how much do I push? : LUSENET : Everything About Teaching and Learning the Piano : One Thread

My 9yr old daughter has been taking piano lessons for 6 mos and is very good--it's a fight to practice and it's actually on my "to do list". She wants to quit--do I just let her? I'm sick of the yacking at her and I think I know the answer-but she doesn't realize that she will need this background. I already let my 6 yr old quit because of the battles--she also was very good--makes me more upset than anyone! Any comments?

-- Kathy Wendell (, January 16, 2005


Try something to motivate her to practice. Read from another board that a student wanted to quit, and got .50 cent a page of lesson book from his parents to keep the lessons.

-- Nancy Smith (, January 16, 2005.

It's always a surprise to me that piano lessons turn into a battleground for parents and their children. As a piano teacher, I occasionally see these situations but far less than is normally perceived. People will ask me at parties whether I have a lot of students whose parents force their children to take piano lessons!

Think of things from your daughter's perspective. Why is mother always hassling me to practice. It must be that practicing is like broccoli and she's trying to get me to do something I don't like to do. So if I continue to fight her, I will get loads of attention.

If you're sick of the "yacking at her", I'm sure she is too. Why does she "need" this background? I don't want to be too hard on you because I don't know the situation. Here's what I would do in the following order:

1) Pray. This is very important because people need to pray for their children everyday. You can pray they will become the people God wants them to be. You can thank God everyday for the gift of your children and for the love that created them. Pray that you can be their best guide.

2) Create a peaceful home life. It's hard for children to have the creative power they need when they are rushed from activity to activity. Reduce their other activities until one fine day they say, "I'm bored." That's when you know you've created the perfect family life for creativity to fluorish.

3) Go to the piano and start enjoying it yourself. Enjoy the sounds you make even if you can't play. Buy some piano music and sit and listen to it. Sing everyday about anything. Sing to the cat, the dog, to anyone who will listen.

4) Set a reasonable goal for your child that has nothing to do with time. Say, " Which songs can you play so far?" "Can you play this one for me?" ( I wouldn't expect more than 10 minutes of practicing in a row, btw, about thrice weekly.)

5) If it isn't fun for her, the truth is she doesn't need this background at all. I would have considered it torture if my parents said I had to learn how to use the computer or get along with dogs.

I hope this helps.

-- Anita (, January 16, 2005.

I assume she's taking "regular" piano lessons, scales and so forth. Maybe look into the chord methods (like Scott the Piano Guy on PBS for example), or see if she wants to switch to another instrument.

I too think that music is important, but it doesn't have to be the piano--it can be any instrument, or even choir (as long as the child learns to read music, and is not just repeating music back to the teacher).

Do you play piano yourself?, If not, maybe take lessons with her. If a parent doesn't play, and this goes for sports too, they shouldn't be trying to live their lives through their children (not saying you are, just that it happens a lot).

-- GT (, January 24, 2005.

If your daughter is good at the piano. I would definetly not let her quit. When I was six years old my mom made me take piano lessons. I absolutely hated it. I would cry and pitch a fit but my mom would make me sit there until I had practiced for 30 minutes. I am so glad that my mom did not let me quit. I even disliked piano until I was about 12 years old. I stopped pitching the fits as I got older and realized they werent going to get me out of practicing. Now as an adult piano has really helped me have more self confidence. I even started my own piano studio last year. Piano now is something that helps me relieve stress. I love it. So my advice would be to not give up. If you don't let her get away with quiting and not practicing she'll eventually stop the fits because she'll figure they don't work. Stand your ground and as she gets older she'll thank you for it. Also playing piano can lead to playing other instruments as she gets older that she really likes to play. I majored in music and played the french horn and piano. Try introducing some fun piano music by letting her listen to Harry Conic Jr. and others.

-- amy s (, January 29, 2005.

I like what Anita mentioned on point # 5. I look at this from the kids perspective instead of the parents. Sure we're as the adults would tell the kids, "U will feel sorry u wouldn't take the piano lesson now." Very classic, isn't it? Well, OK ... she may be very good at it but if that's not her interest why create a battle? One other thing that I found out my boss' kids took piano lessons and I tutored 'em out. I found out that the teacher didn't give 'em a strong foundation and moved forward to a higher level. Oh, I myself wouldn't like to see the kids quit either. Some previous advices above have the merits to it. So, changing teacher or method would be another solution. Remember, playing piano should be a fun thing instead of being a burden. I kinda disagree with 50 cents rewards. In my opinion it's a form of bribing. I think if playing piano is a fun thing to do the playing of the instrument itself became the rewards. However, if the lessons would have to be discontinued please don't make the kids feel guilty by telling how much cost to buy a piano, pay the teacher, books, etc. If she enjoys doing other things than piano eventhough it's not related to music at all such as sports, arts, etc she should be encouraged and supported. I remember the day when I lived with my parents they made me feel guilty not to take piano lessons after all the costs had been spent to make me to learn how to play piano and now after I grew up as an adult I teach myself to play and get a teacher, too. Even I finally get to the point where I regreted I didn't take start early, the decision I made to quit when I was younger was adequate as the method was boring, the teacher was mean and my parents didn't want to understand the whole situation. I hope my experience would help parents to stay positive with the kids regardless she wants to discontinue the lesson or to keep going. They will thank supportive parents in the future.

-- no name (, February 05, 2005.

I love Anita's answer. I also like the idea of considering a change in teachers. So many of my students have come to me with "horror" stories about previous teachers who took all of the fun out of music. Maybe that's what's going on. Maybe not. Ideally, your child's teacher will take on a very important role, teaching her about self-confidence, showmanship, concentration, having fun with music, making music part of your life, teaching her friends, on and on. Fill your home with music. Eventually she's going to decide she'd like to make music like that herself! Needs to be fun AND hard work.

-- Virginia Schweninger (, February 17, 2005.

Composition! Let her begin crafting some of her own music and mix that in with the rigors of "practicing" (building foundation). Encourage her to work a piece through to completion (start noodling around with something that "sounds cool" and suggest that she begin to make it a "song" (starting, middle, end)). Get your piano teacher engaged in the process so she learns how to identify the time signature, correct key and writes the proper notation.

Once she experiences the joy of creating her own music, the accomplishment, recognition and encouragement will do the motivation for you.

This process gives learning the basics relevance and will springboard her music career.

If you would like more direction, I am happy to help.

John Hinson

-- John Hinson (, February 27, 2005.

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