So now that you've paid
hundreds if not thousands for piano lessons, your child walks in one day
and says, "I hate piano, Mom. Can I quit?" What do you do?
There could be many
reasons for this:
child may simply be overloaded with activities. I don't know a child
today who isn't too busy.
child may have given piano an honest try, but maybe it's not for
lesson may be scheduled at a time that is inconvenient for the child,
or for you.
to and from the lesson may prove stressful.
But there's another
more obvious reason why piano lessons may not be panning out: the
Have you sat in on a
lesson or two, as some parents occasionally do? I myself as a piano
teacher work only in people's homes, so I am quite used to parent's
eyes over my shoulder. And frankly it doesn't worry me because I get so
absorbed in teaching the child and having fun with them that I really
don't notice a parent's presence.
But the child and the
teacher may feel differently. The child will tend to be a little tense,
since they will want very much to please you, the parent, if you are
present. Your presence is in general disruptive and counter-productive for
the child unless your visits are very occasional. This is not true in all
cases and depends entirely on the age and personality of the child, and
the relationship between the teacher and child.
The teacher's feelings
about your presence is another case. Even if you know nothing about piano,
music and lessons, you can make simple observations that will help you to
determine why your child is uncomfortable.
Before we discuss
these observations, the following should be said of piano teachers in
general so that we run no risk of "teacher-bashing." We're really
rooting for both sides here, the student and the teacher.
In the teacher's
is a difficult instrument, like all instruments, to play well. To gain
a cursory knowledge is not hard, but to master it in any sense is a
lot of hard work. We can assume the teacher is well trained and a
professional, and knows and appreciates the beauty of the piano and
music in general.
a child the piano from the beginning is a very tedious process for the
teacher in many ways: they are going over and over what are for them
the most painfully basic of concepts. It's hard to do this unless
you truly love kids.
dealing with kids can be difficult, unless you know how to do it. Add
to this the task of learning a noble, complex musical instrument, and
you have a hard job.
Having said that in
defense of the teachers, here are observations you can make in the piano
lesson to see why your child is unhappy:
the child comfortable? Discount your presence and try to assess the
child's emotional state during the lesson. Tense? Intense? Happy?
Petulant? It may be just that particular day's mood, but you have to
try to find out the child's feelings about the lesson process
is the teacher's manner? Is the teacher cold, bubbly, slow, old,
young? Do they listen to the child, or is the lesson in essence a
much interaction is there between the student and teacher?
does the teacher handle repetition? Piano requires repetition as all
musical instruments do, but a clever teacher disguises the repetition
in the beginning. If the teacher goes over and over the same piece or
section, it may be too much for the child. Children require variety
and persistence in equal measure, and to simply repeat a portion of a
piece until it pleases the teacher may terribly frustrate the child. A
teacher has to be creative in the art of repetition.
much variety is there? Does the teacher do the same sort of activity
again and again, or is there some sense of variety? Many children have
a very short attention span, and those few moments may be all the
teacher has to introduce or refine a concept during a 30 minute
lesson. There needs to be a variety of activities. Just reading music
and honing those particular skills will exhaust the average child
quickly. Many piano teachers do not know this.
it seems the teacher is impatient and gruff in any way at all with the
child, then the teacher may be well intentioned, but they are not suited
to teaching children the piano. Children are extremely sensitive in the
one-on-one atmosphere of piano lessons, and the teacher must find a way of
correcting the child without humiliating them or hurting their feelings.
it seems the teacher is kind, patient, warm and experienced with kids,
then it may be that the child is indeed not happy with the lessons.
There's no reason for a child to be unhappy with a sympathetic teacher.
look for those two questions: is the child at ease in the lesson, and is
the teacher patient and kind? If the answer to either question is no, you
should consider changing piano teachers, or simply stopping for a while or
trying another instrument.
never pays for kids to take music lessons if they are not happy with them
at least to some small degree. They don't have to love it, but if they
hate it, it's a sign something is wrong.
to wait and try again later than to turn them off forever. And you run the
risk of that if you force them to take piano lessons.
Aschenbrenner Copyright 2008 Walden Pond Press All Rights Reserved
here to return the the main articles page.