When Students Forget Their Books

Have you ever had a student arrive at their lesson, only to announce that they accidentally left all their books at home?

As ridiculous as it sounds, I think we all have experienced this in our studios at one time or another. The question is, how do you respond to a situation like this?

Get annoyed?
Send them home?
Teach them anyway?
Schedule a make-up lesson (which really isn't fair to you, since it's their fault they forgot their books in the first place)?
I recently had a student call an hour before a scheduled lesson to tell me she forgot her books that day so she would just skip this week and come next time (she had already paid me, so it wasn't my loss). Do we just let the student miss a valuable week of lessons and slow down in their progress?

I have gotten to a point in my teaching where when something like this happens, I no longer panic and instead see it as an opportunity for a great piano lesson!

There are oh so many things you can teach a student without their books! In fact, shouldn't we as piano teachers have enough musical knowledge to teach a student a great lesson without needing to rely on a method book as a crutch? It may be wise to try and keep a copy of your students' method books in your own library to pull out in these types of situations...but even if you don't have their exact book, there are SO MANY things you can do at a lesson instead.

25 Things to Do at a Piano Lesson When a Student Forgets Their Books

Sight read.

Have a 30-minute theory lesson.

Work on scales/technique.

Try some fakebook playing/harmonization exercises!

Transpose a hymn.

Teach them about your favorite composer and listen to a piece.

Show them a YouTube video of one of the GREATS performing a piece the student is working on.

Play duets.

Talk about how to accompany.

Teach them how to conduct music.

Listen to music from your iTunes and practice finding the underlying beat.

Using their knowledge of primary chords, help them figure out how to play "Happy Birthday to You!"

Get out a piece from your own library and have an entire lesson on how to learn a new piece.

Teach them about good practicing tips.

Show them the inside of your piano and teach them how it works.

Teach them about the damper pedal and let them play simple arpeggios while holding down the pedal.

Do some ear training.

Make up some musical question and answer phrases.

Teach them about major & minor, then have them listen to excerpts of pieces and identify if it is major or minor (or sounds "happy" or "sad").

Teach them about simple transposition by changing from one five-finger position to another.

Improvise a song about a thunderstorm. Or a train. Or Halloween.

Have a lesson on a new technique, such as staccato or legato.

Teach them the blues scale. Improvise some blues riffs!
Have a few music theory games on hand to pull out in situations such as this.

Quiz them on flashcards.

Have a flashcard "spelling bee" and see how quickly they can spell words with their flashcards (cage, face, age, facade, ace, etc.)
Have confidence in your experience, your training, and your musical knowledge, and don't even flinch - teach them a stellar lesson on something you usually don't have much time for during the lesson! After all, are we not trying to produce well-rounded musicians? Use this opportunity to round out their music education a bit and focus on something other than their repertoire for one week.

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