First Prize for the Most Creative Excuse

April 13, 2004 at 08:53 PM · During my first year of teaching violin and piano lessons, my eyes have been opened wide to the multitude of excuses, from lame and trite to excessively elaborate, for missing lessons and not practicing. The following story wins the grand prize in my opinion.

A grade school boy had missed two lessons in a row. The first was due to a case of bronchitis. The day before his next lesson the mother called to inform me that he had broken his left thumb and had an appointment with a doctor; he would be unable to use that hand for six weeks. "How unfortunate!" I exclaimed. "But he can still come to his lessons, because he needs plenty of review on note names, rhythm dictation, and other theory. We can keep him advancing in his skills instead or regressing, as he would if he were to miss six weeks of lessons." She agreed with me, and this ended our phone conversation.

Three days later, I stopped by my favorite coffee shop for my coconut mocha, and guess who I saw in the line? Yes, my student with his mother. I asked sincerely how his thumb was doing. His mother said, "Tell her what happened!" He then proceeded to explain to me that he had gone to church and God had healed his hand. Sure enough, God had done such a good job of healing his hand that there was not the slightest sign of bruising or stiffness.

At this point I am filled with mixed emotions. Shall I choose to be overjoyed and amazed that God still performs miracles even today, or should I be perplexed and digusted that someone would use their faith to lie and deceive?

I don't know about you, but I tend to be a bit of a skeptic...

Replies (89)

April 13, 2004 at 09:04 PM · That is a little off the wall.

I took an empty violin case to one of my lessons....

April 13, 2004 at 09:10 PM · Dear Emily,

I think that your first choice is the only one that is viable. Yes, miracles DO still happen and you should rejoice with them. After you've taught for a few more years you'll be able to spot a truly creative excuse such as a young man who was taking piano from my wife. He "lost" his music. Many months later their dog was digging in the flower bed and guess what he dug up! Indeed, the lost score.

Keep the faith!

Dan Lawrence.

April 13, 2004 at 09:50 PM · Emily,

Tell the kid to ask God if God'll give him violin lessons instead of you.


April 13, 2004 at 10:01 PM · What a story! I find the worst part is not the student's lying but rather his mother encouraging it...

April 13, 2004 at 10:32 PM · The empty violin case is a beauty! If only I had the nerve.

Parents who are teaching their kids how to think up elaborate lies are just sinking to a new low (or not so new?) My father was told, as a young clarinet student, that if he failed to practice then he would be paying for his own lessons. After having to dig up the cash for a couple lessons on his own, he decided it would be easier to practice...and we're glad he did.

April 13, 2004 at 11:53 PM · Haha...what a funny story. Obviously the boy is lying, and trying to get out of going to lessons and hard work. It's to his own detriment and I don't think that you as a professional teacher should worry that much about it. You are 'busy' and have other students probably to look after. If he really doesn't want to go to lessons...and would his faith to lie and get out of it just forget him...and let him and his mother come to their own decision whether they want to resume the lessons.

April 14, 2004 at 01:53 AM · One time I went to violin lessons and forgot to bring my violin and its case... I jsut forgot the whole thing in general. Man my mom was soooooooooooooooo mad LOL

April 14, 2004 at 02:05 AM · damn, thats a really good one, ive never heard one that good before.

April 14, 2004 at 05:26 AM · I pulled one while I was in school. I will remember it for a long time. My violin teacher gave me a lot of material to prepare and of course, I did not, I had a few games of soccer to attend to! I went to my lesson with one of my left hand fingers heavily bandaged and with some red ink showing in a few places. It looked very fake, mind you. So, my teacher said "Ok, I'll excuse you this time but for next lesson you need to learn another new etude." And he said it with a smile on his face. Never done it again.

April 14, 2004 at 04:56 PM · I believe in miracles... I believe his hand was healed because his mother had a vision before he was born that her child would be the next Paganini.

April 14, 2004 at 05:35 PM · the spirit of paganini came down and impregnated her? gross.

April 14, 2004 at 06:42 PM · Some adults never cease to amaze me...and you can't blame the kids, though what a shame, they'll undoubtedly pick up these dirty habits from their families.

