Advice on a lazy student : LUSENET : Everything About Teaching and Learning the Piano : One Thread

I have been teaching this young girl for about 3 years now and I've just about given up on her. She only plays what she likes and that is never played very well. She hates theory, scales, and most of her literature. Whenever, I ask her a question, she just gives me a nasty look. She has terrible mood swings, so I never know how to deal with her from week to week. I have talked to her and her parents about this whole situation. Her dad said she was lazy in school as well, so it wasn't any news to him. They don't seem to care about her lack of progress at all. The sad thing is, she is very smart with an excellent ear. I have tried to give her some things that she would enjoy in the past, but that didn't work either. I'm thinking about terminating her lessons this month. Please give me some advice! I need help. Thanks!

-- Angela Hartman (, July 27, 2002


Hi Angela,

I have also had trouble with students like this in the past. It's really sad that in your case the parents don't seem to care about her progress. (I've also had to deal with that) Usually when I talk to my "lazy" students and say, "I'll warn you this week, but if you don't know your songs by next week then I'll have to talk to your parents" This usually works. But, again, like you said...the parents don't seem to care in your case. That's tough.

I wonder if you told the parents that you were seriously considering dropping their daughter, if they would try to get her to practice. In my experience, even some of the parents that don't seem to care about progress care about their kids taking lessons.

Have you tried some kind of reward system? If she does well one week (I know...those weeks are few and far between, right?) then reward her with a special treat. Some teachers think of this as bribery, but the way I look at gets them to practice and learn their music. And some students that I started doing that with actually got into it after a few months, they became more interested.

Sorry I couldn't give you any more advice than that...I will be checking this topic for any information that other people leave too!

-- C Purtell (, July 27, 2002.

Do you offer monthly group lessons? It would be great to structure more "extrinsic motivators", including (but not limited to!):

Having her choose more pieces Overlap lesson with another student (like 20 min. private, 20 partner, 20 private fits 2 students in a one hour slot). Monthly group classes (so students can demonstrate & share what they've learned each month) Non-competitive performances (Guild, etc.) Composing/improvising variations to a current piece

-- John Bisceglia (, July 29, 2002.

Thanks for the help! I had a long talk with her last week and she told me that her parents are making her practice 10 minutes before her lesson. I'm more angry with the parents than with her. I've talked with the parents, but they are in another world! They don't see a problem at all. I think terminating lessons is the only answer at this point.

-- Angela Hartman (, August 12, 2002.

Just curious, Angela. Did you terminate the student? I'm having a similar problem now, but I would hate to "give up" on the student. Am I being too emotional?

-- Zenobia (, March 31, 2003.

Yes, I did have to terminate her lessons. It was for the best. I hope she comes back to her music someday! Thanks for all of the advice! Angela

-- Angela Hartman (, May 08, 2004.

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