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Should we let her quit piano lessons
#3000267 07/08/20 01:13 PM
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I have a 13 yr old granddaughter who lives in my home and has wanted to quit piano for over two years. But her mother doesn't want her to. I started teaching her when she was about 6 and later decided that she needs a "real" teacher. I also take piano lessons from the same teacher. I sit in the room when she has her lesson so I know what she needs to work on and how well she has practiced. I seldom say anything when she is practicing except occasionally to slow down. I've asked her how she likes the teacher in different ways and a different times and that does not seem to be the issue. She just doesn't want to play. She hardly ever just sits down a play for the enjoyment of it. She only practices the allotted time she has to. I think many times she is just going through the motions of practicing but not REALLY practicing.
Her mom and I know the importance of playing a musical instrument. She is pretty artistic and can spend hours drawing, painting or whatever.
As I pay for the lessons I do have a say in the decision. Should I try a different teacher just to see if someone else could motivate her? I know the current one has tried. As I live in a very rural area there are not very many to choose from and I would probably have to travel twice the distance and pay more for the lessons. Should we just continue as is? She also has an eleven year old brother that takes lessons from me that wants to quit too. And I can't afford to send him to a teacher. If she quits, brother will want to quit even more. Any words of wisdom from other teachers?

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Re: Should we let her quit piano lessons
PatG #3000286 07/08/20 01:58 PM
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I’m not a teacher, But I can give you my experience based on my childhood. My advice is to let her quit. Music may be important but it is honestly not important as a skill for everyone.... others may appreciate music but not actively play. She has an artistic ability which I think many musicians may not have and should be encouraged rather than music. Every child needs a niche and she has found hers

I offer this advice because my parents forced my sister to continue piano lessons When she had absolutely no interest. The long-term effect was when she was finally allowed to quit, She has not played the piano since then .... And we’re talking about many decades. I’ve always wondered if she would’ve been allowed to quit when she wanted, would she have returned to piano now? I’ll never know.


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Re: Should we let her quit piano lessons
dogperson #3000293 07/08/20 02:29 PM
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Originally Posted by dogperson
I’m not a teacher, But I can give you my experience based on my childhood. My advice is to let her quit. Music may be important but it is honestly not important as a skill for everyone.... others may appreciate music but not actively play. She has an artistic ability which I think many musicians may not have and should be encouraged rather than music. Every child needs a niche and she has found hers

I offer this advice because my parents forced my sister to continue piano lessons When she had absolutely no interest. The long-term effect was when she was finally allowed to quit, She has not played the piano since then .... And we’re talking about many decades. I’ve always wondered if she would’ve been allowed to quit when she wanted, would she have returned to piano now? I’ll never know.

Same story here: I asked for guitar lessons at 7. Nobody ever cared whether I practiced or not. I dropped on and off of various instrument (flute, classical guitar, electric bass) lessons throughout my infancy and adolescence. Learned fingerpicking and bossa nova guitar on my own. I hated mechanical practice (I wish somebody had helped me get through the frustration) but I spent lots of time playing, transcribing songs by ear.

I started learning the piano 4 years ago when my son started. I can now play Couperin, a few Goldberg variations, I have learnt to practice...

My three cousins were forced to practice the piano even on holiday. They never touched an instrument since the moment they were allowed to drop out at 14-15! Seeing their mum shout at them every summer was a great lesson in how not to do it.

My son started piano lessons 4 years ago. He has a great ear and hand ability but could not care less about it. He never plays just for the pleasure. My wife wants him to continue on the basis that it’s great for brain development (facepalm). I do not force him. May be one day he’ll get back to it, may be not. I can see he does not have the passion for music I had at his age.

Re: Should we let her quit piano lessons
PatG #3000315 07/08/20 03:33 PM
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Originally Posted by PatG
She just doesn't want to play. She hardly ever just sits down a play for the enjoyment of it. She only practices the allotted time she has to. I think many times she is just going through the motions of practicing but not REALLY practicing.
The answer is obvious - let her quit. She's old enough to decide for herself.

She already knows the basics of piano playing, and might well return to it when she's older (and wiser), and will have no difficulty picking up from where she left off, unless she leaves it until she's in her nineties....

