Some years ago, the Vancouver Branch invited a child psychologist to speak to the branch about teaching and what students might expect from a teacher. While such worthy characteristics as patience, commitment and fairness were mentioned, at the top of the list was a “good sense of humour”… and we all know that sometimes that is the only thing that gets one through a lesson! Particularly when either you or your student says or does something that is completely spontaneous and frequently “off the wall”. The following are some of the “Famous Sayings by Students” from my studio that will probably sound familiar. I now have 4 pages of a notebook that I may publish someday, just to remind us that we are not alone!

  • I forgot … (music, reading the assignment, time of lesson, time of masterclass, festival fee, etc.) This is the all-time winner … forgetting at least 5 or more times each day.
  • It was OKAY at home!
  • I “fixed” it this morning. (looking at me as if I had hexed the performance)
  • Your metronome is too fast! Mine is slower.
  • No wonder it sounded weird. (wrong clef)
  • I didn’t see that! Wow! (new key signature)
  • I had it before! (before what?)
  • Practice makes perfect, but you say that it will never be perfect so why practice? (I offered some rather dramatic reactions if practice did not improve such as an entire lesson devoted to sight-reading or technique.)
  • It’s not very good (after hearing a recording of the his performance in the lesson.) I complimented the student on his ability to critique accurately.
  • I ALWAYS forget that. (rests and fermatas in Beethoven)
  • I always screw up over there!! (colloquial but true)
  • So that’s what’s wrong! (wrong key signature)
  • It’s hard! (arpeggios)
  • Do I have to do it THAT way? (alternate note pattern)
  • ARCT student when asked to identify a chord in a Mozart sonata: “I haven’t a clue!” (V7 of C+)
  • A student playing Debussy complained bitterly about the impossibility of playing a piece with 3 staffs because “it isn’t fair to have to learn one more staff because life is already too hard.”
  • Finally, after hearing a recording of the F-major 2-part invention, a student commented that he didn’t think his fingers were made to play that piece because it was too fast and both hands had to jump around too much.

Thank heavens, God has given us the patience and sense of humour to enjoy our students and survive our lessons.

Mary Tickner