Sunday, October 23, 2011

piano lessons

Last night was our monthly potluck with families we have become close to through homeschooling. Many of these kids are now in school, but we all still enjoy each other's company and so gather regularly for communal meals.

As dinner was ending, with parents talking around the table and kids playing in another room, one of the moms very quietly noticed: "...he's memorized it…" Her son was playing a piece on the piano, fluidly and with great musicality.

She then told us that at one point she had called the piano teacher to say her son no longer wanted to continue with lessons as he felt burdened by the need to practice and memorize pieces.

The teacher had responded by saying, in effect, that he didn't need to do these things—it was enough that he come to lessons each week. She then asked to be able to talk with the child directly, so that they could come to "an agreement."

After the next lesson, the son returned and said that he and his teacher now had an agreement: he was no longer obliged to practice, and he would no longer need to memorize pieces. He had already opted out of recitals, because he didn't like to perform. His only part in the agreement was to go to the lesson each week.

And that is when things turned around. Piano became fun, and once it was fun, he found himself wanting to practice. At the dinner, the mom realized he had somehow memorized the piece he had been practicing.

He was also playing before a small audience of friends: performing.


  1. Aaaaaw. Thanks : ) That was nice to read.

  2. For us, XX's eccentric teacher allowed and encouraged XX to play her own (often odd and classically unmusical, though highly enthusiastic) compositions at the end of each lesson. The lessons are a collaborative effort; I think her teacher has done as much learning about XX as teaching her. That has made a world of difference -- learning to work with the child, not just work.

  3. I love that story! When expectation was removed, true motivation came through.


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