adult lessons


Quitting Piano Lessons

As a piano teacher, I often wonder why piano students quit.  Of course, most will stop taking lessons eventually in their life, so this blog will focus on students who quit after 3 years or less. While every situation is unique, there are some patterns  on why students stop playing piano.  In a podcast, Andrea from Teach Piano Today discusses with Karen King about King’s research in why piano students quit.

 The Findings:

Karen King shares some staggering statistics from her research in this podcast episode. Most shocking to me, was that about 80% of piano students quit after 3 years.  A surprising finding was that parents who have music training that are heavily involved in practice sessions have a negative effect on the students’ motivation.  A not so surprising finding, is that long-term students generally practiced more (about 2.5 hours a week), and have moved past the initial beginner stages.

Why?

King suggests that motivation for piano lesson thrives under three conditions: competency, autonomy, and relatedness. Competency refers to the student’s feelings about their own playing; if they feel that the piano is something that they are good at, they are more likely to be motivated to continue. Autonomy refers to the student’s feelings about the creative control they have over the music they play. If they feel that they have more control over their piano projects, then they are more likely to continue being interested in the piano. Relatedness refers to the student’s feelings about how the piano relates to other parts of their life. Since piano lessons can sometimes be a lonely endeavor, it is important for piano students to feel that the music they are learning is not confined to just the lessons. A suggestion from King, is to have parents play recordings of a similar genre to what the student is learning.

These findings are invaluable to all piano teachers, piano students, and piano parents. Together, with research, we can continue passing on the art of music education.

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Review of “Music Lessons Teach Discipline and Dedication”

Hi Everyone,

Today I will reviewing the article “Music Lessons Teach Discipline and Dedication” by Top Ten Reviews. This article details why piano lessons may have a positive effect towards children’s views on discipline and dedication.

Dedication of Piano Practice

The article states that in order to improve at any skill, a person must commit to a regularly scheduled training session for a specific amount of time. In a child’s life, this is often not introduced until music lessons. The article notes that this practice, is what sets the blueprints to attitudes towards higher education and career when it comes to discipline. Along with discipline, comes the ability to focus on one task at a time, and learn delayed gratification.

A Personal Account

As someone who went through 16 years of piano lessons, I thoroughly resonate with these. While I also clearly remember the struggle of maintaining regular practice times, as well as discourse with my parents who enforced it, I also understand that it was that 1 hour practice everyday that led me to play the piano at an advanced level. If I practiced one hour every day, that means I practiced a total of 7 hours in a week. To reflect, I now realize that I am likely to improve at anything  I spend 7 hours a week doing. If I wanted to improve on my health, I know that spending 1 hour everyday working on my health would have long-term effect. If I wanted to improve on my speaking, I know that spending 1 hour everyday practicing speaking would help induce improvement.

This practice has leaked over to other areas of my life. In University, this ability helped break large tasks in manageable chunk. I found this to be way more effective than cramming the night before the due date. In my work, I know that all quality work requires time and attention.

The article does not speak about the benefits of lower stress due to discipline. By consistently work on improving and building projects, I experience less anxiety over procrastination, deadlines, and lack of progress.

While piano lessons are not the only way for a child to build discipline and focus, it certaintly is one of the more fun ones.

 

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Healthy Technique

Recently, I have read about the controversy surrounding 14 year old singer Laura Bretan singing opera caught my attention.

Healthy Singing

Classic FM summarizes the issue in their article “Laura Bretan’s singing technique ‘raises deep concerns’ says singing teacher“. Voice professionals have expressed their concerns over the stress Bretan is placing on her vocal chords due to her choice in singing opera prematurely.

While I am not a voice teacher, it is important to open the discussion on healthy technique for musicians. Piano players, much like other instrumentalists and singers, have physical limitations that should not be pushed without consideration.  A consequence is that this behaviour can cause long-lasting injuries.

Musician Injuries

The most common condition for an overworked pianist is carpal tunnel syndrome, which is characterized by a pain in the arms and hands caused by a compression of a major nerve. This syndrome is seen in piano players that play and practice with tension in their hands and arms. This is especially dangerous if the pianist is practicing for hours every day without consideration of proper technique.

Just like how we should not try to lift heavy objects with our backs, we should not attempt to force advanced technique on a student that has not yet learned to use their body in a free and relaxed manner.

When we bypass healthy technique to play difficult music, we not only worsen our physical condition but also limit ourselves in our musical expression. Without freedom in the arms, wrists, and hands, a pianist can never truly express themselves on the piano.

Healthy Technique:

An approach to healthy piano technique is the Taubman Approach. While reading this information may be helpful, please consult and ask your piano teacher if you feel as though you have tension while playing the piano. Healthy technique is the basis of great piano playing!

Practice safe! Be sure to take breaks, to stretch, and to always warm up.

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