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7 year old wants to stop piano lessons

(27 Posts)
BonApp Sun 13-Jan-19 16:03:55

She begged me to start lessons about 15 months ago, and I’d started at about the same age so was keen to encourage it.

She seems happy enough in the lessons, but is practicing is a chore and often I have to bribe her and sit with her and it’s never that much fun for either of us tbh. Occasionally we’ll have a good practice and she seems to be boosted by it but it’s still a bit of a faff to get her to actually practice. I’d say she practices once or twice a week max.

She’s saying she wants to stop. I think it’s because when she finds it hard, she doesn’t like pushing through. She’s used to things coming easily to her, and her teachers at school have said she needs to learn perseverance and I totally get that because I was the same!!!

She likes her teacher, she likes playing pieces she’s comfortable with but when it comes to trying and putting in the effort she wants to give up.

I don’t know what to do. I don’t want her to think she can give up, yet I don’t want to force her. I was allowed to give up and really wish I’d had someone pushing me to carry on. I want to help her learn to persevere. Her little face lights up when she cracks it, but it’s such a battle to get to that point.

Anyone been in a similar situation??

Caselgarcia Sun 13-Jan-19 16:13:21

I was forced to have piano lessons when a child. The piano arrived one day and I was told I was having lessons. The difference for me was I never showed any interest in learning. I hated practising and made it clear I didn't enjoy playing. My parents were of the opinion I had to continue as I 'would thank them one day'.
I couldn't under stand why I had to continue, I hated it, it caused rows daily as the forced me to practise, they paid for lessons and the teacher just shouted at me for my lack of practise.
I was allowed to stop lessons when I took my O levels. I have never touched a piano since. My point being is if she doesn't want to continue, maybe take a break for a while. Please don't force her.

RedSkyLastNight Sun 13-Jan-19 16:15:53

If she's not enjoying and not practising and only 7, I'd let her stop and maybe reevaluate in a year or so.

BonApp Sun 13-Jan-19 16:56:14

She begged and begged for lessons, and ok, at 5 she didn’t really get it all, but she wanted to start. We didn’t have a piano for the first 6 months of her lessons, just in case she didn’t like it.

She admits she likes it “apart from the hard bits”.... and she knows that practicing involves the hard bits.

I will try to catch her to practice at a “good time” more and see if she can go over some easy pieces as well.

4point2fleet Sun 13-Jan-19 17:01:36

Maybe you could agree a point, say Grade 3, at which she can give up if she still wants to.

By then she will have some basics under her belt and may well want to continue. If she doesn't you will be more sure piano is not for her rather than that she's just bailing out because some of it is tricky.

RedSkyLastNight Sun 13-Jan-19 17:43:53

Grade 3 is potentially years ahead for a new player unless she's very musical -that's way too far ahead to commit to. A more realistic solution might be to say she keeps playing until Easter and you reassess how she feels then.

folkmamma Sun 13-Jan-19 18:20:13

I feel for you! If it's any consolation both of mine struggle mentally with practice - who wants to sit and do the one bit you find really really hard over and over? I don't, and I'm not 7.... we are quite far down the road with this music lark now, and I haven't met many kids along the way that enjoy practice, even the super advanced ones! When things are getting tough (read impossible!) then I try and mix it up a bit. Be clear about what our 'goal' is for a given practice session and stick to what you say- give mini goals, like 'play these 2 bars 5 times' or, 'can you think of five different ways to play that little bit?'. Sometimes we break tricky bits into 6 sections and throw a dice to decide which bit to do next. I also have a set of tokens, each time I ask DD to do something particular, she gets a token. When the tokens run out, I can't request anything else! Number of tokens varies depending on her tolerance levels that day. We also do reward charts . And I'm afraid no tv or iPad or whatever until practice is done. Always finish on a positive if you can and let them just muck around for fun sometimes. We have a lot of mini-concerts in our house when they are proud of mastering something tricky- usually just DH, me and the dog! Sometimes granny if she's around. I'd say persevere- I bet deep down she doesn't really want to give up....

