One of the things I secretly look forward to at each lesson I teach is hearing the clever (and sometimes not-so-clever) excuses my students come up with to explain why they haven’t practiced.
I think I get such a kick out of them because I was once in their shoes: a busy kid who really wanted to excel at an instrument — piano, in my case — but just didn’t always have the motivation to do the work. I always had a handy excuse up my sleeve for my wonderfully patient piano teacher (she was a nun, after all!) and now I’m on the other side of the coin.
Since the fall session has just begun, I’ve heard some doozies after asking the dreaded question, “So have you had a chance to practice over the break?” Here are a couple of my favorites over the past two (just two!) days:
I really wanted to practice, but I had to go school supply shopping.
School supply shopping can be so overwhelming! :)
I know I was supposed to work on my chords, but I was busy writing my own songs instead. 10 of them!
Okay, this one was good.
My dad was watching TV and I didn’t want to bother him.
Mind you, this student’s dad attends every lesson, is extremely involved, and tracks his son’s practice.
The week is still young, so I have lots more excuses to look forward to in the coming days. I think I have mastered the art of balancing validation with encouragement; discipline is not my forte. How do you handle the excuses presented by your students? And please feel free to add any doozies you’ve heard to my list!
Those are funny, Rachel!
I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one who is better at validation with encouragement rather than the forte of discipline:)
It’s funny to me when the kids don’t seem to notice or be concerned about their non-practise but the parents are FULL of excuses for them.
I always think…life is long…so you missed a week or two of practise…when you’re 80 I doubt whether a few missed days of practise is going to be troubling you:)
I have found that to be true many times as well, Susan! You always have the best outlook on things – I completely agree with that :D
Those are some great excuses! I love the variety that kids come up with! :)
The biggest shocker I’ve had so far was when a parent signed a practice log for their child, for EACH day of the week and then the student told me she only practiced ONE day!!!
The best excuse I’ve heard from a student for not practicing was, “We had a king snake in our house and daddy had to trap it and kill it!” Wow, just wow!
Only in eastern North Carolina :)
LOL, Amanda! Now that is a doozie of an excuse. I find it ridiculous that a parent would lie about a child’s practice – like we as teachers can’t tell that a student has practiced only once as opposed to 7 times!
The bassoon students I have taught have been fairly good about practicing, most of the time. I usually ask my students to be honest with me. I communicate with them in a scribbler so we record all the things that we worked on in the lesson and what is their job during the rest of the week.
Since bassoon students are generally a bit older (have to be at least as tall as the instrument to play it) I leave practicing up to them, because their music lessons are for them and not for their parents. I generally required “playing” (not practicing) every day, and serious practice twice a week (including scales and etudes).
I have had a few serious talks with students about their commitment level to their music. I’ve had a couple of over committed students to too many extra curricular activities, and I spoke to both them and their parents if music lessons is maybe too much, or perhaps they need to drop something else in order to fit in time for music.
I think I approach each student differently because they are all different. And I try my best to make lessons and practicing enjoyable so that they are motivated to do more. I also find when students attend professional concerts featuring their instrument it gives them something to aspire to, or provide them with recordings.
My teacher was ‘old school’ and I was very fearful of showing up to a lesson unprepared (ex. I came to a lesson one day with an etude not up to the level that was expected and he ended my lesson right there) There were a few lessons that sent me home in tears, which I would never want to pass on to my students!
Tyne, I really like your approach and philosophy! Thanks so much for sharing. Your teacher sounds brutal – I probably would have been scarred for life and never want to play again. Yikes!
That’s some real creativity! :) Children are geniuses.
Isn’t that the truth!