Some of my families have a new elaborate excuse every week, often it is the mother who tells the story, you know--to legitimize it--and then I have students who show up prepared and ready to learn and never complain. I haven't met too many people who are "in the middle" on this piece...except I'm beginning to wonder why some of them want to shell out the money if they don't really wanna commit.


April 14, 2004 at 08:27 PM · Yep. Miracles definitely happen, but only to those who have need of them and can accept them as miracles and true acts of divine intervention. This does not include kids and parents dodging violin lessons, unless violin lessons and all things connected thereof and thereto are inherently evil.

I have never associated the violin and lessons in it with anything even mildly evil. So, you have your answer.

As some of you guys mentioned Paganini, you will know that it was rumoured that he did sell his soul to the devil for his genius. This, I think, was a scurillous lie, too.



April 14, 2004 at 10:15 PM · If he really did break his thumb, then I assume there would be some sort of cast on it or atleast dressings, if God really healed it that fast, did he get a speedy doctor's appointment again so he could get the cast off, or did it magically dissolve in holy water?

April 14, 2004 at 11:05 PM · Those weeks where no practicing got done by me, my parents made me go to my lesson and face the music so to speak. I was no good at elaborate tales, so I basically had to admit I just plain didn't practice much all week (my mother wouldn't cover for me if I had lied anyway and I knew it). My teacher told me once after a series of no-practice lessons "If I didn't love you so much I would have quit you!" I think I was more flattered that hurt which was probably not his intention. He then began to write me notes in my lesson book just to make sure I was reading it (a trick I caught on to)..notes such as "Call me after finishing scales" or "Call and play this for me on Tuesday evening!" Yep, that worked!

April 15, 2004 at 02:28 AM · What I'd like to know is this: Why did Lying Mother agree that her son should continue to attend lessons for theory when it was clear she would get rumbled if this went ahead? Dishonest, blasphemous AND stupid?

April 15, 2004 at 03:11 AM · I only did it once. I woke up too late and missed the train. I called my teacher and told her I had a stiff neck and then went back to bed.

Sorry teacher. I didn't mean to lie, just that I really didn't feel for a lesson that day, which is rare.

April 15, 2004 at 03:25 AM · This is funny William, I actually do have a stiff neck today and cannot practice! Only I'm the teacher, and I still taught 7 lessons today even through the pain. I don't know if this was wise or not, but at least I made a point. Unfortanately, Paganini boy wasn't one of today's students...

April 15, 2004 at 03:36 AM · Owen, I just now saw your comment about the Paganini conception and I just have one word: Ew.

April 15, 2004 at 03:44 AM · Hi Emily, I hope the students who had lesson with you today didn't read your message. We all students think we could be the next paganini! This would have hurt their feelings. LOL

My teacher called last week and cancelled my lesson this week. Her excuse was "I'm tired and I am taking a break". Good enough for me! Hurray!

April 15, 2004 at 06:07 PM · yeah judging by the paintings and that photograph of him (i never figured out if that was real or not) that is quite gross. funny he got all those women, i guess looks dont matter as much as i thought. Maybe i should cancel my plastic surgery appointment...

April 15, 2004 at 07:12 PM · I really enjoy an honest answer, like just not feeling like it.

And as long as my students are taking from Yours Truly, they will never be the next Paganini. :)

If this same divinely touched student shows up today and whips out a Paganini Caprice, I don't know whether to lay hands on him to rebuke the evil spirit in him, or praise God for another glorious manifestation! ha.

April 15, 2004 at 08:26 PM · I had one "student" who scheduled her first lesson lesson and didn't come because they were getting a dog and didn't realize how far they had to drive to get to the shelter, and after rescheduling, the next week the dog had puppies so they were tied up in some puppy thing. Then the next week the dog started throwing up so they had to take it to the vet form of the emergency room. And then the next week they were going on vacation. This was during the summer, and the entire point of her taking lessons was to get a head start before she started studying the violin in school. Thus by the time she got back from her vacation, school was starting in a week anyway and so she decided not to take lessons anymore. So I've never met her in my life, but someone shoot me if this dog really exists.

