Piano Lessons - allow them to quit? get a new teacher? require more practice? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 14 Old 04-23-2013, 07:20 AM - Thread Starter
 
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A question for those of you who teach music or have children who take music lessons…

 

My children (age 8) have been taking piano lessons since the fall of 2011.  They practice a little bit most days.  I didn’t require a certain amount of practice and they never complained about practice or lessons.  They typically do not practice a long time…5-10 min. at a time.  Their teacher said the goal is 80 minutes/week.  They come and go at the piano; play in little bursts throughout the day.  Recently they do not want to practice at all and have been asking to quit piano.  I would really like them to continue but am wondering if I should just let them quit.  Maybe the fact that I didn’t push practicing enough caused the problem.   But now that they do not want to play, pushing practice causes crying, etc.

 

Since December they have been playing recorder at school and love it.  Their school music teacher said they are playing songs that are typically played by her upper EL students.  (They are allowed to ‘test’ weekly on songs they feel they have mastered and then continue forward at their own pace.  They enjoy the challenge.)  They practice recorder daily without any prompting from me.  They stopped enjoying piano shortly after they started playing recorder.  I think the recorder is less work for them and more fun.  Maybe recorder is enough for now and they can take up piano again later?  I am afraid once they stop they will never go back to piano.

 

Their piano teacher does not teach during the summer months, she also takes a month break at Christmas, and a few weeks at spring break.  I think all the interruptions in lessons also play a part in their frustration.  It seems as though they start to improve and get excited, then there is a break. (They will have similar breaks with their recorder teacher.)   I am considering finding a new piano teacher for summer giving us options in the fall to stay with the new ‘summer teacher’, return to the current teacher, or quit.

 

Any advice?

TIA

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#2 of 14 Old 04-23-2013, 07:34 AM
 
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I can't answer for you, but here are my random thoughts:

 

The interruptions could very well be part of the problem.

 

How are you at playing the piano?  I noticed a huge reduction in complaints about practicing when I started practicing again myself (really practicing, not just fiddling around), and a further reduction when DH started learning to play too. 

 

What's their practice instrument like?  If it's a beginner keyboard they may have reached the point where they need a better instrument to enjoy piano. 

 

Do you have many supplementary piano books around, or are they stuck with just their lesson books?  If you don't have extra books, checking some out from the library might help them find some fun pieces.
 

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#3 of 14 Old 04-23-2013, 07:36 AM
 
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Personally, I don't think there is anything wrong with letting them switch to a different instrument. My daughters are about to switch from piano to guitar and violin. Originally they were only taking piano because it was convenient (the lessons are in a church right by our house, so the girls can walk to lessons and practice every day by themselves.) My younger daughter never wanted to learn piano, but I told her that I wanted to see some proof of commitment before I spent money on a violin. She stuck with it, and now the lessons are being discontinued, so I'm letting them switch.

IMO, any instrument is going to teach them the basics of music and give them a healthy creative outlet, so it doesn't really matter *which* instrument. And each one they learn gives them an advantage in learning the next one. The only thing I would say is to insist that they practice every day (or at least every week day). Maybe make that a condition for switching, and have them practice even during breaks! That will help with the whole getting better, then there's a break thing.

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#4 of 14 Old 04-23-2013, 07:50 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by rachelsmama View Post

I can't answer for you, but here are my random thoughts:

Thank you for the ideas!

 

The interruptions could very well be part of the problem.

 

How are you at playing the piano?  I noticed a huge reduction in complaints about practicing when I started practicing again myself (really practicing, not just fiddling around), and a further reduction when DH started learning to play too. 

Good idea.  I took organ lessons for ten years when I was young.  But I haven't had any type of lessons or played much in the past 35 years!  I would like to start playing again, but get frustrated at how little I can play now.  (I can play pieces I played when young - as if my brain/hands just remember - but need to really work at even simple songs if I have never played them.)  Seeing me work it through might help them not give up.

 

What's their practice instrument like?  If it's a beginner keyboard they may have reached the point where they need a better instrument to enjoy piano.  We have a really nice piano.  (To the point that is is embarrassing that none of our family play as well as the piano deserves to be played.  My husband and I bought it over ten years ago when I thought I could just jump back into playing an instrument.)

 

Do you have many supplementary piano books around, or are they stuck with just their lesson books?  If you don't have extra books, checking some out from the library might help them find some fun pieces.  I have some lesson books that I bought when the kids were younger but they have little interest in them.  However, my daughter found some of my old music in the fall and really spent time working on some of it.  (They love the Sound of Music and one of the books had all the songs from the movie.  They also found a very simple version of Scarborough Fair and enjoyed playing it.)  Maybe I should get them songs they recognize instead of lesson songs...but I do not think they are at a level to play many songs. They use the Bastien Basics books and are just finishing up the Primer level and moving to Level 1.

 

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#5 of 14 Old 04-23-2013, 07:59 AM
 
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There are "adult beginner" books available, which can be a really good way to review and refresh.

 

I did Bastien piano books as a kid, and hated them.  It's mostly a matter of personal preference, but dd has used Piano Adventures and Alfred, and I like them a lot better than Bastien.

