Dealing with busy teenagers who can’t find time to practice!

October 12, 2012

Several of my advance students are now in Gr. 11and 12 in high schooland they are stressing out because they don’t have the time practice properly. It is really quite...

Several of my advance students are now in Gr. 11and 12 in high schooland they are stressing out because they don’t have the time practice properly. It is really quite crazy how much homework teachers are giving their students. My students (who have A averages so it’s not like they’re bad students or anything) are finding that they have to stay up to 2-3 am to finish their homework. I feel so bad for them because then they have to get up at 7 am for school as well. And to make it worse, many of their teachers are making it sound like university is worse so the more sensitive kids are a mess. And many of them, they are have part time jobs as well. I don’t remember it being like this when I was that age. I don’t know how they do it.

But what does it do to us, the music teachers? , I’ve noticed that students in senior years in high school will either quit or barely put in any work. It’s hard on us as teachers, as it feels like we are repeating ourselves. Parents in turn are becoming frustrated because they are paying good money and their children aren’t making progress. And more importantly for quite a few of my students anyways, they want to study music in university so auditions will becoming up. It’s just a frustrating situation all around.

Early childhood music educator, Francis Clark said that music education is triangle learning program: parent, child, and teacher. For an ideal learning environment, all three people must be invested and equally involved. Although, she meant this more for beginner students, it is so true with teenagers as well. Sit down with your student and parent(s) and see how you all can make workable goals.

So be realistic, the ideal 2-3 hours a day can’t happen. So instead find a feasible goal. An excellent example of this is one of my Gr. 8 students who found the month of September really hard to find time to practice. So our goal that month was to find half hour 7 days a week to practice instead of practice 4-5 hours on the weekend and then forgetting everything by the time she had her lesson on Thursday. The half hour was broke up into sections: S/R for 5 mins, scales for 10 mins, and one piece (we decided to only focus on one piece for September) for 15 mins. Is this ideal? No, o’course not but she was a lot happier because she could practice half hour per day and get her homework done. And her parents are happy because they could hear progress. I was happy, she making progress. My student also found that she would practice longer than the half hour because she wanted to finish working on a section. This month is easier for her, so she’s now doing an hour per day, seven days a week.

So basically, help your students find realistic goals and they will be able to do it. Maybe it will be a technique month, or a Fugue month. Quality versus quantity. And teachers in the public schools, is it really necessary to give your students so much homework?

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