How do we get students to answer truthfully about their relationship to piano?
Sharyn B., Florida
I was wondering about a couple of things and if anyone has any advice or thoughts, or can direct me to anything in the library section of the SM intranet for guidance. Here are my questions:
- How to go about determining and addressing the gap between a parent or life coach’s perception of how motivated a child student is, and how motivated the student actually is.
- Getting child students to be really truthful when it comes to the relationship conversation. I recently reviewed the audio about telling the truth to children, but I was wondering if there is anything that addresses GETTING the truth from children? Too often when I try to get information about how they are feeling about piano, I sense that they are just telling me what they think I want to hear, or more importantly, what they think their parents want them to say.
Stephen R., California
I have to start using more open-ended questions too! I’ve been getting too many one-word answers…good, ok, all right, etc. Rather than “How are you feeling about piano today?”, maybe “tell me about your piano time this week”.
I’ve learned over the years that much of what we teach is not obvious or common-sense for most families. Every aspect of this program and the relationship to the piano/teaching journey has to be talked about. I’m having much more thorough FIS and Foundation Sessions these days. I was not good at that in the beginning. Thereafter, I keep the communication ongoing, particularly at key points like the completion of Levels or the start of a new program. If I feel I have something to say I say it, either in person or via phone, text, or email.
Terah W., Kansas
I do the same as Stephen and rather consistently right after the ‘how is your week going?’ opener. It has worked rather well and assures the younger students that I am interested in them as a person, and where SM intersects with them and their life.
Laurie Richards, Nebraska
Basically, just keeping all the components of the long-term relationship conversation going should address both questions. If the student and parent are coached to expect their motivation level to change over time and understand it is normal, they shouldn’t feel uncomfortable being completely honest. I would recommend revisiting the coaching conversations on LTR. Lots of good info there, and it’s hard to retain it all.
I have found that often, parents do have unrealistic expectations regarding their children’s’ motivation. If that comes up in class (e.g. “I shouldn’t have to remind you to practice”) I will usually take the opportunity to have a conversation about it. Something like “It actually really isn’t in their nature to be self-motivated all the time. Given the choice, a kid will always choose what they WANT to do over what they SHOULD do”, or something along those lines, and we just talk about it. I may revisit the coaching conversation, remind the parent that I rely on them to ensure practicing happens, and ask for a commitment in the upcoming week.