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Carnegie Hall Here We Come?

2021 August 20
by Jennifer

My oldest daughter Harper started taking piano lessons about a year ago.  According to Ms. Lisa, our saintly piano teacher, Harper is a “natural” and has an “excellent ear.” During the school year, this Tiger Mother did her best to make sure her daughter practiced 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week.  This was easy given she was in virtual 3rd grade with very few extracurriculars. And of course, Asuckronyous Wednesdays were wide open. She learned the basics required to read music and a handful of simple piano classics. She put on an excellent recital of carols for our family’s Christmas Eve dinner. She also learned to play Edelweiss to honor the life and legacy of Christopher Plummer, may he rest in peace. Ms. Lisa was always telling me how impressed she was by how quickly Harper caught on, and I truly believe that this wasn’t a marketing ploy to keep us on the hook for more lessons.

But this summer we paused the lessons because, well…summer. Although I promised Ms. Lisa I would ensure Harper practiced regularly, I didn’t.  And she didn’t.  I guess I just wanted one less thing to boss people around about, so piano practice fell by the wayside. 

So here we are. I am trying to decide whether to start lessons back up again and wondering how hard to push. If Harper has a smidge of natural talent, which is possible given the music genes she inherited (from her dad dangit), it makes me want her to stick with it. Though the piano piece seems to click, it is requiring more manhandling these days to get her to practice.  

So I’m curious- how and how hard do you push a kid on the music stuff? I didn’t grow up taking lessons (still bitter) so this is new parenting territory for me. How do you motivate them to practice?  There are a lot of things competing for my daughter’s time (sports, homework, neighborhood games of manhunt and capture the flag), so it will take a group effort to make her prioritize this over other things.  Is it worth it? How does it work at your house for your aspiring Rachmaninoff? How does piano practice fit into your family’s daily rhythms? Did you take lessons growing up? What do you do to force motivate your kids to practice? Bribes? Threats? Do I need another jar of jumbo marshmallows?

Please advise.

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