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#1997289 - 12/10/12 08:53 AM Committed VS non-committed students... How do you tell?
Pianolism Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/27/10
Posts: 53
Recently, I received a SMS from a student who said 'I would like to stop piano lessons for the time being" It's only 1 month (4 lessons). Is this SMS a subtle way of her actually saying that she doesn't want to continue lessons with me anymore?

As a relatively new private piano teacher, I find her SMS too sudden. A portrait of the student: 16 year old girl... owns only a digital keyboard at home which was given to her by her church friends... said that she wanted to take grade exams in the future.


She has been coming over to my place for lessons since she said that she wanted to touch a ’real piano'. She lives near my area. She's also the first student who comes over to my place to learn.

A general description of how she was during lessons: lack of' finger strength' because she has been accustomed to the lighter touch of her own non-weighted digital keyboard. IMO she is quite nonchalant since she came with relatively long fingernails even though i told her the dvantage and importance of trimmed fingernails during the first lesson.

Since I collect fees per cycle of 4 lessons, I feel from this that she was trying to finish up the 4 lessons before breaking this piece of SMS news to me. (She paid upfront since she was coming over to my place).. what is most surprising was that I didn't see the cues that she might be potentially uninterested in continuing. The most 'obvious’ cue would be on the 4th lesson, she appeared to be recovering from a flu and thus said she 'didn't practise much' as she couldn't play the small exercise in her Alfred book.

The last thing I said to her was about what she would be expecting in the future with Regards to grade exams.... the 3 exam pieces... scales... aural...and the potential need for her to consider getting a 'proper' piano in the near future... I wonder whether I have 'scared' her? however, I said these out of concern for her... since I felt that she might have enrolled for lessons without considering all these factors...I remembered asking her during the 2nd lesson whether she would be considering getting a piano in the future... and she said no..but she 'wanted to take the exams’...

Or to give her the benefit of the doubt, maybe she has programs on... thus she cannot commit.... maybe I shouldn't have taken this student at all.

Committed Vs non-committed students...

Please comment and share your stories of committed VS non-committed students... how to recognise cues of a potentially uninterested student who is quitting especially for beginning piano teachers as I feel that it is a waste of time for both parties.

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#1997291 - 12/10/12 09:04 AM Re: Committed VS non-committed students... How do you tell? [Re: Pianolism]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11764
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
It could be a monetary issue (most of the time it is when canceling lessons last-minute). I would call her - a text is no way to cut off lessons with someone. You were planning on using that money to pay your bills, and now all of a sudden you won't have it. Do you have a written cancellation policy? If so, perhaps you need to remind her of that. Canceling by text is a very immature and disrespectful way of doing that. Talk to her and let her know that it's Ok to be honest with you and to say something face to face - it comes across much better that way, and it's the adult thing to do
(even though many adults don't do this either).

As for identifying whether or not they're serious, it could be that she liked the idea of it but didn't realize the work involved. Perhaps she thought she'd be up and running in a month, playing the pieces she hears on youtube. I don't think you "scared" her, I actually think that this is an issue that most kids have these days. They have a hard time understanding that things aren't immediate, that there's no short-cut, that is takes years to develop the skills necessary to play even intermediate pieces well.

I do try to explain these things in the initial interview (that I don't charge for). New students also commit to an 8-lesson trial period. I tell them what will happen in those 8 lessons, and anything less than that does not give them a good picture of what piano study is all about. They are to pay for the first 8 lessons upfront, that way it truly is a commitment and if they aren't sure they can do that or want to, then I invite them to continue looking for a teacher.
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#1997351 - 12/10/12 12:21 PM Re: Committed VS non-committed students... How do you tell? [Re: Pianolism]
TimR Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3190
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: Pianolism
Committed Vs non-committed students...

Please comment and share your stories of committed VS non-committed students... how to recognise cues of a potentially uninterested student who is quitting especially for beginning piano teachers as I feel that it is a waste of time for both parties.



I suspect that noncommitted students outnumber the serious ones by a very large majority.

I suspect that a beginning teacher cannot corner the market on the serious students until he/she has earned a reputation for doing well with them.

I am not so sure that the enrichment student IS wasting their time or their teacher's time. But that's an argument for another thread probably.
_________________________
gotta go practice

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#1997364 - 12/10/12 01:02 PM Re: Committed VS non-committed students... How do you tell? [Re: Pianolism]
ten left thumbs Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/22/09
Posts: 3336
Loc: Scotland
Non-committed = those with keyboards, teenage beginners, those who won't cut their fingernails.

Don't worry you didn't see signs. There are better students.
_________________________
I am a competent teacher.


www.justfingers.co.uk
www.babysinging.co.uk

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#1997690 - 12/11/12 01:36 AM Re: Committed VS non-committed students... How do you tell? [Re: Pianolism]
Pianolism Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/27/10
Posts: 53
Thank you for your replies. Really appreciate it.

