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#935319 - 02/15/05 01:44 PM How to get a student to "quit"?
Ebony and Ivory Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/05
Posts: 1179
Loc: Minnesota
I am at the end of my rope with this kid. He has been coming for 4 1/2 years. I have tried several different books, he has chosen songs, I've read your posts for ideas, but he still is in book 2 (Bastien) and doesn't seem to be at all interested in piano. He rarely practices and he is a pain to work with (10 years old, VERY sassy). He knows the stuff, when I quiz him verbally, he does very well. He can't seem to keep his finger numbers straight no matter how much we go over it. Mom is NO help at all. How can I get him to "quit"? I really don't want to try with him any longer. I also teach his older brother, whom I'd rather not lose. What do you all do in a situation like this? I've been teaching for 10 years and never had this kind of thing before! Thanks for any ideas!!
It is better to be kind than to be right.

Professional private piano teacher since 1994.

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#935320 - 02/15/05 03:57 PM Re: How to get a student to "quit"?
princessclara2005 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/02/05
Posts: 429
Loc: Dallas, Texas
Suggest that he can try other instrument, if you have a referal to other teach you know that's not piano.

Or you can encourage him to do a bit of composition, focus on theory part, maybe he has a talent to put down this thought musically.

Have you tried Faber and Faber? or Alfred method?
for the last hope on playing for him?

#935321 - 02/15/05 04:12 PM Re: How to get a student to "quit"?
Cindysphinx Offline

Registered: 02/14/03
Posts: 6416
Loc: Washington D.C. Metro
I can give the parent's perspective on this, if that helps.

If it were my child, I'd want the teacher to call me (or if possible, sit down with me) and just say pretty much what you've said here (without the reference to the behavior issues, as that won't sit well).

I'd keep repeating how you feel dreadful that "this isn't working out." Talk about what a shame it would be to channel the child's energies into an instrument that is wrong for the child. Mention how frustrating it is for him not to be making progress. Emphasize that little Billy seems to be giving it his all, so it probably won't help to keep going. Ask their input on the "best way to make the transition" to something else.

Remember, it's just business. If they have any sense, they won't withdraw both kids because one isn't working out.

And look on the bright side -- the parent is very likely feeling the same way about the situation and might be wondering how to tell you it isn't working out.

Again, that's just my layman's take on it.

Anyway, good luck!
Vote For Cindy!!


#935322 - 02/15/05 04:20 PM Re: How to get a student to "quit"?
dgoddard2 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/08/04
Posts: 484
Loc: los angeles
I agree with Cindy (Did I just say that?) Our teacher had pretty much this conversation with us about my 12 year old. We switched him over to learning composition on the computer/keyboard, which he likes now because it involves the computer.

And my other two kids are still with the same teacher.

"The secret to staying calm in a crisis is not having all the facts."

#935323 - 02/15/05 05:53 PM Re: How to get a student to "quit"?
Mathilde Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/05/03
Posts: 309
Loc: Decatur, Illinois, USA
Disclaimer: IANA piano teacher, just a mom of three older teens.

I hear this:
doesn't seem to be at all interested in piano.
And this:
He has been coming for 4 1/2 years.
And this:
he still is in book 2 (Bastien)
And this:
He rarely practices
And this:
He can't seem to keep his finger numbers straight no matter how much we go over it.
And it all adds up to: a kid who obviously is simply not interested in learning to play the piano.

You are not obligated to keep at it. It's been over four years; he's not progressing. Let him go.

Sit down with him and his mother, and say this:

"You know, I've noticed that Kevin doesn't seem very interested in the piano any more. He's been doing this for over four years now, and he's still stuck on Book 2. He doesn't practice, he doesn't remember his finger numbers, and he just basically doesn't seem interested. So I'm wondering if maybe it's time to re-evaluate his progress, and maybe suggest that he drop the piano."

Say this with a smile--but firmly. Don't let Mom get the idea that what you're really fishing for, what you *really* want, is for her to nag Kevin into apologizing and promising to do better.

And if she does go there, then you firmly say, "No, I really think Kevin has made as much progress with me as it's possible for him to make. If he wants to continue piano, I would be happy to suggest another teacher for him."

And if she gets ticked off that you gave her precious Kevin the boot, and goes off in a huff and removes Darling Brother from your tutelage, too--well, them's the breaks.

See, here's the thing: You're not OBLIGATED to teach Kevin to play the piano if he doesn't want you to. And he sure doesn't seem to want to. You have my permission to tactfully toss him out.

#935324 - 02/15/05 06:02 PM Re: How to get a student to "quit"?
Mathilde Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/05/03
Posts: 309
Loc: Decatur, Illinois, USA
Adding: From Six to Ten is a big change, developmentally speaking. Things that fascinated a Six (dinosaurs, sharks, the piano) suddenly seem dreadfully stale and babyish to a Ten, who is learning about things like hot rods, the fact that grownups drink beer, and whether professional wrestling is real or fake.

So, he's not Six anymore, and perhaps pianos are now only for girls, and nancy-boys who don't know who The Rock is. Let him go.

