I read a blog recently from a fellow teacher (Susan Paradis) that was so TRUE! Parents have various reasons for their children to participate in piano lessons.
Here are the reasons that she mentioned with a few comments of my own added:
1. They want their child to learn a little bit about music. If they learn a pretty piece, that's a bonus. Just take for enrichment.
2. The family inherited or bought a piano, and need to justify the space it takes in a room.
3. They read it will help their child get better grades in school. The younger the child takes - the better.
4. They think it will help them get a head start on another instrument the child really wants to play.
5. They, the parent, were not able to take piano as a child, so they want to give their child that opportunity.
6. They want their child to show off flashy pieces for family or friends.
7. They took piano and enjoyed it, so they want their child to do the same.
8. They value a music education.
As a teacher, I see children come and go in my studio and have seen all these reasons fleshed out! Children who fit reasons 1-6 did not last hardly one year. Of course, many children do not see the value of music or can see down the road like a parent. Parents who see the value and knows that a good musician doesn't happen overnight are willing to ride the roller coaster of practicing and quitting seasons. At some point, as the child gets older and matures, they have to make up their mind that they really want to learn and improve their skills. Parents have to be firm about taking lessons and determine we are in this for the long haul especially if they really notice the child does deep down enjoys music, but she doesn't enjoy the process. Of course, a child rather play outside/sports than practice. We all rather play than brush and floss our teeth but it doesn't negate having to do it. (I hope my piano teaching/lessons are better than having to go to the dentist! Ha!) Consistency with scheduled routines of practice and studying notes help make it a part of our daily routine and the progress is a reward in and of itself!
To answer some of the reasons listed above:
1. Yes, enrichment/exposure is good. But you might just want to enroll the child in a general music class, music summer camp, or something like Kindermusik.
2. Inherited a piano....is it in good condition? Many inherited pianos need lots of work. The child sees a significant difference in their piano versus the teacher's.
3. Yes, exposure to music does help improve skills such as math, social, etc. The younger the better idea differs with each child. Some children would think it is pure torture to sit down at the piano for 30 minutes to practice. Yes, there is a lot of scientific evidence that it improves our mind. Playing the piano is one of the few activities that involves many intelligences. See Reason #8 - a good reason for music education!
4. It is great to learn to read music. Piano is a great way to learn to read music because you learn to read treble and bass clefs and play multiple notes at one time. I highly recommend it! But I also have found that some people can only comprehend one note at a time so other instruments would be a better fit. I have even recommended a student to study violin instead because it only played one note a time (which he did in the lesson - played only one hand) and he already had a violin in the home.
5. The parent did not receive the opportunity to take as a child. Well, maybe not the best reason for your child to take. The child needs to a have a general curiosity or desire to play. Hey, if you are that parent, why don't you fill that "bucket list" and take lessons now. Many teachers take adult students.
6. They want their child to perform. It takes a lot of "practice to perform." I encourage children to perform often and early on because the more you are exposed to playing in front of others the easier it becomes. But not a valid reason to learn how to play. You need to learn to play for your own enjoyment more importantly. Some children have a hard time being "pushed" to perform and have great anxiety in crowds or have a timid demeanor. I was that child. With proper encouragement, I was able to overcome my fear by performing often and also playing for our church regularly. As a parent, just know your child and how much you should "encourage."
7. I learned and want to pass that gift on to my children. Not a bad reason. But you might consider setting a time frame they have to take and at that point let them decide whether to continue especially if the child shows no desire to pursue further learning.
8. Value music education.....probably the best reason! Our children value what we value. If you value and enjoy good music, your children will probably develop that taste as well. Music is a gift from God. I think we should honor the Lord with our music. Music gives a great sense of pride, confidence and source of stress relief. It is one of the best gifts you could ever give your child that they can enjoy all their life no matter what age, wherever they live or career they pursue. It is a gift to enjoy by individually or shared with others.