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#2157564 - 09/25/13 04:56 PM Parents who stop lessons for months
Gary D. Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4776
Loc: South Florida
I am going to be very up front in the future about how parents who take long times off for their kids ruin progress.

I am going to present this idea:

When you stop lessons for 3 months, it takes half that time to get back to where you were before you stopped. Off all summer means that maybe by the middle of October you are back where you were in May. Meanwhile the students who continued are 3 months ahead.

This puts the "stoppers" not three months behind, but 4.5 months behind.

We all know this is approximately true, so the question is:

How do we get this through to thick-headed parents, who torpedo their kids' progress yearly?


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#2157566 - 09/25/13 05:03 PM Re: Parents who stop lessons for months [Re: Gary D.]
peekay Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/31/13
Posts: 184
You can explain these things to the parents.

BUT, at the end of the day, it's the parents' right to make the best choices for their children. Believe it or not, for many families, piano lessons are not the end-all be-all.

I know someone who sent his kids overseas every summer, to be with their grandparents. "While they're still alive". Who are we to judge?
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#2157578 - 09/25/13 05:23 PM Re: Parents who stop lessons for months [Re: peekay]
Gary D. Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4776
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: peekay
You can explain these things to the parents.

BUT, at the end of the day, it's the parents' right to make the best choices for their children. Believe it or not, for many families, piano lessons are not the end-all be-all.

I know someone who sent his kids overseas every summer, to be with their grandparents. "While they're still alive". Who are we to judge?

Who are we to judge? Who is talking about judging? I'm talking about FACTS.
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#2157596 - 09/25/13 05:56 PM Re: Parents who stop lessons for months [Re: Gary D.]
Saranoya Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/27/13
Posts: 585
Loc: Brussels, Belgium
I am an adult piano student in a country where almost nobody takes lessons over the two-month-long summer, because the subsidised (music) schools all close. Only those who are willing and able to either pay a private teacher (and there aren't very many of those -- at least not good ones), or fill their summer to the brim with musical summer camps and similar activities, will continue their lessons throughout July and August.

I suppose many students do regress during the gap, and a disturbing number of them take lessons for one school year, and then never bother to show up again after the break.

But I have seen a few different people be very effective in preventing dramatic regression with a variety of students. It's true that most of them (and in that 'them', I will include myself) don't make any significant progress while without a teacher. But I also think, based on a few memorable examples I've seen, that it's possible to structure assignments in such a way as to make sure that even if no gains are made, no big losses will occur, either.

Two things that, in my observation, seem to help:

1) Help the student discover *why* they are playing the piano, if it's not to try to please the teacher (and/or avoid their anger, disappointment, or ... fill in the blank), or because their parents seem to think it's a good idea.

2) Assign materials that are at or slightly below the student's current level -- more than you actually expect them to cover, but not so much as to overwhelm them.

One and two will work in tandem to make sure that the student at least keeps hovering somewhere in the neighbourhood of where they were when lessons stopped.

Of course, this only works with students who *have* some kind of intrinsic motivation to play. But for those who don't, I figure regression is less of a waste of potential. At some point, they'll quit anyway, and it's likely that they'll never touch a piano again once they have.

And just to make it clear that I do realise I didn't *really* address the topic of this thread in the above, also this: I think telling parents and their children in a direct way what the (potential) consequences of a summer hiatus are is indeed the best way to deal with this issue. But the specific consequence you cite (about how they'll be 'behind' 4.5 months by the time they're back on track) probably appeals mainly to those who care about where they are in the pecking order.

I suspect there are many parents and kids who are indeed somewhat (or very) sensitive to this. But some of them aren't. And why should they be?

