Stinky feet and flatulence

Posted by: John v.d.Brook

Stinky feet and flatulence - 06/15/08 08:38 PM

Now that warmer weather is with us, I've noticed that several students are "ripening." And from time to time, a student loses control, or doesn't know enough to maintain control.

Just curious how you other teachers handle this? Ignore it? Speak to the students? Other approaches?
Posted by: rocket88

Re: Stinky feet and flatulence - 06/15/08 08:51 PM

I go over and turn on the fan.
Posted by: Jerry Groot RPT

Re: Stinky feet and flatulence - 06/15/08 08:55 PM

I'm not a teacher but, just to toss in some humor, keep a sewing needle handy. If they do that, jump like the scared the beegeebers outta ya and jab them with it. That should solve the problem in no time flat! \:D
Posted by: Marty in Minnesota

Re: Stinky feet and flatulence - 06/15/08 10:10 PM

Um, er ah, er ah?

John, are you just talking about a normal adolsecent male, a dude growing up, experiencing what all men have? Hell, he wakes up the same way we all do.

Just ignore the situation and go on with the lesson. We were all there once, we understand as guys. Your non-reaction will let him know that is absolutely normal. Going on with the lesson will change the focus and help him get over his embarassment.
Posted by: John v.d.Brook

Re: Stinky feet and flatulence - 06/16/08 12:16 AM

No, actually, I'm talking about a couple of young ladies!
Posted by: John v.d.Brook

Re: Stinky feet and flatulence - 06/16/08 12:19 AM

Marty, I have absolutely no problems talking these hygiene issues with young men. . . .it's how to approach the young ladies!
Posted by: AZNpiano

Re: Stinky feet and flatulence - 06/16/08 12:42 AM

Tactfully bring it up with Mom or Dad.

Tactfully.
Posted by: keyboardklutz

Re: Stinky feet and flatulence - 06/16/08 01:21 AM

Ask Elise_B!
Posted by: Morodiene

Re: Stinky feet and flatulence - 06/16/08 07:15 AM

I've known some teachers post a sign on their door (they're at a music school saying that if you have "gastro-intestinal disturbances" to not have a lesson (in addition to sniffling, coughs, etc. Perhaps a blanket statement for all students will help single out those that are causing the issue. Or simply have a jar full of Gas-ex on the piano \:\)
Posted by: Marty in Minnesota

Re: Stinky feet and flatulence - 06/16/08 09:08 AM

And I always thought that women never, ever, could possibly do such a thing.

How about a sign saying "Use Beano or Begone".

Seriously, if it were an ongoing problem, I would discuss it with the parents. A teaching studio can be a bit like a closed elevator.
Posted by: alglasser

Re: Stinky feet and flatulence - 06/16/08 10:10 AM

John v.d. Brook,

I got a real chuckle out of your post, but realize that it is a legitimate concern. Let's face it, warm weather does "ripen" people.

My bachelor's degrees are in Music, but my Masters is in Early Childhood and Elementary Education. My high school (24 years) offered a 4 year teacher prep program which with rare exception, was taken by girls. When the weather warmed up, so did the "atmosphere" in the classroom. Being a male, it is hard to tell girls that they have a hygeine problem but I used to do it privately when necessary. The thing is, your students may be unaware of the problem and friends/family just don't want to address it and hurt feelings. If you have a good enough relationship with the students, I think it can be addressed with respect and "good taste". How about...
"Sara (or whoever), would you mind if we discussed something that might make you feel a little uncomfortable"...as a lead in. Sometimes contacting parents gets resentment going...as you would have gone behind the student's back..which is certainly not productive.

No matter how it's done, it is awkward but assuming that parents/friends are aware but don't want to say anything, you will,
in fact, be doing the student a favor...after the initial embarrasment.

It shouldn't be thet piano teacher's responsibility to address a hygeine problem but believe me, I had many occasions to address similar issues with students and the results were overall quite good. I think it's all in HOW you approach it and how good the relationship is with the students.

my 2 cents worth...Alan in RI
Posted by: alglasser

Re: Stinky feet and flatulence - 06/16/08 10:21 AM

John v.d.Brook...

One further thought on your hygeine question..

Gas happens to everyone. Though unpleasant, I don't know what can be done to prevent THAT problem. How about a can of room spray or a candle going in the room. Yes...it would be a bit embarrasing to whip out the Lysol in a middle of a lesson, but beileve me, the student is already embarrased. Maybe you could say something like, "the room is a bit stuffy...would you mind if I sprayed some air freshener?" As far as providing medication to the students...well, I can't see what would be effective in that endeavor. Also, parents might not like your giving Tums...or Gas-X or whatever...to their kids.

