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#1518984 - 09/20/10 10:24 AM Maybe I'm off base, but
chasingrainbows Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/19/06
Posts: 1200
Loc: NJ
One of my new transfer students, who is 6, was so enthusiastic at his first lesson. However, he then lost 2 weeks due to vacation with family, then after that, it's been all downhill. 2d lesson, he comes up from playing in the basement in tears b/c his toy broke, 3rd lesson, he's riding his bike, comes up the drive and straight to the piano, while his friends are in the next room. Of course, he isn't the slightest bit interested in the lesson, he wants to be with his friends in the next room. He asks the dreaded "is the lesson over yet?" question. 4th lesson, he's pulled off his skateboard for his lesson. At every lesson, he's a bit dirty, hands aren't washed, and he's clearly not happy about being pulled from playtime for a lesson. I mentioned to dad that it would help if he were warming up at the piano at least a few minutes prior to lesson time, to avoid pulling him from playtime, but that hasn't happened. I am going to have him wash his hands for this lesson, but besides that issue, I'd like opinions on whether or not you think this is the primary reason for his lack of enthusiasm for piano lessons.

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#1518994 - 09/20/10 10:34 AM Re: Maybe I'm off base, but [Re: chasingrainbows]
danshure Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/29/10
Posts: 347
Loc: Massachusetts
Yes I would agree.
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#1519001 - 09/20/10 10:44 AM Re: Maybe I'm off base, but [Re: chasingrainbows]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7410
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Success for young students, whether in school, in sports, or in arts activities, is directly proportional to parental interest, enthusiasm, and engagement. Exceptional success requires exceptional parental involvement.

In your case, a 6 year old is going to mirror very well the parents' attitude, and you can see from your own comments what that is.

You really have a choice at this point - continue in frustration, or have a heart to heart with dad. If there's no change, then your course of action is clear.
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#1519002 - 09/20/10 10:44 AM Re: Maybe I'm off base, but [Re: chasingrainbows]
Andy Platt Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/28/10
Posts: 2419
Loc: Virginia, USA
Speaking as a parent here ... this is a reason I would not choose to have lessons in the house, regardless of how convenient that might be. There are just too many distractions. Even if you have to pull them screaming to get them into the car ... five minutes later that's history and forgotten. If the distractions are continuing they'll persist as an issue.
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#1519003 - 09/20/10 10:45 AM Re: Maybe I'm off base, but [Re: chasingrainbows]
Piano*Dad Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10410
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
Sounds like the parents aren't creating a conducive environment. The number of six year olds who are internally driven to learn and to practice is very small. Most have to have the right learning environment created for them.

It sounds like you go to their house for the lesson. That exacerbates the problem. The lesson isn't walled off as something special, so it competes for attention with all the other things the kid would rather do.

And in the end, this may be a six year old who is simply not ready for this sort of formal training.
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#1519057 - 09/20/10 12:05 PM Re: Maybe I'm off base, but [Re: chasingrainbows]
Lollipop Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/09
Posts: 820
Loc: Georgia
Yes, I would probably simply go to the dad and say that you don't think the boy is ready for piano yet.

When/if the dad asks why, explain that the child is easily distracted by all his friends in the next room, seems reluctant to leave play time for piano, and doesn't seem to enjoy what he's doing.

Dad may agree, or may argue.

If the dad wants to continue, I would pull the boy into the discussion. Ask him if he wants to play piano, and why. Ask him if he's willing to make some changes, such as not having friends over during lessons or 30 minutes beforehand. That during that 30 minutes ahead of time, he must wash his hands, spend a little time warming up and settling himself down. That you don't want tears, sadness, or distractions at lessons.

If he doesn't feel ready, then you can suggest "we try again next year".

Six years old is not too young to understand this. And Dad can understand the either/or aspects.
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#1519116 - 09/20/10 01:59 PM Re: Maybe I'm off base, but [Re: chasingrainbows]
david_a Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 2913
Lessons in the student's home are difficult at the best of times. Probably somewhere else he would be fine.

