_______ Has Decided to No Longer Take Lessons
Although it has happened many times in my years of teaching, my heart sank again this summer when I received this text the night before the student's lesson. This student was a bright eight year old who had done quite well in her two years of lessons, and had a lot of potential to become a really good musician.
Students begin and end lessons all the time. Sometimes I suggest to students or parents that lessons be discontinued -- they have not made progress for a long time, or they are clearly stressed about other life events, or (rarely) the relationship between the family and myself is not constructive for either the student or me.
But WAY too often, the parent is letting a child (under 13 years old) make a life decision (because music lessons are a life decision) without the maturity or understanding of how they will feel about the decision in 10, 20 or 30 years. Parents may understand (there is so much literature on this!) how music lessons affect brain development, but an 8 year old does not.
I have been teaching/playing professionally for over 35 years, and in those 35 years I have had only one adult tell me she was glad she stopped lessons when she was a child. (Related or not: this was a person whose only interests were shopping and getting married/divorced.)
EVERY child, and I mean EVERY child (especially me) wants to discontinue lessons at some point. The first few lessons are exciting because this is something new, and it is pretty easy! But learning an instrument, in particular piano and all the many styles that can be played, is a long process. A child is going to get bored sometimes, or want to skip lessons or practicing to play with friends (or more likely get on social media). The music gets harder and requires more time and effort, but the payoff is being able to play beautifully. If nothing else, not quitting teaches a child the value of delayed gratification. No one gets to adulthood and says "I wish I had spent more time on social media or playing electronic games."
ALL of my successful students had parents who said "you will continue lessons at least until this point..." It may be 13, or high school, or until they finish a certain level, but lessons are nonnegotiable, and so is practicing. The parents are taking responsibility for the education and guidance of their children (and don't forget brain development!)
So if your child says :"I don't want to do piano anymore." Here are a few questions to ask yourself before you "let your child" make such an important decision.
Is this the first time the child has said this? PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE! NEVER stop lessons the first time a child says this -- moods change overnight, and in 6 months the child may be excited again!
Is there an issue with the teacher? Try talking with the student and teacher to see if it can be resolved.
Is the child just tired from too many activities, travelling, too many "fun" outings? You know what to do.
Are lessons frustrating because there has not been enough practicing? Get control of activities so the child has time to practice, and just to relax.
In the end, a child should never make this decision, it is a parent's decision. Listen to your child, see if you can resolve whatever is bothering them, but remember your job is to guide and educate them until they can make mature decision for themselves.