Found in: Coaches
Brenda D., Colorado
This is my first email to Forum, and I would love to have some feedback on a frustrating situation. I have been teaching Simply Music since this past June, but have been a traditional piano teacher for the past 20 years. I transferred a fairly large studio of about 50 students to the Simply Music program and am really enjoying looking at teaching music from this perspective.
All but one of my families is happy with the results that they are seeing, and I have also picked up many new students. The dad in the family and the children attended my intro session when I was telling my current families about the program. As a trombonist in a big band in the area he was very skeptical initially, but by the end of the intro session thought that the Simply Music program had very important concepts that traditional methods do not provide and was very excited about the program. Mom did not attend the intro session, and has seemed very unsupportive from the start by not following directions (i.e. not filling out the playlist regularly, and not encouraging the children to practice their entire playlist). She mentioned today that she was frustrated that her daughters had not learned any “real” music, and that their time away from reading music traditionally was a waste of their time.
I am very frustrated that she is being so closed-minded about trying a different approach, and also frustrated that she has not supported the process. I am appreciative of a safe place to vent my frustrations and would love any suggestions from the rest of the community.
Kerry V., Australia
Congratulations on your licensing and with the transition of all your students. You are obviously enrolled in SM and its benefits. Not everyone is! These parents or challenging situations are always fantastic to see who YOU are or where you may be at the time.
You said “being so closed-minded about trying a different approach”. I always look at what these kinds of situations may be reflecting in me. So I would first, stop looking at the parent and see what it is about me I need to see. Are you being closed minded that not everyone is going to join up? Not everyone will. Not everyone enrolled with you when you were a traditional teacher so what is different? I am sure in the past you have been ‘closed minded’ to seeing someone else’s view or concept. This doesn’t make you wrong and them right, it is where you are at the time. Likewise this mum is too.
I would also be speaking with the parent and getting to know them, where they may be coming from. She may be anxious because in her model of the world her child will be ‘behind’ if they are not ‘reading real music’. Once you get underneath her thoughts, fears etc, you may not only have her enrolled and supportive of her child, she may actually become a raving fan.
It seems you have great respect from your original traditional students for the fact they have followed through with you in trust not in the program but in YOU. So, speak with her, find out where she is coming from and discuss it.
If she is not happy after this conversation, simply tell her you don’t want to have them in your studio as it isn’t fair for the child nor the rest of the group that this is happening. You have nothing to lose and so much more to gain.
Hilary C., Western Australia
Maybe you have already done this, if so forgive me, but when the subject of reading comes up – especially at a SIS – I cite my own experience. Having read for many years, I found difficulty in moving to patterns – my brain rebelled because it had to work differently and my teacher took my music book away, just in case. I assure potential parents/students that nothing will be lost, in fact what they already know will not be lost and the melding of the two will bring greater richness to their playing and musical life. (or words to that effect). It mostly need to be repeated, .And I ask them to trust me………
(In his book ‘Religion for Atheists’ Alain de Boton (French philosopher) lauds the fact that churches reiterate learning by the use of annual festivals etc, bemoaning the fact that secular teaching is given once and expected to be remembered. Since reading this book I am much more conscious of revisiting territory long-ago covered in an unexpected ‘strike’, to emphasize the fundamental nature of the what I call the ABCs of music – and there a quite a few. Sorry, bit of a tangent here)
I know it can be hard, but don’t give away your power by getting frustrated. Listen to what she says, respond to the response, and if necessary repeat your ‘cracked record’. Everyone needs to be heard …. perhaps have a coffee sometime up the street so this conversation isn’t polluting other class members. Maybe she feels railroaded into this by her husband and this is her way of being heard!
Patti P., Hawaii
Congratulations on beginning your Simply Music journey, and transferring your studio! I also switched my studio mid-stream, at least the students in their earlier years of piano study.
I had a family who decided, after trying Simply Music for a few months, that it wasn’t what they were looking for. It’s entirely possible that this family may make the same decision. Simply Music is not the answer for everyone, so it’s helpful to recognize that, even though as Simply Music teachers we see the huge value in the program.
Another thought is that, since this mom didn’t get to hear your intro session, she’s probably not got any idea why this is a great way to learn piano, and is still in the place of thinking you aren’t really making music unless you are reading it!
For adults who are skeptical of Simply Music in this regard, I think it’s worth spending some time with this parent, perhaps outside of the class time, explaining that only being able to play music if you are reading it is like not being able to speak unless you have a script to follow. It isn’t that we don’t want them to read well! (Which may be a concern from a traditional point of view) We simply want them to be able to create their own music, arrange, accompany, transpose, and learn via other means in addition to reading.
It’s a little difficult when you are new to SM, but here’s a bit of my experience with students who were reading & then switched to Simply Music. They are all enjoying their music making much more. Their rhythm reading has strengthened via Reading Rhythm 1, and I’m’ confident the same will be true of their note reading after going through Reading Notes as well.
All of that being said, it is possible that, in spite of your best efforts, this family may decide not to continue with Simply Music. While we strive for maximum retention in our studios, as an experienced teacher, you know that people stop lessons for a variety of reasons, often not at all in your control. Sometimes letting them go with a smile is the best you can do.