#935325 - 02/17/05 10:53 PM Re: How to get a student to "quit"?
Candywoman Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/14/03
Posts: 1036
Actually I think you should continue teaching this boy at least until June. The reason is you will learn something. (He quite possibly will not. ;\)

What you need to do is control his sassiness. My piano teacher was once approached by a parent whose principle goal for her child was that she learn manners. Kids remember teachers for all sorts of reasons. Perhaps he needs you because you're the only person that laughs at his jokes, who knows?

I would drop Bastien and start teaching the lad some real music. To me, Bastien is like eating potato chips for dinner instead of smooth yummy potatoes!

As for teaching him his fingers, there are techniques that can help. For instance, have you tried playing only one note at a time beginning with the last note of a phrase, then playing the last two notes, etc. ? You must insist on the correct fingering but in a joyful way. Your goal may be one phrase of each piece per lesson.

I would send a student on if it's clear that only the parent wants this for them. If they show the slightest inclination to playing during the lesson, I keep them. They need to know that being a quitter will only exacerbate their problems.

Good Luck

#935326 - 03/06/05 12:13 PM Re: How to get a student to "quit"?
ljohnson Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/04/05
Posts: 17
Loc: USA
Hey, everybody!

As for Cindy's comment that a report as to the boy's sassiness would not go well, this completely backwards. The boy's sassiness would be grounds for dismissal in my studio if I choose. The best thing you can do for some people is to let them know, unequivocally, that certain behaviors are unacceptable in society. Discipline is is not negotiable. I can't even believe I am writing this! I am a mother and a veteran teacher.

I have learned over 28 years of teaching in a number of professional environments that I am not for hire as charm school host, behavior therapist, physical therapist, or nanny. For one thing, qualified professionals should be consulted for behavior disorders, ask any psycologist. My first goal is, as always, to give high-quality piano lessons.

Personally, I think you should tactfully suggest that piano lessons are not this boys calling and suggest that he study something else (music or not). It is a mistake to cover for rudeness.

#935327 - 03/08/05 06:54 AM Re: How to get a student to "quit"?
Cindysphinx Offline

Registered: 02/14/03
Posts: 6416
Loc: Washington D.C. Metro
As for Cindy's comment that a report as to the boy's sassiness would not go well, this completely backwards.
Well, it depends on what your goal is, doesn't it?

If you just want to get this student out of your studio (which was the original question), then there's no need to address the behavior issue. Unless you're looking for an argument.

If you have taken an interest in this young man such that you wish to assist in his development, then yes, you might address his sassiness problem.

I still wouldn't address it with the parents, though. When I am dealing someone else's child of that age and they do something rude or inappropriate, I calmly tell them not to do whatever it is. A simple "Jim, I'd appreciate it if you didn't speak to me in that tone" will do it. This has much more impact that ratting him out to Mom and Dad, who might or might not get around to addressing it. It also allows the kid to experience the consequences of his own behavior -- he gets Spoken To and feels embarrassed.

Just MHO.

Ebony And Ivory, how did you ultimately handle it?
Vote For Cindy!!


#935328 - 03/19/05 04:10 PM Re: How to get a student to "quit"?
concertpianist12988 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/24/04
Posts: 343
Loc: NY
im not a teacher, but i've been playing for three years. Im 16 years old and (was) in love with the piano (until i was offered by my teacher to do a wedding which i know i cant do). In my first year of piano, I was excited and up for anything. I loved it. In my second year of piano, i hated it, and really REALLY wanted to quit. Then, I started listening to classical music. I fell in love with Beethoven's, Chopins, Debussy's, and many other composers music. that's what really drew me into piano. I was practicing up to seven hours a day just beacuse I started to play pieces i actually like. I even found myself cutting class to go to the auditorium to play the piano. I don't know if that will help you, but hey, I tried.
Yundi Li (http://www.deutschegrammophon.com/play.htms?LINK=rtsp://ra.universal-music-group.com/dgg/yundiLi-liszt-W-COVER.rm)

#935329 - 03/31/05 07:37 AM Re: How to get a student to "quit"?
Teng, M Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/30/05
Posts: 13
Loc: Singapore
Just feed back to the parents honestly.
Nothing beats a teacher's truthful opinion, since it's always for the better.
Just tell the mum that since his son is not absorbing under your tutelage, than it's only wise to change a learning environment for him. Recommend him another reliable teacher.
I think the mum should be happy with the recommendation, that u're scouting another teacher for him, rather than just chuck him aside.
But do express your interest in continuing with the other child, that since he's progressing well, then that means he's adapting well to u.

#935330 - 03/31/05 07:59 AM Re: How to get a student to "quit"?
kluurs Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/24/02
Posts: 3747
Loc: Chicago
Find a student who would love to study piano - but whose parents can't afford lessons.

Teach this penniless child and let little Kevin watch.

I bet Kevin will get freaked out to see another kid excited about lessons - and will want to study. But only let him near the piano during the end of the lesson - for 10 minutes or so.

A thought the devil whispered to me...



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