Do you ever struggle to motivate your child to work hard in their musical development? What’s that? Oh! You all do? Ok, good. For a second there I thought maybe I was alone. If your child is not enjoying music lessons right now should you let your kid quit piano lessons?
The truth is, EVERY student has gone through AT LEAST one difficult point in their musical journey. Most musicians go through MANY difficult points in their quest to be a skilled musician.
When your child experiences physical growing pains do you freak out and think, “Oh no! Something must be wrong! We need to stop their growth immediately!” No, you patiently wait it out while attempting to alleviate the pain. Growth is good, but pain is a natural side-effect of that growth.
Musical growth is no different! If your kid wants to quit piano lessons, hold off and think long and hard about this. I know those growing pains are not fun, but just like physical growing pains, unfortunately it is simply a part of the process that we parents must endure and do our best to help our kids work through the pain.
One of the hardest things we teachers have to witness is when students with great potential give up when the going gets rough and decides to quit piano lessons because it’s not fun right now. Every growing musician begins lessons with a honeymoon stage. The student is excited to learn, eagerly anticipates the next lesson, and usually completes all practice assignments without much, if any, struggle. Unfortunately this period can send an incorrect message to all involved: The parents feel they don’t have much responsibility or impact on their child’s musical journey. The teacher decides he has acquired the world’s perfect student who will always be excited about lessons and complete all practice assignments. And possibly worst of all, the student thinks music lessons should always be this easy.
There is nothing wrong with this honeymoon stage. Enjoy it! Bask in it’s greatness! Just understand that it will likely end. (I think a small number of students always maintain their excitement for learning instruments and remain dedicated to practicing. If this is your child, CONGRATULATIONS!!! This is very rare. Appreciate it!!!) For the rest of us, being prepared for what comes after the honeymoon is crucial.
When the honeymoon is over most students continue for a time, however if you do not have a reasonable expectation for what it takes to learn an instrument, this is when the time-clock starts. You know the clock I’m talking about? … “If Johnny doesn’t start practicing again we will quit piano lessons.” “Susie just isn’t excited about piano lessons anymore, maybe we should think about discontinuing.” You know… something like that.
See, here’s the thing. Learning an instrument requires discipline. Discipline isn’t something that any one of us naturally has. It is a life skill and character trait that can only be learned and acquired through experience. It is a skill/trait that our children will benefit from their entire lives in every area of their lives. If we allow our children to quit piano lessons when the going gets rough, we are denying them the opportunity to learn discipline, and actually *teaching* the habit of quitting. The point is, it’s not always going to be easy! But the end results are INVALUABLE! (Check out some of our tips for helping your kid practice here.)
Please believe me when I say this. Very few adults who are able to play an instrument or are trained singers regret that their parents made them stay in music lessons when they wanted to give up. In contrast, MOST adults who had the opportunity to take private lessons but were allowed to quit piano lessons when it got too hard have HUGE regrets! Sometimes we parents have to make our kids do things that are good for them, even if they don’t realize it or appreciate it. (Vegetables, anyone?)
The challenge with music is that it usually takes years of hard work before a student can play an instrument well. Once a certain skill level is reached, however, music becomes SUCH a gift! As an adult, music can be a wonderful therapeutic outlet. How about blessing others through community events, playing or singing at a nursing home, church, or for family gatherings? Every event is made more beautiful and enjoyable with a bit of live music.
Just remember: all things (worthwhile) are difficult before they are easy.
Keep trekking along!!! Your kids will thank you one day for the incredible gift of music! If you are new to lessons, enjoy the honeymoon phase and relish in the fact that you know what to expect in advance. If your child is one of the few who never resists practicing, do a happy dance and share the good news with us!