Jump to content


Photo

student's criticism


  • Please log in to reply
30 replies to this topic

#16 zwhe

zwhe

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 388 posts
  • Member: 898658
    Joined: 19-January 18

Posted 02 June 2019 - 08:08

 If some form of positive feedback is to be considered a vital part of each lesson, a valid question might be to ask if, in fact, the teacher managed to fulfill this requirement. This is a yes or no question not a point for discussion as to why no positive feedback was possible. Either there was positive feedback or there wasn‘t. Taken like this, the comment of the third person was ‘uncalled for‘ and ‘tactless‘ but not so far off the mark.
I appreciate that this is harsh but it is not a judgement at all, but merely reflects my own problems in the past in coping with ‘learners‘ who make little or no effort to do their part while expecting me to successfully ‘teach‘ them.

Only if your pupil is a dysfunctional child! If an adult has not done any of the tasks they have been set, they shouldn't expect to be praised for it. What other area of life would that happen? We should always remember to tell pupils what they have done well, but if they didn't actually do anything at all then surely we shouldn't lie.


  • 8

#17 Gran'piano

Gran'piano

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 174 posts
  • Member: 899443
    Joined: 19-January 19

Posted 02 June 2019 - 10:14

Point taken. But we are presumably not just talking about the pupil not being praised because of her lack of progress caused by lack of work done at home. Aren‘t we talking about a lack of positive feedback in three lessons of an hour each as well?
After a first lesson of ‘getting nowhere‘ I have sometimes had to rethink the whole situation. Back to square one; with folk with severe disabilities this can mean back to square ‘minus four‘. In this case, in spite of the lady having had lessons as a child, it looks as if ‘starting from scratch‘ was not far enough back to enable her to make any progress at all (with positive feedback) during the actual lesson.
I think this is one of those cases where a serious talk, at the latest after the first session, might have helped. Not as much what the teacher expects with regards practice times and so on, but more along the lines of how much the pupil is really willing and able to stick to. Signing a contract is one thing, sticking to it is something quite different.
I see the problem starting further back than ill-chosen words which, in the eye of the pupil, seemed justified. If they were meant, as has been suggested, in a joking manner they probably have their roots in total frustration rather than malice.
  • 1

#18 Banjogirl

Banjogirl

    Virtuoso

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 2663 posts
  • Member: 39509
    Joined: 12-September 08

Posted 02 June 2019 - 13:56

I disagree. She sounds like a nasty, manipulative person of which there seem to be many these days. I have no doubt that she was given plenty of positive feedback but, not being happy with her progress, wanted to blame someone else, and manipulated others into backing her up. It's a vile way to behave but all too common these days. I'd sack her without a moment's hesitation
  • 8

#19 diane

diane

    Newbie

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 29 posts
  • Member: 20686
    Joined: 30-November 07
  • Manchester

Posted 02 June 2019 - 14:29

Gran'piano is making assumptions here. I have merely described what happened at the choir. Obviously I talked to her about lack of practise, lengthy nails etc at each lesson but it fell on deaf ears.

 

Nor did I say how long the lesson lasted. It was not an hour's lesson but 30 mins each time.

 

You would have had to be there to make the sort of assumptions GP is making. I don't need that kind of advice. 

 

She played with straight fingers and no amount of demonstrating or remonstrating made any difference - she said the choirmaster played with straight fingers, which I took as an excuse for her to do this. The choirmaster was self-taught and I guess nobody showed him how to hold his hands. He uses a keyboard, not a piano. A keyboard is not a piano. I don't need to go into that here I'm sure. He also flips his hands around in a way we would never do. He is extremely musical and very clever at harmonising the voices but his playing techniques are very different to ours. 

 

I will be terminating her contract by letter when she returns. She is off again this week, returns for two and is off again after that. That isn't an efficient way to learn a difficult instrument like a piano. 

