Kids are fickle. They want one thing only to grow tired of it and throw it aside. Then they start something else, and the whole process repeats itself. Especially in the pre-teen years, it’s a natural part of growing up to try a lot of new things. Sometimes, however, this mindset can go on beyond the school years and even into adulthood. That’s okay to want to experiment with different things, be it learning to play golf or becoming a world traveler or just visiting the Indianapolis Museum of Art because you want to learn more about the visual arts. It’s all a matter of enriching our lives, doing more than just going to work (or school), coming home, eating, going to bed, and doing it all again the next day.
The problem is that when kids want to try something new, it always involves parents’ money, plus time and effort. Of course parents want to provide opportunities for their children to learn and do things other than sitting on the couch with their cellphones playing video games. But for many parents, spending money on something that the child may want to give up in six months or in a year or two can be a risky thing. I’ve had many conversations with parents who are reluctant to start music lessons because they aren’t sure if their child wants to play an instrument, or if he/she really wants to be in band at all. Often at first the child is excited and eager to start, and he/she likes sitting with friends in a large room with the same instrument (never mind that the they are expected to not talk to each other while the band director is on the podium–this is band class, not social hour.) On the other hand, the student may enjoy band because he/she likes actually playing, and may want to stick with it, perhaps even through high school and beyond.
Paying for music lessons on top of renting the instrument, buying the equipment, and paying for music T-shirts can seem like a huge, bewildering financial burden beyond the call of duty. However, if the parent is investing that much money, he/she should expect that the child actually learns how to play the horn. This is where the one-on-one tutoring is so important. Spending just forty-five minutes or hour once a week with a good private instructor will make all the difference in the child’s success. In my studio, in a short time both the student and the parent will hear a big change in what’s coming out the instrument. I give a lot of praise and encouragement, with the intent to motivate the student to enjoy the lessons and feel good about what he/she is doing. Accomplishment in specific goals such as holding the instrument properly, making a great sound, and beginning to read notes and rhythm will allow the student to increase his/her skill level far beyond what the other students in the band class care doing. Taking private music lessons is imperative to success. A band instrument is just too complicated to learn only in a large group setting where the band director has limited time to address each student. My students become musical leaders in the band. They play with confidence and skill. And this is when music really becomes fun.
Yes, it takes work and commitment, and (this is a “bad” phrase to some young ears) self-discipline. But there are non-musical skills that the student can develop that will benefit him/her long after the instrument put away in a closet after school graduation. Even if the student drops the lessons and band down the road, he/she will still take away some important life skills-teamwork, social interaction, discipline, concentration, organization, and who hasn’t heard that learning music helps math skills? So the parent should never think that money has been wasted if the child quits. There’s more good things going on that may only become apparent later on. And how many parents have told me that in hindsight, they wished their parents had made them stick with the piano lessons!
So, if the student tries everything from chess to basketball to band and goes from one activity to another, it’s still a whole lot better than playing video games on a laptop for ten straight hours, seven days a week. It’s really a matter of priority and how important the parents feels about their child’s music education. I am here to help!