To be very frank, teaching in other people's homes is IMO not worth it unless you really really really need money immediately and are forced to take any job. Not to say that most here couldn't use money, especially me frown , but I view teaching in students' homes as a particular mark of desperation - because, though it pays something, it is so frustrating and inefficient; partly for the type of reasons you have just given, and partly because all the wasted time between lessons means you actually teach far fewer lessons than you could if you stayed in one place and the students came to you. A much harder job, and a chronically low success rate, for a lot less money? Not a good deal. (If you actually are quite successful now, then congratulations on your extremely hard work, and you won't believe how much better it is the other way.)

So, my opinion: as soon as you can, find a place to teach and have all your students come there. Give them lots of notice so they have time to figure out how to shuffle their schedules around. You will probably lose a few students over it, but sadly that's the way it goes.
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#1519153 - 09/20/10 02:46 PM Re: Maybe I'm off base, but [Re: Andy Platt]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5558
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: Andy Platt
Even if you have to pull them screaming to get them into the car ... five minutes later that's history and forgotten.

Your kids hate their piano lessons that much??
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#1519155 - 09/20/10 02:47 PM Re: Maybe I'm off base, but [Re: Piano*Dad]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5558
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: Piano*Dad
And in the end, this may be a six year old who is simply not ready for this sort of formal training.
+1
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#1520699 - 09/22/10 07:05 PM Re: Maybe I'm off base, but [Re: Piano*Dad]
chasingrainbows Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/19/06
Posts: 1200
Loc: NJ
Yes, they aren't really creating the desired environment and yes, I agree that I think he is too young. Although, since this post, the parents have talked to him and he's been practicing and better prepared at lessons and his overall attitude is much improved.

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#1520700 - 09/22/10 07:06 PM Re: Maybe I'm off base, but [Re: chasingrainbows]
chasingrainbows Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/19/06
Posts: 1200
Loc: NJ
Piano Dad, that post was meant for you above this!

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#1520702 - 09/22/10 07:08 PM Re: Maybe I'm off base, but [Re: Lollipop]
chasingrainbows Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/19/06
Posts: 1200
Loc: NJ
Originally Posted By: Lollipop
Yes, I would probably simply go to the dad and say that you don't think the boy is ready for piano yet.

When/if the dad asks why, explain that the child is easily distracted by all his friends in the next room, seems reluctant to leave play time for piano, and doesn't seem to enjoy what he's doing.

Dad may agree, or may argue.

If the dad wants to continue, I would pull the boy into the discussion. Ask him if he wants to play piano, and why. Ask him if he's willing to make some changes, such as not having friends over during lessons or 30 minutes beforehand. That during that 30 minutes ahead of time, he must wash his hands, spend a little time warming up and settling himself down. That you don't want tears, sadness, or distractions at lessons.

If he doesn't feel ready, then you can suggest "we try again next year".

Six years old is not too young to understand this. And Dad can understand the either/or aspects.



Lollipop,
I spoke to Dad and suggested he warm up for a few minutes prior to his lesson, since it seemed upsetting to him to leave his friends to have a lesson. The next lesson, he was pulled in from skatboarding and the lesson was pretty nonproductive. Afterwards, I discussed my concern about his lack of interest, lack of practice and suggested that he may not be ready for lessons yet. He had piano lessons at their previous location (they moved recently to my area). Parents must have spoken to the child, b/c there's been a definite improvement in attitude, practicing and lesson prep. I'm not sure who really wants these lessons - child or parents. I'm thinking parents, since Dad is a musician. Teaching in the student's home has its many drawbacks. This time I pulled out the hand sanitizer and we both sanitized first (since he looks pretty grubby from playing at lessons). He's very proud when he earns a sticker and I am constantly looking for other material to keep him interested (seasonal songs, etc., rhythm instruments, composition projects).

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#1520706 - 09/22/10 07:12 PM Re: Maybe I'm off base, but [Re: david_a]
chasingrainbows Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/19/06
Posts: 1200
Loc: NJ
Originally Posted By: david_a
Lessons in the student's home are difficult at the best of times. Probably somewhere else he would be fine.

