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Mom, I Want to Quit Piano Lessons!

By Connie Steinmann

Quitting piano lessons for the summer? Not a good idea! Why?

Repetition is the essence of learning. How many new skills have you learned recently? In the process of mastering these new skills, did you take three months off? You did? How was your attention level when you returned to it? Did you have the same enthusiasm at the end of that three-month hiatus as when it began?

When that three-month period was up, did you remain at the same level of knowledge and manual skills as when it began? You didn't? I wonder why? As they say, “Out of sight, out of mind.”

Children just don't have the same level of concentration that adults do -- or the same level of devotion. Nor do they realize what is at stake: the possibility of giving up altogether the chance to develop life-long skills in order to play soccer, watch more TV, have more play time, not be tied to a piano bench for 30 minutes a day or not to follow up on the discipline set forth by the past nine months of lessons.

Okay, you got the point -- I hope! Most piano teachers would prefer to set up a new schedule of lessons in order to accommodate and/or satisfy the need for the continuation of piano lessons.

Compromise is key
We must remember: music is one gift that can never be returned or taken back. I work with my students for a viable schedule to accommodate their desires for play time as well as much as for their parents' time for continued lessons and practice. This can be accomplished in many ways.

For example, students can opt for June and August off, with lessons only in July -- or, even better, lessons in June and August with July off. Another alternative might be lessons every
two weeks as opposed to the usual once a week. You get the idea. See what you and the teacher can come up with.

Quitting forever?
Quitting piano lessons for good should take some serious deliberation. If your child quits now, when will he resume piano lessons? When they have mastered the soccer game? And when he is 50 years old, will he still be playing soccer? Will she be in Girl Scouts at that age or using what she’s now watching on TV?

The point is, when setting our priorities for a well-rounded childhood, we need to balance our children's activities into immediate and future applications and benefits. I can speak for the time involved with piano study; you will have to fill in the blanks on the other activities.

Generally, beginning students spend about 30 minutes every day practicing. Lessons normally last for 30 minutes, one time a week.

The benefits far exceed the time involved each week. These include improved study skills plus the development of communication, cognitive, organizational, multi-tasking, abstract and math/science learning skills. Music study encourages less disruptive behavior, develops creativity and cooperation, increases self-confidence, develops perseverance and determination, improves dexterity and discipline, fosters responsibility and self-esteem and develops pattern recognition.

The special benefits of private lessons include one-on-one undivided attention with the opportunity to discover and develop one's own learning style, the opportunity for your child to be treated as a unique, valued person and to enjoy having someone who cares about her and sees her progress.

Given the time involved (three and one-half hours a week, including a free day from practice), that's not a bad investment.

So parents, you have a pretty good case to argue here. Protect your investment and keep your child in music. Neither you nor your child will regret it 10 years from now!

© Connie Steinmann

Connie Steinmann has taught private and group piano lessons for 25 years and has written a book, Do I Have to Practice?, a guide for parents and students between lessons. Visit her web site, where you can purchase her e-book and sign up for her free newsletter, "Music Notes."


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