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Daughter wants to quit piano
#2583960 11/03/16 09:29 AM
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Hi,
I am not a piano teacher, but I am looking for some advice. My daughter is 12 and has had weekly piano lessons since she was 6. Her first teacher moved away about 1.5 years ago. She loved her first teacher. She hated her 2nd teacher, and we switched to a new teacher last summer. She likes this teacher, but over the last year has started saying she "hates" piano and that it is "boring." She says she wants to quit now and has said this more and more over the past 6 months. Her teacher is great and is letting my daughter choose much of what she wants to play (including pop songs). As a serious amateur jazz guitarist, I really don't want her to quit as I suspect there is a very good chance she will regret it as an adult. Nevertheless, I am getting tired of fighting the battle and am about ready to give up. Music is so important to me, that this is just devastating. Any advice at all would be greatly appreciated (especially about experieces with kids in this age range wanting to quit). I am leaning toward throwing in the towel because I am exhausted by (near daily) battles about practice.

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Re: Daughter wants to quit piano
RickH #2583965 11/03/16 09:33 AM
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Ours was only 7 and had only 1.5 yrs of lessons, when he quitted. We found it sad, but as he was going to play saxophone in the local harmony, well... we didn't force him to continue piano. After another year, he goes back to piano lessons as well (only his own request), of course we like it.

Re: Daughter wants to quit piano
RickH #2583973 11/03/16 10:00 AM
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I would be interested to read the responses as well. When I was a kid, I quit just like that after about 3 (or 4?) years of lessons. It was when my teacher moved on to bigger and better things and transferred me to another one, whom I hated. I think I would have stuck with it much longer if it hadn't been for that. I didn't really practice much, so my parents did not force me and let me quit. I am wondering if they should have tried a different teacher first... I did come back to it on my own eventually, but it took time to realize I actually enjoy it. On the flip side, my husband was forced to play for a few years and couldn't wait to quit. He has not touched it since and has no desire to.

I am waiting for when my kids start complaining too (they just started a year ago), and I am not sure how I will handle it. In your daughter's case, 6 years is a pretty good foundation so that if she wants to pick it up again later, she will have the skills.



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Re: Daughter wants to quit piano
RickH #2583976 11/03/16 10:10 AM
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At age 12 they really should be able to choose their own activities... and they tend to want to do activities either that their favorite peers are doing, or that their peers find impressive.
But part of being 12 is not having a good sense of long-term goals and how short-term work adds up to long-term achievement.

It might be good to help her choose activities by the year. You have committed to piano for this year, keep it up throughout the year, then when it's time to decide on activities for the following year let her choose what she does, and if piano is not on the list then it's ok. Maybe it will be on the list the following year.
In the meantime maybe you can help her set goals for what she wants to do at the piano for the rest of this year. Maybe all you'll get is "do the minimum necessary work so my parents and teacher won't yell at me." But maybe she'll come up with a piece she really wants to play, or some peers she wants to play with, or something at school she wants to play for. You never know. They change so fast smile


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Re: Daughter wants to quit piano
RickH #2583984 11/03/16 10:29 AM
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Sorry for the long post:

For me, I begged to start piano when I was 5, and my parents reluctantly let me, but they made me promise that if I started, I'd have to continue for 10 years. I agreed, unwittingly, but my parents understood what instrument study took (my father had played trumpet growing up, and took up euphonium as an adult). For that I am eternally grateful. I didn't practice, but I had to continue my lessons.

At the age of 15, I did quit, having fulfilled my obligations, but I loved playing piano all the way through, even though I didn't like lessons and was afraid to perform. After quitting lessons, I continued to play and taught myself for the next 10 years, on and off, but nothing too serious. Then I restarted lessons and it didn't take long for me to really work at it and make forward progress.

To this day, I'm so glad my parents made me stick through it. Not because it's something I do to make a living, but because I did love it, but I didn't know what it takes to actually learn to play it then. I knew nothing about dedication and hard work. But they at least understood that, knowing that you have to invest over a long period of time to get the results you want. What a life lesson to learn!

