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#943848 - 02/06/07 08:33 AM Why do parents want their children to learn the piano?
Ragnhild Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/22/06
Posts: 1117
Loc: Norway
I hope it's ok, fathertopianist that I put up this thread.
Since we went a little far from the topic that started the "new students lacking basic technique" thread I would like to continue this subject here.

I really hope Nancy, Piano*Dad, Adrian and the others will be interested.

Fact is I don't really know why I want my kids to play the piano - I think there are mixed reasons and some of them are probably quite egoistic.

I know one reason: I'd like to share with the two people most important to me what I find most important in life and that is music.

But there are other not so nice possibilities like that I want them to be successful where I failed..

What do teachers think - are the parents most interested in impressing others with their childrens playing ? What is parents motivation, and do they also have to be motivated and taught what playing an instrument is about ?

Ragnhild
_________________________
Trying to play the piano:
http://www.box.net/public/dbr23ll03e

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#943849 - 02/06/07 09:28 AM Re: Why do parents want their children to learn the piano?
AJB Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/01/05
Posts: 3655
Loc: Surrey, England
OK, I will bite, as I made some remarks about this in a different thread. Looking back to my own childhood, I don’t really know why my parents wanted me to learn piano. The driving force was my father and he is dead now.

My feelings at the time, and they have not changed a lot since, are:

It started because he enjoyed playing boogie style piano
The piano was there so it might as well be used
He was fulfilling his own educational ambitions through me
He enjoyed showing off my supposed playing ability (despite my embarrassment). This occasionally backfired
It was a useful way of controlling my leisure time

The whole thing was remarkably inept of my parents. First of all, they made no effort whatsoever to instil in me a love of music. I was doing classical lessons yet there was no classical music in the house. I was interested in pop music but that was banned absolutely. My parents liked popular classics, things like Lara’s theme. I did not know these tunes and they were not played to me on records, so my parents were disappointed when I could not play them.

As I alluded to in the other thread, Message to parents: if you want your child to be motivated to play the piano (or any instrument) – first get them interested in music. Play lots of music. Listen to it as a family. Get the child inspired to be musically creative. This is an absolute no brainier but in my experience very few parents do this and I have not yet met a piano teacher who actually recommends listening to music as a pre-requisite for learning to play.

Anyway, I am now a parent, so do I practice what I preach? Kind of.

My childhood experience with piano was so negative (I was on the ABRSM exam treadmill) that I would not wish this on my son (who is almost 10 now). So I have encouraged him to listen to music. Lots of different kinds of music. And I help him load his iPod up, and I put CD’s into iTunes on his laptop.

And I encourage him to try different instruments. Mainly at school – which has a really excellent music department. So he has tried recorder, violin and guitar. I am a pretty OK guitar player and my son emulates me in that instrument most. Sons like copying dad at that age. This is a cool aspect of being a father!

This was the source of a valuable lesson. I was once playing guitar in a band. It was at a private rock concert with a couple of hundred guests. My son was about 7 and he got up on stage with me and played his guitar. Basically he was just mining as he was drowned out by the band. He loved the attention though (captured on video). He thought, well that's pretty easy. But then was perplexed when he found that actually playing those songs when he was on his own, was not merely a matter of wiggling his hands on a fret-board, a la Jimi Hendrix, but in fact actually took some work. In fact it takes a serious amount of work and we should not commit our children to this lightly. Hence my point - instil the desire first if you can.

He has never shown much interest in piano, though of late he has started tinkering, especially with my electric piano, less so the grand.

One day the bug will bite him. Or it won’t. If it does, I will be there to support and encourage him. We doodle around with music every weekend.

I was a hopeless musician as a teenager, despite getting very high marks in exam after exam. It meant nothing at all – because I was not motivated for myself and had mainly learnt to pass exams. I dropped piano for two decades and eventually took it up again upon reaching the age of 40. I then realised, to my amazement, that I can actually play the thing. So I focus on trying to inspire my son. And enjoying music for myself.

So what does my experience teach me? Maybe that if my parents had combined their dogmatic "thou shalt practice or you will get a thick ear" approach with instilling a real love of music, I would have found my pianism as a child not as a forty year old. So maybe I should try harder with my son? I don't know. I don't have so many answers and I am sure I used to be cleverer than this!

