I received this email in my inbox this weekend:
I have a student who told me she has double vision and can’t read the music. I asked her if her mom was planning a trip to the eye doctor to which she replied “yes”. A couple weeks later she said they went to the eye doctor who said her eyes are fine. Now I get the feeling that anytime she gets lazy and misses notes she just says she can’t see the notes because of her double vision. Yet sometimes I feel like we should stop in the middle of the lesson and do eye exercises. What do you think?
My immediate thought is that this teacher’s gut reaction is probably right… her piano student is using the double-vision as an excuse for her short-comings during her piano lesson.
Technically, this should be an easy fix. But yet… it’s not! Why? Because there is an underlying reason that this piano student feels the need to invent excuses and it is our job as her piano teacher to find out why.
My Dog Ate My Piano Book
Rather than focusing on the excuse itself, it’s important to instead examine why the excuse is surfacing. Piano students are inventive… they can come up with a miriad of excuses at the drop of a hat. But what they are actually saying is simple. They’re saying “help”.
Children are in touch with their feelings… to a point. They know they’re feeling uncomfortable… or inadequate… or as though they are disappointing you. But what they aren’t always able to do is to verbalize why they are feeling the way they are. While adults can (usually!) say “I must have missed something because what you’ve just told me didn’t sink in.” children are more apt to resort to the much easier “My thumb hurts when I touch the black keys”.
Predict, Pre-plan and Preemptively Strike
These “Three P’s” are a good reminder when teaching all of your piano students (not just the imaginative excuse-generating students). When introducing new concepts or repertoire, it’s important to predict what could possibly cause a problem for your student, pre-plan how you will teach this concept in more than one way (think kinaesthetically, aurally, and visually) in order to actively engage all kinds of learners in your studio, and preemptively strike by creating a comfortable learning experience for your little learners by never assuming they understand.
With enough positive experiences at the piano in situations carefully crafted by you to have them experience success, you’ll find your piano students’ excuses will diminish and then disappear. And rather than investigating a multitude of mysterious conditions, disorders and challenges you’ll instead be able to spend your time doing what you do best… teaching piano lessons.
One thing we never hear excuses about at our studio is home practice. Why? Because our students are completely enthralled with their practice sheets we take from our resource “Shhh…Your Piano Teacher Thinks This is Practice”. Do you have to listen to “The Dog Ate My Piano Book” type excuses on a regular basis? Check out this resource and banish practicing excuses for good!