Tuesday, February 8, 2011

SHOULD I MAKE MY CHILD TAKE PIANO LESSONS?

As a piano teacher, I am often asked, “Should I MAKE my child take piano lessons?”

I like to answer the rest of the question with a story about my daughter, Elizabeth.

SOCCER

Elizabeth did not like sports. Elizabeth did not seem to have a natural inclination for sports. I could not convince her to sign up for any sport. I asked myself, “Should I MAKE Elizabeth sign up for something?”

I finally decided that I wanted Elizabeth to know how to play a sport with a team. I recognized that Elizabeth might not be a good candidate for an upper level, competition team. So I signed her up for a neighborhood soccer program. I decided that I would MAKE her do it because this was a life skill that would help her.

Elizabeth was angry and upset. She cried and screamed to convince me that I should not MAKE her take soccer if she did not want to. I explained that she could quit when she had mastered the basics. I had to literally drag her to soccer practices and I bribed her with pizza to get her to kick the ball through the goal.

Eventually Elizabeth found that she liked playing defense and she was pretty good at it. Elizabeth played soccer for quite a few years. She learned the basics, continued to play on the neighborhood team and eventually quit. She never loved sports with a passion but she did find that her experience with soccer was basically a positive life experience.

PIANO

I MAKE all my children take piano lessons. Some of them did not like it. Some of them did not have a natural inclination for music. I had difficulty convincing each of them to sign up.

I finally decided that I wanted each of them to have a basic knowledge of music and the piano. I recognized that most, if not all, of my children would not be concert pianists. So I signed them up with neighborhood piano teachers. I decided that I would MAKE them do it because piano playing is a life skill that would help each child.

Many of my children were angry and upset. They cried and screamed to convince me that I should not MAKE them take piano lessons if they did not want to. I explained that they could quit when they mastered the basics. I literally had to drag my children to piano lessons and I bribed them with their driver’s licenses.

Eventually each child found that they liked piano. Each child found that they could be pretty good at it. Each child has now played for years. Some are better than others but each learned the basics before they quit. Some of them do not love the piano with a passion but each found that learning to play the piano was basically a positive life experience.

BE GREATER

In reality, anyone could survive and be successful in life even if they never learned to play soccer or piano. But I want something more for my piano students and my children.

William Jennings Bryan once said: “The way to develop self-confidence is to do the thing you fear and get a record of successful experiences behind you.” This is the reason to MAKE your children take piano lessons. So that they can add to their collection of successful experiences and be greater than they would have been otherwise.

So should you MAKE your child take piano lessons? YES!

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