Was I "forced"? Well, sort of. Was I nagged to practice? Yup. Was it a struggle to get me to lessons? Sometimes. I'm sure they wanted to give up, too. Most often, I think that it's parents that give up on piano for their kids more than the kids giving up. Most of the time, they let kids enroll in too many things, and so they are running around like crazy bringing the children to all their different activities. So when one of them presents some trouble - like piano - it gets dumped all too quickly.

Now it sounds like your teacher has been really trying to accommodate your daughter by letting her pick pop songs to play. But to be honest, that music isn't very fulfilling. So perhaps a step back to more traditional music would help in the long run - or a healthy mix of the two. I'm not sure if the teacher is doing this already, but I think a conference between you, your daughter, and the teacher would be in good order here. Perhaps propose that be her next lesson, and be sure that your daughter tells you how she feels ahead of time so if she's unable or unwilling to articulate that to the teacher (whom she seems to care for and may not want to hurt feelings), you can step in and speak on her behalf.

I just think that sometimes kids don't really know what they want, they just think they do. But a teacher often knows better what will make it interesting, if they are allowed to teach that way.

Also keep in mind that piano is really hard to learn. You don't mention the level of playing your daughter is doing right now, but perhaps she's into that level where the music takes a lot more time to really master. If her practice methods amount to playing through a piece start to finish 3 times in a row or something, well at this level that just doesn't work and she won't progress quickly enough to keep it interesting. I suspect this is key to what's really going on.

Developing good practice habits at home like zeroing in on the most difficult measures of the piece and working on fixing those in creative ways will make everything more interesting and fun, and in the end, she'll be a better pianist.



TLDR;
1) Kids often don't know what it means to work hard at something, quitting doesn't teach that, either
2) Communicate with teacher on ways to correct the problem, starting with selecting better music and working on practice habits that are efficient and not boring/repetitive

Last edited by Morodiene; 11/03/16 10:30 AM.

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Re: Daughter wants to quit piano
RickH #2583998 11/03/16 11:13 AM
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Thanks. I will read through the responses in detail later tonight. Unfortunately, I think some of the suggestions have been tried. She is playing classical too. The pop song idea as a component was recent to try to keep her interest. The saddest part for me is that all of her teachers have described her as very talented. During recitals, her performance is always clearly among the top two or three. She is also an excellent singer and has been selected for the competitive all-city chorus two years in a row. Fortunately, she hasn't said anything about quitting chorus yet. At times she still seems to enjoy piano, which is why I am really struggling. However, as I mentioned orginally, I have been fighting this battle for a while and am seriously starting to think it may be time to let it go (at least for now).

Re: Daughter wants to quit piano
RickH #2584007 11/03/16 11:28 AM
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I started piano (my choice) when I was five, quit when I was twelve and started pop organ lessons, restarted piano when I was thirteen and started classical pipe organ at the same time (both at U of NH). I needed a break from the classical push but it turned out I was hooked. I appreciate the fact that my parents were willing to allow me to make my own decisions.

Re: Daughter wants to quit piano
RickH #2584017 11/03/16 12:09 PM
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Don't give up. Just change tactics. If I were you, I'd give her a choice between a specific housework regimen or piano lessons and piano practice. The minute she ignores piano, it's housework time:

Monday, laundry for the family, mend clothing, iron, sew clothes.
Tuesday, clean baseboards, dust kitchen and living room, vacuum all rooms.
Wednesday, clean bathrooms, scrub tub, clean fans in the house.
Thursday, clean one day's dishes by hand, organize recycling
Friday, do the grocery shopping
Saturday, make dinner.

That way, if she doesn't turn out to be a good pianist, at least she'll be a competent helper.


Re: Daughter wants to quit piano
RickH #2584034 11/03/16 12:39 PM
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I would dig a little deeper to find the root of the problem. Has she stopped making progress? Is the battle over practicing or over going to the lessons? Has she developed new interests that are competing for her time?
What are your goals for her in continuing: a love of music, the values of discipline and hard work, commitment, or a certain level of musical accomplishment? Does she have any goals for herself?

Keep in mind that a decision to quit lessons now is not necessarily permanent. There are plenty of other ways to learn and enjoy music without formal lessons. While music is your passion, it may not be hers, no matter how talented she is. Who knows what passions she may discover if she has the freedom and time to explore where her own heart leads.