I know many adults who quit musical instruments in their teens - piano, violin, clarinet, horn etc. Some regretted it, others didn't. But all gained from having learnt in their childhood because they were making use of their musical skills in other ways, especially singing in choirs. In other words, if you granddaughter quits before she develops a dislike for piano (and possibly music) altogether, there is a chance she will pick it up again later when the hormones settle down, and the lessons she's already had would not have been a complete waste of time. BTW, an aptitude for it doesn't guarantee longevity, just as a complete lack of anything resembling musical talent doesn't guarantee that the student is going to be a no-hoper. (I know, because I was in the latter camp, yet I obtained my performance diploma after twelve years of lessons - through sheer obstinacy whistle, and am now teaching too.)

Incidentally, my youngest sister - who has far more musical talent than me - gave up piano in her early teens. Our parents weren't bothered (they had no interest in music, let alone piano) and she never again touched the piano from the day her lessons stopped. But she made use of her musical skills - not least her ability to read music fluently - in other ways, because she landed a good job in a well-known music publishing company on the strength of it, and quickly became an indispensable part of the team. She could pick up a new score, look through it and immediately see where all the composer's careless mistakes are, and correct them.

The little upright piano is still there in the family home where she still lives with her husband, gathering dust and rust.....


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Should we let her quit piano lessons
PatG #3000321 07/08/20 03:59 PM
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She's had 7 years of piano.

Time for a break.

The seeds have been planted, the language embedded. If she wants it in the future she can retrieve it. 7 years is long enough to know if it's for you at this point.

I forced my kids to do two years of music around middle school age. I was up front that I considered it a basic like math, and that to not do it while young made it near impossible if they wanted to take it up later, but if they didn't like it they didn't have to continue. Neither did

Both have run into occasions where they had to use what they'd learned, and both rose to the occasion and enjoyed it.


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Re: Should we let her quit piano lessons
PatG #3000328 07/08/20 04:15 PM
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Originally Posted by PatG
Should I try a different teacher just to see if someone else could motivate her?

Don't bother. It is not the teacher's job to motivate the unmotivatable. Don't waste your money.


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Re: Should we let her quit piano lessons
PatG #3000354 07/08/20 05:15 PM
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There's more to this story I'd like to know. Age thirteen is a tough age, and there are arguments for not listening to this girl's desire to quit piano and just carry on. Or try another teacher. Clearly she is in a slump, but that's common around that age.

Can she start doing some piano accompanying, or find a duet partner? Don't mom's wishes count for something?

Re: Should we let her quit piano lessons
Peter K. Mose #3000375 07/08/20 06:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Peter K. Mose
There's more to this story I'd like to know. Age thirteen is a tough age, and there are arguments for not listening to this girl's desire to quit piano and just carry on. Or try another teacher. Clearly she is in a slump, but that's common around that age.

Can she start doing some piano accompanying, or find a duet partner? Don't mom's wishes count for something?

I wish she had someone she could play duets together with, but that's not the case. Of course mom's wishes count for something! They matter a lot. That's one reason I posted the questions here. Wanted to see what I could learn to give her mother some thoughts to consider. Back in January we had a discussion, through text messages which I still have, with the piano teacher. And then the parents and with the granddaughter verbally. The teacher said some kids get past this and some don't. And she's been pretty stuck for a while, and doesn't see it really changing much. She said even songs she likes and wants to play don't get practiced. She is just at a place where she doesn't want to discipline herself. Her mother said it's not just in her piano practice but in all other areas too. It was decided at the time that she had to put in the effort or lose the privilege of lessons and would have to take them from me. I don't really want to teach her. I don't feel qualified and feel that would just be a waste of time for both of us. She is not taking lessons this summer, Mom's chose. And I realize summer is different. The teacher gave me 4 different songs she thought the granddaughter would like to play and put notes and fingering in them as necessary. It's been a couple of weeks and she hasn't even tried one. Keeps playing the same stuff she learned a year ago just to get her time in.

Re: Should we let her quit piano lessons
PatG #3000378 07/08/20 06:42 PM
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Think of it this way: she's already had (endured) seven years of lessons - more than the vast majority of piano students (young or old) stick it out for. She's accumulated lots of pianistic and musical skills (I assume) but is not going to have a career in music. The question then is: when do you think is a good time to stop lessons?

