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#1988029 - 11/18/12 05:17 AM When students have long nails and refuse to cut them  
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Nannerl Mozart Offline
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What do you do? I've already given the little pep talk ... I did it gently. This is a teenage student who is fourteen

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#1988089 - 11/18/12 10:41 AM Re: When students have long nails and refuse to cut them [Re: Nannerl Mozart]  
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Minniemay Offline
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Talk to the parent.


B.A., Piano, Piano Pegagogy, Music Ed.
M.M., Piano
#1988099 - 11/18/12 11:18 AM Re: When students have long nails and refuse to cut them [Re: Nannerl Mozart]  
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Compromise

"I know it is the time in your life when peers and the TV/Movie/Mag presentations suggest that Long and Exotically Painted Finger Nails are all the rage. But those models are not pianists. You are. And it makes YOU special. And you need to keep them shorter if you want to continue lessons.

If there is a special event like graduation or a formal dance, when you really want to have them longer, how about if we work on something else other than your usual piano technique, like composing, or theory, or sight reading for a month?"

Then show her pictures or you tubes of famous YOUNG female pianists. Something that she can relate and which to aspire.


"Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything."
#1988103 - 11/18/12 11:32 AM Re: When students have long nails and refuse to cut them [Re: Nannerl Mozart]  
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Peter K. Mose Offline
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For me it's too much of an intrusion into one's body and one's personal expression to get into such an issue, beyond mentioning once or twice that the student would play more comfortably with shorter nails.

Plenty of piano teachers would drop such a student, but I find that sad.




#1988109 - 11/18/12 11:51 AM Re: When students have long nails and refuse to cut them [Re: Nannerl Mozart]  
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ten left thumbs Offline
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I haven't found the answer, but it does drive me up the wall. I'm trying to make a habit of saying to parents when I first take them on, that nails need to be short. For adults it's harder. What frustrates me, is that they don't understand and can't understand the issue until they cut them. They just have teacher's word on it, and that means diddly squat.

#1988149 - 11/18/12 01:29 PM Re: When students have long nails and refuse to cut them [Re: Nannerl Mozart]  
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Morodiene Offline
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I tell them the story that I heard (maybe from someone on this forum?) about the teacher who kept a big jar on the piano full of nail clippings. If a student had long nails they'd have to add their own contribution to the infamous jar!

We all have a good laugh and comment about how gross an image that would be, and usually it's not an issue by the following week. laugh


private piano/voice teacher FT

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#1988166 - 11/18/12 02:15 PM Re: When students have long nails and refuse to cut them [Re: Nannerl Mozart]  
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DanS Offline
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I just say every week something along the lines of "you'll have a much easier time if you cut your nails." The students that take playing seriously will usually cut them.

#1988281 - 11/18/12 09:00 PM Re: When students have long nails and refuse to cut them [Re: Nannerl Mozart]  
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Candywoman Offline
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To the OP: keep asking the student to cut his/her nails. The gentle broken record. Nothing contentious, just, "Oh, by the way, you forgot to cut your nails. You must be very busy."

I always explain why nails need to be cut short. First of all, you will be able to maintain the curve in your finger and have a better tone. Secondly, you won't risk catching your nail on a piano key. And thirdly, you won't have the clicking sounds from your nails against the keys.

I tell them they can have their nails longer in the summer holidays but for now, please cut them. Then I write it in their notebook. I keep up with it until the problem is solved.



#1988284 - 11/18/12 09:06 PM Re: When students have long nails and refuse to cut them [Re: DanS]  
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Originally Posted by DanS
I just say every week something along the lines of "you'll have a much easier time if you cut your nails." The students that take playing seriously will usually cut them.


That's what I do. No point getting frustrated over nails if the student doesn't care.

Of course, I make sure they know what they're getting themselves into by not cutting their nails (i.e. longterm damage to the bone from incorrect placement!)

#1988297 - 11/18/12 09:41 PM Re: When students have long nails and refuse to cut them [Re: Bluoh]  
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DanS Offline
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Originally Posted by Bluoh
Originally Posted by DanS
I just say every week something along the lines of "you'll have a much easier time if you cut your nails." The students that take playing seriously will usually cut them.


That's what I do. No point getting frustrated over nails if the student doesn't care.

Of course, I make sure they know what they're getting themselves into by not cutting their nails (i.e. longterm damage to the bone from incorrect placement!)


Yeah exactly. When I first started teaching I used to get very upset (internally) when my students didn't/wouldn't listen. That'll drive you nuts eventually!

#1988311 - 11/18/12 10:41 PM Re: When students have long nails and refuse to cut them [Re: DanS]  
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First I tell them about my violin teacher who used to cut her students' nails herself, if she thought they were too long. And " too long" meant, "any white showing". Yes, she cut mine....just once....never again...

Ask the long-nailed student if she can hear the nails clicking on the keys while she plays. Ask her to play for you and stop when you hear the clicking.

