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#2507943 - 02/06/16 01:26 PM Really? Just a short story about a beginner
missbelle Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/24/12
Posts: 187
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.
What???

"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.

But,
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!!

smile
_________________________
Learning as I teach.

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#2507955 - 02/06/16 02:15 PM Re: Really? Just a short story about a beginner [Re: missbelle]
Eric399 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/09/16
Posts: 57
Loc: Germany
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.

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#2507969 - 02/06/16 03:08 PM Re: Really? Just a short story about a beginner [Re: missbelle]
AZNpiano Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 6491
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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#2508138 - 02/07/16 07:01 AM Re: Really? Just a short story about a beginner [Re: missbelle]
Hendrik42 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/19/15
Posts: 636
Loc: Germany
Originally Posted By missbelle
... or a child that confused staccato dots with dotted quarter notes for amusing results,...


Oh I managed to do that about half a year ago... My teacher always goes "oh, interesting!"
_________________________
Kawai CN35. Daughter wanted a piano, so we got one. Now who'll learn faster? ;-)

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#2508354 - 02/07/16 10:49 PM Re: Really? Just a short story about a beginner [Re: missbelle]
Candywoman Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/14/03
Posts: 951
I don't usually give books the first week. I ask them to buy a notebook and start with a few photocopies of words to spell on the piano and things like that. I put the assignment on the back of the photocopies. After about four weeks, I sell them the book that I've purchased for them. I explain the need to carry a good bag, not a plastic bag, and to bring their books every week.

I think the whole experience of piano requires an adjustment for the whole family. It's a weekly process and the start of something that may go on for years. It's a new expense, and it requires a shift in identity as well. Perhaps, taking a slower approach might be a good idea.

When I moved places a few years back, I kept forgetting my sweater everywhere I went even though I'm normally careful. Emotional changes take time to assimilate.

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#2508369 - 02/08/16 01:16 AM Re: Really? Just a short story about a beginner [Re: missbelle]
Charles Cohen Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/26/12
Posts: 2716
Loc: Richmond, BC, Canada
Quote:

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!


Lots of people just don't read instructions -- any instructions.

But the continued deafness to "Here's what you have to do . . . " -- from both of them -- must be very, very frustrating.

My sympathies --
_________________________
. Charles
---------------------------
PX-350 / microKorg XL+ / Pianoteq / Lounge Lizard / Korg Wavedrum / EV ZXA1 speaker

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#2508521 - 02/08/16 05:12 PM Re: Really? Just a short story about a beginner [Re: missbelle]
DameMyra Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/21/04
Posts: 2130
Loc: South Jersey
Thanks for sharing. I have a parent who continually refers to her sons' lessons as "practice." I also cannot understand parents, especially of younger students, who don't sit in on lessons. I have a six year old and was only able to get his mother to sit in on the first lesson.
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher
MTNA/NJMTA/SJMTA

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#2508633 - 02/09/16 03:06 AM Re: Really? Just a short story about a beginner [Re: DameMyra]
Hendrik42 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/19/15
Posts: 636
Loc: Germany
Originally Posted By DameMyra
I also cannot understand parents, especially of younger students, who don't sit in on lessons. I have a six year old and was only able to get his mother to sit in on the first lesson.


Oh, I think there are different approaches to this, no? Some teachers compliment the parents out, because the children act different, when they are in the room. All music schools I have been with my daughters would only accept parents in class for one, maybe two classes.

A mother I know sits in in every session. Others just drop their kids off as the job of the piano class is not only to teach piano but also (!) to get the parent time to run errands.
_________________________
Kawai CN35. Daughter wanted a piano, so we got one. Now who'll learn faster? ;-)

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#2508652 - 02/09/16 05:19 AM Re: Really? Just a short story about a beginner [Re: DameMyra]
AZNpiano Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 6491
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By DameMyra
I also cannot understand parents, especially of younger students, who don't sit in on lessons. I have a six year old and was only able to get his mother to sit in on the first lesson.

These are parents who can't be bothered!! I deal with these people on a weekly basis.

In these cases, I just treat it like a job. To pay bills. I don't get emotionally or intellectually invested in these children. They can sink or swim on their own.
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#2508664 - 02/09/16 07:17 AM Re: Really? Just a short story about a beginner [Re: AZNpiano]
dogperson Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/16/15
Posts: 987
Loc: Florida
Originally Posted By AZNpiano
Originally Posted By DameMyra
I also cannot understand parents, especially of younger students, who don't sit in on lessons. I have a six year old and was only able to get his mother to sit in on the first lesson.

These are parents who can't be bothered!! I deal with these people on a weekly basis.

In these cases, I just treat it like a job. To pay bills. I don't get emotionally or intellectually invested in these children. They can sink or swim on their own.


Just so I understand: you have student that is talented, always practices, always comes to lessons on-time and with the required materials BUT has unmotivated parents....

