Igniting Passion

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Recently, I posed this question on social media: “What do you want to know about piano lessons?"

This conversation began with another question, “How do you make a student practice?”   Quickly, however, the discussion spiraled into the topic of 'igniting passion' for playing the piano. One adult commented, “I think this is an age-old question, forever asked again and again, because we don't like the answer...You can't. You can't ignite a child's passion to devote themselves to something that promises a return, even a spectacularly life-enriching return, years down a road of hard work, discipline and sacrifice. Unless the child is particularly gifted, Chopin doesn't sound miraculous to him or just sounds nice, maybe.”  

As much as parents might beg, bargain, or thrust threats, it is not possible to ignite passion for music in the “belly” of a child. I have a musical family…two of my four kids, however, wanted nothing to do with music at a young age. It matters not that her foster mom called her “cantante” (singer in Spanish), our adopted daughter has no interest in music.  She has a beautiful voice (ability), but no passion.

pas·sion      /ˈpaSHən/
an intense desire or enthusiasm for something
I see this frequently. Potential, but no passion. As adults, though, if we don’t try to encourage and engage a child that truly shows ability, we are doing the child a disservice.
Will I be 100% effective in encouraging a very capable, but disinterested child? I’d be kidding myself if I thought I could.  The earlier commenter said, “I'm convinced the only thing you can do is say, 'Trust me on this. You will thank me in five to ten years. So practice your piano lessons, my child...or I'll cart all your toys off to Goodwill!'"
As a teacher, it is my job to guide students in a way that they can learn and grow; and perhaps, if not now, when they are older, they come to love music.

I think the most common comment I get from adults when they hear that I’m a piano teacher is, “I wish I would have stuck with lessons when I was young.”  

So parents, let’s make a deal.  As partners in this educational process, if your child is bored, unmotivated, unengaged, asks to play a certain genre of music, or anything else that you think I should know, please talk with me.   If you're not able to connect with me before your child's lesson, shoot me an e-mail, a text, or contact me below.  I’m always available. -- Marilyn

4 thoughts on “Igniting Passion

  1. This works less now, but I used to say “I haven’t heard you play that piece in a while. I really like it.” and he would be reminded and would run to the piano. Now I’m saying, “Will you play for me? I need some music while I empty the dishwasher.” It works sometimes. I do feel like if there were a more social aspect to piano – for example a group of 2 or 3 kids working on a dueling piano piece or multi-instrument band – that he might like that. But I should probably ask him!

    1. Good solid thoughts… we constantly need to be growing and changing as students, parents, and educators. I’d be interested to know what he has to say about a social aspect to lessons. Keep me in the loop!

  2. No-go on the group idea. But today what worked was this: since I have no music background, he explained a concept to me, and then demonstrated. I learned today what a cadenza is and now I’m listening to several of his versions of the cadenza… or at least I think I am. Thank you for the post to get us thinking more creatively about practicing!

    1. I love that! He just learned about the cadenza was at his last lesson. I will ask him to explain it to me at tomorrow’s lesson. Keep posted … the next several posts are about practicing!

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