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#954482 - 09/07/08 07:14 PM Re: Student wants to quit
Larisa Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/03/08
Posts: 498
Loc: Philadelphia
I dunno. My mother wanted me to take gymnastics when I was a kid. I didn't want to do that. I wanted to play the piano instead. Fortunately for me, she did not push the issue and let me quit gymnastics.

Do I regret "walking away"? Not a whit. I am glad I got to spend my time doing what I wanted to do instead of doing what my mother wanted to do. Would it have changed my mind if the gymnastics teacher tried very hard to keep me interested and engaged? Maybe, but not for long. I wanted to do something else with my time, and I am glad I was allowed to do so.

Incidentally, I never wanted to quit piano. Ever. Not as a child, not as a teenager, not as an adult. Yes, my parents had to force the issue of practicing at times, but never the issue of continuing with lessons.

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#954483 - 09/07/08 07:44 PM Re: Student wants to quit
Strat Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/02/07
Posts: 577
Loc: Toronto, Canada
I'll never understand parents who think that it's somehow beneficial to *force* a kid to take lessons in something that they despise, whether it be gymnastics or piano-playing. No interest, no motivation. No motivation, no progress. No progress, waste of time for everybody... ESPECIALLY the teacher.

However, in this case, Rebekah.L, I have to say that you're doing this to yourself. You're desperately trying to keep this student by any means necessary. You need to realize that at some point, you need to let go. You clearly want this a million times more than he.

To be blunt, HE DOESN'T CARE!

Maybe this boy wants to play hockey or build models, or read, or whatever else. But he's not interested in playing piano. He's sampled what it is. He knows what it consists of, but he doesn't care one lick. So why beat your head against the wall?

I admire your dedication, but at this point, it's more like overzealous taken to a different level.
_________________________
Started playing in mid-June 2007. Self-taught... for now. :p

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#954484 - 09/08/08 11:13 AM Re: Student wants to quit
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2911
Loc: UK.
Strat, I like your post. It's very blunt and to the point and I do think that in this situation you are probably correct.

I'm not sure if lana lang is ready to hear this yet. I remember having the same dilema many times because we judge ourselves by the progress our students make. If it doesn't work out it is too easy to blame yourself. I guess I am still guilty of flogging some students way past their sell by date. I have a small minority who have been on death row for a while now. Perhaps I should take my own advice and let them go. It's never easy though.
_________________________
Pianist and piano teacher.

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#954485 - 09/08/08 12:14 PM Re: Student wants to quit
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11935
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
 Quote:
Originally posted by Larisa:
I dunno. My mother wanted me to take gymnastics when I was a kid. I didn't want to do that. I wanted to play the piano instead. Fortunately for me, she did not push the issue and let me quit gymnastics.

Do I regret "walking away"? Not a whit. I am glad I got to spend my time doing what I wanted to do instead of doing what my mother wanted to do. Would it have changed my mind if the gymnastics teacher tried very hard to keep me interested and engaged? Maybe, but not for long. I wanted to do something else with my time, and I am glad I was allowed to do so.

Incidentally, I never wanted to quit piano. Ever. Not as a child, not as a teenager, not as an adult. Yes, my parents had to force the issue of practicing at times, but never the issue of continuing with lessons. [/b]
I know I've told this story before, but since there are new people, please bear with me if you've already heard this. I wanted to quit as a child. I never practiced, yet I loved piano. I was just very insecure and was extremely afraid of lessons, even though I had a wonderful and patient teacher. My parents and my teacher did not let me quit until I had 10 years of lessons, and I am so glad they made me stick it out. I kept playing, and when I returned to lessons many years later, I was ready. I know that everyone is different, and that piano isn't meant for everyone. Only the teacher can really assess what the situation is, and when it's best to let go, or give it a different approach.
_________________________
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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#954486 - 09/08/08 01:53 PM Re: Student wants to quit
pianoexcellence Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/14/07
Posts: 753
Loc: Abbotsford, BC, Canada
If the parents force it, then you would do well to just make the best of it. Many parents rely on piano lessons as a way to develop the mind. Music is one of the only things that singlehandedly develops the mind on the academic, spatial, creative, and coordination front. Students who learn to play the piano do better in school, and for some parents, that is enough.

Discuss it with the student...what happens if they hate math? or English? they do it anyway, but at least you do not have to follow any specific curriculum when you teach piano. Talk it over with the student, and ask them how to make this a good experience for everyone.

