Student is a crammer...

Posted by: IPlayPiano

Student is a crammer... - 12/10/12 01:00 PM

I teach a 10 year old girl who is a transfer student. For the last 4 months we have been working on a number of pieces but focusing on only two for the winter recital (this Friday). She is very quiet and could almost go an entire lesson without saying a word. She only speaks when spoken to. Anyways, these past months I felt like we had been trudging along with these two pieces working on the same things weekly with little improvement. Well, the recital is this week and she showed up to lesson with the pieces memorized (what?!?) with all dynamics and markings observed! I said to her "You're a crammer, aren't you?" and she said "Ya" (her one word for the whole lesson). How do you deal with these types of learners? Perhaps I need to put some strict deadlines on particular goals we have for each piece?
Posted by: Piano*Dad

Re: Student is a crammer... - 12/10/12 01:15 PM

If she can do that in a week, she may very well be capable of advancing into more interesting and challenging material at a faster pace. Then again, she may have no interest in that ...

I think you need to understand her personality and her family environment a bit more before you can come up with the "right" kind of incentives.

Clearly, she has some incentive to master the material, or why else would she cram? You need to understand her current incentives and her sources of self-esteem, and then you can plan out a way to elicit more effort. If she is competitive, you can use that. If she has a strong desire to please a parent at the end of the day, perhaps you can use that. If she just wants to do enough, but dislikes looking bad during recitals, heck, you can probably use that too.

Does she seem to enjoy making music at all? Is the current work boring her? Are there carrots that you can dangle for timely completion of intermediate tasks?
Posted by: Morodiene

Re: Student is a crammer... - 12/11/12 08:46 AM

She is probably very insecure. I had a young boy transfer student who was like this, he wouldn't say more than 2 words if I was lucky. Just give it time, and understand that they really do appreciate the time with you. Try asking a lot of open-ended questions to get to know them, and talk about yourself a bit too.

As for her progress, try challenging her a bit more. Talk with her about what you observed, and ask her if it's Ok if you set deadlines for her to accomplish certain tasks on pieces.
Posted by: AZNpiano

Re: Student is a crammer... - 12/12/12 02:09 AM

I get crammers (or PROCRASTINATORS) all the time, since my students do the CM test. The truth is: in earlier grades, they can get away with cramming the last week. You can easily memorize a few scales, chord progressions, and two pieces in two weeks. And since most of them get passed along the levels by "nice" evaluators, Level 6 is about when they'll hit a wall. Some of these crammers figure that they can put in the same amount of effort for Level 9 as they did back in Level 2 AND STILL PASS.

My solution: let them fail. Let the kids experience failure. I'm taking a page out of Jean-Jacques Rousseau's Emile. This is my attitude exactly for my one Advanced student this year. He's been on cruise control since his last CM test despite my repeated warnings. He didn't even bother buy the Advanced level theory book. He touches the piano once a week during his lesson. He thinks he can just teach himself theory from the Internet the week before the test.

I was almost successful last year with this plan. Maybe this year I will be.
Posted by: Nikolas

Re: Student is a crammer... - 12/12/12 04:08 PM

AZN: It's so nice to see that you don't practice this completely silly idea of 'noone left behind'. While the general sentiment is correct, the idea that one needs to reduce their standards so that noone will left behind and nobody experiences failure is quite destructive! frown
Posted by: kayvee

Re: Student is a crammer... - 12/12/12 09:12 PM

Are there any regular performance opportunities available for her? (hospitals, nursing homes, etc)

Originally Posted By: IPlayPiano
I teach a 10 year old girl who is a transfer student. For the last 4 months we have been working on a number of pieces but focusing on only two for the winter recital (this Friday). She is very quiet and could almost go an entire lesson without saying a word. She only speaks when spoken to. Anyways, these past months I felt like we had been trudging along with these two pieces working on the same things weekly with little improvement. Well, the recital is this week and she showed up to lesson with the pieces memorized (what?!?) with all dynamics and markings observed! I said to her "You're a crammer, aren't you?" and she said "Ya" (her one word for the whole lesson). How do you deal with these types of learners? Perhaps I need to put some strict deadlines on particular goals we have for each piece?