Student is repeatedly claiming territory
Heidi M., Canada
I’m needing a bit of encouragement here. I have an adult student who has learned a lot of songs and practices a lot but has claimed territory on a number of occasions. I have had “the talk” with her a few times (that if she cannot accept the SM way of doing thing, she is free to find another teacher or quit).
The latest is that she insists we do not need to use the SM Notes Book at all though my other students are happy to use it…and when I have “the talk” with her, then she is suddenly very compliant/cooperative for a few weeks until a new issue comes up. Then she again tries to claim territory, and so I give her the talk again. But she doesn’t want to quit either. I am at the point where I may have to make that decision for her. It’s also complicated because she is also friends with some of my other students.
This situation is costing me a lot of energy. I don’t have this problem with other students. Also she says things which tells me she wants to be considered the “favorite” student. Something is not right here. I’m still feeling sad about her because she really has so much potential and has musically made great progress on the piano. In any case, plenty more students will sign up who will be happy to abide by the SM way.
Ian M., Indiana
I think with this kind of situation, it comes down to accepting her where she is to some extent and realizing that you are going to be putting some extra energy into teacher her…or firing her. Dropping her as a student will take some extra care, as you point out, but I think it’s possible to do it in a respectful way and still keep her as a supporter of the method.
Cate R., Australia
Adults are a different kettle of fish. I call myself the worst student for my poor teacher. I forget to mark my playlist, I forget to look at the notes book, and of course I don’t practice enough and I’m learning two instruments from her. But as an adult, a teacher with her own studio, a mother, and a committee member of several groups, my teacher does recognize that we are both busy. Despite that, there is forward movement and we are both okay with that.
I had an adult student early on in my teaching that used the music book, would only play one song which was the one she was currently working on, couldn’t play Dreams Come True by the time she got to Honey Dew. I finally told her I just didn’t think I was the right teacher for her. I was okay with that.
Patti P., Hawaii
You might try, the next time she claims territory, just looking her in the eye and saying, “And what do you think I’m going to say about that?”. Since she is an adult, she can come to awareness of what she is doing. She may be someone who habitually claims territory in all her relationships and it may be done unconsciously. I’d try simply drawing her attention to what she is doing. If you are brave enough, you could even conclude the lesson at that point, even if there’s lots of time left, suggesting she go home and decide whether she is going to trust you to do the teaching or not. I’m guessing that a few times of that and she will either think about changing her ways or decide to quit.