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#2507943 - Yesterday at 01:26 PM Really? Just a short story about a beginner
missbelle Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/24/12
Posts: 167
Loc: USA
New student, 2nd grade, comes to my piano room in a private K-12 school, about 3pm, with mom, for her very first piano lesson, ever.

First lesson-
I always ask in my intro letter to have the student bring to me a written statement of WHY they are taking piano lessons, and then I assess what books to use, and ask, do they have a piano. (Yes, I have had students with no piano, not even a keyboard. Yikes!)

I offer to buy the books but the mom has to let me know in three days so I can plan a trip to the music store. If she does not let me know, I assume MOM will get the books on her own.

(I have extra books, but that is my standard line. Lets me see how the parent is on follow-through and communication.)

I provide a binder with some pages to do with finger numbers and some keyboard topography and exploration, and write what to do in the assignment notebook, after demonstrating, and having the student try it, also. Get hands on the piano and explore- so exciting!

Second lesson-
girl comes alone, with only the binder, no assignment notebook, no books.
"I think my mom bought them, but the order has not come in yet."

So, I write out the assignments on a small composition notebook page (smaller, so the pages can be later taped into the regular sized spiral assignment notebook)
and we work through the binder pages.

Ooops, nothing done. Girl said she did not understand. I asked her to show me what she did not get, and she confessed that she had not practiced at all. Mom had not reminded her, she stated.

At end of 2nd lesson, mom picked her up, with money to pay for the books.

Fortunately, I had the extras with me, and hurriedly handed them over.

Normally, I make a big deal of giving the student a choice of colored marker to write their name on the cover, and peruse the books a bit, to entice them. Missed opportunity.

Third lesson-
Girl shows up alone again, empty handed.

"Mom and I wondered if I should bring my books, but were not sure, so we did not pack them."

I review items from the first intro lesson, and she has still not practiced, at all.

Sweet girl, just hampered by cluelesness.

End of third lesson-
greet mom in hallway, with two other families less than three feet away, and we have a brief chat about YES, please bring ALL materials and books to lessons.

The mom responded, just like her daughter, 'Yes, we both wondered about that, but we are new to piano lessons, have never done it before, so we were not sure what to do!"

A mom behind her had to struggle to not have her jaw hit the floor.

And the girl bounced down the hallway with her mom, off until next week.

I was so shocked that it did not dawn on me until that evening back home, that in my intro letter,I literally spell out what to bring, in bold font!

I have been teaching for years, and have many that "forget to practice" or forget to bring books, or have to deal with nannies more than parents, etc...

but I have never had such blithe "oh, well, we just la di da through life and really do not care that we are three weeks behind by lesson four."

I get paid regardless, through the school, as the parents pay up front per semester.

Now, I have over 30 students, and have been complimented on how patient I am, especially with young students.

every now and then, I just need to bang my head.

Thank-you for your time in reading this.

Perhaps you could share one of your frustrating moments-
like have a transfer stuck only in middle C position, no matter what,
or a child that confused staccato dots with dotted quarter notes for amusing results, or just goofy parent stories.

Thanks, again!!

Learning as I teach.

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#2507955 - Yesterday at 02:15 PM Re: Really? Just a short story about a beginner [Re: missbelle]
Eric399 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/09/16
Posts: 15
Oh no! This really must be frustrating... My most annoying episode was a girl who started without having an instrument - she said she could practise at a friend's house, which I doubt she ever really did. Every week I asked her if she had an instrument now. Her mother told me they were in the very process of buying one... More than half a year later, she told me she now had an instrument. From what I could gather, this probably was a cheap keyboard purchased at a supermarket. This went on for about three years until she finally stopped taking lessons.

#2507969 - Yesterday at 03:08 PM Re: Really? Just a short story about a beginner [Re: missbelle]
AZNpiano Online   happy
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 6308
Loc: Orange County, CA
I have a similar student, a transfer wreck, with over 5 years of piano "lessons." She showed up today without the books I told her mother to order online. She can't read bass clef. She gets confused by finger numbers. She just HAS to put her thumb on middle C--I corrected her several times, and it's like her thumb is literally attached to middle C. She doesn't know what "step up" or "skip down" means. And she takes private singing lessons and plays clarinet at school!?? Either she's a complete airhead or we have some really incompetent music teachers in the area. Or maybe it's both!

We started over from scratch. 5 years of piano lessons flushed down the toilet.
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member


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