I have tried to call the student just to find out the reason and a chance for her to be honest and explain but to no avail as she didn't pick it up. I also feel that it would have been polite for her to at least give a phone call to me instead of the other way round. If I were her as a student and not interested in continuing with lessons, I'd have given a courtesy call to the teacher asking for a lesson cancellation. The sms is 'cold' and uncalled for. It's like initiating a breakup via an email/sms. The total avoidance... How would I describe it... Just doesn't feel good at all.

I guess this is part and parcel of a the piano teaching line where they will be students who are just a 'touch-and-go'. Perfectly normal?

I have to say that I'm glad to have a committed student who is progressing at a remarkable pace. This sms incident is the first for me (the record shortest lasting student) and a lesson for me to be able to spot such potential situations. I believe hardly anyone would like such a 'touch-and-go' student. I would avoid students of such profiles in the future as I don't want to just teach for the money as this is after all my sideline.

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#1997691 - 12/11/12 01:48 AM Re: Committed VS non-committed students... How do you tell? [Re: Pianolism]
Peter K. Mose Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/06/12
Posts: 1338
Loc: Toronto, Ontario
Clue #1: she is sixteen.

Clue #2: she seems to handle tuition payments by herself, versus parental involvement.

Clue #3: she received a lecture about her appearance (fingernails) at her first lesson.

Clue #4: she received a lecture on the inadequacy of her home instrument at her second lesson.

This was a brief bad marriage. And then it ended. Via text message. Poof.

You could send her a note wishing her well.

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#1997721 - 12/11/12 03:27 AM Re: Committed VS non-committed students... How do you tell? [Re: Pianolism]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5459
Loc: Orange County, CA
Only about 10% of the students I've ever worked with can be considered "committed," and I'd say that's high compared to most of my colleagues in this area. The truth is most kids can care less about piano or any other academic subject area. If it weren't obligatory, most kids would choose to quit school, too. What percentage of school-age children enjoys homework?
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#1997778 - 12/11/12 08:28 AM Re: Committed VS non-committed students... How do you tell? [Re: Pianolism]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11764
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
I must say I have taught students beginning in high school and have had some success with it. Usually, however, the parent was involved and there was an actual piano at home to practice on. So, I guess you can chalk it up to a learning experience.

It's a shame she didn't respond to your phone call, but not a surprise. Usually when I get a text from a student that is something importnat that really should be done in person or at least speaking over the phone, I will usually respond with "OK" and leave it at that.
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#1997904 - 12/11/12 01:55 PM Re: Committed VS non-committed students... How do you tell? [Re: Pianolism]
LoPresti Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/07/10
Posts: 1304
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: Pianolism
Recently, I received a SMS from a student who said 'I would like to stop piano lessons for the time being" It's only 1 month (4 lessons). Is this SMS a subtle way of her actually saying that she doesn't want to continue lessons with me anymore?

Something else to consider: Why would a student know how to correspond with her/his teacher by eMail or text messaging? Why would that ever be encouraged?

Ed
_________________________
In music, everything one does correctly helps everything else.

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#1997913 - 12/11/12 02:20 PM Re: Committed VS non-committed students... How do you tell? [Re: Pianolism]
jotur Online   blank
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 5507
Loc: Santa Fe, NM
If she got a digital keyboard as a gift from her church friends, maybe that should have been celebrated as wonderful that she has people who care about her that much.

There are things one can teach and help with even with a digital keyboard (and at this point I don't know whether it had weighted keys or not - maybe not, if her friends gave it to her and didn't know the difference, much less have much money to invest in a keyboard), and later she could have been encouraged to save for an upgrade, which she would probably have wanted anyway, and, if she was indeed paying for lessons herself she could have been congratulated on that, too.

I hope she finds a teacher that will work with her enthusiasm and help her along with what she can do at this time. I hope she doesn't think everyone thinks she's a loss with what she can manage now.

Cathy
_________________________

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#1997922 - 12/11/12 02:39 PM Re: Committed VS non-committed students... How do you tell? [Re: LoPresti]
PianoStudent88 Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3171
Loc: Maine
Originally Posted By: LoPresti
Originally Posted By: Pianolism
Recently, I received a SMS from a student who said 'I would like to stop piano lessons for the time being" It's only 1 month (4 lessons). Is this SMS a subtle way of her actually saying that she doesn't want to continue lessons with me anymore?

Something else to consider: Why would a student know how to correspond with her/his teacher by eMail or text messaging? Why would that ever be encouraged?

