Something You Never Hear
September 17, 2009
You never hear adults saying, “I just wish I would have given up on the piano a little sooner.”
In fact, as a piano teacher, full grown humans are frequently confessing to me that, “I wish I would have stuck with the piano,” or, “I wish I would have practiced more, so I would remember how to play.”
Here’s what it boils down to: Parents. It’s usually our parents that get us into this mess of piano study in the first place. They want to give their children culture. They want to hear the sound of the tickled ivories floating through the house. They want their children to be more successful musicians than they were. But how should parents go about making the most out of their children’s piano education?
Well, admittedly, I am an extremely lucky piano teacher. For the most part, the parents of my school-age children are my co-consipirators. I may receive a phone call or text message or email saying, “Help!” In other words, they have gone as far as they could as practice motivators at home, and need my intervention. So I will call the child and give them a little over the phone pep-talk, or help them though a sticky musical passage so as to alleviate some frustration. And it usually works.
But without the help of the parents, my work with children is obsolete. The parent may not know a lick about music, but a simple,“Hey! That sounded great! Let’s hear that again!” or, “Whoa whoa whoa... It sounds like you are playing that way too fast,” or, “O my! You have practiced so well this week! Let’s go get some ice cream!”
It’s the little things that are important.
For parents, waking up in the morning to another full day of running kids to school, sports activities, music lessons, and working eight hours on top of that - WHEW! That makes me want to stay in bed. But just a little extra time encouraging their children at their instrument will make all the difference in how they approach the piano.
As a piano teacher, I would love to take full credit for the success of my young piano students, but, believe it or not, it is the parents who make the difference. My mother never used to sit with me while I practiced. In fact, if she had, I probably would have thrown a tantrum. But, while practicing, I would hear a voice from the kitchen, “That sounded beautiful, honey.” Ooo... That was all I needed to keep my fingers rolling over the keys.
It is the parent who signs the child up for piano lessons. It is the parent who pays for the piano lessons. It is the parent who drives the child to and from piano lessons. Isn’t that enough?!?! Shouldn’t the child be grateful for this selflessness that the parent is showing?!?! Well, you guessed it - no. But just wait! Someday, I promise you, they will.