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#2068046 - 04/21/13 01:53 PM Young Rude Foreign Student-What to Do?
P.M. Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/27/11
Posts: 18
Hi,

I recently got a student who came to me, after having studied some piano in China for about a year. Her parents have both been here for several years, though their English is not very good but we do communicate. It became apparent to me almost right away that this was a very outspoken, opinionated and very extroverted girl that has a very straightforward tone.

I would ask her things about her piano studies, simple things like had you studied this before and she would answer "In China we did this and this and we did it this way." Everything was about how she used to do things in China. Finally I told her that she is now here and this is now her piano studio. She stopped mentioning China and her studies there. However as the lessons went on, her attitude become more rude and condescending. If I made a mistake, she would correct me with an attitude, for example "No that is a D!" if I said C, etc. I apologize for my mistakes, but I usually do not have students correct me in such a haughty manner.

She also rephrases what I say with an attitude and tries to correct me. Here is a conversation from one of our lessons. I told her in a particular lesson, "Do not do this piece for homework since we did not have time to go over it thoroughly in class."
Her answer, " I do not want to do the homework since we did not have time to go over it in class."
Me "What did I just say?"
Her "That you do not want me to go over this at home."
Me "So why are you arguing with me?"
Her "I don't know." and then giggles.
That is her typical response when I address her talking back is just to giggle. She does not feel bad about what she is doing.

Her mother was there when the above conversation occured, heard everything and did not say a word. I told her right then and there that I do not appreciate her daughter's attitude and that this has been going on for a while.

She told me how, much of that is coming from the father since that is how the father's family acts and she has no real control over her daughter since the dad dominates everything at home (including the daughter and her studies) and how since the mother is studying full time to become a nurse she has no time to pay attention to her daughters development. She apologized and told me she would work on it. We also contacted some by email with the mother since we have a hard time understanding each other by phone. It was better for like two weeks.

Yesterday I had another incident when she corrected me with another haughty attitude even though there was no need for it. We were sight reading a piece through and I asked her what a specific bass clef note was. She said I don't know but do I use one of the sayings? I said yes try "All Cars Eat Gas". She says to me "All Cows Eat Grass." So I adjust my phrase, thinking this is what she knows, not the other one and I guess I mispronounced it and said "All Cars Eat Grass." Then I proceed to correct myself and say it right. She interrupts, looks at me and says "Allll CARRS EAAAT GAAAS" in this tone that is like duh you idiot.

I say to her "What did I just say? It's the same thing" and continue. Her father was there, did not say a word, and I felt that it would be a waste of time to talk to him since he probably does not see the problem and is probably the source of this.

Here are my questions:
1) Do I try to work on this with the parents? Seems like the mother and father do not really agree on the discipline of the child, fight a lot at home (mother told me this) and father dominates how the girl practices, etc. I also feel that since they are relatively new to this country they do not understand body language and tone very well and may not see things the same way as I do.

2)If so, do I simply make her apologize, quit that lesson and have her come back next week, etc?

3) Do I keep ignoring it? She seems to enjoy getting me frustrated....I feel that saying something would be to give in to her. If I simply ask her to apologize and she does it probably would not be very genuine since the message has not sunk in internally.

4) If nothing changes, should I kick her out eventually? I am not really in a position to do this financially and know that it would get a lot of parents in the community talking about my studio since I live in a community of all Chinese people, several of whom have children in my studio.

Sorry for the long post but if you have the time to read it I would love to hear a response.

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#2068071 - 04/21/13 02:36 PM Re: Young Rude Foreign Student-What to Do? [Re: P.M.]
Stanny Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/08/06
Posts: 1461
After thinking about this, I think this is what I would do:

At your next lesson, give her the ground rules. Explain to her what she is doing and in no uncertain terms, tell her that it is not allowed in your studio and that if hear it one more time, she will be dismissed for that lesson. I'm worried less about her apologizing; you want to break her of doing it in the first place. It's not going to help her in life if she treats people this way.

Don't give her a warning, or another chance if she messes up. I don't think you'll have to dismiss her early more than once.

(Depending upon her age, you may want to cover this with the mother too.)
_________________________
~Stanny~

Independent Music Teacher
Certified Piano Teacher, American College of Musicians
Member: MTNA, NGPT, ASMTA, NAMTA

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#2068078 - 04/21/13 02:52 PM Re: Young Rude Foreign Student-What to Do? [Re: P.M.]
Morodiene Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12146
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: P.M.
Hi,

I recently got a student who came to me, after having studied some piano in China for about a year. Her parents have both been here for several years, though their English is not very good but we do communicate. It became apparent to me almost right away that this was a very outspoken, opinionated and very extroverted girl that has a very straightforward tone.

