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#12970 - 03/12/06 10:49 AM Re: A child that doesn't seem to progress....
pianoannie Offline
Mainstay Member

Registered: 07/20/01
Posts: 946
Loc: midwest USA
 Quote:
Originally posted by VioletBeauregarde:
[QB] Accepting any warm body that calls is never a good idea- especially kids with special needs due to medical or learning that you may not have experience or ability to handle.
I totally agree with this.

 Quote:

You don't need a medical history, but you do have the right to know if the child has any special learning situations or medical conditions that could affect taking lessons with you. What would be worse- asking and knowing what you can handle or not asking and a student becoming injured physically or being unsuccessful thus losing a student or being sued due to a condition that parents figured you'd realize on your own and handle (even if you couldn't)???
A main part of my question, (that perhaps got lost in my wordiness) ;\) , is how and why you chose CERTAIN diseases to specifically inquire about, and left others out. You talked about epilepsy and possible seizures--valid concern violet. But you didn't list diabetes, heart condition, thyroid problems, tuberculosis, allergies, AIDS, hemophilia, asthma, juvenile arthritis, parasitic infection, head lice, or any number of other conditions that could cause a medical emergency, spread of disease, and/or teaching issues. So I just didn't understand why you would write a list of specific diseases/disorders (including which ones MUST have meds) rather than a broad, less intrusive question about "general physical/mental health issues."

And I'm just concerned about the balance of perceived "right to knowledge" by the piano teacher compared to right to privacy for the child. In fact, now that I think about it, I would have to say that the parent would have just as much right (maybe more) to ask the teacher about his/her medical conditions. What if the teacher had an epileptic seizure, heart attack, asthma attack, etc during lesson?

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#12971 - 03/12/06 12:18 PM Re: A child that doesn't seem to progress....
Doenny Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 02/15/05
Posts: 155
Loc: Canada
Pianoannie, I totally agree with you! Funny you should mention the teacher's medical condition. I once had my teacher faint at my lesson! Very scary!

Going back to the Dyslexic issues of playing the piano that Dragonfly mentioned. People with dyslexia are all unique in the level at which their learning is affected. Some have it severely, while others just have minor struggles with it. This does not mean that they are not smart though!

I would agree that playing by ear and rote, work well for this learning style. When I was young (age 4 I believe) I was enrolled in the Yamaha piano method (It was much better back then). Which worked well for me - as much of it is using ear and sight-reading was seprate from playing.

However when I was 8 and transferred to a sight-reading approach, I really couldn't make progress because I was still having trouble with regular reading skills. It was not until I made headway in my reading (normal books), that reading music became a reality. I have also seen this pattern with my siblings. As they have gotten better at reading, they have become better sight-readers.

Another suggestion would be to begin each lesson with cross patterning exercises or songs (essentially a Brain Gym activity), to help "warm up the brain" and get both sides "talking" to each other. I believe that over time these exercises can help in learning, especially if done daily.

Just remembered I wanted to mention, that talent is nurtured! Though some people find it easier than others, I think anyone can grow in their ability! Just like with reading. Some (school) teachers would have written me off in grade three and said that instead they should focus on "coping mechanisms" and yet I have learned to read and write etc. It was not until I was around age 12 that these things all started to fall into place.
_________________________
"There are still so many beautiful things to be said in C major."
- Sergei Prokofiev

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#12972 - 03/12/06 12:24 PM Re: A child that doesn't seem to progress....
Natalia Huang Offline
Regular Member

Registered: 08/14/05
Posts: 88
Loc: New York, NY
Well...back to Anneliese's question... I actually have a student in a similar situation. I also have a 10 year old that is progressing very slowly, and I've had her for about almost 3 years now. I doubt she practices the way I suggest (since when she really practices, it's a different result), though her parents and herself always claim a lot of practicing is going on.

