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  • Pushy Parents (All Teachers)

    Posted by Emma Donnelly on October 9, 2017 at 10:11 am

    Hey Everyone!

    So a large percentage of my students are children and I have been teaching children for years and have never really encountered this but recently I have one parent that is being super pushy in regards to her child doing grades. Her child really isn’t ready for grades but the mum has insisted and it’s clear that the child is super unhappy doing the grade work and not doing ‘fun’ songs. I had a lesson today and it just felt all wrong like the kid was unhappy and wasn’t taking anything on board- it was a real struggle for me and the kid!

    Any advice or experience with similar situations would be great
    Emma
    x

    Alan Tang replied 6 years, 8 months ago 5 Members · 7 Replies
  • 7 Replies
  • Eliza Fyfe

    Member
    October 9, 2017 at 10:15 am

    I am always honest if a little blunt with those sorts of parents. And if they don’t like my opinion, then I am quite happy for them to find another teacher who has different values about doing what’s best for the student…

    It may be harsh, but I find it unfair on the child as it is their extra-curricular activity and I want to be a good role model for young students, encouraging them to do what they love and watch their confidence grow as a result – I’m sure you’re the same. So always stick to those principles I say 😉

  • Guest Teacher

    Member
    October 9, 2017 at 10:15 am

    Sorry late to join in on this one….I recently had a similar experience with a pushy parent. Their back ground was teaching in another musical instrument where the belief was that it was all to do with grades. So tricky! I stated what I believed was best and had to really stick to my guns.

    I was happy to offer to help the student take their pre grade test in singing (prep test ABRSM) that gives children the opportunity to see how an exam feels without any pressure of pass/fail. This was a good first base, and a few exam boards offer pre grades which are useful. It went well and the experience was enjoyable. The parent wanted me to carry on heading towards grades but with very little lesson time. This just was not feasible or realistic for either myself or the child. As they were unable to meet my terms we had to part ways.

    I think if parents cannot see that the teacher is the expert and knows what is best for each individual student then this is a tricky situation to be in and really difficult as you need them to listen to you. At the end of the day the child’s happiness, confidence and development musically is the teacher and parents responsibility. If a parent is not wiling to listen and follow advice then I agree with Eliza, an alternative teacher needs to be sought.

  • Emma Donnelly

    Member
    October 9, 2017 at 10:16 am

    Thanks for the advice! The kid is really struggling with the grade 1 and I think I managed to break through to the mum last week so she is in agreement that if the kid is not progressing over the next few weeks then she won’t do the grade (I will believe it when I see it) but at least its a step in the right direction!

    The prep test might be a good place to start- Ill look into it.

    Thanks again everyone.

  • Mark Palmer

    Member
    October 9, 2017 at 10:16 am

    The situation tends to be parents insisting their child learns to read music(standard notation) alongside learning to play the instrument or starting a grade(both which are very good skills/pursuits). Im happy to do both but not at the expense of the students enjoyment. If the students isn’t enjoying it, you really have very little as a teacher to work with..

    Ive experienced this only a few times, with parents with children that tend to be ages of 6-10. I will not force anyone through a vicarious situation if they’re clearly not enjoying it. Its so easy to lose sight of what attracted them to the instrument in the first place when focusing on other matters/results!

    What else is going to compel them to practise outside of lessons?

    Ive had to tell parents very nicely they should encourage their child to pursue what makes them want to play the instrument, then they shouldn’t have to nag them to ‘practise/play’. It really is a harder point to ‘pitch’ to parents with these ideas, because of their preconceptions of they think is good for their child in this learning situation. Its never easy, but if what you’re saying is for the good for their child they should respond positively. Peace🙂

  • Pauline Carville

    Member
    October 9, 2017 at 10:21 am

    I apologize that I am a little late in responding to this however it was due to the fact that I have been dealing with the same sort of thing in both my singing teaching exams and acting exams with the same student. A 16 year old who went home and told his mother that I was wrong in putting him in for Grade 6 only in drama and yet he was happy that he was doing grade 6 in singing and is a better singer. I had his mother on the phone twice a week for 4 weeks telling me what she and her son believed. In the end I was blunt also as I was starting to take it personally that they were disrespecting me. The student also was always missing his drama lessons because he was in everything here 5 productions and yet he thought he would be ready. He has now left me as a singing teacher because his exam has now passed so I assume he will be gone after our production in the middle of May. I am the expert and at this for 20 years however I still find this difficult to deal with. Had he not left I was going to ask them to find another teacher anyway!

  • Guest Teacher

    Member
    October 9, 2017 at 10:21 am

    I know it’s really late, this one——

    You all have great advice for teachers. We really do have BOWLS of patience for our role as teachers. One of the first things I always tell parents (and keep reminding them throughout the coming months) is that learning an instrument is learning a new language. It needs time, patience, hard work and interest. I also give advice from the onset regarding exams—the pros and cons. Make sure you are always comfortable with the points you make and parents will listen. If there are issues, I normally don’t wait too long to suggest an alternative teacher or direction. This helps resolve tensions quickly. Tensions are unnecessary. Since I really enjoy teaching, when it begins to feel uncomfortable on my part, I’m normally the first to make a suggestion to either put away exam pieces for the time being and try other stuff or give the student an option to stop taking lessons. It might be helpful to have pushy parents sit in on some lessons as well. I do this very frequently, which makes them a bit more realistic with their demands. I also look for opportunities for students to perform in front of small audiences ( recitals) which at times gives them a boost and change in perspective and they start to thrive. This does not work for all but it is a good way to give students an opportunity to “work to perfection” without pressure of exams. I also let students choose music to play alongside exam pieces, especially when there is a lot of time, which is often the case. However, it is often tricky and we all as teachers have to find a balance. Presenting your view with an air of confidence goes a long way…..

  • Alan Tang

    Member
    October 9, 2017 at 10:21 am

    It’s important to be honest with the parents. They have to enjoy lessons and practice first. If they are not practicing then why do an exam. Equally, grades are not the end all and be all of learning an instrument. It must not be seen as a task. It needs to start of as enjoyment!

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