April 15, 2004 at 09:03 PM · I think students are the same everywhere! I have a core of really faithful, wonderful students, but then there's the revolving door set, the ones that don't last. If you teach, you learn to recognize the early signs and minimize the occasions when you accidentally take on this kind of hardship. But it seems that some always get through!

April 15, 2004 at 09:10 PM · Don't judge them too hard... Many of us had that experience of excuses but it doesn't mean that in the future that student will not become a good violinst. THey usually become.... or not.

April 15, 2004 at 11:17 PM · Owen, save your money. Chicks dig musicians, so you're set.

April 16, 2004 at 06:51 PM · actually you're right, its a great conversation starter, as of yet nobody's ever guessed im a violinist, provided i hide my "hicky"

April 16, 2004 at 11:05 PM · I can't believe there hasn't been an entire discussion devoted to the violinist hicky yet.

April 16, 2004 at 11:18 PM · i've thought about starting one..

April 16, 2004 at 11:50 PM · There was one a year or so ago... look in the archives under 'hickey'.

April 17, 2004 at 12:36 AM · Hah, I get crap about my "practice-mark" all the time. Everyone goes, ooo been hanging around the ladies.

Emily where do you teach, so I can show up with that Caprice. :)

April 17, 2004 at 01:08 AM · Yeah, Matt, it's cool if you're a guy, not so cool if you're a 12 year old girl! (which I was..once)

April 17, 2004 at 01:35 AM · I'm *PROUD* of my violin hickey! It's the mark of accomplishment HAHAh

April 17, 2004 at 01:40 AM · I'm so bizarre the hickey is the least of my problems.

I have this perpetual wart on my bow hand that I use to intimidate my unruly pupils.

Matt, I live in Alaska, and I doubt if a Paganini anything has ever been played here. The cold has a poor effect on limber fingers.

April 17, 2004 at 02:54 AM · Gloves :)

My friend lives in Alaska and I might come down, (go up*) to his place sometime, hopefully you'll hear it from the mountaintops heh.

April 17, 2004 at 04:36 AM · ..and turtlenecks.

April 17, 2004 at 07:20 AM · haha i have a good one, not as good as Emily though. I was taking a lesson with this teacher, of course, I would never ditch practicing violin for anything. As the lesson was over and I was packing my stuff to go home. I overheard another student and my teacher. And it goes something like this.

My teacher: Hey, (i forgot her name) did you practice?

Lil kid: erh... my mom... erh i mean i leave... i mean my mom put my violin in the car all week. And i forgot to practice it until today. I'm sorry.

My teacher: Ohhh.. (disappointing) but don't you have orchestra at school?

Lil kid: urh... (and then he kinda moving his feet around and doing like iono....)

Haha, I laugh so hard, i think my teacher heard me. haha

April 17, 2004 at 07:49 AM · Matt,

Where in Alaska? And if you did come, I would be crushed if you didn't play some Paganini for me, as I've never heard it live before. I promise to hide my wart... and you can borrow my gloves.

Has anyone tried playing while wearing gloves? Would it save time on the warm-up? Could you skip the scales?

April 17, 2004 at 07:08 PM · Guys. I am having to knit myself an all over-body suit made of mountain hyrax fur. My violin hickey has become a massive allergy (nickel allergy) the size a smaller Benelux country. It's not a street cred statement- people think it's catching and dive for cover chucking lavender sprigs at me. Even my musical mentor thinks I should get shares in Oilatum and move to the Muraroa Atol. I am an outcast. It is also really cold and damp in Birmingham, England, so I should include, in my body suit, some gloves and a respirator to filter out the moisture. I must try to find a way to take it off quickly, otherwise I might just miss a violin practice...Which would lead us onto the original topic of discussion.


April 17, 2004 at 09:01 PM · lol! Oh, Susannah, I'm so sorry- but please know that you are not alone..shall we start a medical forum for musicians here? We literally have to be "branded" for our instruments..cellists wouldn't understand.

April 18, 2004 at 04:48 AM · Emily, my father (a guitarist) and I both use fingerless gloves (how 80s, darling). Soak your fingers palms-dowm in hot water, apply hand cream, then the gloves. It does help, especially if you've been out in the cold, but no, you still have to do the scales and whatnot.

