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#1530227 - 10/07/10 01:33 PM Whiny lazy kid ...HELP!!!
Feminicricket Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/06/10
Posts: 136
Loc: USA
I have a recent transfer student from another teacher from the school where I teach. I have known this child who is turning eight this year to be whiny and lazy even before she came to me because I know her previous teacher. Trouble is the mom wants to continue lessons and has enrolled her with me of all people. In one year , she has barely learned anything from her last teacher who is a really good teacher.I can`t talk her out of her classes because it is tricky working for a music school where they are particular about you retaining their students. For me it is not about money. I would gladly tell her mom that she is wasting her money and my time. How do I deal with this child? Any tips to motivate her? Any 'lectures' I can give her. She comes into class and whines and slouches herself over the keyboard. When I make her go over her mistakes to correct them she says"What?Again? NOOOO!" Starts again slouching over the keyboard and treats the piano like a big pillow to lay her cute head. She is really testing my patience because I am not the lovey dovey kind of teachers and expect kids to behave in my class or I actually tell them off firmly but as kindly as possible. Please HELP! My first measure is to insist that the mom sits in the class with me today.
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#1530267 - 10/07/10 02:11 PM Re: Whiny lazy kid ...HELP!!! [Re: Feminicricket]
Lollipop Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/09
Posts: 820
Loc: Georgia
I have one like this! She's been with me for 3 years now, and is only now getting better... by which I mean, non-whiney lessons are probably 75% now. I don't know if it's anything I'm doing, or if she's just growing out of it. It's been rough, though.

Here are a few things I've done: Bribe. I have a bowl of candy in the room - it is my no-whining candy. Students are allowed to choose one piece at the end of the lesson. I'm pretty "easy" about it, but I have denied this child candy 3 times. (And never denied any other student.) In addition, she has denied herself a few more times. Most of the time, it just takes a reminder about no-whining.

Father sits in on lessons. She is worse when mother sits in. At first I was surprised that the parents didn't deal with this, but I think they are the sort that doesn't believe in disciplining in front of other people. I was intimidated by the parents at first, but now I freely scold, cajole, etc. I have suggested to the parents (in front of the child) that an earlier bedtime might help her cope better with her attitude problems.

Mom's explanation is that the child is a perfectionist and doesn't want to fail. This may well be the case, but child has also learned to manipulate with it.

I find it helps to ignore the behavior when possible. Sit patiently, and repeat your command. "We're going to play it over and over until I'm satisfied that you understand it. It's up to you how long it takes." Sometimes I speak perhaps a bit sharply - "you're wasting my time. Stop it." Or "I don't wanna hear it." I do this rarely, and as I'm generally a pretty nice, easygoing teacher, it usually catches her attention.

Just recently, I've started ending work on a piece as soon as the whining gets intolerable. "We're going to stop now; this is obviously too distressing for you." Interestingly, I've pulled this trick twice, and she looked shocked and ashamed both times. Perhaps I'm playing into her fear of failure; I think that is what is causing the most improvement.

Both times, this has occurred near the end of the lesson. My back-pocket plan is to remove her from the keyboard and do drills or games with her, letting her know that I am doing it because piano seems too hard for her right now, and maybe she can try again another day when she is feeling more capable, after she's had a chance to practice learning this way. My rationale is to treat the piano itself as a privilege, not a right.

Another thing I started doing recently is keeping my own notebook - apart from the student's notebook - on which I take notes during the lesson. In hers, I make a note of what she "finds too hard." (I don't call it whining, I call it things she is having trouble with.) When she starts whining, and I pull out my notebook and write something like, "trouble playing things several times in a row." She doesn't like this, and tries to prove me wrong.

In your case, I would ask the child outright if she whines like this at school, and what the teacher does about it? You can also ask her what she would like you to do about it, or what is the best way to get her to stop? You can suggest that you would be happy to play Dominoes with her and just skip the piano all together, if that's what she wants. Just let her know that you are NOT interested in listening to the whining.

I do find this kind of student to be very draining! Having a plan has helped me be a bit more in control, even if it hasn't changed the child as quickly as I would have liked. I hope you find something that works.
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#1530275 - 10/07/10 02:19 PM Re: Whiny lazy kid ...HELP!!! [Re: Feminicricket]
danshure Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/29/10
Posts: 347
Loc: Massachusetts
No lectures
No mom in the room
No disciplining

I have found what works EVERY time with situations like this is to find something they like (sorry for the cliche but it really is the solution). I had one student like this, and as soon as we started using recording software on the computer each lesson, and learning about that as well as piano, he has been fine.

