Tuesday, June 25, 2013

What Do You Do If Your Child Wants To Quit The Piano?

It's been a musical week in our house. The rai...
It's been a musical week in our house. The rainy evenings are condusive to practice. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
2 years ago when I bought a piano, my daughter would throw her bags down when she got back from school and head over to the piano. I wondered if her enthusiasm would eventually wane. Glad to say that it hasn't. The piano is still the first place she goes to when she gets back from school.

Just this morning I came across some comments made by some children about how they hated the piano and wanted to quit. I wondered what could be the difference between my daughter and these kids? And this has led me to pen down a few suggestions on what parents can do when their child says "I want to quit the piano".
  • Ask yourself, "Am I nagging too much"?

    I know, most of the time we can't help ourselves but the constant reminder to practice, practice, practice may be the reason why they are starting to despise the piano. Kids will hate the piano when it becomes a chore. Tone down on the nagging and stop trying to push them too hard. I always ask myself, would I rather push a donkey from behind or dangle a carrot in front? Dangling the carrot is really the better way. Instead of nagging our children to practice, it would be more effective if we found a way to fuel their motivation to practice. Rewards and praises work better.
  • Find out the REAL reason why they want to quit.

    Are they burnt out from too many activities? Is it because they don't find it fun? Are they interested in something else? Or maybe, the piano lessons are boring and it is time to change to a better piano teacher. When it comes to kids, FUN is the key. No doubt learning the piano requires tons of repetition and that can really suck the fun out of learning. However, a good piano teacher will have ways to keep the fun alive. Not only that, a good teacher will never ever humiliate or put down a child.
  • Let them play music that they love.

    And this could mean opting to skip the piano exams. When I was learning the piano, I hated the exams. My grade 5 exam stressed me out so much that I decided I didn't want to go through that again. (BTW, I passed that exam). I didn't hate the piano though. I still love to play (although not so good). I wished I could just learn to play without having to go for exams. And this is what I've chosen for my daughter. I can see she loves to play. I don't have to nag her to practice as she is eager herself to get on the piano to play the songs she loves. I bet if she was nagged to practice her exam pieces over and over again whether she liked it or not, her enthusiasm for the instrument will slowly diminish.
  • Change your approach.

    Don't be too strict. Don't create rules that will cultivate hate instead of love for the piano. An example would be this: "You can't go out to play with your friends until you've practiced for 2 hours" or "If you are going to quit piano, then you must quit your basketball too". Playing dictator will not get you the results you want. If you want to get them to practice, you have to figure out a way to get them to do it willingly. It is the same with school homework. Maybe just sitting next to your child while he practices will do the trick. My son enjoys the piano more when I play simple duets with him. You might even want to consider where you put the piano in your home. Is it somewhere isolated? It might help to put the piano in an area where mom usually hangs out like near the kitchen. Sometimes they do better just being near mom. Be encouraging, not pushy.
  • Understand their frustration.

    Many times our children just want us to empathize with them. Do that and then explain that you understand that learning the piano is difficult. Nobody becomes an expert overnight. If they quit half way, they will forfeit the rewards later. Tell them a story of how you struggled to learn something (like riding a bicycle) but when you finally got it, how it felt to succeed.  Maybe make a deal with them. Ask them to complete the course or a set of lessons first and consider that a learning experience. If they still want to quit after that, they can. Or rather than quit, just give them a breather for a few weeks or months. See if they can come back with renewed enthusiasm.
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  1. Great post. I set priorities for my children. I allow them to be very relaxed when its near school exams so they won't feel so stressed up (much to the chagrin of the piano teacher. She insists they practise at least an hour each day. We're lucky if we can get in 5 minutes during those times). However, closer to the piano tests, they have to work harder.

  2. Great tips! The moment my kid shows frustration and tantrums, I stop the piano practice session immediately. I certainly do not want to associate piano with bad feelings to them.


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