For every person that is grateful that their parents forced them to continue, there is one that resents it. In my experience, forced learning tends to be counterproductive. Maybe set an agreed upon time to continue lessons and then reassess.


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Re: Daughter wants to quit piano
RickH #2584089 11/03/16 02:51 PM
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Originally Posted by RickH
The saddest part for me is that all of her teachers have described her as very talented.

I've often wondered about my own situation, in relation to that of my youngest sister, who is twelve years younger than me.

She's musically far more talented than me, so why did she give up at 12 (when she'd reached Grade 5 ABRSM - three years faster than me), whereas giving up piano never crossed my mind when I was a teenager, even when I was sent tens of thousands of miles away to another country, out of reach of my parents' influence?

The main difference between her and me was that I loved classical music ever since I was introduced to it by my first teacher (who gave me my first Mozart piece to play when I was about three months into lessons, and told me the story of his exploits as a kid). I couldn't get enough of it - I listened to BBC World Service on my short-wave radio just for its weekly classical music request program, because the radio station in my home country didn't broadcast classical music; I stayed up late into the nights when the national TV station broadcasted the complete Beethoven piano sonata cycle from ORF (Austria) as a weekly late-night filler before close-down, with Paul Badura-Skoda and Jörg Demus taking the honors between them, despite the fact that at that time, I could barely play Mozart's K1; and I spent all my pocket money on cassette tapes of the Beethoven symphonies (one of the few classical tapes I could buy in my home country then).

Whereas my little sister, when she was at the same age, despite progressing swiftly through the ABRSM exams with little effort, never had the same enthusiasm for classical music. She was interested in friends, clothes, make-up etc. Whenever I was home for the summer holidays, she would love to hear me play (at three, she heard me plough my way once through Schumann's Fantasy in C on the home piano, and a few days later, immediately recognized the same piece within a few seconds when I let her listen to it on my Walkman).

I always thought that if I'd been at home and playing the piano when she was in her early teens, she'd have kept on with lessons right up until diploma level, like I did, but when I asked her, she wasn't sure that she would. But what was clear was that there was no classical music at home once I left, and my parents didn't care for music. Practicing was a struggle against the TV, which my mother watched whenever she was at home.

However, her piano lessons did come in useful, because she got a job in a music publishing house partly on the strength of her ability to read music. (My job has no connection with music). Yet, despite the fact that she had - and still has - unlimited access to the home piano, she never took up piano again. The little Yamaha upright in my parents' home (where she is still living with her partner, and my mother) was left to gather dust, and is now unplayable. Whereas I had no access to a piano for decades after I finished with university, and would play almost anything resembling a keyboard during that time.

Did I mention my older brother and other sister? They both gave up within a year of lessons (after Grade 1 ABRSM) - i.e. just as soon as my parents allowed them to give up. They never had any love for classical music, only pop. My brother would far rather strum his guitar.


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Re: Daughter wants to quit piano
RickH #2584154 11/03/16 05:49 PM
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What I'm wondering about is why she loved her first teacher and not her second?


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Re: Daughter wants to quit piano
RickH #2584173 11/03/16 06:34 PM
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Lots of wonderful responses to a complicated subject. A few further thoughts...

Age twelve is often a time when everything, routine or challenging, seems "boring." Since your daughter doesn't express dislike for her teacher, you could just ignore what she says and carry on with lessons as usual. See how the year unfolds; it's only November. Will there be any performance opportunities ahead, either in the teacher's studio or in school? Anything that she can anticipate or work towards?

But another tack is simply to stop bugging your daughter about practicing, and decide that this should remain a subject only between her and her teacher. Indeed, practicing may not be a battle between them at all, but only between dad and daughter.






Re: Daughter wants to quit piano
RickH #2584219 11/03/16 09:54 PM
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This is true. By age 12, you're entering the teenage phase of life, which involves not wanting to be nagged at about ANYTHIIING. Including piano. My mom used to sit next to me while I practiced piano as a kid. At some point (probably around 12?) I refused and hated when she bothered me about piano.

Well anyway, my piano teacher of course could tell when or if I hadn't practiced much, and I definitely did not want to disappoint her after experiencing her disappointment.


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Re: Daughter wants to quit piano
Peter K. Mose #2584300 11/04/16 07:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Peter K. Mose
Lots of wonderful responses to a complicated subject. A few further thoughts...

