I want to title this: 7 experienced tips to get your kid to keeping playing piano but it’s more than only tips today. Below I listed out seven tips for parents who want their child to stick to piano playing or to start piano lessons. I also share photos and some stories of the important role of today’s piano festival and the years of piano lessons have played in Hunter’s life. You get it all in this piano-packed post.
Our son, Hunter played in his ninth piano festival this morning and our daughter Elizabeth played in her second piano festival. The thought of attending another piano festival had our youngest child, Anika, plug her nose and say, “Phew! Boring!” She stayed home with Nana and hopefully finds her music niche in the future.
After taking piano lessons since fourth grade, we knew this would be Hunter’s last fall piano festival as doesn’t plan to take lessons in college. Elizabeth plays from Hunter’s piano example and started lessons last year in first grade.
Getting an active boy to stick with piano lessons and prepare for a competitive piano festival annually is no easy feat. But we did it. Today is a day in parenting I feel like we have run a treacherous race for years and finished.
Hunter will continue weekly piano lessons with Mrs. Erbele through his senior year and play in her spring recital next spring. However, the competitive part of piano ended for Hunter today. It is equally important to any sport or other activity he chose to participate in through elementary, junior high and high school.
As we walked into the festival this morning, which is held in a neighboring town’s school, a mom friend of mine sought Hunter and I out for advice on how to keep her son from quitting piano. Hunter and I both shared our tips. Hunter’s piano playing tips included a few threats I had given throughout the years. He added more detail with me this afternoon.
For the kids that want to quit piano, here is Hunter’s 18 year-old advice combined with parenting techniques from Nathan and me. We aren’t experts, only survivors! Technically, Nathan did earn a music performance scholarship to college and starred five times at state music in high school. He is an expert. I am not.
Simply, I am a mom who worked diligently to make sure music stayed in our son’s life through high school. I learned this from my mom and am forever grateful for her encouraging example and persistence. Here are tips from Hunter and I exchanging ideas today.
- Make music fun. Hunter always plays music he enjoys and can feel. It’s a mix of modern and classical and usually needs an upbeat pace to it to challenge him. Find what works in piano lessons for your child.
- Play piano to improve yourself for other activities. Hunter said to me, “Piano makes me better in all pressure situations of sports and school.” Playing piano is a stress release for him also. When he’s frustrated in other areas of life, he sits at the piano to play and relax.
- Parents, make piano non-negotiable. I stressed for years that playing piano will be an activity Hunter can do at age 50, long after any games or sports are over that he once played as a teenager. Then I drew a hard-line. While basketball was his first choice most years we made a deal if wanted to play on his traveling basketball team, he had to stick to weekly piano lessons during the school year. It was seventh grade when we cut the deal and he didn’t quit piano and kept playing travel team basketball through this past summer.
- Find a flexible and understanding piano teacher. Hunter has only taken lessons from Mrs. Erbele who understands full schedules and busy kids. She worked with Hunter and patiently knew the weeks of sports seasons he had not touched the piano between lessons. She also comes to the school for lessons. It didn’t require Hunter to travel anywhere and thankfully he can take piano lessons during his music hour of school. A flexible music teacher is key also. Thank you Mrs. Erbele and Mrs. Wolff!
- Practice piano before school. Hunter’s high school life often has him leave the house for 7:00 a.m. FFA practice and not return home until late evening from a sports practice or game. On mornings he is home, he sits down at the piano at 7:30 a.m. for 20-30 minutes of playing. Piano practice became a habit of his in elementary school because I required 7:30 a.m. practices. It makes after school homework and evenings easier.
- Create an easily accessible practice area. Hunter has an affordable keyboard (a Christmas gift from a few years ago) in his room and a piano that Nathan grew up playing on our main floor. Having a designated practice area that the child can play piano on by themselves is important for development. In the first year of piano lessons, Hunter had to practice at his grandparent’s house and then Nathan’s parents gave us their piano. Watch local sale pages and you often see old piano offered for free if you will move it. I had previously had one of those when we lived in Fargo! Worth the moving price for a lifetime of music and piano playing in your home.
- Keep playing. Similar to running a race, do not quit. Keep playing piano. No matter the full schedules, piano playing enriches a child’s life. I could throw out all sorts of scientific studies of the value of music in a child’s life. I already know the impact adds more than any price of lessons, music or a $15 festival fee. It far outweighs the inconvenience of piano practicing and even makes the arguing with a teenager on the importance of music in their life WORTH it
Now for a few pictures from today’s last piano festival of Hunter’s and hopefully one of many more for Elizabeth.
My parents stressed music in our family when I was a kid. They encouraged Hunter through the years and always try to get to his piano festivals, often depending on whether corn harvest is done or not. Today, they were both at the piano festival along with my brother Joe, all thanks to corn harvest being complete.
Mrs. Susan Erbele, thank you. This is a multi-generational piano picture as Mrs. Erbele also taught Nathan and now our kids. She is a dear friend who impacted our children so many positive ways through music.
The judge. Piano festivals bring pressure. Hunter had the same judge this year as he had in fourth grade and in a majority of the nine years he participated. In fourth grade, we had moved months before to the prairie, Nathan’s hometown and life was new and different for Hunter. The piano festival was a positive experience and grew from there into a lifelong skill for Hunter. Thank you, Mr. David Poffenberger for your adjudicating through the years, for your positive words to a young boy and to the many other dedicated organizers and judges. You each made a difference in the life our son.
I stopped and told Mr. Poffenberger “thank you” today and Hunter took a picture with him.
Piano adds depth, color and vitality to our everyday life. I am grateful this chapter of life continues with Elizabeth’s dedicated playing and for the lifelong skill Hunter developed through piano practicing, playing and performance.
Play on, my children.