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 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 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 without effort, I wouldn’t want to. I don’t know why, I just don’t like it.

Read the post “Love Will Keep Us Together”

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, necessarily. I ask the family to discuss the matter. 

But there are also times when it just isn’t working for me or my student.

At this time I have to explain to parents that no amount of sending their child to lessons will make him become a piano player if his heart isn’t in it. It just doesn’t work.

I tell them my sewing story and the story of my son. 

All of my own children (5 boys) took music lessons. Four of them loved it, went to arts magnet schools, and learned to play very well. One of my boys didn’t like music lessons at all.  After giving up on the piano, we sent him to guitar lessons. When he wouldn’t practice the guitar I insisted he choose an instrument, any instrument!

He came back a few weeks later and told me he wanted to play the trumpet. Great! I set up lessons with a colleague that I knew was an excellent teacher. My son was 10 at the time.

After his third lesson, he came out and said “This guy expects me to practice this thing!”

“What! What are you thinking?” I asked him.

“Well Mom, I looked at all of the instruments and the trumpet only had three buttons. I figured it was the easiest one so that’s why I picked it.”

Ok, I had to respect the fact that music lessons weren’t for this kid. He loved sports so we signed up for basketball and golf lessons. Today he is a highly successful executive with Amazon Web Services. I am very proud of him.

Everyone is different. When I have tried everything to get a student interested in the piano, and it just isn’t working. I will let that student go. I think it’s only fair to me, to my student and their family.

I do this with my “Last Chance Program” no drama, no hard feelings.

What do you think? Leave a comment.


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