Do these tactics work? Sometimes, but really it comes down to whether or not the student actually cares about the situation. I have refused to teach students when their nails are too long, that seems to work for the next lesson or so.

You can also say something like, "pianists do not have long nails", and say it with an attitude.

Last edited by Barb860; 11/18/12 10:43 PM.

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#1988389 - 11/19/12 06:04 AM Re: When students have long nails and refuse to cut them [Re: Nannerl Mozart]  
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Nannerl Mozart Offline
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Here is what I have already tried
- Showing the difference between what happens when you play with long and short nails - I played a small passage of something that I was working on, then played it with straighter fingers and asked her if she could hear the difference... she saw my point
- I reminded her that her nails were still long and it would help if they were short
- I gave her analogies that people of other professions (e.g. being in the food industry, or working in certain areas of health) need to keep their nails short, and being a pianist, it's sort of a requirement
- I told her I know it's hard, it's like hair, I know they take a lot of maintenance and it takes time for them to grow...

As the saying goes - you can lead a horse to water but you cant it drink...

#1988449 - 11/19/12 10:17 AM Re: When students have long nails and refuse to cut them [Re: Nannerl Mozart]  
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Minniemay Offline
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But you haven't talked to the parent.


B.A., Piano, Piano Pegagogy, Music Ed.
M.M., Piano
#1988514 - 11/19/12 01:08 PM Re: When students have long nails and refuse to cut them [Re: Nannerl Mozart]  
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Let her cut them for practice and have fake nails for dating and preening in front of the other junior-high students. That is why God invented Lee Press-On Nails.

Maybe a few 'broken nail' mishaps at the piano will prove to be a convincer.


Clef

#1988615 - 11/19/12 05:57 PM Re: When students have long nails and refuse to cut them [Re: Nannerl Mozart]  
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I just focus in on curved fingers, no clicking etc. Eventually, the nails will take an ugly curve upward or get stuck between the keys. They usually stay short after that.

#1988639 - 11/19/12 07:13 PM Re: When students have long nails and refuse to cut them [Re: Nannerl Mozart]  
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I'm with Peter. I'll make sure they know that pianists should have short fingernails, but I don't want people quitting over it or feeling like I'm being too big for my boots. For some people it's half an hour out of their week and they really don't care!

As long as you've done your part and advised against long nails, if they choose to ignore it that's their business and they are choosing to put up with the consequences.

#1988656 - 11/19/12 08:08 PM Re: When students have long nails and refuse to cut them [Re: Nannerl Mozart]  
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Stanny Offline
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I'm pretty easygoing about it too. My serious students will cut theirs, the others might not. I don't harp.


~Stanny~

Independent Music Teacher
Certified Piano Teacher, American College of Musicians
Member: MTNA, NGPT, ASMTA, NAMTA
#1988748 - 11/20/12 12:18 AM Re: When students have long nails and refuse to cut them [Re: DanS]  
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I have just one student with long nails. Her mother is a beautician and this student always has beautifully done up nails. We have discussed it many times. This same student had bowed out of doing any kind of Festival and Competition, and initially didn't classical. I have resigned myself to allowing her to play flat fingered in some places. She plays very well and has recently started playing classical - we worked into it gradually and she is now comfortable with it. But along with the classical pcs comes more technical excercises. This past week as I was modeling the technique required it became obvious to both of us that she was going to have a difficult time due to the length of her nails. She (again) has promised to trim her nails. We'll see.

#1994908 - 12/05/12 08:20 AM Re: When students have long nails and refuse to cut them [Re: Nannerl Mozart]  
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i'd just remind her that nails are dead skin tissue and collect bacteria and such.. are hard to keep clean are are compromised after having used the restroom. I seem to trim my nails daily.

I feel for you. I love the look of short nails personally.. you can do so much with them.

maybe a present of a little jar of cheaper polish.


accompanist/organist.. a non-MTNA teacher to a few

love and peace, Õun (apple in Estonian)
#1994927 - 12/05/12 09:49 AM Re: When students have long nails and refuse to cut them [Re: Nannerl Mozart]  
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At one of my lessons my teacher cut her nails, I don't know if it was a hint that mine were too long (I keep them short but may have forgot to trim them) ever since that lesson I try to make sure my nails are cut before my weekly lesson.


Started lessons 03/22/11
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#1995181 - 12/05/12 08:20 PM Re: When students have long nails and refuse to cut them [Re: Nannerl Mozart]  
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Up to about the age of 12 - after pep talks haven't helped -, I take out my nail clipper, we go to the trash bin, and I cut the nails. I usually only need to do this once, because they don't like it.
With older students, I try reasoning. I try to prove them that with short nails, piano playing is so much easier. And with girls it sometimes works, if I tell them: 'you're so pretty anyway, you don't need long nails'. I also tell them that this is our 'trade' sign, that all pianists have short nails. And that for example guitarists have long nails on their right hand, also the men (which they think is really silly).
By the way, right now it's very fashionable to paint short nails in all colours around here, so - at least with my students - I have the impression that the nail problem isn't as big as it used to be.