I would ask her things about her piano studies, simple things like had you studied this before and she would answer "In China we did this and this and we did it this way." Everything was about how she used to do things in China. Finally I told her that she is now here and this is now her piano studio. She stopped mentioning China and her studies there. However as the lessons went on, her attitude become more rude and condescending. If I made a mistake, she would correct me with an attitude, for example "No that is a D!" if I said C, etc. I apologize for my mistakes, but I usually do not have students correct me in such a haughty manner.

She also rephrases what I say with an attitude and tries to correct me. Here is a conversation from one of our lessons. I told her in a particular lesson, "Do not do this piece for homework since we did not have time to go over it thoroughly in class."
Her answer, " I do not want to do the homework since we did not have time to go over it in class."
Me "What did I just say?"
Her "That you do not want me to go over this at home."
Me "So why are you arguing with me?"
Her "I don't know." and then giggles.
That is her typical response when I address her talking back is just to giggle. She does not feel bad about what she is doing.

Her mother was there when the above conversation occured, heard everything and did not say a word. I told her right then and there that I do not appreciate her daughter's attitude and that this has been going on for a while.

She told me how, much of that is coming from the father since that is how the father's family acts and she has no real control over her daughter since the dad dominates everything at home (including the daughter and her studies) and how since the mother is studying full time to become a nurse she has no time to pay attention to her daughters development. She apologized and told me she would work on it. We also contacted some by email with the mother since we have a hard time understanding each other by phone. It was better for like two weeks.

Yesterday I had another incident when she corrected me with another haughty attitude even though there was no need for it. We were sight reading a piece through and I asked her what a specific bass clef note was. She said I don't know but do I use one of the sayings? I said yes try "All Cars Eat Gas". She says to me "All Cows Eat Grass." So I adjust my phrase, thinking this is what she knows, not the other one and I guess I mispronounced it and said "All Cars Eat Grass." Then I proceed to correct myself and say it right. She interrupts, looks at me and says "Allll CARRS EAAAT GAAAS" in this tone that is like duh you idiot.

I say to her "What did I just say? It's the same thing" and continue. Her father was there, did not say a word, and I felt that it would be a waste of time to talk to him since he probably does not see the problem and is probably the source of this.

Here are my questions:
1) Do I try to work on this with the parents? Seems like the mother and father do not really agree on the discipline of the child, fight a lot at home (mother told me this) and father dominates how the girl practices, etc. I also feel that since they are relatively new to this country they do not understand body language and tone very well and may not see things the same way as I do.


I wouldn't bother. This is an issue of how she is acting toward you in your lessons, chances are she's learning to act this way from her family. However, it is *your* studio and you are allowing her to act this way.

Quote:
2)If so, do I simply make her apologize, quit that lesson and have her come back next week, etc?


You need to get tougher. You have tried responding to her respectfully, but that hasn't worked at all. Time to take the kid gloves off and respond to her differently. For example, if she interrupts you to point out a mistake, I'd say something like, "Be quiet. I'm talking." and then proceed to continue my thought and *not* let her get me off balance or on a tangent.

If she persists in pointing that out once you finish your thought, do not let her statement get to you, do not correct yourself, do not try to justify yourself, NOTHING. Say something non-defensive like, "Oh." or "Interesting." or "Funny you think that." and then proceed onto the next subject.

Refusing to engage her when she does this behavior is key. And if it happens more than say 3 times in a lesson (or less, whatever your level of tolerance is), then you do not respond at all, but simply say "Our lesson is done for today. Goodbye" and explain to her mother or father if they are there, that she was disrespectful to you and you are sending her home early because of that. If she continues to be disrespectful to you in the future you will no longer teach her.

Quote:
3) Do I keep ignoring it? She seems to enjoy getting me frustrated....I feel that saying something would be to give in to her. If I simply ask her to apologize and she does it probably would not be very genuine since the message has not sunk in internally.


Understand that her tactics are the same thing that bullies use. It's manipulation. She is testing the boundaries and she's found them a bit squishy in you, so she will continue to trample on you. Yes, getting a reaction out of you is part of what it's about, but to not address it won't help you either.

Quote:
4) If nothing changes, should I kick her out eventually? I am not really in a position to do this financially and know that it would get a lot of parents in the community talking about my studio since I live in a community of all Chinese people, several of whom have children in my studio.