Another student has responded well to constant new material - new songs, new games etc.

Another student responded really well to limits and clear clear expectations. We write a lesson plan on the board every week. He knows exactly what to expect. I give him the responsibility to stay on track in terms of the time.

Try something active at the beginning to work out some of her energy.
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#1530286 - 10/07/10 02:29 PM Re: Whiny lazy kid ...HELP!!! [Re: Lollipop]
Feminicricket Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/06/10
Posts: 136
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: Lollipop
Mom's explanation is that the child is a perfectionist and doesn't want to fail. This may well be the case, but child has also learned to manipulate with it.



In your case, I would ask the child outright if she whines like this at school, and what the teacher does

I do find this kind of student to be very draining! Having a plan has helped me be a bit more in control, even if it hasn't changed the child as quickly as I would have liked. I hope you find something that works.

I had another student (not with me anymore) whose mom told me that it is because she( the child) is a perfectionist the child gets easily upset when corrected . This child used to stomp her foot and cry(8 year old). She used to actually walk out of class teary eyed. Never practices and finally I got a letter from the mom to "mind what I say to her child". I thought "What!?" Her child is a brat in class and she expects me to tolerate this nonsense?

Lollipop, I really admire you to have pulled through with your 'whiny one'. I am going to try your suggestions for sure. I am going to try every bit of suggestion given on this thread. Thank you so much!


Edited by Feminicricket (10/07/10 02:33 PM)
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#1530288 - 10/07/10 02:32 PM Re: Whiny lazy kid ...HELP!!! [Re: danshure]
Feminicricket Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/06/10
Posts: 136
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: danshure


Try something active at the beginning to work out some of her energy.


She needs to be shaken up from her laziness. I will try this too. Thanks.


Edited by Feminicricket (10/07/10 02:36 PM)
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#1530291 - 10/07/10 02:38 PM Re: Whiny lazy kid ...HELP!!! [Re: Feminicricket]
Feminicricket Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/06/10
Posts: 136
Loc: USA
Maybe we all should have a 'whine' list?
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#1530292 - 10/07/10 02:38 PM Re: Whiny lazy kid ...HELP!!! [Re: danshure]
D4v3 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/07/09
Posts: 501
Loc: Fort Worth, Texas
If it isnt about the money have you thought about saying this to the mom:

"I have been noticing that <child's name> doesnt seem to be enjoying her lessons. I tend to suggest children that are frustrated (not paying attention or not wanting review areas that need to be worked), take a break from music lessons and then after a couple of months see if the child would like to resume lessons."

They will either talk to the child to get them to behave, or pull the child out of lessons (which may be the best thing at this time) or go to another teacher.
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#1530297 - 10/07/10 02:43 PM Re: Whiny lazy kid ...HELP!!! [Re: D4v3]
Feminicricket Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/06/10
Posts: 136
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: D4v3
If it isnt about the money have you thought about saying this to the mom:

"I have been noticing that <child's name> doesnt seem to be enjoying her lessons. I tend to suggest children that are frustrated (not paying attention or not wanting review areas that need to be worked), take a break from music lessons and then after a couple of months see if the child would like to resume lessons."

They will either talk to the child to get them to behave, or pull the child out of lessons (which may be the best thing at this time) or go to another teacher.

As I said in my original post, it is tricky doing this in a music school where you teach one to one. If she was a private at home student of mine, she would be out of my class if she carries this on.


Edited by Feminicricket (10/07/10 02:43 PM)
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#1530308 - 10/07/10 02:53 PM Re: Whiny lazy kid ...HELP!!! [Re: Feminicricket]
david_a Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 2913
Laziness is VERY rarely the actual problem. Laziness is mainly just a sign that something else is wrong. Sometimes the "something else" is under your control; other times maybe not. Dan's essential advice, to try something different rather than trying to do the same thing better, might be just what's needed.

