I nearly fall asleep when my students are playing, sometimes. I had a neighbor who actually dropped dead in the middle of a lesson, poor student! What’s your worst experience, or someone you know of, if it is too embarassing.
My worst experience with students (and their parents really) happened last December… I had one of my students over for her lessons, and when her mum came to pick her up at the end of the lesson, being Christmas time, I invited her into my place for a whisky.
I had a high-school student show up drunk for a lesson once. It was President’s Day (many years ago) and apparently the student was off from school and forgot she had a lesson and went out with friends, and well, the rest is history.
I realized there was something odd when she just couldn’t get through anything and kept messing up pedals…..
I don’t want to offend anyone who has written in this section but I do feel that the issue of the art print and sculpture is important and that a couple things have been overlooked. If the woman had entered a private part of the house and been offended, that would have been out of line. As it is, she entered the area where her daughter was being taught and where you teach, even if it’s in your home, is not a private area anymore. I completely understand being irritated at someone’s conservative view point on this matter but I also understand that the woman in question has a right to raise her daughter the way she wants to and if you are going to teach students under the age of 18 you are going to have to respect the idea that parents have that right. It is very important to me that I respect the rights parents have to raise their children so I try not to make unnecessary comments about religion or politics, or about my personal life or romantic life and I extend this to what ideas and objects are in my studio. Some of the things I have mentioned come from what other people have done, like discussing their relationships with students, likening certain musical things with physical things, etc. Others though are directly applicable to this issue. Again I am not agreeing with the woman who was offended but I really think that you need to respect the parents’ interests. If you don’t see this from what I am saying, then at least recognize that if you don’t respect the parents’ rights to parent, you cannot expect them to respect your right to teach. I don’t expose my students to things I think their parents might object to, no matter what my personal opinion is, and in return I expect to have compliance when I ask students to practice a certain amount a day, when I ask them to do a performance or to participate in a masterclass, and when I ask them to not volunteer for a certain performance because they’re not ready. When teaching students under 18, you must have this balance of respect and really in any situation there should be this balance of respect.
I don’t have any horror stories I can comfortably share because I would feel terrible if one of my students recognized themselves in the story but I can say that the funniest thing happened with one of my first students; I was teaching in a school with very old harp equipment and while I was trying to be very serious and was talking about the importance of some harp thing or other, a screw flew out of the stool I was sitting on and I suddenly found myself on the floor in mid-sentence. Luckily my student thought it was hilarious and I didn’t get hurt. I should probably also mention that I’m about 100 pounds so this was really truly due to old equipment and not to my size although it’s the second time something like that has happened to a harp seat I was sitting on.
Hehhe… well Glenna, I don’t know on which part of Earth you live, or the culture you were brought up in… But I have no problem with expressing my personal likings… I spend 10 hours of my day locked up in my study room, when I’m home, so I feel I have the right to make the room warm enough for me to stay such long hours…. And between… I see no reason for all this fuss…In Malta religion, is a very important matter, and its obligatory to study at school till aged 16… however one of the early books these kids get at school has a very prominent picture of The Creation (from Cappella Sistina if I remember right)… its part of a religion book, given to 11 year olds…. but I never heard or read
+++I don’t expose my students to things I think their parents might object to,+++
The problem in my mind is that there is no way to know what any particular parent will object to. Some things may be obvious, but perhaps the parent was of a particular religion and objected to seeing some object from another religion, or perhaps the parent has some odd notion about color and thinks that the color the walls are painted are not appropriate. People can find almost anything offensive if they are looking for a reason to be offended.
The question is, should a person expect someone will be offended by something like David? The general answer is no. David is a work of art. One of the most well known works of art in the world. An exact copy stands in the place the original stood in Florence, and around the world there are other copies publicly displayed. It is one of the most impressive pieces of sculpture ever created.
Could someone find it offensive? Sure. But should Esmeralda expect someone to find its presence in her studio offensive? No. There is absolutely no reason to consider David to be something that obviously would be offensive to a reasonable amount of people. That one nut case thinks it is offensive is in no way a reflection on Esmeralda.
In the scenario I feel most for the child who not only is being denied the opportunity to be taught by someone who is clearly incredibly dedicated to the harp, but is also going to be raised to see something like David as offensive. The parent has that right, certainly. But I can find no fault in Esmeralda for her choice in both art work and to not remove that art work in deference to one extremist nut job with overly puritanical sensibilities.
A studio is a place for creating art, and that it should be filled with other art that inspires is to be expected. To react to David as if it were a poster of a naked Chippendale’s dancer tacked to the wall is an extreme reaction and not one that anyone should expect or have to take extreme measures against.
Taking the parents concerns into consideration is one thing, but when they reach an absurd extreme the problem is clearly theirs.
I, too, have faced this issue in discussing career aspirations with a student from a very religious family with already set plans. Not knowing much about their religion, I crossed some boundaries with my advice, and fortunately, did not lose the student, but faced having to censor myself in my own studio, which I don’t think is right. Exposing students to great art is certainly part of teaching, and to take such a narrow view of harp instruction is limiting to the students and teachers growth. That being said, the position of discretion is in some ways a wise one, practical in the least. I think as much as possible in the way of expectations on everyone’s part should be expressed as early as possible in the teacher/student relationship.
Two little stories:
In a singing lesson at school I fainted…no lunch, a hot day and lots of breathing exercises…my poor teacher was so worried!
In another lesson (not saying when, who etc…) I went to the toilet in the middle of the lesson only to be greeted by the teachers partner having a shower. Was mortified…I always tell my boyfriend to lock the door if I’m teaching.
David- Consider yourself very lucky that this imagined incident involved an adult man, and think what could have happened if she or anyone else for that matter had made such allegations concerning a child student of yours. the consequences would have been catastrophic for you, and again, you would have been considered guilty until, with enormous difficulty, proven inocent.
I was very active in Boy Scouts as a child(and came thisclose to becoming an Eagle Scout). The Scout master,Suede Nelson, was a great guy and in my 6 years in scouts-and this was in the 1950’s- there was never a hint of scandel. But recently, his widow, now in her 80’s, told me that Suede made a point, without ever telling anyone, of making sure that he was never, ever alone with any of the boys, just to protect himself from the possibility of false accusations. I would suggest to anyone who teaches private music lessons that they insist that a parent sit in on the lesson. I still remember about 20 years ago the wave of accusations across the United States of abuse of kindergarten age children. It took years, but every single one of those who were accused were exonerated. But only after spending years in prison.
- You must be logged in to reply to this topic.