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Why I've Told My Children They Can't Give Up Music Lessons

Why I’ve Told My Children They Can’t Give Up Music Lessons

‘But they’re too hard and too boring,’ says our 8 year old begging me to let her give up her piano lessons.

‘Definitely not,’ I say.

A year ago she’d vowed she was DESPERATE to learn the Piano. Prior to that she was DESPERATE to join various after school clubs: drum & rhythm, hoola hooping, gymnastics, Tae Kwondo….

After approximately 2 weeks she was DESPERATE to give them up because she just wanted to be at home. At 5-7 years old I could totally understand this. The school day is long enough and I remember just wanting to go home or ‘do my own thing.’

Our daughter’s a naturally curious, sociable and vibrant child with a strong creative and athletic side to her. I thought she’d just leap at the chance to do all these exciting clubs with her friends and enjoy them.


So, when she announced she wanted to play the piano, I knew what was coming. I grew up with a house full of music and I’m a huge fan of the benefits of it. You don’t need to be the world’s best to really enjoy it and there’s lots of evidence to show it’s helpful for fine motor, memory, motor planning etc PLUS it’s fun and rewarding once you get to a certain level of ability.

So, why have I told them they can’t give up?

One thing I’ve heard SO MANY TIMES from adults was either:

  1. I wish I played an instrument
  2. I wish I’d been forced to stick to my music lessons
  3. I had music lessons, which I hated but I’m so grateful now!

And so I’ve always told the kids that once they start music lessons, they’re not allowed to quit until they’re 18.

Mean mummy.

The thing is, learning an instrument IS really hard and really boring. Most people I’ve come across have absolutely hated their music lessons at times (especially me) and if you leave the decision up to the child, of course they’ll want to quit. So I’ve just said it’s not an option. It’s half an hour a week for the lesson and currently 15 minutes a day of practice. It’s hardly the end of the world is it? Plus the more practice she does, the more confident she is and then I hear her playing the piano for the fun of it AND hear she’s played in the school assembly (at her own request).

The thing is, our daughter’s told her piano teacher I’ve said she’s not allowed to quit and her teacher has told her in return that she doesn’t want to teach anyone who doesn’t want to learn. The teacher then had a word with me and said she felt I was putting too much pressure on her, so she’s told our daughter we’ll take it on a term by term basis.

Well…this is where I take after my Dad. I really do think it’s ok to be stretched, even as a kid, and I think it’s good to work hard at something outside of your comfort zone. We’re talking music here not lion feeding or ghost train testing. Some things in life are harder than others but if you can reach the stage where you’ve got past the hardest bit and can truly judge for yourself whether or not you wish to pursue it, then at least you’re basing your decision on reality rather than on something just being too difficult.

To achieve many things in life you have to work at them and sometimes being forced through the process when you can be supported and encouraged can be a good thing.

I see our daughter go through the usual process of fear, having a go and then knuckling down and conquering it every time she’s given something new by her piano teacher. Sometimes her progress is faster than others but surely this is a good thing to experience in life?

I believe that for our kids to see that work leads to success will help them to see how this life principle might apply to other areas of your life too…

Are you a meany like me or do you have a different view?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.  We’re also meanies about swimming.


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  • everything mummy
    June 12, 2015 AT 7:54 PM

    I am one who would of loved to of been pushed more as a child myself I was a quiter I know I was and I was allowed to thats why, I’m not saying children should be pushed to hard but as you are saying half and hour once a week is not alot if she was doing several clubs then yes I would say its too much but no I think you are doing the right thing thanks for sharing on #sundaystars

  • martyn
    June 12, 2015 AT 6:19 PM

    I was forced to play several instruments and by the time I was 18 and at uni I didn’t touch one. 5 years later I leave uni and start a job. They want to know what’s special about me. Everything I presented wasn’t unique until I said about playing. That made me special. I was no way neat as good as I was….those 5 years took a lot away but I had enough to show my talent. It’s not mean. You never know when they’ll want or need it and ultimately they might regret it of they did. #bigfatlinky

  • Showcase Tuesday 9 June 2015 | The Blog Centre
    June 9, 2015 AT 3:58 AM

    […] Still on the subject of children, a mom writes about why she told her children that they can’t give up music lessons, which you can read over here. […]

    • International Elf Service
      June 9, 2015 AT 10:28 AM

      Thank you so much for including my post!

