Helping your kids stick with music lessons

Who's making noise in and around Madison? What's new in the business of making music around town? Review shows and CDs here. Please keep all hype in Hype Exchange.
Forum God/Goddess
Posts: 3012
Joined: Wed Mar 17, 2004 9:46 am

Helping your kids stick with music lessons

Postby christopher_robin » Fri Apr 04, 2014 3:26 pm

Anyone grappling with kids who want to quit their music lessons?

"For the younger boy, however, it's a fight twice a day before both practice sessions. He tries to bargain. He tries to reduce his practice time. He wants to quit entirely. It's a huge battle.

"What parent, when faced with myriad other challenges, doesn't feel like giving up?" ... icle=42424

Forum God/Goddess
Posts: 14650
Joined: Fri Feb 14, 2003 10:42 pm

Re: Helping your kids stick with music lessons

Postby snoqueen » Fri Apr 04, 2014 5:04 pm

I'm not a parent, but I'm an adult who had music lessons for years. I read your link and I see what they're saying but I think they're being too inflexible. Here's my experience.

I didn't hate the piano lessons at all. I hated the band instruments I was supposed to play, though. I would be just fine if that part all had never happened. It was miserable.

But I can still play the piano, by ear if not by reading the notes. (I know how that part goes but it's too tedious.) I just played the other day, in fact, and the people standing nearby liked it. It's one of life's minor pleasures but not a big deal. As a child I'd make up songs of my own, songs that made sense and actually sounded like music. And that's my point. It was fun and easy for me, and an enjoyable experience. If it helped me develop my spatial skills, well... maybe it did, but that doesn't mean I wouldn't have gotten them some other way.

I don't think kids should be forced to do piano any more than they should be forced to play sports. I would rather spend a day locked in the cellar than play a team sport. I hate 'em and I always have. They seem lonely, pointless, and stupid to me. Kids should try -- say, give it a year -- but if after that they still hate it, find something they do like. Life -- not to mention childhood, or even adulthood -- is too short for all that misery. Sure, we need to learn perseverance, but there have to be better ways than by spending years on something we detest and do poorly.

Piano takes a certain skill set, and those are to a degree inborn. Some of us are extroverts, some are introverts, some are good at large-muscle coordination, some do better at tiny finger things. If your son came with a different skill set overall, why not go with his strengths? He'll feel good about himself instead of just getting frustrated.

Have you asked him what it is he hates about playing the piano? You might get leads on what he'd enjoy more and do better.

I doubt his brain will fail to develop to its full potential if he stops piano lessons. If he regrets it later, he can take lessons as an adult when his motivation is stronger. And forcing people to do things they really, really hate isn't going to build character, just resentment.

Right now I feel sorry for the little guy and I'm kinda sticking up for him, so hopefully someone else will view this a different way and offer their thoughts too.

Forum God/Goddess
Posts: 4282
Joined: Wed Mar 31, 2010 5:26 am

Re: Helping your kids stick with music lessons

Postby bdog » Fri Apr 04, 2014 8:07 pm

Have you ever talked to him about his mindset?

In a fixed mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them. They also believe that talent alone creates success—without effort. They’re wrong.

In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment. Virtually all great people have had these qualities.

I grew up in a prominently fixed mindset culture. It would have made a huge difference learning things if I had had the growth mindset.

Forum God/Goddess
Posts: 7997
Joined: Tue Dec 31, 2002 8:39 pm
Location: Bay Creek

Re: Helping your kids stick with music lessons

Postby Bwis53 » Fri Apr 04, 2014 10:49 pm

All my family sang, played instruments or listened to a lot of music. I was terrible at instruments and excelled at singing. My firstborn failed at Suzuki piano at age 5 or 6. He got passionate about flute and jazz, starting in 4th grade.

Forum Addict
Posts: 141
Joined: Thu Nov 03, 2011 12:39 pm
Location: Near East Side Madison

Re: Helping your kids stick with music lessons

Postby Maggie » Sat Apr 05, 2014 7:54 am

Let the kid quit lessons if he hates it. What's the big deal?

Forum Addict
Posts: 208
Joined: Mon Jul 10, 2006 7:20 pm

Re: Helping your kids stick with music lessons

Postby iwiw99 » Sat Apr 05, 2014 9:32 am

I hated it too and am very lucky that my Mom pushed so hard. No regrets. Maybe there is a better way to get him/her interested. Damn, my downstairs neighbor at 14 can sing like Eddie Vedder and play guitar like I've never seen. Keep pushing.

Forum God/Goddess
Posts: 1529
Joined: Tue Feb 06, 2007 6:47 pm

Re: Helping your kids stick with music lessons

Postby Madsci » Sat Apr 05, 2014 7:37 pm

Let me tell you my experience with a very creative child who became a very successful graphic designer as an adult. She took violin as part of the MMSD 4 and 5th grade strings program. The $15/semester or yr was very affordable. She did very well and could read music easily. In middle school she ended up with the French Horn. Again she did very well, even with a new set of braces on her teeth. I encouraged her and attended all of the concerts but never has to force her to practice. In high school she didn't pick music in school so I got her a guitar. She learned to play with lessons from a neighbor. But around that time she started to rather listen to music than play it. I don't think she has seriously played an instrument since. Different strokes for different folks...

BTW, kids are what goats have, humans have children. Sorry, Edgar made me say it.

Forum God/Goddess
Posts: 739
Joined: Fri May 02, 2003 2:53 pm
Location: Madison, WI

Re: Helping your kids stick with music lessons

Postby NullDevice » Mon Jun 16, 2014 3:35 pm

It's a tricky line. I taught violin for a few years, mostly wee kids, and it was pretty obvious which kids were going to stick with it and which weren't.

If their parents were sitting in the lessons with them and giving running commentary the whole time, there was generally a feeling that they'd drop it once they had the chance. These were always the kids who took violin lessons because they were told that they were going to learn the violin, not because they had any choice in the matter. The kids who picked the violin themselves were far more likely to succeed (in fact one of them I just saw graduated from college with a violin performance degree. Holy crap I'm old).

The really tricky bit is getting a kid to pick an instrument, and that's just a lot of exposure and shared enthusiasm for music, which has to be cultivated from a young age and not forced. And, frankly, not starting too early. Some kids can do the 4-year-old prodigy thing and take their suzuki lessons and everything is fine; most four year olds don't know or care what a cello is unless they've been exposed to it, so they're likely to be far more frustrated and annoyed quickly. If they do want to start young, awesome, but don't push too hard - get into a practicing routine but don't overdo it. Start small; run a few scales or an exercise or twinkle twinkle, then slowly work up from there. Eventually they'll be ready for the more rigorous stuff. Frustration is the enemy, and young kids are easy to frustrate, and musical instruments are infinitely frustrating.

One final note: I canNOT stress the importance of a good, friendly teacher enough for younger kids. My first teacher was a decent technical player, but he was also a complete hardass and I would've quit after a few lessons had my parents not had the foresight to switch me to a very lovely woman who, while not going to solo with the NY Phil, was amazing with kids and had the patience of a saint. At a young age, you need someone like that. After a while you can graduate onto the gifted technical players with the credentials and the great reputations as players.

Return to “Madison Music”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest