Music Lessons.

Updated on June 08, 2011
J.B. asks from Lexington, MA
8 answers

My son started guitar lesson a year ago, when he was 9 and loved it. Over the past 6 or so months, he never picks up the guitar. We have threatened to cancel lessons, which he says he does not want us to do, but it still does not prompt him to practice during the week, unless we "force" him too. I was just wondering where other moms weigh in on this. I think the lessons are good for him, so part of me wants to continue to "force" him to practice. Another part of me feels like if he isn't really interested anymore, give him a break and see if he goes back to it at some point. It's costing me a ton, so I don't want to continue them if he is not going to progress at all.

Thanks moms!

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So What Happened?

Thank you so much for all of the great advice. I am going to talk with his guitar teacher today and I think I will make a regular time each night that he has to practice. This way he won't "forget" and I won't be "bugging" him. It will just be part of his night. I always think he should "want" to practice b/c the guitar should be fun, but I forget that being 10, there are lots of things he can think of that are "fun". Thanks again for all of the feedback. It REALLY helped!!

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answers from Roanoke on

I had the same problem when I was a kid, but with piano lessons. I loved to play, but didn't like to practice. My parents would try to force me, until I cried one day, and they said I didn't have to go anymore. I played by ear anyway, so I didn't care.

Then I grew up and went to college...for 2 degrees, one in music (vocal performance). To get my degree, I had to take a few years of piano. I loved the lessons in college, but I regret that I didn't practice when I was young, because maybe I could have been like the others in my class who were amazing pianists. I wish that my mom would have FORCED me to do it and not let me quit.

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answers from Houston on

Kids stop practicing for all kinds of reasons. Sometimes they reach a sort of plateau they can't get past without the teacher coaching as they play. Other times it's just lonely and plain boring, but they still enjoy the instrument.

An approach I encourage parents to take is to ask the child to teach them something on the instrument. For example, if there is a particular song or exercise you've enjoyed, ask him to show you how to play it. This could last for several days or weeks. As he realizes that he is much better than when he started it might hit his "reset button" with the instrument.

Another approach is to ask him to get his guitar and play for you while you make dinner, or sew, or however you spend your alone time. Just a few minutes of appreciation can go a long ways with a young musician.

Even if he won't practice in the traditional sense if he wants to stick with it please do, as long as the teacher is ok with it. Definately have a talk with the teacher about it.

I disagree with the earlier poster who said maybe he doesn't need to. Everyone needs one is so good that they don't need to. But sometimes practice can take non-traditional forms for a period of time.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

At our house the rule is "have tos before want tos". Before you can do something you "want to" (TV, computer, video games, trampoline, friend) you do what you "have to" (make bed, feed dog, practice piano). Music involves skill that can only be learned through repetition. A child may like the fantasy of playing guitar but not truly understand that daily practice is the only way to live out that fantasy. So yes they need the grownups to "force" them. Also, while playing music is its own reward, I think the discipline they learn from daily practice will serve them well in many other areas of life.

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answers from Boston on

It's normal for kids to "enjoy" something without wanting to "practice" it. I would suggest you get the teacher to comment that he doesn't seem to be progressing and he won't get to play fun stuff unless he practices the routines designed to develop his hands, fingers, coordination plus learning the positions for the various chords. The teacher doesn't have to say you told him - the teacher can just ask your son to be honest about how much he's actually practicing since the teacher isn't seeing the results. Remember that the teacher gets paid whether the kids practice or not, so they aren't likely to suggest that someone quit. But if you tell the teacher you may not continue if the kids doesn't want it, maybe a word or two will motivate your son.

From there, give him a week to practice as directed - and that means 20-30 minutes (or whatever is recommended) of straight practice - not counting snacks, bathroom breaks, phone calls, etc.! He will see progress at the end of one week if he does this.

If he still doesn't, then stop the lessons for a while and see if he really wants to go back to them after a 2 month break.

A lot of kids think that guitars, in particular, are really cool - and they want to be rock stars. They don't realize that rock stars WORK!

But I don't believe in throwing good money after bad if the kids are just squandering it. We live in a society that wants instant gratification, where often practice is considered unfair. Don't buy into it.


answers from Tampa on

I would ask his teacher if he's doing well... if he's not, then practice is necessary. He may just be good enough to not need to practice so much.


answers from Dallas on

I took saxaphone lessons from fourth grade on. I NEVER practiced, but I absolutely loved to play my saxaphone. I would keep him in it if he enjoys it but keep encouraging him to practice. I would probably even post a practice schedule so that he knows there is a time set apart for practice.



answers from Boston on

My son who is almost 12 has been taking guitar lessons since he was 8. Early on we had the same problem with practicing, I think part of it is the "practice materials" aren't as much fun as when they progress to "real music" as he calls it. But we did force him to practice, his teacher suggested 20 - 30 minutes a day not too long. We presented it to him as his responsibility, we would support his music, buy instruments, pay lessons, get him to practices and now go to events (he's currently in 2 school bands) but he had to show interest by practicing. I might also add that my son decided to pick up saxophone in 5th grade so now we do it all times 2. Hope this helps.



answers from Fargo on

Hi J.!
I am a piano teacher and I am faced with this issue on occasion. If he wants to continue lessons then he MUST practice, as you well know.
I recommend setting the same practice time each day and helping him work out a "strategy" for practice. Sometimes kids sit down with their instrument and music and have no idea where to start, or they get discouraged when they don't sounds as great as *they* think they should.

Do you have a set amount of practice each day? Set a kitchen timer and let him know that until that timer goes off, you expect to hear him practicing. Also, at age 10, he does need reminders to practice each day.
The mom of one of my students is frustrated that her 10 year old doesn't take the initiative to practice independently, but she had to realize that discipline is not an instinct, it's a learned and modeled behavior. He needs you to help him foster that discipline to practice.

So, give him a push in the right direction and let him know that he will be practicing. The guitar is a wonderful instrument and your son will one day be glad that you helped him to press through!

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