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BONUS BOTD! 8/13/13 "I Hate Band!" A DMK Bonus

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1 BONUS BOTD! 8/13/13 "I Hate Band!" A DMK Bonus on Tue Aug 13, 2013 11:40 am

David M. Katz


Marshall
I HATE BAND!
A Bonus DMK Production

Your thirteen year old son, Nate, is a gifted student.  He does well in all of his classes and seems to be able to just "soak up" what he needs to learn.  Admittedly, he can be a bit arrogant about his academic abilities.  Nate shows lots of maturity in some areas but, as with any boy his age, he also can be very immature about some things.  Nate is also very strong willed and has an independent spirit.

At the end of the last school year Nate approached you and said he wanted to join the school band and play trumpet.  He had never played an instrument before and only had basic music reading skills.  You researched the issue and found he should be able to learn the instrument despite his lack of experience.  You purchased a trumpet and enrolled him in a private trumpet class over the summer.  He enjoyed the class and the instructor reported he was making good progress.  He would practice regularly.  Although his practice sessions still resemble the sounds of a dying farm animal you have noted that the animal is dying with less pain as of late.  School resumes and Nate eagerly enrolls in the band.  You maintain the private lessons as well.

Last night Nate was obviously bothered and was having problems sleeping.  At first you just thought he might not be sleepy but when he started crying you and your spouse had a deeper discussion with him.  Nate announced that he hated band and wanted to quit.  He asked if he could just keep his private lesson but leave band.  Originally he would just say he absolutely hated it and begged to quit.  After some pushing he revealed that that day the teacher had "embarrassed" him and made other kids laugh at him.  This seemed unusual.  Nate kept saying band was horrible and he hated it and wanted to quit.  You were concerned for the obvious reasons but it is already almost two weeks into the school term and a replacement class would be difficult.  You made no promises except to have a meeting with the teacher and the guidance counselor and look in to the issue.  Nate had a hard time going to sleep and remained tearful and upset for a while.

NATE - 13
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Today you were able to get a conference with the band teacher and the counselor.  Nate also attended.  Nate stated his case and said he wanted to quit band.

This is a beginning class.  There are many students with some musical experience but there are also plenty of beginners.

You found out, as you suspected, that Nate was not purposefully embarrassed or humiliated by the teacher.  The teacher called an error to Nate's attention and suggested he needed to practice more.  Nate does not like to be wrong.  It is possible this caused a couple of other students to snicker. (Some kids do like it when the geeky kid is wrong.)  The teacher said Nate is capable and able and shows promise.  However, you are told he does not participate well in class and seems unmotivated.  The teacher said Nate even told him last week that he did not need to do an assignment because he was taking private lessons.  You are further told that it seems Nate is not practicing and you are asked about his practice times at home.  You had to admit that you have been hearing less of the dying animal as of late. Nate finally admits to not practicing as he should. Nate also says he just does not like the class and so  "maybe he hasn't been doing his best."  The teacher encourages him and you.  The teacher feels Nate will get better - if he commits to practice and doing the assignments.  You are again told he shows promise and potential and are reminded he is a beginner.  Nate says he likes playing the trumpet he just doesn't like having to do it in class.  You surmise that the issue may be that Nate has finally run into something at school that proves to be a challenge and work for him and so he is balking at it.

The guidance counselor also recommends keeping Nate in band.  In beginning music classes, grades are not given out until after the second grading period and so no harm has been done to his academic record.  The counselor also says it will be difficult to put Nate into a class almost two weeks into the term.  She will make the change if desired saying she is sure Nate can catch up but the only class available to him at the same period is a introduction to business / basic accounting class.  You all decide that Nate should just stick with the band for at least a semester.  This will give him a true feel for the class and there will  be better offerings for alternative classes at semester end.  Nate is told he needs to practice and do the assignments.  The teacher even says he is willing to help before or after school or during free periods if needed.  The teacher seems to genuinely care.

Nate is obviously not happy.

After the meeting he says to you, "You can make me stay in band but you can't make me like it or do the work."  He then gives you a defiant look.  You gather your senses and resist the urge to kill him on the spot.  You tell him firmly that he needs to think about what he just said.  You further tell him you expect he treat band as any other class and do his best and that he will have a set daily practice time.  If, after he truly tries, he still does not like band then he may change at semester end. Nate just mumbles that he hates band and then plays the "you don't care" card with you.  He still has a defiant look.  You tell Nate to go on to class and that there will be a serious discussion when he gets home.