Many years ago I had a very young student who was under a great deal of pressure at home. (New divorce, angry parents, frightened little boy.) He was (no surprise) very lazy in piano practice and in lessons. I soon figured out why, but I felt there was not much I could do other than try to make his lesson the safest most predictable place he had been that day, and do my best to teach him something. Not sure I even succeeded at those goals...
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#1530317 - 10/07/10 03:01 PM Re: Whiny lazy kid ...HELP!!! [Re: david_a]
AZNpiano Online   sleepy
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5454
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: david_a
Laziness is VERY rarely the actual problem.


Really? Speak to some teachers at your local public schools. Laziness is pandemic. mad Even among the honors students laziness is rampant. Kids today want to get the most out of doing the least amount of work. You rarely find hard workers.

Try teaching at a low-performing school. Yikes!
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#1530320 - 10/07/10 03:09 PM Re: Whiny lazy kid ...HELP!!! [Re: Feminicricket]
david_a Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 2913
OK, you're right, let me rephrase that:

Laziness is very rarely the problem that needs solving, because there's almost always another problem directly causing it, and if you don't fix the other thing, then the laziness comes back.
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#1530339 - 10/07/10 03:48 PM Re: Whiny lazy kid ...HELP!!! [Re: AZNpiano]
Andy Platt Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/28/10
Posts: 2380
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
Kids today want to get the most out of doing the least amount of work. You rarely find hard workers.


Today? Every generation has claimed that kid's today are lazy as if the things used to be different but there are ample quotes from previous generations about how kids are lazy and don't want to work. I try to remember back to my childhood ... what was I "lazy" at? Mostly things I never wanted to do in the first place? Sounds like there are some good ideas about helping this become something she wants to do and hopefully that will help.
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#1530566 - 10/07/10 08:50 PM Re: Whiny lazy kid ...HELP!!! [Re: Feminicricket]
Feminicricket Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/06/10
Posts: 136
Loc: USA
So this is what happened today. The student came in with her mom but her mom was oblivious to the kid`s lazy ,sloppy behavior. I kept telling the kid,"Please sit properly and don`t put your ankle over your knee". She told me that she forgot to practice this week. I told the mom that learning music is like learning a new language. You have to practice at home or you`ll forget it. She told me that she wants her daughter to have fun and not be under pressure. To have an enjoyable time at her class. So I told the mom to get her daughter to put in at least 15mins a day everyday (which is not enough). She looked at me like I was nuts.
People think that piano lessons are just fun,fun and fun and you don`t have to work at all just because the musician they hear sounds like he is having fun. Guess what? He had to practice (for hours everyday for years) to get where he is. Take your daughter to the beach or the park if you want her to have fun and not practice. What is wrong with people!?
Anyway, I calmly told her that her daughter should practice something everyday even for 10 minutes. If not, she is going to have very little or no progress. I was wondering if some people actually think that going to music lessons is like going to the spa???
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LEARNING AND IMPROVING NEVER STOPS. It would be boring if it did.

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#1530587 - 10/07/10 09:31 PM Re: Whiny lazy kid ...HELP!!! [Re: Feminicricket]
Lollipop Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/09
Posts: 820
Loc: Georgia
Feminicricket - Sounds like Mom will not be supportive. Since you don't really have a choice about teaching this child, I guess you'll have to make the best of it. Can a student learn to play piano in 30 minutes per week (without practicing)? Yes, actually. They may be 99 by the time they get to hands together, though. wink But I suspect this child's whiny attitude and frustration is due in part to the lack of success she feels. To a certain extent, mom is right - it needs to be fun.

So, for thirty minutes each week, play games, do flashcards, dance, whatever. Remove all expectations. Review the previous week's piece. (Do NOT give more than one.) If the child could pass the piece in one week by practicing it every day, then perhaps she can pass it in one month, by practicing it with you once a week. But you will somehow need to stay encouraging. Find something you like and harp on it. Wow - beautiful hand position! Hey! You only made 4 mistakes in that measure; let's try again and see if you can make only 3!

I think the key with her will be to make the steps so incremental that you have something to celebrate each week. And as the student begins to feel successful, she will move toward the piano more on her own.

I don't know what level she is at - I am assuming that she is still pretty low skill-wise - if practicing has been an ongoing issue. If so, that's good news. It's easier to improve from the lower levels. However, resist the urge to pass her on something too soon. (Although "good enough" might have to do.) You may even need to back up, but choosing a "new" book that repeats some of the concepts she should have learned previously but didn't. I don't think in this situation that I would even mention practicing at home. Consider it a gift if it happens.