Interestingly enough, I have had a student for 4 years (on those terms). Every spring, I expect to not recieve a deposit for the fall, but every time, they continue on. Long story short, after 3.5 years of dreadful progress, something switched...(maybe his girlfriend left him for a guy who played a pretty piano piece, who knows), and he is voracious at the piano and has been for 6 months now.

Values can change.
_________________________
Music is the surest path to excellence

Jeremy BA, ARCT, RMT
Pianoexcellence Tuning and Repairs

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#954487 - 09/08/08 05:46 PM Re: Student wants to quit
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2911
Loc: UK.
 Quote:
Originally posted by pianoexcellence:
Many parents rely on piano lessons as a way to develop the mind. Music is one of the only things that singlehandedly develops the mind on the academic, spatial, creative, and coordination front. Students who learn to play the piano do better in school, and for some parents, that is enough. [/b]
This is of course very true. But it only happens if you practice doesn't it? The kids (and we have all had them!) who come to their lesson having not touched the piano all week are unlikely to experience these benefits. I think parents often lose sight of this. They may also be the ones who think that they will keep fit and healthy just by paying their gym membership.
_________________________
Pianist and piano teacher.

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#954488 - 09/08/08 05:53 PM Re: Student wants to quit
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
If only more parents could see this happening in action at piano lessons the respect for music lessons would certainly grow.

It gives the academically talented wings to fly with....

It gives many brain development enhancements they might never have gotten in any other way in life.

I've known a few teachers in my life who have felt that music lessons are for everybody no matter their abilities, talents, or limitations.

Some have taken students with limitations and brought music to their lives in adapted ways. Music can be experienced in many arenas, not just the high end of grand and exceptional performance.

We can meet everyone where they are whether there is to be progress made or not, there is still enjoyment and recreation with music.

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#954489 - 09/08/08 05:55 PM Re: Student wants to quit
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4802
Loc: South Florida
 Quote:
Originally posted by pianoexcellence:
Interestingly enough, I have had a student for 4 years (on those terms). Every spring, I expect to not recieve a deposit for the fall, but every time, they continue on. Long story short, after 3.5 years of dreadful progress, something switched...(maybe his girlfriend left him for a guy who played a pretty piano piece, who knows), and he is voracious at the piano and has been for 6 months now.

Values can change.
And you never know when things will click.

I now have one student who has taken lessons from me longer than any other student I have. Much longer.

Because she has made such slow progress, although she never expressed an interest in quitting, I more or less assumed that she would never play one composition other than something extremely basic at full speed. I've heard every excuse in the book about why she has not had time to practice, and frankly many of them may be mostly reasonable. She has big expectations placed on her in school, and what I do has always come in at "a distant second".

But I like her, and I realized that if I had made practicing harder an issue, she would have quit. To try to get her over this huge "hump", I stressed reading (to learn faster) and stressed breaking things up very carefully into logical sections (also to learn faster) plus as much analysis of form and structure as possible (ALSO to learn faster).

Last Saturday, it just all came together. I don't know why it happened now, or exactly what it was the clicked, but I gave her the first C Major Prelude, WTC, carefully broke it into logical sections based on chord structure, showed her how to practice block chords to get the positions, and she almost had it nailed the next week, just a bit down tempo.

You just never know when things will suddenly work, when people will have a breakthrough. This was a minor shock, and a *very* pleasant one. We were both very happy.

However, if I have a student who shows any hostility towards working with me, that's it. I refuse to be policeman, warden, enforcer or "the bad guy". If I get a sullen attitude on a regular basis from any student, especially from a teen, I make it plain that because I give each student respect, regardless of age, I expect the same respect back. So if lessons become unpleasant, I simply tell everyone involved to do something about it quickly or find another teacher. \:\)
_________________________
Piano Teacher

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#954490 - 09/08/08 05:58 PM Re: Student wants to quit
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4802
Loc: South Florida
duplicate post deleted
_________________________
Piano Teacher

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#954491 - 09/08/08 07:40 PM Re: Student wants to quit
Prince Charles Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/19/08
Posts: 180
Loc: London
Sorry I don't agree with a couple of the comments....

Teenagers do not know what's best! And if they're not motivated to do something that doesn't mean the parents should just say ok...let's move on to something else.

I don't think using gymnastics as an example is relevant at all. For gymnastics you need physical prowess and either you have that or you don't.