Anneliese--Have you talked to the student or the parents about this situation? Like many of you know, "just practicing" is different than knowing "how to" practice. The slow learner of mine claims to practice all the time too. But many times, I don't think children has the patience to sit and work through phrases a lot of time. Even with that said, that's not an excuse for slow learning. Some children are just slower. There were times when I wrote down EXACTLY what the student had to do each day (i.e. measures 11-21 right hand only for 5 times). That can be a bit much, but it's a good way to show them what you expect when practicing takes place. Maybe you can give that a try!

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#12973 - 03/12/06 12:35 PM Re: A child that doesn't seem to progress....
VioletBeauregarde Offline
Mainstay Member

Registered: 11/17/05
Posts: 502
Loc: Alabama
Diabetes- not a major concern that would affect learning an instrument. If they are that bad off they are prone to seizures or severe problems they probably are not going to involve themselves in many activities. It's not a learning problem with diabetes. Chances are if the kid has diabetes THAT severe, the only time you would need to hear about it would be at recital time for sugar in any treats or drinks you serve. It is then the duty of the PARENT to provide an alternative snack for their student- not yours- when it is only one kid in a studio affected. The same could be said for wheat allergies. I had 2 students with this and any time there were treats served at a program, the mom brought in gluten free items for them, which was nice also for guests who had diabetes (usually grandparents that you wouldn't know about nor need to since you don't come into contact with them in teaching other than an annual recital). The only way I could see diabetes being a problem is if the child was tremendously overweight due to the medication or insuling they were using and the bench would not support their weight. Typically kids that severe though are going to have parents tell you up front. They are able to learn, but you may need to purchase a reinforced heavier weight bearing bench, in which case, the parent should need to chip in for it since you're doing it to accomodate them.

Heart condition- again, this is not common in kids and not a concern issue. If they have a condition with their heart that is THAT severe, they would be in and out of hospitals with doctors so much they are not going to have time to take lessons anyway. It would be the last thing on their minds.

Thyroid problems- does not affect learning and isn't a concern. I know several people with these problems and it is not a huge deal. They usually have a pill to take each day to deal with the thyroid problem and do just fine with learning and living. It is not a problematic area that could be an urgent situation.

Tuberculosis- not a big concern or very common in most kids or adults. If there were an outbreak of TB in an area the health department would be stepping in and doing something.

Allergies- not a concern with food or otherwise. Kids with food allergies typically will ask "Does this have nuts in it?" or "does this have ____" in it because I'm allergic" when they aren't sure. For recitals, parents will be there and can tell them "don't eat the cookies on the blue plate they have nuts in them". I typically have parents who bring treats for events to use an index card and put "CONTAINS NUTS/COCONUT" which is the most common allergy besides strawberry- which I do also on the card "CONTAINS STRAWBERRY". When set out I can slip the card in front of the food and people with allergies to it will know right away that it has an allergy causing agent in it. Obviously you can not do it for everything, but for strawberries and nuts it is a must do to prevent calling 911 for someone who could be very severe or die from eating it.

Hemophilia- more common in boys and not a concern. How many bloody injuries are going to be encountered in piano lessons with you? There is no physical activity involved to that extreme which would be cause for concern here (unless our piano keys have spikes or bite). Not a problem or concern with processing information and how they would learn.

asthma- again not a concern. there are no activities in piano that would trigger asthma. most kids that are that prone to an attack will be on a pill or carry an inhaler should they need it. Unless you're having them run laps (not likely) around your house before the lesson or have layers of dust all over your house/studio not a concern to their ability to learn or process information. I've had kids with asthma and I also have pets. My pets go into the utility room when they come and I buy allergin reducer febreeze to use on furniture in rooms they will walk through or be in after vaccuuming when cleaning. No problem for me since I also have asthma and it has NEVER been a problem in teaching. If they are severe enough they are on an oxygen tank for it chances are they aren't going to lug it around for lessons every week to your house and would probably find a teacher to come to them, however, they would also probably be very heavily supervised by a doctor for it.

arthritis- probably would not be in piano anyway as it would aggrivate the condition or cause deformed hands in bad cases making it impossible for them to learn anyway.

parasitic infection - they would be under a doctors care and if that bad, quarantined so why would you come in contact? Dysentary and other similar parasitic infections are not going to come through your door. Ringworm or scabies- unless your physically touching the kid you can't get it. Just have them purell or wash their hands before starting (which is a good idea anyway) and then wipe down your keys and door knobs or other touched things when they leave.