To be very frank, teaching in other people's homes is IMO not worth it unless you really really really need money immediately and are forced to take any job. Not to say that most here couldn't use money, especially me frown , but I view teaching in students' homes as a particular mark of desperation - because, though it pays something, it is so frustrating and inefficient; partly for the type of reasons you have just given, and partly because all the wasted time between lessons means you actually teach far fewer lessons than you could if you stayed in one place and the students came to you. A much harder job, and a chronically low success rate, for a lot less money? Not a good deal. (If you actually are quite successful now, then congratulations on your extremely hard work, and you won't believe how much better it is the other way.)

So, my opinion: as soon as you can, find a place to teach and have all your students come there. Give them lots of notice so they have time to figure out how to shuffle their schedules around. You will probably lose a few students over it, but sadly that's the way it goes.


David, thanks for the input. I agree with you totally, however, I work for a store and enrollment is quite slow right now, so I've decided to try teaching privately as well. My current home isn't set up for doing lessons in the home (and I sold my AF grand so I have an 88 key keyboard right now until I find "The piano"). So, I am learning about the downside of going into other peoples homes, and also have learned that I need to add a few more stipulations to my private studio policy! It may end up that I ask them to come to the store rather than deal with all these distracting and totally unncessary distractions (dogs in the room, kids running back and forth in the next room, renovations being done in the "piano" room, etc.)

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#1539684 - 10/20/10 07:42 PM Re: Maybe I'm off base, but [Re: chasingrainbows]
Feminicricket Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/06/10
Posts: 136
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: Irenev
One of my new transfer students, who is 6, was so enthusiastic at his first lesson. However, he then lost 2 weeks due to vacation with family, then after that, it's been all downhill. 2d lesson, he comes up from playing in the basement in tears b/c his toy broke, 3rd lesson, he's riding his bike, comes up the drive and straight to the piano, while his friends are in the next room. Of course, he isn't the slightest bit interested in the lesson, he wants to be with his friends in the next room. He asks the dreaded "is the lesson over yet?" question. 4th lesson, he's pulled off his skateboard for his lesson. At every lesson, he's a bit dirty, hands aren't washed, and he's clearly not happy about being pulled from playtime for a lesson. I mentioned to dad that it would help if he were warming up at the piano at least a few minutes prior to lesson time, to avoid pulling him from playtime, but that hasn't happened. I am going to have him wash his hands for this lesson, but besides that issue, I'd like opinions on whether or not you think this is the primary reason for his lack of enthusiasm for piano lessons.


I am so sorry to hear this happening to you. Makes me so glad that I stopped teaching in student`s home for this exact reason. They become extra bratty and comfortable behaving that way in their environment. I think that in order for a child to stay focused in their lessons they should not have their friends around their home during lesson time and should be only allowed to play after the lesson.....if they behaved themselves. Absolutely no eating during lesson. I used to have a child who would put a cup of ice-cream on her piano! Preferable no pets near the piano. Goodness! The list goes on. Basically you`ll have to tell the parents nicely that children won`t stay focused during the lesson with noise, toys, friends, pets and food around. The parents need to create a quiet studying environment for the child at home for the lesson time or it is a waste of your time. I gave up all my private students because they got too bratty for me to handle. They all did the same things as you have described. They will create a scene before the lesson like falling down and crying and try to miss the lesson, they will be filthy, have friends around, siblings shouting in the back, have drinks on the piano, they will lie flat on the ground and not get up etc. Is it worth the stress? I understand if you don`t have a choice. But I came to a point where I asked myself if the stress was worth what I was making an hour.


Edited by Feminicricket (10/20/10 07:52 PM)
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#1539719 - 10/20/10 08:39 PM Re: Maybe I'm off base, but [Re: chasingrainbows]
miaeih Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/06/08
Posts: 267
Loc: SF Bay Area, CA
Wow, where do you guys teach to have these horror stories. I only teach at the students' houses and I rarely face distractions when I teach. Animals will be removed from the area before lessons start, other kids still be ushered to other rooms, and when there are distractions, most students will excuse themselves briefly to remove the distractions themselves and get back to focusing on the lesson.

For new students, I'd sometimes have to sternly remind them that it's piano lessons time and they are not allowed to do anything else and this solves the issue.

I had to temporary have lessons at my place once for a student and it was much more of a distraction to the student since the surrounding was new and I have a ton of cute items =P.

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