It's up to the parents in conjunction with the teachers to keep the student motivated.

If a teenager doesn't like maths - do you just say ok, let's find something else for you? No, of course not. And let's face it - there are many that don't!

Mark

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#954492 - 09/08/08 08:11 PM Re: Student wants to quit
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11688
Loc: Canada
Teens can be responsible and capable of making intelligent choices. Teens who do not like maths may nonetheless choose to take maths because it is a necessary subject. I have seen teens who were much more responsible than some adults. The word "motivate" is often used in a manner that I find troublesom.

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#954493 - 09/08/08 08:30 PM Re: Student wants to quit
Strat Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/02/07
Posts: 577
Loc: Toronto, Canada
 Quote:
Originally posted by Prince Charles:
Teenagers do not know what's best! And if they're not motivated to do something that doesn't mean the parents should just say ok...let's move on to something else.[/b]
Hmmmm,... I guess you're losing sight of the fact that piano is a *hobby!* I agree with you if we're referring to school or a job, because it's necessary, but we're talking about a hobby. If the kid (regardless of age) thinks piano is dumb and dull, why force him/her to like it when there are so many other things that he/she might enjoy instead? Are parents' single-mindedness that advanced that they'd rather live vicariously through their child's unproductive piano lessons rather than allowing him/her to go towards another activity that would make him/her happy? Think about that for a second...

 Quote:
Originally posted by Prince Charles:
I don't think using gymnastics as an example is relevant at all. For gymnastics you need physical prowess and either you have that or you don't.[/b]
Right. Because it's definitely not the same with music, right? Come on, Prince Charles. All of my friends without exception are tone-deaf, have zero rhythm, and wouldn't know an out-of-tune piano from a cheap synth. You need to have *some* talent to amount to anything regardless of the activity. My analogy was proper.

 Quote:
Originally posted by Prince Charles:
It's up to the parents in conjunction with the teachers to keep the student motivated.[/b]
Agreed, but not to FORCE them to like the activity they so despise. There's a difference between a temporary lull in motivation and having none from the get-go.

 Quote:
Originally posted by Prince Charles:
If a teenager doesn't like maths - do you just say ok, let's find something else for you? No, of course not. And let's face it - there are many that don't![/b]
Again, you appear to have difficulty in seeing the difference between actual knowledge that's necessary in life and music/piano. I realize this is PW, but I think that even its members can gather up enough common sense to acknowledge the difference between lifelong necessary knowledge and a hobby!

My kid would *need* to know how to add, substract, multiply, & divide to function in society. However, my kid would definitely not need to even know what a C chord is or who Beethoven is.

Please face facts and realize the difference...
_________________________
Started playing in mid-June 2007. Self-taught... for now. :p

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#954494 - 09/08/08 08:44 PM Re: Student wants to quit
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4802
Loc: South Florida
 Quote:
Originally posted by Strat:

My kid would *need* to know how to add, substract, multiply, & divide to function in society.
Actually, that is barely true now, with machines that do most of it for us *if* your kid ends up in a job that doesn't require math(s), though I agree that I'm taking this idea to an extreme.

There is something else more important: my piano students will not have to pass a music section on the SAT in the US. They will have to pass math.

I have students who love piano but who sometimes really can't practive much at all because they are busy cramming information into their heads for subjects they hate.

By the way, I happen to love math and always have, and I find that people who are very good in math generally have a considerable advantage when they study musical theory, so don't think I'm trashing math skills!

There is something else that bothers me even more in this discussion, and it is the idea that good parents and good teachers, together, are capable of deciding what's best for teens and somehow convincing them to listen.

Sometimes they listen, sometimes they don't, and sometimes they would not listen to God Almight. I know. I was such a teen. \:\)
_________________________
Piano Teacher

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#954495 - 09/09/08 12:42 PM Re: Student wants to quit
pianoexcellence Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/14/07
Posts: 753
Loc: Abbotsford, BC, Canada
 Quote:
Originally posted by Chris H.:
 Quote:
Originally posted by pianoexcellence:
Many parents rely on piano lessons as a way to develop the mind. Music is one of the only things that singlehandedly develops the mind on the academic, spatial, creative, and coordination front. Students who learn to play the piano do better in school, and for some parents, that is enough. [/b]
This is of course very true. But it only happens if you practice doesn't it? The kids (and we have all had them!) who come to their lesson having not touched the piano all week are unlikely to experience these benefits. I think parents often lose sight of this. They may also be the ones who think that they will keep fit and healthy just by paying their gym membership. [/b]
Food for thought.