Text messaging requires no prior agreement or encouragement: if you know someone's cell phone number, you can send a text message.
_________________________
Ebaug(maj7)

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#1997928 - 12/11/12 02:47 PM Re: Committed VS non-committed students... How do you tell? [Re: PianoStudent88]
LoPresti Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/07/10
Posts: 1304
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: PianoStudent88
Originally Posted By: LoPresti
Originally Posted By: Pianolism
Recently, I received a SMS from a student who said 'I would like to stop piano lessons for the time being" It's only 1 month (4 lessons). Is this SMS a subtle way of her actually saying that she doesn't want to continue lessons with me anymore?

Something else to consider: Why would a student know how to correspond with her/his teacher by eMail or text messaging? Why would that ever be encouraged?

Text messaging requires no prior agreement or encouragement: if you know someone's cell phone number, you can send a text message.

Sad. I guess that teachers' cell phone numbers need to be kept private too, then, especially from new students who have not yet proven their willingness to communicate in real ways, one-to-one.
_________________________
In music, everything one does correctly helps everything else.

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#1997932 - 12/11/12 02:51 PM Re: Committed VS non-committed students... How do you tell? [Re: Pianolism]
PianoStudent88 Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3171
Loc: Maine
A teacher's business phone might be a cell phone, not a landline.
_________________________
Ebaug(maj7)

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#1997945 - 12/11/12 03:14 PM Committed VS non-committed students... How do you tell? [Re: PianoStudent88]
LoPresti Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/07/10
Posts: 1304
Loc: New York
I see the problem. If I were teaching, I would certainly solve it, along with the 50,000 other little issues that need fixing.

How do teachers do it?
_________________________
In music, everything one does correctly helps everything else.

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#1997980 - 12/11/12 04:45 PM Re: Committed VS non-committed students... How do you tell? [Re: Pianolism]
PianoStudent88 Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3171
Loc: Maine
I don't see that text messages are the villain here. Some things the teacher might want handled face-to-face, and the student (or parent) would phone or send a letter instead, or would handle the face-to-face interaction badly. So even with old-style communications (and once upon a time the phone itself was new-fangled) there's room for the communications to be screwed up, or not done the way the teacher thinks they should be done. Sometimes the student (or parent) doesn't even say anything, just disappears. So at least a text message is some sort of contact and information.

I expect a massive change over the coming decade or two in what people use as their regular modes of communication, and what people consider to be sufficient and reasonable communication. Changes in communication have surely happened periodically ever since writing was invented, and will continue to happen.
_________________________
Ebaug(maj7)

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#1998059 - 12/11/12 09:02 PM Re: Committed VS non-committed students... How do you tell? [Re: Pianolism]
TimR Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3190
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: Pianolism

I have tried to call the student just to find out the reason and a chance for her to be honest and explain but to no avail as she didn't pick it up.


Not sure how to say this tactfully.

How dare this evil dishonest excuse for a student not meet your expectations?

Nah, that wasn't it.

er, do you see maybe that your choice of emotional and judgemental language reveals how massively you've overreacted?

Nah, not it either.

I'm struggling a bit here. The way I see it, this student acted very much normally for her age, in fact possibly a bit more maturely than many. Text messages ARE how they communicate now. Most drop without telling you why, they just disappear. I'm not sure why you're so angry. I get how unexpected this was for you, and understand your first time may be a shock. But not everybody is going to appreciate your skills and your efforts, and you don't have to let that affect you. You are upset because you decided to be upset, not because the student behaved that way.

Enjoy the committed ones, and for the less serious students, take the cash if you can stand them, dump them if you can't.
_________________________
gotta go practice

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#1998063 - 12/11/12 09:19 PM Re: Committed VS non-committed students... How do you tell? [Re: Pianolism]
malkin Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/09
Posts: 2520
Loc: *sigh* Salt Lake City
It wasn't a break up.
You weren't married or even 'going steady.'

Have you ever rescheduled a dentist appointment? Or chosen a different hair salon? People do it every day.

Clients come and clients go; it is the same if you call them students.
Mary Poppins asked "What would happen to me if I loved all the children I said 'goodbye' to?"

You don't have to love them all; you can though, it is all ok.
_________________________
A good student is one who makes the teacher feel like a good teacher.

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#1998096 - 12/11/12 10:55 PM Re: Committed VS non-committed students... How do you tell? [Re: Pianolism]
Pianolism Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/27/10
Posts: 53
Nope, I'm not angry with her. I just feel that a courtesy call would have been better. Take it this way, what if I didn't read the sms or don't have a habit of doing so? At least, she dropped a note though and I can at least appreciate that. During the last lesson, why didn't she bring it up? Was she afraid to bring it up? Did she feel awkward to bring it up? Was she still considering at the point of time? Or was I not approachable or close enough for her to feel a need to tell me face-to-face? Or she had a sudden change in plan in her schedule thus the sudden cancellation?