What happens in the serious discussion?


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AFinch


Sherrif
I think you've nailed the real issue. Nate has finally run into something he can't just absorb like a sponge. Like a lot of kids, especially today's kids, as soon as something is the slightest bit difficult, the reaction is quit or run. Indulging that is a very poor life lesson.

I don't see this as a spanking issue, despite the adolescent attitude.

It sounds to me like Nate just had a really bad day. I'd suggest you talk calmly with him, and make sure to use the famous Edison quote: "Genius is 99% perspiration and only 1% inspiration". If he enjoys his private lessons and playing at home, he really needs to stick to it. And he definitely needs to learn, now, that "winners never quit, and quitters never win". While studies show that natural ability is a huge advantage, every employer I've ever met would rather hire someone who works hard and makes an honest effort than a brilliant, gifted spoiled brat who only does what he or she wants.

Perhaps a bribe towards a long term goal would be helpful. I think, though, he should be strongly encouraged to give band a real shot. Two weeks with one (unintentional) episode of embarrassment is NOT a real shot.

While Nate's correct--you can make him stay in band but you CAN'T make him like it, you CAN, however, make him do the work. That's probably counterproductive though. I'd try the tack of asking him to make an honest effort with the chance of some "reward", just for trying. If he really hates it after a decent trial period (at least a semester), you all can rethink things. And if he's unwilling to even try, well, I'd be a lot less inclined towards special indulgences for him.

Kat


Editor Extraordinaire
I'm in agreement with Kier. Band is a self-chosen activity and one in which Nate seems to be making the usual progress, even if he isn't a prodigy. If he were truly struggling with music, then I can see how band would be torture, just as participation in sports can be torture to the kid who has no athletic ability. I think one must make a distinction between  pursuits that are challenging and the ones that are exercises in futility. In this case, I think there is a danger of Nate establishing a pattern of giving up on anything that doesn't come easily. The best approach here is to be patient and encouraging, but also firm. I'd want to convey that the person who meets a challenge and succeeds deserves more admiration than the person who only does what comes easily.

I've known a few adults who had things come very easily to them as kids and then they shut down when they met their first real challenge. I've also seen a few who have become flat, uninteresting people, afraid to try something difficult because of the possibility of failure. A failure from which you learn can be more enriching than a success your didn't earn.

Kat

AFinch


Sherrif
Or as Stephen Sondheim put it:

Don't lose heart--
I've still got resources, Mama,
And i'm learning as I go.
One more start--
Failure merely forces you to grow.

1strappedboy


Sherrif
Oh, holy crap; who was a fly on the wall in my Guidance Counselor's office wall circa 1976?

I can either do what my parents did-Tell me to get with the program "or else!", which I did or I could do what I wished had been done for me.

MY wishes would have been respected and I would have withdrawn for a year to allow MY sensitivities to recover and my pride to be respected. I would have no doubt resumed the program but without feeling like I'd been completely trod upon.

I did end up being quite proficient in my instrument (sax) but never quite came to grips with the idea that I got stepped on by the parental units!

Jack


Admin
Let me start by saying that I believe Kier is 100% wrong in that 'winners never quit..." ... quote. When I was in 6th grade, the spring when I turned 12, my mom talked me into playing baseball, promised me I'd love it, then forced me to stay in when it turned out that I sucked at it, and that I hated it. It was continual humiliation to me (more from myself than from others, I think). I quite after that one year and refused to play again.

Two years later, a friend asked me to play soccer, because they were one person short to be able to field a team (for the BYA, not a pick up team). I signed up, played, and loved it.

Four years after that, the church youth group was playing softball. Beth and I were supposed to go someplace, but she wanted to talk to a friend of hers, so we stopped at the game. They talked me into playing, and I really tried to back out. I warned them how badly I sucked, but they still wanted me to play.

I rocked - it turns out that most of my problem was that I was going through puberty when I was playing baseball and was lucky to walk without tripping, and a lot of the rest was probably Ralph's resistance to get my eyes checked on a regular basis.




Having said all that, I really think this is a different situation. It sounds like Nate shows both enjoyment and aptitude for it.

Without really knowing Nate, it's unlikely for me to guess a correct answer, but let me throw out a couple of ideas.