I have an adult student who NEVER ever practices. In fact, this is something that we have both agreed upon. She does not like to practice by herself, and knows that she will not practice unless she comes to a lesson. She is making slow but very steady progress. In three years, she has made about one year of progress (using 1 hour lessons).

Being well off, she doesn't mind spending $190 per month for this service. She sees value in it.

Some parents (students) have very different reasons for piano lessons than we do. It is just our job to be honest and communicate with them that they could get more out of it if they practice. Asking students to leave is a dangerous thing. I've done it a few times at the beginning of my career, and it has never turned out well.

Yes...there are students on my waiting list who want to be there more, but It is not good to think about that. I've made a commitment to the curent student, and I'll keep trying until they give up, or decide that they are not getting value for their money.
_________________________
Music is the surest path to excellence

Jeremy BA, ARCT, RMT
Pianoexcellence Tuning and Repairs

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#954496 - 09/09/08 02:01 PM Re: Student wants to quit
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4802
Loc: South Florida
 Quote:
Originally posted by pianoexcellence:

Food for thought.

I have an adult student who NEVER ever practices. In fact, this is something that we have both agreed upon. She does not like to practice by herself, and knows that she will not practice unless she comes to a lesson. She is making slow but very steady progress. In three years, she has made about one year of progress (using 1 hour lessons).
Question: what extraordinary reasons does she have for doing absolutely no work between lessons? In my opinion, if she is making even as much progress as you report, she probably has above average natural ability/talent.

I suppose we are all different. I tell such people, up front, that I'm a teacher, not a personal piano-trainer, and that anyone who comes to me expecting to do absolutely zero work between lessons simply has the wrong person and needs to find someone else.
 Quote:

Being well off, she doesn't mind spending $190 per month for this service. She sees value in it.
I imagine so. You are working very hard, and all she has to do is show up for lessons. You do the work. You are practicing for her, and each week she has a whole week to lose what you have gone over, since with absolutely no review of what goes on in the lesson, she is bound to lose a great deal, which you must then repeat next lesson.
 Quote:

Some parents (students) have very different reasons for piano lessons than we do. It is just our job to be honest and communicate with them that they could get more out of it if they practice.
I don't think it's my job to be anyone's servant, which is exactly what I become if I allow people to do zero work between lessons. For one thing, lessons with people who do no work are excruciatingly boring. From the time I started teaching I gave people a few warnings when they tried to do no practice and cut them if they did not change.
 Quote:

Asking students to leave is a dangerous thing. I've done it a few times at the beginning of my career, and it has never turned out well.
It's turned out fine for me. It doesn't have to be nasty. A student has no obligation to fulfill my expectations, but I have no obligation to teach a student who is unable to follow a few simple rules. I continue to think that not practicing between lessons, if it is the usual thing, is disrespectful and lazy, and what I teach a student who does no work is that doing no work is just fine, and expecting someone else to do everything for you is just fine, that the key issue is having enough money to hire anyone to do anything you need.
 Quote:

Yes...there are students on my waiting list who want to be there more, but It is not good to think about that.
I disagree. I'd cut the lazy student, no matter how nice, and start a student on my waiting list.

Let me make one thing clear: I am very lenient when it comes to people who are legitmately very busy and are uanble to practice much SOME weeks, even unable to practice at all SOME weeks. But every week? No way!
 Quote:

I've made a commitment to the curent student, and I'll keep trying until they give up, or decide that they are not getting value for their money.
A student who shows up once a week for an hour has made no commitment to me. That student has found a servant, and I am of no more value than a maid or hired hand.
_________________________
Piano Teacher

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#954497 - 09/09/08 02:12 PM Re: Student wants to quit
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11935
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Gary makes some great points here. It's such a tough balancing act to know when a student has crossed over the line of just being busy, and being too busy for lessons to be worthwhile. My time is not unlimited, and if there's a student waiting to get into my studio, then sometimes it is best to suggest to the student to take a break, continue playing whenever they can, and call me if and when they are ready to take lessons again. Sometimes I will breach the subject with a student, but more often than not, I let them make the first move. I had a beginner piano student, who wanted to learn piano to play it at church. I explained to him that it was not a quick thing, and to expect it to take some time to be able to do. I don't think he really took me seriously until he got into the practicing (or lack thereof) and realized that there is work involved beyond showing up once a week. He called today to let me know he won't be returning, and I told him I understood, and encouraged him to keep playing and to let me know if he's ever ready to start up again. When the student decides this, it's always easier on me ;\) .
_________________________
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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#954498 - 09/09/08 02:43 PM Re: Student wants to quit
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Strat said: "Hmmmm,... I guess you're losing sight of the fact that piano is a *hobby!* I agree with you if we're referring to school or a job, because it's necessary, but we're talking about a hobby."

