This is part of a blog called Moderately Crunchy. It is so true, read it.
Parents waste a ton of money on music lessons!
Don’t get me wrong- no parent signs Junior up for piano lessons with the intention to waste thousands of dollars and engage in some epic battles. Most parents have visions of brilliant performances in their heads as they start that first lesson. Unfortunately, most kids quit before they’ve studied for two years and forget everything they’ve learned within five.
And yet, I hear parents saying the same thing over and over again- I wish I had stuck with the (insert instrument here) when I was a kid! So, why does everyone quit and how can you keep it from happening in your family? I’m going to share with you the biggest mistakes parents make regarding their children’s musical education.
Here’s how to waste a ton of money on music lessons:
1. Pick your child’s instrument for them. Really, this is a great idea. Take away the kid’s autonomy and force them to live out your childhood dream.
2. Let the kid decide when and how much to practice. If I had a nickel for every time a parent told me, “I just can’t get them to practice” I would be a very rich woman. Do you ask your kids if they want to go to bed? Go to school? So, why are you giving them the option of practicing? You’re spending the money, and they’re not going to get anything out of it if they don’t practice. Repeat after me: THEY WILL LEARN NOTHING!
3. Choose a teacher at random. Good music teachers will provide you with references. They’ll also be able to explain their approach in plain English. But wait, you’re out to waste money here! So, pick someone at random, entrust your child to them, and hope for the best. Professionalism, studio policies, formal training? Who cares about all that!?
4. Cancel lessons on a whim. Or, better yet, just don’t show up at all. If the kids are really sick, by all means stay home. But, consistently cancelling or failing to show up at lessons derails my lesson plans and is just plain disrespectful. While you’re at it, forget to send the books with them when they do deign to show up I cannot teach if I have nothing to teach out of.
5. Ignore the lesson notes. I send all my students home with notebooks full of practice instructions and notes. I don’t write a bunch of stuff down just for fun. By all means, let your kid screw around and play only the stuff they like and then call it practice. They’ll have plenty of fun, but they won’t be getting any better.
6. Opt out of concerts. Yes, concerts are not held at your regularly scheduled lesson times, and yes, they do come at inconvenient times like the holidays and the end of the school year. If you want to waste your money on lessons, make sure your kid never gets the chance to show off what he’s learned. That should efficiently squash any sense of self-motivation!
7. Purchase a sub-par instrument. Music is expensive, more so than almost any sport you can be involved in. Not only do you have to purchase an instrument, you also have to maintain it well, buy books, and pay for lessons. Your child cannot get a good tone on a piece of crap instrument and, if they can’t get a good tone, they won’t want to keep trying. If you can’t afford it, you shouldn’t start it.
8. Let them quit when it gets hard. Learning to play an instrument is hard- mind-blowingly hard- for a young child. They will get frustrated. They will beg you to quit. If you want to waste your money, and- worst of all- teach your child that you don’t believe they can do hard things, then let them quit. It takes a strong parent to be a successful music parent. Music parents cannot be their child’s best friend all the time, but hear me out, if you encourage them to continue, they will thank you for it later.
We want the absolute best for our children, and we walk a fine line between pushing them to be great and giving them a soft place to land. However, too many parents I work with take the easy way out when it comes to music lessons, and it’s not doing the child any favours.
Here’s what happens when music lessons go right: the child learns discipline, precision, determination, follow-through, attention to detail, and fortitude. Studies have shown that children who study music get higher grades and report greater levels of confidence. Musical children live in an enriching environment, where they learn to appreciate the arts and, therefore, the beauty in the world around them. Most of them will not turn out to be concert musicians, but they will be better people as a result of their effort.
It’s worth the effort.