View Full Version : Drop piano lessons?

08-07-2013, 04:09 PM
Dd, now 11, has been playing for 5.5 yrs. She's talented - not prodigy talented, but she has some natural ability - and she has gotten a huge kick out of playing. She's a ham and loves to perform. However, it is getting more and more painful to get her to practice. She used to log maybe an hour a day, and that's without me prodding her at all. Now? She fights and moans and whines and complains, then sits down and practices for 5 minutes and tells me that's enough. She fakes being sick to get out of lessons. Sigh.

I should mention that she's at a place right now where she is fighting about doing ANYTHING. Aside from reading graphic novels and playing video games, she has zero motivation. She melts down frequently these days.

I'm tired of the battles. Given that yes, she has to learn math, and yes, she needs to be able to write clearly and effectively, so no, those are not optional, I'm tempted to let her stop playing. I just really don't want to. Dh and I come at this from different perspectives and disagree. He was forced to play an instrument all through his school years. Quitting was NOT an option. He ended up hating it. I, on the other hand, was allowed to start and stop a number of instruments, so I did. I wish so badly that I had been encouraged to stick with something. You can't get those years back. And, she has few outside activities that she enjoys. This a place where she has excelled, and a skill that has given her great pleasure. There's nothing in the wings to replace it.


08-07-2013, 04:22 PM
We just faced this same issue this afternoon. Guitar had become a chore for DS and he no longer wanted to play. We've long wondered why he stuck with it for so long; he doesn't like to use his hands and doesn't like music at all so it wasn't exactly a surprise. We had allowed him to take the month of July off in hopes that a break would invigorate him, but ultimately it didn't. We decided it wasn't worth forcing him to do something he doesn't enjoy, so we went in and formally gave up lessons. It wasnt an easy decision, but it was the right one for him at this time.

Ultimately I think we need to respect the needs of our kids. Some kids know themselves well ( like my DS) and that makes it easier, but I don't see value in sticking something out "just because". If she isn't enjoying it , the fact that she's good at it is meaningless. Hopefully you can talk it through with her and gain valuable insight into her motivations for wanting to step away from it. Like most decisions, it's far from permanent. Good luck!

08-07-2013, 05:25 PM
We sort of played the middle ground. My kids took lessons for around 5 years also. With lessons, my kids felt that they didn't have much say in what they played. So here's our agreement: They could stop formal lessons, but they were still required to practice (20-30 minutes 5x a week, less in summer). However, they could pick WHATEVER they wanted to play. My daughter has gotten into learning movie scores, while my son has been working through Pink Floyd music. Funny thing, though, is that my dd, with the more negative attitude during lessons, plays the most often just for fun. I love listening to her play, because it's with so much more feeling since she cares about what she is playing.

08-07-2013, 05:59 PM
We also went through something similar with guitar and our son (11). He has been taking weekly lessons for 4 years. When he was 10, he went a whole year where he barely touched the guitar except for the actual lessons. He didn't want to quit the lessons though and dh and I debated whether or not we should be putting money out for something that he wasn't committing to. In the end, we decided that we didn't want to force him to practice and risk killing his enjoyment and that we would wait it out and see what happened. About 4 months ago he became re-engergized about guitar and plays ALL the time now. His lessons are not the lessons of my childhood though. Basically he and his instructor pick popular songs and he gets to play the parts of the song that he is capable of playing depending on his skill level. Before homeschooling, he had "traditional" lessons for Strings and hated it. So two thoughts -- would a break help and/or maybe a change in instructor/approach?

Stella M
08-07-2013, 05:59 PM
You can get those years back! She can take up piano again anytime between next week and the end of the century, kwim ? I say simplify life as much as possible.

08-07-2013, 06:03 PM
I would say take a break and see if she misses it and wants to start back up. My son has only been playing 1.5 years by his choice. He insists on practicing every night though he does complain about the 'lesson' music. His teacher lets him bring songs he wants to work on as well, so he's been playing movie themes as well - Pirates of the Carribbean, Doctor Who music, hobbit, etc. I get annoyed when she wants him to do every page in the theory book, he just wants to play and he knows that stuff, its just busy work...kind of like school!

