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#943878 - 02/07/07 02:19 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: 10385
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
MrsSV,

I can really feel your situation. My youngest plays the flute. He's good at it. At age eleven he's first chair in the middle school honors band flute section. But he's incredibly ....... hmmm, let's just say that he too loves the benefit but not the work. \:D

I started off treating him like my older and more pliable piano son. What a catastrophe. We butted heads. Now the only thing I try to do is enforce 30 minutes of daily practice. Even that little time is often inefficiently used. I noticed that the gap in ability between him and his peers is beginning to close, and it bothered me. Aha! you see, my ego IS involved. Knowing that fact is one big reason for taking a big step back. If he's not interested in making progress, it's just not gonna happen. That's his personality. It doesn't have to be about competition with his peers (though in a competitive band, failure to grow will be punished!). He has to decide that making music is fun, or valuable for whatever reason. The reason has to persuade him, not me.

The most I can do for him is offer appropriate praise, and very mild suggestions. Whenever I note the obvious (practice time needs to grow, tone isn't improving ....) a wall immediately springs up between us. I can also try to entice him into playing flute/piano works with me. Come to think of it, I haven't tried that in a while. But he will NOT accept the kind of supervised practice that my older son thrives on, so I just don't even try any more.

This is why I am so reluctant to suggest my approach as a model for anyone ....unless they see characteristics in my situation that closely match theirs. It is also why I am uncomfortable when I hear generalizations about things that are supposedly vital to everyone's musical (or family, or whatever) success.
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#943879 - 02/07/07 02:34 PM Re: Why do parents want their children to learn the piano?
Kreisler Offline


Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13797
Loc: Iowa City, IA
It's all a matter of degree. I've also heard many adults say "if only my parents would have made me practice more, I sure wish I could play."

There are problems with both extremes. If you stay rigid, you might not find your niche. If you don't exercise some discipline and quit when the going gets tough, you'll grow up without any real skill.

Maybe it's just the company I keep, but the adults I meet who wish their parents had been more strict outnumber those who don't by a wide margin.

 Quote:
Originally posted by shimmer:
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? [/b]
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"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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#943880 - 02/07/07 02:49 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
I agree with Kreisler. The big problem is extremes in either direction. I will venture to say there probably isn't a teacher on this forum who would willingly take on a student who genuinly hated piano lessons. That would be my worst teaching nightmare. However there is a big difference between that and having a student who is just going through a rough patch with piano. If I had quit over frusteration with a song or a period when I wasn't as keen on practicing I would have sorely regretted it. How many children would quit school or not do their homework of their parents gave them full control?

I think it is important for children to be exposed to different activities, and of course they are not going to love all of them. However what good does it do them to be allowed to drop anything on a whim? Not only does that teach them to quit when the going gets a little tough, but also they are never going to excel at anything. There have to be priorities, no matter what the parents decide they should be.
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#943881 - 02/07/07 03:54 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
MrsSV, that is a very interesting story because many of us wonder how our kids will see things once they grow up. It's very insightful to hear you say she enjoys the benefit but not the work. That does seem like an inborn trait--nothing you encouraged, of course. The same with your younger daughter the opposite way. If we could train kids to enjoy the work, we'd all be doing it!

Piano*Dad, it must be very hard to see all that talent going less developed than it could be. I guess it's why there are so few people at the very, very top. It takes such a combination of qualities--talent (whatever that is), manual dexterity, work ethic, problem solving skills, and others. Having almost all of it isn't enough because there is someone out there with every single element. It's just so hard when you can see the talent a child has, whether it's in academics or music or any other area, and see that he has no intention of pushing himself to use all of it. Schools are full of those kids, and I know it will lead to regrets on their part when they become adults, but it's part of growing up.

About our tennis choice--we didn't discuss it much with him then because he was eight. Since then we have told him and given him our reasoning: that it would take almost every bit of our extra resources--vacation money, other lessons, plus I'd have to work full-time--on the chance he could be a professional. And even if we thought he could, it would not be fair to his brothers, and if he were to get injured as a teenager, we would have gambled his childhood (not to mention all our time and money) and lost. When you watch the players on TV, you know their parents are bigger risk takers than we are. But for every young person in the Australian Open, there are hundreds that worked almost as hard but didn't make it. As those of you with a child in sports knows, the "travel team" and "tournament" life is very hard on the whole family. Our son seems very happy to be a well-rounded, occasional tournament kid, and we're grateful for that.

