July 3

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The Courage to Offend

In my earlier years of teaching, I wouldn't push students or their parents very hard. After all, I didn't want to offend anyone. And, I needed the income.

But, I also had a lot of recurring problems.

Students not maintaining a practice schedule. Students not reading the assignments between lessons. Parents coming to me asking why their kids hadn't progressed, as if I were hiding a magic wand somewhere.

Rather than tell them how it is, I would bend over backwards to try to please them and make it work. But in the end, it rarely worked out for any of them.

Over time, things changed.

I came to see myself more like a doctor. A doctor whose responsibility is to say it like it is.

After all, if you have high cholesterol, do you want a doctor who says you're fine eating burgers and fries every day? Because that's what you like and how you prefer to eat?

Of course not.

And so, these days, I say it like it is. I would rather offend someone and give them a chance at music for life than beat around the bush and do them a disservice.

Ironically, most parents have expressed greater respect for this approach. Even the ones I may have gone overboard with on the "being insultingly direct" front.

In an age where everyone is afraid to offend someone, offend them. Especially if it's something that will be for their own good.

And if they're offended beyond repair, then at least you will have gotten your piece out there.

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About Jonathan Roberts

I am the founder and director of the South Shore Piano School, and I have been teaching the piano for nearly 20 years. My work centers around bringing music to the lives of kids, parents, and adults in an enriching, meaningful way. At the South Shore Piano School, my incredible colleagues and I accomplish this through skill-based teaching, community, and an innovative, people-first business model. You can read more about me here.


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