“So, Saturday Samantha broke her arm. The funny thing was Sami looked at me after the break and said, “Oh! What about piano playing?” Love it. Let’s think about the lessons; she’s in a splint for 3 weeks so either the twins can have longer lessons or we can find some left handed things for Sami to do? Your choice.”
This is the second broken right arm in my studio this year and I wouldn’t be surprised if your studio has suffered similar casualties. My teaching plan in these situations varies with the severity of the injury. Obviously, a student who will have the use of only one arm for a few weeks is different than one who will be out for six or eight months.
In my experience, if at all possible it’s best to continue lessons. First, there is always something to teach a student that doesn’t require both hands. Theory, games, rhythm exercises, the list is endless. I also find that the difference in physical ability helps me get to know the student in a different way. There’s something about both of us working together around the injury that makes us grow closer.
Second, it’s a slippery slope to skip lessons for mild injuries. Even the strictest studio policy isn’t much help in these cases. Financially, it can be tricky to charge for missed lessons, due to injury. Charging in advance, by the semester, as I do, makes these situations somewhat easier to deal with.
Even more important, there is a benefit to both limbs by keeping the able hand and arm moving. This particular little girl, Sami, age 6, is very right-handed. The time spent on the left hand alone will be helpful. Since her older siblings and mother also play well, I’ll be asking the other family members to pitch in and play the right hand parts. This is a delightful opportunity for family music-making.
The gifted composer, Melody Bober, has recently written some music for one hand alone. There are pieces for both right and left hand alone. These Grand One-Hand Solos would be excellent books to have up your sleeve for these all-too-frequent student injuries.
Anyone in your studio in cast this week? Make sure to have a plan just in case.