View Full Version : Ugg. I am SO SICK of piano lessons!

Savoir Faire
08-28-2011, 01:39 PM
We've been doing Piano for about a year now... My daughter is 7.

Every week we go to piano lessons and every week she's probably practiced once out of the five times she is supposed to.

And...every week I find myself apologizing and saying "next week! We'll do better!" Then we get there the next week and...surprise, surprise...she hasn't practiced.

I'm sure my daughter likes her lessons...the teacher is 17/18 and she's very nice. My daughter, though stubborn as all heck, seems to do okay at lessons.

Its just that I'm not in the mood to force her to practice. I'm already homeschooling them. I have an Etsy business. I'm driving them to tennis/ballet/golf as well. To top if off, I sit at the teacher's house (for 30 minutes) while she practices and gets to watch all her brothers (they are a large Mormon family) act incredibly rude to their mother...their attitudes have ME in a bad mood by the time we leave! (I guess that's some sort of Mama Solidarity there.)

If anyone who does/did music lessons for the kids give me advice? I really want my children to be musical, to have some lessons under their belt...but I just feel as if its pulling teeth!

08-28-2011, 02:07 PM
Sounds like you need a new routine. We love our Suzuki lessons. She has really set the tone for my son so he takes them very seriously and never misses a day of practice. Granted, things are easy for him now. I'll be interested to see how practice will go once he finds it more challenging. She is very patient, kind and has incorporated fun into it as well. I, personally, wouldn't pay for the experience you are describing. It's not worth the stress, nor do I think she is benifitting from the musical experience.

08-28-2011, 02:46 PM
Are there any recital possibilities for her to look forward to it? If she's goal oriented, she might feel more inclined to practice.

Accidental Homeschooler
08-28-2011, 03:08 PM
My older dd started violin at six and my younger started cello at four. We do suzuki also. I have noticed that we go through phases. We will have a period of time where practice is not a problem and then have a lot of resistance. My thing is you have to practice every day, but I am OK with ten or fifteen minutes (And there are times I let it slip, someone is sick or we just have a rough day and I forget, but mostly we get it in). We haven't been hsing for very long, but the practice is part of it. They are not done (free) until everything is done, including practice. My older daughter went through a period of hating it and I got so close to letting her quit. Then she picked up a second instrument and I told her she could quit violin as she likes her oboe better and she didn't want to quit. She was offended that I suggested it. So I am really glad that we stuck with it.

08-28-2011, 04:20 PM
I feel for you. I see this as your dd not respecting the social contract of the lessons: she gets lessons and she does the practice. To do less, is imo disrespectful to you and to her teacher. Now, your dd is pretty young so I wouldn't expect her to automatically understand this.

In my home...if piano was only marginally important, I would explain to her the contract and that if she breaks it, she won't be having any more lessons until she is more mature. Have a set time, remind her once, then follow through. All playtime things (esp tv, Wii) cannot begin until AFTER practice. Most likely this will end with no piano lessons for a while.

...if piano is important to you, prioritize her extracurriculars. Let's say it's piano then ballet then tennis (dunno if it's the same dc, but let's assume so). If she doesn't practice piano, there's no more tennis. Still not practicing? No ballet. Basically, this is a piano as non-negotiable and if necessary the child is doing only school work and chores until practice is done.

Putting that in reverse, how things work here is they know what they need to do as basics, and they know that has to be done before they can do any extras. They do them and they are interested in piano, I say, "here's the deal: you can have lessons, but you need to practice every day for X minutes." They live up to that contract and now want to do a martial art, same deal, "Fine, but you need to keep up your piano and I want you to practice your MA 2x a week." So, responsibilities build and consequences of not following thru are clear. If the child isn't interested in piano, I'd have said, "I think this is important. You will have lessons and practice X min every day. In 6mo we'll see if you like it or if you want to quit."

That's our style, which may not be yours. But I do think you need to approach this as being respectful to her teacher and the cost/effort of the lessons. If she understands that, wants lessons, and wants your help to remember, help her. If not, you need to decide where to go from here.

08-28-2011, 04:33 PM
My daughter started at 6. She's going into year three of lessons. It was her choice to take them. The first year is tough. It is like learning a new language -- until you start thinking in that other language, it's very difficult. She hated practicing. And hate doing the music theory book work even more. Like your daughter, she did ok at lessons though even without it. The second year, things came together better. I will never forget when she was doing her practice one evening and came running in and said "Did you hear that? It sounded like a song." Once she got to making music with real melodies that she can actually feel, I think it we turned a corner. It wasn't just hitting notes to weird "songs" that she couldn't recognize. She participated in Junior Music Festival and was given two songs to learn that I thought "oh, nooooo way will she be able to do those". BUT she did. And now, she wants to practice! We upgraded from keyboard to piano this summer. Her lessons start back up in late September, but I don't think a day has gone by during break that she hasn't sat down at it. I guess my advice is, don't give up after the first year if it's something she says she really wants to do. Mine has always wanted to, and she has few other activities though.

Savoir Faire
08-28-2011, 04:36 PM
These are very interesting replies. I know part of this is that I NEED to remember to remind her to practice. Its just that sometimes I have bigger things on my plate and then I remember at 730pm...and Dad's home and its not happening.

My husband, who is the piano player in the house, does nothing about enforcing the piano. He gets frustrated so would not sit with her to practice (which the teacher keeps harping on)...which leaves it to me. I can play chopsticks and a bit of Heart and Soul.

