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#1471841 - 07/10/10 04:14 PM how to deal with anxious teacher  
Joined: May 2009
Posts: 3,336
ten left thumbs Offline
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ten left thumbs  Offline
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Joined: May 2009
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Scotland
This is not a piano-related question, but I'm hoping to get some wisdom from the teachers here.

We have a guitar teacher for my son who is 11. I don't know what his qualifications are, I've not asked, but he seems to know about every style, every technique, every (guitar-related) instrument possible. I have a huge respect for him, he has a great rapport with my son, and he is great at teaching.

I asked him at the beginning (we've had him for just over a year now) if he enters kids for exams. He said yes, and that the appropriate body for rock guitar is Rockschool.

He is a great teacher, but sometimes I have felt that he can be a little inconsistent, not always prepared with new material when it's needed. At some point when I felt things were getting a bit aimless, I suggested doing a Rockschool grade, to which the teacher and my son agreed.

It's hard to describe, but somehow as soon as it came to the exam teacher, all the creativity turned to anxiety. So when my son had practiced one of the exam pieces for a week (plenty of time to exam), he commented that that would probably be a 'pass'. I was expecting 'good effort - this was great - we need to work on that...' but somehow everything turned into passing - and failing.

When the letter came with the details of the exam, he commented, 'oh scary', and I had to quite deliberately say 'no, it's not.' He was really anxious at the last lesson - in his own word 'in panic mode' quite openly talking about that none of his students have ever failed yet, but there's always a first time....

I just feel this is a lot of anxiety to offload onto an 11 year old. An 11 year old who got through the exam today just fine. smile

Also (now I didn't want this to become a rant) when I think about the preparation for the exam, I can honestly say, some parts of it, my son was only prepared because I did the work with him. The aural exam, the improvisation, and the technical exercises - I did all this with him, not the teacher. I'm really amazed that he managed to neglect all this over time, because to me the exam is a great opportunity to do all these learning things that kids are less keen to do.

So I feel I really need to talk to him about all this - but I'm now sure how.

I'm open to any thoughts, ideas and suggestions.

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#1471861 - 07/10/10 04:35 PM Re: how to deal with anxious teacher [Re: ten left thumbs]  
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rocket88 Offline
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Could it be that preparing students for exams is not the teacher's strong point? It sounds like he is a good teacher, and if your son is learning well, progressing well, and likes to study with this person, maybe asking for the exam put the teacher in waters he is not comfortable with, but he did as you asked the best he could.


Piano teacher and Blues and Boogie-Woogie pianist.
#1471880 - 07/10/10 04:50 PM Re: how to deal with anxious teacher [Re: rocket88]  
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John v.d.Brook Offline
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John v.d.Brook  Offline
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When I first began Guild with my students, I was simply overwhelmed with the requirements. I gave myself a year to study the syllabus, and to organize my teaching around meeting the requirements. The teacher has to do lesson planning, just as they teach us in school, or else, the exam date will sneak up on you and you'll discover students short in this requirement or that requirement. Then panic sets in. And panic is never good!

The first year of Guild exams, I invited other Guild teachers to come in and talk to me and to my students, so we all knew what was involved. And they all had very positive outlooks and attitudes, so we knew that it was just a matter of preparation and staying on task.

The question you raise, how to broach this with the teacher, is a human relations question, not a teaching question. So hopefully, many teachers and students will chime in with ideas.

Personally, I would effuse over how happy you are that you son will be able to do the exam and if he passes, great, and if he doesn't, it's not the end of the world, at least you'll all know what has to be focused on for next time. And as Rocket88 (or should we call him Olds?) noted, this is obviously not the teacher's forte, so plan on being actively involved in the years to come.


"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA
#1471894 - 07/10/10 05:05 PM Re: how to deal with anxious teacher [Re: John v.d.Brook]  
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tranquillo Offline
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tranquillo  Offline
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Are Guild syllabi available to students who would like to have one? Reason I ask is the requirements are not always clear to me and last minute clarity is too late. Thanks for considering.


Baldwin
Charles Walter
#1471917 - 07/10/10 05:33 PM Re: how to deal with anxious teacher [Re: rocket88]  
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ten left thumbs Offline
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ten left thumbs  Offline
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Scotland
Originally Posted by rocket88
Could it be that preparing students for exams is not the teacher's strong point?


That would be fair, I think. And I could live with it.

John and Tranquillo - Thankyou for your thoughts. I know not this 'guild' of which you speak.