Kind regards

Adrian
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#943850 - 02/06/07 09:48 AM Re: Why do parents want their children to learn the piano?
Bob Newbie Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/02/06
Posts: 1549
Some thoughts..when I was growing up..I took up guitar..it was the instrument of the day..mid sixties..but when ever my cousin Debbie's name was mentioned ..oh she plays piano..like an ohh ah
sort of upper crust type response..poor me I played the humble guitar..so there's a sort of snobbish additude with piano especially classical..now here I'am in my 50s learning piano
Bob Newbie

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#943851 - 02/06/07 11:35 AM Re: Why do parents want their children to learn the piano?
Kreisler Offline


Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13789
Loc: Iowa City, IA
The only reasons I can come up with are:

To give children a medium for personal expression
To give children something fun and rewarding to do
To give children an opportunity to learn discipline
To give children an opportunity to exercise their minds
To give children an opportunity to exercise their bodies
To give children a sense of culture
To give children a chance to be part of a great tradition

So yeah, I guess I can only come up with 7 reasons. ;\)
_________________________
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

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#943852 - 02/06/07 11:47 AM Re: Why do parents want their children to learn the piano?
Piano&Flute Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/30/06
Posts: 384
Loc: Alberta, Canada
My parents financially supported my musical endeavours growing up, but other than that were pretty uninvolved. They would show up for recitals but considered my practicing an assault on their "quiet time" and never really pushed me. In many ways they just weren't the type to push me with anything, and that experience makes me realize how important having that encouragement at home really is. My students whos parents take an active interest in their practicing do so much better than those who are left to do what they want. They are not pushy stage parents by any means, but do encourage and set aside regular practice time each day.

For myself and speaking for most of my students parents, the main reason for wanting you child in lessons is because it is such a beneficial activity for them to do. There is so much research showing how music stimulates the mind. Also, many of my parents took piano, dropped out at some point and regret it. Or they wanted to take lessons and never did. Selfish reasons, I guess, but aren't parents supposed to want their children to succeed in areas they feel are important?

As a teacher, I love having students who have pushed themselves to take piano lessons, but if they don't have the same support as the students who have more parental involvement they have a harder time. In some cases, the parents don't care whether or not they practice, don't want to spend the money on a decent instrument and let them drop out the first time they hit a tough spot in their development. A child's desire to play can only do so well without that support.
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#943853 - 02/06/07 01:11 PM Re: Why do parents want their children to learn the piano?
Mark... Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/27/06
Posts: 4378
Loc: Jersey Shore
I believe learning music helps to wire young minds to learn...

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#943854 - 02/06/07 02:31 PM Re: Why do parents want their children to learn the piano?
DES Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/01/07
Posts: 50
To me being able to play an instrument and to sight read is just part of being a well educated person.
I started teaching my kids to play the recorder some years ago, 3 weeks ago they had their 1st piano lesson. My daughter just turned 8, my son is 9, and I don't think one should wait much longer to get kids started on an instrument. The only reason they did not start sooner was we did not have a piano yet.....
To me the piano is the most 'valuable' of all instruments. It sounds nice by itself but you can accompany just about every other instrument. Also, if you like to compose, a piano is just invaluable to to.
If my children want to pick up a different instrument in a few years, I will support that. But I think a piano just gives you the best start and basics for making music.

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#943855 - 02/06/07 02:53 PM Re: Why do parents want their children to learn the piano?
Piano&Flute Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/30/06
Posts: 384
Loc: Alberta, Canada
 Quote:
Originally posted by DES:
To me the piano is the most 'valuable' of all instruments. It sounds nice by itself but you can accompany just about every other instrument. Also, if you like to compose, a piano is just invaluable to to.
If my children want to pick up a different instrument in a few years, I will support that. But I think a piano just gives you the best start and basics for making music. [/b]
Absolutely! I teach both piano and flute, and whenever parents ask me which is the best instrument to begin with it is piano hands down. Piano gives you the visual of being able to relate music with the keys and I think provides the best knowledge of music. Students who decide to learn another instrument after a year or two of piano have a much easier time because they can already read music and rhythms and understand the relationship to the actual notes. On wind instruments it is more abstract because you are relating the notes to fingerings with no visual. Students with a background in piano only have to worry about learning how to produce a sound and the note fingerings on a wind instrument. Theory is easier to learn as well because most of it is related to the keyboard pianists know how to read two different clefs fluently. Not to mention if you get higher up on most instruments you are expected to have some basic piano knowledge.