Along with her ONE piece, you can give her other "assignments". Teach her how to practice good hand position by playing 1-2-3-4-5-4-3-2-1 three times in C position every day, for example. Time her. Show her it takes less than a minute. Ask her to try to find one minute for you every day. That's just an example, that may or may not be appropriate for your student. But I think if you can get her used to feeling capable and successful at the piano, it may become more fun.

Also, you may be in a tough position if another teacher in your studio "failed" with this student. Your commiseration with the other teacher might subconsciously keep you from succeeding. The other teacher may be giving you extra baggage to carry. Try to distance yourself from the other teacher and put yourself firmly on the child's side.

Easy to say from my arm-chair! I just think you probably need to spend extra time prepping, and lower your expectations for awhile. I hope you'll eventually be pleasantly surprised.
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#1530604 - 10/07/10 10:19 PM Re: Whiny lazy kid ...HELP!!! [Re: Lollipop]
Feminicricket Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/06/10
Posts: 136
Loc: USA
Thank you Lollipop. Your ideas and psychology are fantastic! I have given her 4 pieces this week, all Middle C position(about 8 measures each) that she does 'guess work'on . I patienty reviewed her past lessons to make sure she knew how to read her notes. Next week I am just going to concentrate on 1 piece and do more theory and flashcards. I think I need to work on my patience as well. I have been 'spoilt' by my hard-working students and also where I grew up, teachers do not bend over backwards for their students. I can see that you are a very patient and loving teacher. Do you recommend any books on child psychology that you think might help me deal with my thoughts and kids like these? I might be too set in my ways and maybe need to be more lenient with students like this one.


Edited by Feminicricket (10/07/10 10:29 PM)
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#1530708 - 10/08/10 03:31 AM Re: Whiny lazy kid ...HELP!!! [Re: Feminicricket]
Elissa Milne Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/11/10
Posts: 1337
Loc: Sydney, NSW, Australia
Thing is, it's never fun for the child if they are not progressing. And they won't progress at anything like a noticeable rate unless they practice.

Whenever I make a rule that students must do x amount of practice or they get kicked out of lessons there is a sudden increase of happiness: 99% of students do more practice and feel better about themselves, and 1% stop lessons=100% happiness.

What will happen to you if this child stops lessons? WIll you be punished in some way?
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#1530737 - 10/08/10 05:38 AM Re: Whiny lazy kid ...HELP!!! [Re: Feminicricket]
danshure Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/29/10
Posts: 347
Loc: Massachusetts
Is music

work work work ------ > fun

OR

fun ------- > work work work

?
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#1530745 - 10/08/10 05:58 AM Re: Whiny lazy kid ...HELP!!! [Re: Feminicricket]
danshure Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/29/10
Posts: 347
Loc: Massachusetts
Originally Posted By: Feminicricket
Thank you Lollipop. Your ideas and psychology are fantastic! I have given her 4 pieces this week, all Middle C position(about 8 measures each) that she does 'guess work'on . I patienty reviewed her past lessons to make sure she knew how to read her notes. Next week I am just going to concentrate on 1 piece and do more theory and flashcards. I think I need to work on my patience as well. I have been 'spoilt' by my hard-working students and also where I grew up, teachers do not bend over backwards for their students. I can see that you are a very patient and loving teacher. Do you recommend any books on child psychology that you think might help me deal with my thoughts and kids like these? I might be too set in my ways and maybe need to be more lenient with students like this one.

This is great to hear you be willing to make an effort!

BEST book -- 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Covey--- not about teaching specifically but an infinite resource when it comes to working with your own psychology and with other people.
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#1530795 - 10/08/10 08:32 AM Re: Whiny lazy kid ...HELP!!! [Re: danshure]
Lollipop Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/09
Posts: 820
Loc: Georgia
Thanks for your kind words. I'm glad you find them helpful. I don't have any psych book recommendations, but Dansure's sounds like a good place to start. My psych books are college textbooks that I don't think anyone wants to read who doesn't have to! (In a past life I worked in the mental health field with children.)
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#1530821 - 10/08/10 09:24 AM Re: Whiny lazy kid ...HELP!!! [Re: Feminicricket]
Morodiene Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11685
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
I agree 100% on the idea that success breeds success, and you have found the root of her problem - not practicing! I think you need to have a heart to heart with the mom without the child present, and simply explain what piano is. Try to relate to something in her field if you know what she does for a living. Her daughter is whining and throwing this tantrums because she knows she cannot do what you're asking without lots of mistakes because she has not worked at the the week before. She has very little upon which to build. So lessons end up being a review of the previous week's materials, and the child is faced with the fact that she has failed to advance. Since many children aren't self-disciplined, she needs the support of her parents to practice.