April 18, 2004 at 09:50 AM · I wanted to fill you guys in on the hand healing thing. I saw my student again and heard a little more of his story. I was careful not to make him uncomfortable or even hint that I doubted him. I just told him I was amazed and wanted to know exactly what happened.

I gathered by hearing the details about his accident, the X-rays, etc, that he was being sincere. I have chosen to believe that he did not lie. Possibly, he was mistaken about the severity of the injury in the first place (one X-ray showed a fracture, another didn't), or there just might be a little magic left in the modern world after all. Stranger things have happened. Maybe I'll put in a request for my wart next... :)

April 18, 2004 at 05:19 PM · Hahah, that would be nice Emily :)

By the way, in addition to cellists not understanding; I also think violists don't understand. We have about 15 Violists in my orchestra and I can overpower all of them, sad eh? I think they just don't practice.

April 19, 2004 at 08:09 PM · once me and my sister wanted to go to a movie so i called my teacher and told him i forgot my violin at our beach house then he told me thats ok play on my violin and i'll play on the piano(man i didnt c that comin)

somhow i draged my self to the lesson, when we started my teacher was holding some piece of wood that he always hits me with it when i hold the violin low(i had a habet of hoding it REALLY low which drives him crazy) then he hit me with it so hard on my hand that i droped the violin.

i wasn't allowed to even touch it after.

April 20, 2004 at 12:56 AM · jeez, i thought my teacher was mean.

April 20, 2004 at 01:54 AM · Paganini, Beethoven and Mozart had the mean teachers :/

April 20, 2004 at 05:00 AM · Haydn was mean?

April 20, 2004 at 08:49 AM · I've only lost my patience once with a student so far. He stood up from the piano bench about 58 times and I could not find any way to keep him focused long enough to get through two lines of music. I don't remember now what I said, nothing mean, but it was the harsh, sarcastic tone that I'd vowed I would never take with a child.

He was so distracted, he didn't even catch it.

So, will my students be famous like Mozart if I beat them soundly and regularly? ;)

April 20, 2004 at 09:47 AM · Greetings,

start with he adults. There is a sub-culture to which that appeals a lot and your fees will go up,

Always helpful,


April 20, 2004 at 10:23 AM · hehe, my teachers don't hit me cuz I hit back ^_^. Is raising holy hell with your teacher always a mistake?

LOL, Buri, I think those people want to be taught a lesson alright...

December 4, 2007 at 07:40 AM · I saw this old discussion and thought I would add some recent excuses from my students.

"I didn't get to practice because I have been staying up late reading Harry Potter and it's 700 pages.

"I didn't get to practice because my brother and I have been training our pet feret."

December 4, 2007 at 02:09 PM · Gary, I enjoyed reading this thread today! Thanks for digging it back up.

I'm going to add a comment also. Sometimes the parent is the problem. Once I showed up to my child's lesson with the child...but I had forgotten to put her instrument in the car. It did not occur to me at all while I was driving to the school to pick up my daughter, or while we were on our way to her lesson. Not until I opened up the back of the car to get her instrument did my error become evident.

It's extremely embarrassing to be an adult and have to tell the teacher you forgot to bring the instrument.

December 4, 2007 at 02:28 PM · My old teacher told a story about a mom who was rushing to her child's lesson. She had the baby in the car seat and the violin and music in the trunk. When she arrived at the teacher's house she realized that she had forgot the student standing on the front porch.

December 4, 2007 at 02:54 PM · I'm glad you decided to believe him, Emily. I was actually saddened that so many people assumed that the mom and kid were lying. Have we gotten that far in our downslide that we can't believe in miracles. Do the answer to all life's questions reside in what we can see and touch. I know for many it does. I can't answer the question of why God acts miraculously in our lives sometimes and not othertimes, maybe I'll ask Him one day...but I do believe that He does. Why did He choose to heal something as simple as broken thumb? I don't know. On the same token why did he choose to heal a friend of mine of her cancer? Again, I don't know. I think it is a miracle that I was ever given the love of playing the violin that I have. I don't see any of us questioning that miracle in our lives. I think we should be thankful for the miracles we recognize and understand that there miracles everyday that we dont' even notice or understand to be miracles. I mean, how many of us go to bed at night knowing for sure that we will wake up the next morning. That is something we have no control over and frankly I think its a miracle that we have a reasonable assurance that we will wake up. Anyway, I have to go teach my eight grade class of strings players. Maybe they will play in tune that would be a miracle!

