Monday, July 18, 2011

Piano Parent Tip: Punctuality

Photo by kobiz7
The while we keep a man waiting, he reflects on our shortcomings. ~French proverb

When I was a little girl, our church held an evening fellowship (translation from church lingo = party) that was sort of like a roast for families. My family received an "award." I wish I had a picture of it to show you. A caricature artist had drawn my father, mother, and little me in full dash to make it to church on time. We were the family who was always late! Over the years, I've had some piano families who needed one of those caricature drawings. It's a nice way to point out, "Your lateness is so frequent that it defines you." We got a little better about punctuality after that!

I'm fortunate that my current families are punctual, but I've had students who frequently show up with only half of their lesson left to go. When it happens repeatedly, it carries the message that the event you're late for is not very important to you. As much as I regret the lost instructional time, I regret even more the fact that the children involved are learning to believe that they are exempt from showing respect toward the event or person that's on the schedule because their own importance trumps all other considerations. I had a choir member once who could never make it to the pre-service rehearsal on time. "You don't understand!" she complained. "I have to have enough time to eat breakfast!" As though the rest of us didn't!

The common excuse for lateness is, "We're just so busy!" I don't subscribe to the idea that we're helpless victims of our busyness. We make the choices, and we can choose to schedule fewer things and be more organized about doing what we need to do to arrive on time. You have the choice of teaching your child integrity by respecting people and events enough to be punctual, or of teaching them how to become masters of excusing themselves.

I should point out here that we teachers know the difference between a parent who has a real difficulty to overcome and one who just has a lateness complex. I had a parent last year whose bus driver was erratic and often late, making it impossible for her to show up on time. I didn't have any openings for her to move her lesson time. Another parent would have said, "There's just nothing I can do about it; we'll have to be late," but this parent started driving to meet the bus at an earlier point on the route to pick up the kids earlier. These children are learning lessons in integrity.

On the flip side of punctuality is the problem of arriving too soon. I've never had this problem with students, but I can certainly see that it would be inconvenient. Some teachers have resorted to putting a clock outside the door and instructing students not to ring the doorbell until their lesson time.

Another punctuality issue is that of picking your students up on time. Students who are loose cannons can be a problem when you're teaching another student, and when it's the last student of my day, it can make me late if I need to leave to go somewhere. I really like Wendy's policy that says "if you are late picking your children up, I reserve the right to transport your children wherever I need to go at the time." Parents, remember that you wouldn't want to be delayed at the end of your work day either.

So, be organized, plan ahead, and use piano study as an opportunity to teach your children the virtue of punctuality. Thanks in advance for your support!


BusyB said...

I like your tips! By the way, I have separated my personal blog from a new piano blog. I hope you will take a look.

Theresa said...

Good comments on punctuality. I agree that it is very important for students/parents to be on time to allow for the most effective lesson time. However, I have learned as a piano teacher, that what is equally as important is that the music teacher ensures that he/she starts and ends on time. This gives a professional appearance to the lesson. Students will also take you more seriously when you tell them to be on time.

Nice blog!