Diary of a Music Teacher Day 7: What to Do when Students Keep Saying ‘No’

All teachers have been in situations where a student says ‘no’ to a task that they have been asked to do. When it doesn’t happen often and when they are open to talking about it with the teacher, the situation can be resolved easily. However, when a student constantly says’no’ and will not even consider trying doing a task, what can a teacher do?

With some students, I simply move on to a different task. But if the student repeatedly says ‘no’ to any task, then I will stick to one and make sure that they do it. The hardest part is when a student completely refuses. The only way I found is effective in dealing with this is to let the student choose the following task as then they can’t refuse to do it.

In such instances, questions on the student’s motivation arise. I often wonder if they actually want to learn music, or if it is the parents telling them do learn. In my experience, there has to be some sort of internal motivation to learn, otherwise learning just doesn’t happen!

Those students who first say ‘no’ but then do the task anyway are much easier to deal with. But even this can set the feel and tone of the class on the wrong foot.

The most important thing for a teacher to do is to keep calm and try to make the students see why it is beneficial for them to engage in a specific task.

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