Managing Students Who ‘Cheat’
Janita P., Nebraska
I have been working with two women in a shared lesson for the past five months. One is excelling, one is struggling. One cannot read music, one can a bit. One is listening to what I recommend, one continues to do it her own way. One does not refer to her music book, the other one does. The woman who is struggling continues to ‘cheat’ and refer to her music when she cannot “get” a song. I tell her weekly not to do it, explain to her why she is harming her progress, offer to keep her music book, etc. but she doesn’t adhere to my directions. What should I do in this situation, besides confiscating her music book or dismissing her from lessons?
Debbie V., Oklahoma
I have one student who was in this situation, a 69-year-old woman with previous experience. She kept cheating because she didn’t want to bother with the video. After sending in her Level 1 Evaluation Materials to Neil, he called and asked if she was learning by reading the music. When I saw her next, I explained to her that Neil could tell the difference just by listening to her play. In a happy, joking way I snatched her Level 2 music book and explained how she was going to have to trust me and see if it made a difference on Level 2. She said she didn’t see how it could but was willing to try it for one level.
She is now finishing Level 4 and has thanked me profusely for “stealing” her book. She plays much more musically, not the choppy reading way, and loves it! Now she hands me her music book immediately and doesn’t want it. With Level 5 we are going to start reading since we have gotten over that hurdle. This will be interesting because she doesn’t really want to read now, but said she will give it a try!
Karen T., Illinois
I had an adult who continued to cheat and use the music. She expressed one time, weeks later, how it seems to be taking her a long time to learn the later pieces in Level 1. I looked at her with a puzzled, thoughtful expression. Then I said, “Hmmm… Let me ask you, are you still reading the music?” She admitted that she was. I told her that’s why it’s taking longer.
I told her that she needs to know that it is sabotaging her progress. My plan was to draw out her learning process if need be. The following week she was more secure in her songs, and I said to her, “This is wonderful progress in just one week! Did you stop reading music?” She said yes. I told her that I was really amazed at what a wonderful difference it had made, and asked her if she noticed it too. She said yes, she did. And she was beaming with my praise of her improvement. She hasn’t read a note since.