I've known teachers who could correct huge mistakes without embarrassing a person, and teachers who seemed able to make minor slips into major humiliation. Maybe I missed it in the scenario, but have you asked him, straight out, if he has a problem with the band director? Sometimes the chemistry involved just doesn't work.

I've also known people who don't perform well in groups. A lot of times, that's because they're scared to fail in public. Is this a beginning band class Nate is taking, or are there some people in the class who are much better than him? Have you asked him if another student is giving him a hard time?

I disagree with the other respondents that he just wants to quit because this is hard. After all, he's asked to keep taking private lessons. I also think that pushing Nate is exactly the wrong idea - if you 'make' him do it, even though it was his idea to start with, it sounds like he'll be more than willing to push back, and he doesn't have the concept of cutting off his own nose yet.

The thing to do, IMHO, is sit down and talk to him. First, remind him that he's getting disrespectful, and he needs to tone that back. Then talk to him - just the two of you so he can be entirely honest, and try to find out what he really dislikes about band. I get the feeling that it's going to be that he feels humiliated because he's not able to perform as well as he should. If you can get him past that, and get him to understand that solo practice and band practice are actually two similar, but different animals, he'll probably be okay.

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Kat


Editor Extraordinaire
Jack, your mom talked you into playing baseball, while Nate chose to be in band. You had issues with vision that your parents didn't resolve, as well as timing issues, while there seems to be no hint of that here. Nor has Nate shown the lack of aptitude that would explain why he seems miserable.

Jack wrote:I've known teachers who could correct huge mistakes without embarrassing a person, and teachers who seemed able to make minor slips into major humiliation.
From the information in the scenario, the teacher's handling of the incident doesn't sound unreasonable or inappropriate. Of course, Nate's subjective interpretation of what happened may be at odds with everyone else's interpretation. One possibility is that the teacher did something in word, or tone or body language that Nate can't convey. Sometimes a self-serving description of an incident is technically factual but not at all truthful. Another possibility is that perhaps -- and I'm only guessing -- Nate needs help learning to distinguish between criticism and attack and accepting constructive criticism. Negative criticism is never pleasant; but it is a necessary part of learning. I've taught kids who were hyper-sensitive to criticism, no matter how gently or tactfully given. It's an issue that parents and teachers need to address. Some kids put themselves under far too much pressure to be perfect. They need to learn how to give themselves permission to make mistakes and not always be the best at everything.

Kat

AFinch


Sherrif
Jack said:  Let me start by saying that I believe Kier is 100% wrong in that 'winners never quit..." ... quote.  When I was in 6th grade, the spring when I turned 12, my mom talked me into playing baseball, promised me I'd love it, then forced me to stay in when it turned out that I sucked at it, and that I hated it.  It was continual humiliation to me (more from myself than from others, I think).  I quit after that one year and refused to play again.

Two years later, a friend asked me to play soccer, because they were one person short to be able to field a team (for the BYA, not a pick up team).  I signed up, played, and loved it.  

Four years after that, the church youth group was playing softball.  Beth and I were supposed to go someplace, but she wanted to talk to a friend of hers, so we stopped at the game.  They talked me into playing, and I really tried to back out.  I warned them how badly I sucked, but they still wanted me to play.

I rocked - it turns out that most of my problem was that I was going through puberty when I was playing baseball and was lucky to walk without tripping, and a lot of the rest was probably Ralph's resistance to get my eyes checked on a regular basis.



I guess I expressed myself poorly.  No matter how much I practiced baseball (or football), I'd never have been any good at it.  And while I hated the contact of football, I LOVED baseball, and played it (badly) a lot until high school when, no longer taking gym and having lots of other things with which to occupy myself, I gave in to the realization that most 8 year olds were better at it than I was.

In my opinion the concept still applies here without belaboring it as some sort of life mantra.   Allowing a kid to quit something for which he/she has signed up the first time he/she has a bad day is a poor life lesson, again IMO.  

There is nothing from this situation that leads me to believe this has been an ongoing problem.   My impression is that Nate just had ONE really bad day.  

I agree, Jack--it's definitely worth a private conversation between just the two of us (Nate and Dave).  Nate may ultimately choose to quit--after all, music, like sports, is meant to be fun and enriching--not something despised.  I just think he should give it a REAL chance before walking away.

