When parents oppose or don't care about piano lessons...

Posted by: Nannerl Mozart

When parents oppose or don't care about piano lessons... - 12/29/12 07:23 AM

I started lessons as a kid and my working class parents cared because they were paying for them. They gave me big lectures on the need for me to practice but never cared for anything else in terms of my musical development - my father expressed that in later years, that piano lessons were a waste of money, even if I did practice!

When I took lessons as a teen my father told me to quit because it was wasting my time and I needed to focus on my school work. I was doing really well in school but he told me that he never wanted me to get a job out of music.

Anyway... since I started teaching, I've noticed different trends. Some parents care a lot about their children's musical development - they sit in during practice time, they write down what was practiced, they talk to me and they attend recitals. Other parents (like mine) drop kids off and pick them up.

I have a ten year old whose parents I have never met. He surprisingly sits down for twenty minutes a day and practices - I mean he could be lying to me, and I wouldn't be surprised if he was but his progress shows that he actually does practice for twenty minutes a day. Besides this, when I told him he's entitled to have two off days, he told me he never has off days.

Do you notice trends in parental involvement - do parents need to be involved for kids to want to learn? What happens when a parent opposes piano lessons - have you met any parents like that?
Posted by: Morodiene

Re: When parents oppose or don't care about piano lessons... - 12/29/12 10:12 AM

I think that parental support is necessary unless you have a special individual who is perhaps used to no support and is self-motivated (sounds like the 10 year old you're talking about). Give him as much support and encouragement as you can - which I'm sure you are doing. You won't really be able to change things, although if you are able to at least have a chat with them you may be able to tell them how nice it is to work with their son and about his progress. Sometimes when non-caring parents hear their child is gifted in something they begin to care. Maybe a little.

Then you have to over-involved parents that are constantly telling you what to do and you have to play the act of "considering" their suggestions and not doing them just to keep them happy and coming back for the sake of the child.

I think in both of these instances - too little involvement and too much involvement - are detrimental to the child's progress overall. Ideally, parents are more involved in a nurturing way when they have younger children in lessons, and gradually allow the child to take more ownership of their lessons as they get into teen ages while still remaining encouraging.
Posted by: MaggieGirl

Re: When parents oppose or don't care about piano lessons... - 12/29/12 12:29 PM

I was opposed from the time she was 4 until I relented and she was 9. I doesn't mean I am hands off, but she does it because she wants to...if she loses interest she knows I'll stop lessons.
Posted by: Candywoman

Re: When parents oppose or don't care about piano lessons... - 12/30/12 11:05 PM

The best students have parents who either took lessons themselves, love to hear piano music regardless of their children's interest in it, or are academically involved.

I think it's terribly sad your father thought piano lessons were a waste of money. I was so cheered by an uncle who explained piano lessons had been one of his best investments for his children.

Posted by: btb

Re: When parents oppose or don't care about piano lessons... - 12/31/12 01:09 AM

This issue keeps popping up, namely the importance of
parents taking an interest in their progeny practising.

But, let it be asked ... how many of the Olde Folks
CAN ACTUALLY PLAY THE PIANO?

A small proportion of the population ever learn to play the piano ... it must be agony for them to have to be within hearing distance of young Mozart’s baleful practising.

So often Mum’s notorious filial ambitions merely result in a fatuous watch over a numbing attack on the keys .

"my working class parents cared because they were paying for them" smacks a bit of the influence of "filthy lucre".

Perhaps Dad was correct in hitting on more focus on scholastic work.
Posted by: MaggieGirl

Re: When parents oppose or don't care about piano lessons... - 12/31/12 01:48 AM

I cannot play piano, but I love to listen to practice. I just think of music as an extra curricular activity-like chess club, dance, skating, girl scouts. When there is a lack of interest, I need to know why before I continue to support the activity.

If it's a fear, I'd rather help her over come the fear. If it's laziness, I'd like to help her find her inner motivation. But if it genuinely becomes something she would rather not do, I'd rather not spend money on it.

