Last night, one of my students came in to announce that "piano just isn't fun anymore" and that he wanted to quit. His mother and I pressed for a few more details. His family and I aren't convinced that he really wants to quit. He regularly picks challenging pieces one or more grades above his level, he signed up for band and is enjoying it. I think he just fell out of love with music because now, he realizes that he has to work.
It's a plateau many students hit once they reach a certain level. This student whizzed through the beginner levels. Now, he's learning that it takes weeks, if not months, to master a song. Gone are the days when it only takes a few days to whip something into shape. When students hit this plateau and realize that they have to work harder and longer to get results, they become discouraged.
We've made changes last year to his programme to incorporate a much wider mix of music, which he chose for the most part (with just a little guidance from me). Last night, I realized that I'll need to start throwing some easy quick studies his way - some easy conquests. There are a couple more students I should try that on as well, but I digress.
His mother and I talked about how he will always find that there are aspects of his job, school, etc. that he dislikes or hates. Music is no different. The trick is finding the balance, between the fun songs and the "meat and potatoes" songs and studies, between repertoire and technical exercises, between performing and practicing.
Before wrapping up the conversation, I told him that music is his gift. We can help him to a degree, but he has to take responsibility also. If music isn't fun anymore, he must also seek ways to make it fun again - or to ask for ideas.
Hopefully, he'll take his parents and my words to heart and find ways to fall in love with music again.
Here's one way to fall in love with music again. Read Chris Foley's article Find Your Repertoire.
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