I am having an issue with the studio that my son goes for violin classes. Here’s a bit of background. This is a new studio and it was not the place that he first got started. In this place, the teacher is a bit younger and there is a studio manager who runs the place. We have been a part of this studio for about three months now. We were excited that he would be able to play in a concert in town. In the last studio, he played in several concerts, but they were always in other towns. So as we were nearing Thanksgiving, I asked about the winter concert and when it would be. I then asked about the policy for performing. I was then assured that anyone who “was ready” could perform. Okay, great, let’s get him “ready.” This was a Monday that I asked, then on Tuesday the manager says to me, “Does he have a piece ready? Will he play and I don’t need to ask him to play?” When she asked, I confirmed that he had played in concerts before and he could play in front of people. Then she gave me an information sheet about the performance that was in two days! First of all, the teacher had not been preparing him for the concert. It had already been decided that he was not going to perform. I was certainly upset about this, but I had to let it sit with me for a minute without responding to the manager.
What I now realize is that I am feeling hurt. I am hurt that they had low expectations for him. I’m hurt that his exceptional talent (playing by ear, can learn any music very quickly, and he loves to play) was disregarded. I am constantly having to prove to people that he is capable of more than is expected. It is a never ending battle. Just when I think that I don’t have to struggle with this anymore, it shows up again. I have a throbbing pain in my throat from crying and feeling sad about that. That’s the Mommy in me. What does the activist in me say?
I need to educate the studio manager about how to deal with children with autism and families who may bring their children there. First, under no circumstances, should you underestimate the abilities of the child. Expect that they will perform and help them to get there. Even if it means walking on stage with them, having a partial curtain to help if they are feeling overwhelmed with the crowd. Having a full length mirror for them to watch themselves while they are on stage. Whatever you have to do, be flexible enough to do it. Second, prepare, prepare, prepare. Let the family know well in advance and have the teacher prepare a song that they can do. Then practice, practice, practice. If your expectations are high and you prepare your student, then anything is possible.