Age twelve is often a time when everything, routine or challenging, seems "boring." Since your daughter doesn't express dislike for her teacher, you could just ignore what she says and carry on with lessons as usual. See how the year unfolds; it's only November. Will there be any performance opportunities ahead, either in the teacher's studio or in school? Anything that she can anticipate or work towards?

But another tack is simply to stop bugging your daughter about practicing, and decide that this should remain a subject only between her and her teacher. Indeed, practicing may not be a battle between them at all, but only between dad and daughter.

So, last night (before even seeing this), I spoke with my daughter about possibly stopping the piano. An hour later she said she "loves piano" and wanted to practice later. I told her that she doesn't have to practice anymore and we can stop the lessons if she wants to stop. She ended up practicing for an hour! It's early, but I am now hoping that this is nothing more than a 12-year-old wanting to have some independence. Thanks, everyone!

Re: Daughter wants to quit piano
RickH #2584401 11/04/16 12:56 PM
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As a parent, I want to make a few points:

1. Loving music and being involved in music-making doesn't mean that one has to take piano lessons. Being bored with piano but having to continue anyways doesn't help cultivate a love for music. Maybe explore other instruments?

2. Piano is largely a solitary activity and it is easy to feel bored. Maybe look at chamber music groups for her to join? Are there piano performance classes to sign up so that she has a chance to make friends through piano? How about finding opportunities at school, such as accompanying school choirs?

3. If she regrets as an adult, she can take piano lessons at that time. Unless her goal is to become a concert pianist, there is probably not too much loss. But there is loss if she is forced to stick to it.

4. I don't think it's worth the fight to make her stick to piano. She is only 12, the rebellion will only get worse in the next few years. Letting her make decisions and figuring out consequences is also an important part of growing up.

I know lots of kids (my kids' friends, our teachers' students, even our teachers' own kids) who quit piano. But some choose to stick with other instruments; a few are becoming professional musicians (not pianists)... Just saying...


Re: Daughter wants to quit piano
RickH #2584413 11/04/16 01:40 PM
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Originally Posted by RickH
Originally Posted by Peter K. Mose
Lots of wonderful responses to a complicated subject. A few further thoughts...

Age twelve is often a time when everything, routine or challenging, seems "boring." Since your daughter doesn't express dislike for her teacher, you could just ignore what she says and carry on with lessons as usual. See how the year unfolds; it's only November. Will there be any performance opportunities ahead, either in the teacher's studio or in school? Anything that she can anticipate or work towards?

But another tack is simply to stop bugging your daughter about practicing, and decide that this should remain a subject only between her and her teacher. Indeed, practicing may not be a battle between them at all, but only between dad and daughter.

So, last night (before even seeing this), I spoke with my daughter about possibly stopping the piano. An hour later she said she "loves piano" and wanted to practice later. I told her that she doesn't have to practice anymore and we can stop the lessons if she wants to stop. She ended up practicing for an hour! It's early, but I am now hoping that this is nothing more than a 12-year-old wanting to have some independence. Thanks, everyone!


Great news! Maybe just let the teacher in on what was going on at home, and that you won't be telling her to practice anymore, so it will be more up to the teacher to work directly with your daughter if something needs to be addressed.

Letting go of the reigns can be tough, especially for parents who are also musicians, but it is a good thing to do.


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Re: Daughter wants to quit piano
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Hi Rick,

As a non-musician parent, I’m glad to hear that the ‘rebellious’ moment is passed for your daughter and that it’s all ok now. As you didn’t mention how she’s progressed over the years and/or what kind of pieces she’s working on these days, it’s hard to say what triggered the reaction. Could it be something totally unrelated to piano playing (e.g. did she just change school?). I agree with Peter that, it is, indeed, a ‘complicated subject’.

My son started lessons when he was 9-yr-old. When he was 12 and about to turn 13 (a little more than a year ago), he started to work on ‘more interesting stuff’ (as his teacher refers to the late intermediate/advanced pieces). He had the same reactions. He strongly expressed that he 'hates' to practise, that piano playing is 'boring' (exactly the same words as your daughter's), that he just 'don't get it', and that he 'will never get it', etc.

