|Photo by thart2009|
If you’ve been reading my blog lately, you might think I would never advocate letting a child quit piano lessons. Not true. Sometimes, I think it’s the best choice! The hard thing is figuring out whether the child really doesn't enjoy piano study, or whether they'd just rather play Wii than practice. I don't advocate making a child stay with piano if they're truly not interested. I think the first step is to do some stealthy observation for a couple of weeks to watch for the presence or absence of the red flags I've suggested here. Then, sit down and have a very candid talk with your child and your teacher. You know your child best, and only you can decide the right thing to do. Do remember that sometimes a change of approach or possibly even a change of teacher can make a big difference! Maybe you can think of more red flags, but here are some that spring to mind for me:
The child never initiates a practice session himself.
My daughter usually needs to be prompted, but every once in a while, I hear her at the piano when I didn’t send her there. If yours doesn’t, that’s a red flag.
The child never becomes involved/engaged in the process of practicing.
Once I get her to the piano, my child frequently loses track of time and practices for longer than I might have asked her to. If your child is sullen and resistant for most of the practice session, that’s a red flag. We all have good days and bad days, but if the bad days outnumber the good…
It’s a power struggle at every practice time.
Sometimes, my daughter resists when I tell her it's time to practice, but mostly she's just testing the limits. She gives in pretty quickly, and occasionally doesn't offer any protest. If yours resists mightily every time, that’s a red flag.
He never sits down and proudly plays that recital piece he learned so well over and over and over, or he never seems proud of his accomplishments.
We grow in maturity when we accept that in order to get to the pleasure of playing well, we’ve got to work at it. But if playing well doesn’t excite your child or if he never seems to want to show off a well-polished piece, that’s a red flag.
There’s another pursuit that the child is passionate about, and he wants to dedicate himself more fully to it.
While I believe that some music study is beneficial for everyone, the rigor of studying an instrument privately is not for everyone. What I most want for my daughter, and I bet what you most want for your child, is that she find some pursuit that she can fully invest in – an arena where she will engage the struggle, the ups and downs, work hard toward her goals, and come out better for it. For me, that arena is music. This is where my soul is formed. For someone else, it may be art or theatre or ballet or tennis. Here’s where wise parenting comes in. It can be hard to know whether resistence to practicing is because they just aren't passionate about music, or because they just aren't willing to invest much effort in anything. Good parents don't let their children choose to be lazy and always just do the least they can get away with in life. But good parents also have to be observant and wise about what activity is best for the child.