How Come My Kid Hates Piano?
"How come my kid hates piano? My child has taken piano for two years, and now wants to quit piano, what do I do?" I often get this question from parents. If that's your question, I can tell you several things about yourself.
The Swami's Observations
First, your child's piano teacher is a disciplinarian and devotee of piano pedagogy. They have a method and they stick to it, no matter who the child is. Second, your child is not a quitter. How could they have survived this torture for two years and not be a persistent worker, trying to deliver the goods?
Third, you're not a clairvoyant, but you do know your child. If their pleas to quit seem genuine, you need to listen to them. In fact, the tell-tale signs of quitting are there all along.
For example, I can tell you three things about your child quitting piano that I couldn't possibly know unless I am clairvoyant or completely correct in my assertions. Here are three observations about how a child hates and then quits piano. See if I'm not right.
First, I can say without fear of contradiction that there was a period at the beginning of your child's piano study when they were infatuated with it. I call this the "honeymoon." During this initial time, it is not difficult for a clever teacher to interest a child in the rudiments of piano.
Unfortunately, the teacher's only tool is repetition, which deadens the child to the instrument if done incorrectly. Repetition must always be made into a game. Thus, second, you noticed your child suddenly became uninterested in the piano. They did not want to play any more.
This is because they were asked to simply repeat boring pieces. This "music" had no actual musical substance. Each piece was like the last. Dull.
The Problem Appears
All discussions of deferred gratification aside, you now have a problem on your hands. You ask the teacher. What could they possibly say, except, "The child must pay attention and practice more." In real world terms, the piano teacher is saying, "Don't let this child be themselves during lessons because I'm not prepared for children's temperaments and variable personalities. And since I'm out of ideas, make them repeat my boring system that fails 90% of the time. I learned this old-fashioned way and I have no idea how to help your individual child enjoy the piano and music in general."
You Begin Nagging
And, third, the Swami can tell you that there was period toward the end where you nagged your child to practice, and the child shut down all interest in the instrument. This is the point at which, unknown to you, the child began to hate the piano. From the child's point of view, the piano was making you so angry.
The child could not express anger at you for nagging, so they began to hate the piano. The end result is that the child feels like a failure, and a quitter. But there was really no need for this negative result. The child could be fooling around on the piano right now, expressing their interest in their own away.
The Teacher's Mistake
What really happened was that the teacher deemed the child a failure. They did this in order to call themselves a success. In this teacher's mind, the child is a lazy quitter, and their perfect method is blameless. Think about it for a moment and you will see this is all that could possibly be true. It's not as if you had said to the teacher, "Make my kid get to Carnegie Hall or else."
As soon as you brand a child, in any way, a failure, they will have no more interest in the subject. That is simply human child nature, to be shy of failure.
Go Ahead, Ignore Child Psychology
This ancient system of music education completely ignores children who possess humble gifts but also great interest.
Is not the piano for these kids, too? Such is the fascination with the piano that generation after generation says, "Teach me to play piano."
Go slowly enough, and you shall.
The Real Answer
The real answer to this child's problem was a patient piano teacher, a teacher wise enough to measure the child's interest and teach him appropriately. Children have widely differing personalities and interests, and unless you take these into account, you serve the child a "one-size-fits-all" piano method. This method, even statistically and historically, is bound to fail.
What works is finding music the child is truly interested in, and which will make them feel proud to have mastered. It has to be something familiar, something they can show to their friends and announce, "I can play piano."
Giving such a kid dull "exercise" pieces to shove your "method" down the child's throat will eventually produce apathy and rebellion. But that is exactly what most old-school piano teachers do.
Now you know why your child wants to quit piano.