I'm smiling here and appreciate the "gravity" of the situation. I also see the humor in it though as I'm sure you do. Ceiling fans work wonders. ;\)

Alan in RI
Posted by: brenda100

Re: Stinky feet and flatulence - 06/16/08 10:26 AM

Thanks for a good laugh!

I shared this with my 13-year-old daughter. She is now going to her room because she forgot to put on her deodorant today (again) after her shower. Yes, she has her lessons today.

You made the point clear to her better than 'old Mom' ever could.

Thanks!!
Posted by: brenda100

Re: Stinky feet and flatulence - 06/16/08 10:30 AM

Marty,

Yes, the fairer sex can indeed engage in all kinds of unexpected behavior. It's an equal opportunity world in so many ways.

And here I thought you were a man of the world!

;\)
Posted by: g#maj

Re: Stinky feet and flatulence - 06/16/08 10:30 AM

Ceiling fans work wonders. [/b] ______________________

Yeah, so long as they're blowing downwards
Posted by: John v.d.Brook

Re: Stinky feet and flatulence - 06/16/08 10:32 AM

Thanks for the replies ;\) and I'd be delighted to hear any other thoughts. When I posted the topic, I realized that it could be both humorous, but at the same time, a serious problem for those a sensitive sense of smell who do have to put up with a lot!
Posted by: JDelmore

Re: Stinky feet and flatulence - 06/16/08 10:55 AM

Well, Lyndon Johnson once said "Jerry Ford is so dumb he can't fart and chew gum at the same time." So, perhaps your students are just demonstrating coordination...LOL
Posted by: Oxfords Gal

Re: Stinky feet and flatulence - 06/16/08 11:12 AM

Hey John,

I was thinking. How about making a little flyer addressing hygiene with the coming weather, closed environments and handing it to all the students that way it's not directed at just the 2 who are being offensive and everyone gets the message.

Kind of like the "handwashing" sign posted in public rest rooms.

For example

Ladies and Gentleman,

With the warm season sometimes body odors attach themselves to us and we bring it along like the little brother or sister we had to drag around as kids.

In order to minimize the discomfort from these odors and the proximity with which we have to sit and the closed environment and in order not to have to wear gas masks, here are some procedures to follow to have a pleasant odor free environment.

Make sure you bathe and use deodorant prior to coming to class

Wear clean underwear after bathing. Wearing the same pair might cancel out the shower

If you're unable to bathe prior to class, take a washcloth and soap and wash the areas that can be offensive.

If you have a footsey odor problem, wearing closed shoes with socks would be wonderful

If you have to toot, hold it or take it to the restroom where it belongs.

You can insert clipart to make it fun. I don't know just a suggestion to avoid singling out people.

Good luck though. phewwww teee heee
Posted by: Betty Patnude

Re: Stinky feet and flatulence - 06/16/08 12:01 PM

I'm surprized no one has mentioned halitosis!

How unfortunate that a student is likely to "sin" in all the ways imaginable at one lesson.

It might be better to proceed with questioning their well-being: "Peggy Sue, I've noticed that _______ and I wonder if you would like to use my bathroom to refresh in.

Maybe keeping baby wipes in the bathroom would help parts of the problem. Who knows where this could lead to in having supplies on hand.

Some people are caught unaware with these kinds of problems, and others are just plain lax in their hygiene.

Then there are those with a drippy nose, and those who (the younger ones) put their fingers in their mouth at the lesson.

I've also had kids with sweaty palms, and that in itself is an embarrasing problem to handle.

It's not all about odor, sometimes other things create messes that need immediate attention. In my years of teaching I've had one that "lost her cookies" thankfully onto the floor and not the keyboard.

Betty
Posted by: John v.d.Brook

Re: Stinky feet and flatulence - 06/16/08 12:04 PM

Oh, Betty, thankfully, that's one problem I've never had to deal with.
Posted by: currawong

Re: Stinky feet and flatulence - 06/16/08 05:27 PM

Oxfords Gal - nice wording! You lightened it up, but addressed the problem without making it too personal. And the way you said "we" sometimes have these problems makes it friendly and a common concern we all share as humans - which it is. I'd use your flyer if I needed to, for sure (but it's winter here \:\) ).
Posted by: SantaFe_Player

Re: Stinky feet and flatulence - 06/16/08 05:38 PM

Might also want to include in the "general note for the season" something about please not wearing perfume or cologne. In warm weather, those who favor heavy doses can make their victims nauseous....We always had strict taboos against this in rehearsals and during performances, but it's even more problematic in a small studio than in a big concert hall. One person's choice of "heavenly scent" can be another's nightmare. Then, too, there are allergies.
Posted by: keystring

Re: Stinky feet and flatulence - 06/16/08 05:48 PM

Has anyone noticed the music teachers in general all smell like soap, toothpaste, and mouthwash? ;\) That should give students a clue.

