When Students Want to Quit Playing the Piano


I happen to love playing the piano! But, the 88 keys are not for everyone. Learning the piano takes a huge commitment of both time and money. It’s a BIG project! In my opinion, you really have to be “all in”.

I put a lot of effort into making sure that people understand this when they begin the piano study. I don’t want any of my students to quit playing the piano. Nevertheless, sometimes I will see that a student doesn’t seem to be enjoying their lessons.

I care about people – whether they play the piano or not. To get a student or parent to consider where they stand with piano study, I usually tell them my sewing story:

My mother was an excellent seamstress – she could sew anything. She also knitted and crocheted. When I was a girl, my mother really wanted to pass these skills on to me. She would attempt to teach me but I just did not want to learn, I had no interest in sewing. I would sit at the machine and try to sew in order to please my mom but I really did not want to. I found sewing tedious, and boring. My mom was nice about the situation but confused. “How can you sit at the piano for hours and practice isn’t that tedious?”, she would ask. “Not for me, mom”, I would answer. My mom finally gave up on the idea of teaching me sewing.

Now mind you, (I tell my students and parents) I think people who can sew are awesome. I think it’s a wonderful skill. I truly admire people who can do it, but it is not for me. Even if I could sew instantly with no effort I wouldn’t want to. I don’t know why.

Read the post “Fall in Love with the Piano”

I ask the student if he feels about piano the same way I felt about sewing. Many times, the student will say he hasn’t really considered this. (In other words, he shrugs and says “I don’t know”).

At this point, I put this question to him; “If I could magically turn you into a great piano player right now would you be excited about it?” Usually, the student will say yes. At this point, we talk about sticking with the piano so that he can reach the goal of becoming a great player. I work to try and figure out how to get him more excited about practicing. So that he won’t quit playing the piano.

Once in a great while, a student will say no, he wouldn’t be excited about playing. If this happens, I assure him (and mom or dad) that it’s OK. Just as I didn’t like sewing, the piano is not for everyone.

So do I dismiss the student at this time? No, not at all. I ask the family to discuss the matter. Some parents insist the student continue with lessons as part of their education.

I actually applaud this line of thinking.

All of my own children (5 boys) studied musical instruments, and not all of them were excited about it. I tell the student, “since you have to be here, why not learn to play?” Most times this helps to turn the student around. I think that people just want to be heard and understood.

It IS about more than the 88 keys. That’s why students need teachers.

Dr, Suzuki said “Where love is deep, much can be accomplished”
I believe him.


What do you think? Leave a comment.

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