A curious situation has arisen between a new student and myself. Since April, the adult student has been for a lesson only three times, instead of weekly as agreed on her signed contract. She is currently away until next week and plans another break two weeks later. The result is, she is learning very little of what I'm teaching her. Now retired from teaching, she told me she'd learnt when young but didn't practise and gave up.
We started from scratch but on the three occasions she's been, she has failed to remember the new notes; failed to look in her info pack that I give students free on their first lessons and which contain tip sheets on practising and learning notes; hasn't practised regularly or learnt the left hand notes; has long fingernails which she hasn't cut as advised and a poor attendance record. Apart from that, she's a very pleasant woman who belongs to a good choir I used to belong to. She has inspired me to rejoin the choir and I see her there too.
Last week over tea break there, while sitting with two other choir members, the student suddenly told us all that I hadn't given her any positive feedback. She said it was like dealing with a brick wall as I gave nothing away. She had gone home to her husband and told him this and said she didn't know whether she was wasting her time because she didn't know how well she was doing. One of the listeners was also a retired teacher. She began to tell me that teachers should always give positive feedback as well as pointing out the critical things.
I've been teaching piano for about 14 years (I began learning in 1946) and I've taught PR at uni level and creative writing in secondary schools and been a senior tutor on distant learning courses for writers - perfectly successfully - and I think the several people who have been learning here every week for the past 7 or 8 years and are now performing or doing grade 8 speaks for itself. I'm very positive with students normally but in this student's case there is little to be positive about.
The main thing is that this was a confidential issue that the student should have brought up at her last lesson and discussed with me, not openly in public. Rightly or wrongly, my teaching should not have been criticised at an open discussion in front of strangers who could repeat this to others.
Because I've been ruminating over it for a few days (not a good thing) I am probably over-reacting and could do with some advice. Should I leave it until next week when she has a lesson - I do think it needs to be discussed - or, as I'm tempted to do, send her an email now outlining my concern, probably ruining our relationship and preventing me from continuing with the choir as well as her lessons. I need to hear some balanced thoughts on this, so I don't do the wrong thing! Thanks.