Discontinuing lessons with non-progressing student
Found in: Practicing & Playlists
Joanne D., Australia
I have to have “that” conversation to discontinue lessons. I currently teach a lovely little boy (8 years old) who is just not progressing. It has a lot to do with lack of coaching at home but also low muscle tone I think. He has had close to 100 lessons and we are only a few songs into Level 2. Last week (no practice) I was told finally all the visitors had left and they could resume a normal routine, then a week later he comes in without his mother, saying he forgot to practice. I asked why his mother didn’t remind him to practice, and he said she did and then he forgot. I love this little guy and his family and feel sad that I have to recommend the end of our journey together for now.
Gordon Harvey, Australia
Sometimes it takes extreme measures to learn the hard lessons. By letting him go on good terms (with an invite to return any time he’s ready to commit), you will be keeping the door open for some kind of musical future, even with a different instrument. Good on you for your courage and for taking a stand.
Without knowing the specifics of this student, but speaking from other experience, I’d say there’s be a good chance that his wrists may magically lift if he really cared about playing well.On the other hand, if he does have a genuine physiological issue, that could be the psychological driver of his attitude problem.
Sue L., California
My first step in addressing this is to say that the more you play between lessons, the more songs you will learn sooner. The less you play between lessons, the longer you will play the same song over and over. They often glaze as if they are being lectured. I say that I’m not lecturing, it’s just how it works, like gravity. I also tell them that the more often you play, even when struggling with a song, that one day it seems to click and “the magic happens”.
Melanie W., Minnesota
I recently had to let a child go who is almost 9 and I have had her in classes since she was about 9 months old. She has been doing SM since she was 5. She cried the most when we had our last lesson and her mother cried too. She just did not practice enough to keep her music alive, and because of her emotions, practicing even two of her songs with her mother not far away giving encouragement, would take an hour. Too much stress both at home and during lessons. I tried moving her to a class with girls that were just a foundation behind her, but that only lasted about four months, since she became concerned that they would catch up and surpass her. Sad, but a good decision to let her go.
Jacqui G., Canada
I recently lost my very first piano student, one of my Kindermusik kiddies who enthusiastically charged into piano at age 8. She handled Foundation 1 like a trooper, loved accompaniment, and was starting to enjoy improv. Halfway through Foundation 2, however, family problems forced a 6-week break, and she just never got back on track. I put her in a class with an older girl just starting F2, which seemed to suit them both. One day her mom texted me 15 minutes before the lesson to say “We’re done. I can’t do this any more”. It turns out her daughter had been resisting practicing for some time, and things had come to a head that day when she flatly refused to go to her piano lesson. The mom (who was coping with a separation and ill health) was in no shape to be a life coach for her drama queen daughter. I was devastated to see them go, but had to agree with the mom when she said “I don’t want her to hate piano”.
Joanne D., Australia
That’s what I said to this mother; “I don’t want him to hate piano”, and feel if we keep going along like this he will. The mother said she needed to accept responsibility for the lack of practice etc, and even though I knew that was true, I told her not to beat herself up about it as life can get crazy and we do the best we can.