Uh-oh. It’s going to be a L-O-N-G lesson. And oh, those excuses for NOT practicing piano during the week between lessons. I must say that creativity is high in the youthful telling of and hopeful absolution for the felony of not doing the required assignments, exercises and songs. Obviously NO ONE was sitting at the piano since the last lesson…
Here are a few of the most memorable excuses over my years of asking (certain) young students the question “So did you practice this week?” with the sometimes resultant evasive shrug that in body language means…”err, ah…..no”. (Followed by my feigned shock and surprise…”Oh my! What happened…why not?”)
The List of Creative Kid Excuses:
#1. My puppy peed on the music.
#2, My dog ate the pages.
#3. My grandmother was visiting and accidently took my music back to Chicago with her.
#4. The cleaning lady hid the music and I can’t find where she put it.
#5. Our babysitter took the music home with her. I think.
#6. The workmen downstairs are putting in a new bathroom and I didn’t want to disturb them.
#7. I have six hours of homework at night.
#8, My little sister sits at the piano and bangs on it and won’t let me practice.
#9. My parents watch the news in the same room as the piano and I can’t practice then. (or ever)
#10. I can’t find the “hand position”. (aarggghhhh)
#11. My mother forgot to remind me.
#12. The batteries ran out on my keyboard and my Dad hasn’t bought new ones yet.
#13. I have soccer, track, basketball, tai-chi, karate lessons, play practice and get home too late.
#14. I hate practicing.
#15. And the most difficult one of all to solve, usually the ploy of 9-13 year old girls…. the battle of wills between mothers and daughters having to do with just about every other parent/pre-teen power struggle issue but manifests in resistance to practicing the piano assignments if you can’t win on other fronts. If it is not possible to win against Mom on clothes, curfews, watching tv etc…. resist the piano practice which of course irks Mom to the max!
How this slackin’ on piano practice and resultant motivation is resolved by the input of the teacher depends on the student, and the commitment of the parents to valuing and funding the continuation of lessons and the musical education of their child. I have often dialogued with parents about who is responsible for what. My teaching, coaching and cheerleading takes place at the lesson..that’s my sphere of influence. What happens at HOME is their job, not mine, which is a delicate but definite thing to communicate when I am asked to make a child follow through at home. The best I can do is provide interesting and engaging music to play, share my interest and excitement with them and encourage them to feel good and accomplished when they can play a song to their pleasure.
BUT in a few cases in which the study of music and the piano was a non-negotiable virtue, value and commitment within a family and a young student was consistently avoiding practicing as a power play…this was an effective solution: For each un-prepared lesson, the youngster had to dig into his or her piggy-bank of birthday money or allowance to PAY several dollars towards the lesson themselves. I must say, that perked up attendance at piano practice times in most instances to the satisfaction of Mom and Dad.
It is important to note that learning to keep a student interested in their piano “homework” does have to do with the quality of the music…boring music and poor arrangement are BORING to study and to play by the student AND the teacher. There is a lot of music out there and many songs in a book series if that is what is being used. Some material is engaging interesting and lovely to play and listen to. And some music is simply NOT. I always take into account the song and the student..are they a good match? Would I like to have to play a boring song?
Not all of my students are/were youngsters. Adults have their “excuses” too for not practicing also…but I must admit, I resonate with the validity of their tales which include a sense of frustration at not being able to get to the piano for their special time.
A Short Lists of Adult No-Practice excuses:
#1. It’s summer (or the holidays) and we have had non-stop family and guests…and now I’m exhausted!
#2. We are re-doing the downstairs and sanding the floors…everything is on top of and around the piano. I can’t even FIND the piano!
#3. The flu/throwup has gone through the whole family this week. No music in this house….except flushing.
I’m sure there are many other good excuses out there. For the most part however, I am delighted that most of my students over these long years of teaching piano to students ages 6-90 have been at the piano regularly and have taken pleasure and pride in their accomplishments. It’s a rewarding and happy profession to share music with others.
From Christine, The Piano Mistress
My other blogs are interesting too!
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