In this case, 'the student would sink or swim, without your emotional investment?'

Gosh, your perfect student now needs to have motivated parents to meet your criteria for a good student?

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#2508715 - 02/09/16 11:08 AM Re: Really? Just a short story about a beginner [Re: missbelle]
Puylly Fog Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/18/15
Posts: 9
Hi dogperson, I think I understand AZN point of view. At the end of the day, parents are also part of the team.
The teacher only spends a few minutes a week with the students, and that is the time they have to motivate them.
The parent(s) would usually see the children on daily basis, and although they may be not musically trained themselves, they are the link between the teacher and the student. Their job in this relationship is keeping the motivation going, specially at young age where attention spam is limited.
We all understand that students need repetition and reinforcement to retain information. How much of it will depend on each student. But it is clear that learning is an individual process. Therefore the more motivation outside of the lesson, the more repetition, and the faster the learning.
I found that coming prepared to the lesson is also a great motivator, as feeling clueless is not a very nice feeling at all.
When children are not so young, but lessons get harder, students also need regular motivation to keep trying.
We, the parents who sign children for lessons, must understand that we are part of the process.
Otherwise we should be upfront and let the teacher know we are not prepared to give what it takes to make our money worth

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#2508752 - 02/09/16 01:17 PM Re: Really? Just a short story about a beginner [Re: Puylly Fog]
dogperson Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/16/15
Posts: 987
Loc: Florida
Originally Posted By Puylly Fog
Hi dogperson, I think I understand AZN point of view. At the end of the day, parents are also part of the team.
The teacher only spends a few minutes a week with the students, and that is the time they have to motivate them.
The parent(s) would usually see the children on daily basis, and although they may be not musically trained themselves, they are the link between the teacher and the student. Their job in this relationship is keeping the motivation going, specially at young age where attention spam is limited.
We all understand that students need repetition and reinforcement to retain information. How much of it will depend on each student. But it is clear that learning is an individual process. Therefore the more motivation outside of the lesson, the more repetition, and the faster the learning.
I found that coming prepared to the lesson is also a great motivator, as feeling clueless is not a very nice feeling at all.
When children are not so young, but lessons get harder, students also need regular motivation to keep trying.
We, the parents who sign children for lessons, must understand that we are part of the process.
Otherwise we should be upfront and let the teacher know we are not prepared to give what it takes to make our money worth


I asked AZN about the student who IS prepared, who DOES practice even though there is no parental involvement. What if the student is self-motivated without parental motivation and therefore is not clueless?

Yes, parents ideally, should be part of the process... but what if the student doesn't need their motivation and prodding?

That is the question that I am asking AZN.... as it appears he would exclude them.

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#2508762 - 02/09/16 01:36 PM Re: Really? Just a short story about a beginner [Re: missbelle]
Puylly Fog Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/18/15
Posts: 9
Indeed, but in this case they mentioned a 6 year old. I still think parental involvement is required for as long as they are the invoice payer

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#2508778 - 02/09/16 02:12 PM Re: Really? Just a short story about a beginner [Re: Puylly Fog]
dogperson Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/16/15
Posts: 987
Loc: Florida
Originally Posted By Puylly Fog
Indeed, but in this case they mentioned a 6 year old. I still think parental involvebment is required for as long as they are the invoice payer


No offense, but this is a real-life question. I started lessons at the age of 5, never had a parent attend a lesson. I have no idea whether the teacher did not want them there or not... and yet, I practiced on my own, beginning with Lesson 1... everyday, because of personal motivation. My parents never supervised practice.... never.

I came to lessons prepared, but it seems like this 'rule' would have excluded me from the fold.

It seems that AZN would have blown me off the minute my parents were not present. Once again, evaluation of the individual student, his/her motivation is not made, but a rule that defines a worthy student.

There should be some thought about the individual student rather than an arbitrary rule... and this has not been addressed.

I wish my first teacher were still alive so I could say 'Thanks', as it seems like I would not have been acceptable as a student to several teachers here. No musical family and no parental involvement... two strikes. And gosh, add more than two teachers as the third strike: regardless of the reasons and the time interval.

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#2508799 - 02/09/16 02:52 PM Re: Really? Just a short story about a beginner [Re: dogperson]
AZNpiano Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 6491
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By dogperson
I asked AZN about the student who IS prepared, who DOES practice even though there is no parental involvement. What if the student is self-motivated without parental motivation and therefore is not clueless?

Sure, IF that ever happens, I'll be more than happy to teach these kids.

Do you enjoy asking hypothetical questions on situations that never (or rarely) exist?
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#2508803 - 02/09/16 03:01 PM Re: Really? Just a short story about a beginner [Re: AZNpiano]
dogperson Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/16/15
Posts: 987
Loc: Florida
Originally Posted By AZNpiano
Originally Posted By dogperson
I asked AZN about the student who IS prepared, who DOES practice even though there is no parental involvement. What if the student is self-motivated without parental motivation and therefore is not clueless?

