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Demotivated from lack of practice :-(

practise practice lack of practice

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#1 Allegro3355

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Posted 02 December 2019 - 16:23

Hi everyone,

 

It's a long long time since I wrote in here, but I thought I'd say hello and have a bit of a moan.

 

I live in Spain now and the people here don't practise at all!! I'm at the very delicate stage of telling the parents (and adults) that they need to practise otherwise they won't progress, but also with the fear that they will say 'pffff, how stressful, let's leave!'.

 

I want to build up my business here, but I would also like to have at least a few good students. I don't want to lose the students by being too strict. In the UK I didn't have this situation as much.

 

I'm just wondering if you can let me know your thoughts?

 

I've felt really guilty the past week telling the parents that the kids are not practising and wonder if I'm being too harsh? :-(


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#2 Misterioso

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Posted 02 December 2019 - 17:48

No, you are not being too harsh. There must be some good musicians in Spain - how do other people think they got there?

 

Have you asked why they are not practising? If they are quite young, have you made it clear to the parents that they need to supervise and get involved, and that they will only get out of it what they put into it? They might be seeing it as just another extra-curricular activity (like swimming) which they just turn up and do, and then (usually) not practise in between. Have they ever practised?

 

You may need to consider alternative tacks to get them back to practising again. Are there any Spanish carols / seasonal songs you could teach them at this time of year? Would they enjoy duets? If they enjoy what they are playing, they will want to practise it, at least sometimes, unless they are all so busy that they don't have any time to do it. Try a few ruses: star charts for the youngest, with the promise of a "prize" if they complete 10 weeks (it doesn't have to be a big "prize"). With older students, try other tricks: if there is something they want to learn, you will teach it to them if they complete x, y, and z. Get them to keep a note of their practise days / times, and set reminders about practice on their mobile phones.

 

My students all have a practise diary with a grid at the top that I usually only ask them to fill in (minutes per day) if I feel practise is dwindling a bit. Perhaps a challenge or two will fire up their motivation, or preparing for an exam, or playing in a school assembly. If there are two at the same stage, can you get them together occasionally to play duets? Sometimes I keep a jar of Celebrations on top of the piano. If I feel anything is going especially well, they get a free choice of chocolate. It's chocolate coins in Advent, and creme eggs at Easter. Yes, it's bribery, but if it gets them into the habit, they might stick with it, especially when they realise they are actually progressing and starting to enjoy it more. For younger kids, you could add in some musical games as a reward for when they do well. 


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#3 Norway

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Posted 02 December 2019 - 18:04

Show them a suitable Marisa Robles interview. I saw one once, and she said something like this. "If you start the harp when you are one day old and practise every day until the day you die then basically you will get somewhere!"


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#4 Allegro3355

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Posted 02 December 2019 - 18:22

No, you are not being too harsh. There must be some good musicians in Spain - how do other people think they got there?

 

Have you asked why they are not practising? If they are quite young, have you made it clear to the parents that they need to supervise and get involved, and that they will only get out of it what they put into it? They might be seeing it as just another extra-curricular activity (like swimming) which they just turn up and do, and then (usually) not practise in between. Have they ever practised?

 

You may need to consider alternative tacks to get them back to practising again. Are there any Spanish carols / seasonal songs you could teach them at this time of year? Would they enjoy duets? If they enjoy what they are playing, they will want to practise it, at least sometimes, unless they are all so busy that they don't have any time to do it. Try a few ruses: star charts for the youngest, with the promise of a "prize" if they complete 10 weeks (it doesn't have to be a big "prize"). With older students, try other tricks: if there is something they want to learn, you will teach it to them if they complete x, y, and z. Get them to keep a note of their practise days / times, and set reminders about practice on their mobile phones.

 

My students all have a practise diary with a grid at the top that I usually only ask them to fill in (minutes per day) if I feel practise is dwindling a bit. Perhaps a challenge or two will fire up their motivation, or preparing for an exam, or playing in a school assembly. If there are two at the same stage, can you get them together occasionally to play duets? Sometimes I keep a jar of Celebrations on top of the piano. If I feel anything is going especially well, they get a free choice of chocolate. It's chocolate coins in Advent, and creme eggs at Easter. Yes, it's bribery, but if it gets them into the habit, they might stick with it, especially when they realise they are actually progressing and starting to enjoy it more. For younger kids, you could add in some musical games as a reward for when they do well. 

 

Thank you. 

Most people go the conservatoire here if they want to study an instrument. The concept of private piano lessons isn’t that common. 

In England all of my students practised and I have a really successful studio, but here NOBODY does. I think I took it for granted. I’m just feeling a little down because I’m not used to such constant nagging and I don’t want the students to leave. :-(

 

I'd love to be in an opportunity to be a little stricter and if they leave they leave, but at the moment I can't. 


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#5 jenny

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Posted 03 December 2019 - 11:18

I taught abroad for many years and the concept of private lessons was quite new there, too, as there was a very well established 'music school' system. But I found that there were families who liked the idea and who also liked the fact that I taught their children in English! But I did find that most of my pupils came from the nearest International School. Might that be a possibility for you?  