Many thanks for your comments. You have all been very supportive and it has been a worthwhile exercise reading everyone's opinions. Best wishes to you all.


  • 11

#20 hummingbird

hummingbird

    Prodigy

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1821 posts
  • Member: 491056
    Joined: 25-July 12

Posted 02 June 2019 - 14:34

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.

I'm struggling to imagine what she would expect positive feedback about.  If you decide to give another lesson, perhaps ask her what she thought she'd done so well that she expected praise for.

 

 

Apart from that, she's a very pleasant woman

 

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. ...

 That's not something a pleasant person would do.  It sounds like she's only pleasant when things are going her way.
 
 

Now retired from teaching

Perhaps she had to give lots of praise to her [snowflake?] pupils and has become normalised to the concept of praise without earning it.

 

 

she told me she'd learnt when young but didn't practise and gave up.

It doesn't sound as if anything has changed.

 

 

 

Edit.  I didn't see your post until after I'd written mine, diane.  I hope you get a nice new pupil to fill her space clap.gif


  • 4

#21 zwhe

zwhe

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 388 posts
  • Member: 898658
    Joined: 19-January 18

Posted 02 June 2019 - 15:03

You are better off without this type of student. I had one myself for a few weeks last year. She said she was about grade 5, and gave me a list of pieces she was playing which were all around that level. When she turned up, it was quickly apparent that she was nothing like that level - she could barely fit the two parts together in the easy sections. She argued with anything I said, saying she preferred it her way. At one point, she complained that she couldn't play something as well as I had demonstrated and asked why. I gave her a list of the things I was doing (such as articulation and phrasing), and she told me I was wrong! That was the last time I saw her...

I'm going to make an assumption here, that as you were asking a question on a teacher's forum, you consider and reflect on what/how you are teaching - if this is the case, you can be confident that you do know what you are doing and try not to let a couple of grumpy people get to you - you are the professional, not them. Musicians tend to be lacking in thick skins!


  • 3

#22 ten left thumbs

ten left thumbs

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 784 posts
  • Member: 454622
    Joined: 09-May 12

Posted 02 June 2019 - 17:29

Gran'piano is making assumptions here. I have merely described what happened at the choir. Obviously I talked to her about lack of practise, lengthy nails etc at each lesson but it fell on deaf ears.

 

Nor did I say how long the lesson lasted. It was not an hour's lesson but 30 mins each time.

 

You would have had to be there to make the sort of assumptions GP is making. I don't need that kind of advice. 

 

 

Well said.

Glad you've made your decision. I hope all goes smoothly from here. There may well be more blowback from the choir for you to endure ('oh, but a professional teacher would have...' ) but you can hold your head high knowing you have been professional. You just can't win them all. 


  • 1

#23 elemimele

elemimele

    Prodigy

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1070 posts
  • Member: 895612
    Joined: 17-July 16

Posted 02 June 2019 - 18:13

I dunno, humans are weird. I can't see any point in asking an expert for their opinion unless you're going to entertain the possibility that what they say might have some truth in it. I think some people don't so much want lessons, as want to pay for membership of the set of musical people. It's all a bit sad really.


  • 6

#24 Gran'piano

Gran'piano

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 174 posts
  • Member: 899443
    Joined: 19-January 19

Posted 02 June 2019 - 18:18

I can't see any point in asking an expert for their opinion unless you're going to entertain the possibility that what they say might have some truth in it.

I agree wholeheartedly.
  • 0

#25 violinlove

violinlove

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 590 posts
  • Member: 381238
    Joined: 02-January 12

Posted 03 June 2019 - 07:28

"I will be terminating her contract by letter when she returns. She is off again this week, returns for two and is off again after that. That isn't an efficient way to learn a difficult instrument like a piano."

 

Good. You don't need this kind of hassle. Maybe she would have preferred an approach where more positive feedback was given but there was no need for her to discuss it at the choir in front of others. First port of call should have been to talk to you about it.