I hate seeing people give up something they really want to do because it has a learning curve, and having them regret it the rest of their lives.  And that regret is something  I've seen  a LOT.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8kFr7IJBmz0

Jack


Admin
Kat, my preface was in response to the idea that there's never a reason to quit. If you go into a situation with that idea, then there's not even a point going into it: you're right, the kid is wrong, 'nuff said. I agree, however (and think I actually said), that this is a totally different situation.

As to your comments about the teacher - I agree with you. I would imagine someone teaching a basic band class either has a lot of patience, or the other teachers would know there's a problem with him. I just think that if Nate does have some other problem with him, it's not likely to come out with the teacher sitting right there.

And remember, Nate isn't talking about giving up the instrument - he's talking about going only to private lessons. It might just be that he feels to awkward at having to practice and learn in public, and that he wants to get better before joining a band. I personally don't think that's a good idea, but it might be his motivation.

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David M. Katz


Marshall

After a bit of a stressful and emotional afternoon everyone had some thinking time.

Bottom line is he will remain in band and give it a reasonable try.  If he still hates it at semester end, he can change.  His desire to be the best did play into it and there was some issue of not wanting to work for it.  We have an incentive in place.

He had a good long practice this evening.  The animal is still dying but I am sure that will improve.

Thanks to you all for the ideas and advice and suggestions.  i hope I did not create too much division among us.



Last edited by David M. Katz on Wed Aug 14, 2013 11:30 am; edited 1 time in total


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kalico


Sherrif
I think what you've done is a good idea katz......

for me though I think I would have talk with nate and told him that if he really wanted out right now that he would have to take the only class that's left.
I think you should encourage kids to stay but it kinda sounds like maybe he likes the private allot better and the pace. he is still kinda young so if he dropped it now he has the option to try again later when maybe he feels more confident to be in a big class setting and could handle it better.

GOOD LUCK TO NATE and BIG HUGS!!!




hugs kal


P.s. I only say this because I know from experience what it's like to have a child who will just shut down and not do it..... I used to be like y'all and make her stay and try but found out later it really wasn't worth it for her or me.......GOOD LUCK!!!



Last edited by kalico on Tue Aug 13, 2013 9:33 pm; edited 1 time in total

John Boy


Sherrif
I think this is one of those times, where I am going to ignore the Puberty outbursts he made for the moment. I will focus on encouraging him, and show him that I am listening. I think this is a case of lots of hugs. After we talk about the school problems, we can address attitude, but maybe not.

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Jack


Admin
David M. Katz wrote: i hope I did not create too much division among us.
I don't think you created any division - it's simply a case that different people approach the same issue from their own perspectives. Some give and take while establishing and examining those perspectives isn't just natural, it's healthy.

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MemoryMan


Sherrif
I'm late into this but David you appear to be doing the right thing.

As Kier said....... "Nate has finally run into something he can't just absorb like a sponge. Like a lot of kids, especially today's kids, as soon as something is the slightest bit difficult, the reaction is quit or run."

That is so true.

After 30 years of coaching kids in a skill sport (and music equates to this) I have learned that the learning process is never a smooth curve, occasional cliffs bar the path and frustration ensues.  It is so easy to be critical at this point and that is so counterproductive.

Encouragement, practical support and patience, and patience, and sometimes more patience is the key to finding the route up the cliff.  

Keep climbing David

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ivor


Marshall
From what you have said Katz it appears that in virtually everything he has done up to now at school Nate has been in the top percentile, and in many of those without too much 'extra' effort.

Suddenly he is in a situation where that is not the case and it seems likely he considers his image is being tarnished in front of his fellow students.

Not having ever been that good at anything it is not a problem for which I feel qualified to offer a solution.

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squarecutter


Sherrif
Theres nothing worse than being forced to stay in an activity that your no good at. I see that with sport as well Ivor and the thing becomes a baby sitting service for the parents. while their bored kid causes mayhem during practice.  But this is not the same. Clearly Nate has some ability. Instilling a little determination is not a bad thing. It certainly is not right for a parent to buy the intrument or the gear just to watch a kid move on to something else when the going gets tough. I think in the Uk it would be easier because  Band or orchestra would be seen as extra curricular thus optional. Here it sounds like lesson time that has to be filled. The concern is not to alienate the boy from the instrument by overdoing the coercion. Encouraee Nate to stay with the program, slip some money into his pocket at the next concert or appearance an keep encouraging/cajoling, Promise to revisit the matter at the next school year.