On another issue.. Since she decided to cancel the lessons, wouldn't she feel that I should at least know the reason? On the other hand, maybe 'it's not my business'?

Why I likened this issue to the 'breakup via sms' because this kind of 'cold' and 'avoidance-like' syndrome is becoming common. Ok, how to describe it... I'll just list out another scenario. (Maybe the breakup via sms is a little too dramatic lol. A relatively important matter settled via an sms. So, now how important is the 'important' here right now. ) Now, it's not uncommon to see a whole family at a dinner table using their smartphones and tablets and communicating via technology rather than really talk at the table. Though a phone call is not much better because it's not face-to-face, at least it is not so 'cold'. The mode of communication here of cancelling the lessons... So is it perfectly normal for a teenage kid or anyone to initiate a cancellation via sms? Is it acceptable? Would you accept it?If yes why, if not why too? So, it's becoming more acceptable now?

Some of you must be wondering how she got hold of my number. I advertised on a website and my number came with it. How she engaged me was also via the phone. To put it, the phone number is my business line. I would like to keep my phone number 'private' too. Actually, this phone number I have is my secondary number. So when people call, I know they are purely approaching me regarding piano lessons only. I switch if off when I'm working (at another job) as piano teaching is my sideline.

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#1998124 - 12/12/12 12:25 AM Committed VS non-committed students... How do you tell? [Re: Pianolism]
LoPresti Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/07/10
Posts: 1304
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: Pianolism
Why I likened this issue to the 'breakup via sms' because this kind of 'cold' and 'avoidance-like' syndrome is becoming common. . .

Pianolism,

I hate going point-for-point with anyone, but your last post is absolutely pregnant with material! I completely agree with you that this avoidance-like behavior is ever more prevalent. There is the Avoider, and the Avoidee, and we need to look at what exactly makes each play her/his part so easily and well

You start to explore some of this yourself:
Originally Posted By: Pianolism
A relatively important matter settled via an sms. So, now how important is the 'important' here right now. )

I now agree with those who have advised you to simply shrug this incident off, and to move on. However, you raise a very important sociological question here. The Answer? Things are as important as you make them. In a relationship with another person, or persons, YOU set the standards for what is important to you, just as the other(s) set their standards. There develops a common understanding of what is important to each.

Originally Posted By: Pianolism
Now, it's not uncommon to see a whole family at a dinner table using their smartphones and tablets and communicating via technology rather than really talk at the table. Though a phone call is not much better because it's not face-to-face, at least it is not so 'cold'.

Not at MY dinner table, ever.

There is a huge difference between “real” communication, standing toe-to-toe, or talking on the telephone; and the world of messaging, where ONE person sends something, and considers that communication. In real communication, I can see and/or hear you. There is a real-time give-and-take. You say something, and I respond. I ask a question, and you answer. There is no delay. We are both “on the same page”, and if we are not initially, then eventually we arrive there. I see body language and mannerisms. You hear nuance and voice inflection. It is up-close and personal - it is REAL.

Originally Posted By: Pianolism
. So is it perfectly normal for a teenage kid or anyone to initiate a cancellation via sms? Is it acceptable?

Only if YOU let it be normal and acceptable. You are the teacher, after all. And how you start out with any of your students (and their parents) will typically govern what they know is acceptable to you - what they perceive is IMPORTANT to you.

. . . but, I no longer teach, so I could be wrong.
Ed
_________________________
In music, everything one does correctly helps everything else.

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#1998170 - 12/12/12 02:46 AM Re: Committed VS non-committed students... How do you tell? [Re: Pianolism]
Candywoman Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/14/03
Posts: 837
I agree with you about the coldness of people's communication or lack thereof. I'm now referring to your general comments. I also don't understand people taking days to respond to emails. To me, that's cold too.

I'm also noticing a general disinterest in forgiving others. The Aussie dj's who performed the hoax that ended in tragedy gave a heartfelt, teary apology and the announcer questioned whether some people would choose not to accept this apology. Which people? Never mentioned. The message seems to be that apologies don't mean a single thing. Well, then why expect them in the first place? More importantly, why should anybody show vulnerability of a sort by apologizing?

As for your OP, I'd just accept that you encountered a flighty 16 year old.

There's a time for questioning to see if you could have done better. That time should only last about five minutes. If nothing big pops up in your search for answers, chances are you're okay.

I suspect we waste far too much time as teachers questioning ourselves. We're providing a very valuable service under extreme conditions. Even if we let a comment seep out that would have been better saved for a later date, can we not be given the benefit of the doubt? Sheesh.



Edited by Candywoman (12/12/12 02:48 AM)

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#1998236 - 12/12/12 08:36 AM Re: Committed VS non-committed students... How do you tell? [Re: Pianolism]
TimR Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3190
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: Pianolism
Nope, I'm not angry with her.


