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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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Talk to the parent.


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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.


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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.




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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.

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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


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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.

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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.



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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!)

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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!

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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 09:43 PM.

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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...

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But you haven't talked to the parent.


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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.


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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.


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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.

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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.


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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.

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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.


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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.


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