  • HonestMum
    June 8, 2015 AT 11:17 PM

    A really interesting post, I did find piano boring as the emphasis was on passing exams where I wish it had been on the joy of just simply playing. I think encouragement not to give up is so important but maybe chat to the teacher on how to make it more fun perhaps too. Thanks for linking up x

    • International Elf Service
      June 8, 2015 AT 11:21 PM

      Oh I didn’t enjoy the exams at all and I would have liked to learn jazz instead of classical. Her teacher is fab in that she offers studio fun as rewards / interjected with lessons – they write and record songs together and our daughter loves that bit particularly.

  • Love From Clueless Mum
    June 8, 2015 AT 11:11 PM

    I was never forced to continue with things like piano and swimming lessons, but was always encouraged to stick at them for a bit longer when I was finding them hard or boring. Now I’m so grateful for that encouragement and feel privileged to have had the opportunity to gain those skills like reading music and playing an instrument. I remember having a similar discussion to your daughter with my piano teacher after refusing to practise for a whole summer holiday, but it made me realise that I wanted to carry on with my lessons to get to the more interesting pieces. #SundayStars

    • International Elf Service
      June 8, 2015 AT 11:20 PM

      That’s really interesting to hear. Would you say you were someone that would give up easily given the opportunity? I likve the idea of encouraging her to stick with it but on a bad day she definitely wouldn’t. She only asks if she can give it up occasionally and seems to take herself off to the piano to play from time to time and makes songs up on it so I think she does like it generally…

  • Mel
    June 8, 2015 AT 9:24 PM

    I was forced into five years of piano lessons that I hated and wasn’t allowed to quit. I’ve never played since! I think it was partly because I had a crabby old uninspiring teacher, but when my kids wanted to quit I let them hoping they would start again later rather than flogging a dead horse…as they say! 😉

    • International Elf Service
      June 8, 2015 AT 9:42 PM

      Oh no! I think the teacher is really important of course and I’m sorry to hear your strong views weren’t acted on. What a shame. Our daughter is at the occasional moaning stage rather than feeling miserable. There are aspects of it she enjoys. She’d just prefer to make up a streetdance routine than practise!

  • Nicola B
    June 8, 2015 AT 12:58 AM

    I gave up so much as a child and I can be counted as one of the people you mention wishing they had been forced to carry on. Just a few of the things I gave up were: Flute, Brownies, Trampolining, Gymnastics, Horse Riding and the list could go on. I miss those things so much now but at the time I had my reasons for wanting to give up and it seemed like that was the only thing to do in some cases. I can still play my flute, but not at the level I might have done had I carried on. I don’t like the not knowing what might have been, socially, artistically, professionally. The opportunities those things could have brought me. Some of the things can’t really be done once you get older unless you’ve done well enough to do it as your profession. I think you are right to do this now, and I’m sure you would know if they needed to stop. It’s easy to give things up out of fear, confusion, because it’s hard work or you don’t like the time you have your lesson at or the person who is tutoring you. It’s much more satisfying and rewarding to conquer those feelings and know you got through it. Because of my experience I wanted my daughter to go to all kinds of groups, to enjoy them and to stick at them but she has her own ideas. She’s dipped her toe in a few but we haven’t found her thing yet. I hope she does soon, before it’s too late to start and get something worthwhile from it #BigFatLinky

    • International Elf Service
      June 8, 2015 AT 8:55 AM

      Hi Nicola, Thank you so much for reading and commenting – It’s good to hear it’s not just me! It’s really hard to judge it all I think, though I’m the same over swimming. I suppose even if we don’t pursue things all the way at least we have enough of a grounding to know what’s out there and what direction we’d like to take things in, time permitting. That’s the main thing I think – as adults our time seems to vanish!

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