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#1 stringfellow

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Posted 18 July 2019 - 21:06

This may be similar to a previous post, but I have quite a weak student and I don't know quite what to do.   She is 11 years old and about to go to the local comprehensive.

We really are making very little progress so I felt I owed it to the mother to put her in the picture, I like to think I worded it carefully.

We are nowhere near grade 1 yet, although she has been learning for some time now. She needs a bigger instrument and I just felt that now was a good time to review her interest and commitment.  She cancelled today's lesson which was the last anyway.

I do feel I have done the right thing although it has obviously not gone down well.  Mentioning the grade is only a guide to the slow progress as I don't push exams unless they want to take one, but it does motivate pupils I find.

I just feel it is not money well spent from the parents point of view when perhaps she has more ability in other areas.

Thoughts welcome!

Thanks


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#2 Hedgehog

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Posted 18 July 2019 - 21:21

Could you be more specific about how long she's been learning? (I teach piano so don't know how much progress you'd expect) How much is she behind where you'd expect Jo Average to be?

Did she practise?

Lots of thoughts spring to mind, but you know your pupil, so you feel you've done the right thing. smile.png


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#3 Dorcas

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Posted 19 July 2019 - 08:49

Stringfellow, no teacher likes the feeling that they have upset either a student or their family.  However, there are times when lessons come to a natural end.  How likely were they to continue in September?  Or could the student have struggled on for another term?  From the sound of it, you have handled it correctly, and cancellation or not, the parent will appreciate your honesty.  Perhaps they are relieved?  


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#4 violinlove

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Posted 19 July 2019 - 10:01

I think sometimes you have to be honest if you think that you have reached the end of the road with a student, for whatever reason.

It's not really clear from your post though whether the pupil will be coming back in September or not. What was the reason for the cancellation? Did they cancel because you had spoken to them about the progress?

 

Try not to let it bother you too much. You did the right thing in talking to the parent and now they can use that information to make their own decision. Maybe they will move to another teacher at the comprehensive school or change instrument or give up altogether.

 

I think we don't do ourselves or our students any favours if we let things drag on when the student is weak for whatever reason or maybe our teaching style doesn't suit or something like that.


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#5 jenny

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Posted 19 July 2019 - 11:48

As I mentioned in another post recently, I have a similar situation with a piano pupil and it's a difficult one to deal with. This pupil has been showing very little sign of progress and I had been expecting his parents to tell me that he wouldn't be coming back in September and possibly that his little sister would be starting instead, as I know she really wants to start lessons. I also teach a younger brother. At the last lesson, the mum came in and asked how the boys were doing and made it clear that they will both be back in September and wanted to know when they would be ready for exams. I was a bit taken aback and told her that they would both have to work very hard to get to Grade 1 level and I did suggest that they should talk to the older boy during the summer to make sure that it's what he wants. But I could see that she thought that it should be their decision and not his. I find this a really tricky situation, especially as the family is such a lovely one.


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#6 Gran'piano

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Posted 19 July 2019 - 13:01

I do feel sorry for you guys being confronted with problems like this. In a way it is always disappointing to feel that one cannot help a pupil (of any age) to make progress. The fact that the teacher may not be at fault at all and has tried everything, doesn't erase the feeling completely. That said, sometimes one has simply come to the end of the road and hanging on, in the hope that the situation will change soon, is contraproductive. Sooner or later, the teacher loses that enthusiasm which made him/her a good teacher for this child. The wealth of ideas is used up and this will affect the pupil negatively. A change of teacher might be the turning point for the better or it might confirm that this child and this instrument were not made for each other.

Finding that the parents' ideas are so at variance with those of the teacher and/or the pupil doesn't help at all.

As others say, follow your gut feeling. It will not help your personal lifestyle balance (or whatever it is called these days) to lose sleep in what is, in effect, a lose-lose situation.


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#7 stringfellow

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Posted 20 July 2019 - 07:59

The situation is slightly complicated as I teach the younger brother the piano, he is a beginner but seems to enjoy his lessons and is progressing. Both siblings come for 50 minutes so it seems to be a package.
Mum’s text message just said “I don’t think I can get there tomorrow” This is not how I operate and it was very unlike her to cancel with no valid excuse. So I put 2+2 together about taking umbrage to my phone call, made after the children had gone to bed.
The 11 year old plays the violin, she needs the next size up, grade 1 music, which has not appeared despite reminders, and she is not moving forward. I suspect very little practice is done but even taking that into account, progress is questionable.

Are they coming back in September..... I have no idea. Next message was “hope to resume in Sep”
Again, not my method of operating. I had letters for all my pupils on the last day of term asking them were they happy with the current slot and a slight fee increase. Now, this family have not received this letter, I do not have an address for them.
I live in a fairly small community where I often bump into pupils and I just want to avoid any awkwardness.

I won’t chase them in Sep, they know where I live and have my mobile number.
The joys of teaching!
Having said that, I do enjoy my teaching, it’s just these situations that occur every now and again.

Thanks for the interest.
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#8 Dorcas

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Posted 20 July 2019 - 08:31

Stringfellow, don't take this too much to heart.  It is the end of term, and many children have lots of changes to their weekly activities, including additional school events.  The text message, could be completely genuine, the mother has just run out of time, or getting ready to travel or meet friends and family.  It is also normal, regardless of fee increases, for there to be the possibility of children moving onto different hobbies after the holidays.  There is a possibility that one child stopping an instrument influences another, I have had the happen too.  However, you did the right thing by contacting the mother.  I would not worry too much about awkwardness when you bump into them, just carry on as normal.  You could try ringing or texting the mother to warn of the fee increase, so she is forewarned, which is always a good idea.  Or just ask for their address to forward the letter?  Although as teachers, we all have our own systems of operating, families have their own unique patterns too, and it is simply a question of working with them as best we can.  Don't get too worked up about this, speaking as one who can do just that!!!!  Enjoy your summer break.


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#9 thara96

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Posted 20 July 2019 - 09:47

What are you working on at the moment in lessons? How long have you been teaching her for? Since it is summer vacation now, lots of  kids leave the country or spend time on other hobbies. This is the con of teaching a musical instrument. It is no use to continue with the lessons if progress is not being made at all. You did the right thing telling the mom. And all music exams especially the formal graded ones require practice and perseverance as well.

I used to take violin lessons. I spent nearly 2 hours practicing each day after homework and tea. 


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