Before You Let Your Child Quit Music Lessons, Try These 5 Thingsmckaysmusic
A study done by the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows children are most likely to start studying music between the ages of nine and 11. In their research, they found a dramatic drop in student’s interest as they begin to approach high school.
The study revealed the main reasons students lose interest in music lessons were boring lessons, frustration at a lack of progress, disliking practice and competition from other activities.
Many students later regret stopping music lessons. This is why we advise parents not to allow their little ones to quit as soon as the child experiences difficulty or expresses frustration but instead get an understanding of why the student express interest in quitting. the benefits of music education far surpass the temporary discomfort.
Fortunately, there are actions you can take that may keep your little one interested.
1. Find out the reason
Sometimes a child may like music lessons but has stage fright, doesn’t like exams or feels inferior to other musicians their age. These issues can be managed. If this is the case your child may benefit from practicing in front of a mirror. Being able to see themselves playing while listening to how well they are playing could help boost their self-confidence.
2. Choose the right instrument
Music tuition can go wrong quickly when the wrong instrument is chosen. One study suggests if children select the right instrument they will keep on with lessons longer.
The choice of an instrument can depend on the child’s preference, a parent’s suggestion or the availability of the instrument. Parents should take advice and, where possible, rent an instrument before making a financial commitment.
Gender expectations can influence instrument choice. Research shows guitarists, saxophonists and drummers are overwhelmingly male; violinists, flutists, and singers overwhelmingly female.
Particularly where a parent’s preference differs from that of their child, it’s wise to reflect on what is motivating the preference. Kids shouldn’t feel they have to conform to a stereotype.
3. Make practicing less of a burden
Around 70% of 5-14-year-olds who play an instrument or sing spend two hours or less per week on the activity. But most children will not always want to practice and many won’t know-how.
Some children feel they are letting their parents down by not practicing. This can make learning music miserable. Parents can help by:
- creating a household routine that makes time and space for practice
- being present with younger children during practice and asking older children how practice is progressing
- understanding how the teacher wants their child to practice. Whether via a practice diary or through communication during the weekly lesson, knowing the purpose of practice helps target the encouragement parents can provide
- being realistic about how long their child can practice. Different teachers will have different approaches to how long their students should practise, but regular practice sessions are better than a longer session the night before a lesson
- being flexible. If a child is exhausted or there has been a disruption to their routine, permit them to take a night off
- encouraging their child to simply begin a session, however short – rather than fixating on completing 20, 30 or 40 minutes of practice – will help establish a routine
- celebrating small victories. Learning an instrument can be hard and children will sometimes feel they haven’t accomplished a great deal. Praising incremental improvements can help motivate your kid.
4. Help your child take control
Learning music is challenging but must be rewarding. Given a lack of progress is a leading reason for stopping lessons, it is vital, particularly for teenagers, that they develop agency as musicians.
Examples of fostering agency include:
- encouraging them to select some of the music they play
- giving them space and encouragement to compose their music of their own
- allowing them to choose where, when and with whom they play
- valuing a learning journey that explores a breadth of repertoire, rather than repertoire of ever-increasing difficulty
- letting them take responsibility for their learning.
This last point might mean parents gradually let go of monitoring practice. An interim step is for a parent to offer to help keep the teenager accountable.
I know you often practise at 7pm […] would you like me to ask you how it’s going or remind you if it seems you’ve forgotten?
Competing interests represent a leading cause of stopping music tuition. The transition to high school is a pressure point in this regard.
When a child becomes over-scheduled or overwhelmed, parents should consider offering a break from music lessons. The break should be for a defined period (typically a term) and it is wise to keep the teacher informed.
5. Frame the ending positively
When a teenager wants to stop lessons but the parents are unsure of whether the desire is genuine or the time is right, it is sometimes possible to strike a deal.
You’ve come so far and done so well how about you keep going until after the concert in three months and if you still feel the same way, you can stop.
Most teenagers ultimately do stop and that’s OK. The best thing parents can do is help their child frame that ending positively.
Rather than seeing their child as “quitting” or “giving up”, parents should describe this transition as “moving on” or “graduating”.
Celebrate what they have accomplished and encourage them to keep playing for pleasure – their own, and that of others.