I'd say: now is as good a time as any. Let her concentrate on what she really likes......


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Should we let her quit piano lessons
PatG #3000381 07/08/20 06:50 PM
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Originally Posted by PatG
....She is just at a place where she doesn't want to discipline herself. Her mother said it's not just in her piano practice but in all other areas too....
Lack of discipline may be the deeper problem (or collateral damage from being thirteen), but I don't think piano lessons is where I'd draw the red line. The granddaughter has a well-established habit of not practicing and that is going to be hard to change.

As for the 'punishment' being having to take lessons from you: no way should you agree to that. Decline with all your might.


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Re: Should we let her quit piano lessons
PatG #3000385 07/08/20 07:17 PM
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I agree with Peter that 13 can be tough.

Is there something else she likes? Does she have a favorite subject at school? Is there a teacher she likes?

If not, maybe you can you help her find something she likes?
She may need to practice identifying things she does and does not like. The easiest way to start is to have her rank 2 items or activities as to the one she likes best and then perhaps move to ranking 5 items.


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Re: Should we let her quit piano lessons
PatG #3000388 07/08/20 07:26 PM
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In my experience as a parent as well as a teacher, 13 can be the watershed age at which "children" really work on differentiating themselves from their parents and become their true selves.

In this case, this individual is not at all interested in the piano (from what you report). Why force her to continue? Isn't she already past that younger age of neuroplasticity where piano has been shown to help with brain development? She's developed, and she's had enough piano, thank you very much.

As to Mom's wishes, my unasked for advice is "pick your battles carefully". Me, I'd save it for the bigger ones coming.

Let her quit. She can already play the piano. If allowed to drop it now she just might come back to it in the future. Force her to continue - my bet is she'd never touch it willingly again.


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Re: Should we let her quit piano lessons
PatG #3000408 07/08/20 08:43 PM
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Piano cannot be forced. It's a passion. A bit like being in love. Her interests are elsewhere. Let her guit.


With new students Chopin was chiefly anxious to do away with any stiffness in, or cramped, or convulsive movement of the hand, thereby obtaining the first requisite of fine technique "souplesse" (suppleness). -- Carl Mikuli on Chopin the teacher.
Re: Should we let her quit piano lessons
PatG #3000427 07/08/20 10:04 PM
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I shall add my opinion to the general consensus that she be allowed to quit, preferably without argument or unpleasantness. I stopped my lessons at ten amid frightful family rows I wouldn't wish on anybody. I hated performing, still do, and I wanted to do all the things little boys like doing. Mum couldn't get over it, "If you were in some other country you would be playing on the stage, we've wasted a lot of money !" but fortunately Dad understood. Three years later he quietly bought the score of Rhapsody In Blue, said nothing, put it down on the dinner table in front of me and that, as they say, was that.

Let the girl do as she pleases, if she has music in her it will emerge, and if not it doesn't matter.


"We shall always love the music of the masters, but they are all dead and now it's our turn." - Llewelyn Jones, my piano teacher
Re: Should we let her quit piano lessons
PatG #3000451 07/08/20 11:43 PM
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Originally Posted by PatG
She is not taking lessons this summer, Mom's chose. And I realize summer is different. The teacher gave me 4 different songs she thought the granddaughter would like to play and put notes and fingering in them as necessary. It's been a couple of weeks and she hasn't even tried one. Keeps playing the same stuff she learned a year ago just to get her time in.

Since she's not taking lessons this summer, but she is actually playing (the music that apparently brings her some level of joy), why not continue like that?

Thank the teacher for her work with your granddaughter, collaborate with your granddaughter on a fitting goodbye to the teacher, and let the girl decide in the future if she'd like to return to piano lessons some day.

By the way, I would say it is a good sign that she is playing something. Let her keep playing what she wants, without having to play what others decide for her.

(Unless I'm mistaken and she's only playing because she'll be punished or something if she doesn't put in her time. Please tell me it's not that.)