I like your idea of at least 10 minutes a day. Perhaps even lower you expectations to playing piano every day, no matter how long or short a time it is, with the ultimate goal being 15 minutes per day. That way if she's tired or doesn't have a lot of time (really who can't find 15 minutes in a day? but this is just to get her playing) she will at least get some practice in. Tell her that even if it means practicing in her pajamas because she forgot to practice that day, she needs to do it. Again, mom needs to be on board with this.

Also explain to mom that piano is only fun if you can do it. Her daughter is *not* having fun because she cannot do it since she doesn't practice. If her goal is for her daughter to have fun, either she helps her practice every day, or she put her money toward a different activity that doesn't require any skill.
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#1530864 - 10/08/10 10:16 AM Re: Whiny lazy kid ...HELP!!! [Re: Morodiene]
Ben Crosland Online   content
Full Member

Registered: 03/11/10
Posts: 419
Loc: Worcester, UK
I always tell my students that "Practice makes perfect" isn't really true and that really, it should be "Practice makes easy" - most will agree that "Easy = Fun" and that, therefore, "Practice makes it fun".

With a reluctant practiser, I will try to force-feed them a very short passage in the lesson, using the "Five times Perfect" challenge - in other words, they have to play the sequence of notes, with absolutely no mistakes, five times consecutively. I keep tally of their score by holding up my fingers, and make a bit of drama about it when they've achieved four by commentating like "Oh no - the pressure's mounting! Can they make the fifth one, or are they going back to zero again?!" etc. The students always take this in good humour, even when they do actually crack and have to start all over again - the point being that they won't take anywhere near as long to get back to that position again.

Ideally, what starts to happen, is that they reach a state of mind where they can actually feel the progress occuring in real time - you can always tell that this has happened because they no longer need prompting to try again. This, for me, is the crucial element to the whole process, and I make a point of talking them through the experience, once they've completed the challenge - not only to make them more self-aware about the learning process, but also to capitalise on the high that they'll be experiencing from the sense of achievement.
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#1530874 - 10/08/10 10:29 AM Re: Whiny lazy kid ...HELP!!! [Re: Feminicricket]
Jeff Clef Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/05/08
Posts: 4414
Loc: San Jose, CA
It might be about the same financial difference to the school's owner if this child could be reassigned to a different teacher.

Unsurprisingly, it sounds like you are burning out on this one. And, frankly, piano may not be this child's gift to the world.

If the school's contract has no minimum standard for music students' behavior, it should have one. If it does have one, maybe the parent could be reminded of it.

I am sorry the child is so unhappy. They seldom are so unless a stable framework, a good example, and healthy boundaries are set for them by the parents, and they are encouraged within their capabilities. You are not in a position to afford the child all these things.
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#1530912 - 10/08/10 11:20 AM Re: Whiny lazy kid ...HELP!!! [Re: Feminicricket]
danshure Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/29/10
Posts: 347
Loc: Massachusetts
Sorry Morodiene - I respectfully and completely disagree with having this "talk" before exhausting all other possibilities;

- making sure there is a good practice environment at home
- trying all sorts of things during the lesson - WAY out of the box if need be.
- incorporating technology - recordings etc
- being sure she really knows how to read music - bring it WAY back to lines/spaces, make games out of it, have fun and be sure the basics are covered
- on the converse try harder material - some students I've found excel when challenged
- be very structured about the lesson time - scheduling it out in 5-10 minute intervals, and writing it out so she can see it, even have her participate in the coming up with the structure for each lesson. many kids do WAY better when they have this "syllabus" format
- adjusting our demeanor in general to that of being more positive
- maybe she is on medication? I have had students who exhibit the same behavior, only to find out it's because of a prescription medicine.

