Excuses that Piano Teachers Don’t Like to Hear

There are a few phrases that I hear from my students that make me want to run screaming from the room. Not because the student doesn’t have a valid reason but the vagueness is distressing. Let’s start with number 3.

3. “I didn’t know what to do.”- It is excedingly rare that I send a student home with a new piece with no explaination. This is generally limited to highschool students or a student who I feel needs quizzed on their note reading ability. Most often either the student was intimidated by the piece and didn’t practice it or waited until late in the week and realized the piece required more work than originally thought. More appropriate phrases would be “I put it off until too late” or “I don’t understand this specific part” or “Can you walk me through this piece.”

2. “I forgot about that piece, theory, technique…” This one makes me a whole lot grumpy. Why? I provide my students ample assignment sheets and organizational tools. If the student is writing down their practice time daily, then that means they are looking at their assignment sheet each time they practice. If you tell me you forgot to practice or didn’t do your theory because you forgot, then we have a problem. That means you are not recording your practice as it happens and just filling in the blanks at the end of the week. This makes your practice record less than accurate and often results in a less than complete assignment.

1. “We were so busy.” Now I get that families today are busy. But this one really makes me mental. I would rather have a student just tell me that they didn’t want to practice and spent all afternoon playing outside. Or that mom was out of town or granny watches them in the afternoons. These kinds of details can help me plan the student’s assignments. I feel that the “we were so busy” excuse is something that kids hear adults say and think it is ok to repeat. Everyone is busy and has different responsiblities.

My point is that students need to work on their communication skills and learning to own their time management issues. Students are still learning and growing but excuses week after week begin to wear thin.

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