I’m sure we’ve all received emails or phone calls from piano parents that went a little something like this:
He’s wavering as to whether or not he wants to continue with piano next year. He says he likes it but he’s not sure he wants to continue. Until now we’ve left it totally been up to him whether he wants to take piano lessons or not. I don’t want to push him to do it because I don’t want it to become a negative thing when he’s doing so well and has so much potential! I know it would be such a shame for him to stop and lose all of what he’s learned so far, but he’s really reluctant to practice! We don’t know what to do. Maybe we’ll take a year off?
How should you respond? When a parent is asking for your advice, this is a great moment to share your passion for piano education in a way that can help parents wade through their emotions and choose a path that’s right for their family. Wording this can be difficult, so today we’re sharing an email template you can either use word-for-word or can modify to suit your individual situation.
When A Piano Student Wants To Quit Piano, Turn To This Email
I’m happy to help you out. Obviously my opinion is slightly biased, and only you know what’s truly best for your child, but because I really care about Toby, and because he is quite talented, here’s my take on the situation.
In my many years of teaching piano I can tell you that it is completely normal for kids to go through peaks and valleys in terms of their motivation on the piano. One of the wonderful things about learning an instrument is that it requires long-term commitment. It’s not an activity that you do short-term, gain an easily-learned skill and then move on. It requires months and years of “stick-with-it-ness” to get real results. The fabulous part of this, however, is that the results are long-lasting and life-enriching!
As children aren’t often exposed to these kinds of activities that require long-term work, it’s an experience that is (unfortunately!) new to them. It’s easy to choose to quit piano because it’s simply easier to not have to put effort into something. At Toby’s age it’s almost impossible for him to think long-term about the fact that he may actually want to be able to be able to play the piano later in life. Kids typically think in the here-and-now, and it can be difficult to truly decipher exactly what it is that is causing their “valley” in motivation at that particular moment. Often parents who choose to push through those low points are relieved just a few short weeks or months down the road when their child is “back on top” and loving music.
Piano lessons are also one of the only extra curricular activities that require children to take responsibility on their own at home. With most sports you are simply required show up and practice or play a game. Piano is different in that it requires a sense of self-discipline to continue the learning at home, and it can be hard for kids to see the benefits of developing this self-discipline (of which there are many).
I can tell you with 100% honesty that I have never, ever met someone who said “I’m sure glad my mom let me quit piano lessons.” In fact, I hear the opposite from people constantly!
I admire your desire to not make this a dreaded activity, because music should ultimately be an expression of joy. My studio’s focus is on creating opportunities for piano to be as fun as it can possibly be. However, as with learning any new skill there are times when what we are learning is more difficult.
I’m a true believer in the idea that feelings of self-esteem and confidence come from conquering difficulties and reaching goals. If we let children quit when things get tough, then they lose those opportunities to prove to themselves that they can do it; that they can work through an obstacle and come out on the other side better than they were before. If we leave the decisions up to them in instances like this, their “kid-ness” takes over and they choose the easy route because that’s what feels good in the moment. We as parents then don’t know if they actually chose to stop for reasons that might otherwise be easily remedied (i.e. it’s the end of the year and they’re getting a bit burnt out with school and other activities) or if they truly just do not want to play the piano.
Involving children in music is something I’m very passionate about as I have seen first-hand the social, emotional, and academic benefits that playing the piano brings. These benefits are the main reason I run my music studio (and started it in the first place). When I see a student like Toby, with heaps of potential, who has loved his lessons for several years, it’s sad to see them turn away from that, and I’d love to help him get excited about the piano again in any way I can.
Keep me in the loop as you work through this with Toby,
Need Help Turning Situations Like This Around?
P.S. We were happy to hear back that this particular parent re-registered their child! Mission accomplished. But, if this email doesn’t work for you, it may be time to switch up your student’s repertoire. Having motivating and varied music is key to keeping your piano students interested and excited. PianoBookClub can help! We’ll send you a brand new book full of music every single month for just $8!