Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Private Music Lessons: Albert & Alice

I want to thank guest writer, Wen Chung for today's submission. Wen volunteers in our office every week for a couple hours. When he is not volunteering his time, he's often teaching local clarinet, saxophone, and piano students. This is his story.

"Over years of teaching private music lessons to kids, I have met quite a few interesting students and parents. I thought it might be fun to share with everyone since I was honored to be invited being a guest writer for Daniel‘s blog. Here is one of my favorite (or not) family. They are definitely not a typical Chinese family.

"Albert started his saxophone lessons with me when he was 11 years old. I was teaching at one of the local music studios at that time. He had taken some piano lessons, flute lessons at the same studio before he came to me for saxophone lesson so some other teachers knew about him. At first I thought he was just a child who liked to have fun, joking around. He was a little weird but nothing serious happened during the lesson back then although his former flute teacher told me that she thought Albert had some mental development problem.

"One day I was teaching a student who came before Albert’s lesson, someone was hitting the wall outside of my room. I opened the door and found that Albert did that. I asked him to stop and he agreed. Moments later, he did it again. I tried to be nice the second time. By the third time, I couldn't stand it anymore. I yelled at him to stop him from doing that again. I wanted to kick his butt, but I couldn't because I didn't want to be sued. I told his mom what happened but she did nothing about it. The same thing happened for a few more times and finally he stopped because he didn't think it was fun anymore.

"After about a year, his mom asked me to come to their house to teach because Albert’s sister Alice who was in high school would like to take piano lessons. I thought it would be worth it to make a trip for two kids so I agreed. Alice was a very rebellious girl. I think the problem was how their mother treated her. The mother favored Albert a lot. She treated Albert like a 5-year-old boy even though he was in middle school then but she always yelled at Alice for anything she did. So mother and daughter yelled at each all the time even in front of me. Once during the piano lesson with Alice, she was arguing with her mom as usual. Alice was so mad and she said “Screw You!” to her mom. I couldn't believe Alice actually said that. But the even more shocking thing was that her mom didn't say anything and didn't look any more upset. After the lesson, I thought to myself maybe Alice‘s mom didn't understand what that meant. Her mom is from Taiwan. I guess she didn't learn that expression before.

"After we finished the piano lesson, Alice went into her study room where her mom was there doing some stuff. I started the saxophone lesson with Albert in the living room. Not long after that, they started screaming at each other again. Alice started crying and screaming like her mom was torturing her. It was so scary I thought she might have killed Alice. I almost called 911. Strangely enough, Albert seemed to be used to this kind of screaming.

"During one lesson with Albert, he spat on my face. I was furious and asked him why he did that. And he was just smiling at me like it was funny. He probably thought that he was just playing with me. I told his mom about it but all she did was asking Albert not to do that again in a very soft voice.

"After three years, they finally decided to discontinue the lessons. I felt so relieved when their mother told me that. I never found out what Albert’s problem was but I am just glad that I don’t have to deal with them anymore."

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