It's actually quite common for studnents to want to quit piano lessons; it's a bit like when a kid gets a puppy and then later realizes that the thing poops, pees, howls, and needs to be fed and trained otherwise they become little monsters.
Messing around and playing random notes on the piano is easy, but to get proficient at it takes hard work.
What kind of lesson do you think kids learn if at the first sign of work and hardship they're allowed to quit piano lessons?
"Once you learn to quit, it becomes a habit" - Vince Lombardi Jr.
In a previous post I talked about the importance of parental support in a student's musical journey and mentioned my own story of wanting to quit piano--unsuccessfully, thanks mom. Recently I've stumbled on a couple more related posts and videos that I'd like to share with you!
Blog Post 1: Encouraging Your Children to Practice
The first is an awesome guest blog post by Heather Johnson, an adjunct faculty member at Brigham Young University with a Masters Degree in Youth and Family Recreation: Encouraging Your Children to Practice
She answers questions like "can parents push too hard?" "Is it ever okay to bribe?" "What to do when your child wants to quit?" and lastly, how to proceed if you do decide that quitting is the best solution. This is a really well-written post with lots of great points and advices.
I especially like the fact that her post is about how the parent can motivate the child. It is very important for a parent to realize that they are just as important to a child's practice habit and success as the child himself and the piano teacher. This fact seems to be lost on many parents, hence my original post on parental involvement.
With that being said, one other thing you can do when your child wants to quit that's not mentioned in her post is simply to communicate with the piano teacher. Sometimes a change of repertoire or a change in lesson procedure and expectations can solve the problem and remind the student of their love for music.
Blog Post 2: Protecting Your Investment
Here's a post from another piano teacher with some more specific ideas on how to motivate your children: “I wish I never would have quit.” How to protect the investment you make into your kid’s lessons.
Liker her post said, I have never heard of an adult saying they wish they had stopped taking lessons earlier and that their parents had let them quit. I have however, heard of plenty of adults regretting their decision to quit piano lessons; the fortunate ones are given the opportunity to take up lessons again as adults.
There are two ideas in her post that I wouldn't do though and it echoes Heather Johnson's sentiments about bribery. I wouldn't recommend giving your child money for practicing whether it's weekly or for the amount of time practiced. I think that's bribing as opposed to rewarding.
I totally agree with the last sentence of the post, "the initial excitement will eventually wear off. That’s only natural." This is precisely the time you are presented with one of those great "teaching moments" in parenting.
Video: Why We Make Bad Decisions
Most kids will want to quit at one point or another; it's against our nature to work for a reward in the future as pointed out by Dan Gilbert, author of Stumbling on Happiness, in his TED talk on Why We Make Bad Decisions. This is one of my favorite talks on TED, it's got lots of interesting ways humans show errors in value. The specific error I'm referring to starts at 18:05 of the video.
My favorite quote from this video comes at the end of his talk:
"We underestimated the odds of our future pain and overestimated the value of our present pleasures." - Dan Gilbert
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