Before the advent of modern technology like radio, people used to gather to hear musicians play. Musicians had to be educated or trained on their instrument and it was often a form of social currency. There was great cache involved in the ability to play a musical instrument and the modern-day music lesson was born. Today, many parents are still diligently focused on giving their children a musical education. Very often, these young music students lose interest, no longer want to practice, play or even take lessons. This leads to the question: as a parent, when should you let your child quit?
Like most parenting dilemmas, there’s no easy or right answer. You have to take into consideration your child and family’s circumstances. Here are some tips to help decide if it’s time to move on from music lessons or push through.
Expect the Honeymoon to End
Most music teachers agree there will almost inevitably be natural fluctuations in your child’s interest in their instrument. After the initial newness and excitement of taking on a new instrument subsides, kids often aren’t as interested in playing; that’s normal. Based on what other activities they have going on, kids’ interest in playing their instruments may also wane.
Set Up a Specific Time
If practice seems to be getting more and more difficult, setting up a specific time for practice is suggested so there are no questions or arguments over putting it off. Setting reasonable, achievable goals for your child is also recommended. Instead of insisting on 30 minutes of practice, it may be better to ask your child to “practice that measure five times” or “play a piece twice.” Reframing practice may help your child re-engage.
Offer Up Another Instrument
This is often a good compromise. If your child has expressed an interest in quitting music lessons, ask if they might be interested in playing a different instrument. Some instruments are better suited for certain types of kids, it may be the one your child is currently studying doesn’t fit them.
Know When to Call It
There’s nothing wrong with making your child continue until their recital, or until the end of their lessons, but if they’re genuinely disinterested, take note. You might offer a break period and see if your child might actually miss their lessons once they’re gone. Or, if practice is a constant battle, your child likes their teacher, but has no interest in lessons, it may be time to consider stopping.
Learning to play a musical instrument can have many cognitive benefits far beyond music, and it’s a wonderful life-long competency. But, listening to music has also been shown to have a positive impact on kids’ brain activity. Just because your child doesn’t take music lessons doesn’t mean they won’t love or benefit from music. If music lessons are causing more sorrow than joy in your house, it may be time to consider finding a new instrument, taking a break or stopping completely, for now. As with all things parenting, no decision has to be final and you or your child can (and might) always change your mind.