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July 30, 2009 at 1:03 AM

I am thirteen years old, and I have 4 violin students. One of which is a year older than me.

I have been having trouble getting this student to listen to me:

She sometimes won't take my advice because 'Her Way Is Better',

She will start playing when I am talking to her,

I am kinda new to this, and I have gotten some good advice from my professional teachers

such as: you need to teach her to have respect for you.(not as easy as it sounds!!!)

I also have a 6 year old who, in our last few, has been kicking and screaming

and hanging all over her mom through out the entire lesson.

Then she gets upset when we do not have enough time to play the rhythm game she likes.

Any help would be appreciated!!!!

P.S for those who have asked, I do really need the money!

And, also I am friends (but not to close) w/ this girl.

We have  kinda been friends since we were real little.

I would hate to have to stop teaching her since I know she has wanted this for a loooong time.

But, I guess I really need to lay down the rules.

From Tasha Miner
Posted on July 30, 2009 at 3:41 AM

You must be quite accomplished at 13 to have students already.  Allow that to bolster your authoritative energy in lessons.  Not that it's an authoritarian environment--but too often, new teachers (including myself!) will be too nice and give off an energy that actually requests people to boss you around a bit.

For the student that plays whenever you start talking, I have found it useful to simply and succinctly express how it makes me feel when they do that.  For example, in a completely calm tone, "You know, whenever you practice while I'm trying to give you instruction, it detracts from your lesson time and insults me as your teacher.  Please listen when I speak and don't play."  I have never had a student with whom this didn't work when said once in the lesson a couple weeks in a row.  Honestly, some just don't realize it and are so eager, they can't help themselves!  So perhaps it's nothing personal or intentionally disrespectful at all.

For little ones, their attention span is very short, as I'm sure you know.  Whenever a student displays behaviors of parental dependence as yours seems to be, the key is to get the parent involved and aid their child in whatever activity you're trying to direct.  Trick is, you can't stay with one for too long, and you can't reason with a 6 year old.  Not being able to get to do what they really like because they're wasting time falling over Mom or Dad doesn't really matter to them at that age.  For my new 3 (!!) year old student, I occasionally have this problem, too.  I've discovered she's quite gifted intellectually, and memorized the entire parts of the violin and bow in one session.  She's going to give a demonstration in my next student recital on the parts, and she knows she's really smart about them.  Whenever she gets a little hung up on Mom, I always ask if she could help me remember the parts of the violin or bow.  If there is something similar for your little one, like "Hey, could you show Mom that wonderful violin hold we've been practicing?" and if on cue Mom could say, "Oh, yes!  I'd love to see this!" that would be tremendously helpful to kind of break the parental attachment without throwing the parent from the lesson room and causing a tantrum.

A few more details, and I could be a bit more helpful, but I wish you all the best.  Hope that at least sparks some ideas for you!

From Thomas Gardner
Posted on July 30, 2009 at 3:08 PM

In my opinion its not your job to teach that student respect.  You were hired or asked to teach them to play the violin.  If this person is fourteen and doesn't understand the concept of respect for a teacher, you should stop teaching them now.  Talk to this person's parents and if they don't support you then drop this disrespectful child as fast as you can.  It will only undermine your confidence in yourself if you keep him on.  There are billions of students in the world. 

From David Allen
Posted on July 31, 2009 at 12:46 AM

Hi, I agree with Thomas.

This is an important life lesson for you: you teach people how to treat you. You must be very clear about what you want and you must mean what you say! For instance: "Stop playing, I want you to listen to what I'm saying." Also: "if you won't do what I tell you I can't keep you as a student."  Then, you must follow through on what you've said.  The student now has two choices: submit and learn, or go elsewhere and stop wasting your time. Either way you win. The parents are really out of the picture at this point. This is about you and the student.

You've not said whether or not this is a personal friend or if you really need the money. These are issues you would need to deal with personally to decide what limits you can live with. As usual, the key is more, not less communication.

Good luck!

From Laurie Niles
Posted on July 31, 2009 at 4:00 AM

You are right, in a sense, about teaching respect; although I'd say it's about teaching discipline. You will need to have rules for your studio, and this is a good time for you to make a nice list of what they should be. (After all, frustrations and failures can lead to the best solutions!) One of the reasons that a Suzuki student is first taught to bow, before being taught anything else, has to do with discipline. One gets out the instrument, and one does not just launch into playing without regard for the teacher; teacher and student bow in mutual acknowledgement. Little things like that are actually taught, though some students certainly take to them more easily than others!

From Stephen Brivati
Posted on July 31, 2009 at 7:01 AM



`ow` as in `Ouch, my cat just bit me.  As opposed to `ow` as in `Oh no,   I just trod on the cat.`  Although one can follow the other in quick succession.



From David Allen
Posted on July 31, 2009 at 7:18 AM

Laurie makes a very good point:

"You will need to have rules for your studio, and this is a good time for you to make a nice list of what they should be. (After all, frustrations and failures can lead to the best solutions!)"

This is an excellent opportunity for personal growth in your teaching techniques and policies.

From Jenny Fischer
Posted on July 31, 2009 at 3:30 PM

I agree that sometimes people play when you are talking out of excitement and not disrespect, but they still need to be reminded not to do that. I'm a senior in college and I admit sometimes I need to remind myself not to "noodle" while my professor is talking. Old habits die hard, so discipline your students before their habits become old ones.

From Royce Faina
Posted on July 31, 2009 at 5:03 PM

The above recomendations will also teach self respect for your own self.  You are a human being entitled to dignity and you have feelings.  And always treat others the way that you want to be treated, don't go to far the other way from being a carpet that others walk on to a Tyrant!


From Anne-Marie Proulx
Posted on July 31, 2009 at 8:48 PM

Royce this reminds me another discussion...  But about the main topic, yes you have to be respectful but also respected!!!


From Royce Faina
Posted on August 1, 2009 at 1:51 PM

I agree Anne-Marie!  It's the point I am trying to make but in a nut shell. ;)

From Pauline Lerner
Posted on August 3, 2009 at 3:01 AM

Royce, you are so right.  Laying down the law  will help both you and your student to respect you more.

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