Why do you want your child to take piano lessons?
It’s a simple question; one that probably has you thinking, “Oh yeah… I already ask my new families that question. Come on Trevor and Andrea, is that the best you can do for a Monday morning blog post?”
A couple of years ago, I would have had that same thought.
A couple of years ago I simply asked that question because it seemed a natural question to ask new piano parents. I’m not even sure I paid to much attention to the answer. After all, I was a good teacher teaching a good program and a new paying customer was signing up… high fives all around right?
How Their Answer Can Impact Your Studio
Being an incredible teacher is a huge piece of the “Yay, Piano Teaching!” pie, but equally important is having piano parents who are in lessons for the right reasons. Analyzing answers to the question “Why do you want your child to take piano lessons?” will help you discover those right reasons and lead you down the path to a thriving studio.
“Why do you want your child to take piano lessons?”
There are many different answers to this question. Some make it very obvious that children are beginning lessons for the right reasons (“Our family really values music and we want our children to learn a skill that requires discipline.”), and some make it very obvious that their children are starting lessons for the wrong reasons (“His Grandma bought him an organ at a garage sale so we thought we’d give it a shot.”)
And then there are the following 3 answers that are not always so cut and dry. You’ll hear them a lot. And a lot of success can come from knowing what to do with these responses.
Answer 1: “I regret giving up piano lessons as a child.”
Your job when you hear this is to uncover if the sought-after piano lessons are indeed for the benefit of the child or are simply a fleeting “I wish my mom had made me stick with lessons” parenting moment. If a piano parent clearly communicates why they have regrets, and relates these regrets to the benefits that they know piano lessons can offer their child, then this is a clear indication that they are more likely to be a piano parent who understands stick-with-it-ness. If not… then their “parenting moment” may rapidly disappear as they too inevitably follow the “She just doesn’t like it anymore” path.
Answer 2: “His friend takes piano and we thought Aidan should too.”
When you hear this response you’re going to want to delve further to uncover what it is about that friend that is making piano lessons so appealing. Is this simply a case of keeping up with Joneses, or is there something more? Are the parents impressed with the passion for piano that this friend is showing? Do the parents see a friend who is showing dedication and motivation to a task and want to pass on these character-building opportunities to their own child? If so, their desire to give Aidan the opportunity is probably very valid. If not, piano lessons may be destined to be yet another notch in his extracurricular activity belt once the newness wears off.
Answer 3: “She’s so interested in music.”
An interest in music alone is not a reason to start piano lessons. Dig a little deeper when a parent responds with this answer. How is this musical interest displayed? A child who dances along to the radio and sings harmony with Katy Perry is very different than the child who begs to go to her group preschool music class or who signs up for every musical opportunity at her elementary school. A child who is truly interested in learning the piano is a child who will have the fortitude to put in the work that a successful piano education requires.
What To Do With The Answers
I believe so strongly in the benefit of piano lessons that it’s rare that even a glaringly “wrong” answer to this question can make me send a prospective student packing right away. It’s my hope that I can turn any waffling into commitment once they see what piano lessons can be. I simply ensure all parents enter into lessons with a very clear idea of my expectations (and a written policy in hand). Yet, this is a risk I choose to take (and I completely understand those teachers who prefer to take a pass… I do get burned).
However, if the “wrong” answers are also followed by other warning signs (reluctance to find an appropriate home instrument, issues with payment terms, lack of communication after the interview etc.) or just generally a “hunch” (that 16 years has fine-tuned to almost 100% accuracy!) then I’ve learned that it’s almost always best to remember the drain on my time that a student who isn’t quite the right fit can rapidly become.
Ask this question in your piano student interviews… and consider the answers carefully. The insights you can gain will help you to either refrain from entering a negative relationship, or can prepare you fully for what may be to come.