To Students’ Moms

I sincerely thank all of you, my students’ parents, the moms in particular, for your support of your children and your trust in my teaching.

I understand your concern with your children: you want to help them as much as you can, in their piano learning and practice, so that they can improve quickly. First and foremost, you should understand that I, like you, care about your children very much. I also want them to learn and progress smoothly and tremendously. But if we only focus on instant and quick fix, we are not helping your children. Let them do their talking when I ask them. Even the 4 year-old. You might want to show me eagerly that they are brilliant. I am sure they are, and that is why I want them to do the talking for themselves. They can tell me what they have been working on, what problems they encounter during learning, etc. I want to train them to be independent and responsible for their own playing and practice. And so they should stay for their lessons by themselves, without their dads, moms or maids around. Then they know they are on their own and work harder (yes, even for a 4-year-old). Sometimes when I ask your children to write down the points they should pay more attention to in their coming practice, it is not because I am too lazy to write myself. I simply want to remind them from time to time that they should be responsible for their own practice but not me, or you, their moms. Or when I say we should take more time to prepare for the next exam or competition, it is not because I think your children are not good enough or I want to sabotage your plan for no good reason. I just do not want your children to be underprepared and then fail to do well in one event like this, which is not quite a good and just indication for one’s playing ability, but the bad consequences generated by hurtful feeling and bad thoughts about their piano playing ability stay in your children’s mind in the long run.

It needs extra time for the “switchers”, those students who have been with other teachers for some time, to settle in with me. Just like you, they too need to put down their guard towards me, a total stranger teacher, in order to first build trust in me and then learn from me. Especially for those who have had many teachers in their relatively short piano learning lives, they are uncertain and doubtful about their piano playing, their own abilities, and me as their new teacher. They are not sure about such switch. They wonder if they would actually stay long with me. When they have such doubt, they would act up, since they do not think they would be here for long. And when you, their moms, even show the slightest doubt about me, they would feel it too. They too do not want to trust me. The teacher-student relationship is then ruined. It is not that you cannot have questions and enquiries about my teaching or your children’s learning, but please, ask me and talk to me when you do. You have to show them that they can trust me too. From then onwards they will learn and blossom.

Sometimes you wonder why I am not mad and scold your children when they are being naughty and are acting up. I am for sure able to yell at them; I know that seems to be a quick fix for adults to shut the kids up so that they listen to us or do the things they are reluctant to otherwise. But I know it is not helpful in the long run. They only do those things because they want to avoid yelling and punishment, which is called the negative reinforcement. I do not want this. Rather, I would use a positive reinforcement. I talk to them, reason with them and listen to them. I know the children too have their self-esteem and need respect from us. And if I try to be negative and mean to them, they would do the same to me too. It is not that I forget to be a teacher. But instead of forcing such philosophy on my students, I cultivate them. Apart from showing them my expertise and knowledge in music, piano pedagogy and performance, I gain respect from my students as a teacher by giving them my respect towards them as my students. It might take time for some to get used to such idea, but it is worth the time and effort.

We are living in a fast-pacing world. Yet to cultivate one with great piano education, it takes time and patience. So Students’ Moms, please bear with me, put your trust in me, understand that I too want the best for your children, and give me time to educate them.

Teresa Wong

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