Head lice- they would have been treated and if not and you notice it, report it to the parents right away. Unless your exchanging headwear with the student OR sitting directly next to them on a bench I wouldn't worry about. Most parents if their kid had it would have common sense to keep their kid HOME until it was gone, thus calling you to tell you "they have some head lice so we'll be missing lessons this week until it clears up." Also, this does not affect the initial ability of a child to comprehend or learn and is not a chronic condition. If you did come into contact with someone you suspect has it (like itching their head every couple minutes or notice bugs on the hair strands), tell the parents and wash and comb your own hair with a lice shampoo to prevent it in yourself ASAP.

In regards to a teacher having a condition narcolepsy, epilepsy, a heart condition, etc..during a lesson most teachers who know it occurs often with a health problem would probably let parents know if it could affect a student. I myself have asthma. I am prone to attacks especially during allergy seasons or after alot of heavy physical movement (exercise for example). People with asthma can usually sense an attack coming and deal with it to head it off, which I do. I've had it happen a few times during lessons and I just tell the student "run through scales for a couple of minutes, I need to get my asthma medication". I leave the room and deal with it and come back. The kids are not phased at all by it. If the teacher doesn't freak out over something, the kids typically don't either.
_________________________
Adopted childen are NOT lucky- they are blessings.

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#12974 - 03/12/06 12:46 PM Re: A child that doesn't seem to progress....
xstitch4me Offline
Star Member

Registered: 08/15/04
Posts: 2167
Loc: Idaho
Well this is totally ridiculous. I guess I missed the "medical" portion of my studies. I mean come on now....do we really need to know the health history of each student? What about their family members, relatives, co-workers, close friends.....come on! I think pianoannie is correct with a general question. And is this really such a HUGE problem??? I mean do you just get all kinds of medical problematic students that warrants such specific questions being asked? I think there is some over reaction going on here - JMO!

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#12975 - 03/12/06 03:02 PM Re: A child that doesn't seem to progress....
alidoremi Offline
Star Member

Registered: 03/11/02
Posts: 2120
Loc: California
I've had a few students over the years with learning disabilities, autism, etc... but the parent always informed me ahead of time, before enrolling. They would ask if my method of teaching was something their child could do because of the potential limitations of the disability.

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#12976 - 03/12/06 03:05 PM Re: A child that doesn't seem to progress....
Gail Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 09/04/04
Posts: 369
Loc: Alpharetta, GA
I understand that some of you think that Violet's questions are too specific and perhaps even intrusive, BUT I still think that Violet has every right to ask whatever questions she wants to. At the same time, a parent has every right to refuse to answer it, if the parent is concerned about their child's privacy. Then Violet would have to decide whether or not to take the child based on the parent's response.

PLUS--I think the parent has every right to ask the teacher--"Do you have any emotional or health problem that would interfere with you teaching my child?" I, for one, would certainly like to know if my child's teacher was schizophrenic, severely ADD or prone to seizures.

There was a post on here about a year or so ago about a child who was having great difficulty learning to read music (unfortunately, I can't seem to find it anywhere in open forums or archives \:\( ). I don't remember the whole topic, but the gist of it was that the parents finally admitted that the child had difficulty learning to read and she received "support services" in reading at school. The piano teacher got permission to talk to the resource teacher at school and the resource teacher gave her several helpful hints about how they did things at school to help the child--marking things in different colors, etc. The point being--how much time was wasted in trying to figure out how to teach this child, when better information at the beginning would have spared this teacher AND child a lot of frustration and wasted time and effort? Parents should expect a teacher to answer questions honestly--I don't think teachers should expect any less.

