What's The Point Of Piano Lessons?
What's the point of piano lessons? What goal do you see at the end of your child's piano lessons? No sane parent wants their child to be a professional pianist. It is a heartbreaking, competitive business nightmare that you wouldn't wish on your worst enemy. The only realistic goal is that your child becomes a hobbyist, or an amateur who enjoys playing in their own way.
Vision Of Your Child's Piano Future
A better vision of the future for your child and the piano is this. Someday your child will be a successful professional and will enjoy playing the piano in the evening. I teach many such adults, who are stockbrokers, doctors and business people, salespeople, teachers and from all walks of life. The danger zone is the years between early childhood, when lessons begin, and a period of greater maturity, usually the teenage years. Kids who had lessons during early childhood and continued lessons without quitting become the only candidates who survive into the teenage years. At that age, a child is mature enough to pursue the piano more seriously.
The Life Cycle Of The Child Pianist
The usual progression of lessons-disillusion-quit produces kids who hate the piano. They do not survive the middle years of childhood, 6-12, as a pianist. And they rarely take it up again as adults. Thus piano teachers might do well to nurture this group. What they do is take their money and then discourage them. The result of more nurturing would be more pianists, and more interest in the piano. It is piano teachers themselves who are, year by year, cutting down the reservoir of potential piano hobbyists. This is the result of their rigid methods that treat all students as cadets headed straight for Carnegie Hall.
The Real Goal Of Piano Lessons
The real goal of childhood piano lessons is to stimulate interest while lowering expectations. This allows the child to survive lessons long enough to gain the maturity necessary to continue "properly." In general, the goal is to get the child to play into the teenage years.
Lower The Bar At The Beginning
The secret to getting children to survive this period is lowering the bar. Make it easier for the child to pursue piano as an elective, recreational activity rather than a course of dull academic study. This approach allows all children to eventually succeed. If a child shows unusual promise, it will be obvious. Proper lessons in the conventional manner may be included in a course of study suitable for the youth of the child. The goal of a foolish piano teacher is to disseminate their method. Nine out of ten kids fail to grasp "the method," whatever it is. The goal of a forward thinking piano teacher is to keep as many students as possible happily playing the piano. Use whatever means works.