From the first lesson, I try to teach children about the importance of PRACTICE.
The other P-word that I introduce to children as young as 5 is PERSEVERANCE.
I cannot over-emphasise the importance of both of these concepts.
Too often in this day and age, children would like to be able to play piano like me, but without putting in the 20 years of practice!
How long can a student persevere? I am not sure how long parental patience or finances can last, but recently I have had a student who has restored my hope in perseverance.
I have been teaching Esther piano since she was 6.
On many occasions I have had conversations with her parents about whether or not she would continue. It was not that she did not have talent or ability; it was just that she so rarely practised.
Each year we would slog slowly through the 3 required pieces and the 4 required scales. In the last month before the exam, I would actually have the odd nightmare of anxiety, while Esther increased her practice (usually bolstered by parental bribery), started enjoying herself, and then breezed through another exam.
This year Esther turned 15 and sat for 5th Grade, the final grade that her parents required her to do before she was allowed to quit.
And this year, something happened. After breezing through another exam, Esther has suddenly had a real enthusiasm and passion ignited and she is continuing on with piano, both for enjoyment and for her Duke of Edinburgh award skill.
What has changed? Is it the maturity that comes with age? Is it that parental pressure has receded?
I don’t have the answers, and I certainly cannot help individual families decide how long to force their children to learn, before the children decide to learn for themselves.
All I can share is my excitement and satisfaction in a student who now has her love of music fully ignited.