July 09, 2009,
L.L. asks from Clearwater, FL on July 06, 2009
Wisdom Request, Please Give Advice for Parents...
Please give your opinions, pros and cons, about whether a 5-year-old child should be allowed (or encouraged) to quit taking piano lessons if she is unwilling to practice piano during the week. For the purposes of this question, assume there is plenty of money in the budget for the lessons, but address instead parenting concerns as they apply to the "life lessons" such as "it's okay to quit" versus "you must invest yourself in your activities of choice". Also note that the child is very cooperative and pleasant during the lessons. It's when the teacher is away that the non-cooperation becomes an issue. The students learns and makes progress at every lesson, regardless of the lack of practice. What is the best approach to take regarding quitting?
M.R. answers from Tampa on July 07, 2009
I took piano for 12 years, from K-12th grade. I am so glad my parents didn't let me quit. Mom would set the timer and have me practice 20-30 minutes a day, depending on my age. With my own children, 10 and 7, we have a reward system. (Let's face it, practicing the same scales and songs over and over again is boring!)
1-When they first started their lessons, we did a chart. We checked off each time they practiced. After so many checks, they got a reward. I gave them the rewards, or the piano teacher rewarded them, or I helped fill the teacher's reward box.
2- We also split up their practice schedule. They would practice about 10 minutes each morning and 10-15 after school. This helps with their low attention span.
3- As my kids have gotten older, the almost 1:1 reinforcement has become monthly rewards. They get to go out for ice cream(which we do as a family anyway) or a trip to McDonalds. We make it special.
4-Another motivation for practicing is song choice. As my son entered 4th grade, he was ready to quit. At the same time we had to switch teachers. The new teacher let him pick his own song (i.e. Star Wars, Indiana Jones) and he would get a page a week, as long as he practiced daily.
5-We give our kids days off from practice too. They may only practice 5 days a week, with the weekend off.
6-I have promised my son that if he gets really good by continuing to practice, he can pick another instrument to learn.
1 mom found this helpful
S.S. answers from Tampa on July 07, 2009
I would say it's ok to find your bliss. If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. So, if the piano is something the 5 year old is dreading, it's not right to continue. But this activity needs to be replaced with another. Maybe it's karate or little league or dance or just a different instrument. My lesson to the child would be you have to try lots of different things until you find something you love. Once you tap into the childs passion, you won't get them to stop whether it's karate kicks or singing. When the child is truly happy in an activity, you'll know. And as long as they keep trying new things, they haven't quit looking for their bliss. I think that's the most important lesson.
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K.M. answers from Tampa on July 09, 2009
how about letting her enjoy the lessons and just let it go at that. When SHE wants to be better she'll practice, and in the mean time she'll learn about music, and how to read it a bit, and if it becomes her passion she'll do more.
My sister was forced to practice violin- oh gosh how glad we were when she was done!
My niece cannot practice enough and loves it- she decided. and she is wonderful
so that is what I've seen-k
W.M. answers from Tampa on July 07, 2009
A child must be allowed to decide for themselves if they want to do something or not - especially something as important as their creativity - like music. Give your child that freedom - it must be their choice in the end. They have to learn for themselves, make decisions and go for it or quit as their own passion dictates - don't take that away from them.
J.C. answers from Tampa on July 07, 2009
You, as the teacher, have to stay out of it. Suggest a break during summer or lessons once a month. Five is young, I started lessons at 5 as well and had to practice 30 minutes a day. Sometimes I could break it up into two 15 min sessions which was more manageable for a kid. And it sounds like the talent for quick learning isn't being encouraged or enforced at home, that's a shame. I wasn't given a choice as a kid except for fun music choices and reduced lessons during the summer. And I'm glad my folks were strict about it (now) it developed character and taught life lessons about not giving up that I appreciate still today. Of course the musical ability is a plus as well. Maybe the student could try guitar for three months and then go back to piano, something to re-spark his/her interest?
My son loves baseball and when he was small, he would often get frustrated with his team or unfair coaches and would beg to quit. I never let him and now he's looking forward to scholarships and an exciting future because he didn't give up. Would he have understood this at 5-no way. So it was my job as a parent to encourage him in other ways.
That being said, I'd love to get my daughter into lessons but she's only 3. What age do you suggest we begin? I'm thinking guitar or voice would be more appealing for her. What little girl doesn't want to be like Hannah Montana ;-)
We're in Clearwater as well, please be in touch for further discussions!
E.M. answers from Tampa on July 07, 2009
If the child, at 5, is NOT interested in piano then they should not be taking lessons. If the child likes the lessons, learns without practice and does not want to practice, then they should continue lessons until old enough to incorporate "practice" as a discipline. At five a child wants to play - not practice. Perhaps the parents could position "practice time" as "play" or just wait until the child is interested enough to do it on their own.