There are so many factors involved for a student to succeed in their music studies. Their parents, their teacher, their attitude and their grittiness all play a role.
But one factor you might not have thought of is their lesson schedule – more specifically, their lesson day.
⬆️ Listen to the podcast above or keep on reading, whichever fits your style. ↙️
A student’s lesson day and time can actually make a big difference to how their lessons go.
We’ve all had wee ones who came to us at 6 p.m. grumpy and tired. When we reschedule them to 2:30 they seem like a whole new child!
There are many such advantages and disadvantages facing students. In this article, I want to take something I call “the Friday disadvantage” and use it as a kind of case study to teach us about unpacking issues.
As you read, think about a student who is struggling right now. What hidden disadvantage might be working against them and how can you solve it?
What is the Friday Disadvantage?
The first step to solving any problem is understanding it. You can’t fix the dishwasher until you know about the gummy bears stuffed into its filter.
The Friday disadvantage is a term I’ve come to use internally for my students who come on…well, Fridays. Clever, I know. 😊
Here’s how it plays out:
- Jacinta comes for her lesson on Friday
- Jacinta leaves with BEST of intentions about practising her exciting new piece
- Jacinta goes home to find Friday night treat dinner and movie ready to go
- Weekend happens
- Monday arrives and Jacinta diligently goes to the piano to practice after school, only to find she has no memory of her awesome new piece
Does this sound familiar to you?
If Friday is your most frustrating day of the week, you may have assumed you just happened to schedule difficult students for that day. But the problem could actually be Friday, not the students.
Solutions to the Friday Disadvantage
We understand the problem now: Everyone is in weekend mode directly after Jacinta’s lesson, so she doesn’t get around to her practice for 3 days. Since we get the issue, we can work to solve it.
One fantastic habit that I try to get all my piano families to do is to read the assignments together when they get home from the lesson.
Reading through the assignments provides a conversation starter and will often prompt the student to tell their parent about the lesson in more detail. Rather than just shrugging and saying, “Good!” when asked about their lesson, they’ll actually explain the chord pattern they learnt or additions made to a piece.
This habit aids their memory of the lesson because they have to actively revisit what we did.
It also brings the lesson into their home environment and builds new associations. The learning isn’t stuck in our studio – it comes into their living room through the conversation.
This is especially helpful for Friday students. Anything we can do to strengthen their memory of what we did at the lesson increases their chance of remembering it on Monday.
And it might even lead them to practice at the weekend too. 🙂
The best possible solution is for them to just practice at the weekend. They can still have a day off later in the week if they like!
Explain the issue with waiting until Monday to practise to your piano families, and discuss the possibility of Saturday piano practice sessions. Some of them will able to rework things when they realise the problem.
Why didn’t I start with this?
Because in many families, it’s just unrealistic. Weekend schedules can be packed full, and they just can’t fit in piano on top of sports and other commitments.
But if it works, it’s an excellent solution.
For families who can’t practice at the weekend, your phone is your best friend. So, set aside the final 5 minutes of every lesson with your Friday students to record a recap.
Take a video of your student talking through their own assignments, explaining and demonstrating the things they need to work on this week.
Send this video to their parents. If you’re using Tonara, upload it as an assignment called “Watch this first!”
This is not a waste of lesson time. Setting your student up for good practice in the week ahead is possibly the best way to spend 5 minutes of your lesson each week.
It might just be the key to overcoming the Friday disadvantage once and for all.
What other hidden disadvantages do you see in your studio?
Think through the students in your roster and add your thoughts in the comments below. 🙂
Pssst: Need more help getting your students into regular practice routines? I’ve got just what you need!