Thursday, November 11, 2010


When did it become OK to disrespect a teacher?

I teach private music lessons, and over the past 4 years I've noticed the increasing trend in students and their parents treating me (and other private instructors) disrespectfully.  No-shows, last minute cancellations, not practicing, not focusing, quitting because it's "too hard".  When did children start ruling over their parents? What is going on here?

No-shows and last minute cancellations (that are not related to being ill, family emergencies or car problems) seem to happen every week. Not only do they happen, but the parents don't want to pay for the missed lessons. This is my Livelihood, people! I have expenses to cover. I have bills to pay. This isn't some hobby, it's what I do!! Why is it so hard for parents to understand this? What about having enough respect for me and my time to call me 24-hours ahead and say, "Janie has a conflict tomorrow and we can't make it." or "Billy isn't feeling well and we don't want to get you sick. We want to reschedule his lesson."  It isn't rocket science people, it's called COMMUNICATION. Email, Text, Cell Phones - those are the tools so why aren't they being used?  Not showing up or canceling last minute teaches that child that it's OK to not keep commitments. It teaches that child that their teacher's time is not important. It teaches that child that it's OK to disrespect others. Again I ask, when did this become OK?

I understand that students get distracted. I understand that students don't always have a lot of time to practice. Life is full these days. School, family, sports, clubs, pets, chores... these things all take up precious time. These things are commitments and need to be prioritized. By the same token, however, these students signed up for lessons. They made a commitment to me and to themselves to practice and learn an instrument. Not being focused and not practicing is another way student disrespect their teachers. Be prepared - be honest - tell me that you didn't practice and I'll work with that. Coming to lessons yawning, slack-jawed and not being present is a waste of everyone's time.  When did this become OK?

Last but no least, the excuse "It's too hard" is bogus. No Shit it's hard! You are learning a new language (reading music)! You are using muscles you don't use at other times! You're doing 18 things at once! If it was EASY then EVERYONE would be doing it.  With everything we do in our lives, there is a learning curve. Things are hard at the start, and it's my belief that they will get harder before we reach the top of the curve, and everything we've been struggling with suddenly makes sense. It all clicks, and as we move forward we start the next learning curve.  "It's too hard" is not the same as a student saying "I'm no longer interested". "It's too hard" is not the same as "I never wanted to play this instrument." "It's too hard" is a cop-out for not wanting to do the work. I'm not suggesting that parents not listen to their children and force them to play an instrument they're not interested in. What I am saying is asking their kids to stick it out for 1 or 2 more lessons, to see if they can get over that hump may be more beneficial than letting them quit because "it's too hard".

How do I know all this?  I've been there. I didn't want to practice. I wanted to quit. I would come to lessons unprepared and distracted. My teacher would talk to me about the disrespect I was showing her and myself, and if that's what I wanted to do then she wouldn't teach me anymore.  She put her heart and soul into teaching me (and her other students) and it wasn't worth her time to waste that on someone who didn't get that.

I love my students.  I teach all ages, all levels, and each one of my "kids" is special.  I know music is a hobby to most of my students, and I have no problems with that. I just want them, and their parents, to see that what they're getting is gift. They're getting a teacher who is investing her time in THEM. They're getting a teacher dedicated to making this a good experience. They're getting a teacher who tries to make the lessons fun and informative.  I respect my students and their parents. I'd like to be treated the same way.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Progression Lesson

I'm tired of false starts. I'm tired of living life through a bubble. I'm tired of regrets and broken promises to myself. I'm pieces of a puzzle, but the puzzle changes and I never seem to get it put together.  I don't find any of this to be particularly helpful in actually living my life. 

I've been thinking about joy, life, and the future.  What's important, what's not important, how I want to live my life. What matters, what doesn't matter, and not caring what people think about me.  These things have been rolling in my brain.  Now I need to bring them, these things, to life.  I need to manifest what it is that I want out of my life.  I need to cut loose the anchors that are no longer needed. There is life out there, and I'd like to join the party.

What is progress? For me, I think writing is progress.  I think making music and listening to music is progress. I think getting my dishes washed is progress.  I think not eating veggie sticks for dinner when I'm home alone is progress.  I think taking my meds, On Time, is progress. I think I've made some progress today.

I have to admit, while I don't really like change, I like progress. Progress is lovely.  Progress is healing and lessons learned.  I think I'm ready.


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