People may approach the piano as a hobby or as a personal endeavor to achieve at their highest level, and there are lots of motivations in between.

However, nothing gets done at the piano without the subject itself being treated as a music education process - full of concepts, patterns, sequences, and spatial relationships. Piano study encompasses spatial relationship, associations, logic, specific vocabularly and definitions, math and science are heavily involved whether we address it directly or not. The the greatest of the instrument under study is the individual person who finds out a lot about their behavior, attitudes, habits, patience, motivation, abilities, thinking shills, talent and concentration levels.

In addition, the human is learning how to operate his body right down to the smallest digits of his fingers to apply his musical knowledge in kinesthetic movement in a planned choreography on the piano keyboard.

This is the short list.....if you want to diminish it to a hobby status, how do you explain all the knowledge that needs to be gained before you can produce acceptable music on a regular basis.

Everything approached in the field of music is a candidate for in depth study.

Not to offend anyone who is happy with their hobby or recreational status, if it works for you, that's wonderful.

I'd like to challenge those who enjoy the climb to continue until they have reached their maximum of talent combined with acquired skills.

When you truly love music and music making, quitting is not an option - you're committed for life.

Betty

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#954499 - 09/09/08 03:29 PM Re: Student wants to quit
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2911
Loc: UK.
Betty, I like your last comment. It is a lifetimes commitment for most. But that can be a very long time and there is nothing to say we must keep taking lessons from the same teacher throughout.

Ending lessons with any teacher does not have to spell the end of piano forever. There are always other teachers and there might come a time in someones life when they are able to commit more to it and feel more inspired to do it.

Take my new found love for guitar. I took a few lessons in my teens and got nowhere. I was not motivated and didn't have time. Now I can't put the damn thing down and I am having a ball. I don't regret stopping lessons for a minute. At the time it was the right thing to do. Maybe the students who quit or who we drop will come back to it later in life with fresh enthusiasm.
_________________________
Pianist and piano teacher.

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#954500 - 09/09/08 05:07 PM Re: Student wants to quit
lana_lang Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/14/07
Posts: 45
Loc: San Francisco Bay Area, CA
Wow, there are so many good comments here.

When I talked to my student about this, he admitted that piano was the lowest in priority in his life, and that he is so busy that he doesn't feel like he has time to practice. To me, piano can't be lowest priority if you want to learn and improve. I fault the parents for forcing him to learn piano, but to also expect him to do soccer, baseball, scouts, and homework is unreasonable as well. I'm apprehensive about what will ultimately happen with this boy. I hope he doesn't get a bad taste in his mouth for music.
_________________________
part-time piano teacher for 1.5 years

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#954501 - 09/09/08 05:32 PM Re: Student wants to quit
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11935
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Considering that, lana, I think your best option is to drop him as a student. If his parents won't let him quit, then perhaps you can help him out in that way. You can't necessarily afford to have a student who doesn't want to be there when there are plenty of others who do, right? Also, when you talk to the parents, let them know this is the reason, and by forcing him to continue is not the best option when he doesn't even have a reasonable chance to do well at it. Perhaps they will have time to rethink things if you let him go.
_________________________
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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#954502 - 09/09/08 05:39 PM Re: Student wants to quit
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2911
Loc: UK.
Lana, I know you want to do the best for your student as we all do. There is nothing wrong with that. It's what makes you a good teacher.

I think this thread has more to do with doing the right thing for yourself. You could take advice from Betty and Jeremy who are both fantastic and experienced teachers. They say you should stick with it. Or you could take the hard line and drop him like others would (myself included). If you do this his parents will take him elsewhere and he will become another teachers problem. The change might do him good (that's no disrespect to you). Either way you have to be happy with the decision.

What do you feel is right for you?
_________________________
Pianist and piano teacher.

