Sunday, October 24, 2010

I get it every semester.

Someone wants to drop the guitar class. Or someone really needs to drop.

Then there's the slow, painful process of keeping a hopeful attitude (and a false front) when the student is so clearly behind the Eight ball that it's apparent that the ship has never left the harbor. i.e. They never practice.

This year, I've had one student who never came to class and emailed me that she needed to drop the class. That was about eight weeks ago. She keeps asking me when I'm going to be at school to sign the drop slip, but she has never shown.
Undoubtedly, I will be blamed for her not being able to drop before the deadline.

On student decided to come for two lessons. They were late for the second and actually lied about what time they arrived. I let that one go, but stashed it in the memory for future reference. I filed it under: "If you lie about it now, how's the rest of the semester going to go?" Well... it went nowhere. She hasn't shown up for about seven or eight sessions. All my email has never been returned. Perhaps she dropped out of school. I haven't a clue.

This week, I got an email from a student, one I considered a pretty good one, saying that she had to drop (Yes, the majority of my students this year are female. I have three males to five females.). She had this really apologetic and sweet email stating that she regretted that she had to la la.

For some reason, perhaps it's a vibe I give off or it's in the nature of the one-to-0ne weekly lesson - which builds a quasi "personal" relationship, students somehow think that they are letting me down when they realize that practicing a guitar is not something they want, nor are inclined to practice.

There she was, all hang-dog looking, trying to make me convinced of her sincerity. She is sincere- I trust that. I let her know my thoughts (in a gentle way). She needed to drop, she had written. She was sorry.

Sorry? Sorry for what? She had been doing well.

"Off the record, for some reason students seem to think that I am disappointed when they drop this course- as if I take this personal. I don't. Only you know whether you have the time to properly finish the requirements." I said all these things while smiling in a friendly way.

Truth is, while I am encouraging every student's successful completion, I don't take any of this personally. This is a job. I am lucky that I get to teach something that I love, but beyond that, I don't care. Another truth: I recognize that she is at least polite enough to let me know. Many simply vanish into collegiate air without a trace.

I have had many excellent students over the years and I have had some real duds as well. My two most outstanding students graduated from this institution by playing each a fantastic senior guitar recital. They have gone on to become professional musicians and they made me beam with pride. Mission accomplished. After those two guys, I never had any student go that far.

But that dream has been fulfilled and I no longer ache to have the ultimate protege. By the time I was finally teaching at a "real" university (Marshall) and have five guitar majors to teach, I had lost the desire to be a college professor. Perhaps UC has killed that dream, maybe the dream died on its own, maybe it was never going to be a reality for me as long as I stayed in this lonesome valley. I don't know.

Don't get me wrong. I love engaging with students. They are a joy. I am happy each week to see them and watch them grow more and more confident on the instrument.
The student promised that she would take the class next semester. I appreciate the thought, it is sweet.
She might.
But, I doubt it. Trust me, I can tell.

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