I have noticed that the excuses for not practicing increase around this time of year:
- “We were at my grandparents’ all weekend and they don’t have a piano.”
- “My parents are renovating and the piano is all covered up.”
- “The batteries on my keyboard are dead.”
- “We went skiing.”
- “I had a lot of tests this week.”
- “I had a ton of homework!”
- “I had a sports tournament.”
- “I had a dance competition/exam.”
- “I just wasn’t in the mood.”
- “I was busy…playing with my X-Box/Nintendo/Playstation/Internet.”
Don’t get me wrong, I do sympathize with today’s kids. It seems like they get more homework than my generation did. I also do know what it’s like to be busy at their age, having been involved in several extracurricular activities.
Teachers get grumpy when they hear the same excuses from the same students on a weekly basis. Somehow, my brother and I made it work - good grades, extracurricular activities and piano. We didn’t practice as much as we should have but our parents made sure we practiced enough (try 6:30 AM AND 11 PM practices!).
One student recently used the last two excuses on the list. I told her that if there is something else she’d rather be doing, then do it and quit piano. However, if she does want to stay in piano, then she has to make a commitment.
Regardless of the activity, be it hockey, karate, soccer, drama, dance or piano – there is a level of commitment students must exhibit to make it worthwhile for the themselves, parents and teachers. For each of these, commitment equals practice time.
I'm jealous of my students, to tell you the truth. I wish I had their schedules. To just concentrate on piano, school and Iaido (the latter replaces the yearbook committee and basketball scorekeeping activities of my youth), would be heavenly.
Instead, Iaido practice is squished in before my morning administrative tasks and errands (if I’m not in an ARMTA meeting or workshop), while piano gets tacked on well after 10 pm, when I’ve wrapped up teaching for the evening and planning for the next day (my room-mate can attest to the “well after 10” part). Neither winds up happening daily but I do strive for five days a week for both. Some weeks are better than others. I need to make room for more writing, but that’s a dilemma for another day.
I really wish I could supervise my students’ practicing in their homes and limit their distractions and/or extracurriculars; but I lack Santa's ability to be in over 40 places simultaneously.
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