December 4, 2007 at 10:40 PM · I have two "interesting" excuses: one from a student who missed a lesson and one from myself, the teacher, who missed a lesson:

The father of the student called to explain that his daughter had to miss the lesson because she was involved in a police stake-out. Talk about drama!

I missed a student's lesson once because I made a wrong turn in Southern Maryland coming back from performing a children's concert and mistakenly ended up going through a government naval installation. I knew something was wrong when, thinking I was driving north on the Western Shore of the Chesapeake Bay the Chesapeake Bay appeared on my left. Passing straight through an unmanned guard house towards ammunition dumps and airfields I finally encountered a human being and asked how to get out and be on my way. The man was astonished that I had gotten as far onto the base as I had without being stopped but thankfully set me on the correct path back home towards Baltimore. This wrong turn caused me to miss my first lesson of the day and when I told the student's mother what had happened she replied, "That's a doozie!". Needless to say, something like this never happened again.

December 4, 2007 at 10:37 PM · I had a very, very, old diabetic Labrador Retriever who had poor bladder control in the autumn of her days. Well, she ruined my music which was on the floor near my chair, and I canceled my lesson to buy a new copy. I used a hair dryer to dry the ruined pages. Disgusting but true. I spent the afternoon copying my teacher's marks onto the new sheet. So yes, the dog ruined my homework. I trimmed the stained edges off and kept it as proof.

I also missed a lesson once because our new puppy, chewed up the hair of my favorite bow. I had it rehaired, but missed a lesson. Luckily, there was no damage to the wood part, or the mechanical part. I still use it, but photographed the damage for proof, thinking no one could believe this. It was all tangled and snarled up like rat's nest. My husband found it and called me to break the news. I raced home thinking the stick was chewed as well. Needless to say I have nightmares about a chewed up scroll and put things away a little better now.

A few months later, I borrowed the book "Marley and Me" and fell asleep. It is about the worlds worst dog. It fell off the bed and the puppy chewed up the cover all along the edge. I told my friend I would replace the book, but they insisted on getting the ruined one back. It is now framed with all the edges chewed off, hanging in a pretty swanky home.

We always rate our dogs based upon if they are good, "practice dogs". Well we are batting zero with this new crew.

December 4, 2007 at 10:35 PM · Greetings,

Marley and Me is a great read. I also think the lesson the writer feels he ultimately learnt from Marley about approaching everything in life with curiosity, enthusiasm and a childlike glee is one of the most profound we cam learn. It pretty much had to come from an animal.



December 4, 2007 at 10:45 PM · Buri. I agree. I loved the joy Marley had for living and I thought it a rather poetic twist that a young upstart chewed up the high watermark for dogs who misbehave, however joyful.

December 4, 2007 at 10:37 PM · i hope you didn't asume they where lying because they said that God healed him. Jesus does heal, that's a fact, but that doesn't mean they told the truth. but then again, the person who would lie about such a thing must have serious problems with their charakter and you could tell that they lie about everything just by looking at them, so i guess you already know if they told the truth or not, honesty shows.

December 5, 2007 at 02:08 PM · I do believe that Jesus does heal. I would have had a come back like... "Did he heal your need to practice violin?" or something like that :)

December 5, 2007 at 02:19 PM · I would have broken his thumb again...

December 5, 2007 at 02:25 PM · Ready to get turned into a pillar of salt, eh?

December 5, 2007 at 03:18 PM · I've had all sorts of excuses for students missing a lesson. One student even told me that she wasn't able to come to a lesson because it was "too cold" for her to go out and had to stay indoors (this was when there was no snow or ice on the road and 60 degree weather).

From my experience, the students who are not motivated to enough and calls in "sick" on a regular basis are usually the ones to quit anyway.

Although I understand emergencies (medical, weather, etc) happen, if lesson cancellations occur on a regular basis then I kick them out of the studio. Ultimatley, it's more work and hassle for me to "reschedule". In addition, since I do lesson planning for each student, I do get very angry when cancellations occur because of the lost opportunity time.