Nancy
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#943882 - 02/07/07 04:06 PM Re: Why do parents want their children to learn the piano?
MrsSV Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/21/06
Posts: 519
Balance is hard to find, especially since no two children are alike. The same "forumla" if you will doesn't work with every child.

I remember as a kid I was told to practice 30 min. a day (on clarinet) and a chart had to be filled in and signed by a parent. I was thrilled to take a completed chart to my teacher every week...and loved putting 40 or 60 min. on there instead of 30. As I got older, I spent hours a day (sometimes 1 1/2 or 2 or 3 or more) on my clarinet. It was the love of my life for many years. I never had to be pushed into practice- only pulled away from it. I took piano only for a year (I don't recall loving or hating it)- but that afforded me to be able to plink for enjoyment to this day.

How shocking when my older daughter had to be pushed so hard to put in 30 min. (five times a week). And then to my surprise the little one has her own "push" mechanism built right into her personality (and usually 7 days a week). I do oversee her to help her keep on track because she's still so young. Somehow she just understands that there is an end result from practicing very regularly...and that end is worth all the work she puts in daily. The end result for her far outweighs the work she puts in. And she does have to work. I just keep thinking she's going to hit a wall where the work outweighs the end result, but not so far. I also thought that as the pieces got progressively harder she would slow down- but that is not happening either. In fact she seems to get new and harder things faster and faster. I don't really understand it. I do find it all very interesting- but I find as accolades come to us about her (and people are quick to praise a parent for how well a child plays)I have to be very guarded concerning my ego- I hate that I have one, but we all do. Besides, all that she does really has nothing to do with me- I didn't give her the ability she has.

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#943883 - 02/08/07 12:47 AM Re: Why do parents want their children to learn the piano?
pianobuff Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/09/06
Posts: 1580
Loc: Pacific Northwest
I think AJB is a little wrong saying that teachers don't ask their families to listen. That is the basis of how I teach!! And I know other teachers too say listening is important.

I agree with you, AJB, listening and parental love for music is the foundation for motivating a child to want to learn.

I'm sorry to hear of your childhood in this way.

For me it was the exact opposite! But in some way just as bad.
Both my parents musicians, classical music played 24/7.
I had 2 years of piano lessons ages 6-8, did very well, then we moved. I wanted to continue but instead wound up taking flute lessons.
The piano was my mom's instrument. Thus I learned the flute. This was okay for her. I still played the piano because I loved it so much, taught myself, begged for lessons... "stay with the flute, she said."
It wasn't until I was 22 and could pay for piano lessons myself when I started lessons again.
I actually did a pretty good job teaching myself, for I was accepted by a fomidable teacher and in a year was on scholarship studying piano performance.

Strange how different our paths are.
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member MTNA and Piano Basics Foundation

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#943884 - 02/08/07 01:42 AM Re: Why do parents want their children to learn the piano?
MrsSV Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/21/06
Posts: 519
 Quote:
NancyM333
MrsSV, that is a very interesting story because many of us wonder how our kids will see things once they grow up.
I don't even think my oldest remembers all the tears and how she had to be pushed to practice. But I sure remember, like it was yesterday. At least since it's not an issue for her I really don't have to fight with myself feeling bad or guilty for "making" her practice. I would feel so bad to this day if it had ill affected her to be made to practice. At the time I felt a little bad- but overall I just thought making her practice was the right thing to do- kinda like looking at it like homework- though I never told her it was like homework, I just treated it as a necessity.

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#943885 - 02/08/07 04:37 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
It is interesting to read MrSv and Piano*Dad's description of having very different children - so are mine.

The girl has always been really hard working on both school and music, she's become good at sight-reading and she plays very well with others, but she has too little talent and too small hands to become a pianist. She does not really like to be in focus either.