Also what sort of positive feedback did she want? An ego-stroking "Oh that's wonderful". "That's fantastic". Positive feedback also comes in milder forms - such as "Yes, that's the right hand position" when someone begins to use the correct position.  Or "You've got the first bar sorted now. Let's tackle the second bar".

My positive feedback with adults falls into the second category. She might have expected the first version and your methods are more like the second.

 

I feel like she wanted to have a bit of a go at you and by doing it in front of others she figured you wouldn't then go on to mention that maybe the long fingernails, lack of regular attendance and practise weren't helping the situation.

 

Just tell her you think your methods are not a good fit for needs, wish her well and send her on her way.


  • 5

#26 diane

diane

    Newbie

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 29 posts
  • Member: 20686
    Joined: 30-November 07
  • Manchester

Posted 03 June 2019 - 13:47

I think a lot of people want to play the piano but not to learn it. Some say they aren't going to be concert pianists, so why bother but the point is, if you're a piano teacher, you teach properly. I don't say 'well that's all right then, we'll break all the rules to make it easier for you. You can play with straight fingers if you want to.'

I want to teach them to play well, not badly. I once taught an adult who had been teaching himself. He played badly, full of mistakes that he thought nobody would notice (pedal down) and if some notes were too hard for him, he just left them all out. I put him through exams 2-5, tidied his work up, he got a few distinctions until Gr 5 when he passed but told me the effort involved wasn't worth it and he was leaving. He said he wanted to go back to the way he played before he came here. Couldn't believe my ears (badly you mean? I thought). He said you could pick at your work forever and there would always be work to do. Yes but that's part of your learning.  I felt rather sorry for him as I'd introduced him to a piano group, mostly retired men like himself and he loved it there. I don't know what happened when his standard dropped, whether he was still acceptable as a member. 


  • 7

#27 ten left thumbs

ten left thumbs

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 784 posts
  • Member: 454622
    Joined: 09-May 12

Posted 03 June 2019 - 18:39

His ear had been de-sensitised to what he was doing. I find that happens a lot with the pedal-down-I'm-playing-a-digital-piano-and-I-like-it ones. They just can't hear it.


  • 2

#28 DMC

DMC

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 99 posts
  • Member: 477382
    Joined: 25-June 12

Posted 04 June 2019 - 07:12

We have no control over what people wish to think or say about us. In private practice however, we do have total control over who we teach. What's the point of having this benefit if we don't exercise it once in a while?

 

We want people who are going to

a) turn up

b) practice.

 

The fact they are doing neither, and attributing their own shortcomings to you in public should make this a very easy decision - get rid!!


  • 8

#29 diane

diane

    Newbie

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 29 posts
  • Member: 20686
    Joined: 30-November 07
  • Manchester

Posted 10 June 2019 - 18:57

You asked me to let you know what happened. I have had an email in reply to mine, grovelling really and full of apologies. Apparently I had misconstrued the situation. She was making a joke (didn't several of you say she would say she was joking?) against herself, at her age  wanting praise. She had told everyone what a wonderful teacher I was too. 

 

I've replied, reminding her of what she'd actually said that insulted me. Perhaps she'd forgotten saying she didn't know whether she was wasting her money or not and the comment comparing me to a brick wall. She said as I didn't know her I didn't understand her sense of humour, so my reply responds that I hadn't regarded it as a joke. There was nothing funny about it, nor was she mocking herself.

 

Interesting psychology, how people try to wriggle out of these situations. I've suggested we have a private talk about any future lessons and left the ball in her court. Thank you all for being so supportive. It really helped me to decide how to handle it. 


  • 4

#30 DMC

DMC

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 99 posts
  • Member: 477382
    Joined: 25-June 12

Posted 11 June 2019 - 09:30

Think of all the people out there who just want to learn the Piano, and don't have the slightest intention of entering into such energy sapping antics.


  • 3