I genuinely try to see the good in people. Whenever I receive a new enquiry for lessons I book them in for a consultation to assess their needs and evaluate if the relationship will work. There have only been a few instances where I have outright declined to take on a new student; specifically three scenarios (over fifteen years).
The first was an adult learner who after forty-five minutes in a one-hour lesson had not touched the piano, or shown the slightest inclination to do so because they would rather talk about themselves and an amateur stage play which they had written, produced and directed. In a first lesson, this person showed no interest in music, the lesson, or learning. If we can agree that over time whatever is in the present becomes exaggerated continuing the observed trend, this will only become more increased and pronounced over time.
The second was a twenty-something who in his first lesson displayed rudeness and a refusal to follow even the most basic of my instructions. Simply asking the person to sit on the stool correctly was accompanied with sighs and “Do I have to?”. They would play while I spoke to them even after an explanation as to why it was rude. However, the BIG-ONE was refusing to complete a task interrupting with “Yea, yea, yea … when do we get to the good stuff, this is boring”. This person would have only become more brazen as lessons continued; not a good start.
Lastly was a six-year-old who soiled them self at the piano; I am glad to say I have since replaced those piano stools and invested in acrylic leather stools that can be easily wiped down and sanitised. This last situation was not declined because of the action of the child, as a bed-wetter myself as a toddler, I can understand the frustration and embarrassment the child must have felt. My decision, as ever when dealing with children, was based on the actions of the parent, who chose to scorn the child and unnecessarily humiliate them.
However, all of these scenarios would be reasons why I as a teacher would perhaps not take on these particular individuals as students. What about the reverse? How would a student understand the markers of a bad teacher-student relationship? It’s simple really, always arriving at a few questions; as a student, you should consider:
- Are they qualified?
- Am I learning?
- How do they make me feel?
Emotions should never be disregarded; however, our emotions are not rational and are seldom helpful in executive decision making. Many serial manipulators rely heavily on our emotions to manoeuvre us into situations where they can control us. Furthermore, in the early stages, when most people are on their best behaviour is when the most intense manipulation occurs. Though the emotive is considered last in the list, it is still important; more on that in a moment.
Dylan completed his music training with honours at Colchester Institute, where he studied piano with Australian pianist Lesley Young, and composition with British composer Dr Mark Bellis. While studying, in 2009, Dylan won Colchester Institute’s Canon Jack Award for Solo Piano adjudicated by Andrew Ball. A composer, promoter, and advocate of contemporary classical music, Dylan joined the membership of Colchester New Music in 2014.
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