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#2045217 - 03/08/13 06:20 PM Student personality change  
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My best student has gone through some sort of unfortunate change lately, IMO. She always progressed minimally in songs she didn't love, but played beautifully the songs she did love. Just a mere year ago, she wanted to learn movie theme songs and had a pet guinea pig. Now, she has a pit bull, spends most of her practice time trying to play popular songs (whatever genre the continuous screaming at the top of one's lungs is called - if anyone knows, please enlighten me!). Her attitude stinks, in plain English. She never takes her music out until I ask her to, her posture at the piano is awful, her progress is much slower, yet, she has a cavalier attitude. I find myself feeling more annoyed with each passing week. Months ago, I called her parents to find out if she was losing interest and they said she was overwhelmed (piano, guitar, school play, house pets, horseback riding). I had been preparing her to do some ensembles, and wanted to enter her in competitions. I backed off per the parents' input, but there's been no change that I can see. I am sure it's partially due to the fact that she's approaching those terrible teen years, but it's becoming one of those lessons I dread, and I hate feeling like that. frown


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#2045236 - 03/08/13 07:08 PM Re: Student personality change [Re: chasingrainbows]  
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Well...

My kids are right now 9 and 7 years old so I don't have hands on experience as a parent of a teenager. But I get a feeling that such acting is partially the fault of the parents, and not only the adrenaline and hormones kicking in... Could be wrong but I can't tell 'till I try it.

If she's acting up, just let her go. You can be hating your time with her and still wait up for something to change...

It's one thing to change your view of what music you enjoy and a whole other issue to be disrespectful to your teacher!

#2045279 - 03/08/13 10:11 PM Re: Student personality change [Re: chasingrainbows]  
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You're already talking to the parents--- maybe you need to tell them a little louder. Or just tell them plainly that you think you've done about all you can for their child (and why), and that you're very close to cutting her loose, and that you hope the right teacher can be found to help her.

Indeed, it may very well be the case. Screaming and pounding and going Goth are plain messages from the child that she has a great need for attention, and to be heard, and I kind of feel for her. Look on the bright side, she's still interested in music... and the truth is, there is quite a market for this out there, probably with teachers to go with it. Seems to me some have written to this forum. I don't know that I could handle it myself, but some teachers are quite used to teenagers and cope well. Maybe you know someone to suggest, or know someone who knows.

It is significant that you mentioned the school play... for drama has already made its stage entrance into this young life. The play could be a good place for it, for they couple drama with discipline. It would be great if there were a Dog Whisperer for this girl's parents. It would be so much better for her if someone listened in time, before she completely jumps the rails. Professional help would be preferable to a train wreck. Maybe they figure keeping her busy will keep her out of trouble.

After a more serious talk with the parents, try talking to the girl. It could be that if you demonstrate both, that you care, and that you have boundaries, it could be just the message she is dying to hear. It does sound like you have some hopes for her. Does she know what playing with an ensemble could be like for her? Has she adopted it as a goal, or is it your secret hope? Simple communication has, recently on the forum, prevented a precipitate lawsuit over a piano purchase and gotten some people to pay a long-overdue bill.


Clef

#2045331 - 03/09/13 01:18 AM Re: Student personality change [Re: chasingrainbows]  
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Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
...popular songs (whatever genre the continuous screaming at the top of one's lungs is called - if anyone knows, please enlighten me!)


It could either be something like heavy metal rock or something people refer to as "screamo" (it's quite aptly named wink ).


"[The trick to life isn't] just about living forever. The trick is still living with yourself forever."
#2045428 - 03/09/13 09:28 AM Re: Student personality change [Re: chasingrainbows]  
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Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
Her attitude stinks, in plain English. She never takes her music out until I ask her to, her posture at the piano is awful, her progress is much slower, yet, she has a cavalier attitude. I find myself feeling more annoyed with each passing week.

Why are you putting up with this? Put your foot down!

Be super strict and don't say anything positive until you see an improvement. And if you don't see an improvement, dismiss her. There's no need to put up with disrespectful children.


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#2045461 - 03/09/13 10:45 AM Re: Student personality change [Re: chasingrainbows]  
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It could be she's overbooked with too many activities and no time to just be a kid. She might be trying to assert what little control she has over her own time and life by trying to get you to drop her so that she has one less thing to do.

I'd talk to her as an adult. Ask her these hard questions. Tell her that if she wants to continue with piano, she needs to put forth some effort and respect you as her teacher. If she doesn't want to continue with piano, she needs to talk to her parents about it. Ask her if she's treating her guitar teacher, her director for the play, her horseback-riding instructor, etc., with the same disrespect she's showing you. Ask her what she really wants from piano lessons.

And if it's to quit, let her. If it's to do something you don't want to do for her or can't do for her, maybe letting her go is the right thing for both of you.


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#2045575 - 03/09/13 04:54 PM Re: Student personality change [Re: Bobpickle]  
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Originally Posted by Bobpickle
Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
...popular songs (whatever genre the continuous screaming at the top of one's lungs is called - if anyone knows, please enlighten me!)


It could either be something like heavy metal rock or something people refer to as "screamo" (it's quite aptly named wink ).


I know it's definitely not heavy metal rock - even I can tolerate that, and "screamo" doesn't sound familiar either. I will ask her again.


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#2046419 - 03/11/13 09:35 AM Re: Student personality change [Re: chasingrainbows]  
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Change her repertoire. Why not embrace or at least seek out some pop music for her to play? Work with her on transcribing/arranging some pop tunes. Use this as an opportunity to incorporate practical theory by arranging some popular music. Your agenda still gets attended to but you do it within the pop medium instead of "standard piano rep." She doesn't sound like the type who wants to follow the traditional path, participate in competitions, etc, so why force it?

This will take some extra leg-work on your end but there's plenty of great pop music out there that gets students super excited about playing!


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#2046424 - 03/11/13 09:57 AM Re: Student personality change [Re: chasingrainbows]  
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Jennifer, unfortunately, that's pretty much the extent of the music I give her. When she liked movie themes, I found many that she played beautifully. Then it was songs from Twilight, Harry Potter (Statues), and now it's Cold Play. Where does the classical music fit in? The little bit of Bach I've tried to introduce, the sonatinas, and most recently, an ensemble piece are barely practiced if at all. She has a lot of potential, but I see her as an over-indulged only child who only puts effort forth in what she wants to do. I've asked her to demonstrate improvised pop songs as well, but at some point, I need to exert some control in the lessons.


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#2046425 - 03/11/13 09:58 AM Re: Student personality change [Re: Brinestone]  
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Originally Posted by Brinestone

I'd talk to her as an adult. Ask her these hard questions. Tell her that if she wants to continue with piano, she needs to put forth some effort and respect you as her teacher. If she doesn't want to continue with piano, she needs to talk to her parents about it. Ask her if she's treating her guitar teacher, her director for the play, her horseback-riding instructor, etc., with the same disrespect she's showing you. Ask her what she really wants from piano lessons.

And if it's to quit, let her. If it's to do something you don't want to do for her or can't do for her, maybe letting her go is the right thing for both of you.


Brinestone, I plan to have that talk with her this week. Thanks for the advice.


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#2046427 - 03/11/13 10:02 AM Re: Student personality change [Re: chasingrainbows]  
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Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
Jennifer, unfortunately, that's pretty much the extent of the music I give her. When she liked movie themes, I found many that she played beautifully. Then it was songs from Twilight, Harry Potter (Statues), and now it's Cold Play. Where does the classical music fit in? The little bit of Bach I've tried to introduce, the sonatinas, and most recently, an ensemble piece are barely practiced if at all. She has a lot of potential, but I see her as an over-indulged only child who only puts effort forth in what she wants to do. I've asked her to demonstrate improvised pop songs as well, but at some point, I need to exert some control in the lessons.


She doesn't want to play classical music, and that's ok! And this will always be a "control issue/fight" because of that. I think as teachers we need to put our own preferences aside and realize that sometimes we are not a match for certain students. If I were you I would direct her towards somebody who wants to be teaching her what she wants to be playing. It isn't always about *our* agenda. In the same way, if a student comes to me and only wants a strict classical trajectory I send them elsewhere. I want to develop students who find their love for music in whatever genre/style they lean towards.


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#2046428 - 03/11/13 10:03 AM Re: Student personality change [Re: chasingrainbows]  
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Jeff, she is doing the stage work, not actually in the play. She also plays in school orchestra, so she's aware of ensemble playing. Perhaps she's ready to move on to another teacher, which is fine, I'd rather that happen than suffer through week after week of minimal practice and such obvious indifference. I will talk with her one more time. I am wondering if she may just be upset because I reached out to her parents rather than to her directly. OTOH, the lack of progress in pieces I select, has always been the problem from the beginning.


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#2046496 - 03/11/13 01:33 PM Re: Student personality change [Re: chasingrainbows]  
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"... I am wondering if she may just be upset because I reached out to her parents rather than to her directly..."

Let her be upset, then... if one of you has to be.

She can proceed on to 'screamo' lessons.