She has quit one activity - the stress was too much and causing her stomachaches. She has had to make choices due to time conflicts (no longer on little league or ayso). I can't see her wanting to quit piano, but if she had a good reason, I would let her.

She doesn't play piano for me. She plays for herself.
Posted by: jdw

Re: When parents oppose or don't care about piano lessons... - 12/31/12 07:41 AM

My kids were not very faithful practicers, but I'm still glad to have paid for piano lessons. I think every child should have that basic musical education, whether gifted or diligent or not. They'll always have that--and as these forums show, they may go back to playing again in later life.

I loved hearing their efforts on piano, violin, even trumpet--though our neighbors didn't always feel the same! But then I do play, so am not typical. I didn't get involved in their lessons, though--I feel the learning has to be their own.
Posted by: Minniemay

Re: When parents oppose or don't care about piano lessons... - 12/31/12 10:34 AM

It's not necessary for the parent to play an instrument and, in fact, it's sometimes detrimental. The most important thing is that the parent be supportive, encouraging and consistent in making sure the child is practicing according to instructions. It's my job to make sure the child knows what and how to practice.
Posted by: btb

Re: When parents oppose or don't care about piano lessons... - 01/01/13 02:05 AM

What a cockeyed statement from a Piano Teacher ...
“It's not necessary for the parent to play an instrument and, in fact, IT'S SOMETIMES DETRIMENTAL.”

How so?
Posted by: Minniemay

Re: When parents oppose or don't care about piano lessons... - 01/01/13 03:46 AM

Sometimes parents think they know more than the teacher and they actually interfere and inhibit the learning process. The child gets differing messages from teacher and parent, causing great confusion for the child.

I have had great success with students whose parents do not play any instrument, but are supportive, encouraging and structured.
Posted by: griffin2417

Re: When parents oppose or don't care about piano lessons... - 01/01/13 07:31 AM

Originally Posted By: Minniemay
Sometimes parents think they know more than the teacher and they actually interfere and inhibit the learning process. The child gets differing messages from teacher and parent, causing great confusion for the child.

I have had great success with students whose parents do not play any instrument, but are supportive, encouraging and structured.


That would have been my parents. They were very supportive, understood music, but acted as good parents and supported my teachers doing their jobs.

Btw, I once played a solo on this forum in memory of my piano teacher, and as an appreciation to all music teachers for the positive influence they've had in my life. Now I'm glad I finally got an opportunity to do this in memory and appreciation of my parents! That feels like a good way to start my new year off on these forums. smile

Posted by: Nannerl Mozart

Re: When parents oppose or don't care about piano lessons... - 01/01/13 08:23 AM

I apologise if my wording sounds a bit politically incorrect or judgemental or prejudice. If I was to contextualise things, my father hated and still does hate anything to do with the arts - he thinks that thinks things related to the arts are frivolous. Piano lessons is classified under 'arts' and since it costed money, he really detested everything about it. He gave me big lectures on practice and nagged me to practice because he was "paying for my lessons." Later on when I hit my teen years he told me I took things too far and I really should quit now - he told me this almost every week. I practiced a lot more in my teen years because that was when I started to love playing the piano but my father told me I was wasting my time. I guess class doesn't completely attribute to his behavior but when I was younger, I felt like the only reason why he nagged and told me to practice was not because he care, it was because he was paying for them - his words! Yes ... this lack of parental support and opposition is sad, but who cares, it made me stronger - I knew what I wanted early on and I worked hard for it in spite of this lack of support. I ended up majoring in music and at the time I knew that I wanted to be immersed in music.