The piano keys are black and white,
But they sound like a million colours in your mind.
(Katie Melua)
#1995206 - 12/05/12 09:09 PM Re: When students have long nails and refuse to cut them [Re: Nannerl Mozart]  
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Stanny Offline
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Maybe its a cultural thing, but I wouldn't cut a student's nails, and I would have had a fit if someone had cut my children's nails.


~Stanny~

Independent Music Teacher
Certified Piano Teacher, American College of Musicians
Member: MTNA, NGPT, ASMTA, NAMTA
#1995307 - 12/06/12 06:10 AM Re: When students have long nails and refuse to cut them [Re: Nannerl Mozart]  
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Sincerely, if parents agree to pay for piano lessons, they also agree to provide the 'surroundings'. So, instead of having a fit, they can just cut the nails of their children themselves and there's no problem at all. But some parents just don't care...


The piano keys are black and white,
But they sound like a million colours in your mind.
(Katie Melua)
#1995316 - 12/06/12 07:15 AM Re: When students have long nails and refuse to cut them [Re: Nannerl Mozart]  
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It is a very frustrating issue, but I find that in the end most of my students get sick of hearing the click. But you can't win them all, just remember to point out the dangers!

#1995361 - 12/06/12 10:02 AM Re: When students have long nails and refuse to cut them [Re: Peter K. Mose]  
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Originally Posted by Peter K. Mose
For me it's too much of an intrusion into one's body and one's personal expression to get into such an issue, beyond mentioning once or twice that the student would play more comfortably with shorter nails.



This post is giving me a different perspective. This gives me permission to let it go after mentioning it to parent and child a couple of times. I have felt guilty for giving up and not continuing to mention it. I need to lighten up instead of feeling so annoyed about it.

Just like lack of practice. I let parents know the child needs to practice to make meaningful progress. Sometimes nothing changes. And during lessons I silently pray "God help me!" and look forward to winter break.

I had one kid who doesn't practice come in last week and it was obvious that she HAD practiced. I asked her about it. She said "Dad made me practice. He said you were complaining." (I had sent an email explaining the need for practice.)

Last edited by Ann in Kentucky; 12/06/12 10:03 AM.
#1995403 - 12/06/12 12:05 PM Re: When students have long nails and refuse to cut them [Re: Nannerl Mozart]  
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I'm thinking about how to stay lighthearted with parents and kids, yet address issues. I might say this: "Do you like riding along on a flat tire?"

Find out if they like the ride (noisy, bumpy and slow) or prefer to ride on 4 good tires. Then add in that they are choosing the flat tire by refusing to keep short nails and to practice daily.


Last edited by Ann in Kentucky; 12/06/12 02:59 PM.
#1995426 - 12/06/12 01:04 PM Re: When students have long nails and refuse to cut them [Re: Nannerl Mozart]  
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Originally Posted by Nannerl Mozart
Here is what I have already tried
- Showing the difference between what happens when you play with long and short nails - I played a small passage of something that I was working on, then played it with straighter fingers and asked her if she could hear the difference......


But you've never worked on the technique necessary to play have played that passage well with straighter fingers, nor experimented to see how well you can play with long nails. (potentially two completely separate issues)

There is another option (beyond requiring nails to be cut and ignoring nails to be cut).

Treat it like any other handicap a child comes in with, and teach them to play well anyway. Maybe even find those areas for which it is an advantage.


gotta go practice
#1995560 - 12/06/12 06:04 PM Re: When students have long nails and refuse to cut them [Re: TimR]  
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Originally Posted by TimR



Treat it like any other handicap a child comes in with, and teach them to play well anyway. Maybe even find those areas for which it is an advantage.


I'm curious. Which areas?

#1995684 - 12/06/12 11:45 PM Re: When students have long nails and refuse to cut them [Re: Nannerl Mozart]  
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I have two 12 year olds who have been doing this to me for 2 years and it makes me so annoyed. They play piano and violin with flat fingers. I have told their parents and they say " Oh!We forgot!" Next week same nonsense. I tell them to keep their TOE nails long instead. Still does not work. I just painfully tolerate their lesson and question the meaning of life and my karma when they play. I used to have a 12 year old boy who used to tell me his mama forgot to cut his nails for him and he was taller than me! And his mom confirmed this by saying she forgot. Unbelievable! I once told a boy that I`m bringing my nail polish next week.....then he cut it! I have given up on this and realize that these kids don`t care and their parents are the same. They don`t realize the importance of curved fingers and habits that go with it.


LEARNING AND IMPROVING NEVER STOPS. It would be boring if it did.
#1995688 - 12/06/12 11:58 PM Re: When students have long nails and refuse to cut them [Re: Nannerl Mozart]  
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I will tell them that as their teacher, I will not be held responsible for their bad technique and finger/hand form because they have refused to keep their fingernails short.


LEARNING AND IMPROVING NEVER STOPS. It would be boring if it did.
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