Maybe it's better to drop the concept of being 'behind' or 'ahead' from the argument altogether, and just say that being away from lessons over the summer (and playing very little or not at all during that time) will force you to essentially cover some of the same material twice? Or is that what you were saying all along, and have I just misinterpreted your meaning?
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Beginner with some priors since 9/2012

Currently Playable
Bach 846, 926, 930
Beethoven 27/2 mvt. 1
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Grieg 12/1, 7
Tchaikovsky 39/9

Future
Burgmüller 109
Bartok Sz 56
Mozart K331

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#2157599 - 09/25/13 06:08 PM Re: Parents who stop lessons for months [Re: Gary D.]
keystring Offline
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I think that it is important for parents and older students to be aware of this regression, so that if they choose not to take lessons over an extended period, it is an informed choice. Maybe they can stave off the regression by continuing to practice. Of course if they start going in the wrong direction, there is nobody to correct them to bring them back on track.

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#2157604 - 09/25/13 06:14 PM Re: Parents who stop lessons for months [Re: Gary D.]
peekay Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/31/13
Posts: 184
Originally Posted By: Gary D.

Who are we to judge? Who is talking about judging? I'm talking about FACTS.


FACT: It's not your decision, but the parents'.

You have no idea what other factors the parents are considering during the summer. If you don't like it, drop the students.
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#2157607 - 09/25/13 06:21 PM Re: Parents who stop lessons for months [Re: Saranoya]
Gary D. Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4776
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: Saranoya
I am an adult piano student in a country where almost nobody takes lessons over the two-month-long summer, because the subsidised (music) schools all close. Only those who are willing and able to either pay a private teacher (and there aren't very many of those -- at least not good ones), or fill their summer to the brim with musical summer camps and similar activities, will continue their lessons throughout July and August.

If your teachers cannot or will not teach for any period, there is nothing you can do about it. This still does not mean it is good for you or any student.
Quote:

But I have seen a few different people be very effective in preventing dramatic regression with a variety of students. It's true that most of them (and in that 'them', I will include myself) don't make any significant progress while without a teacher.

Whether or not you think you make any progress at all while not studying with a teacher would have to do with weighing bad habits picked up against whatever strides you make, alone. I would say this changes greatly when you have studied a long time.

In the first couple years it is simply deadly to stop. So I am really, for the most part, not talking about advanced students. But even they get some wonky bad habits when no is around to check what they are doing.
Quote:

But I also think, based on a few memorable examples I've seen, that it's possible to structure assignments in such a way as to make sure that even if no gains are made, no big losses will occur, either.

Not in the early stages.

Your points seem to be about people who are far more advanced than the people I am talking about.

And I have NO plans on dropping the idea of "being behind", because that is the elephant in the room.

If you taught, you would agree.
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#2157614 - 09/25/13 06:38 PM Re: Parents who stop lessons for months [Re: Gary D.]
Saranoya Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/27/13
Posts: 585
Loc: Brussels, Belgium
Originally Posted By: Gary D.
Your points seem to be about people who are far more advanced than the people I am talking about.


Probably. Also, it's likely that the people I'm talking about are more conscious of what they're doing while at the piano (even when the teacher isn't there) than the average beginning piano student.

Originally Posted By: Gary D.
And I have NO plans on dropping the idea of "being behind", because that is the elephant in the room.

If you taught, you would agree.


Maybe. In any case, point taken: I'll shut up and let the teachers do the talking, now wink.
_________________________
Beginner with some priors since 9/2012

Currently Playable
Bach 846, 926, 930
Beethoven 27/2 mvt. 1
Burgmüller 100/3, 4, 7, 12, 15, 19, 25
Chopin 72/1
Clementi 36/1
Grieg 12/1, 7
Tchaikovsky 39/9

Future
Burgmüller 109
Bartok Sz 56
Mozart K331

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#2157617 - 09/25/13 06:43 PM Re: Parents who stop lessons for months [Re: Gary D.]
AZNpiano Online   sleepy
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5454
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: Gary D.
How do we get this through to thick-headed parents, who torpedo their kids' progress yearly?

I'm very glad I don't usually deal with these type parents. For the few that I do have, I just let their kids flounder. It's not my fault!