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#954503 - 09/09/08 05:49 PM Re: Student wants to quit
Strat Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/02/07
Posts: 577
Loc: Toronto, Canada
 Quote:
Originally posted by Betty Patnude:
People may approach the piano as a hobby or as a personal endeavor to achieve at their highest level, and there are lots of motivations in between.[/b]
True. I won't quote your entire post, but my comment is directed specifically towards this situation. For this student, it's merely a hobby and one he has zero interest for. So no, it doesn't matter what *you* consider it to be (frankly, there's a lot of bias on your part since you're a teacher), as the only thing that's important in this case is what *he* considers it to be.

And from everything that's been mentioned so far, he finds it a tremendous waste of time.

Again, it's up to the initial poster to realize this and drop him. Wouldn't it be more rewarding to help a new motivated student than to desperately cling onto one that resents being there?
_________________________
Started playing in mid-June 2007. Self-taught... for now. :p

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#954504 - 09/09/08 06:16 PM Re: Student wants to quit
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4802
Loc: South Florida
 Quote:
Originally posted by lana_lang:

When I talked to my student about this, he admitted that piano was the lowest in priority in his life, and that he is so busy that he doesn't feel like he has time to practice. To me, piano can't be lowest priority if you want to learn and improve. I fault the parents for forcing him to learn piano, but to also expect him to do soccer, baseball, scouts, and homework is unreasonable as well. I'm apprehensive about what will ultimately happen with this boy.
The problem: you can't save the world. You don't even have control over one boy's life. I agree with you about crazy parents who decide their children have to do every sport and every activity in the world, all at the same time. It's insane.

But if you try to tell them that, they will only get mad at you for "interfering". The only thing you can do is make it clear to the student hat *you* do not think less of him because piano is not something he cares about.

If you put down your foot (to the parents) and state that you will not continue teaching someone who doesn't even like the piano, they may get angry, or they may beg you to continue.

Or you can talk to the student and parents and demand some kind of reasonable practice schedule, plus an agreement to keep track in writing of time.

However, I only do that when I sense a kid just needs a push and really does like piano. Otherwise it turns you into a warden, and you become the bad guy.
 Quote:

I hope he doesn't get a bad taste in his mouth for music.
But the longer someone is *forced* to something they don't want to do, the worse the "bad taste".

I agree with others whos say stop the lessons. Now, if the parents pick yet another teacher and continue to torture the poor kid, it's out of your hands!
_________________________
Piano Teacher

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#954505 - 09/10/08 12:22 AM Re: Student wants to quit
lana_lang Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/14/07
Posts: 45
Loc: San Francisco Bay Area, CA
As I read all your responses, I'm still trying to figure out if this boy truly detests piano (in which case I would just drop him like a hat), OR if he has become too lazy/apathetic to put in the time to become a good pianist (hence piano becoming lowest in priority). Even in the latter case, I'm not sure he should continue taking lessons.

I'm going to try a different approach for a little while, allowing him to select all his music (he wants to play rock) and see how that goes. I'm hoping that he will start having fun playing and he will want to practice.
_________________________
part-time piano teacher for 1.5 years

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#954506 - 09/10/08 01:24 AM Re: Student wants to quit
Strat Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/02/07
Posts: 577
Loc: Toronto, Canada
With all due respect, you're not making much sense. You *just* wrote that the poor kid has to manage soccer, baseball, scouts, homework, and the normal life of a teen (which consists of you know,... going out with friends & socializing) and now you're writing that you hope he'll start wanting to practice?

I'm incredibly confused, lana_lang. You wrote "he is so busy that he doesn't feel like he has *time* to practice." (!)

Wanting to play is one thing. Ask most people and they'll tell you they'd love to be able to be a skilled pianist, but it takes dedication, perseverance, talent, motivation, and of course time. Just because I want to be full of muscles won't make me a muscular guy. For that, I'd need to apply myself in becoming muscular, repeatedly going to the gym and giving it my all during my "practice time." The drive & dedication to attain my goal of being Mr Muscles would only be possible if I were to put a lot of effort into it.

This kid doesn't have any of this. Maybe he's talented, but that's besides the point. Whether it's his parents forcing him to cope with everything or the kid wanting to be a part of all of the aforementioned activities, the fact remains that there's no logical way for this kid to progress.

So what's the point in giving lessons to him? More to the point, why persist in asking for advice when you ignore it? I know people like that who "ask for advice," but what they really want to hear is something that reinforces their initial opinion on the matter. You've got 3 pages of posts from people who are (mostly) telling you the best thing to do would be to drop him. It's like you think you'll be admitting defeat somehow & you're scared of doing it.

