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Old 05-07-10, 07:57 PM
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I fired our piano teacher today

I had to fire our piano teacher today. I had already pulled my daughter out because I was concerned with the teachers methods of teaching. He was a bit insulting and I could see it was getting to her. She could not understand the theory and he just couldn't comprehend that.

Then I dropped for a variety of reasons.

Finally, my son wanted to stop. I was going to push until we talked. You know, my son has never really stuck with any thing, really easily distracted and easily overwhelmed. So, when he actually practiced piano on a regular basis I was thrilled. When he started writing music I was also excited. And, when he started learning to play songs he loves by ear I knew, this is a good thing for my child.

It's not about him being the most amazing-est pianist or whatever, its about my child found something he can succeed in. Success being that it brings him joy.

I did insist on consistent practice if we are going to pay for lessons. The teacher wants four hours a week. I thought that sounded like a lot, so I told my son that we could start with 20 minutes a day, 5 days a week...and...he has been getting either 4 or 5 practices in a week...wooooo hooooo!

So, today when he told me he doesn't want to go back I was surprised. I should not have been. 2 weeks ago his piano teacher told me that my son is not doing any thing that special with his music. Nothing special...his words. I shared with him that my son has adhd and for him to put consistent effort into anything is a major success.

Well at the last lesson the teacher told my kiddo that he is doing poorly due to laziness.

I went to talk with him today and tried to convey the horror of what he is doing to the boy. He told me that my son is lazy and irresponsible. I don't know what I expected, he told me last week that inner city kids are generally bad kids.

This is a person I know well and consider a friend. So, I guess though I have been thinking these various statements over I didn't want to hurt his feelings by changing teachers.

I am really angry and I am also really feeling good. I started off calmly, but when he told me that the problems in my sons lessons are my sons fault (vs accepting even a modicum of responsibility) I sorta blew. We were doing fine and then you could just see that inner denial in him (the teacher) rise up and he called my son lazy and something else...

I did say some regrettable words, not untrue, just regrettable. I reminded him of our conversation regarding inner city kids, told him there are no bad kids and that my son is not a bad kid.

When I got home my son was curled up in bed with his head under the covers. He was basically in the same spot as when he told me that he didn't want to play piano anymore. I told him we would get a different teacher, I reminded him of how amazingly well he is doing in his choice to practice each day, I reminded him of writing truly good melodies and I assured him that his music is a gift from the Father. I do not lie to my children. I think it is wrong to tell a child they are something they are not. They cannot perceive themselves accurately when we tell them they are the best at everything. I reminded my son of this...I reminded him that I tell him the truth about himself and that it is true that he is a good pianist.

He came out from under the covers,

We had a good day.
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Old 05-07-10, 09:14 PM
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Re: I fired our piano teacher today

It's hard to believe that people can be so discouraging to children. I hope you find a great teacher who can keep encouraging your children to do their best.
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Old 05-07-10, 09:20 PM
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Re: I fired our piano teacher today

Awesome job, Mom
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Old 05-07-10, 09:59 PM
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Re: I fired our piano teacher today

I was so mad when I started writing that post. By the time it was finished I was calmed and feeling more confident...the power of sharing.

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Old 05-07-10, 10:34 PM
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Re: I fired our piano teacher today

You don't say how old your son is, but I just feel so bad for him being discouraged by the person who is supposed to teach him! That person has no business teaching kids anything. And four hours a week? Ha Ha. I took piano from the age of 6 to 18. By the time I was a teenager I was basically going to the lessons only and never, ever practiced. I still got something out of it. I never became a pianist, but I did stay with music and I am glad I had those lessons! Even kids without ADHD forget to practice, get "lazy" and "unmotivated." Sounds like he only wants to teach prodigies. Definitely get your son a new teacher -- maybe someone who can make it more fun for him.
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Old 05-07-10, 10:39 PM
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Re: I fired our piano teacher today

When I was ten my piano teacher told my parents that only my older brother should continue. 5 years later I found another teacher and learned the classics. You should hear me play the "Moonlight Sonata"
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Old 05-08-10, 01:39 AM
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Re: I fired our piano teacher today

I agree Musikat, that guy has no business teaching kids. The teacher actually has adhd, pretty severe and I guess he has become so defensive over the years that it has stunted him some how. I am not going to make his excuses, we all have choices.

