take him.

We are patterned and programmed in our early childhood with experiences that work for us and some that don't. Motivation, discipline, self respect, happiness, self-esteem in not a plug-in to set of characteristics. Some have had a happy and productive childhood that created enthusiasm and energy in the learner. He never has a boring moment. The other kid has not discovered enough tools to apply to daily life and he lacks the "spark" of self-iniating.

I think it's my job to find out how to make each of them "tick" and come to life in their music and expression of life. One already feels the potential and is cooperating with the teacher to travel the path but the other is rather numb.

I think it's we who don't like to deal with such things as it seems negative and uncooperative and likely to be a dead end in teaching. As a teacher I have to remain realistic, but I also see the opportunity to be the person who can make a difference in their life and inspire them to overcome their inertia and lack of confidence.

It has little to do with me, it's about them.

I can tolerate and accept the situation just fine but because there are often times that these inactions can be stressful I would not put the underachiever in a time slot where another student interfaced with him. And, I would give myself about 10-15 minutes on each side of his lesson to rebalance and recover from anything that might have been jarring or unpleasant about his lesson. I would stick with him until I was assured that I had no other option but to part with him. It would not be hasty or fault finding departure. I would tell him that I appreciated the opportunity to work with him and tell him to try again and try often to find his way in music, perhaps in a different instrument. I wouldn't want to eliminate his possibilities for another time in his life because of the irritation he heard from me about his not living up to my expectation.

Mine would not be a passive lesson environment we would be busy at the lesson as though it were his only opportunity all week to have time at the piano that was encouraging and expectant. Sparks take some effort to ignite in the first place. That's all I'm trying to do is be someone's spark and point him in the right direction.

I think every teacher has to do what he or she finds to be realistic. So, Gary and John, I'm not trying to talk you out of it, I'm saying that I find that I have a different response to this problem.

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#1406826 - 03/30/10 02:25 AM Re: changing gears [Re: Betty Patnude]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4801
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude
It doesn't bother me at all. One is an achiever and the other has not found his good attitude, skill set, or passion for life, and actually may never do so despite where his life experiences take him.

Betty, I simply said:
Quote:

For me it is always about 10 times as difficult to stay patient while going very slowly after working with someone who is advancing very quickly.

I did not say that I give up on the slower learners. I did not say that I don't try just as hard to reach them, sometimes harder.

I also did not say that on any day, no matter how well it is going, that teaching a slow or more challenging student, after a quick one, gets me down.

But some days are harder than others, and some day I have less energy, less patience and perhaps less confidence in what I am doing.

I also don't have 100% control over my schedule, since it is not always possible to plan extra time before a difficult student. Frankly, I can't afford to schedule blank time during hours when I can potentially teach. Financial realities mean that at a time in my life when I am close to retirement age I actually have to hope to work HARDER than before just to pay bills. Medical premiums shot up 50% in the last two years so that our annual cost is now about $17,000 a year BEFORE paying a $5,000 deductable in case my wife or I have any serious health issues. And we can't change companies because I have pre-existing conditions. The health care bill just passed promises to do nothing for us (since there is no guarantee that future ridiculous premium rate hikes will not happen again), so my student load is climbing back up to where it used to be and may, in fact, again approach 50 students a week if the economy continues to improve.

I suppose I bring some baggage to lessons on difficult days (I am not able to magically forget all the problems we face personally), and there are days when the effort to not let any of that cross over into lessons leaves me absolutely exhausted by the time I am finished.

You don't have bad days? You don't ever get discouraged with students who don't cooperate? You never feel like expressing your irritation at parents who do not take any responsibility for the efforts made by their children? Or the children who are enrolled in about 15 different activities, having no time to do any of them well?

When I express a certain amount of what I think is understandable frustration at the experiences most of us face, I can see how other students might not understand it. But when another teacher says, "It doesn't matter to me at all," I start doubting my own sanity.

I don't feel as though I live in the same world as many of you. Not even in the same universe.


Edited by Gary D. (03/30/10 02:27 AM)
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#1406861 - 03/30/10 04:22 AM Re: changing gears [Re: Gary D.]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5486
Loc: Orange County, CA
Gary:

I see it more as a long "plateau." Some kids I've taught advanced really fast for a year or two, and they it's like they hit the wall. We go over the same problems lesson after lesson. I just have to remind myself that not all kids progress at the same speed, or at a linear pace. If anything, it allows me to be more creative at lessons. Maybe it's the repertoire? Or too much theory? Or the whole testing thing? I know that, as long as I've tried different approaches with these kids, I've done my part. Sometimes it's the parents? Who knows. I think I've become increasingly creative and flexible over the years, and more and more creative as a teacher.
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#1407092 - 03/30/10 12:50 PM Re: changing gears [Re: AZNpiano]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Gary,

I now understand that it is not really about the contrast of teaching two such disparate students back to back nor about teaching them to their needs.

It's seems more about getting what you need to provide yourself with a happy teaching day and condusive environment for you. That's a real necessity in my opinion.

We spend 25% of our monthly income in medical plans and fees and have since August 2008 - over $7500 per year for basic health plans and services. Not counting copays, deductibles, donut hole, or other medical expenses. We are not able to sustain this anymore than other senior citizens are. And, we cannot live without it as we have diseases and disorders that are terminal too. So this is a big boat to float and only one of the areas in our financial lives.

The idea of teaching 50 students at my age with my physical limitations makes me spin. I've taught 10 students, a little more sometimes, a little less sometimes in the past 4 years. I have one day (Wednesday) where the majority attend and 2 other days where there is 1 or 2 students scheduled.