My mum on the other hand thought that lessons were a good idea when she watched other kids play. When she asked me if I wanted to take lessons and I answered affirmatively she was kind enough to find a teacher who lived across the road. I was scared of this teacher as a kid, and my mum, being inexperienced to music and extracurricular activities didn't know what was normal in terms of taking music lessons. She nagged me to practice and told me that if I really loved music I would be practicing for more than half an hour a day, she said that to me when I was a kid... There were lots of things she had no clue about when it came to extracurricular activities. She said that if she was to live her life again, she would have been more proactive as a parent - talking to the teacher more frequently, talking to me, talking to other parents about the music lessons experience. She blames her lack of knowledge on the fact that she was a new immigrant who had no idea what on earth music lessons entailed ... I'm not angry at her - I think she has a point and she is a very good parent now. We are very close (I'm 21 now) we talk, she goes to my gigs when she can, she talks to me about work and helps me out whenever I need it. She's happy for me, happy for my music and she even criticizes my performances (not heavily but she does compare and rate my progress and she is very honest with me if I have weird mannerisms as a singer or pianist).

In the area I work in, lots of parents keep in good contact with me. Some parents exhibit more interest than others when it comes to music lessons but most of them for some reason, do a better job than my parents did. I'm not terribly angry or sad at my parents lack of involvement, I know that they had their reasons and I'm glad that I have a lot of support from my mum. I know that my experience is limited but I keep thinking that parental involvement and support is not needed all that much. It helps definitely but is my ten year old student an exception to the rule? Am I the exception to the rule? For the kids who do not have parents who are involved and aren't terribly determined, I notice that they do bounce around from one extracurricular activity to another so in this case maybe it's not so helpful. Anyway - MaggieGirl, your style is close to my mum's, and obviously it seems to be working.

Has anybody ever come across parents who are opposed?
Posted by: catpiano

Re: When parents oppose or don't care about piano lessons... - 01/01/13 04:08 PM

I see a huge range of parents in my studio. I have one student whose mom I almost never see. The kid (age 11) lets me in the house, we go downstairs where the piano is, and at the end of the lesson the live-in nanny hands me an envelope with my money. It doesn't really bother me since it doesn't seem to affect the kid's level of interest, and he does practice on his own.

I have two students back to back who I always compare because their moms are like night and day. The first student, age 8, has a mom who doesn't care all that much but she is so nice and nurturing. She doesn't pay attention to the lesson, except for what she hears as background noise, and at the end she always says "wow that sounded so good! You played so beautifully today!" and gives her daughter a hug. She doesn't ask much about what we worked on but always says something positive like she's so glad that her daughter is loving lessons so much. The next students' mom is always listening to the lesson. She'll come in if she hears one of the kids (ages 7 and 9) not focusing or something and tries to discipline them while I'm teaching. At the end of the lesson she asks specifically what we worked on, what they should practice, how well they focused, etc. I always wonder which type of parenting is more beneficial. In my opinion, hands-off mom wins (and her daughter is much more secure, positive, and is progressing better than the other two).
Posted by: AZNpiano

Re: When parents oppose or don't care about piano lessons... - 01/01/13 05:39 PM

Originally Posted By: btb
What a cockeyed statement from a Piano Teacher ...
“It's not necessary for the parent to play an instrument and, in fact, IT'S SOMETIMES DETRIMENTAL.”

How so?

Let me count the ways...

1) They will go ahead and "teach" the next piece (or five) in the book without your permission.

2) They will argue with you about the merits of intervallic reading (because most folks their age have never learned intervallic reading).

3) They will insist on using their old John Thompson (or whatever) books they grew up using, even when the pages are yellowed and falling apart.

4) They will insist on having their kid play more difficult pieces and criticize you when the kid isn't making "sufficient progress."

5) They will think they can "fill in the gap" by teaching their own kids 6 days out of the week, so they have this unrealistic expectation of progress.

6) They think they know theory and will teach it THEIR way.

7) They are constantly seeking a better teacher for their kid (i.e., teacher hoppers).

8) They will blame you if their kid doesn't win a competition.

9) They will teach a piece THEIR way, even if it is the wrong way.



Shall I go on?????