Pause • Reflect • Sundays on Pianodao
Written by ANDREW EALES
Brené Brown, Ph.D, LMSW
The Gifts of Imperfection (Hazelden Publishing, 2010)
Online forums see daily requests for advice and support from teachers who are struggling with tricky pupil and parent relationships.
For piano teachers, the problem often seems to stem from a lack of agreed boundaries around issues such as prompt fee payment, lesson attendance, punctuality, respectful behaviour and effective, regular practice.
How do we balance on the one hand enforcing contractual obligations and appropriate behavioural expectations and, on the other hand, offering compassionate support, putting musical learning needs first, and positively enthusing our pupils?
I would suggest that the only effective balance here is to give 100% to both.
Boundaries & Accountability
Pupils and parents do not, cannot, and should not need to know every detail of how a teacher organises their personal world. Effective studio policies, clearly communicated, fence off our personal and professional lives, and are especially important for those of us whose studios are based within our homes.
Boundaries help us devote ourselves to our shared objective of pupil progress, giving of ourselves wholeheartedly and without distraction.
Only when our personal and professional boundaries are securely in place, enforced in a firm, fair and friendly way, can we move on from the sense of resentment which develops when we feel others are taking advantage of our compassionate commitment.
In my experience over the years, the vast majority of my students (and their parents) have respected my professionalism when I have offered, explained clearly, and stuck to fair policies. And in turn, this has created a studio environment where commitment, friendship, respect, compassion and enthusiasm have thrived.
Let me close this short reflection by handing back to Brené Brown:
Brené Brown, ibid.
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