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#6 of 14 Old 04-23-2013, 08:01 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Personally, I don't think there is anything wrong with letting them switch to a different instrument. My daughters are about to switch from piano to guitar and violin. Originally they were only taking piano because it was convenient (the lessons are in a church right by our house, so the girls can walk to lessons and practice every day by themselves.) My younger daughter never wanted to learn piano, but I told her that I wanted to see some proof of commitment before I spent money on a violin. She stuck with it, and now the lessons are being discontinued, so I'm letting them switch.

IMO, any instrument is going to teach them the basics of music and give them a healthy creative outlet, so it doesn't really matter *which* instrument. And each one they learn gives them an advantage in learning the next one. The only thing I would say is to insist that they practice every day (or at least every week day). Maybe make that a condition for switching, and have them practice even during breaks! That will help with the whole getting better, then there's a break thing.

I was thinking the same...that any instrument might be fine.   My children didn't originally want to take piano either.  They wanted to take violin or guitar, but we had a piano and when I spoke with the violin and guitar teachers they suggested they be a little older before they start.  I told my children to take piano for a few years and it would help them with other instruments. 

 

They have always practiced piano almost daily, including breaks - until recently - and now they practice recorder daily.  So, I wasn't sure if this was just a temporary thing and that I may need to step in to get them through this lull.  Since I never never needed to hound them to practice, it seems counterproductive to hound them when they are unhappy with it.  But then, maybe that is the push they need to get back to being happy with it.  (Does that make sense?)  My mother made me practice every day and I had to sit at the organ for a specific amount of time - at their age I practiced 30 minutes a day.  I hated it and watched the clock more than I played. I have been happy that my children play on their own, but now that it is getting more difficult for them we might need to set some rules regarding daily practice requirements.

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#7 of 14 Old 04-23-2013, 08:13 AM - Thread Starter
 
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There are "adult beginner" books available, which can be a really good way to review and refresh.

 

I did Bastien piano books as a kid, and hated them.  It's mostly a matter of personal preference, but dd has used Piano Adventures and Alfred, and I like them a lot better than Bastien.

I bought the Alfred books when my children were younger - thinking I cold just teach them a little myself redface.gif...we never used them.   I also have books by Schaum and the Michael Aaron books grade 1, 2, and 3. The kids could play from the grade 1 books.  I am going to go through them with the kids tonight.

 

Years ago I bought some books so I could start practicing piano...you have motivated me to dig them out.   I should probably take lessons too.

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#8 of 14 Old 04-23-2013, 04:43 PM - Thread Starter
 
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A little update...I pulled out music books today and the kids saw them in the living room when they came home from school.  Both of them spent time picking out songs in the books to work on tonight.  I didn't show them the books or ask them to play.  Of course, this doesn't help with them learning the songs the teacher wants them to practice and it does not mean they will continue playing.  But it does tell me they might have lost interest in the books they are using.

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#9 of 14 Old 04-24-2013, 04:13 AM
 
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That is excellent news!  Even if they ultimately end up quitting lessons for the time being, it's nice to hear they can still enjoy the piano! 

 

Have they tried playing any piano-recorder duets?  I've seen them in several recorder books, and the piano part tends to be fairly simple.  Would their recorder teacher be willing to help them find some?
 

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#10 of 14 Old 04-24-2013, 04:54 AM - Thread Starter
 
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That is excellent news!  Even if they ultimately end up quitting lessons for the time being, it's nice to hear they can still enjoy the piano! 

 

Have they tried playing any piano-recorder duets?  I've seen them in several recorder books, and the piano part tends to be fairly simple.  Would their recorder teacher be willing to help them find some?
 

That is a good idea.  Their recorder teacher also teaches piano after school so she might have something like that.

 

Thanks again for the suggestion to offer different books. 

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#11 of 14 Old 05-08-2013, 03:41 PM
 
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That is a good idea.  Their recorder teacher also teaches piano after school so she might have something like that.

 

Thanks again for the suggestion to offer different books. 

 Can you afford a combined recorder and piano lesson? That might be a possibility, and having it with the same teacher might help reinvigorate the piano playing.


 

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#12 of 14 Old 05-08-2013, 04:50 PM - Thread Starter
 
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 Can you afford a combined recorder and piano lesson? That might be a possibility, and having it with the same teacher might help reinvigorate the piano playing.

That's a good idea and I have suggested that to them but they do not want to take piano with their school music teacher.  She is very strict and not warm and fuzzy - at all.  They prefer their really sweet, kind piano teacher.  I think they are motivated to play recorder - partly because it is fun and easy and partly because they are sort of competing with their classmates.  The teacher gives bands - in karate belt order - for every song mastered.   They are on their third green band or something like that...they like being ahead of the class.

 

They had piano lessons tonight and moved up to the next level of books.  They are excited about that - for now.

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#13 of 14 Old 05-08-2013, 05:24 PM
 
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I would try to switch to the recorder teacher. That's one of the many things we love about our music teacher...she teaches several instruments and voice so dd can try something else if she gets bored. Right now she's learning to accompany herself on piano, which has really kept her interest level high. smile.gif
ETA- oops I crossposted with you. Maybe just give piano a break then. My kids definately prefer the warm fuzzy fun teachers as well. Since I'd much rather foster love of music over skill at this age we've always gone with their preference within reason.
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#14 of 14 Old 05-09-2013, 05:46 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Looks like the higher level books might be a motivator - even if short term.  I am trying to get the kids to school this morning...but they will not stop playing piano!

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