It does not work the same way learning piano after already learning a wind instrument. The student still needs to learn to read in one clef, learn where the notes are on the piano and get used to reading two lines of music. The latter can be a daunting task for someone who has only ever had to play a single line.
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#943856 - 02/06/07 03:56 PM Re: Why do parents want their children to learn the piano?
Ragnhild Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/22/06
Posts: 1117
Loc: Norway
I love your reasons Kreisler :
 Quote:
To give children a medium for personal expression
To give children something fun and rewarding to do
To give children an opportunity to learn discipline
To give children an opportunity to exercise their minds
To give children an opportunity to exercise their bodies
To give children a sense of culture
To give children a chance to be part of a great tradition

In fact I think my parents did not want me to play the piano - they wanted my sister too learn it, but since I admired my older sister I wanted to try it too. It was a very important thing to me that my parents liked classical music : my mother was the Chopin and Beethoven fan , my father loved Mozart, and the first LP I got myself was Rachmaninov's 2. pianoconcert. Another thing that was important to me was that I learned to read the treble key from singing before I started to play piano.

I think piano-teachers has changed a lot since I took lessons (30 years ago). Seem to me there was very strong focus on achievements when I grew up. I had the feeling that my second teacher looked upon me as wasted time since I was not a child prodigy. It seems like a paradox to me that my parents wanted me to learn to love music, but my teacher wanted me to impress others.
I am very happy that the teachers my children have met really want to teach them to love music and to express themselves through music.

Pianoteachers, do you think parents should get involved in practicing even when they don't know how to play piano ?

Ragnhild
_________________________
Trying to play the piano:
http://www.box.net/public/dbr23ll03e

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#943857 - 02/06/07 04:02 PM Re: Why do parents want their children to learn the piano?
NancyM333 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/06/06
Posts: 1547
Loc: Roswell, Georgia
I think this question is an important one for both parents and teachers to answer. My experience growing up was much like Stephanie's--very little support for my musical activities aside from paying for them. My father played the piano, so it was part of our culture. I just don't think my parents understood that if they were more involved, I would be a better student. They did instill a love of music, and we went to concerts and bought records of all kinds.

So back to the question--I am probably pretty firmly in Piano*Dad's high expectations camp, with the variation that my husband and I show a lot of positive interest in the boys' playing. I sit and play one hand with them when they're starting a piece, I ask them to play something for me and praise their effort, I ask them to watch the score for errors when I play, etc. They never try to get out of practicing, but this doesn't mean they wouldn't quit tomorrow if I'd let them. But then, they'd quit Math and English too. I may have mentioned before that we let them do two activities--one that we choose (always piano) and one that they choose. I am pretty sure we'll stick to this method through high school, though I'm sure they'll go to more than one that they choose. We're open to whatever they want to do with their "free" activity---science class after school, baseball, chess club, and now tennis.

After all that, here is my basic answer to why I want them to take piano:

1) Playing music gives you an appreciation for it that doesn't come with only listening.
2) Practice and progress instills a sense of accomplishment and an understanding of what can happen when you work hard.
3) It's part of our family's culture.
4) It's something for me to have in common with them.
5) It will give them lifelong pleasure.


Nancy
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Estonia 168, Yamaha UX3

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#943858 - 02/06/07 04:12 PM Re: Why do parents want their children to learn the piano?
NancyM333 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/06/06
Posts: 1547
Loc: Roswell, Georgia
I almost forgot, Ragnhild, that you mentioned in the other thread that I have triplet boys. It does make for interesting teaching issues, but I am fortunate in that they are all roughly the same level of ability in school and piano. I did think one of them would pick piano up more slowly, so I started him a year earlier than the other two and was going to stick with that teacher (Suzuki method) when the other two started with their current teacher (more traditional method). After six weeks of lessons, the other two were passing the one who had played for a year, and reading music to boot, so I switched him over so they were all with the same teacher. They've done great--not prodigies, or even future music majors, but they play well enough to feel good about their abilities. They also play trios, which is one of the cutest things to see!

One good thing about having three is that they are never alone. None of them can complain that they are "the only one" whose parents make them (insert odious chore or hobby here) because all three do it.

Nancy
_________________________

Estonia 168, Yamaha UX3

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#943859 - 02/06/07 04:25 PM Re: Why do parents want their children to learn the piano?
Ragnhild Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/22/06
Posts: 1117
Loc: Norway
Nancy, I am very curious about your boys since they are same age and have the same parents, do they have different approaches to the piano ?(ed: I wrote this before reading your post Nancy)

Since I'm alone with the daily responsibility for my children I have done things my own way.