MyOtherProfile Sun 13-Jan-19 18:48:24

When she begged for lessons she didn't have any idea what was involved. Now she has tried it and isn't keen there's not really much point carrying on. I would let her drop it for now and reconsider when she is a bit older.

MyOtherProfile Sun 13-Jan-19 18:49:17

If you really want to develop her musicality you could go for a simpler instrument, like maybe the ukulele in the meantime.

Tonsilss Sun 13-Jan-19 18:53:36

Swop to an easier instrument, that she can play in a group. Eg clarinet.

imsorryiasked Sun 13-Jan-19 19:18:44

I'd stop the lessons and let her continue to play for fun at home. She's learnt some basics and if she wants to come back to it at a later date she will.
We had a piano at home but no money for lessons so I taught myself from about age 9. Eventually had lessons once a week while at 6th form and although I'd got a few bad habits I can play to grade 6 standard. I'm happy with this as I wasn't looking to make a career out of it, just to play for pleasure.

4point2fleet Sun 13-Jan-19 21:07:35

Grade 1 then? I think it would be better if the potential end point encouraged practice (practice more- get the grade quicker) rather than just 'sitting it out' until the time is up.

folkmammas strategies to make practice more structured and palatable sound good.

Sammy867 Sun 13-Jan-19 21:16:12

I was the same at 7 so my parents changed the lessons. Instead of classical I learned boy zone (all the rage back then!) spice girls songs etc.

My piano teacher would do the equivalent of taking an Ed Sheeran song and teaching me how to play it, then how to change it I.e change it to a jazz tempo, speed it up, turn it into a ballad, add scales and arpeggios and turn it classical.

I learned more from this type of lesson about theory and styles of music than any lesson I had on abrsm piano and still to this day love finding a piece of music I like and changing it. I did go back to classical grades and abrsm when I was older with more gusto than 7 year old me had for it

Hazlenutpie Sun 13-Jan-19 21:17:32

My son learned violin and piano. The way we coped with him practising, was a little bit every day. That way it became part of our daily routine. I always sat with him and gave loads of positive encouragement.

Sammy867 Sun 13-Jan-19 21:18:10

I do remember however it was the entire Disney piano collection I started with (still have that book now!)

ifancyagreencard Sun 13-Jan-19 21:24:04

DD started piano in Y4 at her own request. I gave it up as a bad job within 18 months, it was just such a bloody chore for us all. We wrote her off musically, no big deal...... she had lots of interests.

In Y8, someone gave her a taster on a bass guitar. She’s now a highly accomplished bassist and double bassist.

I’d say it’s just not worth the tears and aggro. Perhaps strings/brass/wind will be more her thing in years to come!

CruCru Mon 14-Jan-19 09:59:27

Would it be worth saying that she only has to do 5 minutes of practise a day? Set a timer for 5 minutes and press pause when she messes around - but when the timer goes, she stops. It may be that she has a fear of failure.

Stanilin Tue 15-Jan-19 05:00:44

Our 7 year old plays violin and piano, and we found it helpful to have a rocksolid practice routine in place (every morning after breakfast without fail). That way there are less discussions as it is a normal part of the day. And like folkmamma there is no screen time unless practice is done. Bribery (a Kinder Surprise Egg for 10 practices worked for us) and charts also help. And making the sessions fun (again lots of good ideas in folkmamma's post).
Hardly any kids like to practice but personally I'd persevere!

SofiaAmes Tue 15-Jan-19 05:23:57

How about stopping the traditional lessons and switch her to the Simply Music method (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simply_Music). My dd really enjoyed it because she wanted to learn piano solely as a tool to help with her songwriting (she is now a teenager and aspiring singer/songwriter) and it really served its purpose. The method is very much focused on learning how to improvise and feeling the music and understanding patterns. Conceptually it's a bit like the Suzuki method for violin. They don't teach the kids to read music until later (although that's probably not relevant to your dd). She might enjoy that for a few years and then want to go back to more traditional lessons, or maybe she'll stick to it and enjoy playing piano. Teachers need to be certified in the method, but you should be able to find one in the UK. (I am in the USA, but there are teachers all over the world.)