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#12977 - 03/12/06 04:05 PM Re: A child that doesn't seem to progress....
Bootero Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 08/16/04
Posts: 140
Loc: Houston Tx
I can't believe what all I am reading. There is a difference between crucial medical information and the overly diagnosed behavorial disorders of today. I believe intolerance for difficult personalities puts many children in the "medicated" category.

I agree completely with annie.

I think we as piano teachers are in a unique position of having a one on one teaching arrangement where we can adjust the method and/or style of our teaching to work with children of all different issues, and aren't owed the the behavioral history of any particular child. I've had students who were "off the wall". Yes, they were frustrating, but I felt it was my job to do the best I could with them. Information is helpful, but not an obligation.

I think "med's" are overly prescribed for children these days. I have a student who's mom is a boy scout troup leader and said "Half my troup is ADHD and on medication. They are out of control." HALF! If they are all on med's, why are they "out of control". Obviously, if they are still out of control, the med's are not the solution. I think there are more complicated issues here and we have an obligation to work with a variety of personalities AND disorders. (which I think are WAY over diagnosed out of convenience) Children have always been difficult, but they haven't always been medicated.
I just think, as professionals, we need to try to work with the situation not the label, unless there is a critically necessary medical situation, which for children, thank God, are few and not the norm.

I think teachers pick up on which students need altered programs after a very short time. Much more rewarding to adjust the method and realize that this is a student that will make a more "measured" progression in his/her study than look for a label to categorize why he hasn't made the expected progress. A one-on-one experience with a student today is a rare experience. I think piano teachers are a very lucky breed to have this privelege even with the ones who are not as easy to teach. It's just that much more rewarding when they "get it"!!! \:\)

JMO

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#12978 - 03/12/06 04:50 PM Re: A child that doesn't seem to progress....
VioletBeauregarde Offline
Mainstay Member

Registered: 11/17/05
Posts: 502
Loc: Alabama
Sorry if my thought was not conveyed right or obviously offened people without any reason to be- it was not about "give me a medical history" but simply a "does your child have any learning disabilities or special situations I should be aware of to best adapt their lessons for success" type thing. Flying by the seat of your pants and hoping you'll figure it out by stumbling into blind along the way is not helpful to anyone- especially the student who could have been spared ALOT of frustration and discouragement had teachers had the forsight to find out BEFORE lessons started so they would have been more successful from the get go.
I suppose I am not able to communicate what I was really thinking here and it came out wrong in translation.
_________________________
Adopted childen are NOT lucky- they are blessings.

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#12979 - 03/12/06 05:27 PM Re: A child that doesn't seem to progress....
Lisa Kalmar Offline
Star Member

Registered: 04/10/00
Posts: 4277
Loc: KC
My take on it is that I'm a piano teacher, not a social worker or medical worker. And I am not trained to deal with (or diagnose) certain "issues", be they health, mental, or otherwise, plus I have no desire to deal with or diagnose them or pretend to parents that I am trained in that stuff. The things Violet brought up in her post goes far beyond the standard "customize the lesson plan to the student" approach.

I had a student last year who was both a behavior problem and a problem reader. On her form, the mother said "no" to the question that asks if there are any physical or mental conditions that the teacher should know about. Well, lo & behold, when I finally sat the mother down for a little chit chat about the aberrant behavior I was experiencing I find out this kid had been having trouble in school, had been to counseling for behavior management problems, and that a form of autism, which the mother suspected the daugher might have, was full blown in a sibling.

Sorry, but that mother had NO RIGHT to saddle me with that child without giving me the straight poop up front. These parents have NO RIGHT to send these kids into an unsuspecting studio where their child can do property damage, which is what happened to me and my grand piano. Had I known her history up front, I would have refused to take her after observing somewhat strange behavior at the interview that I ultimately was not equipped to handle or cure. In other words, no lecturing from me on this one, Violet. \:\)

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