As to my son, I will definitely get him and all of us a new teacher. Music is too precious a gift to not try again.
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Old 05-08-10, 08:42 PM
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Re: I fired our piano teacher today

Good for you for standing up for your son. Now, give us the guy's phone number and we'll all call him and tell him what we think. :-)
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Old 05-08-10, 08:50 PM
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Re: I fired our piano teacher today

(((ox)))
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Old 05-08-10, 11:36 PM
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Re: I fired our piano teacher today

I remember when i had my first experiences with the piano.. i think i lasted about two weeks.. and i moved on to many other instruments throughout that time... the longest i settled was the violin for 4 years.. and it was because of the teacher's patience with me really..

i think your son will be an amazing musician in his own right.. and in his own time.. and of course that's an ultra generic "hallmark" card statement to play out there.. but i think what you did by pulling your kids was the right thing to do. I've noticed within myself.. that my desire to learn something, becomes overtaken with "spite" if the teacher involved in my learner's mishap is an especially indicative reason to my failure..

for myself ive learned that we have much different curves.. and when we dont pick something up its not because we're lazy.. the time just isnt right for us to learn it. The observation about your son "wanting" to learn, was especially neat! =) the overwhelm by the 4 hours a week.. pleh.. so what. He'll come to a place in his life where (maybe not piano.. but with any number of other things) he'll remember the feeling of wanting to learn.. and seeing that he was. Everything else will fall into place from there.

Especially with music.. you cant force an art to be learned, or taught. I think that instructor/friend of yours deserves a bit of pity.. especially as he is evidently ADHD himself.

The last thing you want is your child to avoid learning to play the piano.. or attempting to learn to play any other instrument, because of experiences like these.

Ive personally felt that especially with our children we have to be very defensive about the impressions made upon our children about learning.. and teaching.. that whole social interaction with an authority figure.. its a very delicate thing (especially with an ADHD child).

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Old 05-17-10, 04:55 PM
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Re: I fired our piano teacher today

you did good!
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Old 05-17-10, 08:26 PM
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Re: I fired our piano teacher today

The teacher sounds like many teachers in the performing arts. This type of teacher has a singular goal--to train a virtuoso. As a result, they stop caring about any pupils they don't see as "special".

This type of teacher is also very demanding. Four to five hours a week is nothing. Aspiring virtuosos train four to five hours a day. These teachers tend to be very critical and often insulting as well. You wouldn't believe the things young elite gymnasts and ballet dancers hear. It's downright abusive at times.

In fairness to the teacher, if you want to train a virtuoso, it's an effective method. Most--but not all--top ballet dancers and gymnasts were trained with the same techniques. (Most of their coaches also leave behind scores of mentally scarred unsuccessful pupils for every elite artist they train, and even the elite artists are often scarred too.)

But clearly your son never intended to be a virtuoso, so this is the wrong type of teacher for him, and it was good for you to stop the lessons. People with ADHD tend to respond much better to positive reinforcement than negative reinforcement. Hopefully your son can find a teacher who favors positive reinforcement.

You said that you said some regrettable things. I generally support apologizing for the way you phrase things and tell him that while you realize such training methods work for some children, they don't work for many for others such as your son.
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Old 05-18-10, 03:06 AM
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Re: I fired our piano teacher today

Good job Song. We all know how stressful it can be to be taught and supervised by this kind of teacher. The more they begin to criticize us, the more self conscious we become and the greater the number of errors we make.

I had a math teacher like that and he caused me to hate math for years. He always wanted his class to be the top scoring class and I of course completely destroyed his average results.

I know someone who used to be a dancer at the national ballet a long time ago and she tried to squeeze her own daughter into the same straitjacket. Her methods were quite obsessive to put it mildly. Needless to say, the poor kid appeared very unhappy.
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Old 05-18-10, 04:57 AM
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Re: I fired our piano teacher today

We had a music teacher in middle school who was competitive and pushed us very hard - she could be great and lots of fun, but also humilitating; basically a lot of us were terrified of her. To this day I can't see music other than competitively. I'm in this municipal band now as an adult, and constantly comparing myself to the others and feeling jealous. Really, it's unhealthy.
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Old 05-18-10, 05:12 AM
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Re: I fired our piano teacher today

I even think it lies deeper still. For us ADDers music is a creative process. Or should be, for those unlike me, who have a feel for it. Creativity is not about routine, its about improvisation. Its not about flawlessly performing Chopin, but about jamming away in a Jazz session.

I am not saying we can skip the basics, because without a solid foundation making good music is still hard. But beyond that we want to be free and not constrained.
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