What does one do if an urgent case of flatulence hits? Say "excuse me", back into the hallway, hope it is inaudible, and come back with a sunny smile, settling back down to the instrument? It the results are audible, I suppose it is the teacher who would be hiding a grin. \:D

Dietary recommendations to our growing "general letter to all students" - no beans or garlic the night before.
Posted by: SantaFe_Player

Re: Stinky feet and flatulence - 06/16/08 06:23 PM

Keystring, that's actually one I've never had to address. Usually the "hygiene" issue I've had to deal with was trimming the fingernails....which is really more about grooming. I wonder what my students would have said *I* smelled like. Probably coffee!
Posted by: Marty in Minnesota

Re: Stinky feet and flatulence - 06/16/08 06:31 PM

How about a sign that says "Please shower before entering THIS pool."

Oh, I couldn't resist.

\:D
Posted by: RickG

Re: Stinky feet and flatulence - 06/16/08 07:02 PM

Betty P.,
When I was in 9th grade, I took organ lessons from a strange man who had halitosis. What made it worse, there was an air conditioner that was right next to the organ (Baldwin Model 5A) that blew his bad breath on me. LOL He was a good teacher, though. I learned a lot!!
Posted by: Akira

Re: Stinky feet and flatulence - 06/16/08 07:57 PM

Maybe you could buy a poster for your studio. \:\)
Posted by: John v.d.Brook

Re: Stinky feet and flatulence - 06/16/08 08:26 PM

\:D
Posted by: Jerry Groot RPT

Re: Stinky feet and flatulence - 06/16/08 10:12 PM

Maybe you could say something like, "the room is a bit stuffy...would you mind if I sprayed some air freshener?" .....And then empty the can aiming directly at the "problem area?" \:D \:D

What does one do if an urgent case of flatulence hits? Say "excuse me", back into the hallway, hope it is inaudible, and come back with a sunny smile, settling back down to the instrument? It the results are audible, I suppose it is the teacher who would be hiding a grin. [Big Grin][/b]

Off topic but, that reminded me of the time I was about 7. My dad was talking to the neighbor across the street, an older gent. I was with him. standing behind "him." I happened to be in the direct line of fire when this older gent let one awful smelly one rip. I couldn't run around the other side of my dad fast enough to get away from it!!!

I looked up at my dad who continued talking and acting as if nothing had happened and wondered how in the hell could he still be keeping a straight face when I wasn't?

I later asked him about it because it was rather LOUD too. He said, oh, the old guy can't hear. I'm sure he thought there was no sound at all.
Posted by: Morodiene

Re: Stinky feet and flatulence - 06/17/08 09:03 AM

 Quote:
Originally posted by Akira:
Maybe you could buy a poster for your studio. \:\) [/b]
LOL! I love it! This hasn't been a big problem for me, other than the occasional fart. My studio happens to be quite a large open space, so it doesn't take long for it to dissipate, either. I generally ignore it. But if I had a student with a chronic issue, I would tell them directly and politely. Most of my students feel comfortable enough that it wouldn't embarrass them too much.
Posted by: Marty in Minnesota

Re: Stinky feet and flatulence - 06/17/08 09:54 AM

LOL - But Jerry, couldn't he feel the deep bass vibrations?
Posted by: lucie_eva

Re: Stinky feet and flatulence - 06/17/08 10:24 AM

I've had to tell my piano teacher that I was allergic to perfume. I usually can stop breathing when I am in an elevator and someone comes in with a strong smell, but since the piano lesson lasts one hour... It was better than fainting in her studio!
Posted by: Jerry Groot RPT

Re: Stinky feet and flatulence - 06/18/08 08:29 AM

I don't know Marty. All I know is that I couldn't swing around that corner fast enough to get away from a blast in the face! Like a big tuba blowing your hair back! I felt like a snake jumping out of its skin. GET me outta hereee! EeeeeeK!
Posted by: John v.d.Brook

Re: Stinky feet and flatulence - 06/18/08 12:49 PM

I see that someone disapproves of this topic. Sorry, it can be a real problem for us.

Let me say that what got me thinking about it was two events, occurring the same afternoon. Student #1, young lady, had smelly feet. Every time I went to write on the music, I had to hold my breath. Student #2, the very next lesson in fact, must have had kimchi for lunch, because as I was focused on her phrasing, I thought I heard a squeal coming from the other room, only within about ten seconds, I nearly dropped dead. I asked her politely if she needed to use the rest room for a minute, but she looked at me with a most perplexed expression, so I let it drop, and kept my distance the remainder of the lesson.
Posted by: Monica K.