Some parents treat piano like just another extracurricular activity. The entire concept of "practice" escapes them, let alone the 3 months of lesson stoppage every summer.
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#2157626 - 09/25/13 07:00 PM Re: Parents who stop lessons for months [Re: peekay]
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11644
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: peekay
Originally Posted By: Gary D.

Who are we to judge? Who is talking about judging? I'm talking about FACTS.


FACT: It's not your decision, but the parents'.

You have no idea what other factors the parents are considering during the summer. If you don't like it, drop the students.

If a nutritionist advises a family that certain foods will be a health risk, then the family can still decide not to follow that advice and bear the consequences. If a house inspector tells a family that a section of the house will fall apart in the next decade if they don't take certain measures, they can choose to ignore it. If a coach advises that certain actions can lead to injury, he can also be ignored.

I am reading a teacher advising what will give progress, and what will impede progress. Your response does not make sense. If a doctor advised a pre-diabetic that a sugary diet puts him at risk, is the response "If you don't like it, you can drop the patient." logical?

Whether student or parent, I would want to have this kind of information.

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#2157628 - 09/25/13 07:08 PM Re: Parents who stop lessons for months [Re: Saranoya]
Gary D. Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4776
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: Saranoya
Originally Posted By: Gary D.
Your points seem to be about people who are far more advanced than the people I am talking about.


Probably. Also, it's likely that the people I'm talking about are more conscious of what they're doing while at the piano (even when the teacher isn't there) than the average beginning piano student.

How long have you been playing? How do you judge whether or not these people truly know what they are doing while at the piano?

In my experience every student still in the first or second year develops some bad habits in two, three or four months away from a good teacher. Sometimes those things be fixed quickly, but sometimes not.

Practicing wrong is far worse than not practicing at all.

Think about the greatest athletes. The best in the world. They travel with trainers, coaches, ready to correct anything that goes wrong. You don't see them "on their own" for a couple months.

And these are top professionals.

I repeat: how long have you been playing? On what basis do you assume that when you are working alone you do not fall into bad habits without even knowing such habits are possible?

And yes, frankly I think students should listen a bit more when people have been teaching for decades are talking about major problems.

That does not mean they have to. smile
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#2157631 - 09/25/13 07:19 PM Re: Parents who stop lessons for months [Re: peekay]
Gary D. Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4776
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: peekay

You have no idea what other factors the parents are considering during the summer.

Sometimes true, sometimes not.

But it is equally true that they do not think through the long range effects of how much money they are wasting, paying for lessons that do no more than to finally get kids back to where they were when the stopped last.
Quote:

If you don't like it, drop the students.

Do you really think it is always that simple?

What is your grudge with me? Are you a student who stops lessons in the summer? Are you a parent who stops lessons in the summer for your kids?

Are you defending friends who take lessons?

And are you a teacher?
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#2157640 - 09/25/13 07:45 PM Re: Parents who stop lessons for months [Re: Gary D.]
The Monkeys Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/13/12
Posts: 424
Loc: Vancouver BC
Letting the parents to understand the consequence of taking the summer off is great.

In a piano teacher's eyes, student's progress on piano is the #1 concern. This is OK, I like that from a piano teacher.

Just that life is bigger than just music.
Assuming all the parents putting anything before piano are "thick-headed" might spark some unnecessary exchanges that helps no body.

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#2157653 - 09/25/13 08:16 PM Re: Parents who stop lessons for months [Re: Gary D.]
ezpiano.org Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/10/11
Posts: 1002
Loc: Irvine, CA
Originally Posted By: Gary
I am going to be very up front in the future about how parents who take long times off for their kids ruin progress.


Great!!

Originally Posted By: Gary
I am going to present this idea: When you stop lessons for 3 months, it takes half that time to get back to where you were before you stopped. Off all summer means that maybe by the middle of October you are back where you were in May. Meanwhile the students who continued are 3 months ahead. This puts the "stoppers" not three months behind, but 4.5 months behind.


Great!!

