• It’s hard enough to get my kids to practice any instrument as it is, so why can’t piano teachers make my life easier and make learning to play the piano more fun? I consider our family pretty musical –my husband has played the guitar for 13 years while I’ve played the violin for a little over 15 years. We both toy around with the piano but don’t know how to play well enough to teach. And certainly not our own children! So, when our two daughters ages 7 and 5 wanted to play the piano, we decided that it was time to invest in a good piano teacher. Five teachers later, our daughters are now 12 and 10, and we’re still looking.

    The girls have been diligent with practicing at least 15-30 minutes per day, of course sometimes with some minor arm-twisting. However, their frustration, which becomes mine as well, is their lack of desire to practice the pieces the teachers have given them. It drives me crazy and sometimes makes me think that perhaps I should stop pushing them to play and just give up. The problem is that they love to play songs that they like or that they hear on the radio and will learn those by themselves and even practice on their own. Not a problem for me but definitely for their teacher.

    This issue really seems to be isolated to piano teachers- our other musical instructors have readily complied. But when I’ve asked several different piano teachers to make it fun for my kids, by teaching them songs they like, their overwhelming response has been that they have to learn the fundamentals and proper technique first. This apparently can only be taught using the classics (Bach, Mozart, Chopin, etc.). I say that’s a bunch of hogwash. They somehow become territorial or something as if they’re trying to protect some unspoken code about classical music being superior to more modern pieces.

    I’d prefer to let the kids have fun so that they are motivated to learn more simple techniques using music they actually enjoy. Then, once they’re engaged and appreciate playing they might be ready to take on some of the more complicated masterpieces. With the emphasis on music they find boring you risk losing them and turning them away from music forever. Luckily, we’ve persisted with our search and our two daughters continue to play their songs of choice, since they know how to read music. However, I just hope eventually we can find someone who who’ll break away from the sacred pact and teach them what they like to play. I don’t care if they ever become professional musicians. I just want them to have fun!