Sunday, August 28, 2011

Rhett Hates Piano Lessons

Ask Rhett if he likes the piano, he will say, "No, I hate piano." I struggle weekly to get him to lessons. Other parents ask me why I go through it and why I don't just take him out of piano.

My boy has talent (I'm his mom, I can say that.). He can hear a song or hum a new song and go to the piano and play it. The newest song is the Star Wars Theme song. I'll have to get that on tape. He plays the piano daily at home without us asking him to. Sometimes it is the required piano practice and mostly it is him just playing a new song he had in his head (like the video). During lessons he is quiet, attentive, respectful of his teacher, and he is learning a ton! He is starting to read music, which is farther than I got in 6 years of piano. We have invested too much time and money and he is learning too much to take him out of piano. Please, someone tell me he will get over the "hate" he has for piano.


mrsc1345 said...

He will get over it! Stay strong! Right now you get to be the mom and make some decisions for him. If he has a natural ability for music a little guidance now will pay off in the years to come, he will thank you for it!

Anonymous said...

I say ditto to that. Chloe has been in Piano since Kindergarten and while she doesn't hate it, it is a struggle to get her to practice. We told her it is the foundation for all music and after some years on piano she can pick whatever instrument she chooses...maybe that could be some motivation for him! That is a great video :)

Joy said...

I generally disliked piano lessons all along, but liked being able to play the piano. Hated to practice (and rarely did), but in the end, continued past the point at which my mom "required", and earned one further certificate...and used my piano skills starting in Grade 9, as my "job" all the way through high school and university - payed incredibly well compared to other student jobs, and I could do it from home. Still enjoy playing for pleasure, and have very rarely (because I don't really like performing on piano) played for a wedding or other event. I'd say it sounds like a great idea to keep at it!

Emma said...

I always hated piano lessons (and the required practice) - and the same for clarinet later on - I never really got over it but I value my understanding of music and I am glad my parents made me do it!

Jan said...

We're not a musical family, but I thought my son might have the ability. I would have been satisfied that he could read music and carry a tune. He can do those things. I gave up the battle in middle school, but I don't regret any of the fight nor the money invested. He has the foundation to do more if he chooses it in the future. I would have done it for the music alone, but it's clear that there was also a benefit for him in being able to learn math more easily too. Don't give up!

Duncan said...

He does in fact have talent (me being his grandfather aside) and lessons will bring more of that talent out. For him to be able to play by ear is one thing but to be able to read music will bring him to the point where his music can take him any where and HIS music can be with him at all times,even with out an instrument. Not only will he get over "hating piano lesson", mark my word, one day he will be thanking you for "making" him go to lessons all those years. The both of you need to stay the course. . . Rhett and his parents are on the right track. Love to all!!!!!

Rachel @ Lautaret Bohemiet said...

I hated piano lessons and quit them when I was 16 and was finally allowed to. The thing is, in hindsight, I think I might have liked them more if I had liked my teacher more. It never occured to my parents to switch teachers or try someone new, because THEY liked my teacher (and so did my sister). I still regret quitting, but I seriously did not jive with my instructor and she didn't inspire me or make me want to learn more or push myself. It's something to consider, as opposed to an all-or-nothing quit or stay situation...

lori said...

Yeah, there's something about the practice of it that really bugs kids. They like music, and the lessons are usually ok, but it's that dratted old practice. My first thought was about like Rachel's - that it could be a teacher connection thing. Or a music type connection thing. If you're playing styles of warm ups and music that push you healthily forward but yet let you catch up enough to enjoy and occasionally attain a zen-like calm, to me that's a good balance.

Is his teacher working on ear training, sight-reading, and adding lib, so that he's at least enjoying SOMEthing each time he practices?

I wonder about giving him more choices and change ups during his practices. Like, saying he can play through X song either 2, 3, or 4 times. You'd think he'd choose the least number of times, but maybe not. Or saying, "How about play all five of your songs, from easiest to hardest." And then you could talk about what makes the hard songs hard, or which he likes better, etc. Sometimes I found that analyzing a piece with my teacher really helped me to latch on to it.

