My child complains about piano lessons. What should I do?

The most common musical instrument for six- to nine-year-olds to play is the piano. Sometimes children eagerly ask to begin lessons. More often, parents arrange lessons because they want to introduce their child to music. It makes sense for her to start piano lessons at these ages. Young children often catch on easily, quickly learning to read music and play.

However, many kids grow tired of piano lessons because of practice, written work, or an unsympathetic teacher. A child who’s still getting used to homework will balk at having to practice piano each day. She also won’t want to do written theory work. And if her teacher is demanding, the child will dread lessons and ask to quit.

This leads to a dilemma. Parents don’t want endless struggles over lessons, but they also don’t want their child to give up. Many parents took lessons as children, quit after a few years, and regret not having continued their musical education. They don’t want their child to repeat that mistake.

In most cases, a child is too young to make the decision to quit. Parents should decide for her, and only after they’ve done everything they can to make lessons succeed.

First, parents should choose a teacher wisely and look for a new teacher if the current one is not effective. They should consider the personality, philosophy, and expectations of a teacher. The teacher should enjoy working with children and display patience with them at various skill and interest levels. Tolerance is important because skills and interests constantly change as kids grow and develop.

Most parent-child battles about piano lessons are about practicing. Many children who enjoy the weekly lesson dislike playing alone each day. If parents find that forcing or pressuring their child to practice is causing her to hate playing, they should reevaluate the need for daily practice.

She can slowly learn to play the piano just by playing half an hour per week during her lesson. Rather than have her quit lessons, some parents decide to let their child cut back or give up practicing altogether for a while. Once the pressure to practice is off, many kids begin to enjoy the piano again.  They may later resume practicing on their own or according to a modified schedule put together by parents or the teacher. If a teacher isn’t willing to work with a student who practices sporadically or not at all, parents should look for a new, more flexible instructor.

Some parents deal with the problem of practicing by getting more involved. They sit with their child as she plays, praising and encouraging her or just listening. Many children practice willingly when their parents take an interest. Parents also can stress the importance and joy of music, making it part of their everyday life. They can play an instrument (if they have the skill) or sing, and they can listen to recorded music or attend concerts with their child.

Most kids enjoy lessons and practice more if they have some say in selecting the music. It’s more fun for a child to play an occasional piece that’s familiar than to play straight through a beginning piano book. Parents, teacher, and child can talk together about pieces she might enjoy. In addition, parents can take her to a music store and let her select some easy sheet music.

Finally, they can try a system of rewards to motivate her to practice. The promise of a treat at the end of the week or month can keep her playing until the natural enjoyment of music takes over.

If your child is complaining, resist the temptation to give in and let her quit immediately. Once she stops piano, she will most likely never begin again. You may find it’s better in the long run to ease up on all pressure than to let her stop completely. Even if she’s only playing for her weekly lesson, if you’re patient, she may discover the pleasures of making music. It’s better for her to learn slowly, without stress, than to quit altogether.

Picture Credit : Google