I realise I had no idea what I would say at our promised discussuion but I agree 100% with Jack. I hope Maybe Nates teacher will understand the need for a little more sensetivity if that was an issue

ivor


Marshall
squarecutter wrote:Theres nothing worse than being forced to stay in an activity that your no good at.
I think the major part of the problem here is that he hasn't been doing it long enough for it to be known whether he can be good at it or not. But, it seems to be something at which he is not immediately good and that is causing him problems when in the presence of the other learners.

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Jack


Admin
MemoryMan wrote:...I have learned that the learning process is never a smooth curve, occasional cliffs bar the path and frustration ensues.
I remember when I took typing - I knew I was going to need it, both as a teacher, and because I could already tell that computers were going to be important for businesses (though I never would have guessed how far they'd really come). I took a simple typing class through community education, and you had to type 35 wpm to get a certificate from the class. I could NOT hit that number. Then one day, when class was almost finished and everyone else was playing games, I sat down to do a test and hit 50 wpm - about double what I'd been doing.

Square, I don't know if the schools in David's area are exactly like ours, but my boys have 8 periods a day. Of those, the 7th graders have six academic classes, physical education, and one elective. The 8th graders have the same thing, except they can take a second elective instead of PE.

David - the point MM made about how easy things come for Nate is very essential. He sounds very much like me in that respect, and when I first came upon things that didn't go easy (like college), it was a shock for me. You might point out that if everything comes easy, you never learn how to deal with the challenges.

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Padraig


Trailboss
[quote="MemoryMan"]...I have learned that the learning process is never a smooth curve, occasional cliffs bar the path and frustration ensues. [/quote

so true...

Stone Man


Marshall
ivor wrote:From what you have said Katz it appears that in virtually everything he has done up to now at school Nate has been in the top percentile, and in many of those without too much 'extra' effort.

Suddenly he is in a situation where that is not the case and it seems likely he considers his image is being tarnished in front of his fellow students.
You could substitute my name in for Nate's. I did things so easily that I expected to do ALL things easily and expertly.

I was not allowed to quit on the spot, but was allowed to do so at a convenient time in the future. In the interim I sometimes learned the skills to keep going and sometimes I didn't.

David M. Katz


Marshall
Update:

Things appeared to be going better.  Nathaniel was even practicing last week.  He came in Monday in another fit of anger.  We let him stew and calm down and then talked.

He was called down in band class for "not doing anything."  After asking for more info, he apparently decided he was just no good and he "never would be any good."  As of last Friday, he was going to class and just sitting there and wasn't even taking the instrument out of the case.  Of course the teacher is going to say something and I told him that.  He begged again to quit and even said he wanted to stop the private lessons.  We gave him no definite answer.  He did not seem angry with us - just generally pissed at the situation.  He also said to me when I told him that if he didn't participate that he would fail that he knew that and that he didn't care.  He said it in a calm and accepting sort of way and not in his 'tude voice.  It was like he had shut down.  He will sometimes deal with bad situations by just shutting down and closing it out.  He was sullen and quiet the rest of the night and barely ate.    Anne and I talked.  I got advice in chat.  I thought and I talked with him yet again.  I sort of got the impression that he also does not like this teacher.  I felt that it was probable that the teacher was giving preference and attention to the more experienced kids - I have no proof.  The guy seemed nice enough and willing to help when we met him but I just don't know.  I am not there, I only hear one side.  I just had a very distraught kid who seemed to be in desperation.

Nathaniel can manipulate situations and he knows how to use his emotions to get his way.  I am fully aware of that.  However, this did not seem like that.  He seems to truly hate it and to have resolved himself to failure.  Also, when he is manipulative he does not shut down and he had shut down.

He couldn't sleep last night and so I finally told him that, if the school would agree, that he could drop band.  I reminded him he would be 2.5 weeks behind in the business class and that they have already had a test.  He said he knew that but promised he could catch up.  (He can.)  I called Guidance this morning and talked to the counselor.  She will allow the change and I gave my support for it.  She said she would call him to her office and make the transition.

So, he is done with band.

I hope by rescuing him that I have not done a detriment.


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MemoryMan


Sherrif
David.

Nat has burned a boat. It was his decision, not yours; and you didn't force feed him with music.

In time he will come to realise he has copped out; he may (or may not) regret it and recognise an opportunity gone.

But whatever, he will have learned a life lesson from it.

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ivor


Marshall
I concur with MM.

Perhaps the business class may even be of more use at some future point

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