You are unaware of how angry you are with her. That's not the same thing.

Quote:
On another issue.. Since she decided to cancel the lessons, wouldn't she feel that I should at least know the reason?


You're deciding how she should feel. You barely know her and it would appear have only slight contact with children her age. It is probably not a good idea to base your reactions on how she should feel. Apparently she does NOT feel the same way you think she should feel.

As you gain experience, you will realize asking people why they leave is counterproductive. Some don't know, some are embarassed to tell you, some will lie to spare your feelings, some will be angry and blast you unfairly. Few if any will give you any information that helps you improve. (and if they did, you'd have to be willing to accept feedback, and I'm not sure how ready for that you are) Bottom line, they don't owe you a reason. Just reasonable warning, for which you collect your fee.

Quote:
Why I likened this issue to the 'breakup via sms' because this kind of 'cold' and 'avoidance-like' syndrome is becoming common.


To you it WAS a breakup, the end of a personal relationship. To the customer it was simply a neutral business decision, not that much different from deciding on Burger King vs McDonalds for lunch. To you it was cold and impersonal, but that kind of emotional baggage did not attach to the customer. So calling the child cold and avoidancelike is unjustified. She might indeed be so, if she broke up with her boyfriend this way, but we have no evidence for that.

Clearly you and I see this incident from different sides. You're probably not going to buy any of my perceptions. (you did ask for feedback - but there's no contract requiring you to agree with it!) I will say learning to detach from these situations after five minutes is a valuable skill to have, and critical to being able to teach professionally. Perhaps, too, (just speculating) you invest a bit too much of yourself in the emotional end of the teacher-student relationship.
_________________________
gotta go practice

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#1998238 - 12/12/12 08:37 AM Re: Committed VS non-committed students... How do you tell? [Re: Pianolism]
Michael_99 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/12
Posts: 935
Loc: Canada Alberta
Teacher and students, bosses and workers have always been all over the map, honest, dishonest, hard workers, slackers. A friend of mine said that his mother said the sadest think is that you start out in grade 1 in the turtle group and work up to the busy beaver group through life only to arrive at a resthome and be lumped in with everyone else all over again like grade 1. The key is to develop good skills over your lifetime to manage your environment because you can never control all the elements.

I love people and can't say I dislike any person, but I have always said even as a young person that:

Let the enemy think they are winning and they will only fight half as hard. I suppose always appear confused and stupid to the enemy and they will think they are fooling you.

I love all people but some don't make the list.

If you care, I care. If you don't care, I still care.

Being polite is awesome because for whatever reason people always think you are weak or weak minded. Being polite has nothing to do wth anything but being polite.

When negotiating terms of anything, contract, divorce, work, holidays, whatever, only go for 1 term - important in your mind - and you will win because it is the only thing on the table. If you have more than one term the other side technically gets to decide which term you get or don't get in reality so that is why it always works. I guess another way of saying it is negotiating can be timely and costly but with one term, you just have to wait for them to decide what is imporant to them. I guess I say let them have all the small stuff - that isn't important to you - and go for the one thing that is imporant.

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#1998298 - 12/12/12 11:14 AM Re: Committed VS non-committed students... How do you tell? [Re: ten left thumbs]
Teenagepiano Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/04/12
Posts: 28
Originally Posted By: ten left thumbs
Non-committed = those with keyboards, teenage beginners, those who won't cut their fingernails.

Don't worry you didn't see signs. There are better students.


I'm not a teacher; I'm a student, but I can't help but see this as a sweeping generalisation. Yes I am a teenager, and yes I have a keyboard but that doesn't that I am not committed to the piano. I have spacial and monetary restrictions that prevent me from buying a real piano.

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#1998329 - 12/12/12 12:04 PM Re: Committed VS non-committed students... How do you tell? [Re: Teenagepiano]
LoPresti Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/07/10
Posts: 1304
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: Teenagepiano
Originally Posted By: ten left thumbs
Non-committed = those with keyboards, teenage beginners, those who won't cut their fingernails.


I'm not a teacher; I'm a student, but I can't help but see this as a sweeping generalisation. Yes I am a teenager, and yes I have a keyboard but that doesn't [mean] that I am not committed to the piano. I have spacial and monetary restrictions that prevent me from buying a real piano.

As the venerable Zen Master is fond of saying, "We'll see . . ."
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#1998365 - 12/12/12 01:05 PM Re: Committed VS non-committed students... How do you tell? [Re: Teenagepiano]
keystring Online   content
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Originally Posted By: Teenagepiano

I'm not a teacher; I'm a student, but I can't help but see this as a sweeping generalization. Yes I am a teenager, and yes I have a keyboard but that doesn't that I am not committed to the piano. I have spacial and monetary restrictions that prevent me from buying a real piano.

