Parent making excuses for child

Rebekah said: Mar 7, 2013
 Violin, Viola
High Point, NC
1 posts

Sorry, this is a bit of a vent….
I have a new transfer student who is in 9th grade, and because they travel quite a ways to get to me, the mother comes to the lesson. There are some things that we need to change about his playing, but every time I make a suggestion or ask the student to practice a certain way, the mom starts talking about how difficult and frustrating it is for her child to do so. I’ve asked the mom to let her child do the talking (didn’t work) and after tonight’s lesson, where the mom told me that it was difficult for her son to listen to the CD (!) and practice certain measures multiple times, I am ready to throw in the towel. Any suggestions for gracefully handling this, or should I direct them to a teacher who will do more spoon feeding than teaching? I have many wonderful 4th graders who can do the work that I’m asking the 9th grader to do, and I really have taken my expectations down several notches as we learn to work with each other, but this mom is just driving me up the wall. I also don’t feel that the poor teenager even knows how to communicate with me because the mother does it instead—he just stares at his music stand and refuses to answer questions.
Helicopter parenting…I hope I can avoid it with my little ones!

Irene said: Mar 7, 2013
Irene YeongViolin
160 posts

the first time i intervened, teacher politely told me that she will explain after lesson. my daughter was 2 then, i have learned to keep quiet and take notes during lesson. she rarely ask me anything during lesson, unless there is something that my daughter cannot reply, and she will ask me.
parents just have to learn not to interfere, i guess.
maybe just politely tell her ‘ i will explain to you after lesson, and continue eye contact with the child only’.

Mircea said: Mar 8, 2013
Mircea Ionescu
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Suzuki in the Schools, Viola
Crestwood, KY
23 posts

Dear Rebekah,

I totally understand your frustration, I have been there. So I set up my studio policies, which included my expectations of parents. One of the expectations is that they take notes quietly and ask questions at the end.
I encourage you to make your studio policies, if you have not, and take the beginning of the next lesson to go through them with both parent and student. I would do it in a kind way just communicating that I want us to be on the same page. I would also communicate that if it is hard for her not to talk, that we should try having her wait outside for part of the lesson.

What do you think? I would not throw in the towel just yet, keep at it =)

MaryLou Roberts said: Mar 14, 2013
MaryLou RobertsTeacher Trainer
Institute Director
Suzuki Association Member
Guitar
Ann Arbor, MI
244 posts

I would listen to what the parent is telling you. It may be seen as an excuse, but I don’t think it’s always the case. The parent is telling you that her son does not want to listen to the cd, and that is important information in teaching that child. Talk about the importance of listening and fluency with this student; he is old enough to understand. Things like how long, suggest times of day, such as during homework, at dinner, suggest putting the repeat function on whatever device he uses, Demonstrate small practice spots in the lesson, and keep demonstrating it in different ways, pointing out the improvement in only a few minutes. In reality, we teachers have no idea what goes on at home, so ask how did t listening go this week at the beginning of the lesson. Make it a focus until you see results, then point them out.

The mother is telling you she needs more support directed to the child in order for your ideas to work out. A frustrated parent will speak out of turn. Together you can find a solution!

Mircea said: Mar 14, 2013
Mircea Ionescu
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Suzuki in the Schools, Viola
Crestwood, KY
23 posts

MaryLou, thanks for the good points. I like the part about giving ideas how to listen to the c.d. and considering what the parent is saying from different perspectives.

Rebekah, all these ideas combined will help you grow this young man’s character in partnership with his mother. Growing his, his mother’s and your character will be the best investment for his life longterm. All the best!

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