Drawing Lines in the Sand

side view of piano keyboard

So. We’re deep into the month of August and I say something innocent to the older boys like, “you need to practice the piano today.” They do not take this well, and frowns and foot-stomping abound.

Every now and then in the parenting journey you come to an important battle point. In my mind, this is one of them. If I back down and let the boys quit before they’ve met the goals we set, then they’re going to quit even faster the next time a sport or activity loses its novelty and becomes actual work.

At first, I said that the boys needed to take 2 years of piano lessons. When it became clear that they were going to just do the bare minimum and try to serve their time, the goal did change to “when you’ve learned enough to have a decent foundation: probably 2 years or the first 2 levels of the program”. I want them to learn enough that if they decide on their own to play again, they won’t have forgotten everything. Or, if one of them wants to play another instrument, their time in piano will serve them well.

This is not a concept they understand, and TechnoBoy growled at me the other day that he’ll never ever play an instrument or be in a band. Ever.

I countered by reminding him that I always said I’d never ever own chickens and now we have 33….and I actually like them. He was not amused.

I keep telling them they can spend minutes or they can spend weeks. If they’d just practice for 15 minutes three times a week they’d fly through the songs. But if they don’t do their best, the song is assigned for another week which makes this whole process longer.

Someday they’ll thank me.

Right?

That’s what I keep telling them.

Earnest Parenting: help for parents who think their children should learn piano.

Image courtesy of comedy_nose via Creative Commons license, some rights reserved.

The editor-in-chief of Earnest Parenting, Amy is the mother of two sets of twin boys. Yes, they drive her crazy, but they also make her laugh occasionally. Amy enjoys writing, quilting, reading, and working on her burgeoning cyber empire.

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  • Comp-U-Trader August 18, 2009, 10:44 pm

    It’s really a good journey to be a parent. Lots of things to learn from it. By the way, I love pianos too 🙂

    Reply
  • Doug August 19, 2009, 1:54 pm

    Well, if there is any consolation, even the piano teacher has trouble getting her own kids to invest themselves in practice. In fact, we may be the most guilty of all.
    Doug

    Reply
  • Amy September 9, 2009, 12:51 am

    Comp-U-Trader yes, there’s lots and LOTS of learning.

    Doug, one of my difficulties is figuring out how to push without breaking anyone. Myself included. I guess the key here is to just keep pressing on.

    Reply
  • SarahKate September 22, 2009, 11:25 pm

    Both myself and my 10 year old daughter are taking piano lessons from the same teacher, but moving at our own pace through the Simply Music material. Personally, I have a passion for piano so I’m willing to put in 30 to 45 minuets every day. My daughter is required to sit down for 30 minuets every morning, right after morning chores. I think having a regular time and expectation to play for the full 30 minutes is key. I also give out music vitamins – m&ms – for practice and good attitude, hopefully teaching that music is sweet. 🙂 This system is working great, but a lot of it is that we have a great teacher who is so encouraging. Having a not so great teacher can make it hard to complete your practice.

    Reply
  • Amy September 23, 2009, 10:58 pm

    SarahKate, how neat is that: both of you taking lessons together! We have a really great teacher and a program that is building a good foundation for the boys. I’m pleased with it. I took piano lessons for about ten years growing up but have not been playing much because when I did the boys got discouraged. So. I’ll wait.

    Music vitamins, eh? That’s a thought. I like how you’re connecting the two concepts!

    The boys get rewards from their teacher if they practice 45 minutes a week, plus they can get weekly stickers. Right now they’re at a pretty basic level, so this is about all the practicing they can do. I bet the time will increase when they move up a level.

    I’m off to ponder music vitamins. Thanks for sharing a great idea!!

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