I realized that, somehow, he had lost his drive/motivation. Like Morodiene suggested, I immediately discussed the matter with his teacher. I blamed it on his new found addiction to video games :-) His teacher told me that it's perfectly normal for the majority of kids his age to feel/act like that (@bennevis, you are sure one of the exceptions :-)), especially boys, when they seem to reach an impasse and/or they feel the needs to rebel at anything and everything.

Long gone are the days when they can proudly fly through daily practice with easier pieces. Now they feel/think that, no matter how hard they tried, it seems to take forever to finish one piece (or even one passage); that their teachers are so picky with 'minor' mistakes; they struggled with their practice and, as a result, their frustration mounted. So what's the point (for them to even try), right?

They may feel that they are ‘forced’ to practise just to please the parents (I do feel guilty at this). Some will eventually quit. My friend’s son, who was referred by us to the same teacher, didn’t progress as fast, had the same reactions, and did quit. Kids prefer to do things that they 'think/believe' they can be ‘good' at with minimal effort (hence, they always want quick fixes/shortcuts). His teacher would call it ‘like a bump on the road’ and the kids might need some help (from teacher + parents) to get ‘over’ it.

If we (teacher + parents) think that there’s no hope for him, we would not hesitate to let him quit. He’s no prodigy/gifted pianist; but we believe that he has some potential and we’d like to see it’s developed. We did make a series of adjustments and, so far, I can say that, overall, he seems to be ok with the ‘status quo’. He’s no longer nagging about quitting piano (he knows I won’t budge); but he doesn’t show overly increased interest either. He still complains about how hard they are for some of the pieces he doesn’t enjoy (he’s working on RCM Grade 9 pieces). I simply remind him that what practice is for (to make them look easy) and assure him that he’d enjoy them afterward (it did happen before, especially Bach’s pieces). Sometimes, I backed off a bit and let him vents. However, by looking at him discreetly when he plays, I can tell that he really enjoys it, sometimes. Maybe, he knows not to show much of his enthusiasm (or I might push it); or, it’s just my pure imagination :-)

@Morodiene, that’s all I’m hoping for, one day, my son would be glad that we made him stick to piano playing

Re: Daughter wants to quit piano
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Originally Posted by dha
Hi Rick,

As a non-musician parent, I’m glad to hear that the ‘rebellious’ moment is passed for your daughter and that it’s all ok now. As you didn’t mention how she’s progressed over the years and/or what kind of pieces she’s working on these days, it’s hard to say what triggered the reaction. Could it be something totally unrelated to piano playing (e.g. did she just change school?). I agree with Peter that, it is, indeed, a ‘complicated subject’.

My son started lessons when he was 9-yr-old. When he was 12 and about to turn 13 (a little more than a year ago), he started to work on ‘more interesting stuff’ (as his teacher refers to the late intermediate/advanced pieces). He had the same reactions. He strongly expressed that he 'hates' to practise, that piano playing is 'boring' (exactly the same words as your daughter's), that he just 'don't get it', and that he 'will never get it', etc.

I realized that, somehow, he had lost his drive/motivation. Like Morodiene suggested, I immediately discussed the matter with his teacher. I blamed it on his new found addiction to video games :-) His teacher told me that it's perfectly normal for the majority of kids his age to feel/act like that (@bennevis, you are sure one of the exceptions :-)), especially boys, when they seem to reach an impasse and/or they feel the needs to rebel at anything and everything.

Long gone are the days when they can proudly fly through daily practice with easier pieces. Now they feel/think that, no matter how hard they tried, it seems to take forever to finish one piece (or even one passage); that their teachers are so picky with 'minor' mistakes; they struggled with their practice and, as a result, their frustration mounted. So what's the point (for them to even try), right?

They may feel that they are ‘forced’ to practise just to please the parents (I do feel guilty at this). Some will eventually quit. My friend’s son, who was referred by us to the same teacher, didn’t progress as fast, had the same reactions, and did quit. Kids prefer to do things that they 'think/believe' they can be ‘good' at with minimal effort (hence, they always want quick fixes/shortcuts). His teacher would call it ‘like a bump on the road’ and the kids might need some help (from teacher + parents) to get ‘over’ it.