Your intentions are good, your dedication is admirable, and the fact that you care is fantastic. Now, set aside your emotions and make the sound decision.

You're honestly only delaying the inevitable. And it's making me (and possibly others) cringe to see you grasping desperately at straws.
_________________________
Started playing in mid-June 2007. Self-taught... for now. :p

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#954507 - 09/10/08 09:32 AM Re: Student wants to quit
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11935
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Well, put, Strat. Sometimes we as teachers can be more dedicated to lessons than our students are. In such cases, if they last for too long, it becomes and unhealthy relationship.

Case and point, I got a call from an adult student last night. This was one that I think I had posted about before who wanted to learn how to play music for church. I told him that he'd have to learn how to read music in order to do this, and he agreed. At first he said he'd only need to take a "few" lessons, and I corrected him by saying that it takes years for people to learn to play the instrument with any degree of proficiency. When he started lessons, he didn't really practice much, and so his progress was excruciatingly slow. When he called me last night, he said that the church had hired someone else to play the piano for them, and since he now had the book, he could continue to learn on his own. He commented on how long it took to learn piano (as if I hadn't said this before, and as if he hadn't extended it by not practicing). I simply said that I understood and hoped he continued to play. It has been clear to me that I was more committed to his lessons than he was. Often these things will end themselves like this, and that is for the better, but in this case, there would be no shame for you lana to drop the student. He may just not be ready to be so committed, and honestly, he doesn't have time either.
_________________________
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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#954508 - 09/10/08 10:57 AM Re: Student wants to quit
lana_lang Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/14/07
Posts: 45
Loc: San Francisco Bay Area, CA
 Quote:
Originally posted by Strat:
With all due respect, you're not making much sense. You *just* wrote that the poor kid has to manage soccer, baseball, scouts, homework, and the normal life of a teen (which consists of you know,... going out with friends & socializing) and now you're writing that you hope he'll start wanting to practice?

I'm incredibly confused, lana_lang. You wrote "he is so busy that he doesn't feel like he has *time* to practice." (!)

[/b]
I'm sorry if I've confused you. This is a learning process for me.

He may be a busy kid, but if he has just 30 minutes a day to put into praticing, he should be able to improve. How many of us say we have no time, but we *have* to watch our favorite show? I have a feeling that this is the case with him.

Like I said before, I am going to give this student just a couple more weeks and see if he seems invigorated by choosing his own music. Maybe I'm just delaying the inevitable, but I wouldn't do it if I didn't feel like there was a small glimmer of hope.

I appreciate all the advice, everyone.
_________________________
part-time piano teacher for 1.5 years

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#954509 - 09/10/08 03:12 PM Re: Student wants to quit
Larisa Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/03/08
Posts: 498
Loc: Philadelphia
 Quote:
Originally posted by Morodiene:
 Quote:
Originally posted by Larisa:
I dunno. My mother wanted me to take gymnastics when I was a kid. I didn't want to do that. I wanted to play the piano instead. Fortunately for me, she did not push the issue and let me quit gymnastics.

Do I regret "walking away"? Not a whit. I am glad I got to spend my time doing what I wanted to do instead of doing what my mother wanted to do. Would it have changed my mind if the gymnastics teacher tried very hard to keep me interested and engaged? Maybe, but not for long. I wanted to do something else with my time, and I am glad I was allowed to do so.

Incidentally, I never wanted to quit piano. Ever. Not as a child, not as a teenager, not as an adult. Yes, my parents had to force the issue of practicing at times, but never the issue of continuing with lessons. [/b]
I know I've told this story before, but since there are new people, please bear with me if you've already heard this. I wanted to quit as a child. I never practiced, yet I loved piano. I was just very insecure and was extremely afraid of lessons, even though I had a wonderful and patient teacher. My parents and my teacher did not let me quit until I had 10 years of lessons, and I am so glad they made me stick it out. I kept playing, and when I returned to lessons many years later, I was ready. I know that everyone is different, and that piano isn't meant for everyone. Only the teacher can really assess what the situation is, and when it's best to let go, or give it a different approach. [/b]
Sure - but the kid's opinion should count for something. Your parents and teacher may have seen something in you that may have led them to believe that you do actually want to play the piano - you loved piano, as you say. But not everyone is like that. I shudder at the very thought of my mother telling me "Well, you have to take gymnastics for 10 years", or of the teacher making that decision for me. I am glad I got to make my own decision. I did not love gymnastics. I would not love it any more if I were forced into it for 10 years.