I'm not saying one of these things will magically fix things, but it's our job as teachers to try any and all possibilities to change ourselves and our methods and adapt to the student to reach them. Such talks should only be one last Hail Mary effort after everything else has been given a fair chance and failed.
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#1530950 - 10/08/10 12:04 PM Re: Whiny lazy kid ...HELP!!! [Re: danshure]
david_a Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 2913
Originally Posted By: danshure
Is music

work work work ------ > fun

OR

fun ------- > work work work

?
No.

Fun is not part of music. Fun happens by accident on the way, and I'm glad every time it does, but neither layout above makes sense.
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#1530967 - 10/08/10 12:32 PM Re: Whiny lazy kid ...HELP!!! [Re: Elissa Milne]
Feminicricket Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/06/10
Posts: 136
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: Elissa Milne
Thing is, it's never fun for the child if they are not progressing. And they won't progress at anything like a noticeable rate unless they practice.

Whenever I make a rule that students must do x amount of practice or they get kicked out of lessons there is a sudden increase of happiness: 99% of students do more practice and feel better about themselves, and 1% stop lessons=100% happiness.

What will happen to you if this child stops lessons? WIll you be punished in some way?


Hello Elissa.In a music school, most owners are interested in teachers sustaining the student. So I cannot have a talk with a student`s parent about quitting piano. If I influence a parent into stopping lessons, the school probably won`t trust me with more students because it is not in their best interest to lose students. If a student is bad and stops on their own ,that is a different matter. Sometimes, in my conscience I feel like I am being a bit dishonest for not telling the parents like it is.......am I? When I got this student, I was told by my boss not to expect too much. So my fault too for expecting something out of nothing.I just did not think that it will be more of a sight reading class. I am reading all the comments here and want to take this as a challenge for myself and see where it goes. I am going to try all the different suggestions and solve this. At least this student is not the crying type. For that , I am very grateful. She is not on any medication, just maybe gets her way with her mom who is very loving and sweet with her child. Mom doesn`t understand about the need to practice so she is not going to help the child at all. I have asked her to help weeks ago but nothing happened. I am a mom to 2 cats and not to a child, maybe that`s why I find it hard to understand. Most lazy ones who come to me don`t last long because they realize that they have to work and put in some effort on their part for the lessons. They quit or switch to another teacher is what normally happens eventually. They go through a whole list of teachers because parents always want to believe that it is the teacher`s fault and not the child`s. Of course sometimes it is the teacher`s fault but not with lazy ones. I will try my best and see where this goes. I have to change my attitude with this one.
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#1530975 - 10/08/10 12:48 PM Re: Whiny lazy kid ...HELP!!! [Re: Ben Crosland]
Feminicricket Offline
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Registered: 02/06/10
Posts: 136
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: Ben Crosland
I always tell my students that "Practice makes perfect" isn't really true and that really, it should be "Practice makes easy" - most will agree that "Easy = Fun" and that, therefore, "Practice makes it fun".

With a reluctant practiser, I will try to force-feed them a very short passage in the lesson, using the "Five times Perfect" challenge - in other words, they have to play the sequence of notes, with absolutely no mistakes, five times consecutively. I keep tally of their score by holding up my fingers, and make a bit of drama about it when they've achieved four by commentating like "Oh no - the pressure's mounting! Can they make the fifth one, or are they going back to zero again?!" etc. The students always take this in good humour, even when they do actually crack and have to start all over again - the point being that they won't take anywhere near as long to get back to that position again.

Ideally, what starts to happen, is that they reach a state of mind where they can actually feel the progress occuring in real time - you can always tell that this has happened because they no longer need prompting to try again. This, for me, is the crucial element to the whole process, and I make a point of talking them through the experience, once they've completed the challenge - not only to make them more self-aware about the learning process, but also to capitalise on the high that they'll be experiencing from the sense of achievement.


I will try this with her too. She whines when I make her play something again.Probably I will tell her that if she plays it well 5 times, I will give her a star. I am afraid of giving them candies and stuff because I don`t know what kind of food allergies some kids have.
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LEARNING AND IMPROVING NEVER STOPS. It would be boring if it did.

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#1530979 - 10/08/10 12:51 PM Re: Whiny lazy kid ...HELP!!! [Re: david_a]
Feminicricket Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/06/10
Posts: 136
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: david_a
Originally Posted By: danshure
Is music

work work work ------ > fun

OR

fun ------- > work work work

?
No.

Fun is not part of music. Fun happens by accident on the way, and I'm glad every time it does, but neither layout above makes sense.