I wrestled with this issue of generalizations for a number of years. To some degree a teacher has to keep in mind "who" she is teaching, in the sense that if you have a 5 year old beginner, a 12 year old beginner, and a 30 year old beginner, it would be nonsense to approach the 5 year old and the 30 year old the same way. You don't have to have a long conversation about goals to figure that out. But your 30 year old will need to get the same skills and knowledge that the 5 year old needs.

The generalization that makes me uneasy is the one about "teens", "adults" or any other group. The fact of not having an acoustic piano can be due to having the money and housing but not caring - in which case it can be a sign - or not having the money or living quarters. I believe strongly in communication as opposed to making assumptions. This is not an easy thing. You are "speaking a different language" when someone is new to music study.

If a student is keen to learn to play and is told that short fingernails are needed, then not cutting them can be a sign that the student doesn't care -- or that the student hasn't caught on to what training with a teacher is about. The fingernails can't be that serious, can they?

This particular student had a keyboard given to her, and had only a vague idea of what it was about. It's like when someone is given a puppy as a surprise gift, and hasn't ever thought of owning pets. How much care will that puppy get?

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#1998415 - 12/12/12 02:45 PM Re: Committed VS non-committed students... How do you tell? [Re: Teenagepiano]
ten left thumbs Offline
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Originally Posted By: Teenagepiano
Originally Posted By: ten left thumbs
Non-committed = those with keyboards, teenage beginners, those who won't cut their fingernails.

Don't worry you didn't see signs. There are better students.


I'm not a teacher; I'm a student, but I can't help but see this as a sweeping generalisation. Yes I am a teenager, and yes I have a keyboard but that doesn't that I am not committed to the piano. I have spacial and monetary restrictions that prevent me from buying a real piano.


No offence intended, but I think any piano learner who goes to the bother or registering on a piano forum, and posting on it, is already more committed and motivated than the average student.

Teenagers are undergoing some very important brain-development (this is biology) and until that is completed they are poorer at seeing the 'big picture,' poorer at prioritising, and more prone to making decisions they later regret, compared to adults. That means that when they say, 'I wanna play piano' and 4 weeks later say 'I can't be bothered with piano' - we teachers shouldn't be surprised.
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#1998459 - 12/12/12 04:23 PM Re: Committed VS non-committed students... How do you tell? [Re: Pianolism]
MaggieGirl Offline
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Registered: 09/18/11
Posts: 477
Coming from education (not piano, lol), I will strongly suggest that you do not contact the girl again. Don't call her, text her, or send her a letter (at this point if there was any kind of contract it would be null and void anyway-she is 16).

You will be at risk of harassing a minor and that is not a positive with a teacher.

Just shut the door and move on. smile

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#1998462 - 12/12/12 04:26 PM Re: Committed VS non-committed students... How do you tell? [Re: Pianolism]
ezpiano.org Offline
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Registered: 05/10/11
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Loc: Irvine, CA
I think if she is 16, it should be her parents that is dealing with piano teacher, not herself. Is she paying for her own piano tuition? Is she coming to piano lesson at your place by herself without her parents?


Edited by ezpiano.org (12/12/12 04:28 PM)
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#1998600 - 12/12/12 09:31 PM Re: Committed VS non-committed students... How do you tell? [Re: Pianolism]
Shutoku Offline
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Registered: 12/11/12
Posts: 11
I think that you are a relatively new piano teacher is part of the situation. It can be hard to not take things personally sometimes, but the reality is this:
Every student who signs up for lessons will quit at some point.

I've had students who stayed for as long as 13 years, and I've had some who only last a month or less.
My wife and I both have taught for over 30 years, and yeah sometimes it still sort of bugs us when someone drops, but it IS going to happen, so there is no value in taking it too seriously unless there is a more serious reason presented.
It's over. You now have a time slot open for a new student who may take it more seriously.

As far as texting as a means of communicating, of course it was avoidance. She is a kid who for whatever reason was in charge of cancelling her lessons with an adult. That is going to be intimidating for most kids.
(of course it could be her parents think she is still taking lessons and giver her money lol)
It is also however how more and more people choose to communicate. It is what it is.

Regarding the comments about teenage beginners, it is a generalization for sure. Still it is probably true that most who start as teens are less likely to stick around. There will be exceptions of course.