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#6 DMC

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Posted 03 December 2019 - 11:55

As Misteriouso has pointed out, often parents aren't aware that practice needs to be done between the lessons. Or if they are aware of the need for practice, parents often assume little Johnny will practice of their own accord, because it's Piano, right? Piano is meant to always be fun! This is an oversight they would never make when teaching their children to read, or to potty train them.

 

So, we have to educate the parents to use their armoury of parenting skills to get their kids to do regular practice. 

 

I do find that many parents and children today simply do not grasp the concept of dedicating themselves to a particular skill, such as learning an instrument. We live in an age of immediacy, of on demand. And also a seeming inability to simply say, no. As a result kids get to try just about every after school activity going, and have no time to be any good at any of them!

 

Personally, I don't want pupils with parents who let them not practice. I've had grief from a parent this term who was incensed that his daughter hadn't been entered for Grade 4. We have fun in the lessons, the pupil works hard, and seems to progress during the lesson, with clear objectives written in notebook, only for it to all be undone at the next lesson by a week of inactivity. Repeated warnings that we won't be ready in time if we don't step it up have come to nothing.

 

I can't practice for my pupils any more than I can breathe for them. 

 

I would say Allegro, if you can afford to, take a leaf out of Fanny Waterman's book - choose the parent, not the pupil.


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#7 violinlove

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Posted 03 December 2019 - 12:28

I've had similar experiences in Austria - particularly when I first started out. It takes time to build up a practice with practising students. At first you can't be fussy about who you take on as you need to establish yourself in the new country and earn a living ASAP.

I still do have some chronic non-practisers but it is nowhere near as bad as at the beginning. A good proportion of my students have been with me for years and they know what the score is. Your reputation gets around after while.

But yes, at the beginning, it was very difficult to get parents on board with practising and understanding that while we want music to be enjoyable there is also hard work involved and it isn't always a laugh a minute fun fun fun.

I've posted on here a few times about parents saying "But it's her free time" etcetc "I just want him to have fun". This attitude does seem to be widespread here along with not really bothering to turn up for lessons if something better comes along.

BUT over the years thing have got better and better. My reputation has got around so people know what to expect and those that aren't serious don't tend to ring up asking for lessons any more. I have more than enough now and have a waiting list now for the first time since I came here. I can also afford to have frank conversations with those who are not practising and not making progress and suggest they may enjoy something else more....

 

So hang in there - it's early days. Try some of the suggestions given by others - I have used several of those before. Continue to build your practice and when you get to the stage where you can afford to let people go if they are wasting your time and theirs as well as their parents' money, then start letting them go. As your reputation spreads and you get more people applying you can afford to be more picky. I filter out all the "play the piano for fun" ones (ie. if they mention that in the first conversation I'm immediately sceptical - and have mostly been proved right).

It will get better.


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#8 Allegro3355

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Posted 03 December 2019 - 12:34

I taught abroad for many years and the concept of private lessons was quite new there, too, as there was a very well established 'music school' system. But I found that there were families who liked the idea and who also liked the fact that I taught their children in English! But I did find that most of my pupils came from the nearest International School. Might that be a possibility for you?  

 

Most of mine are from an international school actually, but I do have a few Spanish ones. I'm going to have a conversation with one of them today to see what repertoire he fancies studies as he does seem to 'play', just not 'practise'.


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#9 Allegro3355

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Posted 03 December 2019 - 12:37

I've had similar experiences in Austria - particularly when I first started out. It takes time to build up a practice with practising students. At first you can't be fussy about who you take on as you need to establish yourself in the new country and earn a living ASAP.

I still do have some chronic non-practisers but it is nowhere near as bad as at the beginning. A good proportion of my students have been with me for years and they know what the score is. Your reputation gets around after while.

But yes, at the beginning, it was very difficult to get parents on board with practising and understanding that while we want music to be enjoyable there is also hard work involved and it isn't always a laugh a minute fun fun fun.

I've posted on here a few times about parents saying "But it's her free time" etcetc "I just want him to have fun". This attitude does seem to be widespread here along with not really bothering to turn up for lessons if something better comes along.

BUT over the years thing have got better and better. My reputation has got around so people know what to expect and those that aren't serious don't tend to ring up asking for lessons any more. I have more than enough now and have a waiting list now for the first time since I came here. I can also afford to have frank conversations with those who are not practising and not making progress and suggest they may enjoy something else more....

 

So hang in there - it's early days. Try some of the suggestions given by others - I have used several of those before. Continue to build your practice and when you get to the stage where you can afford to let people go if they are wasting your time and theirs as well as their parents' money, then start letting them go. As your reputation spreads and you get more people applying you can afford to be more picky. I filter out all the "play the piano for fun" ones (ie. if they mention that in the first conversation I'm immediately sceptical - and have mostly been proved right).

It will get better.

I've been here 2 years now, but only this past year stared to get a few new ones. I think I have to be flexible and ensure they are practising something, even if it's Einaudi :rolleyes:  

 

I think it's easy to be a little selfish teaching sometimes. Obviously I would like all my students to be playing Beethoven Sonatas and practising every day, but in reality it's not like that. 

 

I'm building a piano studio in my next house, so I really have to make this work. In the meantime I think I'm going to have to be flexible, but also educate the parents of the fact that if their kids don't practise, they won't progress. 


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#10 thara96

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Posted 06 December 2019 - 08:39

How old are they?

 

What is their excuse for not practicing? 


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