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#14307 - 02/06/02 06:22 PM Student Considering Quitting
Eric Offline
Star Member

Registered: 04/04/00
Posts: 2325
Loc: New York, NY
I have a student who has studied with me for five years. She is now in eighth grade, and working in PA Level 5. Piano has never come easy for her, although she was always able to pull something together for the Spring Recital. She has had good support from her parents and has practiced consistently, but has improved at a snail's pace.

She was in tears at her lesson today as she told me that she doesn't enjoy practicing anymore because it's too frustrating. She said she doesn't want to quit, while also saying she doesn't want to practice. I wasn't sure what to make of her ambivalence. This came after a long phone conversation with her Mom.

As a temporary solution, we went through all her music and found some simpler things to work on for awhile that she might not find so frustrating. But, ultimately, I am in a quandary. I'm not sure if I should try to talk her into continuing, or encourage her to "take a break" (i.e. quit.) Her main love is singing, which she does with enthusiasm. So even if she quits piano, she will still be studying with me, albeit only as a vocalist.

There are advantages, of course, to a student like this one to continue piano study. But I can also see how, after five years and still struggling, this just might be an uphill battle that is best surrendered. I'd leave the decision up to her, but she takes an ambivalent posture of "I don't want to quit, but I don't want to practice, either."

Thoughts?

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#14308 - 02/06/02 07:00 PM Re: Student Considering Quitting
Vivace' Offline
Star Member

Registered: 05/25/01
Posts: 1717
Loc: USA
Well, it seems that she has already quit.
Why does she want to continue coming to lessons? I think you are more handsome than you let us know about.......just teasing. ;\)

Has she been given a choice of continuing lessons without practice? If she has a choice, then why practice if she doesn't like to work?
My parents were just different I guess, but studying the piano was a privilege awarded to me and practicing was expected, not a choice for me to make.
_________________________
Then let us all do what is right, strive with all our might toward the unattainable, develop as fully as we can the gifts God has given us,and never stop learning." ~ Ludwig van Beethoven

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#14309 - 02/06/02 07:16 PM Re: Student Considering Quitting
Rhapsody Offline
Star Member

Registered: 11/19/00
Posts: 2329
Eric,

If she loves singing, then it would be good for her to continue piano if at all possible. Stress to her that playing piano is very much like singing and to be a good pianist much of what is so appealing about singing can be used effectively to give the music life -- great phrasing, emotion, etc.

Maybe she's moved a little too quickly (for her) and if the pieces were easier practice wouldn't be so frustrating. If all her pieces are a challenge, it may just require too much intense concentration for her. \:\( Give her at least a couple of easy pieces but also some other piece(s) that will continue to advance her piano skills. Suggest that she practice in 2 shorter sessions if she's currently practicing only once daily. Find some very lyrical piano pieces that can really benefit from her vocal training. Does she want to be able to accompany her singing at times? If so, choose some piano arrangements that will highlight her voice but are also good from a pianistic standpoint. Have her play while you sing. \:D Now that should inspire her to practice for sure.
_________________________
There is no cure for boring.

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#14310 - 02/07/02 09:07 AM Re: Student Considering Quitting
Eric Offline
Star Member

Registered: 04/04/00
Posts: 2325
Loc: New York, NY
Thanks for the ideas.....maybe there's still hope. At her lesson, when I showed a complete willingness to restructure her work, she seemed to breathe a little sigh of relief and seemed in better spirits. We sat down together and went through all of her music (her lesson is in her home, so we were able to go through ALL her books from the past five years!) and pick a wide variety of stuff, some very easy and some a little challenging. Let's hope for the best!

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#14311 - 02/07/02 10:19 AM Re: Student Considering Quitting
PianoMusica Offline
Regular Member

Registered: 10/18/01
Posts: 78
Loc: Montreal, Canada
Eric, I like Rhaps' idea. You can combine the piano and singing. Perhaps have her learn the piano part of some of songs she enjoys singing. I think this will make her see how she can get the best of both worlds, she can play when doesn't feel like singing, she can sing when she doesn't feel like playing, and she can do both when she wants to. Although I am not a singer (far from it) I really enjoy playing and singing simulataneous.

Good luck, it always affects me personally when a student wants to quit.

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#14312 - 02/07/02 10:51 PM Re: Student Considering Quitting
arsnova02 Offline
Mainstay Member

Registered: 07/29/01
Posts: 908
Loc: St. Louis, MO
Have you determined exactly what it is that is so hard for her? If she is practicing consistently, there must be a reason as to why she's doing so poorly. It is my opinion that there are very few people in the world who are naturally very good or very bad at music. A lot of what we call "talent" is really the result of the training and practice done in the first few years, so to say that "piano has never come easy to her", as if it were an inherent thing, may be missing the point.

Is her practice really productive? Does she know how to organize her work and focus? Does she have poor technical habits? Are her reading skills lacking? There must be something that is causing such slow progress. If you can find it and work with her on specific solutions to the problem, things may become less frustrating.

Giving her easier pieces will probably encourage her in the short-term, but they will not help her progress and she will eventually find that just as frustrating. After some of her confidence is regained, I would work on analyzing her work and figuring out specific problems and solutions.

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#14313 - 02/15/02 07:03 PM Re: Student Considering Quitting
Diane Offline
Contributing Member

Registered: 08/10/01
Posts: 23
This student reminds me of one of mine. She's also in eighth grade, has taken lessons since first grade, and improves VERY slowly. She is very uncoordinated in all areas -- softball, flute, walking across rooms (she trips over the bench so much that I move it before she comes in.) She loves the piano but it is very difficult for her. Thankfully there is so much intermediate repetoire out there that I am able to keep her interested without advancing her too fast. If I give her a piece that is too challenging she starts to go ballistic. I try to give her music that will impress her friends and sneak in some "good stuff" along the way. I give her some "cool" sight-reading stuff every week, usually three levels below where she's at. I have seen more improvement lately, so if you can just keep your student going for a while longer, she might "turn the corner." Good luck!

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