In our last blog, we talked about the numerous reasons why students (both children and adults) quit playing music. Of course our list was not exhaustive, but touched on the more common issues that students talk about when they are contemplating quitting. If you play the piano and are thinking about quitting, or have a child who plays and no longer wants to, we encourage you to go back and read our blog about whether or not you or your child should continue to study music (Why Do Music Students Quit?).
Once you have read that article, and have decided for yourself (or you and your child have decided together) to keep playing the piano, please read on!
I would like to hit on each topic that was presented to you in the blog preceding this, and give some ideas and options on how to deal with the pressures and such of studying music.
Obviously the first thing to consider is how many activities your child participates in. This reason for quitting often applies more to children than adults who are actively learning an instrument, but it can come into play with both. If you, or your child, is participating in many things, and feel that your wallet is being stretched too thin, the most obvious solution is to cut out one or two things that your child finds less enjoyable or are of lower long-term value.
It takes a lot of Time
An easy work-around for this is to keep a daily schedule, and track your free time. If you or your child spend 2 hours a night watching television, cut back and insert your practice time there. Try getting up half an hour earlier and practicing in the mornings. Prioritize your time and discuss practice strategies with your teacher so that you can still make progress, even with limited time. A sure way to get stressed is to think about all your (or your child’s) obligations all at once. Instead try to think of each day, and know that missing something once in a while won’t be a huge detriment to anyone’s life.
It Becomes a Chore
If you or your child are feeling this way about music right now, it might be time to take a break. If you are committed, but feeling overwhelmed, I encourage you (or you child) to not take too much time off, as what you have learned can quickly need to be re-learned, and that in itself can be a waste of time and money. I suggest that students remember what interested them to begin piano lessons in the first place and get back on track with their original goals even if the practice time is reduced.
Lack of Focus
As we mentioned earlier, having a lack of focus can sometimes be corrected by cutting out another activity and spending more time on studying music. If you or your child is set on your current activities, re-establishing a schedule and calendar is most likely necessary. Also, sit down with your child’s music teacher and discuss it. Plan out what works for you and stick to it. Having clear, defined times and keeping everyone on the same page can greatly help.
Results are Different than Expectations
In my opinion, to understand what reasonable goals are for your child as an individual, discuss this with your child’s teacher. Meet with the teacher and talk about the progress that has been made, and what areas he or she is still weak in. Make sure to encourage your child during home practice, and make it clear that you and the teacher are not comparing him to others in class.
It is Difficult
Well of course it is! Learning an art shouldn’t be easy, like many other things in life. If you are an adult student and have yet to learn this fact of life, staying committed to the piano (or whatever instrument you play) will teach you very quickly. As a parent of a music student, this is a lesson your son or daughter ought to learn now. It will be valuable in all aspects of their lives down the road, and give them a sense of accomplishment and pride as they continue to grow and succeed in whatever artistic endeavor they choose.
Feeling You Lack Talent
It can take many years to become accomplished in any form of art. While learning, students often can get discouraged and feel as though they just don’t have the natural ability to play the piano well. As an adult student, please keep in mind your goals for learning. Are you set out to play on stage, or are you happy with playing at home or for small gatherings at parties? By keeping this in mind, you can stay driven and understand that your daily successes are in-line with your long-term motivations.
As a child, a big part of learning is physiological, and children are always growing in this way. Besides growing taller or gaining weight, children’s brains mature as they reach young adult-hood. What may once have been a difficult piece to play can suddenly click in the mind of a child and become easier.
I hope that these two articles, in conjunction, have shed some light on the struggles that practicing musicians face, and what can be done to overcome these problems if you (and your child) stay committed. Always remember to talk with your teacher when you are feeling discouraged, and be honest. If you are committed to learning, keep your communication open and work together to create solutions that will work now and down the road.