If we (teacher + parents) think that there’s no hope for him, we would not hesitate to let him quit. He’s no prodigy/gifted pianist; but we believe that he has some potential and we’d like to see it’s developed. We did make a series of adjustments and, so far, I can say that, overall, he seems to be ok with the ‘status quo’. He’s no longer nagging about quitting piano (he knows I won’t budge); but he doesn’t show overly increased interest either. He still complains about how hard they are for some of the pieces he doesn’t enjoy (he’s working on RCM Grade 9 pieces). I simply remind him that what practice is for (to make them look easy) and assure him that he’d enjoy them afterward (it did happen before, especially Bach’s pieces). Sometimes, I backed off a bit and let him vents. However, by looking at him discreetly when he plays, I can tell that he really enjoys it, sometimes. Maybe, he knows not to show much of his enthusiasm (or I might push it); or, it’s just my pure imagination :-)

@Morodiene, that’s all I’m hoping for, one day, my son would be glad that we made him stick to piano playing


Really, a parent knows their child the best. And If anything, he is learning what perseverance looks like in the face of obstacles. For me, I would want to give up very quickly because I was accustomed to not being good at anything and was deeply insecure, thinking that I must not be good that this thing that I loved, too - when in fact, I just needed to learn how to practice better.

My teacher wasn't very good at this, or at least, in making it more interesting and creative - and problem-solving required in piano practice can be extremely creative and engaging. So as a teacher, it's by job to make sure the student truly understands what it means to practice. It takes a while for some to get it, though.

Guilt, too, can have an interesting and negative effect on piano study, that's why I told my own story. I was only "sort of" forced to practice. I was being held to my word, that I gave freely, and so it really couldn't be a matter of guilt.

But certainly harping on practice with your child and telling them you've spent all this money for lessons and an instrument, etc., can blow up in one's face, and I don't think this is ever a good approach (Not implying that anyone did that, just pointing out that this can happen).

So as long as things remain "healthy" between parent, teacher, and child, it is worth trying to find a solution that encourages them to stick with it - even if it isn't "fun".


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Re: Daughter wants to quit piano
Morodiene #2584813 11/05/16 06:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Morodiene

So as long as things remain "healthy" between parent, teacher, and child, it is worth trying to find a solution that encourages them to stick with it - even if it isn't "fun".


smile My brother wanted to quit piano. Eventually he made it very, very clear over a period of time that it was what he wanted. He quit. I don't think he regrets it. He eventually picked up guitar and ukulele and is still quite musical. Can beatbox :P

I probably voiced wanting to quit piano, but when actually given the option to quit, never wanted to quit. I did have practice battles with my mom in my memory, (not very often, but I do remember at least once).

My husband quit piano. His parents knew that he wasn't into it and that he had hit a plateau. My husband told me that he always disliked piano lessons. I was surprised-- ALWAYS?

You know your kid the best smile Sometimes things are just phases or venting, other times it's really time to quit.


~piano teacher in training~
Re: Daughter wants to quit piano
hello my name is #2584815 11/05/16 06:34 PM
Joined: May 2015
Posts: 7,134
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Posts: 7,134
Originally Posted by hello my name is
Originally Posted by Morodiene

So as long as things remain "healthy" between parent, teacher, and child, it is worth trying to find a solution that encourages them to stick with it - even if it isn't "fun".


smile My brother wanted to quit piano. Eventually he made it very, very clear over a period of time that it was what he wanted. He quit. I don't think he regrets it. He eventually picked up guitar and ukulele and is still quite musical. Can beatbox :P

I probably voiced wanting to quit piano, but when actually given the option to quit, never wanted to quit. I did have practice battles with my mom in my memory, (not very often, but I do remember at least once).

My husband quit piano. His parents knew that he wasn't into it and that he had hit a plateau. My husband told me that he always disliked piano lessons. I was surprised-- ALWAYS?

You know your kid the best smile Sometimes things are just phases or venting, other times it's really time to quit.


+1-- My sister ALWAYS, ALWAYS hated the piano, but was forced to endure lessons for five long, long, years. She has never played another note -- and the only regret she has now was being forced to endure. Her dislike and anger was palpably visible to everyone in the household-- and I was also just a little child.

You need to know when your child is serious, or when it is a temporary 'wanting independence'.

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