Originally Posted By: Gary
We all know this is approximately true, so the question is: How do we get this through to thick-headed parents, who torpedo their kids' progress yearly?


No need to. Just present the facts and let the parents choose their choices. You already warn the "patient" that if she is not cutting off her ovaries, then the cancer will spread to other parts of the body. Your job is done, sit back and relax!!
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#2157677 - 09/25/13 09:36 PM Re: Parents who stop lessons for months [Re: Gary D.]
peekay Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/31/13
Posts: 184
I am glad I don't have to deal with piano teachers who think the whole world revolves around them.

As an adult student, I can fire my teacher at any time. He works for me, on my schedule, at my prerogative. Not the other way around.

My niece is starting her music lessons soon. There will be times when she will need to take extended leave. The reason why is irrelevant; it's a family concern and it's up to her mom & dad to decide her activities & priorities. If her teacher can't deal with that, there are plenty of others who can.
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Working on RCM Grade 8

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#2157688 - 09/25/13 10:01 PM Re: Parents who stop lessons for months [Re: Gary D.]
Michael_99 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/12
Posts: 935
Loc: Canada Alberta
Gary, D., I have read your post, here:

Subject: Parents who stop lessons for months

I am going to be very up front in the future about how parents who take long times off for their kids ruin progress.

I am going to present this idea:

When you stop lessons for 3 months, it takes half that time to get back to where you were before you stopped. Off all summer means that maybe by the middle of October you are back where you were in May. Meanwhile the students who continued are 3 months ahead.

This puts the "stoppers" not three months behind, but 4.5 months behind.

We all know this is approximately true, so the question is:

How do we get this through to thick-headed parents, who torpedo their kids' progress yearly?

__________________________________________________________________________

Parents, kids, politicians, teacher, - everybody - etc. do what they want because they are in a position of both money and/or power - so they have the final say because they can and do that in the way that they want!

You see, I have had to have breaks because of surgeries and recoveries of several months - no choice - but - yes, it would cause me to have to review all my pieces playing them slowly and without mistakes and making the pieces sound musical again which would take seveal months to do. But for many on the planet, that is enough for them to quit - but for someone like me who loves playing the piano - nothing would ever prevent me from playing the piano because the love of learning to play the piano is so strong that nothing other than my death would cause an end - but not everybody feels that way and parents can gamble!

When you are in a situation, where you have to make a decision, I say you should go for favourable terms - the things that you want - at any cost - but the other side - in this case it is the parents are hoping the child will quit and they parents will win. But if the kid is determined to learn to play the piano and the kid loves learning to play the piano - nothing would ever stop him from playing the piano because his will is so strong but others would fold and quit.

I hope you see what I mean!

I just remembered something. When I was a teenager, my parents suggested that maybe it would be a good idea if I went to boarding school. I said that was a great idea and I would enjoy that. I knew my parents didn't want to spend that kind of money on me - and I was right - they never ever mentioned that again. So life is a gamble in certain situations and sometimes you win and sometimes you lose.

cheers,

3S25MOT




Edited by Michael_99 (09/25/13 10:02 PM)

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#2157697 - 09/25/13 10:12 PM Re: Parents who stop lessons for months [Re: Gary D.]
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11644
Loc: Canada
Peekay, the first step in responding to a post involves understanding what has been said. Otherwise you get a conversation that looks like this:
Doctor: You have a bacterial infection. Here is an antibiotic to help clear it up.
Person: Wow, you seem to think you're important. Look everyone, what a bigshot!

Everyone else: (wonders what this person is on about)

Here we have a teacher observing that when students miss several weeks of lessons, they have slipped when they return and need to be retaught what they used to be able to do.

How does such an observation have anything to do with self-concept?

Quote:
As an adult student, I can fire my teacher at any time. He works for me, on my schedule, at my prerogative. Not the other way around.

