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to be disappointed that my 4 year old doesn't want piano lessons

(203 Posts)
evalluna Sun 01-Sep-13 08:56:05

Both my partner and I are musical, I played in orchestras throughout school and university and a bit beyond, though have let it slide since having children. My partner plays several instruments and has played in loads of different ensembles. We have a piano which we both (again mainly pre-kids) enjoyed playing though not to a great standard. We have always been keen for our kids to learn though (I have always regretted not having piano lessons as we didn't have a piano when I was growing up.) My partner was keen for them to learn by the suzuki method, so yesterday we took our daughter to meet a suzuki teacher, who was lovely (and our daughter actually went to sit next to when asked which is unusual as she is usually shy with unknown adults). However, when the teacher tried to do a few clapping games with her she wasn't interested and started being silly, and when she asked her if she wanted to learn to play the piano she said no. Understandably the teacher didn't want to take on a young child who didn't want to learn and suggester we leave it a while.

I am a bit disappointed, partly as I am probably projecting my own wish to have learned young on to her and feel it is wasting an opportunity. Also, I think she does have a fair bit of musical ability - she has always loved music and has had a very in-tune singing voice from an early age. My partner feels we have somehow failed not to have instigated in her a desperate desire to learn the piano. However, personality wise she has always been a mixture of extremely stubborn and quite anxious in new situations and has never been one for doing something she doesn't want to do. I wonder if she is just not ready - similarly for a long time she refused to write her name when asked even though she could but now is happy to do so. And although she has known her letters for a long time she has only recently wanted to attempt to put them together to read (she is about to start reception) and it was pointless trying to get her to do this before.

We have got a book called Lulus piano lesson which we have been reading with her and she likes, and my partner has done a bit with her, teaching her where the notes are, which she knows. When i ask why she doesn't want to learn she says 'because I already know' (ie can bash about a bit!)

I don't want to push it, but want to try to develop things so she might be ready for lessons at some point. Has anyone had similar experience/ got any advice? Thanks.

SatinSandals Fri 25-Oct-13 07:28:11

Children pick up a lot that is not said and I would imagine that subconsciously she realises that you have lots of expectations for her to live up to. I would relax and enjoy the music yourself and either she will want to take part or she won't. She will most probably want to play an instrument, but if she doesn't there is absolutely no point in pushing her. It has to come from her.

rtbd Fri 25-Oct-13 06:49:39

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

allyfe Sat 12-Oct-13 19:51:36

Evalluna, Ive come to this a little late, but I did just want to throw something in. I want to say something to you, and something to the people on the thread who have said WTF (I paraphrase), she is only 4. My 4 year old is currently doing a Suzuki musicianship class, with a view to starting piano lessons in January (she will be nearly 5). We are not musical, and we are going to have to do music education classes ourselves (with the Suzuki piano teacher). I had talked to my daughter about it, and she was keen before we started this process of observation and group lessons, but I am not sure if she really knew what it meant because we aren't musical. However, our teacher won't let my dd start doing piano lessons herself until she has done a term of musicianship classes (she will continue doing this until she is in yr 2), and has observed for a terms worth of piano lessons. So each Saturday I take my two children and we sit in on someone else's piano lessons. My children (4 & 2) do drawing and puzzles and try to be quiet (not always successfully). Having watched the lessons, it has surprised me that it is less 'fun' than I expected. It is properly learning the piano (but by ear rather than by reading the music). I was worried that perhaps my daughter wasn't going to really want to do it. But this morning, she got upset on the way to observation. I had told her she would start after half term previously, but had found out it will be January now. She was gutted because she wants to start now. I have told her she will have to practice everyday, but I have also said that it is something we will do together. She is desperate to start, but she has accepted it won't be until Mummy has done the course she needs to do first (!). So, what I'm trying to say (sorry - very long winded), is that you might talk to the teacher about observing some lessons. If your dd shows no interest at all in taking lessons herself, then as you have decided yourself, then leave it for a while. She will still learn musical skills from her dance. Now, just to refer to the 'why do it at 4 years old' and the suggestion that an older child will learn faster. It is certainly true that an older child will learn faster. There is a relationship between pitch processing for speech and music, and so an older child, through learning about reading, has learnt a great deal of useful information about sound and speech which is invaluable for learning about music. However, the relationship works both ways. Learning about pitch, rhythm and tempo in music are hugely beneficial to learning about language and reading. Children who do music very early are MUCH more likely to develop perfect pitch. For most children, learning to read first and then applying those skills is the way most people learn an instrument. However, for dyslexic children, playing an instrument can have a massive remedial benefit. We have a family history of dyslexia, and my daughter has some of the risk factors. So, I'm encouraging my daughter to learn piano. We are going to do the Suzuki method because I very much want something which strongly involves me, as her parent. I think that this is the best way to help it be a positive and fun experience for her. I also wanted something that requires/expects everyday practice. So, my DD is going to start young. She may not prove to be dyslexic. The cognitive benefits of early music are huge. But more than anything I want her to enjoy it. For that, I have really appreciated reading all of the comments from people about how they didn't enjoy music. I am going to be very careful to try my hardest to help her enjoy this. And Evalluna, I'll be interested to hear how you and your DD progress.

