I know that September is typically the beginning of a music teacher’s year, but January gives us an opportunity to touch base with the goals we set for ourselves in the fall, some of which we may have lost track of during the first semester (and especially through the holidays). I encourage you to make personal and professional intentions for yourselves, if only to be clear in your mind what your priorities are. This can really help when making decisions about a challenging student or parent, and I think it can give us the ability to “speak our truth” in a difficult situation within our studios and in life in general.
For instance, I had to have a “chat” (you know those “chats?”:) with a student last week. She had been a real achiever in my studio, but for the last year had been spinning her wheels and not really accomplishing much. She had that enviable (but tricky) talent of being a great sight reader, and had begun to mostly play through pieces during her practicing and not really focus and move them forward. She began high school this year, and I know that that can be a plateau time for students as well. I had some challenges last year in my personal life that may have trickled down to my students, and I’m sure that didn’t help. So we chatted. She admitted that she hadn’t been giving as much attention to her piano studies as she had been, though wasn’t really able to verbalize a reason for this. I mentioned a few possibilities and told her to give some thought as to why she wants to continue studying piano. I left the back door wide open by reminding her that she had reached the level where she could quit right now and enjoy playing for the rest of her life, as she does not plan to major in music in college. I asked her to pick one event to participate in – a PPMTA festival, even a private recital for her grandparents. An interesting reminder: When I emailed her mother, she admitted that even though she sits in on her student’s lessons, she can’t really tell anymore what “progress” looks like. I will renew my efforts at parent communication! So, any thoughts or suggestions?
Susie Marten, President
Pikes Peak Music Teachers Association