I don't see how this has to do with being Chinese, and I certainly hope that the students who love you and respect you would be able to see that there is something wrong with this girl.

You are obviously upset by her actions, and that's why you're asking. But money isn't everything. This is *your* business, and you get to choose who you teach and who you don't. Whenever I have compromised my personal integrity for the sake of making money or not losing a student, no one wins. This girl isn't learning from you, so why would you want to continue taking their money? No one else needs to know the reasons or what went on.
_________________________
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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#2068083 - 04/21/13 03:05 PM Re: Young Rude Foreign Student-What to Do? [Re: P.M.]
ten left thumbs Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/22/09
Posts: 3336
Loc: Scotland
I had very similar problems with a Chinese student. They left me after not too long, and I can't blame them as she learned very little with me. They got someone else to teach 'Hong Kong style'. I got the feeling that she had no respect for me as a westerner, or maybe I didn't do the right things to gain her respect. Certainly the normal things I know didn't work well.
_________________________
I am a competent teacher.


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

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#2068099 - 04/21/13 03:36 PM Re: Young Rude Foreign Student-What to Do? [Re: ten left thumbs]
Barb860 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/11/09
Posts: 1646
Loc: northern California
Similar situation in my studio as well. FWIW my student is not of foreign ethnicity.
13 years old at the time, this student was very rude to me and I told her this was not acceptable behavior. I also told her parents the same thing. Parents apologized for her behavior and sat in on 2 lessons to observe. Student was not rude to me then, instead, she sat there and cried. To me this implied some sort of deeper issue than being rude. Parents and I agreed to stop the lessons.
_________________________
Piano Teacher

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#2068152 - 04/21/13 05:14 PM Re: Young Rude Foreign Student-What to Do? [Re: P.M.]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4814
Loc: South Florida
In this case you have to choices:

1) Continue with the student and put up with things you do not like.

2) Stop the lessons.

I don't understand what the big deal is...
_________________________
Piano Teacher

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#2068160 - 04/21/13 05:27 PM Re: Young Rude Foreign Student-What to Do? [Re: P.M.]
PianoStudent88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3183
Loc: Maine
Isn't there a 3) continue with lessons and counter the rudeness in a way that may extinguish the student's undesired behavior? For example Morodiene's suggestions?
_________________________
Ebaug(maj7)

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#2068250 - 04/21/13 09:15 PM Re: Young Rude Foreign Student-What to Do? [Re: P.M.]
ezpiano.org Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/10/11
Posts: 1027
Loc: Irvine, CA
I seriously think that she thinks you are idiot from your descriptions. You have three options as stated above. I would choose option two.
_________________________
http://ezpiano.org
Piano lessons in Irvine, CA
Watch the introduction video on YouTube
@ http://bit.ly/Ready123

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#2068369 - 04/22/13 01:29 AM Re: Young Rude Foreign Student-What to Do? [Re: PianoStudent88]
The Monkeys Online   content
Full Member

Registered: 01/13/12
Posts: 438
Loc: Vancouver BC
Originally Posted By: PianoStudent88
Isn't there a 3) continue with lessons and counter the rudeness in a way that may extinguish the student's undesired behavior? For example Morodiene's suggestions?


Agree.
Quote:

I say to her "What did I just say? It's the same thing" and continue.


When this happens next time, pause the lesson, and discuss the instance on the spot. Tell her, this behavior is considered rude in this country in a serious tone, and make her repeat "this behavior is not acceptable"

While this is not how a normal Chinese child behaves, the one child policy in China does created a lot of unprecedented social issue, spoiled child is one of them.

You can warn the parents if her behavior does not improve, you will have to drop her. You don't need to worry about other families in the circle. If you do drop her, this family, not you, will look really bad. I don't think this family will broadcast it, and if they do, it would be actually good for you.

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#2068373 - 04/22/13 01:38 AM Re: Young Rude Foreign Student-What to Do? [Re: P.M.]
Nikolas Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 5368
Loc: Europe
I think that you need to be firmer... That's all! If it doesn't work, kick her out of your studio and problem solved! (like EZPiano says)
_________________________
http://www.musica-ferrum.com

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#2068382 - 04/22/13 01:46 AM Re: Young Rude Foreign Student-What to Do? [Re: P.M.]
Peter K. Mose Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/06/12
Posts: 1376
Loc: Toronto, Ontario
In both instances cited, a parent was present during the lesson. So you've got a threesome situation going on, and that's always tougher than genuine one-on-one teaching. Dump the parents from your lessons, and see if she's a more decent kid on her own.

