Last night I finally had a talk with a student, who struggles with her lessons. Let me re-phrase that. She struggles like no one I have ever witnessed struggle learning to play guitar, and I've been doing this for a long time. I know learning music is not her gift, but this is a much bigger issue than not being endowed with the brain bundle that allows one to process the "language" of music. Things are complicated because I'm a close friend of the family. I have said to E-Rex, that if my student was my child, I'd have her tested because I have never seen a kid her age so incapable of retaining ANYTHING. She's so easily confused, that when first we began guitar together, I thought it was just a phrase she threw out - I didn't think she was REALLY confused by simple things.
When I gave her a lesson a few days ago, and she said she was so confused -- about what notes are in a scale she has been "playing" or has been asked to play, since August -- I decided to breech the subject of how hard music lessons are for her and how hard school work is for her. We talked for over an hour. Unfortunately, she was in charge of her younger siblings because Mom and Dad went out on a free movie date night. (They need it. There are a lot of stressful things going on in their family.)
We discussed that she can't retain what we do week after week, how she struggles and everything takes her longer than everyone else in school, how when she looks up a word she doesn't know, the definition is like a bowl of alphabet soup and although she can read every word of the definition, she can't make any sense out of it.
I was so glad we had the chat. I told her I wanted to talk to Mom and Dad - mainly because she needs some help before next school year, when she will begin high school, as well as that she needs to have a normal life and be able to learn. She was all for it and said it would be fine to talk to her parents about it with me. She seemed totally appreciative for my love and interest. Then, I went to my next lessons.
I received a text from her dad a few hours later, saying he was sorry if she put me in the middle of something and that it was probably PMS. I told him it wasn't PMS and that I have wanted to find a way to speak with them about her for quite a while. I'm hopeful that they are going to listen to my observations. They see her every day and probably can't see that she's different from her peers, in her ability to retain information. She said that she can't retain when she reads and always has to look back if she has questions to answer. If she has to read and interpret what she reads in order to answer a question, she can't do it. If the words of the question are not in the passages she reads, she is clueless to draw a conclusion.
I'm hoping to meet with the mom, dad and my student to discuss this before the week is over. Guitar is the least of my concerns for her. My student told me her dad thinks she's just a distracted, day dreamy teen. He doesn't realize the degree to which she is challenged. It will please me to be instrumental in helping to turn this around. It's painful to witness . Down the road, I'm looking forward to a smile on her face and peace of mind, rather than the hopeless stress that's swallowing her up now.