Thursday, October 13, 2011

You're Going to Stick with It . . . If I have anything to do with it

Z1 has been taking piano lessons since the beginning of they year.  He has been doing very well and even won the trophy for best newcomer in his music school.  He definitely has ability and, I would say, talent.  But learning an instrument is hard and not much fun in beginning.  In fact, it doesn't become fun until you master that which was once hard.  So every so often, Z1 says he wants to quit the piano.  Lately he's been saying it a lot.

Now, the part of me who wants to be the attachment/gentle discipline parent says that if he really wants to quit, I should let him quit.  The other part--the more totalitarian part of me-- says that he will quit over my dead body.  I'm afraid that the totalitarian part is winning this battle.  You see, no one ever grows up and says, "You know, I regret learning to play the piano."  He will eventually enjoy playing it and it's a useful skill.

You know what?  I feel very sad that my parents didn't follow through with piano lessons.  I took them for a short while and made lots of progress but once we moved to a different part of the city, the lessons stopped and my formal learning stopped.  Oh, I played in high school and even played for my father's church but it was all very amateur and not what I would have liked to see for myself as a pianist.  I wanted to be good.  So yeah, maybe I'm projecting what I wanted for myself on to my child.  I won't deny it.  But I think it's healthy to learn how to play an instrument for many different reasons.  I honestly can't see how pushing him to learn this skill will hurt him in the long run.  

My promise is to not yell or be mean about it but to be firm.  A challenge is not a good reason to give up.  Z1 is expected to rise to the challenge.  And I know he will.   


Contentedly Crunchy said...

We are conservatory-trained musicians, and I was teaching flute until february of this year. My personal opinion is that no kid should be pushed into music lessons, and a good teacher will foster love of music and enjoyment of the whole process, even before much is mastered. I was always interested in my students' goals and found they excelled if I was helping them meet those goals, and that one of the life skills I could give them was goal-setting, creative problem-solving, and perseverance. Whenever a parent pushed their own goal, it stressed out the student. It was tough line to walk at times, and I have certainly brought concerns to parents and feel their expectations ought to be met since they are paying, but I was never one of those teachers who was really strict unless the student's goals warranted it (like a student who has said they want to go to college for music-then their is an agenda!)

In any case, might he need a different teacher, or might the expectations of z1 need adjusting? Really, at his age I should be all fun in my opinion. And lots of listening to music and deciding he wants to play something he hears.

Like I said, this is all my opinion based on my experiences. We have agreed not to expect our kids to play instruments, but they will certainly hear a lot of it and also a lot of technical terms. They will have musical instruments around the house and hopefully I will someday get decent chops back and maybe do some freelancing. So they are likely to play something ateast somewhat....but I don't want to push them.

Contentedly Crunchy said...

And sorry for typos! I am posting from my iPod!

The Original Wombman said...

Thanks for that perspective and advice! I will talk to his piano teacher because, indeed, he used to have a lot of fun. I think the work she may be giving him is too hard and he hasn't been able to learn one whole piece in a few weeks. I think that is frustrating! I will also work with him to set his own goals (although quitting is still not an option) but I think if he has more control, he'll be more likely to give it his best.

And yes, we will start listening to more music! We listen to lots of music but I haven't really been playing piano music. Wow . . . thanks again for the guidance. I needed it--because there definitely is that part of me that wants to be gentle and nurturing and well, fun.

Contentedly Crunchy said...

Oh yeah - so frustrating when they are working on a piece for weeks and weeks. Having a long-term piece like that is great, but I always try to balance it with short, fun, easy pieces.

Even in my own playing at a pretty high level, it was nice to have something that I completed every week and moved on from - specifically, my professor had us do a different etude every week, and we had a different book of etudes every year. So I never got a repeated etude, but I had to master one a week!

You might ask Z1 if there is a piece he'd like to play - a lullaby, a pop song, a hymn, etc. Those can usually be simplified by the teacher, or you can find simple arrangements. Or he can just play the melody and one other voice, and he can arrange it himself and learn a new skill that way!

If you can't find sheet music, he can try figuring it out himself - or perhaps his teacher would be willing to do some ear training with him and spend some time listening to a recording and transcribing it during a lesson? I think it is time well-spent!

Anonymous said...

My parents took me on a surprise visit at 4yrs old to my 1st piano lesson. Since day one I told them that was not why I wanted. They forced me to go for 10 yrs. I never enjoyed it although learning to read notes was helpful. At 14 When I was defiant enough to tell her no more lessons she stopped taking me...till this day I still dnt care 2 play. However she forced my little brother and sister and years later not only do they enjoy it but they r damn near prodigies. So there is a difference between a child genuinlynot liking it OR just wanting to quit because they need the parent to push them 2 cultivate more dicsipline.

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