Clef

#2046552 - 03/11/13 03:08 PM Re: Student personality change [Re: chasingrainbows]  
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If she is to continue lessons with you, she needs to learn to do what she's told and practice assigned pieces (Bach, classical sonatinas) at least part of the time.


Regards,

Polyphonist
#2046581 - 03/11/13 04:30 PM Re: Student personality change [Re: chasingrainbows]  
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Jeff and Polyphonist, I totally agree! smile


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#2046727 - 03/11/13 09:39 PM Re: Student personality change [Re: chasingrainbows]  
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If she's into metal, maybe try and see if she's interested in any powermetal or symphonic metal. These are very influenced by classical music, often have nice piano parts (look for Nightwish), and could be used as a gateway to more traditional piano music (example - bands like Rhapsody could open up some discussion on composers such as Bach or Paganini).



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#2046729 - 03/11/13 09:45 PM Re: Student personality change [Re: chasingrainbows]  
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Also there are some very famous metal keyboardist/pianists who were classically trained. You could try getting her to listen to some Jens Johansson (Stratovarius), Michael Pinella (Symphony X), Tuomas Holopanien (Nightwish)or Jordan Rudess (Dream Theatre).

Also, Isabelle Mathieu does some great metal covers on the piano (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZbS_Ihtfa18).

Obviously these things don't help her attitude problem, but it may help you connect with her musically.


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#2046931 - 03/12/13 10:27 AM Re: Student personality change [Re: chasingrainbows]  
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Thanks, ymapazagain, I will check those out.


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#2046937 - 03/12/13 10:35 AM Re: Student personality change [Re: chasingrainbows]  
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Why classical?

Because it's what you teach? Or because it is the best way for her to reach her goals in music?

That may be the disconnect.



gotta go practice
#2047006 - 03/12/13 12:55 PM Re: Student personality change [Re: Jennifer Eklund]  
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Originally Posted by Jennifer Eklund
I think as teachers we need to put our own preferences aside and realize that sometimes we are not a match for certain students. If I were you I would direct her towards somebody who wants to be teaching her what she wants to be playing. It isn't always about *our* agenda. In the same way, if a student comes to me and only wants a strict classical trajectory I send them elsewhere. I want to develop students who find their love for music in whatever genre/style they lean towards.

Very wise words!

Unfortunately, once some students get placed on the testing track, it's difficult to convince the parents to remove them from the testing track.


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#2047041 - 03/12/13 02:14 PM Re: Student personality change [Re: Jennifer Eklund]  
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Originally Posted by Jennifer Eklund
Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
Jennifer, unfortunately, that's pretty much the extent of the music I give her. When she liked movie themes, I found many that she played beautifully. Then it was songs from Twilight, Harry Potter (Statues), and now it's Cold Play. Where does the classical music fit in? The little bit of Bach I've tried to introduce, the sonatinas, and most recently, an ensemble piece are barely practiced if at all. She has a lot of potential, but I see her as an over-indulged only child who only puts effort forth in what she wants to do. I've asked her to demonstrate improvised pop songs as well, but at some point, I need to exert some control in the lessons.


She doesn't want to play classical music, and that's ok! And this will always be a "control issue/fight" because of that. I think as teachers we need to put our own preferences aside and realize that sometimes we are not a match for certain students. If I were you I would direct her towards somebody who wants to be teaching her what she wants to be playing. It isn't always about *our* agenda. In the same way, if a student comes to me and only wants a strict classical trajectory I send them elsewhere. I want to develop students who find their love for music in whatever genre/style they lean towards.


+1!!

I find these threads highly discouraging. chasingrainbows, you've got a student who, in your words, "plays beautifully" when it is music that she connects to and wants to play. So obviously she is willing and able to practice and has a genuine love for piano... just not for the kind of music YOU want her to learn. Yet the more you push her and attempt to "exert control in the lessons," the more you risk turning her away from music and piano entirely.

I agree with the others here who suggest that you and she are not a good fit. I hope, for this young woman's sake, that you can refer her to a teacher who is willing to work with her on her desired curriculum.


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#2047071 - 03/12/13 03:25 PM Re: Student personality change [Re: chasingrainbows]  
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Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
Jennifer, unfortunately, that's pretty much the extent of the music I give her. When she liked movie themes, I found many that she played beautifully. Then it was songs from Twilight, Harry Potter (Statues), and now it's Cold Play. Where does the classical music fit in? The little bit of Bach I've tried to introduce, the sonatinas, and most recently, an ensemble piece are barely practiced if at all. She has a lot of potential, but I see her as an over-indulged only child who only puts effort forth in what she wants to do. I've asked her to demonstrate improvised pop songs as well, but at some point, I need to exert some control in the lessons.


