Let me guess. Little Susie, who begged for piano lessons for months, wants to quit. She won’t practice, “it’s too hard”, she doesn’t like it. The situation escalates into more of a fight than it’s worth for you. You’ve already spent countless hours taxiing her to lessons while you wait, not to mention money for books, lessons, and gas (which ain’t cheap).
Coming from the perspective of someone who has a degree in music and has taught for a number of years, but also parented children who wanted to quit lessons, I want to share with you five reasons why I don’t believe you should let little Susie give up. (Yet.)
1. Regret eventually surfaces.
I hear it all the time – including confessions from my own, oldest daughter, who fought me tooth and nail for two years until I let her quit. She now wishes she played with greater ease. Think about it. Have you ever heard an accomplished pianist voice regret over all the years of practice?
Didn’t think so.
2. Practice breeds discipline.
I once taught a couple of sisters who had very little natural talent. They also had no desire to practice. Upon conversing with the mother over this delicate subject, she said, “I know that. But it’s not about talent. It’s about discipline. It keeps them busy and occupies their time, and also implements daily practice and responsibility for attending lessons, books in hand. When they’re done high school, they can quit if they like.” She gave them a pep talk, they improved their practice skills and, to my surprise, developed talent over the years. The girls grew up to be very successful – one of which is a doctor. Kudos to that wise mama.
3. Commitment is a learned trait.
Kids need to learn that if a piano teacher is procured, that means she is getting paid to teach. It is her job. Money is being exchanged. She needs paid every week for her job just like mom or dad. (Sadly, some parents need to learn this as well.) Your child observes from a very young age whether or not you take commitment seriously according to how you handle their practice and lesson attendance.
I’m sorry – do I sound testy on this subject? I may or may not have been bitten a few times myself.
4. Self Esteem flourishes.
As little Susie learns, she improves. As she improves, she plays for grandma, grandpa, Uncle Charlie, Aunt Sally, and the friendly neighbor darting in to borrow a cup of sugar. She gains praise, which builds pride in her accomplishment. Don’t discredit this one, people – it bears a lot of weight. I found this to be true in my own life. (Especially as I graduated out of the key of C and the parishioners moved on to a selection of six hymns instead of three.)
Also, the memory of my college senior recital is still a highlighted achievement – the culmination of years of blood, sweat and tears.
5. Future instruments are more easily learned.
So I let my eldest quit piano after 5 years because I was not only the teacher but the mom, and needed to pick my battles with “Ye Old Strong Willed One”. But I didn’t let her off the hook. Because she was musically inclined, I let her choose another instrument. She chose flute, and became quite proficient – AND, she was able to read the music due to her piano background.
I have more to share on this subject, but we’ll save that for Part Two – Five reasons why you should let your child quit piano lessons! Do I sound like a double minded crazy person? I believe there are two sides to every story – and this one is no exception.
Coming next Thursday – stay tuned!
“For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews 12:11
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