For keyboards though, I cannot agree. I have many students who only have keyboards and have never had a student stop because of that. If they are enjoying the process and the music, the action and number of keys won't be the game changer.
Of course many families will want to start with a cheap keyboard first to see if the child will stick with it before investing in a piano. It's not ideal but I get it. And the sad truth is some parents cannot afford, or will not take the lessons seriously enough to buy a piano ever. Still I have done a lot of gigs playing "piano" on my old Korg m1 synth. As long as the keys are full sized, there is a reasonable number of them, they have some degree of touch and can sound more or less like a piano, it is workable.
Let's keep in mind that people are learning to play for enjoyment. Very few will ever have any sort of career in music.

Lastly on parental involvement. I find there are three kinds of parent:
1. Very involved "stage parent"
2. normal level of involvement
3. "What? my kid takes piano lessons???.......I have a kid?!?!?!?!?"

Honestly the one I hate the most is the first one. I hate when they decide they know better than me what the child should be practicing and how. I hate when I get frequent calls outside of lesson time to discuss their little darlings feelings or how terribly "gifted" they are (and in most cases they are not "gifted" at all).

The biggest issue with the absentee parents is sometimes getting payment can be a challenge, and obviously if the support is not there to re-enforce the need for practice, and so on, it is going to be a tougher road to success for the student.
I am finding less and less parental involvement over the years. Part of this is because in many many cases now, the parents are not together and the child splits time in different homes (then you have to hope both parents at least have some sort of instrument!).
Secondly, I remember reading somewhere that convenient location rates right up there with lesson fee rates as a top priority in choosing a music teacher....well above the teachers qualifications. crazy
Many of my students live within walking distance (I also live between two elementary schools) so if the parent doesn't have to deliver or pick up the child, you will see them less.
With most long term students of mine, the level of parental involvement decreases over time, and honestly I would say about 70% of my student parents I see in September, maybe before Xmas break, and then at the year end concert.
I'm very ok with that.

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#1998604 - 12/12/12 09:37 PM Re: Committed VS non-committed students... How do you tell? [Re: Pianolism]
Pianolism Offline
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Registered: 08/27/10
Posts: 53
For the first phone conversation, she consulted her mother for a decision. Here's roughly what she said, " I'll ask my mom first..." So, there was some parental involvement.

She seems quite 'independent'. I expected her to come to lessons with her mother as I believe some or most parents would be interested to find out whether their child is studying at a conducive and safe environment. (Especially when she had to ask for her mother's permission the first time round.) However, she came alone and paid the fees. The fees are most likely given by her parents as she is still studying.

Well, I only gave her 1 phone call and only decided to give her one. I have not much time or don't see the point calling her the 2nd time because I respect my time and her time. Who likes a repeated phone call from someone? I don't like neither do I think she likes.

In this case, if there was any problems with her, that phone call can also be a point of negotiation since I made the first move. That point of negotiation could be in a few dimensions.. One possibility is... If she had financial difficulties, I can lower the
fees. If she had problems with her schedule, other time arrangements could be made.

I have decided to give her case a closure. I took a little longer than usual...Not 5 minutes like what some of you mentioned. One day to decide that this case is a 'no-point'. Just that, I see a lot of posts on this forum that fueled my curiosity. After all I have to admit, it's better to not inject too much emotional involvement in a case like this which absolutely doesn't need that. This girl was pure 'business' I have decided. No feelings attached. Just a learning point.

Yep, I agree that every student that signs up at one point will quit. smile

Thanks!





Edited by Pianolism (12/12/12 09:44 PM)

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#1998808 - 12/13/12 08:29 AM Re: Committed VS non-committed students... How do you tell? [Re: Pianolism]
Toastie Offline
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Registered: 08/10/12
Posts: 210
Loc: UK
I found that really depressing that all students will quit at some point and have therefore resolved never to quit - until the day I die. We'll see how that goes.

Glad you have come to a personal resolution on it pianolism. I don't think you should give it another thought.

I thought of this topic last night when I watched a repeat of "How I met your mother" about people who say "I can't be with you... right now" and keep you dangling on a hook. I thought about the message: "I want to stop piano lessons... for the time being" which is the same sort of thing - keeping the door open for the future.
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#1999024 - 12/13/12 03:43 PM Re: Committed VS non-committed students... How do you tell? [Re: Pianolism]
LimeFriday Offline
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Registered: 11/02/09
Posts: 303
Loc: Australia
I work with young people in my job (as a counsellor - not a piano teacher) - and a very large majority communicate via text message only - some only communicate via facebook. To them - it's not avoidance - it is the way they communicate. We might not like the way communication has evolved and it might feel cold and dismissive to receive an SMS instead of a phone call - but they do not hold those same beliefs.

We can try to change those beliefs and have them communicate with us in ways that are more 'acceptable' or in ways we are more comfortable - or we can can accept that technology has changed the way communication happens and young people know no other way! I agree with the posters who suggested the fact that she communicated at all was a bonus and sign of some maturity.

