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Originally Posted by Morodiene
The reasons they often don't like piano is because they can't do it. And they can't do it because they don't. It's that simple.

So true.


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Originally Posted by wouter79
Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by liz11
So why does mom want him to play piano?

I've been contemplating this same questions for five years! I think she just wants to give her son the chance to play an instrument, which she never got to do as a child. So many parents try to live vicariously through their children. And I think the son is reciprocating her kindness by putting up with lessons, even though he just isn't that interested in music, period.

This family is so full of love, sometimes I just roll with it.


LOL then offer the parents some lessons!

Yes! Why not just teach the parent?


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Originally Posted by bennevis
That was what my first teacher did with me as a 10-year-old, ....She used to play me a tuneful classical piece at the end of every lesson, far beyond my abilities of course, but just to stimulate my appetite for what I could be playing eventually


This is a cool idea! thumb

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The boy is 12. He looks 15, but I think emotionally he's closer to 8. Like I said before, lessons with him are not unpleasant. He genuinely tries his best during lessons, and he can actually read notes and have some command of rhythm.

I'm starting to think there's this "class" of piano students who just won't practice, period. I've taught another student several years back who called his lessons "practice" as in "I'm coming to practice today," as if he were coming to his tennis practice. He almost never touched the piano at home except three weeks before the CM test, and somehow he was able to pass all 10 levels, scraping by with the minimum requirements. Both of these students are extremely intelligent.

Maybe it's time that I adjust my attitude and expectations and make room in my teaching schedule for such non-practicing students.


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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
The boy is 12. He looks 15, but I think emotionally he's closer to 8. Like I said before, lessons with him are not unpleasant. He genuinely tries his best during lessons, and he can actually read notes and have some command of rhythm.



He has a weekly hour of one on one interaction with an adult he respects and who cares about him.

Very likely that does not exist in his life elsewhere.

(a therapist would cost 2 or 3 times what you charge!) (of course insurance would cover part of it) (hey, there's an idea: do you take Blue Cross?)

I think if all your students were like that, you would burn out, but if just a few you can enjoy them.



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Are you sure he has a piano at home? wink

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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
The boy is 12. He looks 15, but I think emotionally he's closer to 8. Like I said before, lessons with him are not unpleasant. He genuinely tries his best during lessons, and he can actually read notes and have some command of rhythm.

I'm starting to think there's this "class" of piano students who just won't practice, period. I've taught another student several years back who called his lessons "practice" as in "I'm coming to practice today," as if he were coming to his tennis practice. He almost never touched the piano at home except three weeks before the CM test, and somehow he was able to pass all 10 levels, scraping by with the minimum requirements. Both of these students are extremely intelligent.

Maybe it's time that I adjust my attitude and expectations and make room in my teaching schedule for such non-practicing students.


AZN, I work in a music store, in addition to teaching privately. Your comment really put my slower students who never practice into perspective for me. That is an excellent analogy. My students/parents refer to these private lessons as a class, which really bugs me. Even in a class room, homework is assigned and completed. I've had students like your guy who are usually 11-12 year old boys. They seem very engaged during the lesson, but outside of the lesson, they barely touch the piano at home. I'm dismayed at the amount of students who really enjoy our lessons, seem to really enjoy their pieces, yet only spend 1 or 2 days at the piano. It's the first thing I ask them in our interview, I stress to the parents that if they do not practice, they will not progress, I provide steps on how to practice. I've changed my wording from "practice" to "playing the piano" so it doesn't seem like work. The bottom line is, in my student load, the students who are seriously committed are in the minority. It can be very disheartening, but whenever I feel that way, usually one of my shining stars comes in for his/her lesson and all is well again. smile


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Does this student play at your recitals?

I think you need to decide whether you need the money. Otherwise, I'm in the camp that thinks he needs to do something that motivates him.

My piano teacher used to ask those students what they would love to be learning. Find out whether he would like horse riding lessons, tennis lessons, or rock climbing. You can work this into the conversation by mentioning the hobby of the student who just left before him.

I don't think people should go through life in a lacklustre fashion.

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Originally Posted by Candywoman
Does this student play at your recitals?

I think you need to decide whether you need the money. Otherwise, I'm in the camp that thinks he needs to do something that motivates him.

Yes, he plays at my studio recitals. His parents are well aware of the fact he's being outplayed by kids half his age.

He does have one passion in life (sports) which he actively pursues. I think piano is just one of the seven different extracurricular activities he is doing.

Actually, because for so many years I've been teaching him and his older sibling (who has since graduated from high school), it would be somewhat awkward for me to drop him now. Maybe it's for the same fear of awkwardness that his parents are continuing to pay for piano lessons that go nowhere.


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Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
Originally Posted by AZNpiano
The boy is 12. He looks 15, but I think emotionally he's closer to 8. Like I said before, lessons with him are not unpleasant. He genuinely tries his best during lessons, and he can actually read notes and have some command of rhythm.