Yes, I've been an adult student too, and among other things, still am. The first thing that I want from any teacher is that he will do whatever he can to help me succeed. When I first looked around some 10 years ago, I was horrified by how many teacher back then said about adult students, "Let them do whatever they want. They have no future and won't get anywhere." One can be the "boss" of such a teacher, but that would not be my cup of tea. I want to learn.

I don't get your objection. What is it about the observation that missed lessons can cause students to regress, that you find so dreadful? I'd be more inclined to say "What can we do to minimize the problem, if a longer absence can't be avoided?" rather than labeling the messenger.

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#2157702 - 09/25/13 10:25 PM Re: Parents who stop lessons for months [Re: Gary D.]
peekay Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/31/13
Posts: 184
The first post assumes parents are just a bunch of "thick-headed" morons who are intent to "torpedo" their own kids progress. Quotes from the original post.

That's my objection.
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#2157708 - 09/25/13 10:34 PM Re: Parents who stop lessons for months [Re: Gary D.]
malkin Offline
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Registered: 04/18/09
Posts: 2492
Loc: *sigh* Salt Lake City
If the long term goal is to produce the best pianist possible then taking the summer off is plainly a detriment.

If the long term goal is to promote the development of a decent human being then there may be priorities in other domains (e.g. develop family connections) that trump continuation of piano lessons.

We all gotta make choices.
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#2157710 - 09/25/13 10:35 PM Re: Parents who stop lessons for months [Re: Gary D.]
peekay Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/31/13
Posts: 184
Well said, malkin.
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#2157714 - 09/25/13 10:40 PM Re: Parents who stop lessons for months [Re: Gary D.]
malkin Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/09
Posts: 2492
Loc: *sigh* Salt Lake City
Thanks!
I try. smile
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#2157778 - 09/26/13 02:35 AM Re: Parents who stop lessons for months [Re: peekay]
AZNpiano Online   sleepy
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5454
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: peekay
As an adult student, I can fire my teacher at any time. He works for me, on my schedule, at my prerogative. Not the other way around.

No, your teacher also gets to fire you if you lag behind in your practice, start banging on the piano rudely, keep on changing the lesson time, or take 5 months off piano lessons for no apparent reason.

It's a two-way street.
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#2157790 - 09/26/13 03:35 AM Re: Parents who stop lessons for months [Re: Gary D.]
peekay Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/31/13
Posts: 184
Well, in reality, he can complain to the department head, who will make a big fuss, because the school really wants MY MONEY and will bend over backwards to get it.

But I get along great with my teacher, and I will say it again: I am glad I don't have to deal with piano teachers who think the whole world revolves around them. I would drop such a teacher in an instant.
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#2157822 - 09/26/13 05:36 AM Re: Parents who stop lessons for months [Re: Gary D.]
Eddiani Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 06/04/13
Posts: 5
Loc: Zürich, Switzerland
Originally Posted By: Gary D.

Think about the greatest athletes. The best in the world. They travel with trainers, coaches, ready to correct anything that goes wrong. You don't see them "on their own" for a couple months.

And these are top professionals.


I found this thread disturbing, but that's probably the reason, I didn't realize we were talking about "greathest athletes" and "top professionals" of piano playing, I thought it was about normal kids taking piano lessons.

If you are training them to win the Chopin competition and start a carreer in piano playing then by no means three months of break are unacceptable.

If on the other hand you are teaching normal kids to play piano for their own enjoyment, you are right in warning the parents about what that might mean for their kids' progress so that they can make an informed decision, but they are still free to decide for the break withouth anybody calling them thick-headed.

Even more disturbing I find people comparing a slow piano progress to a spreading cancer or a dangerous building, but maybe that's just me.

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#2157825 - 09/26/13 05:43 AM Re: Parents who stop lessons for months [Re: peekay]
Nikolas Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 5239
Loc: Europe
Originally Posted By: peekay
Well, in reality, he can complain to the department head, who will make a big fuss, because the school really wants MY MONEY and will bend over backwards to get it.

But I get along great with my teacher, and I will say it again: I am glad I don't have to deal with piano teachers who think the whole world revolves around them. I would drop such a teacher in an instant.
Think about it for a second...

