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He was in a level 1 method book when he came to me with no supplemental music. In a year, I've moved him to level 3, with a constant stream of great music (mostly of his choosing from pieces I bring in, or independent requests of his). The reason for this latest return is the song is "sad." They picked several "sad" songs in the past for him to learn.


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The real problem is that you're a piano teacher, and what these folks need is a marriage counselor.

At some point, it may be better for all concerned if you tell them that, and that you can't give your student what he deserves from a teacher under these circumstances.



-- J.S.

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Originally Posted by JohnSprung

The real problem is that you're a piano teacher, and what these folks need is a marriage counselor.

At some point, it may be better for all concerned if you tell them that, and that you can't give your student what he deserves from a teacher under these circumstances.



smile


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Originally Posted by JohnSprung
The real problem is that you're a piano teacher, and what these folks need is a marriage counselor.

Right on! thumb


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Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
He was in a level 1 method book when he came to me with no supplemental music. In a year, I've moved him to level 3, with a constant stream of great music (mostly of his choosing from pieces I bring in, or independent requests of his). The reason for this latest return is the song is "sad." They picked several "sad" songs in the past for him to learn.


Thing is, he's telling you he likes the pieces you've given him. So what is the problem with them? What experience do these parents have that they have a right to tell you that's not a good piece for him?

I would call them out on this. Not just accept their statement that he should play something "not sad". I was say, "Oh? Why is that?" Then they may respond with something along the lines of "he always plays sad songs, we think he should do something happy."

Then you can respond with something like, "I understand you want him to play a variety of expressions. However, I feel this piece is what he is most capable of at this point because it highlights his ability to bring out a beautiful melody, while we can work on his LH arpeggio accompaniment and legato pedaling. These are skills he needs to be building on right now. The piece you've selected requires him to play fast octaves and polyrhythms that he has not yet learned, and there is no way he will master these skills in the time we have to prepare for the recital. I will make note of your choice for the future when he has those skills necessary to play this piece, and we will start working toward those particular skills after the recital."

Sometimes you just have to bombard them with things you know they won't understand - albeit legit reasons - so that they know YOU are the expert and they are not.


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Morodiene, thanks for the reply. They have no musical background or experience. The parents are increasingly pushy lately, and I suspect it is because their friend's son has a teacher who must be handling things differently. I've already told the mom I can refer her to a teacher who is more competition oriented, (and now, to add to the list: a teacher who allows you to select the music) and she refused, saying that she only wants him to play in a different setting. I have enough experience and knowledge of our area to know that the venue I use is the best in the area. I have noticed the student becoming more arrogant and have spoken to him about it at his last lesson. It is becoming a stressful experience lately.


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I'm confused. Has the dad (or the mom) ever sat down with you to talk about educational strategy? Why are they dinging this particular piece or that particular piece? What's the overall goal here for them? Are there any reasons why they are inserting themselves into the selection process? It sounds to me like there would be a lot of mileage in having a formal conference with everyone all there together. The current process sounds way to piecemeal (pun intended) or even passive aggressive.

On the other hand, if you have already decided that you cannot work with them, then just let the student go.

I used to have some discussions with my son's first teacher about what she was assigning. I wanted to understand HER goals and HER expectations. I don't find that particularly problematic. I don't recall ever rejecting any of her choices, but I wanted to know what she was thinking. I don't really know why a parent would reject the teacher's suggestions unless mom/dad had very different goals or expectations than the teacher. And if that's the case, the parents should express their views and everyone should then decide if the relationship will work. At least that would be the open and straightforward way of handling things.

As the kid got older, I used to make some suggestions myself. Sometimes the teacher liked them and integrated them, and sometimes not. If you have open lines of communication, that works fine. Over the summer, when she was away, I used to teach him 2-3 pieces myself, and they had to be things he thought were cool. Sometimes the teacher helped him finish/refine those pieces in the fall. I used the summer to add at least one new challenge, and really good things happened. A parent talking about music isn't just poison. But parents rejecting your advice certainly can be.

