The 8 most common reasons children quit learning the piano:
- No proper tuition on the music reading process
At the beginning the music reading process is a delicate balance between looking at the page and watching hands. It is about where the learner’s eyes are focusing. In Headstart Piano Book 1, I help the learner pay careful attention to this in every lesson until the habit of watching the page correctly is formed.
2. No balance in learning both playing by ear skills and reading music skills
Playing by ear is something many children take to very quickly and it is often the thing that draws the parent to their interest in learning to take formal piano lessons. They start lessons and suddenly it seems as though playing by ear goes out the window. The focus on reading only can dry up the child’s initial enthusiasm if not treated well. In Headstart Piano (alongside music reading skills) I teach Pattern Pieces that are only taught by ear. These are all sorts of fun pieces, some they will recognize and some that are new, to help the child focus on particular piano techniques. By doing this, the child can develop the reading technique alongside playing by ear. The skills develop separately at first but quickly blend in the right places.
3. No option for creative playing or improvising
I have found that the combination of learning to read music and play Pattern Pieces by ear gives a foundation of ideas for the pupil to create their own music, which I encourage them to do and share. Without those foundational building blocks it is difficult to create anything. As the Sound of Music song says: “Nothing comes from nothing”.
4. No real interest in the tuition material being used
For some children the material they learn from is an important key to hold their interest. I have included some known pieces for this express purpose in Headstart Piano. For the most part though, the music is original with my aim being to provide music that a beginner musician can perform proudly. It doesn’t sound trite or babyish. I’ve proved that by having children thoroughly enjoy the material from age 6 right through to 12 year olds. The level of playing ability is not drawn out with many pieces at a similar level, so they can advance quite quickly if the practice is done as instructed. There are ways of treating the material differently to accommodate different age or stage levels.
5. No achievable practice plan
With each piece in Headstart Piano there is a structured way to practice, play and record that progress. The supervising parent can see that the foundation of each piece learned helps the pupil take the next step up to the next piece.
6. Not enough parental involvement or interest
In my experience, this happens most often when a child has piano lessons at school and the parent doesn’t follow up with the lesson later to make sure the appropriate regular practice happens. After school lessons are often better and parents are more aware of what needs to happen. With a homeschool situation this is unlikely to happen as much and the child has a much better chance of someone taking an interest in their progress.
7. No group experience of music
While Headstart Piano is written for the individual, there are ways of using it to play with others. You can have two children playing the same piece at different parts of the piano (if they are not moving far out of position). Or, you can encourage them to use the tutor duets I have provided on the videos. An older sibling or parent who can play the piano could play these as many of them are not too difficult. Music for these is included in the resource section of the course. Pick pieces that can be played on another instrument such as a recorder, and play in unison with the piano.
8. No connection with the teacher
We learn from teachers that inspire us in some way or another and we want to earn their approval. The reason so many people prefer to sign up their children to regular piano lessons each week face to face with a real person is because they want the encouragement and accountability that goes with that relationship. Although this is a challenge with a video lesson based online course, I include the option to send videos of piano pieces to me for review. I will give personal feedback for these, once in each of the 7 sections of the course for those on a subscription and 3 per section for those on the 1 time payment plan.
I have never heard anyone say they wished they gave up learning the piano as a child but I have had plenty of conversations where some of the above issues were among reasons mentioned for giving up learning. If you think I’ve missed a reason why children give up, I’d love to know it—because I want to be sure to address it for the next generation!