08-07-2013, 07:02 PM
Totally get this, we have a bassist ( natural talent and I wish I could bottle it and drink it myself ) drummer ( natural talent again argh ), rhythm guitar had to work so hard to keep up with his brothers. Totally had visions of the next Silverchair or Nirvana coming from my garage, anyway bassist and drummer go meh and give it away. Guitar dude still plays when he is home and loves just chillin' playing his tunes ( more of a Neil Young than a Kurt Cobain ).
I feel bad for the younger ones because I haven't look into any music for them because of the backlash from the others, money spent, time in lessons, the fights about practices, etc. might be a time to revisit and see how this next lot of lads go.
Breaks my heart to see them let it go, but at the end of the day it is their choice and is it worth the aggravation? Maybe a break? They can always pick it up later.

08-07-2013, 09:46 PM
I say you can't get those years back because for me, that's been true. Between lack of free time, aging, and arthritis, it's been my experience that music just isn't as easy and natural as it was when I was younger.

Regardless,I am hesitating in deciding because she's just so damned negative about everything these days. It's hard to tell if this is a real issue or if it simply happens to be the lightening rod for her current angst. We just bought new music of her choosing and she was excited for about a day. Sigh. I do think a break of some sort is in order. After that I will think about a new approach, and maybe a new instructor.

08-08-2013, 01:26 AM
New Instructor might work, mixing it up a little. Change of instrument?

08-20-2013, 10:24 AM
My son takes piano and the number if friends that come over and say, "I wish my mom had made me keep at it" amazes me. They got to ms or hs and quit but now they regret it and wish they still played. May e talk to her teacher and see if she can work on a fun song for a month or add in an area of interest.

08-20-2013, 10:59 AM
Have you talked to the teacher about it? I'd try to see if you can have a conversation about this separate from your daughter and see what the teacher suggests. He or she has no doubt been through this with a student this age before and many have a good idea how to make changes. Maybe she needs a new goal - different music, a volunteer opportunity to play piano, etc. If she's highly social maybe some new duet or group play opportunity would be of interest. If the teacher is not helpful, maybe that's a sign it is time to look for a new teacher.

Quitting piano lessons was one of the best moments of my childhood, so I'm not against letting stuff go as a general rule. But, if she's enjoyed it a lot in the past and she's negative about everything right now I'd be more hesitant.

08-21-2013, 02:11 AM
I never had the opportunity to take lessons, but my husband took them for about 10 years! At a certain point, he was fed up with all the classical and wanted to quit. His mother found him another teacher who would let him play anything he wanted to, so he carried on with lessons through high school, playing "fun" stuff (movie scores, rock music, etc...) He also joined the high school jazz band and concert band and played alto sax. He thinks the years of piano were a good investment.

08-21-2013, 10:36 AM
We had just gone through a round of her suddenly hating all of the music she's been playing, so we talked to the teach and went and bought a bunch of stuff that she picked out herself. She simply does not want to be asked to do ANYthing. I let her take another break to see what shakes loose. I'd be content (mostly, anyway) to let her drop it totally if she hadn't been enjoying playing, but sometimes, she just loves to play! She loves her teacher. I dunno. Given that everyday life has become a battleground on many fronts, I've decided to back off on this. Probably years from now I'll get "why did you let me quit??"...

08-21-2013, 11:19 AM
My daughter went through a stage when she wanted to quit piano. It lasted about 6 months. I would recommend pushing through it. Maybe have piano lessons every other week and practice only 30 minutes every other day. I would take it easy. You don't want her to lose any skills while she's in a slump. When she gets motivated again it would be easy for her to jump back in. If you flat out stop, it may be very discouraging to go back to lessons and not be able to do as well as she once did.

08-21-2013, 11:21 AM
Maybe she could begin learning a new instrument. That might be the motivation she needs. If she has been taking piano for 5 years, she already knows the basics of music 'math'.

Accidental Homeschooler
08-21-2013, 01:10 PM
My experience with this issue was that I made dd keep going with her violin. It was a pain and I am sure she was not as challenging as your dd. It lasted about two years and then she got into it again. It seems like it was around ten or eleven that it started being a challenge. What I did do was let her teacher take over more of the responsibility. They negotiated what the practice would be (she wrote a practice sheet check list) then she would follow up with her and dd did not want to go into her lesson very often unprepared. She practiced less than if I had continued to take responsibility but I didn't have to nag. And then it passed and now she is fairly good about doing it on her own. Getting more challenging pieces and being in orchestra helped.