Are you sure that your school is teaching you to the best of their abilities? Because you're paying them... to learn, or to actually grab a degree? do you think they could be tricking you, to think you are doing great, but actually just making your life easier and lying to you?

just sayin'
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#2157850 - 09/26/13 06:54 AM Re: Parents who stop lessons for months [Re: peekay]
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11644
Loc: Canada
Peekay, answering my question about where the objection is:

Originally Posted By: peekay
The first post assumes parents are just a bunch of "thick-headed" morons who are intent to "torpedo" their own kids progress. Quotes from the original post.

That's my objection.


Thank you for answering.

By your insertion of the word "morons" I see how you are reading the post, namely as an attitude toward parents (being morons), and that is where your idea of attitude of superiority is coming from. Try a different reading:

It is September. Private teachers are getting student after student coming in who were away after summer - 5-8 in a row each day. Many of them have lost ground over the summer. The teacher has to help student after student stumble through things that they did with ease, having to reteach old things without demoralizing the student. In fact, a stumbling student risks losing confidence. He may in fact be seeing discouraged students who are bewildered at their lost ability. What you read was not an opinion on the intelligence of parents, but frustration at a preventable problem. It would not be levied at those who didn't have a choice that summer, but probably at metaphorical shrugged shoulders. Can you see it from that angle?

Meanwhile I want to address something that you wrote which is important to me - the student being the boss, and the teacher doing whatever the student wants. I wrote about it before, but I don't remember a response from you. This concerns me greatly and I've actually waged a campaign for time to time, insisting that older students be taught what we need to be able to progress, and not what will please us in order to get our money. Music teaching is also a money-earning job, and every commercial enterprise out there plays a number on us in order to get our money. We have a whole world that promises what we want to hear and then we are left with a belly full of cotton candy and little of substance.

For a teacher to do what I want, means that he will do what it takes to help me succeed in music, because that is actually what I want. If I "want" to get to play me favorite tunes in 6 months, only do what is fun, practise once a week, I do not want a teacher to accept these "wants" because I may not realize they will undermine my progress, but he will know that it will. You will probably say that you don't want those things either, but there are plenty in the industry who do promise exactly those things and are happy to take our dollars. I'd rather see teachers who are trying hard, and because they care, vent their frustration from time to time, than see people who don't care and are happy to rake in the dollars.

I can see how the adjective "thick headed" gave you an impression, but can you look at the rest of the picture?

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#2157858 - 09/26/13 07:17 AM Re: Parents who stop lessons for months [Re: Eddiani]
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11644
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: Eddiani

Even more disturbing I find people comparing a slow piano progress to a spreading cancer or a dangerous building, but maybe that's just me.


You didn't read my post as intended. There was the idea that the OP was an expression of superiority. I was trying to bring across that the OP involved advice based on knowledge and experience. In other words, if you know what works and what tends to give problems. I was also not talking about slow progress. The idea is specifically that of wanting parents to understand that if 3 weeks are taken off, when the child resumes lessons he won't just be continuing from where he left off 3 weeks ago, he will also have slid back. If a parent hears this, perhaps he will make different decisions.

I don't remember using exaggerated imagery such as cancer or dangerous building. I avoided any hyperbole. I intended the idea of expertise in any field. That can also be your sister telling you not to put the element on maximum when heating butter, or watching for that uneven step she's fallen over twice. It's not about the creme de la creme. It's more about the kid who comes in after being away for two months, and wonders why it's such a struggle and why it isn't as much fun as it was before.


Edited by keystring (09/26/13 07:31 AM)

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#2157885 - 09/26/13 08:37 AM Re: Parents who stop lessons for months [Re: Gary D.]
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3187
Loc: Virginia, USA
Teaching would be a lot more fun if it weren't for all those students! Hee, hee.

Students taking long breaks must indeed be frustrating. It's not easy to see good progress yanked away when it seems so easy to avoid it.