#1471918 - 07/10/10 05:35 PM Re: how to deal with anxious teacher [Re: John v.d.Brook]  
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rocket88 Offline
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rocket88  Offline
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Originally Posted by John v.d.Brook
And as Rocket88 (or should we call him Olds?) noted...


[Linked Image]Actually, this is where I got the name:

"Rocket 88" is a rhythm and blues song that was first recorded at Sam Phillips' recording studio in Memphis, Tennessee, in March 1951. In 1991, after a great deal of debate, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame recognized this as the first Rock and Roll song ever recorded.

From Wikipedia and Songfacts.


Piano teacher and Blues and Boogie-Woogie pianist.
#1471961 - 07/10/10 06:54 PM Re: how to deal with anxious teacher [Re: ten left thumbs]  
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John v.d.Brook Offline
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John v.d.Brook  Offline
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Olympia, Washington, USA
Originally Posted by ten left thumbs
John and Tranquillo - Thankyou for your thoughts. I know not this 'guild' of which you speak.

Piano Guild is essentially an American institution dating back nearly a century. It's focus is more on qualitative aspects of student playing than book knowledge. I don't know whether it's founder, Irl Allison, who by the way founded the Van Cliburn competition as well, knew of the Associated Boards and its derivatives.


"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA
#1472005 - 07/10/10 08:41 PM Re: how to deal with anxious teacher [Re: John v.d.Brook]  
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Candywoman Offline
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Candywoman  Offline
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This teacher should have asked you if you could take longer lessons to accommodate those technical requirements. He probably hasn't had many students do exams and is worried that you'll quit if your son's mark is lower than expected. YOU may think it's no big deal if your son has to redo an exam or brush up on areas in which he failed. YOUR SON will likely take the mark very much to heart as an indication of where he stands as a musician. Naturally, your teacher wants the best for your son. Now that the exam is over, I wouldn't talk to your teacher about it. I'd see how he guides your son in the next month.

On some level, I find exams anxiety producing. For weeks, you can never tell if a student will be ready for that day. Students often decide to get sick one or two weeks before an exam because of their own anxiety, putting you as a teacher even further behind.


#1472145 - 07/11/10 03:44 AM Re: how to deal with anxious teacher [Re: Candywoman]  
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AZNpiano Offline
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Orange County, CA
I sense some breakdown in communication. There is a triangle of communication among the teacher, the parent, and the student. Each party needs to articulate his goals, questions, and concerns clearly to each other.

Are you sure your expectations for the exam are the same as your son's expectations? Or the teacher's expectations?


Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member
#1472377 - 07/11/10 02:14 PM Re: how to deal with anxious teacher [Re: Candywoman]  
Joined: May 2009
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ten left thumbs Offline
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ten left thumbs  Offline
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Scotland
Originally Posted by Candywoman
This teacher should have asked you if you could take longer lessons to accommodate those technical requirements.


Interesting idea. It would be entirely reasonable to dedicate another 15 minutes lesson time to aural work, etc - but I don't think he has the time, and I certainly don't have the money. So if it came to that, the sensible solution would be to delegate the aural work to me, which is basically what has happened. smile


Quote
He probably hasn't had many students do exams and is worried that you'll quit if your son's mark is lower than expected. YOU may think it's no big deal if your son has to redo an exam or brush up on areas in which he failed. YOUR SON will likely take the mark very much to heart as an indication of where he stands as a musician.


I know he is very worried that something will happen to sap my son's morale (he is normally very enthusiastic) and I would never force him to continue if he didn't want to. I understand this. But I don't think the answer is to never enter him for an exam he wants to do.

Quote

Naturally, your teacher wants the best for your son. Now that the exam is over, I wouldn't talk to your teacher about it. I'd see how he guides your son in the next month.


Probably the best thing to do is to effuse how happy I am the exam went well, wait for results and certificate and celebrate that. I feel this teacher needs a bit of a boost. I wouldn't want to enter for another exam until next year anyway - maybe by then he will be less terrified by the prospect? And if I notice him transferring his own anxiety, maybe then I can have a quiet word and ask him to phone privately with any concerns.

There are a few issues behind this - I sit in on lessons normally (teacher's idea, and it works well) but sometimes I fear he teaches to me too much. Sometimes he gets us to do duets and things.

The other thing is I'm a trained counsellor, and try as I do to take that hat off (I've never told him what I do) I just seem to have this effect on people. I'm in the room, they talk about their feelings. It just happens, I don't mean it to. frown

Thanks for all ideas! smile


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