Also, being VERY firm on your makeup policy has worked well for me.

December 5, 2007 at 04:54 PM · Emily:

Next time you see the kid and his mom, tell them that god appeared to you in a celestial vision and she commanded you to charge them twice the amount per lesson. (In another vision Satan appeared to you in the guise of Paganini, played the complete Caprices at record speed, and then threatened you with eternal damnation if you continued to teach the little brat.)

December 5, 2007 at 05:49 PM · Two years ago in the Winter I was mailing some letters at the post office. A letter got stuck in the small letter slot inside so I reached in and pushed it farther, but with my fingers in the slot an elderly man slipped on some water on the floor, bumped into me and I fell with my fingers still in the mail slot. Ouch. Luckly my teacher believed me. You couldn't make up something like that.

December 5, 2007 at 07:43 PM · Yesterday a mom forgot to pay because she had to go inseminate goats.

December 5, 2007 at 07:55 PM · Artificially, I assume, Emily.

December 5, 2007 at 08:09 PM · Depends on whether she spent Emily's fee on roses and a bottle of booze.

December 5, 2007 at 08:11 PM · I just simply tell the teacher that my other instruments were more important as of that week.

December 5, 2007 at 08:50 PM · Most creative excuse for not recording practice times: "But I just don't like paper."

(A friend shared this one with me!)

December 5, 2007 at 08:57 PM · I've had the opposite problem. Two weeks before an exam, I was going down a hill on my bike, saw some friends, slammed on the handbrake and flew through the air with my violin on my back (and possibly still attached to my bicycle...), performing an impressive one-and-a-half salto and landing on my chin. Miraculously, nothing serious happened - I cut open my chin and scraped my hand, and the next day I felt pretty black and blue, but that was about it. Violin was still in tune. After being taken off to the emergency room and properly examined, I called my teacher to reschedule my lesson the following day. "Yeah, I had a bike accident. I don't think I can play tomorrow." The answer: "Well, I had a car accident today too - damn things. We don't have any other time, so you should come tomorrow regardless." I think he might have promised to go easy on me, but it sure didn't happen the next day!

December 5, 2007 at 11:29 PM · I didn't feel like practicing one night many years I came to my lesson the next day armed with an ENORMOUS plate of hot-from-the-oven homemade chocolate chip cookies and a bottle of milk. That worked even better than I suspected ^^

December 6, 2007 at 12:56 AM · @ The mom who forgot to pay Emily: You know you're cheap when you would rather...

December 6, 2007 at 02:49 AM · Yesterday a mom forgot to pay because she had to go inseminate goats.

Thanks for making me spit coffee on my keyboard, Emily.

December 6, 2007 at 04:14 AM · Greetings,

I believe that wa s precisely the kind of technique Emily was referring to.



December 6, 2007 at 06:52 AM · ewww. (or ewe)

December 6, 2007 at 08:01 AM · One of my students had some sheet music from his class at school which he brought to his lesson with me. I told him that I would help him with it, and he replied, "My teacher at school told us not to practice these." I chose one and told him that I'd like him to learn to play it anyway. He responded, "My music teacher told us especially not to practice this one." I taught it to him and assigned it to him for homework anyway. At his next lesson, I had him play it, and he did so as if he were sight reading it for the first time -- very poorly. This is not unusual for him. He rarely practices anything. That makes teaching easier for me. I just teach him the same lesson every week, and every week, he acts like he has never before heard what I'm telling him.

Whew. I just had to get that off my chest.

December 6, 2007 at 04:45 PM · Maybe her interpretation (not being a doctor and not having it x-ray'ed) of a broken thumb was not a bone break. I've had my kid stub his fingers pretty badly, and each time I took him to the ER claiming it was broken, the x-ray shows no break, and the doctors just wrapped it and told him to take it easy. He didn't miss his piano lesson because a few days later it felt better. And why destroy that child's faith in God? Obviously God made his thumb better after they prayed about it. The question in my mind is whether it was really broken in the first place, and you don't know that it was. Parents of musical students tend to over-react when anything happens to fingers. Any ER doctor can tell you that. I feel you're not giving them the benefit of doubt because you're assuming they are lying. She readily agreed to come to lessons, didn't she? Where you could have examined the thumb. In that case she had nothing to hide, in her mind.