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#1999026 - 12/13/12 03:48 PM Re: Committed VS non-committed students... How do you tell? [Re: LimeFriday]
TimR Online   content
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Would it be snarky of me to point out that we recently had a thread about piano teachers reading texts while teaching lessons? And that not everybody agreed it was a bad idea?
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#1999101 - 12/13/12 06:24 PM Re: Committed VS non-committed students... How do you tell? [Re: Pianolism]
Beth_Frances Offline
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Registered: 02/14/12
Posts: 189
Loc: Brisbane, Australia
Commitment tends to come from one of two factors:

1. Parents who are committed to their child recieving a quality musical education, and who gently but firmly guide them through periods of difficulty and frustration and see this as a valuable part of the experience. This type of parent certainly wouldn't be of the impression that playing piano might be "fun" - they realise there is some effort involved and that piano can't be mastered in 30 minutes a week. They build designated practice times into their weekly schedule and stick to them unwaveringly.

2. Students who are very musical, optomistic, confident, competitive and self driven who want to play for any audience they can muster and enjoy playing through not only the pieces you assign but other pieces they find online, their old repertoire, their friends reportoire, picking out the songs they are learning in school music etc.

I am yet to have a strong combination of those two factors in one student, but the ones who stick at it and do well fall into one of those categories.

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#1999111 - 12/13/12 07:00 PM Re: Committed VS non-committed students... How do you tell? [Re: TimR]
Shutoku Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/11/12
Posts: 11
Originally Posted By: TimR
Would it be snarky of me to point out that we recently had a thread about piano teachers reading texts while teaching lessons? And that not everybody agreed it was a bad idea?

I actually have sign up in my studio saying "No Texting or use of cell phones during band classes"
If a student wants to pay me to sit there while they text, cool (but the parents will be informed). But when I have 4 or 5 students in a band class, it is not fair for them if one student is wasting time texting.
It hasn't been a big problem though. I had one drummer (17 yr old girl) who was the reason I put up the sign, and she smartened up right away, and I had one vocalist (again teen girl) who was constantly checking it, but she was a pretty short term student.

For myself, I don't even have a cell phone. I have an ipod touch which I can text with, but I almost never do. And yes if I need to contact a student facebook is generally the best way unless it is time sensitive. Absolutely texting and fb are the primary means of communication for this generation, and that's fine.
I do take phone calls during lessons because most times if I get a call during teaching hours it is a student calling in sick or something. I don't engage in any conversation longer than a minute though.

Still I cannot help but think that the student choosing to not say anything at her last lesson, but sending a text and then not answering a subsequent phone call has some measure of avoidance written all over it. I don't blame her though. No one likes to deliver news that might hurt someone's feelings, and when you are young and delivering such news to an adult, it will be even more awkward and intimidating.

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#1999151 - 12/13/12 09:21 PM Committed VS non-committed students... How do you tell? [Re: LimeFriday]
LoPresti Offline
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Registered: 12/07/10
Posts: 1304
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: LimeFriday
I work with young people in my job (as a counsellor - not a piano teacher) - and a very large majority communicate via text message only - some only communicate via facebook. To them - it's not avoidance - it is the way they communicate.

There are missionaries and Peace Corp members working with groups where “a very large majority” have malaria. I am not quite certain that a plurality is justification for not attempting to treat the disease. I am even less sure that they should simply let the disease spread so that everyone has it.

Originally Posted By: LimeFriday
We can try to change those beliefs and have them communicate with us in ways that are more 'acceptable' or in ways we are more comfortable - or we can can accept that technology has changed the way communication happens . . .

No, technology has not changed anything. Surpluses of microchips, mass-marketing of fantasy, and the huge profitability in selling distractions, are what combined to change the way kids spend their time. “Texting”, “messaging”, “eMailing” (and various other nouns turned into gerunds) are a few of the ways they choose to waste their time now.

Admittedly, I do not know you. However, it would seem to me that, in your profession, you might be perfectly poised to help reverse those trends - and certainly not by considering them normal, and an inevitable course of evolution.

Ed
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#1999152 - 12/13/12 09:24 PM Re: Committed VS non-committed students... How do you tell? [Re: TimR]
LoPresti Offline
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Registered: 12/07/10
Posts: 1304
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: TimR
Would it be snarky of me to point out that we recently had a thread about piano teachers reading texts while teaching lessons? And that not everybody agreed it was a bad idea?

I do not know about "snarky", Tim. To me it is just a very sad, sad commentary. . .
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#1999159 - 12/13/12 09:46 PM Re: Committed VS non-committed students... How do you tell? [Re: LoPresti]
malkin Offline
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Registered: 04/18/09
Posts: 2520
Loc: *sigh* Salt Lake City
Originally Posted By: LoPresti
I do not know about "snarky". . .


*snicker*
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