I really wanted the children to feel it was their choice to play, so I told them both for a long time that they had a musical ear and would have chances to become good if they tried - choir or school band or piano or both.
They both chose piano, but it took me some time and because of that they were both late starters (9 and 10 years). Then I had taught them to read simple songs and play with both hands before starting with a teacher.
None of them will ever be concert pianists, but that is not because I did not push hard enough - they were just not born with that calling. But maybe one of them will be a church organist and that would make me extremely proud ;\)

Ragnhild
_________________________
Trying to play the piano:
http://www.box.net/public/dbr23ll03e

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#943860 - 02/06/07 06:35 PM Re: Why do parents want their children to learn the piano?
RobertK Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/19/04
Posts: 37
Loc: San Francisco, California, USA
 Quote:
Originally posted by Kreisler:
The only reasons I can come up with are:

To give children a medium for personal expression
To give children something fun and rewarding to do
To give children an opportunity to learn discipline
To give children an opportunity to exercise their minds
To give children an opportunity to exercise their bodies
To give children a sense of culture
To give children a chance to be part of a great tradition

So yeah, I guess I can only come up with 7 reasons. ;\) [/b]
I would add one more: To make children more attractive as adults, to their prospective friends, to their prospective serious romantic partners, and most especially to their prospective one-night stands! \:\)

-- Robert

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#943861 - 02/06/07 07:00 PM Re: Why do parents want their children to learn the piano?
ftp Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/10/05
Posts: 2365
Loc: Philadelphia
Sometimes I think each generation is getting closer to their children. One extreme was the view of kids as laborers in the home and the current extreme is 'helicopter' parents.

I mention this because many of us grew up with less involvement by our parents. They may have been more disciplinarian and less involved in our lives and consequently made us practice the piano unlovingly.

Today as parents how we affected by how we were raised? Are we more nuturing but also more reluctant in certain areas i.e. piano practicing. Do we think because we suffered and despised it our kids will too--when the real culprit was our parents parenting style in general?

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#943862 - 02/06/07 07:13 PM Re: Why do parents want their children to learn the piano?
Kreisler Offline


Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13789
Loc: Iowa City, IA
I'm not a parent, but I think the most difficult thing is managing the delayed gratification aspect of raising children.

On one hand, you want them to be happy today and have a good childhood. Trips to Disneyland, flying kites in the park, ice cream on a hot day... On the other hand, you want them to grow up to be respectable well-mannered adults. Not letting them eat burgers and fries all the time, making sure they know the value of work and do their chores and homework, learning how to behave like people instead of screaming like banshees in Wal-Mart because they can't have the cheap plastic toy they saw on TV.
_________________________
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

www.pianoped.com
www.youtube.com/user/UIPianoPed

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#943863 - 02/06/07 09:03 PM Re: Why do parents want their children to learn the piano?
Ted Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/03/02
Posts: 1508
Loc: Auckland, New Zealand
I think the only reason my parents found a teacher for me was to stop my constantly asking them questions about music.
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"It is inadvisable to decline a dinner invitation from a plump woman." - Fred Hollows

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#943864 - 02/06/07 09:19 PM Re: Why do parents want their children to learn the piano?
J. Mark Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/13/06
Posts: 1323
Lots of interesting responses. I'll keep mine relatively simple.

1. I believe music is fundamental; a life without it is simply incomplete.

2. I also believe learning music helps train the mind to work: music is a system, like math, it is a beautiful, complete, self-contained system; and learning it helps systematic and logical thinking.

3. Music can be your companion in hard and lonely times. I've had a few (haven't we all), and my times with my musical instruments somehow kept me sane (mostly).

4. The piano is arguably the best entre into music, since the entire system is easily visualized and understood with the successive octaves, etc. With a good understanding of the piano, it is easier to move to other instruments than vice versa. (Also the concepts of accompaniment are inherent in the piano, unlike many other instruments -- eg, violin.)

5. With the piano, execution is less of an issue in the first stages (compare to violin, where execution is at least as much of a challenge as note location).

6. The piano is so universal: there is almost no musical genre that it won't find a place in (oddly, the one genre I spent the most energy in up to now -- bluegrass -- might be the exception to that).

