Anyone here play an instrument?

Did your parents have to make you practice?

Our son is 8 and has been playing the piano for about 1 1/2 years. He's truly gifted. He composes his own music and can easily take a piece of music and add his own sound to it. His piano instructor says he's amazing. But the problem is that he's really fighting us on practicing everyday. I don't know if it's simply the fact that he's getting older and more oppositional or he's losing interest. Everytime we talk about ending his lessons he starts to cry and plead with us. But jeez, it is tough to sit down with him while he practices. He throws in notes that aren't there and refuses to play the song as it is meant to be played. Or he closes his eyes and plays that way.

Some days are better than others. But last night my husband was very frustrated and said we were going to stop the lessons if our son continued to not practice the proper way and messed up his lessons.

And yes, someone must supervise his practice session or he'll just start improvising and doing his own thing. He needs to practice the "homework" his piano teacher gives him.

Does anyone have suggestions? Should we continue to push him and perhaps take away privileges to reinforce the idea that he needs to practice? I'm just very disappointed because our son is not a sporty kind of kid. He's not involved in any extracurricular activities. Music is wonderful for kids and as I posted before, my son is gifted. We really want to build on that talent and not have him waste it.

Did your parents push you? Are you now grateful for it?
I played piano and cello as a child and didn't practice enough (or at all, eventually). My parents didn't force me to practice, and therefore I never became very good at either.

It sounds like with your son, it's not lack of motivation (as it was with me), it's more that he's bored by his "homework" and wants to express his own creativity. Is his teacher complaining? Is he unsuccessful at the basics she's trying to teach him? I would maybe suggest talking to the teacher about it to get her take. If she's not concerned with his progress, I'd allow him to continue practicing as he sees fit.
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ITA with Pixie.

Please don't end his lessons! He sounds like he really enjoys it. He's probably just bored.
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I loved the piano as a kid and didn't much mind practicing, but I hated my piano teacher. I should have told my parents that, and they would have found me another teacher, but instead I kept quiet about it and stopped playing. Which, of course, I regret.

Eight is pretty young for a kid to have the discipline to keep up with something he doesn't enjoy. It sounds as if the particular style of teaching doesn't mesh with him right now. I wonder if either the teacher can give him more room for his creativity for now, or maybe he needs a different teacher. It would be a real shame to let his interest die out.
ITA too. Sounds like he is very talented and loves it and should continue music. Can you talk to his teacher and maybe come up with a program where the basics and drills are balanced by more creative stuff? I think it's natural in a musical career to have phases where you are more or less willing to work at certain things (and especially when you are eight), and I think the thing to do is to get through the tough phases somehow without burning him out and without losing what he already has.

ETA: I never had lessons or talent.

But I am thinking of what my aunt told me about my cousin. They are both really musical - she was a music teacher. He played piano, and then saxophone. She said there was a time when he was a teen and he wanted to drop piano. She convinced him to keep up the piano lessons, but that he wouldn't have to practice and do the homework if he didn't want. No pressure, he kept at it for a while and was glad he did.

I also agree with Suzen that if this teacher does not work out, find another. the goal is not for him to learn to play XYZ in a certain amount of time. The goal is to further his love and knowledge of music, in whatever way works best for him.
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Thanks. I will talk to my husband tonight and the piano teacher on Saturday, when he comes over. We need to find a way for this to work for our son. He loves to play. He's so amazing that he can hear a song and play it by ear, without reading the music. I agree that he's creative and that there's probably a part of him that hated being restricted to boring notes on a page. I get it. But is this the way to learn?

James is a wonderful teacher. He is patient with our son and when M starts doing his own thing, he'll follow along with him and they just jam. Other times, he redirects him. But I can say with certainty that this person is the right teacher for our son. It's my son that is being difficult.
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guitar and bass i am comfortable on. i cant play chords and bass lines on the piano. i have good rythm but generall am crappy at the drums, although one night after playing drums for a jam band while high on mushrooms an old jammer came up to me and told me it was my calling.
At his age, I think I was practicing 30 minutes a day but I'm not sure how long your son is practicing. You could just let him play his own stuff for 15 minutes and play the lesson for 15 minutes that way he's still getting to be creative (or a 10:20 ratio). My mom bought my brother a kitchen timer for this purpose. He set it and when it rang, he had to stop and start the teacher's lesson.
I wouldn't discourage his creativity. It's hard to learn to improv on the piano when you've been playing classical stuff for your whole life and I think both sides of the coin have a place in contemporary music.

I'm a voice major, by the way and I took piano for 12 years. I am the pianist for a Catholic church in my town and love it.
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I played guitar, piano and viola as a kid. I also used to fool around with violin, chello and a trumpet. My parents didn't push me at all and I regret not working harder. I had alot of natural talent, I can pretty much pick up any instriment and after I figure out where each note is, I can play it anything.

With the guitar lessons, they teacher didn't teach much, I could have taught myself, so I got bored.

With the piano teacher, I hated her, by that time I had spent several years in the orchrastra and had a passion for classical music, she taught only gospel. I took piano lessons for 2 years and yet I still don't know how to play chop sticks!! So I gave up on that too.

With Orchestra, once I started high school, I had alot of classes I needed to take and decided to take a year off, big mistake. In order to get back in, I need to take a summer school class and then audition, but in order to do so I needed to provide my own instrument. My family couldn't afford one, and I couldn't rent one without being in a school orchestra. So I was stuck.

I really agree with the others, of keep pushing him. Maybe he doesn't like the music choices?
I took piano lessons for ten years. When I was that age, I used to compose my own songs too. One thing that helped me focus on structure and keep the creativity would be when my mom bought a blank piano music book where I had to transcribe my created songs into notes on the pages. My teacher helped me, and it also made me want to play more. And now I can play my own songs that I created almost 20 years ago, which is pretty cool.

