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#1516604 - 09/16/10 02:12 PM I have lost control of my students...
Revis Island Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 09/16/10
Posts: 3
Hi everyone. I will be 29 years old in a month and I have been teaching piano for about 9 years. I've been playing for 20. I used to teach full-time but now I teach part-time. I've lost control of my students and I need help.

I have 2 students tonight, 1 hour long each. One girl is about 13 and the other is 15 or 16. I brought them into a bad habit... right now they are working on songs that are harder than there level. When my studnets complain to me that what I give them is boring, I let them slide.

Can anyone here give me some advice on how to get my students under control? I want to start this tonight because every week I dread these two lessons. My students need to basically do what I tell them to do in the lesson instead of complaining about it...I just need help!!

Thanks to anyone who has input! smile

- John

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#1516617 - 09/16/10 02:23 PM Re: I have lost control of my students... [Re: Revis Island]
Ebony and Ivory Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/05
Posts: 1179
Loc: Minnesota
Well, it sounds like you know what to do. Now go do it smile

Tell them that they are getting better and better, but you want to really make sure they know the basics so you are going to add 1-2 technique pieces for them to do. If their music is beyond their abilities, tell them they can to a few measures a week, or come back to it later.

You will have to be firm with them and tell them that it is okay to think it's boring, but just like lots of other boring stuff they still have to do it. Split the pieces so they're not getting all boring stuff for the week.

I use sports as an example, nearly all kids are on one team or another. They probably aren't a big fan of all the drills and repetitive stuff they do at practice, but it makes them and the games better. It's just part of the deal.

If you say all these things in a friendly tone but firm enough that they know you mean it, they will have no choice but to accept it.

Good luck let us know how it goes for you!
_________________________
It is better to be kind than to be right.

Professional private piano teacher since 1994.

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#1516619 - 09/16/10 02:24 PM Re: I have lost control of my students... [Re: Revis Island]
Ebony and Ivory Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/05
Posts: 1179
Loc: Minnesota
Oh and welcome! I didn't notice that you were new here smile smile
_________________________
It is better to be kind than to be right.

Professional private piano teacher since 1994.

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#1516632 - 09/16/10 02:40 PM Re: I have lost control of my students... [Re: Revis Island]
david_a Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 2913
If you now ask them to stop playing those more-difficult pieces, they might be offended, embarrassed, or they might just be relieved not to have to do that anymore. Your judgment will be necessary on that point.

It can be inspiring for a student to work on something that is a little bit over his head, as long as he doesn't feel totally lost.

I have said to students in this type of situation, "You're doing a good job, and this piece is pretty hard. Wouldn't you like to work on something easier also? It makes people feel better when they do that." The students usually say "OK, that's a good idea."
_________________________
(I'm a piano teacher.)

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#1516633 - 09/16/10 02:40 PM Re: I have lost control of my students... [Re: Revis Island]
Revis Island Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 09/16/10
Posts: 3
Thanks!!

Can you reccomend some good short pieces that I could work on them with? They really need this... it's getting bad.

Also, any advice on handling someone when you give them something "boring" to work on and they literally pout about it??

smile

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#1516636 - 09/16/10 02:43 PM Re: I have lost control of my students... [Re: Revis Island]
david_a Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 2913
Hmm... in what way do they seem to find it boring? Maybe it really IS boring! smile
_________________________
(I'm a piano teacher.)

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#1516638 - 09/16/10 02:44 PM Re: I have lost control of my students... [Re: Revis Island]
Revis Island Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 09/16/10
Posts: 3
Well, when it's a song they don't know...or they actually need to work on timing etc they get bored. I really need help lol.

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#1516648 - 09/16/10 02:51 PM Re: I have lost control of my students... [Re: Revis Island]
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17786
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
Originally Posted By: Revis Island
Also, any advice on handling someone when you give them something "boring" to work on and they literally pout about it??

smile


Sounds to me like they are getting to the age where they want/need more input or control into what they learn. As a cranky Adult Beginner myself, I'm sympathetic to their desire to have input into their curriculum and would be inclined to be supportive of their initiative.

However, I'm also sympathetic to your goals of wanting to help your student attain the right levels of musicality.

How about this: When you are getting ready to assign something that teaches a needed skill, pick out 2 or 3 pieces that address the issue in question, mixing up the genres or styles of the music if possible, then preview the options quickly for the student, and let them choose which one they like the best to work on?

Or, maybe if they start complaining about a piece, put the onus on them to find an alternative, e.g., "I assigned this piece because it is an excellent way to learn [X, Y, Z], which is a skill you need to develop. If you can find a piece you like better that taps into the same skill, bring it in and maybe we can use that one instead." This approach is of course a little riskier than the first one.
_________________________
Mason & Hamlin A -- 91997
My YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/pianomonica

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#1516669 - 09/16/10 03:20 PM Re: I have lost control of my students... [Re: Monica K.]
Ebony and Ivory Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/05
Posts: 1179
Loc: Minnesota
Originally Posted By: Monica K.
pick out 2 or 3 pieces that address the issue in question, mixing up the genres or styles of the music if possible, then preview the options quickly for the student, and let them choose which one they like the best to work on?


I do this too. That way they have a say in it, but you're still getting them to do what they need to do. If they still pout (13 year olds tend to do that wink ) and tell you they don't like any of them, just say "okay, well, which one do you hate the least" with a little wink and make them pick one. I have had to do that with many kids. If I left it up to them, I'd be playing "samples" for them the entire lesson!
_________________________
It is better to be kind than to be right.

Professional private piano teacher since 1994.

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#1516868 - 09/16/10 08:18 PM Re: I have lost control of my students... [Re: Revis Island]
Candywoman Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/14/03
Posts: 851
I'd start the lesson with, "I think you might like doing something different this lesson." Guage their response. If they're not too worried that you won't be hearing their pieces, it's a sign they weren't practicing them anyways.

Then try one of the following options:
1) a duet
2) a piece by Lajos Papp, a Hungarian composer. Often his pieces have novel effects like silently holding down notes which will then sound sympathetically when others are struck.
3) Find a good pedaling piece such as one of the Six Moods by Rocherolle, or Ivan Sings by Khachaturian. Discuss the pedal in detail, explaining that the "undamper" pedal would be a better name for the damper pedal.
4) Teach them how to teach the first lesson to a beginner. Girls, especially, enjoy imagining themselves as teachers. When you role-play the six-year-old, be sure to include one yawn and protestation of boredom to see how they get your focus back.
5) Introduce an interesting study or piece like Courant Limpide by Burgmuller. Make sure you point things out in numbered steps, so they feel you know exactly where you're going with it.
Good Luck!

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