Sure, IF that ever happens, I'll be more than happy to teach these kids.

Do you enjoy asking hypothetical questions on situations that never (or rarely) exist?


If you read the thread, this was not a hypothetical question... but my own personal history. I find it difficult to believe I would be the only student that would fit this same scenerio.

The question about the flexibility of the rules is one that deserved an answer.

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#2508805 - 02/09/16 03:10 PM Re: Really? Just a short story about a beginner [Re: DameMyra]
chasingrainbows Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/19/06
Posts: 1482
Loc: NJ
Originally Posted By DameMyra
Thanks for sharing. I have a parent who continually refers to her sons' lessons as "practice." I also cannot understand parents, especially of younger students, who don't sit in on lessons. I have a six year old and was only able to get his mother to sit in on the first lesson.


On numerous occasions, I've had parents "drop off" their little one for a meet and greet! I quickly invite them in so I can provide them with my background, what lessons consist of, practice expectations, etc. I give them my policy. THey sign it there and hand it back without even reading it sometimes. I hand it back and tell them to please read it and return it at the next lesson, and I will make them a copy.

I had a similar experience with young teen and her mom. Mom never paid on time, daughter never practiced, didn't show up for recitals (where she was playing as part of a group), and often forgot her music. They were very sweet people, and the teen had ability, but after 3 years of this, I suggested a break.
_________________________
Piano teacher, BA Music, MTNA member

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#2508806 - 02/09/16 03:10 PM Re: Really? Just a short story about a beginner [Re: missbelle]
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 13079
Loc: Canada
I looked back at AZNpiano's answer. It starts with the fact that he has these kinds of families, and that tells us that he does not exclude families with uninvolved parents. I think that if he got a young student who is motivated and practices independently, he - and any decent teacher - will notice this and respond to that student in how that student is taught and supported.

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#2508819 - 02/09/16 03:30 PM Re: Really? Just a short story about a beginner [Re: dogperson]
AZNpiano Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 6491
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By dogperson
The question about the flexibility of the rules is one that deserved an answer.

Is the world full of rules that are carved in stone?

I don't give up on the student if the student doesn't give up on piano. How's that for a "rule"??

BUT, 99% of the time if the parents don't give a hoot about piano, their kids won't, either.
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#2508845 - 02/09/16 04:54 PM Re: Really? Just a short story about a beginner [Re: missbelle]
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 13079
Loc: Canada
Why is it that people "answer" posts, but don't? They take a small section, and respond to that. If the purpose is debate and one-upmanship I see it. But if the purpose is communication and understanding, then I don't. This thread has the component of people working together at the heart of it (i.e. the ones who don't) so the non-communication is ironic or maybe illustrative. LISTENING, or lack thereof, is probably one of the biggest bane of our modern hurried world.

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#2508911 - 02/09/16 11:24 PM Re: Really? Just a short story about a beginner [Re: missbelle]
MaggieGirl Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/11
Posts: 609
I keep giggling reading the fist post. Totally and happily clueless patent and child. I hope it gets better! If not, you won't need a lesson plan, it will be like groundhogs day, the same lesson over and over.
******
I was asked to sit in on a lesson one time. I was very uncomfortable, it eas small and I felt like I was breathing to hard. My daughter has had lessons for everything and I have never been asked by the teacher to sit in.

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#2510167 - 02/13/16 01:47 PM Re: Really? Just a short story about a beginner [Re: missbelle]
missbelle Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/24/12
Posts: 187
Loc: USA
Another couple of funny stories, Valentine's related-

1. Cute 1st grade boy comes in to wait for his lesson, and I notice he is holding a "bouquet" of lollipops. "Oh, sweet, I am getting a treat!" I thought. (This boy has brought me drawings and gifts before.)
During the lesson before his, I can smell the sugar as he is obviously eating a lolly.

I turn around to tell him when it time for him to unpack for his lesson, and FIVE lolly wrappers are on the desk. He ate them all!!

Oh well... I had teacher treats in the break room. smile

I asked him to do a few jumping jacks before we began his lesson.

2. 2nd grade girl hands me a treat box in the hallway- "these are for you, Miss Belle!" And I notice the box says they are from another student, TO the child in front of me.

She responds, "Yeah, I did not like the flavor so you can have the whole box!" (sour jellies)
I made a hands out motion, of "that's ok!" and the opened box tipped open and sour jelly beans rolled all around on the floor.
We both gathered them up on hands and knees before her very nice lesson. She is sweet girl that is very earnest, and tries.

(I tossed the box in the trash bin after she left.)

So, do you have any funnies or frustrations to share?
_________________________
Learning as I teach.

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