7. Finally, the piano will hopefully provide something I can do together with my children, for many years to come.

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#943865 - 02/06/07 09:19 PM Re: Why do parents want their children to learn the piano?
NancyM333 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/06/06
Posts: 1547
Loc: Roswell, Georgia
Kreisler--Your point is accurate, and all parents have victories and defeats in that area. I read an article before I became a parent that really struck me as the truth, and I kept it and referred back to it once I had kids. It's a concept called "Creative Deprivation," and the article is by a woman who wrote the Tightwad Gazette for several years. I found a copy of the article online at:
Creative Deprivation article

Fathertopianist, I am sure you are right. As in most things, the pendulum swings back and forth. We're the only close-up example they have of parenting, so they will either follow our example or run in the other direction. Eventually, they'll probably decide that their parents did the best they could do under their unique circumstances. I sure hope so.

Nancy
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Estonia 168, Yamaha UX3

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#943866 - 02/06/07 09:38 PM Re: Why do parents want their children to learn the piano?
DES Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/01/07
Posts: 50
Nancy,

I just call it "common sense" ;-))

.......sadly most people don't seem to know what that is anymore.

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#943867 - 02/06/07 10:13 PM Re: Why do parents want their children to learn the piano?
Piano*Dad Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10362
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
Not much left to say, I see. I'll just write a couple of pages more. ;\)

Kreisler and Nancy have given a thorough list of very compelling reasons why music education is a great gift we can give. On the other hand, Adrian's experience suggests that there is another dimension. The gift is not independent of how it is given. The motives of the giver can taint the gift. Ragnhild also raises the motivation question and brings that interesting word ego into the discussion. These issues are what motivates this longish post (since I agree completly with Kriesler and Nancy about the benefits).

That compelling list of reasons why we want our kids to learn music or play the piano is abstract, but the flesh and blood people who work with their children are bundles of motivations often strongly influenced by their own childhood experiences with parents and with music.

In my own case, my family was one of those with high general expectations about education, but with very little knowledge of how to achieve it, especially in music. My mother had been forced to study piano for a number of years by distant parents (this was the 1930s), but with very little payoff. She freely admitted her piano incompetence. She was a rebellious child who went through the motions, but who deliberately learned essentially nothing.

It would have been quite natural for her to take from her experience the message that coercion or gentle force, however one wants to phrase it, is counterproductive and that the child must come to music naturally. Nope, not her. And I'm thankful to this day that her firm hand kept me in lessons and practicing even through my adolescent fits of rebelliousness and threats to quit. The lesson she learned was that distant parenting encouraged failure but involved parenting could work. She was a public school teacher!

She was also wise enough to realize that my personality was unlike hers. I was more malleable, and ultimately trainable. I could be persuaded to do things by force of reason, or ultimately by force if need be, and my true interest in playing still shone through.

When my oldest started piano at age eight (when he could finally sit still on the bench!) I think I surprised his teacher by sitting in on the lessons. I also supervised his practice so that he was receiving essentially seven lessons per week. After a few months his progress was so rapid that his teacher's reservations melted away and we became a partnership.

Two questions will redirect me back toward the topic of this thread. Why push so hard? Well, I think some people might reasonably interpret what I did as pushing very hard. And secondly, how much is my own ego involved here?

The answer to the first question is simple. Why not. \:\) Acceleration is perhaps the strongest correlate with achievment among reasonably bright kids. His sense of accomplishment and his self-esteem have been solidly established by the clear progress he has made. He positively enjoys making music now and music is part of his identity. Yes, I still do have to push him to practice, but we've been over this ground in other threads.

The second question is more intriguing. Where is the line (either bright or fuzzy) beyond which the parent's ego becomes problematic? Arguably some parental ego involvent is harmless, and even beneficial. Kids often want to make their parents proud of them and that pride needs to be genuine. But we're all aware of the 'stage mom' phenomenon. This is why I periodically reevaluate what I'm doing to make sure that the kid's welfare is still paramount.

Without completely hijacking the thread, what do people think about that bright or fuzzy line? Are there any general rules out there that are compelling?

DF

P.S. remember, my post is about the possible darker side of the force, and harnessing it for good. I thoroughly agree with Kreisler and Nancy about the broad benefits of teaching our children to be good musicians.
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#943868 - 02/06/07 11:03 PM Re: Why do parents want their children to learn the piano?
Dorrie Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/09/05
Posts: 438
Did I cross "the line"

Measurement criteria

If the child's other parent thinks you've crossed the line, you have.

If you think a parent who pushed a child in soccer or dance like you push a child in music is crazy, you need to examine your motives.

