Today has been discouraging. After an off and on summer of giving piano lessons to the D. boys, I was fired. Fired after a scant 7 months of trying to teach two youngsters who clearly do not like piano lessons.
I shouldn't be surprised. In fact, I thought this moment would come sooner. The boys just don't have it in 'em. Still, it hurts to be fired. The mother said that maybe she would get them a better teacher. I smiled. I was the second teacher. The one they'd had for 5 years quit.
After 5 years, neither boy could play with both hands at the same time. Neither had studied scales or Hanon. Argpeggios? What were they? Cadences? Huh? Neither boy would listen to the musical assignments. How can you teach classical music to kids when it isn't even listened to in the home. Mom and Dad are clearly more to blame than the kids or me.
Mom screams at them to practise. Every Saturday, they anticipate my coming with paralyzing dread, arguing between them who would be the unlucky boy to go first.
The boys gave up a long time ago. Before I came into the picture. Nothing will inspire them to practice. I gave them assignments and it wasn't good enough for mom. Mom is the problem. Mom is implacable. Mom wants the boys to love music, but how can they love to play when they can never do well enough for mom.
When I took over 7 months ago, I showed the elder boy that he too, could learn to play a piece of Bach. And he did. Prelude in C. A delightfully simple piece that he mastered. And younger brother did a piece of Bach, too, a minuet in G. But it was never enough for mom.
Mom hated the sound of scales, she hated the Hanon, she hated the chords and inversions. Why aren't they making more progress? It was my fault, it was the boys' fault. Mom....it is YOUR fault.
Nothing worthwhile is easy. Nothing. Years and years of repetitive practise is a must. Scales, played slowly, then mastered with the correct fingerings is a MUST. Metronome, Hanon, Music Theory....all very boring, not even flashy.
It can drive any sane person nuts. Mom...you suck.
You suck, because you SCREAM and BELITTLE, and BERATE, and then you have the temerity to wonder WHY the boys hate to practise? You have never encouraged them, you have only told them how you hate hearing the same things over and over and over. Well, on behalf of every teacher, I am warning them of you.
BEWARE THIS DEMANDING, IMPLACABLE PARENT!! If the kids have had more than one piano teacher, the problem isn't the teacher. It isn't the kids, it is YOU! Mom. Dad.
I questioned the parents and kids about whether their prior teacher had given them any technical exercises, and no, nothing like that sort of thing. When I took over the teaching job, I explained to the parents the need for things like technique. How can you expect the kids to play anything but simple sissy music without having them listen to good music, and giving them the ability to play it. Now I think, this teacher may have understood that these boys would never be pianists. They simply won't ever have the capacity to play music.
Each week of fearful playing ensued, certain that mom would never be pleased at all. I can hear their thoughts: Why even bother? It will never be good enough for her.
And in the end, nothing was good enough for her. Not me, not her boys. Nothing. No one will be able to convince her that she was their source of their failure. How sad. How truly sad. I hate to see the spirit of a child crushed. I hate to see the look of triumph as they finally master a difficult piece, only to be erased as mom tells them that they could have done better.
Sad doesn't even begin to describe it.
UPDATE: Well, she called me back...you know, to give me one. more. chance. Heh. I took the bait, hook, line and sinker. What a horrible mistake.
First I modified the lessons, but nothing satisfied her. The final straw what was breaking my back, was when I came in to the lesson, was happily greeted by M, only to have his mother humiliate him in front of me. She later humiliated me when she asked how long M would have to practice the piece of Debussy I assigned him. I said a couple of months, after all, some pieces take longer than others. She rolled her eyes and made childish noises, and it was then and there that I told M I would no longer come to his house to teach. I wrote a letter, firing her, and basically said her home was unsuitable for a good learning environment, due to the stress she causes with all the screaming and fighting.