I put my hand on the top off his scruffy, uncombed hair, and leaned over to look him in the eye. I said "You do know that I am the teacher, right?" I did that because this particular piano student looked at me and said "No, I don't want to play that song again."
This particular piano student? My seven year old son.
For the last ten years, I have homeschooled my children. While I know its not for everyone, I really enjoy it because it just is a lifestyle that fits our family well. And as a former public school teacher (hello kindergarteners!!!), I enjoy bringing some of those teaching skills to my own household.
So, you might think that because I was a public school teacher, and I am now a homeschooler, that teaching my own kids piano would be a piece of cake. Well, pass the cake, because you would be wrong.
Very hard. (Did you read the part about the seven year old son?)
But I can tell you one thing I've learned that, on the outside, sounds kind of harsh, but actually really, really works when I am teaching my own kids.
Treat them like a client.
That's right. You see, the temptation is to be far more relaxed with my own kids OR to be far more strict with them.
'Cuz let's be honest: we get a lot more mad at our kids then we do our clients.
When Ollie Other Family shows up and his theory homework isn't done? I may be disappointed, but I give a smile and say firmly "Make sure its done by next week."
When my teenage daughter hands me her theory book and it isn't done? I remember all the hours spent watching Shark Tank and singing "The Greatest Showman" karaoke on YouTube and I'm furious.
When Suzy Someone Else doesn't have the second section of her song done? I investigate and help her carefully drill that hardest section.
When my preteen daughter doesn't have her second section done? I'm ticked because I heard her playing "Amazing Grace" a hundred times this week while she ignored her other music. (Ticked about Amazing Grace? Yep, that's me -- awesome mom, here, folks!)
So, we get angry. We get disappointed. We wrap up all of our feelings about how our children are doing with their music studies into this one particular song that they are or are not getting and the lesson takes on a decidedly uncomfortable tone.
How about we do it differently? How about we treat our children like clients?
With the same respect. With the same enthusiasm. With the same patience.
Invite them to be a part of all of your studio incentives. Put them on your regular schedule so you don't push their lesson back yet another week.
Build them up, encourage them, celebrate with them when they do something well.
I don't know about you, but I'm thinking I actually need to be more like a piano teacher and less like their mom when teaching them lessons.
Give it a try this week. Approach your child as if he or she were a paying client. Approach your child like you want them to actually like the piano.
Treat your child like he is your client, even if his hair is scruffy and he's a bit defiant. You'll be glad you did.
For all of you out there who are attempting to teach your own children piano,