Fortunately my studio runs itself well and there is very little stress from the kinds of things that cope and deal with, your "baggage" so to speak.

Gary, you really must work on removing it from your thoughts on your teaching days. I have fatigue and huge energy problems at times (diabetes - I'm highly resistant to insulin - and my care is a huge expense to me) and I have 2 knees that suffered injury in (2003) and I'm basically sedentary and walk with a cane. I cope with pain frequently. I have a right neck/shoulder/arm injury (2005) which has just about ended my piano playing for myself and put a huge limitation on the housework I'm capable of doing. My energy level must be carefully measured out every day. I am experiencing new severe pain in my right side from the waist down to my toes since last Friday morning at 4:00 AM. Probably a vertabrae problem as I have deteriorating discs in my neck and back.

I would love to have 25 to 40 students again because my mind is as good as it ever was and I have a lot to contribute still, thank goodness. But, I could never teach even one student if I had my anger and resentment being carried over into my piano teaching. My time with my students is the very best part of my week and I will do everything I can to preserve it for them and for me. Reciprocity is what I get from my students - what I give them returns to me many times over. It's as golden as the income producing is and income is more essential to me and my husband than at any other time of our lives - 49 years of marriage.

I think we have some comparable things in our lives, Gary.

"Changing gears" was a great title for a topic like this!

I truly wish you well and it bothers me greatly that some of what I say bothers you so much. We are on different wave lengths so to speak. I hope you find ways to alleviate these issues for yourself, as it's very much about you and your perceptions and I'd say the same applies to myself. We each have an inner world and an outer world and we have more control over our inner world - which to me is like my "sanctuary".

My best wishes to you and to piano teachers who are in our age group. Our shoulders have gotten really wide from our life's experiences.

Betty Patnude


Edited by Betty Patnude (03/30/10 12:51 PM)

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#1407104 - 03/30/10 01:05 PM Re: changing gears [Re: Gary D.]
Diane... Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/16/06
Posts: 3450
Loc: Western Canada
Originally Posted By: Gary D.
I just wondered how the rest of you handle the adjustment of going from a very eager, hard-working student to another who does that absolute minimum possible work and gives very little cooperation.

For me it is always about 10 times as difficult to stay patient while going very slowly after working with someone who is advancing very quickly. smile


Well sometimes I think I needed to have a psychology degree! grin

But yes, why some students will work so hard sometimes astounds me! And then, trying to impress on other students that this is a gift the parents are giving them just doesn't seem to get through!

Just like the example of trying to "force" a student to stand when they don't want to is impossible! But if you can just say something or change their thinking that motivates "them" to stand up one their own, is a lot easier.

One thing that has worked is "reverse psychology" and add just a pinch of "jealous"! Yes, jealousy is a strong emotion and can really motivate a student to want something badly! So I do this sometimes with reverse psychology! I just have to figure out what works for them. Being creative in this way has proved successful!

So go ahead and try "reverse psychology! Can work wonders. But hurts my brain a lot!!!!!!

Why can't all students just be perfect? Is that asking too much! grin
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Diane
Jazz/Blues/Rock/Boogie Piano Teacher


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#1407142 - 03/30/10 01:41 PM Re: changing gears [Re: Diane...]
rocket88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 3160
Diane, can you give us an specific example of reverse psychology, as applied to piano students. I'd like to try it.
_________________________
Music teacher and piano player.

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#1407182 - 03/30/10 02:30 PM Re: changing gears [Re: rocket88]
Diane... Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/16/06
Posts: 3450
Loc: Western Canada
Originally Posted By: rocket88
Diane, can you give us an specific example of reverse psychology, as applied to piano students. I'd like to try it.


Just for the record, I don't lie, but I may stretch the truth just a little, or drag it out to entice my victim. Will have to admit that one time or the other my tactic has backfired. Will share that one at the end!

Okay, well you have to be creative and you have to design each strategy for each student.

Example 1 - Had a student who was just getting thru doing the minimal amount of work. So I told him that I had 3 other students that wanted his piano time slot, so if he didn't really want to take piano lessons, he could quit because another student was ready and willing to take "his" spot! Yes that one worked wonders!

Example 2 - The next student is a teen and I have a very attractive daughter. So, I made sure that she was home when he came for his lesson. And asked her on occasion just come in while he was having his lesson, and ask me about shoes she was going to wear. His head almost turned backwards when she was around. He never ever missed a lesson. And she MC's at all my recitals! Seem all my teen boys work hard! Yes, that one worked wonders!

Example 3 - Told another student that he could play the piano at our church, but he had to work before I would let him. He got done the work I wanted him to, and he played the piano at the church! That one worked wonders!

Example 4 - Told a student that if she didn't practice harder, I would put her into an exam! That one worked wonders!

Example 5 - Had two sisters, and I got them competing against each other! They were sort of at the same level. They both worked really hard, and the younger one got extremely jealous! Jealousy can be good, but what happened was I got a phone call from the mother, and found out that the younger daughter was "so" jealous that the older sister was getting so good, that she sabotoged her music by marking it up with black marker and shredding up all and every piece of sheet music her sister had. So the mom called me and said because the younger daughter was misbehaving like this, she was stopping her piano lessons, even though she loved her piano lessons, the mom had to discipline the younger one! So I lost a student! Well, this one backfired!

As I've said before, find there "button" and push it! grin
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http://www.pianoworld.com/Uploads/files/goldsparkledress.jpg
Diane
Jazz/Blues/Rock/Boogie Piano Teacher


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