Re: Stinky feet and flatulence - 06/18/08 12:56 PM

Miss Manners says we should ignore personal embarrassments that the person can't easily change or fix (e.g., a fart that has already occurred) and politely point out the things that the person can (e.g., spinach stuck between teeth). I personally wouldn't say anything about either case, especially the gas situation. But if I felt compelled to raise the issue at all, I *definitely* would do it directly with the student rather than talk to the parents.
Posted by: Piano*Dad

Re: Stinky feet and flatulence - 06/18/08 02:27 PM

Why don't we complete the terrible trio and add halitosis to the discussion? \:D


edit: whoops, I just noticed that the word has already come up.
Posted by: Akira

Re: Stinky feet and flatulence - 06/18/08 02:46 PM

If the poster proves unsuccessful, you could use a product like this (which is actually designed for swimmers, but I see no reason why it can't be adapted to the piano teaching profession). \:\)

If that doesn't work, bring all of your socks from the hamper during their lesson and give them have it back (have your nose plugs handy though, so you don't pass out). \:\)
Posted by: Chris H.

Re: Stinky feet and flatulence - 06/18/08 02:47 PM

John, I think it's a very good topic. Surely most piano teachers have encountered these problems.

Your girl who broke wind might not have even been aware of it. It's rare but if they are really concentrating on playing this can happen. I have found that most people are horrified that they have let one drop in the middle of the lesson. A little humour makes them feel easier about it. I often make some joke about 'bum notes' or 'not quite the phrasing I was thinking of' etc.

The body odour is much more common. I keep a plug in air freshener in my room. When it gets warm (rare in the UK!) I open the door and have a fan switched on. You get to know which students smell a bit ripe and can plan ahead. I have to say it tends to be the boys rather than the girls. However, I think the smelly feet can be down to poor quality footwear for girls. I like them to remove shoes when they come in to keep the carpets a little cleaner but sometimes it is better that they keep them on.
Posted by: keyboardklutz

Re: Stinky feet and flatulence - 06/18/08 02:53 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by Akira:
If the poster proves unsuccessful, you could use a product like this [/b]
Or this

Apologies to our more bashful posters, with post edited. Now even funnier! (with help from Marty).
Posted by: Marty in Minnesota

Re: Stinky feet and flatulence - 06/18/08 03:49 PM

KBK - I find that to be offensive at Piano World.

(NOTE: The offensive photo/link has now been edited by the poster.)
Posted by: keyboardklutz

Re: Stinky feet and flatulence - 06/18/08 04:02 PM

Oops. I say sometin wrong?
Posted by: currawong

Re: Stinky feet and flatulence - 06/18/08 06:04 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by John v.d.Brook:
I asked her politely if she needed to use the rest room for a minute, but she looked at me with a most perplexed expression [/b]
John, my guess is that she was embarrassed and was simply pretending it hadn't happened ... "why, whatever do you mean?"
Posted by: keyboardklutz

Re: Stinky feet and flatulence - 06/19/08 01:11 AM

Oops again.
Posted by: Jamie147

Re: Stinky feet and flatulence - 06/19/08 05:42 AM

A one off accident is acceptable but for someone to do it constantly but be discreet about it is not. The bathroom is there for that purpose and there is no excuse not to adhere to that. Its manners. I would create a simple A4 sheet of 'house rules' and put it in a prominant place for all students to see. Make it humerous by ending it with .......break the rules and be on the recieving end of my cattle prod.
They will take on board the rules but the cattle prod bit will make it light hearted. You could add a touch of sinsiter uncertainty by having a cattle prod by the piano and a room you're constantly telling them not to enter. Hey presto a room that smells of a meadow!
Posted by: keystring

Re: Stinky feet and flatulence - 06/19/08 07:28 AM

.
Posted by: Piano*Dad

Re: Stinky feet and flatulence - 06/19/08 08:53 AM

Look, just have an open dish of Limburger cheese nearby. You'll never notice anything. \:o


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I'm wondering just how long the topic could go on .... and on.
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... Who knows, it might come to rival Elise's saga! ;\)
Posted by: B-Sharp

Re: Stinky feet and flatulence - 06/19/08 12:30 PM

If you want to be really trendy, light up some incense. When my teenage daughter's cave she calls a room gets too much, and before I have found the old dinner plate under her bed to find the source of the odor, some incense really wipes it out and that retro-sixties stuff is really popular with the kids! Don't use too much or you'll get a headache, but a little is nice! Offering them gum, putting perfume on right before they walk in, having a small clip fan by your music stand are all old tricks to masking what ever they may offer up in the RIPE DAYS OF SUMMER!
Posted by: whippen boy

Re: Stinky feet and flatulence - 06/19/08 12:30 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by Piano*Dad:
I'm wondering just how long the topic could go on .... and on.
Especially when there is a related thread currently being discussed here. \:D
Posted by: KeysOnTheCeiling

Re: Stinky feet and flatulence - 06/19/08 11:19 PM

Well, I knew a teacher that always smelt of booze (not listerine and toothpaste).

I never actually had the opertunity to have a lesson with them though