August 16, 2013 at 11:09 PMHere it was happening again:
After using a famous French word, I looked at my watch. “Na-ah! - I said to my husband. - Too early. No way.”
The next student was, indeed, too early. Time is a mysterious thing. If your lesson is scheduled at 3 pm, you should come at 3 pm. 2:59 if you are polite. 2:58 if you are extremely talented and your teacher has told you so and does not mind spending more time with you chatting about your life affairs. Not when you try to steal 15 extra minutes of his or her time. Not when your mom is going to be late again picking you up, leaving you in your teacher's home for entertainment.
There was another ring of the doorbell.
I did not open. Not until it was her time.
I want to know what you, gentle men and women of the jury, do in a case like this. What do you say to a parent, a mom who sometimes comes in and not only sits during lessons (she's welcome to), but lies down on MY couch and pretends to be asleep even when her daughter talks to her. Is she just comfortable? No inhibitions? Mi casa e su casa kind of thing?
I wonder sometimes how to explain the simplest things on Earth to an adult.
Anyone has similar experience? I'd love to hear it.
Is this something possible for you?
For lying on your couch... well... perhaps do not put your best couch in your teaching room and expect almost anything from parents and students as long as they do not break or steal anything, pay the lessons and talk kindly... and practice their violin :) I would not know how to assess this either if I was you so I would simply put an older couch...
As for a perennially late-hanger-on, you can always say, "sorry, but I have to go out." Show them politely the door.
It's harder if you space your pupils out, or if this one is the only one you have on that day. You may just have to explain directly what your policies are.
The moment I opened my case, my instructor told me what time the lesson would end-- exactly a half hour (or hour, depending on what I had signed up for) from that instant. She made this very clear to me any time I arrived early.
I state clearly to my parents/students that arriving 3 minutes before the lesson time is ample time to unpack and be ready. Cutting into the previous student's lesson time is unnecessary, unkind and plain rude. Equally impolite is to impose oneself onto the student's and teacher's. No student likes an uninvited audience. Besides, I may be having a conversation with the parent at the end of the lesson that includes personal details, etc.
I have one "mother/student from hell" combination that try to get extra lesson time this way EVERY week (especially this summer), so I make a point of not buzzing them in until 3 minutes before. Then when they come in I mention the time, and I also mention the time when we start and when we finish (inside I cringe, but I want this "mom from hell" to somehow get it – they are "chosen people" and believe the world owes them special treatment...). I also tell her the time off my iPhone, so she know I don't make it up, but it's synchronized to the network. This summer she got worse, so next week when everybody re-starts, I will finally and very happily drop her – I have enough demand and don't need to put up with this any longer). Besides, if an 10-year old that has taken lessons for 4 years (and gives me attitude, btw), needs more than 3 minutes to get ready, there's too much wrong that I'm not trained and licensed to fix.
I give my student specific warm-up/stretching exercises (1 minute) that they can do in the car on the way to the lesson and after they get their shoulder rest on and tighten the bow. Our lessons ALWAYS start with scales (first 3/4 years of playing) or etudes (from then on). It's good training to play with only minimum warm-up time. Three minutes is ample time to open the case, put shoulder rest on, tighten the bow, get music ready, and do warm-up exercises. If they need longer because they're slow, they can take as much as they want out of THEIR OWN lesson time, not impose on EVERYBODY else's time and flexibility.
No matter, it sounds as if you're a bit too high strung about the issue. Get some perspective in your life. Your student is showing up EARLY to a lesson. Not late, not unprepared (not noted to be so by you anyhow).
Do you have children?
Do you realize that a Mom has a stressful day carting around their kids? And that the opportunity to close their eyes for 30 minutes on a comfortable couch is a welcome relief?
Coming early is just not polite, it's an intrusion into one's privacy. It's a matter of discipline, too, something we as musicians and teachers need to show a good example of.
Somehow all my other students have it and never show up earlier. I don't have a waiting area per se, and if I have another student, I myself don't mind if one listens to another. They have to learn to play for an audience anyway and music making is not for the faint hearted.
Thank you all again for your responses. Happy teaching!
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