If the otherwise cooperative child starts to act out in several areas, back off big time.

Otherwise, enjoy! It will be over soon enough. The child will grow up and do it on his/her own or, well, not.

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#943869 - 02/06/07 11:06 PM Re: Why do parents want their children to learn the piano?
DES Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/01/07
Posts: 50
Looking back at my own childhood, I think it's important to do some things "on your own" as a child.......nowadays the parents are involved in just about everything their children are doing. They volunteer in the classroom, the lunchroom, on field trips and as coaches or other volunteers at their children's sports. I think it's important to give our kids some room, to not always be the mom/dad who is supervising everything. I would have absolutely hated it if my mom/dad would have participated in everything I was doing.
piano dad, I hope you don't take this wrong, but why do you think you have to sit in during the lessons? Do you not trust the teacher? or your child? I think children need some room to grow and they have the right to make some of their own experiences and memories, those their parents don't necessarily have to share. You're around while your children practice at home and you could give your pointers then...

I don't want to come across as a mom who does not care either ;-)) I volunteer in our school twice a week(but not my kid's classrooms...), my husband sits on our school board and I have high expectations academically and otherwise in my children, I also make sure they are fluent in German, which is my language, so over all I think I'm a fairly strict mom.
Sometimes I just wonder if parents nowadays don't overdo it with their "involvement"........does this generation of parents have a problem to "let go", do they see their children as their ambitious "product" or are they just overprotective?
Like I said, I really don't want to step on anyones toes, I just don't understand this new(?) philosophy of "sitting in during lessons"

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#943870 - 02/06/07 11:12 PM Re: Why do parents want their children to learn the piano?
NancyM333 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/06/06
Posts: 1547
Loc: Roswell, Georgia
Thanks for your interesting post, Piano*Dad. I like your ideas on acceleration and "why not?" A piano teacher told me recently of a situation similar to yours--a parent who sits in on lessons and re-teaches all week--and the child is making phenomenal progress. The child isn't frustrated, and the parent enjoys the time. I guess this could be called "helicopter parenting," but I think if it works, it's just effective parenting. I guess we're always tempted to describe people who are more involved than we are negatively, while people who are less involved don't have their priorities straight. I think that's where reasonable people have to examine their own egos, and that's a difficult thing to do.

A tennis coach tried to talk us into a full-fledged academy "go pro" timeline for one of our boys a couple of years ago. I must admit it was flattering (though did it really say anything about me? No.) that she thought he had such potential, so we were tempted to put a ton of resources in that direction. After a month of thought, I decided that I needed to look at the long view. What do I want for my kids when they're 25? A good education, a strong set of morals, a solid sense of family, a work ethic, a wide range of interests, a sense of fun. Would working toward a professional tennis career--even if he made it--really be the way to achieve that? We decided no. The coach couldn't believe it and told us how many parents would love to have a kid with that kind of potential, how we weren't letting him be all he could be, and so forth. Maybe we made a mistake, but I felt that ego was the only thing making me want to go in the full-tennis direction. I just couldn't take our limited resources of time and money and pour them into that, no matter how big the financial and glory payoff might be. I'll always wonder, though.

Nancy
_________________________

Estonia 168, Yamaha UX3

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#943871 - 02/07/07 04:02 AM Re: Why do parents want their children to learn the piano?
Ragnhild Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/22/06
Posts: 1117
Loc: Norway
I think I look upon music as a language that I wanted my children to learn to be able to express themselves and communicate with other people. I really hope their musical skills will be better than my English !

When I entered the PianoForum in august I did not expect it to be a place where I could get advice on raising my children. I am so grateful for all the experience and considerations that you all generously share. I still don't know how to raise my children, but I feel less alone with my way of thinking ;\)

Thankyou !

Ragnhild
_________________________
Trying to play the piano:
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#943872 - 02/07/07 04:13 AM Re: Why do parents want their children to learn the piano?
MrsSV Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/21/06
Posts: 519
Very interesting and thought provoking (and probably be soul searching as well).

In some ways I find my reasons to be almost too personal to put into words. In other ways it's so easy to articulate (as many have already done).
There is a richness and depth to life- and an enjoyment (fun and relaxing), as well as building blocks of great character all rolled up into one big package with learning piano (speaking on behalf of my childhood as well as in reference to parenting my child).

