My_Hand,_My_Oboe

Here is a not-so-infrequent conversation I’ve had in my oboe studio:

Me (after warm ups have been played): “Okay, let’s do the lesson book. What did you practice?” (Mind you, I know what was assigned, as I have the assignment sheet in front of me, but I want to know what the student actually practiced.)

Student, after flipping through the book a bit or sometimes LONGER than a bit, points to a page: “Was it this?”

This is not a great way to begin, and I can guess right away what I’m in for. I usually then say, “You tell me!”

Sometimes the student says “I think it was this.” Sometimes the flipping through the book resumes. Sometimes the student says, “Yes, it was this!” Sometimes I have to say, “Funny, that’s not what you were assigned.”

So we move on. I have the student start the first piece he says he’s practiced. Sometimes the very first note is wrong. Sometimes the student plays the wrong key signature. Nearly always it’s not pretty.

None of that is a surprise: if the student begins by asking ME what he or she practiced, I don’t need google translate to tell me what that means.

So … let’s talk honesty!

I MUCH prefer having a student say, “I don’t know what my assignment was because I didn’t practice it.” That doesn’t make me happy, mind you, but at least it’s honest. Students have bad weeks. Students have busy weeks. Students have stressful weeks where the oboe gets little or no attention. I understand that. Telling me up front that oboe took a back seat to the rest of life is a much better way to start. The students who insist they practiced and then proceed to butcher each piece assigned are telling me that either they lied about practicing, they practiced incorrectly (lazily, sloppily) OR they simply should try something else because clearly oboe isn’t working out. My response when a student insists that practice took place is, “Oh, I’m so very sorry to hear that! I had hoped you were going to tell me you skipped this piece!”

The other issue with lying is that some actually start to believe it. I know that’s odd, but it happens.

So don’t lie. Be honest with your teacher. Be honest with yourself. If you didn’t practice, it only does you a disservice to say you did. Even the best sight reader hasn’t managed to convince me that practice occurred when it didn’t.

Honest!

2 Comments

  1. I do the exact same thing with my students!

  2. Ahhh … great minds, Ceci! :-)