‘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:
- I wish I played an instrument
- I wish I’d been forced to stick to my music lessons
- 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.
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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