And if she wants to put her focus on other artistic pursuits, and all piano playing stops by default, that's alright. Better to have it come to a natural end because she's realized it isn't her thing than to have her come to detest piano so much that she would decide to never touch one again because of its association with her being forced to do something in which she finds no delight.

Piano lessons aren't necessary for physical life. They're a beautiful enrichment under certain circumstances. And they can do a lot of damage under other conditions.

Let your granddaughter find the beauty and joy in life wherever it lies for her.

Re: Should we let her quit piano lessons
Andamento #3000510 07/09/20 06:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Andamento
By the way, I would say it is a good sign that she is playing something. Let her keep playing what she wants, without having to play what others decide for her.

(Unless I'm mistaken and she's only playing because she'll be punished or something if she doesn't put in her time. Please tell me it's not that.)
In fact, that's exactly what I took these words to mean:


Originally Posted by PatG
The teacher gave me 4 different songs she thought the granddaughter would like to play and put notes and fingering in them as necessary. It's been a couple of weeks and she hasn't even tried one. Keeps playing the same stuff she learned a year ago just to get her time in


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Should we let her quit piano lessons
PatG #3000526 07/09/20 07:58 AM
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End it on a good note so there is no guilt or bad feelings associated with her and the piano.

Take her out for ice cream or something and congratulate her on the work she has done. Tell her she will always have the skills she has learned. Tell her that many people (actually the great majority) who started when she did quit at her age as they move forward in life, but she can come back to lessons / more focus on music whenever she wants.

Its all good. She can play the piano...its a gift and a blessing.


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Re: Should we let her quit piano lessons
PatG #3000564 07/09/20 09:19 AM
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Here's my story:

I started at around 10 or 11 and I had some changes of teachers because we moved house, the last one when I was around 15 or 16 (I think) which was good because he didn't insist on Czerny and a boring piano book but taught be very basic jazz stuff and pop songs. It didn't make me practice more though but if I hadn't been allowed to change, I would have just quit. I hardly remember ever being motivated to practice a lot, sometimes more, but most of the time, my parents needed to push me to at least practice a little bit. I never got far and when I was in my last year of school (18 years old), I quit altogether. Not because I hated it, rather because progress wasn't fast enough for me (hardly surprising giving the amount I practized...) and everyone else who played an instrument could actually play interesting stuff which really frustrated me. Plus, the guitar players got all the girls anyway.

How far did that take me? I think I barely played Für Elise (which I passionately hate now and will probably never play again) and got halfway through the first movement of the Moonlight Sonata. I could, given enough time, figure out which note belongs to which key, knew what major and minor chords are - the very basics.

Almost exactly 20 years later I started again because for the first time I had enough space for an instrument and asked my dad for his old spinet (harpsichord), had it tuned and instantly loved it. About a year later I got a digital one and another year later I got a real one. Now I love it so much, I practice/play every day with very few exceptions. Usually more than an hour. It makes my life so much better.

So as long as she is able to conquer sheet music on her own, let her quit. She'll always have that ability. If it was my daughter, I'd secretly put the money for the lessons in an "account" and when she's older and moves out and misses the piano, you can just buy her one.

Re: Should we let her quit piano lessons
Ted #3000577 07/09/20 09:54 AM
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Originally Posted by Ted
I stopped my lessons at ten amid frightful family rows I wouldn't wish on anybody. I hated performing, still do, and I wanted to do all the things little boys like doing.

Similar story here. Piano was at my grandma's house; when I was 8 or 9 it was agreed I could take lessons when the piano was eventually moved to our house. The move happened when I was eleven or so... But the clock was ticking and my interests were changing. By the time I was 13 or 14 I wasn't interested in the piano any longer so I was soon begging to be allowed to quit.

I'm assuming something similar with the OP's granddaughter.

Re: Should we let her quit piano lessons
PatG #3000755 07/09/20 05:05 PM
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Like the others said, I think you should let her quit--something we just allowed our two children both to do, after two years of lessons.

I myself am studying solo on piano, having last taken lessons 38 years ago. Do I wish that I had continued lessons back then? Absolutely, but I'm seeing its value now that I am middle-aged. I didn't see its value, and certainly not the value of daily dedicated practice, when I was her age, nor do my kids.

Youth, like education, is wasted on the young!

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