"Sorry I'm late!"
It seems harmless enough, occasionally being five minutes late to your violin (or viola or cello) lesson. But 25 years of private teaching has shown me that running late tends to be a chronic problem, when it's a problem. Like being on time or being early, it's a habit.
There are exceptions, to be sure: the family emergency, the road closure, etc. And certainly I have empathy for the crazy schedules people are keeping, with school activities, sports, religious and family events. But on any given week, I can predict -- almost to the minute -- which students will be five minutes early, on time, seven minutes late, 10 minutes late. Every week.
If you are habitually punctual, congratulations! I invite you to share your strategies with us in the comments below.
If you are habitually late to your violin, viola or cello lesson, consider changing your habits. As most students and parents understand, it is not possible for the teacher to "make up" that lost late time at the end of a lesson. So if you are late, the person who loses most is you; and you lose quite a lot.
Allow me to illustrate: Over the course of a school year, a typical student has about 30 lessons, taking holidays, sick days, etc. into consideration. Let's say you are five minutes late to every lesson; over the course of the school year, you will lose two and a half hours of lesson time. If you are chronically 10 minutes late, you will lose five hours of lesson time; if you are 15 minutes late (and some people really are, especially by the time they get ready to play), you lose a staggering seven and a half hours of lesson time!
It adds up. Maybe it means that this week, you don't really play your scales. Or you don't go through the etude. Or, maybe you just simply don't have time to move on to a new piece, or to perform something from start to finish. These omissions add up to slower progress, less breadth of repertoire and less depth to your work with your teacher. Not only that, but also every lesson begins with an apology and feeling of "being behind." It's not the best formula for success!
What can you do?
First, recognize that your tardiness is a habit. Sure, there was traffic, there was the activity before the lesson, you needed a snack, there just isn't enough time. But that's not the reason you were late; admit it. You left too little time to get there!
Second, figure out exactly what you need to do, to be on time. What time to you truly need to leave? Does this affect the activities that happen before the lesson? Get those things under control: get the snack ready at another time, or get gas in the car beforehand. Maybe even reschedule your lesson time, if it runs too close to another activity. Plan, very precisely, how to manage your time, to arrive fully five to 10 minutes early.
Third, change your habit. This is probably the hard part: stick to your plan, repeatedly. Old habits are hard to break; ask anyone who has tried to change their diet or start an exercise plan! But you can do it: you can form a new and better habit, and you can stick to it, too. You just have to be very clear about your plan and determined to overcome those problems that caused you to leave too little time. Set a timer; not for when you should leave, but five or 10 minutes before you should leave. Begin the entire process of leaving, earlier.
And envision your success! Being punctual feels good. You will enjoy making more progress and not having that harried feeling before every lesson!Tweet
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