I'm starting to think there's this "class" of piano students who just won't practice, period. I've taught another student several years back who called his lessons "practice" as in "I'm coming to practice today," as if he were coming to his tennis practice. He almost never touched the piano at home except three weeks before the CM test, and somehow he was able to pass all 10 levels, scraping by with the minimum requirements. Both of these students are extremely intelligent.

Maybe it's time that I adjust my attitude and expectations and make room in my teaching schedule for such non-practicing students.


AZN, I work in a music store, in addition to teaching privately. Your comment really put my slower students who never practice into perspective for me. That is an excellent analogy. My students/parents refer to these private lessons as a class, which really bugs me. Even in a class room, homework is assigned and completed. I've had students like your guy who are usually 11-12 year old boys. They seem very engaged during the lesson, but outside of the lesson, they barely touch the piano at home. I'm dismayed at the amount of students who really enjoy our lessons, seem to really enjoy their pieces, yet only spend 1 or 2 days at the piano. It's the first thing I ask them in our interview, I stress to the parents that if they do not practice, they will not progress, I provide steps on how to practice. I've changed my wording from "practice" to "playing the piano" so it doesn't seem like work. The bottom line is, in my student load, the students who are seriously committed are in the minority. It can be very disheartening, but whenever I feel that way, usually one of my shining stars comes in for his/her lesson and all is well again. smile


Doesn't this student go beyond the cases of just not practicing?? He does not like music, as far as we can tell, at all. I saw my sister suffer through lessons, and suffer through practice, at something she hated. Did she show up for lessons with a smile? Of course, as rebellion was not tolerated. Did she get better? Of course, because she practiced. Did she make 'music'? No, she played only. Did she hate it? Forever. Did she regret quitting? Never.

Everyone on this earth will not like music and the piano. Clearly, this is to fulfill some parental need.

Think of something that you dislike. What if you were forced to take lessons and practice for four years, and how you would feel. If you can't find some music that interests him through the music appreciation test, let him go out of fairness to him. I am passionate that he, as a person, should be the only consideration.


"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow" - F. Chopin
"I never dreamt with my own two hands I could touch the sky" - Sappho

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I see a wonderful sensitivity in many of the posts here. A genuine respect for the child and his parents by AZN ... the OP and teacher ... and suggestions from others that the lessons be geared more for "appreciation" than actually learning to play well.

I waded my way through almost exactly the same scenario with a darling little immigrant boy whose parents wanted "the best" for their two charming boys. The mother worked in a low wage sales job to give her children the best she good. A beautiful loving family. But the little boy refused to practice or follow my most basic instruction in note reading which is to "say the notes". He would begin and then trail off ... always with what seemed a sincere apology. There is a genuine tale of this boy and a school concert on my blog ... under "America the Beautiful". That story captures it all. He was so charming and came to lessons on time and always promised to do better.

Finally I settled for merely making those lessons as pleasant as I could. I played some of the fun classics for him ... he loved "Bumblebee" and for some reason the Pathetique ... and I tried to get him to learn at least some of the notes fluently. But I came to the conclusion that if I weren't his teacher, the mother would find another. Who might possibly make the boy's life miserable ... and drive him from music forever. At least I would assure he heard some lovely music and that he received some praise ( normally for his "good manners" since his music was hardly worthy of much acclaim) . Eventually he stopped when he reached High School years. But I'm sure we both have good memories of each other and the music we did manage to share.

I have a mystical/philosophical/sacred relationship with music which I tie into physics and energy fields and all sorts of off-beat concepts ... so I would never force anything upon a student. But I am ruthless about acccepting children who are too young, who are rude or aggressive and those with pushy parents. I do a pretty good job of weeding out parents and students at the first interview. I don't do makeup lessons, or recitals or exams. I make it clear that my goal is to love music ... good music ... for life. Sometimes that means stepping back a bit and finding a new pathway to reach a particular student. Sometime convention must be sacrficed.
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Addenda: I was terrified of water as a child. I seemed to "remember" drowning in some othe lifetime and water terrified me. But my mother insisted on swimming lessons. I hated them. I hate chlorine water, I hated the horrible regulation swim suits and I hated having to go on Saturday mornings and miss the Young People's Concerts. My mother made a deal. When I could swim across the pool I could stop. Well I interpreted "across" differently from "the length" which included the deep end. And after three miserable years informed my mother I could swim across the pool. I swam across it at the shallow end, which provoked protests from my mother who insisted that she meant obviously a "lap" or a length. But my father, a stickler for proper semantics insisted that I'd followed instructions and could stop the hated lessons and go to the Concerts.

