My teen doesn’t practice.
“Success does for
what sunshine does
for stained glass!”
ls it worth it to continue?
This is a common question and I was asked this just the other day by someone who’s child I don’t teach. This is what I said.
If your teen is asking for lessons, I lean to providing lessons if possible.
If your teen does NOT want lessons and YOU want them to continue, then it’s a different conversation.
I see music as a form of nourishment; emotional and spiritual food.
Some reasons to consider
supporting your teen’s desire for lessons
even if practicing is a challenge
It’s not always a performance activity, something we do to entertain others or to be on show.
Music can be a tremendous way to provide a practice of creativity and self-soothing and a skill that can provide deep satisfaction in later life.
Practicing is a solitary activity but lessons are not. Often lessons with a beloved music teacher provide a safe relationship, a continuity in times where kids are facing so many pressures and unknowns.
Teens generally have a half dozen teachers or more at school and friendships can sometimes be in flux as well.
Providing continuity through ongoing music, drama, dance or art classes or sports if your teen enjoys sports, help to build confidence and a sense of predictability in their lives.
I work with teens who sometimes face late diagnoses of ADHD or anxiety and parents tell me they are so happy their child has such a healthy relationship with an adult like me. If we need to veer away from music for a few minutes during a lesson, and just talk about life in general, it’s ok.
I know I loved my piano teacher as a teen. She was someone I saw every week for many, many years. In my case, my mom wanted me to complete exams and so my connection with my teacher revolved around practice ‘requirements’…which I did not always meet. But she was such a lovely, kind person and never shamed me (which in the day, was something that frequently happened with music teachers). I enjoyed my lesson time with her.
Signing up for a music camp in the summers can make music more of a social activity and they meet other teens who play.
Does your child watch other people make music? On youtube or at concerts, musicians who play piano? Lady Gaga, Alicia Keys, Elton John, Stevie Wonder, John Legend, Sara Bareilles. Sometimes watching a famous player make music can inspire a young teen to play more on their own.
Sometimes adding guitar or another instrument into the mix inspires a teen to see music from a new perspective. They are inspired to pick up the new instrument and learn certain pieces on both instruments.
There are so many distractions and choices for teens now. If your teen is asking for lessons, know that there are many music skills learned and absorbed at the lesson even without practice.
So I say YES, give your child lessons if they are asking for them. We can’t always see the deep impact lessons are having. It’s one of those ‘planting seeds for the future’ types of things we do as parents and sometimes it’s not about us. It’s about our kids and what they are drawn to.