If she has some redeeming qualities, hang in there with her, and help her acclimate to a new culture. But if you genuinely don't like her, and she isn't happy with you, you must part ways with each other.

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#2068392 - 04/22/13 02:11 AM Re: Young Rude Foreign Student-What to Do? [Re: P.M.]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5558
Loc: Orange County, CA
Fire the student.

Now.
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#2068415 - 04/22/13 02:36 AM Re: Young Rude Foreign Student-What to Do? [Re: P.M.]
Candywoman Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/14/03
Posts: 855
For this student, she may need all the suggestions above. But I'd also attempt some humor with her.

You could turn the tables on her. Instead of asking her to leave the studio, you could! Just say she's stressing you out with her rudeness and you need a time out for rejuvenation!

I'd definitely ask the parents to only attend occasionally. State that you need to build a rapore with all your students, and that works best when students are fully responsible for their education. (Part of that education is dealing with you.)

Or ask her if you're showing her sufficient respect. She will wonder what you mean. Point out that since you respect her and are kind to her, why doesn't she respect you and be kind to you?

I like Morodiene's suggestions.

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#2068420 - 04/22/13 02:41 AM Re: Young Rude Foreign Student-What to Do? [Re: AZNpiano]
Polyphonist Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 7710
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
Fire the student.

Now.

Very direct, aren't you? ha
_________________________
Regards,

Polyphonist

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#2068444 - 04/22/13 03:21 AM Re: Young Rude Foreign Student-What to Do? [Re: P.M.]
btb Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 4263
Loc: Pretoria South Africa
How old is “young” ... the know-it-all attitude is an affront to age-old Chinese courtesy .

My recommendation is “dump the doll” ...
the whole scenario drips of a student battling to sight-read
and wanting to move on to something less taxing.

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#2068491 - 04/22/13 07:18 AM Re: Young Rude Foreign Student-What to Do? [Re: btb]
P.M. Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/27/11
Posts: 18
She's eight. Too young to be that fresh with me. She's also not spoiled as her parents live in a small apartment with her, and her mother does not work. I feel there are other factors that are at play here. Thanks for all of the suggestions though!

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#2068492 - 04/22/13 07:35 AM Re: Young Rude Foreign Student-What to Do? [Re: P.M.]
BrainCramp Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/09/12
Posts: 269
Loc: USA
It may be that she's very unhappy and having trouble adjusting to a new country generally, e.g. missing her friends, making new ones, etc.

I like Monkey's suggestion of pointing out the cultural differences to her. When she mouths off, say something like, "Talking to an adult that way isn't acceptable here in this country. If you say things like that, people here will think you're very rude."

That lets you keep it impersonal and constructive. It's good for the parents to hear that, too.

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#2068526 - 04/22/13 08:57 AM Re: Young Rude Foreign Student-What to Do? [Re: P.M.]
Morodiene Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12146
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: P.M.
She's eight. Too young to be that fresh with me. She's also not spoiled as her parents live in a small apartment with her, and her mother does not work. I feel there are other factors that are at play here. Thanks for all of the suggestions though!


OK, given the age (I thought she was older) then I definitely would try the tactics I suggested with the insistence that the parents be removed from the lesson.

I'm guessing this girl has trust issues and this is how she's learned to deal with it - perhaps related to bullying at home. Be firm with her but also show you care for her. The suggestions I made will do this. She needs rules and are firm, but also not complete rejection for you. You might be able to reach her and make lessons a haven for her.
_________________________
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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#2068563 - 04/22/13 10:28 AM Re: Young Rude Foreign Student-What to Do? [Re: P.M.]
MrsLois Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/19/12
Posts: 75
Loc: Manitoba, Canada
I think you have to be blunt with her. You should be the older, more mature person here... use it to your advantage! smile

Next time she starts being a brat, just say 'Oh... you know it all? Show me.'

If that doesn't work, or you feel uncomfortable saying that, just say 'I'm not prepared to deal with you disrespecting me so badly, and so I am done with our lesson today. Here are your books. Go explain to Mom/Dad why you're done early.' Kick her out of the lesson.

Whilst this is a tough situation to deal with, you should be stronger than an 8-year-old.

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#2068564 - 04/22/13 10:29 AM Re: Young Rude Foreign Student-What to Do? [Re: P.M.]
MrsLois Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/19/12
Posts: 75
Loc: Manitoba, Canada
One more thing... if she corrects you, rather than act embarrassed, cover and say 'Ah! Good - you were listening! I was just testing you!'