WELL ... many years later, after I married and left home ... I came back to Canada for a summer visit and my sister and her husband took us both out for a canoe ride on the Rideau River. We did fine for a while and then I felt the keel turning and suddenly my husband and I were in the water ... floundering around. I dog-paddled to shore as my sister and her husband in the other canoe tried frantically to assist my husband. We made to the bank where I went into shock .... but was otherwise fine.

Without those lessons I would certainly have drowned. Twenty years later at when I came to Hawaii I encountered the wonderful warm salty ocean .... and learned to surf. To this day the memory of that first wave when I slid down the face with the water curling over my head remains one of my life's peak momemts.

So one might say that swimming is an essential ... in case of life threatening accidents and music is not ... still if one has had lessons ... and they have not been too unpleasant ... there is a hope that someday in the future a song or concert will rekindle some memories and maybe ... a new interest will be born.

I'm willing to take that chance laugh

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Originally Posted by dogperson
...Think of something that you dislike. What if you were forced to take lessons and practice for four years, and how you would feel...


That would be like most of high school.


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If he is 12 years old and you have known him for five years, it does sound like you know him well enough for an honest conversation. Can you maybe just ask him gently if he likes coming to the lessons and would like to keep going? Tell him that it is okay to say no, and then talk to his parents about it? Maybe he just hasn't even admitted to himself that he doesn't want to keep playing?

Or offer him and his parents a couple of weeks break to see if he wants to come back after?

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Originally Posted by TheHappyPianoMuse
I was terrified of water as a child. I seemed to "remember" drowning in some othe lifetime and water terrified me.


Similar here, I loathed chlorine water in my eyes nose and ears. I just did not go to school when there were swimming lessons but wandered around till after the lessons.

Some time ago I figured what the problem was and plugged all these holes. Actually I love swimming or laying under water now (fully plugged), if it were only warmer smile


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Originally Posted by wouter79
Similar here, I loathed chlorine water in my eyes nose and ears. I just did not go to school when there were swimming lessons but wandered around till after the lessons.


My undergrad college required everyone to pass a swim test. The theory was that 85% of people drown within 15 feet of safety, and all those deaths were preventable.

I was stuck in swim lessons for a full semester until I made it through that.

Curiously, the initial swim test was nude. The reason was never explained. I now suspect it was based on the famous posture assessments
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ivy_League_nude_posture_photos
though my university is not on the wiki list.


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TimR #2476600 11/02/15 04:34 PM
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Originally Posted by TimR
Originally Posted by wouter79
Similar here, I loathed chlorine water in my eyes nose and ears. I just did not go to school when there were swimming lessons but wandered around till after the lessons.


My undergrad college required everyone to pass a swim test. The theory was that 85% of people drown within 15 feet of safety, and all those deaths were preventable.

I was stuck in swim lessons for a full semester until I made it through that.

Curiously, the initial swim test was nude. The reason was never explained.


I was curious enough to look it up.

Swim tests were done nude because historically swimming in pools was done nude. Prior to technological advances, it was hard to keep pools disinfected. Swimming nude was the recommendation for avoiding contamination until 1962.


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My baby sister (whom everyone in the family still calls "Baby" grin) was musically gifted, but gave up the piano after Grade 5 ABRSM, in her early teens. She lost interest in the piano early on. She also hated the water, but had to have swimming lessons because her school made it mandatory for all students.

Now, she is a part-time scuba diving instructor, having obtained her PADI certificate a few years ago. But her 'real' job is in music publishing, for which her ability to read music and her excellent ear paid no small part in her success at it. But she never played the piano again - the piano in our family home (where she still lives) has not been tuned since I left home, and last time I visited, several keys didn't even sound.

Whereas I've always loved water (any open water is an invitation for me to undress and jump in, unless it's covered in ice), and I'm still a better swimmer than she is. But though I enjoy scuba diving - among beautiful coral reefs, that is - I have no interest in getting a diving certification. And though I've always loved music and the piano (ever since I started lessons, that is), I have no interest in making a living from it. And my job is totally unrelated to music.

Life is strange....... grin


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> The theory was that 85% of people drown within 15 feet of safety, and all those deaths were preventable

Yes that may be right.

But I never saw the reason to learn swimming on your back, under water, etc, which were all also required to pass the swim test.

The swim test should be just to get that 15 feet covered.


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Originally Posted by wouter79

But I never saw the reason to learn swimming on your back, under water, etc, which were all also required to pass the swim test.

The swim test should be just to get that 15 feet covered.

Swimming under water (and holding the breath for a few seconds) is required when you have to swim under an obstruction (like a crocodile or shark, or even a log wink ) to get to safety.

And swimming (or just floating) on your back is a good way to get a breather without drowning in the process.


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I usually tell students who do no work to save their money by spending it on something else. I don't do this in a mean way.

There are always exceptions. Sometimes very poor students (in music) are great people, and I enjoy working with them, as people. For those people I'm always here...

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