December 6, 2007 at 06:12 PM · Regarding your comment, Clare, here is what I wrote on April 14th, 2004:

"I saw my student again and heard a little more of his story. I was careful not to make him uncomfortable or even hint that I doubted him. I just told him I was amazed and wanted to know exactly what happened.

"I gathered by hearing the details about his accident, the X-rays, etc, that he was being sincere. I have chosen to believe that he did not lie. Possibly, he was mistaken about the severity of the injury in the first place (one X-ray showed a fracture, another didn't), or there just might be a little magic left in the modern world after all. Stranger things have happened."

Regarding the student:

Unfortunately, after consistently missing about half of his lessons over the year, and deciding not to continue in the fall, I lost contact with him over the next couple of years.

Then his family contacted me last spring about beginning lessons again, claiming a spiritual revival in the boy's life. Unfortunately, I was all booked up and had no space for him.

December 6, 2007 at 06:43 PM · Emily, I think excuses like that weed out students that are not really interested in music, or, at least, are not interested in putting in the effort needed to play an instrument. And that stands true for the parent, too. It takes a huge commitment from the entire family to really take violin seriously. I cannot tell you how many times we had to cancel week-end plans because my daughter needed time for extra practice, or extra lessons, etc. On a different note, here's one of our stories from a couple of years ago. My daughter had a heart arrhythmia, and one day had an episode while in school. She was taken by ambulance to the hospital and there got the iv medicine needed to convert her heart to normal rhythm. That was the day of her violin lesson, so

I called the teacher to let him know that we are in the hospital and we're not going to make it to the lesson. This was at about noon-time, the lesson being at about 5:30 pm. As she did well in the hospital, we were released at around 3-4 pm, and my daughter had me call him back to see if she can still go to the lesson( if he hadn't rearranged his schedule). And this was after she had to have blood work, had iv fluids and medications to convert her heart!!! She was about 10 years old then. So, there are students who love the violin and would do anything to have the opportunity to play and study.

December 6, 2007 at 07:17 PM · In my mid-teens I was sick of viola and always used to practise violin stuff, but the teacher still used to come round and we'd go through 1st mvt of Walton or similar.

But eventually my mother told him and he stopped coming - pity, that was my loss considering how fast I'd progressed with him, without realising it at the time.

December 6, 2007 at 07:47 PM · As Jo (from Bleak House by Dickens) would say:

Be dis-guts-ed

December 6, 2007 at 09:40 PM · Michelle Biscoveanu- Stephen King...Story..."The Apt Pupil".

December 7, 2007 at 02:58 PM · I teach violin classes to young students and from time to time a student forgets his/her violin. I make them participate in class anyway using their "air-violin." I come over to them and adjust their position and ask them to demonstrate like the rest of the students. They're still doing all the work but the mere humiliation of my "correcting" their position is enough to make them never forget their violin again.

On a more somber note, I hear many complaints from teachers that their students aren't showing up and giving elaborate excuses. Quite often it is the fault of the student and their parent for not honoring their committment to lessons. But I always tend to look to the teacher and see it as a failure to motivate this student. Each student is unique and is looking for something different from playing the violin. Sometimes it's not the violin that the student dislikes...

December 7, 2007 at 04:16 PM · I lost my glasses in the snow is a good one.

But even though this happened to me, I still showed up for my lesson and just played my music by memory. So now, all my teacher's other students dislike me because they cannot use the I lost my glasses or I brought the wrong glasses excuse anymore.

December 7, 2007 at 04:23 PM · Maybe you can arrange for your dog to eat their glasses?

December 7, 2007 at 05:40 PM · This isn't exactly an excuse, but a student last week brought his violin case to the lesson, but forgot his violin.

December 7, 2007 at 06:33 PM · Catherine - it's happened to me too! We're not alone...

December 9, 2007 at 08:58 PM · I wish to take the moment to retract something I said to Michelle Biscoveanu. I misinterpreted the message of what she was saying. It was poor judgement on my part. I will see that this never happens again.

Royce Faina

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