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Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
Morodiene, thanks for the reply. They have no musical background or experience. The parents are increasingly pushy lately, and I suspect it is because their friend's son has a teacher who must be handling things differently. I've already told the mom I can refer her to a teacher who is more competition oriented, (and now, to add to the list: a teacher who allows you to select the music) and she refused, saying that she only wants him to play in a different setting. I have enough experience and knowledge of our area to know that the venue I use is the best in the area. I have noticed the student becoming more arrogant and have spoken to him about it at his last lesson. It is becoming a stressful experience lately.


The parents' lack of respect for you is being picked up by the kid. Time to cut ties. It is clear that you are not the right teacher for them. Give them a list of other teachers that they can contact and 2 week's notice, or until the end of November if they pay monthly.


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I know it's a lot easier for some of us to say ditch this family when it's not us personally involved. I know it's possible you may have other conflicting reasons of not wanting to lose a student. I get it. So if you want to give it one last shot of drawing a line with them, and being more authoratative, then by all means go ahead and try that.

Otherwise, I'll say it again-
"Oh, I'm soooo sorry, something has just come up and I have to rearrange my teaching schedule going forward. And I'm sorry, I tried my best, but I couldn't fit you into my new schedule. Good Luck!!!"

Buh-BYE now!

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blueston, I have no reason to keep this family. The student has ability, but I am used to investing much of my time and interest in students with and without ability, to have them move away, or stop lessons (or perhaps find another teacher?). It is no longer such a personal issue for me to let a student go. Their spots will be filled quickly. The parents are becoming increasingly outspoken inn many areas, yet don't want to find another teacher, however, since they didn't respond to my last message, they may be looking elsewhere.


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Originally Posted by JohnSprung

The real problem is that you're a piano teacher, and what these folks need is a marriage counselor.

At some point, it may be better for all concerned if you tell them that, and that you can't give your student what he deserves from a teacher under these circumstances.



I think was has occurred is that Mom and I spoke about the student making decisions to learn pieces, then returning them. We agreed that he should stand by his decisions. She seemed completely on board. I sense that Dad didn't like this recital piece, so Mom told Dad to message me.


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One thought: As I understand, originally this child had a different teacher, and with that teacher there were no choices. There was the method book, and lockstep following of whatever was in there. Then they came to you, and they had apparent absolute freedom. They don't know what to do with that. You have to provide guidelines and create some limitations. You know what is acceptable and what is not, and how you expect this freedom of choice to be exercised. But do they?

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If you prefer to end your relationship with this family, that's up to you. But it would be unfortunate that a boy gets dumped from your good teaching just because his parents tend to meddle.

I don't think they should have any say in your repertoire choices at all. That should remain between you and this young fellow.

In the bigger picture, it's an interesting problem: more often parents don't have much interest in their kids' piano lessons.

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keystring, how am I giving them absolute freedom if I play a few pieces for the student to choose from, and he makes a selection - he is extremely enthusiastic about the piece he selects. His freedom is limited by the pieces I have selected and brought in for him to choose from. I've never discussed or accepted pieces they found on the internet. It seems that the pieces he wants to learn have tutorials online. I suspect that the piece for the recital was rejected because there was no tutorial. Their reason "it is too sad" is bogus, since the piece the want him to learn is equally "sad" as are other pieces they asked if he could learn.


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From your description of them, these people are musical illiterates and a p-i-t-a. Move on.


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Originally Posted by Piano*Dad
From your description of them, these people are musical illiterates and a p-i-t-a. Move on.



They certainly are becoming P-I-T-A's. eek
To summarize why they are rejecting pieces: religious reasons, too sad, or no reason provided. I sense that the real reason is they want him to learn songs that he can find in tutorials online. The "sad" excuse is bogus as I said above. Other pieces he has learned were in minor keys, which I assume they are labeling as "sad."



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Getting more of the picture, yes, PITA sums it up, and I don't mean a flat round bread with an air pocket in the middle.

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Originally Posted by keystring
Getting more of the picture, yes, PITA sums it up, and I don't mean a flat round bread with an air pocket in the middle.


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