The 11-Year-Old and Piano Lessons

In my years of being both a piano student and piano teacher, I’ve noticed a pattern.  Around age eleven, it is very typical for piano students, especially boys, to beg and plead to quit lessons.  I personally went through this phase around this age.  I decided I was done – it was too hard, it took too much time, it wasn’t fun anymore, the list goes on.  My mother, wise woman as she was and is, simply said ‘no.’  Unfortunately, many parents are saddened by their child’s decision to give up on music at this age, but often do not put their foot down.  And so their son (or daughter), after only a few years’ exposure to the character-forming and brain-exercising joys of music, drifts away from musical instruction and usually does not come back since their lessons ended on a bad note (no pun intended…).  Since my 11-year-old ‘decision’, I have regularly thanked my mom for refusing to let me give up.  After the generally awkward years of 10-12 or so, kids take whatever they’ve grown good at and begin to really love and pursue it.  Not only have I seen this with myself, but also with several of my students.  Some are wisely pushed through to the other side, but others easily get out of lessons and usually regret it later.

So basically, this is an exhortation, at the beginning of a new school year, to parents (and students) to keep on a-goin’ with music lessons.  If your child is complaining about it, don’t just let it go this year and assume that the kid isn’t ‘musical’ after all.  Treat lessons like schoolwork (you don’t just keep your child home from school because it’s ‘hard’, do you?), because, in all honesty, they are just as important in the child’s growth and maturity as math and history.  Explain to them that this 11-year-old (or 10- or 12-year-old) mindset of theirs is completely normal and that you think it best to get over this hill and out into the next area of life, which will be broadened and enriched considerably by their continued piano (or guitar or violin or flute or voice, etc.) lessons.  They’ll thank you later!

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