evalluna Wed 04-Sep-13 14:56:45

It's ok, was joking about hijack - think original topic had probably run its course!

morethanpotatoprints Wed 04-Sep-13 13:42:49


Sorry for the hijack, but honestly no rivalry the dc get on fine, the competition is with themselves, not others.
As you were and apologies for my part in the hijack.

quoteunquote Wed 04-Sep-13 12:27:21

OP you have a message.

evalluna Wed 04-Sep-13 12:23:18

Sorry for typos, on my phone!

evalluna Wed 04-Sep-13 12:22:21

Hey, think my threads been a bit hijacked but have been enjoying reading about 9 year old desk rivalries (and being glad I didn't play the violin!)

I have found all the advice really helpful in allowing me to relax and just enjoy my daughter beimg four. Also, I have considered for the first time really that she might just have different interests to me and it may not be because of anything I have done right or wrong. All good points.

That said the last couple of evenings she has wanted to sit and play (a lot of nonsense on) the piano (uninstigated by me I hasten to had) so maybe her interest had been piqued! Shall wait and see..

baddriver Wed 04-Sep-13 10:45:16

I don't think you sound pushy at all and am agog at some of the harsh posts here.

I guess I must qualify as a tiger mum as not only did my dc start music lessons at 4, but also swimming (3), French (3), ice skating(4), ballet (4) art (can't remember), baby gym then gymnastics... Oh it goes on.

It won't mitigate to say they pleaded for these things, will it...

morethanpotatoprints Tue 03-Sep-13 22:54:44


The youth orchestra is grade 5+ and open to 11+ only, the beginners and intermediate are below grade 5 and open to anybody between 7 and 18.
So this is the reason I don't like condition of age rather than ability. I was disagreeing with other posters who thought they were the ideal. It's just my opinion after hearing the local children talking at various times, my own dd included.

exoticfruits Tue 03-Sep-13 17:20:00

I can't see the problem. If a musical child wants to learn an instrument it will be difficult to stop them. If they don't want to learn it is all rather pointless.

friday16 Tue 03-Sep-13 16:42:43

"but I also see that many children like to see themselves progressing through the seats"

Every orchestra my children have played in, and I mean every orchestra, swaps the desks around on a regular basis. Each section is led by a different person for each piece in a concert, and often the desk swapping takes place between pieces as well (sometimes just between halves). I don't recognise the idea of a youth orchestra where people "progress through the seats", and it sounds very rigid.

"I meant that a teenager who has grade 3 will have the leader chair"

But I thought you said it was a grade V+ orchestra? Worrying about who's leading seems a bit futile if there are people paying at Grade III standard.

ReallyTired Tue 03-Sep-13 15:16:40

"The 9 year old will age to 11 and go into youth orchestra and be at the back again because of their age not standard.
Just seems wrong way of doing it to me."

The nine year old has made progress if they are allowed into the youth orchestra. I don't understand why you have your knickers in a twist about where children sit.

In our area the nine year old has the choice or either remaining in the training orchestra or progressing to the youth orchestra. When I was that age was pretty oblvious to where I was seated. Provided I was sitting near friends I was happy. I imagine that sitting next to friends is most the important thing to a musically gifted nine year old.

morethanpotatoprints Tue 03-Sep-13 15:02:18

I dunno ReallyTired

Of course I see your point about the social side and the playing music as part of a team, but I also see that many children like to see themselves progressing through the seats. This system means that the 9 year old will never be the oldest because there will always be a teen at a lower grade in the orchestra who comes first. The 9 year old will age to 11 and go into youth orchestra and be at the back again because of their age not standard.
Just seems wrong way of doing it to me.

ReallyTired Tue 03-Sep-13 12:32:11

"I meant that a teenager who has grade 3 will have the leader chair, whilst a 9 year old with grade 5 will never have the leaders chair as every time somebody older passes grade 3 they become leader.
This doesn't seem right to me. I know its not a competition but if you know you'll never progress to leader or even first seat, what is the point? "

Being an in an orchestra isn't about being leader or even sitting in the first seat. The point of being in an orchestra is learning to make music as part of a team of other musicans.

Surely a nine year old who stays in an orchestra will one day be the oldest and get their chance to be "leader" if that is important to you.

Being in an orchestra is as much a social activity as a musical activity. A more serious issue for a gifted nine year old is being bored by lack of musical challenge or being in an orchestra where they are lonely because everyone else is a teen.

morethanpotatoprints Tue 03-Sep-13 11:56:16


I meant that a teenager who has grade 3 will have the leader chair, whilst a 9 year old with grade 5 will never have the leaders chair as every time somebody older passes grade 3 they become leader.
This doesn't seem right to me. I know its not a competition but if you know you'll never progress to leader or even first seat, what is the point? I'm sure all authorities aren't like this and understand they can only manage the dc they have in a manner that suits the majority, but this won't always suit all.
There aren't so many classical players here, considering the size of the area covered. There are more brass/wind/jazz/rock bands, compared to classical ensembles.