The student may have outgrown you. Not that you don't have things to offer, just now she has needs you cannot offer (or don't want to offer).

Student, teacher and parents should have a mutual understanding of the goal of learning, and revisit the goal regularly, and it seems this is the time.

For essential school works, yes, she has to do it no matter what. But when it comes to music, what's wrong with only playing what she likes?

#2047590 - 03/13/13 10:10 AM Re: Student personality change [Re: chasingrainbows]  
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I only played classical music, and that is the only music I was ever taught and I loved it. Now, teaching at a music store, there are only a few students out of 30 who want to learn classical music. Of course, I've had to get with the program, and I now teach almost every genre of music that my students want to learn (except "screamo" and a few others). Classical music is the foundation for most music. IMO, eliminating the teaching of classical music is like presenting the body of a Lamborghini without the engine.


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#2047593 - 03/13/13 10:14 AM Re: Student personality change [Re: chasingrainbows]  
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Of all the piano teachers at our store, I'm not sure there are any who would just teach their students what the student wants to learn. I am going to speak to her tonight, and ask around to see if there is another teacher better suited for her needs. I appreciate the feedback and understand that I could be doing the very thing I NEVER wanted to do to any of my students and this is "turning them off" piano study.


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#2047651 - 03/13/13 11:45 AM Re: Student personality change [Re: chasingrainbows]  
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Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
Classical music is the foundation for most music. IMO, eliminating the teaching of classical music is like presenting the body of a Lamborghini without the engine.

No argument here.

However, most students are not conservatory bound and will never become a Lamborghini.

If they are still playing, even just occasionally, 10 years from now, you have made a great impact on their lives, and you will always be remembered and appreciated.

#2047660 - 03/13/13 12:01 PM Re: Student personality change [Re: chasingrainbows]  
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Lots of people can play piano just fine without Mozart, Bach, or Beethoven.

There are lots of materials available to teach students without resorting to classical music. Don't limit yourself.


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#2047695 - 03/13/13 01:18 PM Re: Student personality change [Re: chasingrainbows]  
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AZN, with all due respect, I do include tons of pop music, whether it's broadway, Glee, movie music (Potter, Twilight), Justin Bieber, Katy Perry. Read my posts, please. I should be able to slip in a piece here and there that isn't "pop" music. It is so irritating to know that they choose not to practice those pieces - something I never would've dreamed of doing as a music student.


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#2047711 - 03/13/13 01:53 PM Re: Student personality change [Re: chasingrainbows]  
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Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
AZN, with all due respect, I do include tons of pop music, whether it's broadway, Glee, movie music (Potter, Twilight), Justin Bieber, Katy Perry. Read my posts, please. I should be able to slip in a piece here and there that isn't "pop" music. It is so irritating to know that they choose not to practice those pieces - something I never would've dreamed of doing as a music student.


Never even dreamed of it, ever? You must have been an extraordinarily cooperative student! grin


Regards,

Polyphonist
#2047712 - 03/13/13 01:55 PM Re: Student personality change [Re: chasingrainbows]  
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Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
AZN, with all due respect, I do include tons of pop music, whether it's broadway, Glee, movie music (Potter, Twilight), Justin Bieber, Katy Perry. Read my posts, please. I should be able to slip in a piece here and there that isn't "pop" music. It is so irritating to know that they choose not to practice those pieces - something I never would've dreamed of doing as a music student.

I did read your posts!

What bothers me (and several posters) is your insistence on teaching stuff that your students don't want to learn.

I teach Classical music primarily, and I love Bach. But I know some students HATE Bach with every fiber of their existence. So I go with other Baroque composers per CM requirement. These Bach-haters will survive, even play piano well, without ever touching Bach.


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#2047933 - 03/13/13 10:13 PM Re: Student personality change [Re: AZNpiano]  
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Quote
I am sure it's partially due to the fact that she's approaching those terrible teen years, but it's becoming one of those lessons I dread, and I hate feeling like that.


I'm not a piano teacher, but I have worked for a living:

. . . Are you being paid enough to make _your_ stress worthwhile?

This sounds like a case of "bad fit". Maybe she won't fit with _any_ teacher, right now. You clearly care about her, but that doesn't mean that anything you do can really help.

She will -- if she wants to -- find another teacher, and you'll find another student. Hopefully, somebody who values your teaching, and works for your praise.

. Charles


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#2048141 - 03/14/13 10:04 AM Re: Student personality change [Re: chasingrainbows]  
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NJ
AZN, I tried a Bach chorale once, with no success. Since then, I've given her (over several years) 3 classical pieces. The remainder have all been pieces of her choosing.



Piano teacher, BA Music, MTNA member
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