They do have "Recitals," but not really. Again, the teaching family is Mormon and so they invite us to "recitals" last minute at their church. That's a big huge complicated mess here-- obviously, we're not Mormon and we've had some, ahem, social issues with a lot of Mormons out here. (Not the friendliest of sorts.) I'm not interested in going to a recital at their church...especially at 7:30 at night.

Besides, my daughter totally freaks out at the thought of people looking at her, so recitals, for now, are out. But..she's getting a bit better at things like that, so maybe when she's a bit older it will work.

My kids are 18 months apart. My husband works all day, sometimes late. Comes home exhausted. Only things he wants to do are relax-- IE, go swimming (still 110 here) and eat dinner. Then he helps me with the crayon business (Etsy) and we watch a movie when kids are in bed. It leaves everything else to me (which I'm sure is pretty much the norm in a lot of homeschooling families). I have ADD, which makes following-through on things hard.

I've gotten better about a lot of things-- meals on time, waking up at a set time, taking showers/getting dressed early, but it takes a long time and a whole lot of willpower for things to become easy to do.

I guess we need to sit down and decide what to do. My son is the more musically inclined of the two and I could see him wanting to do violin in the future (his favorite instrument) but at this point, I know it isn't reasonable or fair to anyone involved.

At this age, they still do need a lot of prompting. We already use the no movie/Wii until the living room is picked up rule and it works pretty well, and they're getting better about getting dressed/brushing teeth/making beds in the AM.

Time for a family meeting over sandwiches...I've got a lot to consider!

08-28-2011, 04:47 PM
May I suggest that she might not be ready for the responsibility of practicing without being reminded by you? (Which in your situation is what you need.) I agree with others that discussing with her the follow-through on daily practicing that weekly lessons entail. If she is unable to do this, perhaps waiting 6 months to a year before starting them again might be a consideration?

Also, are there any other piano teachers you could use in your area?

08-28-2011, 05:12 PM
fwiw, it's OK to say, "I'm just not up to taking this on now." which may mean letting the practice slide (get dd a sticker chart or something but stop apologizing), or stopping lessons for a while if dd can't take the responsibility. Sometimes we get ideas of what we'd like to do and then reality comes along (don't ask about my grand plans to paint animals in the kids room or the half dozen sewing projects I envisioned...LOL). Pick your priorities and try to live them. The rest is gravy, and if it's making you crazy/stressed/upset skip it. :)

08-28-2011, 07:42 PM
I would not bother with lessons in an environment like this. If she is genuinely interested in learning to play, I would suggest a different teacher and teaching situation....someone older, with more teaching experience, a bit more serious, with a "gentle sternness" that will keep a student on her toes without feeling like intimidation, and lessons in an environment with no distractions. Even for a student who is truly interested, taking lessons in this type of environment would IMO make it next to impossible to take the instruction and the learning seriously. If she wants to get down to business with the piano, that will need to be supported with a teacher and a teaching environment that honors the efforts of both the student and the teacher.

08-28-2011, 07:48 PM
I tend to agree about it might be a good time to call it off -- and maybe look for another instructor when/if she decides to commit to it. Some kids hop around from thing to thing until they find what they really care about. Giving them the opportunities to explore those interests is the important part!

laundrycrisis, LOVE your indigo girls.

08-28-2011, 11:14 PM
I agree, it sounds like if she really wants to take lessons, maybe she needs a different teacher who stresses the importance of practice and who has worked for several years with young children learning music. my kids teacher makes us sign a contract saying they WILL practice, because she states (and she is totally right) lessons are a complete waste of both her time and my time AND my money if the child isn't practicing. but she is a great teacher and is gentle, yet is older and has more of an authoritative nature. but my kids love her and respect her--i'm positive they wouldn't respect (nor want to practice for) a 17 year old girl with wild siblings running amok during the lessons.
i totally hear you on the night time situation when its late, dads home, nobody remembers to practice piano. :) it has slipped my mind OFTEN. i made each of the 3 kids in piano a sticker chart. i printed one each, and put it in a plastic page protector. to the side are 5 stickers--they know before their next lesson they have to practice five times and place a sticker on the day they practiced. they have to place all 5 stickers before the next lesson. its a good visual and they like to fill in their charts. it also makes it so i'm not nagging them to practice *every* day. just 5 times, which means we get a couple days off.

or, just take it all for what it is and don't hesitate to say 'my plate is full right now and we can revisit this in a year.' sometimes taking a break is just what everyone needs.

good luck with whatever you decide.

09-16-2011, 12:29 AM
What worked for us (kids are 13, 12, and 10, all playing a different instrument):
Make instrument practice a part of the daily lesson. We call ours "Stations" time (from their public school days), where each kid does a separate thing for 20 min until the stove timer rings, and then they rotate to the next "station." Since I have 3 kids, we have 3 activities: music in one room, computer time in another (2 kids on 2 separate computers. One might be doing Arcademics dot com while another does Mark Kistler's 3D art, etc.) We usually do this at the end of the day so that it's seen as "fun time" and just a regular part of school. No more nagging from Mom. Woohoo! If we don't have time during the day, we can always do it at night and they see it as fun computer time (which I limit to just "boring school stuff," normally.) Hope this idea helps.

09-16-2011, 03:52 PM
Thank you for reminding me to call the new teacher to see if she has spots open!!

Dd's been taking lessons since she was 4 and we've run into the practice issue a number of times. What helped was having the teacher speak to her and making up a contract that they both signed. There was also a goal, not only to memorize the piece for the recital but also get all the points to earn a little composer head.

We also figured out a couple years in that she was playing by memorization. She didn't know the notes. So we bought her a nice wall chart as well as note flash cards to practice with. Once she got those down, practicing was so much less stressful.