ReallyTired Tue 03-Sep-13 11:25:06

"So a child who is talented and reached grade 5 before 11+ has nowhere to go and in addition somebody older who only has grade 3 would have the first chair as they are older, the younger grade 5 would be playing first parts but sat 6 rows back.
I think it should be a case of ability not age."

What difference does it make which chair a child sits on if they are all playing the same part? I accept that a younger child may need to sit at the front so that they can the conductor.

An orchestra should be fun not competive. Sometiemes playing second violin is more challenging than first violin as you don't have the melody and can't get away with playing by ear. All the chidlren in my son's guitar emsemble have a turn at playing the harmony parts as well as the melody.

The older child may be just as talented, but started a lot later. My son started guitar in year 4 and got to grade 2 in 18 months.

morethanpotatoprints Tue 03-Sep-13 11:15:53

I really don't agree with age appropriate orchestras and ensembles in some respects. Our music service has the beginners, intermediate and Youth groups. The beginners are fine and any age plays in this, the same with intermediate. However, the youth groups are from grade 5 and above but only from high school.
So a child who is talented and reached grade 5 before 11+ has nowhere to go and in addition somebody older who only has grade 3 would have the first chair as they are older, the younger grade 5 would be playing first parts but sat 6 rows back.
I think it should be a case of ability not age.

ReallyTired Tue 03-Sep-13 10:52:12

Some children are musically gifted and want to learn music at three years old. I think with orchestras its a matter of finding one that is suitable.

Our country has a string group suitable for chidlren from the age of six and will take children sooner on teacher recommnedation. However this group is only suitable for beginners. The national Chiildren's Orchestra has a training orchestra for gifted children.

chocoluvva Tue 03-Sep-13 10:51:14

From their parents perhaps or an early years teacher who happens to play the piano. At this age the musical content is a much smaller part of the 'lesson' than 'entertaining/encouraging/developing pre-instrumental skills. And progress will seem slow while the child's development of skills gathers momentum.

StarlightMcKenzie Tue 03-Sep-13 10:47:00

I wanted to get my ds lessons at 3, but no-one would teach him.

He was clearly very capable then and was writing his own left hand on the keyboard to the tunes he had picked out on the right.

I wouldn't say he was EXCEPTIONALLY talented, but he IS talented and I think it is a shame that he had to wait 3 years to begin a hobby that would have been very beneficial to him at that time.

Where does a person GET music lessons for a young, talented, and eager student?

chocoluvva Tue 03-Sep-13 10:44:43

I couldn't agree more.

DD has loved her time with regional orchestras as a teenager. Educational in so many ways grin

friday16 Tue 03-Sep-13 10:39:23

"My ds is 6 and will be starting an orchestra in September. "

Let me try to spell this out more clearly.

Your son, who has been playing for a few months, is presumably not signing up for the local youth symphony orchestra, entry standard Grade VII-ish, which knocks through the bigger works of the Romantic repertoire plus the occasional concerto featuring either the local hot-shot of a YMotY finalist, based on three hours of rehearsal every Saturday morning. Most of the people playing in that will be doing their A Levels, with a smattering of GCSE students. There will also be, in my (fairly extensive) experience of these ensembles, a small handful of much younger children, whose parents have to stay for safeguarding reasons, who have managed to convince a peri that they could play on the back desk. No-one talks to them, the parents are on constant edge as the teenagers talk about parties and sex, the kids get upset when the conductor yells in the manner you can when you're dealing with seventeen year olds and even if the kids are getting anything out of the experience musically (I don't think they are, but hey, Lord Copper might be right) they certainly aren't getting the social benefits. By the time they are old enough, they are bored, jaded and want to do something else.

Age-appropriate orchestras are great. My kids have played in a dozen or more of them, over the years. Everyone's roughly the same age, the conductor is chosen to be good with kids, there's appropriate peri support, the rehearsals are supportive and low pressure and, of course, only a couple of hours at a time. It's great.

It's the kids that were started young, pushed, and end up in the senior orchestras young who I worry about.

morethanpotatoprints Tue 03-Sep-13 10:34:45


I think that's a common feature of young violinists grin
My dd got a distinction in July for her last exam, had played in county ensembles, concerts etc, and hasn't touched it since exam. She is adamant she doesn't want to continue and concentrate on other instruments. She may come back to it one day, but its her decision not mine.

evalluna Tue 03-Sep-13 10:33:51

Actually, that is a good point Friday - in my youth orchestra full of 15 to 18 year olds there was one (very talented) 11 year old, but I remember feeling sorry for her as she didn't fit in and was (other than musically) very immature for her age (probably due to spending 4 hours a day practising the violin). I think she is a professional musician now though and doing well, but I take your point - orchestras formed the main basis of my social life as a teenager but I would have got much less out of it if I wasn't with my contemporaries.

Am really liking the idea of a music class beyond what we have done already, which was basically a toddler singing group with some instrument shaking (and fighting over). We are in Yorkshire - if anyone knows of any I would love to hear about them.

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