Rebecca N., Utah
This is probably a moot point because this student has all but decided to quit, but I’ll ask anyhow.
Here’s the background: 17 year old student, who was my most advanced of traditional students when I transferred my studio over to Simply Music. He has been hit and miss as far as attendance goes, as have the other two teens in his group so we haven’t been able to go as fast (with arrangements etc.) as I’d hoped. He doesn’t practice consistently (too busy), and forgets the arrangements, and yet he reported after class today that the system isn’t for him because he’s too bored with the songs and not learning anything.
When I asked him if he knew what split chords were before today (Star Spangled Banner) and how to do that kind of accompaniment he haughtily said he’d learned about them in orchestra but didn’t know what they were called. I followed up with asking if he’d learned them on the piano (I’ve been his traditional teacher for several years and never taught him this) and he said they learned them in class too. Alas, he is in a big valley. He then mentioned several other reasons (excuses) for quitting–one of which is that his mom has never been really supportive and the words out of his mouth sounded like hers. I’m ready to let him just go, but am really bothered by his “this is boring” and “I’m too good for this program” attitude and wonder if anyone has any suggestions for me going forward.
He feels that he should not have had to start at the beginning and wants to play faster, harder material, yet hasn’t given 100% to what I’ve asked so far. Again, as I said he’s pretty much made up his mind but it is such a mistake because I know as a classically trained traditional student of 15 years that Simply Music has filled a void for me, and I personally find great joy in playing many of arrangements/songs. I did suggest that if he decides to continue that we could give him more complicated stuff, start the formal accompaniment program (to which he replied that he knows all of the chords–alas being his teacher I really don’t believe this, but he does), I also suggested he bring in lead sheets of music he wants to learn. He just wants to go back to reading music and doesn’t see that he’s learned anything (he’s 1/2 way through F2), to which I asked if he knew about 12 bar blues before this, and he said no. I asked him to think about the root of his feelings, and asked him to give the program 100% so at least he could leave on a peak not down in a valley. If he decides to stay what more can I do? Should I start him on Reading Rhythm and music (which he may find boring too, seeing that he plays the violin and drums)?
Pretty much I just need to vent, because I feel like in attacking Simply Music (although he never gave it 100%) as boring and a system not for him, I’m taking it personally–because I love it, and love having a relationship with the piano rather than the music. Phew! Just needed to get that off my chest. This also comes just hours after learning that another student (one of my youngest) is quitting (taking the summer off) because she is a strong willed child whose mother can’t or won’t work with in practicing, and unfortunately she had great promise–just needed a very determined life coach who claimed territory.
Thanks for listening and letting me express my frustrations.
Ramona V., Texas
Try not to be discouraged. This student reminds me of my grandson. He wanted to learn to play the guitar in high school. He started out very excited but would not practice. This was his pattern in everything – initial excitement, then disinterest, then he quit. The same thing happened when he went to a Tech School but I wouldn’t let him quit. It took him 3 1/2 yrs to finish a two-year program. He has been out for 3 yrs and finally accepted a job last week. He has a huge amount of student debt that accumulates interest and he hasn’t applied a penny toward paying it off. (Sorry for all the detail; perhaps I also need to vent.) My point is – this is a problem with the student, not with you. I doubt there is anything you can do that will make him apply himself to Simply Music. Let him go and find a student who wants to learn.
Karen D., Canada
I’ve had the same thoughts as you have at different times.
One important fact in my opinion is that your student didn’t come to every class and doesn’t practice consistently. I had a student who constantly told me what Neil should have done when designing Simply Music, but she rarely came to class on time and she also went ahead on the videos. I didn’t manage her lateness properly (but I did manage her watching ahead quite well – good to give credit where credit is due!) and our class would go over time because I wanted to be sure she had new material to work on. In retrospect, I should have ended class on time and let her leave without the new material we had learned in the beginning of class. Lesson learned. She is no longer my student and I no longer feel stressed/anxious leading up her former lesson time.