Works like a charm...

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#2068907 - 04/22/13 09:17 PM Re: Young Rude Foreign Student-What to Do? [Re: BrainCramp]
Polyphonist Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 7710
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: BrainCramp
It may be that she's very unhappy and having trouble adjusting to a new country generally, e.g. missing her friends, making new ones, etc.

I like Monkey's suggestion of pointing out the cultural differences to her. When she mouths off, say something like, "Talking to an adult that way isn't acceptable here in this country. If you say things like that, people here will think you're very rude."

That lets you keep it impersonal and constructive. It's good for the parents to hear that, too.

I wouldn't emphasize this. It would be rude for anyone to treat anyone this way. Let her know that you expect the behavior from her that you show her. That way, there's no way to object.
_________________________
Regards,

Polyphonist

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#2068946 - 04/22/13 10:29 PM Re: Young Rude Foreign Student-What to Do? [Re: AZNpiano]
The Monkeys Online   content
Full Member

Registered: 01/13/12
Posts: 438
Loc: Vancouver BC
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
Fire the student.

Now.


You have fired a couple students just the in the past few days, shall we keep any? grin

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#2068950 - 04/22/13 10:40 PM Re: Young Rude Foreign Student-What to Do? [Re: The Monkeys]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5558
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: The Monkeys
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
Fire the student.

Now.


You have fired a couple students just the in the past few days, shall we keep any? grin

There's no need to keep the rude ones. I can put up with the slow or the untalented, but the in-your-face attitude displayed by that girl? No.
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#2069007 - 04/23/13 12:30 AM Re: Young Rude Foreign Student-What to Do? [Re: AZNpiano]
Whizbang Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/27/12
Posts: 815
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano

I can put up with the slow or the untalented


Ouch.
_________________________
Whizbang
amateur ragtime pianist

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#2069045 - 04/23/13 01:29 AM Re: Young Rude Foreign Student-What to Do? [Re: AZNpiano]
The Monkeys Online   content
Full Member

Registered: 01/13/12
Posts: 438
Loc: Vancouver BC
Does firing an student over "All Cars Eat Grass" sound right to you? Or "D vs C" really worth ending the session?

Able to control the classroom situation is one of the key competence of being a teacher, handling the attitude and behavior of an 8 year old is normal part of a music teacher's life I suppose.

There are many ways to handle the situation lightheartedly, Mrs Lois just gave a few good ones.

Teacher's own attitude is also important, being more assertive and authoritative will discourage this kind of behavior.

As with any profession, we need to learn to deal with the situation skillfully rather than emotionally. It does take time and practices to develop the skills, but it is what makes a better professional.


Edited by The Monkeys (04/23/13 01:33 AM)

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#2069053 - 04/23/13 01:39 AM Re: Young Rude Foreign Student-What to Do? [Re: P.M.]
btb Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 4263
Loc: Pretoria South Africa
As a piano teacher (ancient by any standards), I must underline the issue of sight-reading which bugs all young students ... if the teacher were to concentrate on making lessons "fun" ... and tempering the sight-reading bogey with slow but helpful progressions ... especially finding
a piece of music which the student likes ... a rosier future beckons.

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#2069073 - 04/23/13 02:07 AM Re: Young Rude Foreign Student-What to Do? [Re: P.M.]
rlinkt Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/08/12
Posts: 320
Loc: CA
Since she has done this in front of her parents, I am guessing that she has parental support for doing so -- spoken or unspoken. I do not see a happy ending. Talk to the dad, and assess what steps they are willing to take to stop this.


Edited by rlinkt (04/23/13 02:07 AM)

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#2069084 - 04/23/13 02:37 AM Re: Young Rude Foreign Student-What to Do? [Re: The Monkeys]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11808
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: The Monkeys

Able to control the classroom situation is one of the key competence of being a teacher, handling the attitude and behavior of an 8 year old is normal part of a music teacher's life I suppose.

Can you share some strategies that you have used as a teacher that you have found are effective?

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#2069085 - 04/23/13 02:40 AM Re: Young Rude Foreign Student-What to Do? [Re: The Monkeys]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5558
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: The Monkeys
Does firing an student over "All Cars Eat Grass" sound right to you? Or "D vs C" really worth ending the session?

Yes.
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#2069088 - 04/23/13 02:42 AM Re: Young Rude Foreign Student-What to Do? [Re: Whizbang]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5558
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: Whizbang
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano

I can put up with the slow or the untalented


Ouch.

?
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