Theworldisfullofgs Tue 15-Jan-19 05:31:28

Talk to the teacher about teaching her to practice. Purposeful and a little bit frequently.
The problem is most teachers don't teach the 'how' of practice.

Broken11Girl Tue 15-Jan-19 08:19:16

<Her little face lights up when she cracks it> doesn't sound like a child who should give up. I'm not reading a child who hates it, instead one who enjoys it, but is a bit lazy. I was like this too, and it's so important for academically able kids to learn that not everything is going to come easily, but to persevere. I'd make her continue. There are lots of good suggestions here for making practice less painful. I like the idea of asking her teacher to teach her to practice. This is a good article I happened to see earlier: www.thestrad.com/teaching/8-practice-tips-from-sheku-kanneh-mason/8493.article.
Might doing an exam motivate her? It's possibly not too early to think about grade 1, even if it's some time away, or there's the Prep test or Initial. Having specific targets to achieve within a timescale might be what she needs, and the carrot of a shiny certificate, and being able to say she's done x grade (especially if she manages a merit or distinction) - she sounds like the type of kid who would love that. Worth considering anyway.

SalrycLuxx Tue 15-Jan-19 08:30:43

She needs ‘internal motivation’ which means she needs to either set her own goal or you need to identify something that will drive her forward/she wants to achieve.

I wouldn’t let her quit. Kids want to quit all kinds of things because they’re hard - and if they don’t learn to work through it they keep on quitting. She enjoys it when she’s getting it right, so it’s worth continuing. Perhaps in practice take a ‘good enough’ policy rather than ‘perfect’ if you don’t already? Might alleviate fear of failure.

BonApp Tue 15-Jan-19 09:01:12

Thank you. I’m not convinced letting her quit is the right thing to do, not just for piano but for the whole “quitting” thing.

She idolises DH so he’s going to get involved a bit more and we’re going to make it a regular family thing so the piano isn’t only used when she’s asked to practice.

Apparently she has a show in March and she was very excited to tell me this, but she’s said she wants to stop afterwards.

I’ve told her we’ll let the teacher know that she wants to stop after the show and that she doesn’t like to do the practice (not in a shaming way, but just as a matter of fact) and see what her advice is.

All made a bit trickier by the fact that we live abroad. DD is fluent in the local language and has lessons in the local language but she learns Do Re Mi etc rather than CDE! But I don’t think that in itself is really an issue tbh....

barefootcook Tue 15-Jan-19 09:07:44

DS9 started piano at 7. For the first 18months he hated because he found it very difficult. Practising was painful for us all! He kept asking to quit but I said no. Now things have clicked for him. He still finds it a challenge but enjoys it when he has mastered a piece. Practice time is before school and he must do 10 GOOD minutes. This doesn't seem long to me but at the moment it is enough for him to make progress and not lose interest. I wouldn't let your daughter quit just yet.

MrsElijahMikaelson1 Tue 15-Jan-19 09:09:54

I agree that practice encourages the skill of perseverance. DS hated practising stuff he didn’t like, so I talked to his teacher and we have him a week to come up with tunes he likes, which turn out to be a mixture of classical and pop. Since then he has chosen when to practice-i just ask for 3/4x a week currently and it seems to be working. His sister is a violinist and flautist-she went through a non-practice and I want to quit stage but now practises for an hour a day so it is possible they will come out of it if you ease the pressure and stop when she wants to.

Xiaoxiong Tue 15-Jan-19 09:11:07

DS1 is the same age and piano really "clicked" for him when we showed him he could play theme songs for Harry Potter, Star Wars, Jurassic Park etc on the piano. Now he is trying to play the piano all the flipping time and trying to add in the left hand and stuff, and doesn't seem to mind practising all of a sudden. Could you try to pique her interest with some tunes she likes?

BonApp Tue 15-Jan-19 10:33:16

Her first teacher at school here was quick to point out that she needs to work on perseverance. And I have frequently reflected that it’s something I am lacking myself so would love to help her through this!

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