For me personally, fun comes as a reward after you 'bother' to practice because it becomes easier.
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LEARNING AND IMPROVING NEVER STOPS. It would be boring if it did.

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#1530981 - 10/08/10 12:53 PM Re: Whiny lazy kid ...HELP!!! [Re: Lollipop]
Feminicricket Offline
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Registered: 02/06/10
Posts: 136
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: Lollipop
Thanks for your kind words. I'm glad you find them helpful. I don't have any psych book recommendations, but Dansure's sounds like a good place to start. My psych books are college textbooks that I don't think anyone wants to read who doesn't have to! (In a past life I worked in the mental health field with children.)

Do you mean "past life" as in a previous life ...like in reincarnation?


Edited by Feminicricket (10/08/10 12:54 PM)
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LEARNING AND IMPROVING NEVER STOPS. It would be boring if it did.

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#1530984 - 10/08/10 01:06 PM Re: Whiny lazy kid ...HELP!!! [Re: danshure]
Feminicricket Offline
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Registered: 02/06/10
Posts: 136
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: danshure
Originally Posted By: Feminicricket
Thank you Lollipop. Your ideas and psychology are fantastic! I have given her 4 pieces this week, all Middle C position(about 8 measures each) that she does 'guess work'on . I patienty reviewed her past lessons to make sure she knew how to read her notes. Next week I am just going to concentrate on 1 piece and do more theory and flashcards. I think I need to work on my patience as well. I have been 'spoilt' by my hard-working students and also where I grew up, teachers do not bend over backwards for their students. I can see that you are a very patient and loving teacher. Do you recommend any books on child psychology that you think might help me deal with my thoughts and kids like these? I might be too set in my ways and maybe need to be more lenient with students like this one.

This is great to hear you be willing to make an effort!

BEST book -- 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Covey--- not about teaching specifically but an infinite resource when it comes to working with your own psychology and with other people.

You know something, that title sounds so familiar. I read a lot of psychology books. I enjoy reading them and often put the knowledge to use especially to deal with my own internal feelings. I will look into it and at the same time am going to google some child psychology books. I have never read them. One of the biggest reason I feel like I need to change something about my attitude is because when I think about my childhood and the teachers that I had. I only have the fondest memories of the kind ones. My piano teacher was a real dragon but started being really nice to me only after I started practicing..... My violin teacher was a real ogre and I started practicing only after he started being nice to me. So I am a bit confused about the whole thing.
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LEARNING AND IMPROVING NEVER STOPS. It would be boring if it did.

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#1530994 - 10/08/10 01:19 PM Re: Whiny lazy kid ...HELP!!! [Re: Morodiene]
Feminicricket Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/06/10
Posts: 136
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: Morodiene
I agree 100% on the idea that success breeds success, and you have found the root of her problem - not practicing! I think you need to have a heart to heart with the mom without the child present, and simply explain what piano is. Try to relate to something in her field if you know what she does for a living. Her daughter is whining and throwing this tantrums because she knows she cannot do what you're asking without lots of mistakes because she has not worked at the the week before. She has very little upon which to build. So lessons end up being a review of the previous week's materials, and the child is faced with the fact that she has failed to advance. Since many children aren't self-disciplined, she needs the support of her parents to practice.

I like your idea of at least 10 minutes a day. Perhaps even lower you expectations to playing piano every day, no matter how long or short a time it is, with the ultimate goal being 15 minutes per day. That way if she's tired or doesn't have a lot of time (really who can't find 15 minutes in a day? but this is just to get her playing) she will at least get some practice in. Tell her that even if it means practicing in her pajamas because she forgot to practice that day, she needs to do it. Again, mom needs to be on board with this.

Also explain to mom that piano is only fun if you can do it. Her daughter is *not* having fun because she cannot do it since she doesn't practice. If her goal is for her daughter to have fun, either she helps her practice every day...

I had mentioned all these point to this mom. I told her that it is just like learning a new language and if you don`t practice speaking the language, you will forget it. I don`t think the mom is going to put in any effort. She just wants her daughter to have fun. I am going to try my best to make it fun but that is not my teaching personality type. It is going to be a change on my part. I will do my best and see where this goes. If she stops, I`ll know I tried my best but maybe I am not good for these type of students.
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LEARNING AND IMPROVING NEVER STOPS. It would be boring if it did.

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