The boy is a lazy one - he's doing fine at school with a minimum of effort - he tells me he has practiced piano before I get home - that usually means for about 15 min. He loves to play for others, though, and does not mind a big audience. I am quite sure he is the one with most talent and also the one with the "piano-fingers" - but he tells me "Mama, i will not be a pianist - I have other plans "

I guess there is very little I can do about that ? ;\)

Ragnhild
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#943886 - 02/08/07 07:51 AM Re: Why do parents want their children to learn the piano?
tjbsb Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/29/07
Posts: 256
Loc: Houston, TX
Here are my reasons:

Learning music has been proven to increase overall IQ. It improves ability in certain subjects such as mathematics. The IQ increase measured was between 2 and 6 points in a year I believe.

I rediscovered music as an adult first with the guitar and then with the piano. I missed many years of potential learning as a child because my parents did not have any real interest in seeing me learn music. I want to give my children at least a very good opportunity to explore music and enjoy it for life.

Learning piano takes dedication and hard work. Sometimes practice is tedious and progress seems remote. However, the rewards can be huge. Unlike video games, there is not instant gratification with the piano. Skill with the piano is something you earn over time. This is something I think all children have to learn about life. If it came easy, it would not be worth nearly as much.

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#943887 - 02/08/07 01:09 PM Re: Why do parents want their children to learn the piano?
JennyLee Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/27/07
Posts: 2
I appreciated and agreed with many of the responses. I have four daughters and the youngest two play piano. I've always thought it was an important role of parents to help children discover their "calling." I don't necessarily mean future career, but what they are meant to be and do in all aspects of their life.

So, when one of my children showed an unusual interest in anything, or if I thought they had special abilities in a certain area, I encouraged it. For example, all my children love to draw. As a parent, I always had unlimited supplies of crayons and white paper for them.

As my husband and I aren't particularly musical, I was surprised when one of my daughters scored very high in an auditory recognition area on a evaluation designed to diagnose a learning disability. The psychologist indicated that this might mean she would do well with an instrument. I signed her up for a group violin class. She was playing tunes by ear within 2 weeks and is amazing her teacher. When she wanted to add piano, I wholeheartedly agreed.

When we got the piano, the 5-year old would sit down and play her sister's suzuki violin repetoire. I started her in piano, when she expressed an interest.

I am thrilled with how well the kids are developing musically, but I can honestly say, I am the most happy that we discovered at least one thing they are good at and enjoy.

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#943888 - 02/08/07 01:23 PM Re: Why do parents want their children to learn the piano?
childofparadise2002 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/13/04
Posts: 542
Very interesting thread. I can add one more reason: my son is bored silly in school, so we need to find things to make his days more fun. Since he likes music and we have a piano, so the piano it is...

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#943889 - 02/08/07 01:50 PM Re: Why do parents want their children to learn the piano?
sarabande Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/18/05
Posts: 1597
Loc: Mo.
Other than the students who really want to take piano themselves, I have sensed so far in my teaching experience from parents who wanted piano for their child when the child wasn't that interested these reasons:

The parent wanted the enjoyment of being able to hear around the house in the backround the kids playing famous, familiar tunes and wanted to see a nice piano put to good use.

Parents want their kids to have the opportunities they never had as a child.

The child wants to take a different instrument but the parents want the child to take the basics of piano initially to get a solid foundation in music before moving onto the instrument of the child's choice.

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#943890 - 02/08/07 03:10 PM Re: Why do parents want their children to learn the piano?
Ted Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/03/02
Posts: 1514
Loc: Auckland, New Zealand
The evidence around me leads me to wholly concur with Kreisler's sentiments, not just as they apply to the field of music but in all aspects of bringing up children. The old days were, in many ways, strict to the point of stupidity, but now we have become too slack; the pendulum has swung too far the other way and parents in general are not strict enough. I was roundly criticised at the time for being too strict with my son but now, at twenty-five, he tells me he is very glad I was.
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"It is inadvisable to decline a dinner invitation from a plump woman." - Fred Hollows

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#943891 - 02/09/07 12:51 AM Re: Why do parents want their children to learn the piano?
pianobuff Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/09/06
Posts: 1580
Loc: Pacific Northwest
I also believe too, although I don't particularly like this way of parental thinking, is that some parents feel like they are good parents by having their child take up a musical instrument such as piano.

