We couldn’t find her guitar and other stellar excuses for not practicing

Oh the sad life of a music teacher. We labor long hours to teach you and your children, only to find out that some of you aren’t practicing. At least the excuses are entertaining. Here’s a list of real excuses:

“We couldn’t find her guitar.” I really got this one once. If they can lose a whole guitar I shudder to think what else they’ve mislaid. “Doctor, we couldn’t come in for a check-up; we’ve misplaced the baby.”

“I had a zit.” Jill Allen Waters swore she got this one once. When I asked if it was true she replied simply, “Kids are self-conscious.”

“The dog ate my music.” I saw the book after the pooch had done the dirty deed and indeed, it looked pretty bad. Now I’m envisioning hundreds of you smearing pastrami all over that Mel Bay book.

“I had a touch of leprosy.” My friend Gwen was kidding when she suggested this one but I have heard some pretty creative illness/injury types of excuses. Sure, if you’re flat on your back with the flu, I don’t expect you to practice. However, a “hurt” finger that looks fine and seems to work well is not an excuse. The fiddle player in my band once broke her sternum. Now that’s a valid excuse.

“I forgot.” Try to be more creative than that – include a house fire, amputation or a dying relative. We teachers like to be entertained.

“The guitar is at my dad’s … mom’s … cousin’s … the summer cottage … the other car.” Well, go get it!

From a nine year old — “I didn’t have time.”  When I suggested he cut out watching reruns of Sponge Bob and practice instead, he recoiled in horror.

“My instrument was stolen.” Not a great excuse if you play a grand piano.

“It was out of tune.” Clearly, that’s a topic we need to cover in lessons.

“A string broke.” Squeeze two dollars out of your budget, buy a new string and I’ll show you how to replace it. Meanwhile, make do with five strings. Banjo players do it all the time.

“It hurts my fingers.” Of course it does. Pressing tender finger tips into a metal wire is not a pleasant experience. If there was no pain involved, we’d all be Hendrix. And by the way, your fingers wouldn’t hurt if you, ahem, practiced.

“I don’t want to play that.” I’ll admit that “Claire de Lune” is not the most exciting piece on the planet but you can’t start right out on “Purple Haze.” Trust me on this one.

“I lost my music.”  Lose your mind, lose your way or lose your cookies. Try not to lose your music.

“I thought my lesson was tomorrow.” So, you only practice the night before a lesson? <sigh>

“You told me to put the music inside my binder. You didn’t say I could take it out.” My friend Brandie used this one on a high school teacher. When all else fails, try to make the teacher laugh.

From a piano student, “I lost the keys.” A good joke will not always save you.


Got any great excuses to add?

Thanks to Facebook friends Jill Allen Waters, Ellen Daly, Cic Wea, Laura Connallon-Guluk, Brandie Mann, Betty Macias, Gwen Frederick, Allegra Twobly and to my students whom I adore.

About jamiebobamie

Musician - teacher - writer - gets bored easily. I write an almost-weekly blog that includes true stories gathered from 20-plus years of touring, how-to articles for musicians and profiles of performers. Also, I love dark chocolate, I can play "Brown Eyed Girl" behind my head, and I twirl the baton badly.
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7 Responses to We couldn’t find her guitar and other stellar excuses for not practicing

  1. Jamie,

    We once had a student arrive at our door at his lesson time to say “he couldn’t have his lesson today because he wouldn’t be able to get there”.

  2. WhiteSky says:

    I have heard some excuses like I hurt my finger, my arm hurts, I had diarrhea for a whole week, I broke my arm… one of the stupidest was “I broke a string, and couldn’t get to shop fast enough to buy it”, or “I just came to the city, but I’ll need 30 more minutes to get to your place, so should we have a lesson at all? I’m gonna be late!” 😀

    • jamiebobamie says:

      I’ve heard the “I broke a string” one many times … what some students won’t do to get out of practicing. 🙂

      • WhiteSky says:

        Yeah, I know one of my friends (who learns to play guitar) was once invited by another guitar teacher (my other friend) in the area to come to jam session he organized…what she did is she *intentionally* broke the string so she wouldn’t have to go there. Reason: not enough to practice (LOL). So in the end she didn’t have to go because she broke the string only few hours before the start and her guitar would be well out of tune. 😀
        Yeah, what some people do think of to get out of it… it’s quite amazing how many ideas they get. 🙂

  3. Artemida says:

    My most used excuses for not going to lessons when I didn’t feel like or when it was because of lack of practice, were:
    – “I forgot my violin/cello/guitar at home”,
    – “a string broke yesterday”,
    – “had a busy week and didn’t have anytime”,
    – “was too tired to play”,
    – “my arm/finger/shoulder/whatever hurts” ,
    – “I got the flu/diarrhea/name it”,
    – “I lost all my sheet music and couldn’t practice without”,
    – “my instrument needs to be repaired as it’s constantly out of tune”,
    – “today I have an appointment for something, so can’t come to the lesson”,
    – “a friend/family member/whoever borrowed my instrument so it wasn’t at home”,
    – “I was on a holiday for a whole week/weekend”

    Later I realized that practice is needed and didn’t skip my lessons anymore. But back then… I was like a pro when thinking about how to make really good and logical excuses. 😀

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