In defense of the parent who says “We just want to try lessons, and see if she likes it.”

Many children request piano lessons, because their best friend takes lessons and if their best friend takes lessons then lessons must be cool. Parents explain “you’ll have to practice!” and “every day!!” and “even when you don’t feel like it!!!” and the child says “yes, Mom” because their best friend takes lessons so they want to, too. The child has NO CLUE what it means to “take lessons” – and how could they? They have never experienced it, they have nothing to compare it to. Yet, parents make their children promise that they will practice – “yes, Mom” – every day! – “yes, Mom” – – they’d promise you the moon if it meant that they can start taking lessons.

Parents have no idea how utterly unfair and inappropriate it is to make their children promise something they have no way of knowing anything about. (And no, *telling* them how it’ll be doesn’t count.)

So, the child starts lessons and realizes, oh boy, this is not what I thought it’d be. Maybe they don’t like the sound of the piano. Maybe they don’t like how the keys feel under their fingers. It is hard work, rather lonely, and even with the best teacher and best materials, even if they have a wonderful instrument at home – there will always be children who realize, “I don’t like it. I changed my mind about taking lessons. I don’t want to do this anymore.” Ideally, the parents say, well, ‘twas a good experience, let’s move on to the next thing. More often however, both teacher and parents say, “You promised!” and force the child to continue something they don’t like.

There is so much in a child’s life they have to do without having much if any control over it: go to school, get up in the morning, eat what is being served, clean their room, and now we are adding piano lessons to the list just because the parents weren’t smart enough to realize that just because the child “promised” the child had no clue what they were promising.

Wouldn’t it make more sense to say, Let’s give this a try and our best effort, and in a couple weeks we are going to see how things are going.

Actually, better yet, let’s keep evaluating constantly, let’s keep an eye and ear open for signs that this – piano lessons -, despite wonderful teacher, materials, and instrument at home, may not be what we thought it’d be, and then have the courage to change things.