So…your child has been in piano lessons for awhile, perhaps even years. You’ve invested thousands of dollars into lessons and music. Countless hours have been spent helping with practice and transporting him to and from piano lessons. Now he’s telling you he wants to quit piano lessons.
Maybe you’ve been there before when you were a student. If your parents gave into your request to quit piano lessons, chances are that you have some regrets.
As a piano teacher, I hear this lament SO OFTEN: “I wish my parents hadn’t let me quit piano lessons when I was younger.”
And now, here you are, with a child who is expressing the same refrain as you once did…
You might be tempted to give in. Perhaps it’s been months of arguing with him to practice. Maybe you’re exhausted from driving him back and forth to piano lessons. The thought of not having to nag him to practice and save that $25 per week on lessons is REALLY tempting.
Here’s the thing: Your child doesn’t understand what he is giving up. But you do. You know what it means to hear someone play a beautiful piece of music and wish that you had the ability to do the same. You know how it feels to think, “If I would have just stuck it out a few more years, I could do that.”
LET’S GET THROUGH THIS TOGETHER!
So here’s the thing, your child wants to quit piano lessons for a reason. Let’s get to the root of that, shall we?
Reason 1: He hates practicing.
In fact, he hasn’t practiced in awhile. So he’s becoming frustrated with not seeing results. Because he’s not practicing he’s not progressing and he might be getting bored from being assigned the same music over and over.
In my experience, it’s not unusual for a student who goes a long period of time without practicing to want to quit piano lessons.
Restructure your day to include practice. Sit at the piano and help him work through frustrations. Get back into good, consistent practicing habits. Meeting some resistance to practicing and need some fun ideas? I’m so glad you asked:
Reason 2: He’s stressed out.
It’s easy to overschedule our kids, isn’t it? I live in a town with so many amazing activities and outdoor recreational opportunities available to our family. It is difficult to pick and choose what is worth our time and money. I’m of the mind that music lessons are non-negotiable because I believe the benefits to their brain, emotional health and overall learning to be tremendous and lifelong. When I’m faced with picking and choosing among extra-curriculars, my kids know that music lessons are never on the chopping block.
SOLUTION: Cut back
If you feel your child is over-extended, perhaps with too many after school activities or a difficult semester at school, it might be time to re-evaluate. Think about whether or not there is anything you might want to “cut out” so that he doesn’t feel rushed and still has time to breathe. If there isn’t, have a conversation with your child’s piano teacher about adjusting expectations. I’ve worked with students who feel overwhelmed during a particular “season”of life. I’m always happy to cut back on assignments, or assign smaller sections of a piece so that a student feels successful and not overwhelmed.
REASON 3: His teacher is not a good fit for him.
You might have a truly amazing piano teacher. Perhaps he is a professor at your local university and plays for the symphony. But this doesn’t necessarily mean that he is a great fit for YOUR CHILD at this stage in the game. Think about your child’s specific needs and the types of personalities he works well with. Does this teacher meet those needs?
SOLUTION: Find a teacher who is a good fit!
If it’s not working with this particular teacher, that’s okay! It doesn’t mean something is wrong with you or your child or the teacher: it just means it’s not a good fit. Sometimes finding a teacher who nurtures your child and meets him where he’s at is just the ticket to getting him excited to learn music again. (Read here for more tips to find a good piano teacher match.)
Reason 4: He hates the music he’s learning.
So I want to be careful with this one. There is plenty of stuff I really disliked learning as a piano student. I hated practicing with the metronome and had to really resist the urge to throw it against the wall on more than one occasion. I despised scales and I was pretty sure Hanon was trying to torture me from his grave. However, there are a lot of necessary evils when it comes to learning an instrument. Your child certainly can’t expect to love and enjoy every single piece of music he learns. However, he should enjoy a lot of it.
Solution: Find Music He Connects with
If your child connects with a particular genre or type of music, tell his teacher! Piano teachers love to include music to motivate students into their repertoire. (Check out this article for some suggestions.)
Reason 5: He feels isolated.
Sometimes learning a musical instrument can be lonely. Maybe your child attends private lessons and then practices in a room by himself and it feels like the rest of the family is having fun without him. If you have a social kiddo, this can definitely be a drawback!
Solution: Make it social!
You might consider looking into group classes or seeing if your teacher has a duet partner he could work with.
If your child is taking my online piano lesson course, have him watch lesson videos with a sibling. Make sure your piano isn’t tucked away in a dark basement or a quiet corner of the house.
Create a practice space in the living room or somewhere where the family members spend time. When he’s practicing, turn off the television or other distractions and go read a book in the room with him so that he doesn’t feel all alone.
Reason 6: He needs a SHORT break.
Maybe you didn’t see this one coming. And this can be a bit tricky to navigate. You don’t necessarily want to have him LOVE the freedom that comes from taking a break from music lessons so much that he wants to continue down that path. But it can also be healthy to take a temporary step back.
Solution: Take a SHORT break.
Talk to your child’s teacher to see if she is open to negotiating a short break. Perhaps request 2-3 weeks off in the summer with an understanding that you will be returning to lessons following the time. This gives your child a little bit of breathing room and the ability to return to lessons refreshed.
(Do understand that you may need to pay your child’s piano teacher during this break, as she may otherwise fill his lesson spot with another student.)
If you utilize the break option, be cautious and wise about how you do so.
Parenting comes with its share of “eat your vegetables”. Our kids do have to do some things that are good for them, even though they might resist it.
I truly believe that if your child feels supported and connected with you during the process of learning a musical instrument, you can help him work through this difficult season and come out on the other end. And no doubt he will thank you for helping him to STICK WITH IT.