But ultimately you only have a couple of choices.

Forbid it, and drop any student who won't comply.

Accept it, and find a way to deal with the frustration.

Bad practice is really worse than no practice? I'm in trouble then. I do a lot of things wrong, but work ethic has never been a problem. Maybe I should try to be more lazy.
_________________________
gotta go practice

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#2157890 - 09/26/13 08:48 AM Re: Parents who stop lessons for months [Re: Gary D.]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11676
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
I think we have discussed this before, but perhaps it needs saying again.

Teaching is something very near and dear to our hearts. We believe in it 100%, at least those of us in this profession who take the time to come here and learn and offer advice for free. We truly want our students to love piano as much as we do. Some of them do, but they have obstacles to overcome that are above and beyond the typical trials we have with learning such a difficult skill as playing piano.

When obstacles are placed in our student's way, we get upset on their behalf. Sometimes parents can't let a student take lessons over the summer for good reasons. I had one such student, the mom wanted her to take, but it just couldn't work. It was frustrating, but no one's fault, we get back on that bench and move forward (or backward a little bit, then forward).

Other times, the parent is actually lazy, sick of driving the child to piano lessons and dance and tennis lessons, and so really, they need a break even though doing so can be a death sentence to a student's piano education. I have seen this happen all-too often where the student has trouble getting started practicing, finally gets into a "groove" and then summer comes, and it starts all over again. And in the meantime the parent talks to you about the child auditioning for a competitive music charter school which is very prestigious, and yet the child can hardly play simple pieces. No amount of talking to them gets them to understand they are making your job impossible, and worse, they are making piano not enjoyable for the child. They usually end up quitting.

So when teachers come on here and perhaps use some inflammatory remarks, they are venting their frustration in what is hopefully a safe environment to do so, since they wouldn't do that toward the student or the parent. It comes from a heart that cares. Perhaps that's not easy for some of you to see or understand.

Nowhere in Gary's post did he express anything but concern for the student's progress, not as a professional musician, but just as a pianist. He wants what's best for them. If you take the time to read the posts of regular teachers here, you would see that is usually the motivation.
_________________________
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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#2157897 - 09/26/13 08:59 AM Re: Parents who stop lessons for months [Re: Gary D.]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11676
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: Gary D.
I am going to be very up front in the future about how parents who take long times off for their kids ruin progress.

I am going to present this idea:

When you stop lessons for 3 months, it takes half that time to get back to where you were before you stopped. Off all summer means that maybe by the middle of October you are back where you were in May. Meanwhile the students who continued are 3 months ahead.

This puts the "stoppers" not three months behind, but 4.5 months behind.

We all know this is approximately true, so the question is:

How do we get this through to thick-headed parents, who torpedo their kids' progress yearly?


Now to address the OP. I think with educating the parents. Sometimes talking to them works, but often that isn't enough. Having a "reward" for students/parents who continue through the summer can help. If students take a minimum of 6 lessons with me over the summer, they get priority scheduling in the fall semester. Otherwise, their time could be given away to someone else. This sends a message that it really is important they stick with it. Still, some don't get it even if they are capable of continuing.

Another way is to inform them with articles. Perhaps write up a small article yourself with supporting documentation from other professionals and music organizations that you can hand out in the beginning of May. Actually, I used to do a quarterly newsletter and discussed things like practicing, the difference between a keyboard, a digital piano, and acoustic pianos and the pros and cons of each, things like that. The parents actually appreciated this and I'd like to start doing that again. Sometimes reaching them through written means like that is more effective.

In the end, however, there will always be those that can't or won't take summer lessons. Keep in mind, as a child, I never took summer lessons, I learned piano on a terrible, out-of-tune, some notes not working, malfunctioning damper pedal spinet. My practice was terrible, my progress was terrible, but my love for piano won out in the end. There is only so much you can do, so make the best of your time with the student and try to make them enjoy what they have. Perhaps someday they'll ask to continue over the summer. smile
_________________________
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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