Another thing, I didn't want to disappoint my teacher by not practicing the songs or scales that she had asked me to. Sometimes I'd skip practicing one or two days and then spend an hour or two practicing the night before my weekly lesson. That actually worked well for me. And for the lessons, I couldn't move past a few songs at each time until I had an "OK" or "Excellent" sticker on the song, which my teacher determined based on my progress. Hope that makes sense. Definitely stick with the teacher and encourage all the creativity.
SO was a piano performance major in college. He was the only one of his siblings who really took to the piano when they all started lessons. However, being a kid, he fought practicing at times, too.

He says he wishes his parents had made him practice more and take it more seriously, once they could tell he had an affinity for it.

Keep your son at it. Maybe talk to him about why he's practicing the way he is-- he obviously wants to keep playing, so it's not that he doesn't like the piano. I have a feeling he's just being an eight-year-old.
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Wow, your son sounds incredibly gifted, medussa! Whatever you do, don't stop his lessons! I recommend one of two things: get him a new teacher that isn't "classically trained" and is more willing to work with his out of the box style. For my first seven years of orchestra I worked with a classically trained teacher and learned a lot. Once I got to college I began working with a... less traditional teacher and my music matured and evolved more than I could have possibly imagined. Since your son is obviously gifted and can handle the technical aspects of music I recommend getting him a teacher that can help him with the non-technical aspects of music.

Another option for you is to get him started on another instrument. It may help him to become re-interested/re-focused and still develop his musical skills. Of course I wouldn't stop piano completely but it might be a fun/creative outlet for him. That's what I did-- I started out for my first 5 years on violin then switched to viola and have been playing that for 5 years. Now I can play both proficiently and let me tell you my orchestra teachers/professors love me! It's really fun to be able to do both and since your son has a lot of musical talent I'd bet he'd be good at other instruments.

ETA: When I played piano long before my days in orchestra my parents forced me to practice and it was misery! I was also forced to practice violin and it made me hate it so much that I stopped for a year and then started viola after I had a break. (In other words, please don't force your son to practice. It will just make him resentful!)
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When I was in elementary school, I took piano lessons. I was good at it, but I hated my teacher so I didn't practice just to spite her. Later on, I took up flute and actually got very good at it; I auditioned for and played in youth symphonies, and I competed a lot. Unfortunately, I had a similar problem with my teacher (my tennis coach once told me that I'm uncoachable; I think she was right). So anyway, I quit flute because it got so competitive and finally started doing more voice. Now, singing is pretty much my passion.

My parents didn't push me; otherwise I'd proably be an unhappy piano-playing flutist instead of a happy vocalist. Then again, every situation is different. He sounds very talented; I'd have him stick with it unless he's genuinely unhappy with the piano.
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So, what I'm trying to say is...I agree w/ PC
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Originally Posted by 2happy
What kind of perv do you think I am? Besides this is Medussa. I'm a good boy with her.

At his age, I think I was practicing 30 minutes a day but I'm not sure how long your son is practicing. You could just let him play his own stuff for 15 minutes and play the lesson for 15 minutes that way he's still getting to be creative (or a 10:20 ratio).
Originally Posted by chgurlsng
I agree with this but not necessarily for the same reasons even as they are good ones too.
He got enough structure. Make a deal with him. You know he is able to function and be more receptive to ideas and cooperation when he can make a little of the decision himself. He feels important and he feels intelligent and capable. Don't snuff that out. If he wants to play you've gotten through half the battle by finding something super constructive and healthy for him to pursue. Embrace his input and originality in this. It will also lead to more socialization and a way to express himself. More good things for little m.
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As a professional musician and former private teacher (I burnt out) I used to make a game for my students who hated to practice. I gave them 5 steps to go through (depending what they were working on) to "count" as a practice session.

1. Warm-up (play something you like)
2. Run through (play your assigned piece)
3. Take each hard part and roll a pair of dice to see how many times you have to repeat it. (This takes a while. I always joked that if they got snake eyes, they only had TWO chances to get it right!, so it had better be good!)
4. Run through again (should be better now!)
5. Cool down (play something you like)


I don't know if a plan like that would help. I used to say they should go through those steps at least once a day, but sometimes they would do more once they got going. A lot of them liked that there was a pattern and it didn't seem like practicing was this endless chore.

It helps that I still hate to practice, so I really related to those poor kids! My parents never had to make me do it when I was young. I wish someone would now, though.
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I play the saxophone.. practicing was mandatory for the grade, but I'm no longer in band. I'm sure I'll take it out one of these days and have a lil fun.
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My 2 younger kids play piano (ages 7 and 9). They are both very musical, but my daughter (age 9) is gifted. She finished the Alfred series books long ago and has moved on to individual works. I think letting the child pick the genre of music s/he wants to play is key. My kids' piano teacher is a classical snob, and was really pushing classical on her, which was making her unhappy, but once I talked to him and explained that my daughter wants to play jazz and blues and popular music more than classical, he has been very cooperative.

I don't want to train my kids to be professional musicians, so I'm not a drill sergeant about practicing. My hope for them is that they will always enjoy music and be able to play for pleasure. I don't sit with them to practice, and frankly, I'm not a musician, so I can't tell if they're playing right or wrong, so they would be able to get over on me easily. I set a timer for them and they have to play for that amount of time...but they can play whatever they want. My daughter practices 40 minutes a day, my son 20 minutes. I probably won't go beyond the 40 minutes ever...there just isn't enough time in the day for more practice than that, not with all the other stuff they do.

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