My students can be very creative. If I could get them to apply the same powers of creativity to their playing that they apply to their excuse making, I'd have an amazing studio! You know how it goes: "My little brother moved my music and I couldn't find it." "We were out of town (for one day)." "I could play this at home, but there's something in my eye..."
In the case of some of my students, I think that excuse-making is so habitual they don't even realize that they're doing it. So I applied some creative thinking of my own toward the question of how to cut down on the number of excuses I hear. This year, I'm giving students 3 Excuse Tickets each semester. They are to be used in the case of legitimate sickness, out-of-town trips, a week of overwhelming school work, etc. When I hear an excuse coming on, I'll say, "Do you have an excuse ticket for me?" Once the tickets are all used up, I'll just smile and say, "No more excuses!" (Of course, when I know it's a legitimate situation, I'll be understanding.) I'm hopeful that this will at least help students to be aware of how often they try to pass off on their own responsibility for being prepared each week. We'll see how it goes, and I'll report back here!
In the meantime, here's a fun page to read:
Award-Winning Excuses for Not Practicing