As far as ego- it never entered my mind until- nearly overnight my daughter was impressing people (and NOT on purpose). Since then I have had to look in the mirror and think about deeper issues- like the fact that whether she plays well (and she is extraordinary), or not- is not the real point.

She plays a song about once a month in church and a harder piece once a month for her teacher's workshop- in front of the other students and their families. The accolades increase every month.

Personally I don't want her "worth" to ever depend or be defined by her ability to play so well. I hope that's not inevitable. Yet, I also know the feeling of being really good on an instrument, playing well, impressing people...and later not being as good as the "cream of the crop I was surrounded by". I'm glad my worth as a person was not wrapped up in how well I played (especially in light of so many playing far better than I).

For now, my daughter loves piano and her lessons, she's excelling, progressing and learning rapidly- and she LOVES music.

I was told that children can develop in ways between ages 6 and 10 that they cannot after that point. That may or may not be true but it definately lit a fire for me to be serious about her having a great teacher NOW so she has the best opportunity at this age.

As a sidenote, I too sit in on lessons, take notes if I have to and make sure the lesson is worked properly all week (meaning she follows her teacher's directions. It seems like a big load to me (usually in a week she's working in 9 of her 11 books plus sheet music that is up to 4 pages long). There's no sweat or crying from her- she's a hard little worker and seems gratified (inside) with each accomplishment. In fact she's a little odd, the more you give her the more excited she gets. She was told to work on 2 lines of a piece and also told if she felt like it she could work as much of the piece as she wanted. She did the whole thing. I certainly didn't push for that. Obviously working out of that many books- she works on 1/2 pages at times- and there are pieces she passes and others she just has to get down the keys/fingerings/timing and then the next week the same piece will be polished (phrasing, expression, dynamics).

It seems though that we are right around the corner from her being able to get the phrasing, expression and dynamics even faster- on her own. Progress is just so fast- I really can't help her anymore (other than reading the assignements to her).

Sorry for the rambling. Sinuses are acting up, can't sleep but I'm tired.

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#943873 - 02/07/07 05:17 AM Re: Why do parents want their children to learn the piano?
shimmer Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/03/07
Posts: 189
Loc: Australia
[EDIT ... I'm so sorry about the length of this. Is doesn't look that long when you're typing it in the little box! ]

I have 2 young children, aged 5 and almost 3. At some point I intended to encourage them to take up 1 instrument and 1 sport. I think both are important for many of the reasons previously mentioned on this thread.

I read on another thread that teachers find it very frustrating when a parent brings a child to lessons to 'try it out'. I also saw comments about making the child make a decision on an instrument and sticking to it. I don't understand the need for such rigidity. Surely encouraging your children to try a wide range of options in order to find their 'niche' can only enhance their musical education?

I know so many people who were forced to take piano lessons for 10 years and gave up as soon as they were old enough to defy their parents. What was the point of that? Just so that if they take the piano up again at 40 it will be easier? It seems like 10 years of frustration for a child who could perhaps have moved on to a different instrument, or even a different path altogether, and received much greater pleasure.

My 5 year old has expressed an interest in learning the piano but I expect it is because she sees me playing it and wants to either emulate me or please me. I was going to wait until she was a little older, however, a friend of my teacher has had experience teaching young children and would like to teach her. He is coming over next week to meet her and talk to the both of us. His style is to talk with her and set small exercises. If she picks these up quickly and he senses a real interest from her he will take her on. If not, he will advise me that perhaps she is not ready yet.

Once she has expressed an early interest, he then advised that I should insist upon practice every day, but just for a few minutes at her age, to instil discipline. He also prefers parents to sit in on the lessons, and any younger siblings too, if I intend to start them on piano at a later stage and they are at an age where they will not be a distraction. This is partly because he is male and she is a young child (and unfortunately in this day and age you have to think about that), but mostly because he believes that the myself and the younger children will benefit from absorbing the lessons in an indirect way.

I want my daughter to learn the piano for her musical education and because I think she will love it. She seems to 'get lost' in her own little world when she hears music or sees anyone playing an instrument. I have no intention of coaching her during the week, I will leave that to her teacher who is far more qualified than I. I also want her to feel her own sense of accomplishment. However, if a year or two down the track I felt that the lessons were making her miserable I would drop them in a heartbeat.

I'm sure all you teachers out there are aghast at that comment but I don't see what's wrong with her taking it back up again at a later time when she may be in a better emotional state. Even if that's years and years down the track. As it is constantly being mentioned on this forum ... it's never too late!

