It’s that time of year where schedules change, tuition increases are implemented, and those who have been contemplating whether or not to continue lessons will make the final call as the calendar switches to summer. Sometimes those that move on are not a surprise, while others seem to quit out of nowhere. But it never hurts to encourage your studio families to ask good questions before they make a decision to stay or to leave. Chances are that if the student is leaving for the right reasons, you will be on board and understanding. If a student is a staying for the right reasons, their music learning will be much more fruitful. Either way, these are important questions to pose to your studio families, and now is the perfect time to pass them along 🙂 Ensuring that your studio families know you have their best interest in mind – whether or not they continue to take lessons – is an important element of the piano lesson process. Trust eliminates a multitude of problems!
Why is my child taking piano?
- For fun – then this is also likely the reason your child wants to quit. Music learning can be fun and rewarding. But any dedicated music teacher will tell you that music learning is not always fun – indeed, it is hard work. It is imperative that you as the parent know and understand the bigger picture when it comes to the value of music learning.
- Because I want them to – You are the parent, and you know what is best for your child. But if the only motivating factor in piano lessons is that you want your child to take them, you can expect to get push-back from your child. Working to create a musical home environment, finding ways to turn practice into a game, and learning a new instrument alongside your child are all ways that you can encourage them and work to inspire intrinsic motivation.
- My child was drawn to piano – and now you’re wondering why that enthusiasm seems to have slipped. Almost all long-term music students go through hills and valleys in their music learning. Learning to work through the valleys and celebrate the mountaintops will teach them lessons of endurance and perseverance that go far beyond music and into all areas of life.
Why does my child want to quit?
- The fun factor – you now have a choice as a parent. Some things in life will not be fun. Or at least not fun all the time. Last time I checked, I don’t love brushing my teeth. But reality is whether or not I find it fun, brushing my teeth is important to my overall health and cleanliness.
- The sound factor – have you ever noticed how children seem to gravitate towards specific sounds? If a child is fascinated with the sound/look/feel of a violin but are forced to play the piano, the likelihood of the child continuing dramatically decreases. If a child has their eye on any instrument and is then forced to play another, it rarely ends well. Encouraging your child’s music learning on the instrument of their choice leads to a more prosperous music learning experience.
- The FOMO factor – FOMO stands for “fear of missing out.” Younger students will often express dismay at having to practice or attend lessons while their siblings play at home, friends play outside, or they have to miss the movie playing in the background. Timing is everything, and understanding when to best build practice into the schedule (with the expectation that it will happen once it’s set) is a game changer for the student with FOMO. Working to minimize other distractions and seemingly insignificant happenings (insignificant to the parent, not the child), choosing a predictable practice time, and allowing the student choices (practice now or in ten minutes?) can all be helpful solutions.
Does the long-term value of something else matter more?
It’s okay if the answer here is yes. There is only a select group of people in the world who can equally succeed at multiple sports, instruments, become homecoming king/queen, and keep up good grades to boot. The rest of us will do well to try our hands at various activities, but at some point will have to hone down our schedules in order to do a lesser number of things well. This may mean that music is chosen, but it may not. I rarely recommend quitting piano lessons just to quit. But if there is something with a higher priority in a student’s life, quitting piano lessons may be what frees them up to engage deeper in their passions. Students who are over committed and stretched too thin will likely not succeed well in any areas, which is certainly not in their best interest.
Music, of course, does not have to be top priority to be valuable to a student. They don’t need to plan on majoring in music and becoming a professional to continue lessons. But understanding how music fits into a student’s life is essential when choosing to continue or not in light of the next question …
What is my child gaining from lessons?
I hope the answer is yes, my child has gained from learning music. If you feel that the answer is no, I highly recommend you talk with your teacher as a final step. The day in and day out of lessons can make it difficult to see the bigger picture of what is being accomplished. Oftentimes your teacher will have a different perspective and/or suggestions and solutions to smooth out the music learning process at home. The important thing to remember is that the big picture of music lessons isn’t just about learning an instrument. Your child is also learning to have positive one-on-one interaction with a non-related adult, learning to fail and building the resilience to try again and succeed, learning the value of long-term commitment, and learning new ways to express themselves without words. Music can also provide an escape from hard times, be an enjoyable hobby in a sea of responsibilities, and make the rest of life more manageable.
Keeping communication open with my studio families is what keeps music learning in my studio running like a well-oiled machine. I seek to communicate expectations, accomplishments, and ways to expand music in each family’s daily routines. Part of this communication is anticipating questions and concerns and addressing them before decisions are made without the teacher’s input. My hope is that as you pose these questions to your studio families, you will find an avenue for open and honest communication and trust building 🙂
Looking for more resources to encourage your studio families? Check out some of my favorites in the list below 🙂