Is every lesson day a struggle? Not to mention practice… forget that! If your kid wants to throw in the towel on music lessons here are a few things to consider or try:
1. Change up the repertoire!
Does your child sing when they think no one is listening? Do they listen to any music regularly on their iPod/iTouch/etc? What music do they ask you to play on the radio in the car? Whatever music excites your child, try that first! If your child doesn’t seem to have a musical preference then check out my list of recommendations in my next post “45 Modern Pop/Rock Songs for Piano” (I’ll do a guitar list soon)! Ask your child’s teacher to pick a good match and CRANK UP the distortion on the amp or play the piano with gusto! And remember, you PAY the teacher! The teacher wants to keep their student base… so don’t be afraid to be truthful with them about your child’s attitude toward lessons (though I’m sure they’ve probably noticed 😉 )!
2. Help/encourage/force your child to practice!
If your child never practices, they will not get better at their instrument. Playing the same song(s) every week will cause your child to become bored or frustrated with their instrument. Can you imagine your child coloring the same page of a coloring book or watching the same episode of a cartoon everyday. You will give them a great gift if you help them understand that practicing is like homework, it’s non-negotiable. You don’t have a to be a “Tiger-mom” (Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mom, anyone?). Just remember, ANY practice is better than NO practice!
Sometimes, when one of my students seems disinterested in their lesson, I’ll show them a video of another kid totally rocking an instrument. It’s not often they see someone their age playing a piece that is impressive, though-provoking or emotional! It helps your child see that they, too, can express their uniqueness to the world through music! Upon seeing a talented kid, students (some of the boys, especially) are driven by competition to do better in their own practice and performance (this is ok)! Check out some of my favorite inspirational videos here. I’ll talk about some more ways to inspire your child soon!
4. Give them opportunities to show off!
Recitals can be a great place for your child to show off and for them to get some inspiration! Beginners are inspired by the more advanced students… and the more advanced students are encouraged by the beginners! If you feel like your child’s recitals are dry and boring, then try my next suggestion or enroll your child in an additional, fun program/class like School of Rock. Although it’s unlikely your child will leave a program like this with a scholarship to Juilliard (though it’s probably happened), your child will have fun and they will grow. Places like School of Rock give children opportunities to do rock concerts at festivals and coffee shops. I’ve noticed several of my students really flourish when they do both traditional and fun programs.
5. Try a different teacher.
Honestly, most of my new students were referred to me because their parents were fed up with the super-traditional, not-ever-going-to-change-my-ways approach of their ex-teacher. Kids don’t want to endure lessons every week, they want to enjoy them! Some teachers don’t “get” children or have no sense of humor. Some don’t know how to find the balance between work and play. Usually, the really good teachers have a full schedule and a waiting list… but get on that waiting list! The wait is worth it if your child will stick with their instrument!
6. Try a different instrument.
A lot of music theory & note reading translates easily from one instrument to another, especially if the instruments are in the same clef. If your child was taking piano lessons they can switch to almost any other instrument without having to learn new notes names. In his witty book, “Bandalism“, Julian Ridgway describes the perfect personality types for each member of a rock band. Though it’s written tongue-in-cheek, Ridgway’s advice rings true for those who have participated in a modern rock band… some people just fit the bill for playing drums, other can only be bass players. Maybe your child isn’t a piano player! Maybe they are a lead guitarist! Or a drummer!
Parents, do you have a child that wants to quit lessons? How about a child who did quit lessons? If you have a good story of perseverance, please share it!