teacher/parent needs advice!

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Hi - I need some objective advice concerning my 13-yr-old daughter. She plays clarinet and piano. She considers clarinet her primary instrument, and she plays extremely well -- youth symphony, state band, etc. I used to teach her at the piano myself until the teenage "thing" began. Now she studies with an excellent teacher (my old teacher, in fact.) The problem is that this teacher is unwilling to accept that piano is not my daughter's primary instrument. At this week's lesson, she assigned her Chopin's "military" Polonaise, a Haydn sonatina, a Bach invention, plus the usual technique and sight-reading. Although she likes piano and has talent, my daughter is getting very overwhelmed. She practices 1 - 1.5 hours daily on clarinet, and tries to get in the same on piano. However, this is not easy for a 13-yr-old. She is talking about quitting piano, but since she wants to major in clarinet performance (at least right now) this would be a mistake. How should I approach this issue with the teacher? I've talked to her once, and she told me that since my daughter has the capability to be a piano major, she feels obligated to teach her in that way. Good teachers are in such short supply, I hate to look for another one. Plus, we really like the teacher except for this problem. Advice? Alison

-- Alison Tress (tress01@stargate.net), December 13, 2002


Perhaps you could indicate to your piano teacher a maximum amount of practice time your daughter is willing and able to put in, and ask that she assign accordingly. You have talked to her once, which probably took a certain amount of courage. As a piano teacher, I can say that sometimes twice is necessary. I find I absorb what people say and then think about it during the course of my routine. There may be a mild grieving process for your teacher as she realizes some of her dreams for your daughter will have to be put on hold.

-- anita greenways (anitagreenways@ hotmail.com), December 18, 2002.

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