I am open to being swayed here as I will freely admit that I do not have the experience of many people in this forum who have raised their children and/or who have taught them.

P.S. Nancy, I don't envy you that decision. It must have been very difficult. It's true you may never know but on the flipside there is room for only a few at the top and it must be dreadful for children who know their family have given up everything and yet those children end up lacking the talent, or the heart, to make it.

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#943874 - 02/07/07 09:14 AM Re: Why do parents want their children to learn the piano?
Piano*Dad Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10362
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
A lot of interesting stuff since I went to bed!

DES: I need to be more complete. I don't sit in on lessons any more and I don't supervise 100% of his practice any more either. I did that more thoroughly when he was younger (8-11). He's 13 now. I agree about the importance of self-direction as part of growing up. On the other hand, I still DO work with him at home a lot, and I think he still benefits from this supervised practice. Even advanced students use supervised practice as a way to accelerate through any musical problems they face. I'm a decent pianist myself and I can still usually spot his problems in music, technique, and practice routine long before he does and thus before they have a chance to fester. This has nothing to do with not trusting the teacher. I view my relationship with her as a partnership. I AM one of my son's teachers, and I believe it is time well spent. My son still values it as well (I think \:\) ).

Oh, just thought of this .....he plays a mean French Horn, and I don't have anything to do with that! Well, I do nag him to get his practice done, but beyond that I haven't a clue what to do on a brass instrument. :p

Dorrie: I like your way of thinking on this! So far I haven't received a "back off" from my wife, but I'll be sure to retreat if I hear it. I'm also taking my cue from my son and his own wishes.


Mark: The local school administrators in my neck of the woods clearly agree with you about the virtues of musical training. They assert that band students (and track team members as well) learn self-discipline and organizational skills (time management) that serve them well in college and in life.

Nancy: what did your son or daughter think of the tennis option? I'm just curious as to whether he or she had a strong feeling about this or was sort of indifferent.
_________________________
Grotrian 192 #156455

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#943875 - 02/07/07 10:13 AM Re: Why do parents want their children to learn the piano?
DES Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/01/07
Posts: 50
piano dad,

thanks for clearing this up for me :-)

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#943876 - 02/07/07 12:38 PM Re: Why do parents want their children to learn the piano?
AJB Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/01/05
Posts: 3655
Loc: Surrey, England
This is an interesting thread with a lot of insights.

I long ago re-evaluated my own attitude to music and learning, and that was one reason why I came back to the piano.

Having thought more about what piano dad and others have saiod here, I think I will try to re-evaluate the situation with my son and music too. It is possible that because of my own adverse experiences as a child (exacerbated by less than inspiring teachers) I may have backed off a bit too much with my own son.

I have tried reasonabloy hard with violin and guitar with him, but it is a struggle. Long school hours and saturday school every other week, coupled with quite a lot of time spent on judo do not help and I think leisure time is crucial too. Still, I will have a chat with him at the weekend and see how he feels about me taking an active role in teaching him either guitar or piano. I so do not want to be a pushy parent!

Adrian
_________________________
S&S Hamburg D, Yamaha CLP 280


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#943877 - 02/07/07 01:28 PM Re: Why do parents want their children to learn the piano?
MrsSV Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/21/06
Posts: 519
I should have mentioned that I have a child grown out of the house. I "made" her take piano lessons for about 4 years. She plays beautifully but there were alot of tears from her with words that echo in my memory "I can't do it, I can't do it". She never understood that practice was for working on it. She loves piano- and I am glad I made her practice (and she's glad)...but I didn't want it to be the same way with my younger daughter. I'm older and tired and think I couldn't have dealt with crying about it, for a number of reasons. So I tested the waters with the first year with the little one- and she loves piano. Oldest and youngest are like night and day really.

In the end, the oldest is very glad I "made" her stick with it. I will admit though, it was hard on me at the time- but I never let the whole day be about piano- it was just that 30 min.

These days the I never use a clock with the little one- she's just on and off the piano several times a day.

Looking back, the oldest also loved recitals. She was the only little kid smiling before and after she played. I took that as a sign she loved playing but hated practicing. To this day her personality and work ethic are very similar to those old piano days...she loves the benefits of things but hates the work.

The little one seems to "love" the work and is gratified internally with the results of her effort.

Parenting is hard. We NEVER get it 100% right. Hopefully our kids know we love them- and did the best we knew how at the time.

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