Other ideas of practice help: "Play X song three times, from quiet as a mouse, to medium, to loud as a truck!" Or, "How about playing all the songs at the lowest octave today, then move up an octave each day, until you're playing way high by the end of the week."

...just things to keep it fresh

rachel said...

my parents forced me to take lessons from 2nd grade through high school and i am so glad. i was able to pick up another instrument easily because i could read music. it was helpful for singing too. i've always been able to hear harmony within music and sing it. i can still play piano decently well and my kids love that.

my husband hated piano and his parents made him take it for several years. while he hasn't gone back to piano, he can play drums, bass, a little guitar and now ukelele. piano is a great instrument to learn the fundamentals.

my husband and i both didn't like our piano teachers and i think that may have been part of it too. a teacher who makes it fun is a must in my book.

good luck!

Christina said...

Having been both the student and now the piano teacher, I really understand and see this "dislike of piano practice" alot.
There are several different reasons kids dislike their lessons/practice.

1. They don't like the music. Sometimes teachers will assign music that your child genuinely doesn't enjoy playing. If this is the cause then the remedy is to talk to the teacher and ask for more repertoire that your son likes. She probably won't give up the disliked repertoire entirely - there is a reason she assigned it. But any good teacher will incorporate your request into her selections.

2. Watching the clock. Some students need a set time allotment for practice. Others, like me, find themselves watching the clock and wishing it would go faster. There are two solutions that I've found to this. The first is to use a timer instead of a clock and break it up into smaller parts. If you need to practice 20 minutes, set the timer for 5 minutes and only practice each item on your assignment list that long and then switch. That strategy is better for older students. The second solution is to not have a clock at all. Instead, before sitting down, decide one goal that you want to accomplish this time. Once you've done it you're done! You can walk away. I've found that once students have the rush of success they don't want to walk away and will end up continuing to practice.
3. Feeling like they can't measure up. This one is harder to deal with. Children desperately want to please their parents and teachers, but sometimes what we expect is too much for them to cope with at that moment - even if you know they can do it. It is important to remind your child that no matter how they play you will love them and you are proud of them. Sometimes removing the pressure is all that is needed to return the fun.

4. Lastly, they don't "feel the music." While this doesn't seem to be an issue for your son, it is for many children. Music is a lot like language. Reading a string of words on a page will mean nothing to you if you don't understand what the words mean. Music is a bunch of black blobs on a page until the student can feel the music and relate to it. Feeling the music is a skill students develop over their entire lifetime and is, in my opinion, the hardest thing to teach. Some things that can help are listening to music, singing, dancing, watching movies with great music, learning the composers' stories and why they wrote the music they wrote...the list can go on and on.
See Next Comment

Christina said...

Comment Continued:
5. Needing to go faster. Knowing how talented your son is, this is probably what is happening. Talented students have a unique problem – they move too quickly for their teachers. If this is the case I wouldn’t blame your teacher. Balancing speed with thoroughness is a challenge for most teachers, myself included. If you think this is the case, gently mention to your teacher that your son doesn’t seem to be challenged enough by his music and you wonder if he could try playing a few more difficult pieces.

6. Using the wrong curriculum. Some kids do really well on programs like Simply Music and other “learn to play music and then read the sheet music” approaches. But the transition from playing to reading is very bumpy in these teaching programs and is where most kids drop out. If you are using one of these programs and are having this recurring challenge, you might consider trying a more traditional teacher. If you just want to put your toe in the water, you might take just a few lessons with a traditional teacher in late summer, when you wouldn’t normally be taking lessons with your current teacher anyhow.

As a teacher, I really appreciate when parents confide in me. Go ahead and mention to your teacher what you are seeing at home. She may have a few more individualized ideas. Your teacher is on your side.

While I'm sure there are many other things that can contribute to piano practice problems, these are the most common. I hope this helps. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.