Piano is not for everyone. Music is not for everyone. What is the point of forcing it on someone who does not enjoy it?

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#954510 - 09/10/08 04:19 PM Re: Student wants to quit
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4802
Loc: South Florida
 Quote:
Originally posted by Strat:
[QB] With all due respect, you're not making much sense. You *just* wrote that the poor kid has to manage soccer, baseball, scouts, homework, and the normal life of a teen (which consists of you know,... going out with friends & socializing) and now you're writing that you hope he'll start wanting to practice?
The key point to me is that this kid, from what I've read, does not like piano. It's not a practicing problem. It's a "liking piano" problem.

I have a teen right now who is busy with too many things, in my opinion. Three weeks in a row he told me that he was too busy to practice at all, which is bull. Sorry, but it is.

The third week I said this:

"Up till now you've made very good progess. For a person who has only played about one year, you are quite advanced. It's obviously you enjoy playing. And I enjoy teaching you.

So here's the deal. Before you leave today, you have to promise me that you will practice 5 minutes, at least three times a week. Why 5 minutes? Because it is so little time, it's hardly more than a TV commerical slot.

Now, if at the end of those 5 minutes you really are so tired, so burnt-out (in general), so unable to concentrate, then OK, stop. But most of the time that won't happen. Most of the time you will play for a few minutes and find that a lot more time has gone by, and you won't want to get up any more than you wanted to start."

And his playing is right back on track again.

He has never practiced a lot, but he is cooperative in lessons, learns quickly, and probably would have been an excellent player if he has started at age 5. He plays better than most of my students who practice much more. I'm not going to "fire" him because he practices too little, as long as he continues to make progress.

But I would and will show him the door if he goes back to zero practicing, because then I become the personal-piano trainer, and I'll bed ****** if I will accept that job and the lack of respect that goes with it.

This is an example of someone who just needed to be pushed a little into doing what he really wanted to do anyway.

To me that's totally different from someone who really doesn't like the piano. That just doesn't work for me. For one thing, it sucks energy out of me and leaves me with less for the other students who are trying.
 Quote:

Wanting to play is one thing. Ask most people and they'll tell you they'd love to be able to be a skilled pianist, but it takes dedication, perseverance, talent, motivation, and of course time. Just because I want to be full of muscles won't make me a muscular guy. For that, I'd need to apply myself in becoming muscular, repeatedly going to the gym and giving it my all during my "practice time." The drive & dedication to attain my goal of being Mr Muscles would only be possible if I were to put a lot of effort into it.
I'm glad you mentioned that. The fact that someone would like to play the piano means nothing to me if that person is unwilling to do any work, and I've met a lot of people like that. In fact, they tend to move from interest to interest, starting things, quitting, starting other things, then quitting again. It becomes a pattern.
_________________________
Piano Teacher

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#954511 - 09/10/08 04:51 PM Re: Student wants to quit
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
I just had the same experience with the 5 minute idea 5 minutes ago in that I told an 8 year old 2nd grader to practice 5 minutes on one song, then to go back to the piano later and play a different song for 5 minutes.

This because she just had her 1 year anniversity, plays great, until recently when her Mom has been taking care of twin little boys, 2 and a half years old, and their mother who is fighting a life threatening disease. So the home is very busy now with lots of spontaneous interruptions. Five minutes will make a dent.

If you can start to play for 5 minutes, maybe the thrill of it will help you continute without counting the minutes.

Kind of like, "gentlemen, start your engines".

Then, I had one back out of lessons by email this morning, which would have started today, because he is very concerned about how he is going to fit homework, football and piano in. He had 5 lessons in the summer and showed lots of promise.

And, my 2 0'clock cancelled 5 minutes ago for her lessons today because they are going to the fair on a school district pass today.

There are always choices to be made.

I may or may not get the news in a timely way - but this represents today's society. I'm afraid 24 hour notice is a thing from another century.

It has been very noticable that people are pulling out of lessons in my studio as I've just started school year lessons this week, after a 2 week vacation. It's the economics of life, and the major changes politically, and a Boeing strike affecting our area.

I don't quite know what to expect - but the yearly report I write to myself will be interesting!

Betty

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