Within the first few years of music lessons, many children quit. Sadly, it’s a decision most come to regret later in life. As an adult, you hear it quite often from your friends, family, and colleagues; “I wish I would have stuck with violin lessons as a child.”
It’s natural for a parent to want to stop their child from making this regretful choice. In addition, you have invested a lot of time and money between lessons and instrument costs. Do you just let your child quit? Was it all a waste? Or do you have to become one of those parents who force their child to stick to music lessons?
Here’s the Plan
Instead of scolding or forcing your child to continue taking lessons, assess the situation and come up with a plan. The biggest question to ask your child is “why do you want to quit?”
Every music student goes through periods of frustration, boredom with particular repertoire, and sometimes discouragement for various reasons, including slow progress, or not being able to grasp certain techniques or concepts quickly. Sometimes external unrelated issues may cause your child to want to quit, such as financial hardships at home, or stress and overload at school.
All of the aforementioned aren’t an indication your child truly wants to quit; it also does not mean they no longer enjoy playing or love the instrument. Rather, it’s a sign that your child needs some encouragement, validation of a job well done, and maybe some restructuring in lessons and practice. Let’s talk about how you can implement the latter in a positive and healthy way.
1. Have a Conversation and Listen
You know your child. Ask directly why he or she wants to quit, and listen to the answer. You’ll be able to recognize whether your child wants to genuinely quit or whether the feeling will go away with time.
2. CompromiseTell your child to wait a few months, and if they still feel like quitting after that time, they can. Usually, the feeling of wanting to quit is a fleeting one, so this method works well in those cases. However, you must become proactive after your child brings up discontinuing music lessons. How? Keep reading.
3. Discuss with Music TeacherLet the music teacher know that your child has discussed quitting with you. The teacher should take time to understand where that feeling is stemming from. They may need to adjust their lesson plan to better accommodate the child’s learning and attention.
In some cases, a parent may have to make a decision to change teachers. It’s not uncommon that a teacher and a student just don’t mesh well. In addition, your child might want a teacher who specializes in a different style of music or has another teaching method. It’s OK to explore teachers, their teaching styles, and the various genres of music out there.
4. Become More Active and Engaged or Take a Step BackEither you’re a parent who drops off your child at their lessons, or you’re that parent who sits in, listens intently, takes notes, and then recounts everything back to your child on the way home. Neither style is wrong. However, one or the other could be a factor in why your child wants to quit.
If you are not enthusiastic about the lessons, and do not take an active role, the child might also begin to lose excitement over learning the instrument.
On the other hand, some parents go to the other extreme, attending and volunteering in all their child’s musical events, sitting next to them in orchestral rehearsals and camp classes, and more! Your child might find this overbearing.
Find a middle ground. Show your child how important music lessons are through your presence and acknowledgment of a job well done. But also, give your child the space to develop with their instrument and to create music-based relationships with their peers outside of your watchful eye.
5. Social InteractionMany children want to quit as the teen years approach. This may be because they are more interested in peer-relationships in and outside of the school. It’s important to make sure that the activity of music does not become isolating as the child gets older.
There are camps, orchestras, band, jam sessions, workshops, clubs and numerous other ways to keep music a social experience for your child or teenager so they can form friendships.
6. Let It GoSadly, it might turn out that the call to quit is a real one. If a child is not making progress, unhappy and unwilling to practice, shows no enthusiasm for the instrument or lessons, constantly asks to play another instrument, or still wants to stop playing even after you’ve told them to wait for several months, then it’s time to move on.
Forcing your child to play through their miserableness will lead to resentment and further animosity toward learning music. While it is disappointing for a parent to see a child give up a positive and beneficial activity, the main point is to have fun.
By Jasmine Reese