Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Practice Makes ... One Grumpy

My youngest child, 9-year-old Elias, has determined that piano practicing is no longer fun. He's been taking piano lessons for more than two years, and he's become disenchanted with the routine. Reading the notes is work. Learning new songs is work. Playing them without any corrections is work. Twenty minutes at the piano goes sooo slowly, compared with 20 minutes at the computer.

That's one reason why I feel it's so important for him to continue. Kids are used to instant gratification when it comes to just about everything else in their lives. It seems reasonable to insist that they persist with an activity that requires patience and attentiveness, and that doesn't offer shallow rewards or praise (you have reached the next level; you have earned 200 points).

But I also don't want him to associate playing the piano with being miserable. So I am going to work this week on finding ways to rekindle his interest, so he will eventually motivate himself, and will be less dependent on my nagging. Is it more enjoyable if I sit with him and help him? Should I find some popular sheet music he'd like to learn? Should I let him spend half of his practice time making up songs (something he's pretty good at doing)?

My older kids, Louisa and Sebastian, went through the same stage. Neither one takes piano lessons anymore, but Louisa will occasionally sit down at the piano and try to work out a song from a musical she likes. That's ultimately what I'd like for all of my kids. I don't expect them to become professional musicians. I do hope that through the drudgery of practicing, they acquire enough skills to get to the stage where they simply enjoy the experience of making music.

1 comment:

  1. We have struggled with practicing at our house, as well. I'm afraid I give in too easily when it comes to making Rose practice. We have found that having Owen play violin with Rose is very helpful. Also went out and purchased a song book from Star Wars for the piano. Having fun music to play has helped a lot!