15. July 2008 · 5 comments · Categories: Ramble

Dear Students,

When I ask, “Did you practice this?” the answer, “I think so,” doesn’t really cut it! It’s a yes or no question. And suggesting that you think you did but can’t quite remember means that if you did put the reed in your mouth and play the piece a bit it probably didn’t count as high quality practice.

Your pesky teacher


Yes, students have said that to me. Not just one student, in fact. And no, this didn’t just happen so I’m not pointing at any person in particular. It’s been a long enough time now that I feel safe mentioning it without directing the comment at an individual.

But the “I think so,” answer does make me laugh. And then get annoyed. I’d much rather hear, “No, but I sure put in a lot of effort on this other piece you assigned!”


  1. I am almost certain I nearly practiced it, maybe kinda.

    Or not, I’m not really sure, sorry.

    On the other hand, the fact that you are asking kinda begs the question, hey? 🙂

  2. You are one of the students I never really have to puzzle over, though … so there!

    But yes, the fact that I’m asking does means something. It’s just hysterical to see a student’s face when he/she is trying to figure out just what to say.

    The best one, though, was when a student played an entire page of the lesson book as I sat quietly and finally, at the end, said, “Oh. I think this was last week’s assignment! Oops!”

    Um. Yes.

    Of course considering the stress some of my students are under I do cut them some slack at times. Heck, I’ve even sat — years and years ago — with a student who cried for her 45 minute lesson. I think the crying was more beneficial for her than the playing would have been. And I’m an okay listener when someone has totally fallen apart. (I later ran into the student and she looked ever so much happier. She quit oboe. Go figure.)

  3. Ok, so you caught me – I admit it, I do practice (mostly, almost nearly kinda-sorta). In my defense, though, I usually (usually as in it hasn’t happened yet) feel like I’ve not gotten anywhere near mastery of what I’ve been practicing, does that count?

  4. Oh, and I promise not to cry during a lesson.

    Ok, I’ll try really really hard not to cry during…

    How ’bout if I don’t cry as much as usual during a lesson, would that work for you?

  5. Oh go ahead and cry all you want. I have lots of kleenex handy.