The mere fact that "my child is taking piano lessons, means that I am a good parent."

Unfortunately, that is as far as it goes.
The rest is left up to the teacher
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Private Piano Teacher,
member MTNA and Piano Basics Foundation

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#943892 - 02/12/07 11:57 AM Re: Why do parents want their children to learn the piano?
dallasq Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/12/07
Posts: 4
Well, I finally officially registered on this site,to throw my two cents in on this topic.

My 8yr old daughter expressed interest in piano lessons, so I started casting about our neighborhood - word of mouth research. There was one teacher in our neighborhood that everyone recommended. I knew of her, as my niece had been taking lessons with her and had learned to play very well, racking up tons of ribbons at the numerous recitals/competitions that this teacher was involved with. My impression was the teacher had very high expectations of her students regarding practice and recital/competition performance, but could be quite stern although the kids generally seemed to respond well to her and her lessons. And the parents treated her with something approaching reverence. I was wary of the frequent competitions though. She's also quite difficult to get a time slot with. So while I was waiting for one to open up, I met a neighborhood teacher who is also a working musician - performs solo and with a trio of folk musicians. Has a background in teaching at one of the area schools, etc. She was just starting to build a private teaching business. However, her approach was quite different from the first teacher I mentioned. This teacher knew of and had high regard for the first, and said if I want my daughter to develop straight technique, that was the way to go. Her philosophy, however, was to develop "musicianship" so that her students can go on to whatever area of music they choose and she believes that playing the piano is the foundation for this. I found this very appealing and my 8yr old started lessons with her. One year later, I find myslf missing the concrete results that I might get at a recital/competition where she has to memorize and play a piece well. So your question, 'why do parents want their children to learn piano', is quite salient.

I enjoy a wide range of music, but never played an instrument. But it is still a great companion for me. Why do I want my daughter to play piano? Well, we can afford the lessons, for the mental exercise and so that perhaps music can be her companion throughout life also, not just as a listener. I think all of that can happen with her present teacher, but why do I seem to be wanting her to sit down and dutifully pound out a competition-ready piece? My daughter loves her relationship with her teacher, looks forward to their time together, she reads music just fine, but I often question if we're all being too laid-back. I noticed that I used the word "I" a lot in my post. I wonder if "I" would enjoy lessons with her present teacher, but what my daughter needs is more structure. . . somewhat of a ramble but I appreciate any and all thoughtful replies. Thank you!

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#943893 - 02/12/07 01:18 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
Welcome to the forum, dallasq! I'm glad we tantalized you into registering.

I read a parenting columnist who said much the same thing as you did. Sometimes the parent wants the lessons for themselves but gives them to the child. If your daughter is doing well and enjoying lessons, though, it sounds like you made a good choice for her.

We have lots of piano teachers in my area, and I do see quite a difference. Some focus on competitions and prizes, some focus on performing for others, some just on learning and personal fulfillment. The emphasis on scales/chords/technique varies widely among the teachers, so you have a lot to think about. Some teachers do an excellent job with the basics, but kids need to move on to a more detail-oriented teacher later. Sometimes the wrong teacher--for example, a non-competitive child in the studio where the ribbons hang freely--can ruin the experience for a child. You have to go with your instinct. I changed one of my children from Suzuki to a more traditional teacher after a year, and it was a great choice for us. Other kids we know stayed with Suzuki and have made wonderful progress and love it, but it wasn't for me.

Nancy
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#943894 - 02/12/07 03:28 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: 10385
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
Hello dallasq,

Your last paragraph suggests to me that your are indeed thinking about things in a constructive way. You have some basic goals and things tend to be working well, but you seem to wonder if alternative choices might lead to better outcomes. You raise lots of good questions and interesting issues.

What do YOU want for your daughter? You say she's happy with her teacher and she seems to be learning. In a basic sense, that's the most important thing. We all want our kids to be happy well-adjusted adults. To want more than that suggests that you have some specific things you think it would be good for her to achieve and that you need to choose among paths to get her there. What have you seen that might lead you to think that more structure would help? And have you talked with the teacher?

Nancy is right I think, both about going with your instinct and about being able to make mid-course corrections at just about any time.
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