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The Interrupting Piano Student

August 20, 2018

Weird commercials generally stick in my head whether I want them to or not.  Years ago, there was a commercial for a cheese cracker that portrayed the conversation between a scientist and a block of cheese. 

 

The cheese started the joke:  "Knock knock."

 

Scientist:  (starts to say) "Who's th - "

 

And the block of cheese interrupts saying "Interrupting Cheese!!!!!"

 

Cue the block of cheese's hilarious laughter.

 

(See why it stuck in my head?)

 

Yeah, so, have you ever had a lesson where someone could have called out:  "Interrupting cheese!"?

 

We've all faced it before . . . the student that interrupts.   Whether it is just poor manners or blatant disrespect, it is generally annoying and slows the flow of the lesson.

 

There you are, leaning in, describing the movement of the notes on the staff when the little boy looks at you:  "Yeah, yeah, yeah, I've heard this before."

 

Or you are talking to the girl about the difference between legato and staccato, and she interrupts you to say:  "Did you know I drew a picture of a unicorn ballet dancing?"  

 

It happens.  And we love our students anyway.

 

But, how do we handle it?   

 

Remember this rule of thumb:  correct kindly and correct quickly.

 

If you have a student who interrupts you frequently, trust me, the longer you let that go on, the more prevalent it will be.  And before long, the lesson will feel like the student is facilitating it rather than the other way around.  (Don't ask me how I know this -- yikes!)

 

So, correct it quickly.  "Teach" the student, by how you respond, that interrupting you is not o.k.  When the teacher is talking, the student isn't.  Unless its a dialogue, when the teacher is giving direct instruction, the student should be listening.  

 

But don't just correct it quickly.  Correct it kindly.  

 

I know that sometimes our instinct is that flash of irritation or even anger.  But, trust me, your student isn't a bad kid or a bad teenager or even a bad adult.  

 

Your student just isn't realizing that he or she is interrupting.  So, in your quick correction, do it with kindness as well.  Criticizing, belittling, and especially shaming, have no room in your piano lesson.

 

Here are some examples . . . say these immediately after the interruption:

 

"Quick reminder {student} -- please listen carefully while I'm talking.  I'll hear about your drawing in a minute."

 

"Please be sure to listen when I'm teaching.  Thank you for remembering that."

 

"Don't forget that, when I'm talking, you are doing a good job listening."

 

See?  It doesn't have to be long or elaborate.  Keep it simple and to the point.

 

Deal with interruptions from your "interrupting cheese", quickly and kindly.  You'll be glad you did.  

 

 

 

 

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